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Pats bring Brandon Spikes back for a visit

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It’s been a very quiet day around the Patriots on Wednesday, but there is a little bit of news about the team to inflate our pages.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the team had free agent linebacker Brandon Spikes in for a visit that probably didn’t spend much time on introductions. Spikes was a 2010 second-round pick in New England and spent the first four years of his career as a regular on the team’s defense.

Spikes left for Buffalo as a free agent last year and played in all 16 games for New England’s divisionmates before becoming a free agent again in March. He hasn’t generated a lot of interest on the open market, although there have been scattered reports of interest from the Bills in extending their working relationship. Spikes is a stout run defender, but doesn’t offer much help against the pass and that likely explains why his market has been chilly this offseason.

With Jerod Mayo returning alongside Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins, linebacker isn’t a particularly pressing need for the Patriots at the moment. If they did want to add some more depth, though, Spikes would provide it without needing much time to acquaint himself to playing for Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.

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Rex Ryan: I had dinner with La’el Collins and “that’s really the extent of it”

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In response to questions about teams meeting with undrafted LSU tackle La’El Collins on Tuesday, the NFL explained in an email to PFT that “clubs are prohibited from visiting a player who was eligible for the 2015 Draft at his campus or residence if the player has withdrawn from school and final exams have yet to conclude at the school.”

That explanation came a day after Bills coach Rex Ryan reportedly had dinner with Collins in Baton Rouge, Louisiana after contacting Collins himself. On Wednesday, Ryan confirmed that he broke bread with Collins but shared little else beyond the fact that he had gumbo rather than a reported lobster appetizer.

“I did have dinner with him. That’s really the extent of it,” Ryan said, via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com.

Rodak described Ryan as “uncharacteristically quiet” about the dinner, their conversation and the Bills’ level of interest in bringing Collins on board. Teams will likely continue to be on the reserved side when it comes to interest in Collins, who will be free to meet with the Bills, Dolphins and anyone else when LSU wraps up the school year on May 9.

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Shonn Greene missing Titans voluntary work due to family obligations

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The Titans selected running back David Cobb in the fifth round of the draft and the arrival of the big back was seen as bad news for Shonn Greene’s future in Tennessee.

It doesn’t look like he’ll be able to convince anyone otherwise during the team’s voluntary work this offseason. Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com reports that Greene has not been with the team since their workouts started two weeks ago.

Per Kuharsky, Greene is spending time with his three-week-old son and spoke to the team about the need to handle his paternal obligations. He is expected to take part in the team’s mandatory minicamp next month.

Cobb joins last year’s leading rusher Bishop Sankey, Greene, Antonio Andrews and Lache Seastrunk on the running back depth chart in Tennessee. Greene has run for 687 yards on 171 carries in two years with the Titans and is set to make $3.5 million in 2015, all but $833,000 of which the Titans would get back under the cap if they parted ways with the veteran.

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Eric Weddle: I’m not coming in until Chargers do something

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The Chargers have been working out without safety Eric Weddle for the last couple of weeks and it looks like they’ll continue to be without one of their top defensive players.

Weddle is in the final year of his deal and wants a new contract with the Chargers, something that General Manager Tom Telesco said he has “no doubt” they’ll be discussing now that the draft is over. Until those discussions pick up steam, however, Weddle said he’ll be doing his work apart from the team.

“I’m not coming in anytime soon until something on their side is said,” Weddle said during an appearance with Dan Sileo of The Mighty 1090. “They know where we’re at and they obviously know their stance, so we’ll see what happens from there.”

Weddle said that he’s been in contact with defensive coordinator John Pagano about changes to the team’s defensive playbook and the team doesn’t have any mandatory work until minicamp starts on June 16. That leaves some time to start working toward an agreement that would keep Weddle from deciding whether he wants to risk fines as part of his push for a new deal.

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PFT Live: Jake Fisher, PFT Planet calls and tweets

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The Bengals picked two offensive tackles with their first two picks in the draft and one of them will join Mike Florio on PFT Live Wednesday.

Jake Fisher was Cincinnati’s second-round pick and we’ll find out how his first few days as a member of the organization have gone. We’ll also see if he’ll share any of the team’s plans for him during his rookie season and get his reaction to Andrew Whitworth’s public comments about the team drafting players who could be replacing him in the lineup.

We also want to hear from PFT Planet. Email questions at any time via the O’Reilly Auto Parts Ask the Pros inbox or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk to let us know what’s on your mind.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen to all three hours live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app. You can also watch a simulcast of the first hour of the show by clicking right here.

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Report: Giants “in the mix” for La’el Collins

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We’re starting to get more of an idea about the teams that are potential landing spots for La’El Collins as an undrafted free agent and the group reportedly includes the Giants.

Jordan Raanan of NJ.com reports that the Giants are “in the mix” for the prospective first-round pick who was passed over by all 32 teams many times because teams were uncomfortable drafting him while police in Baton Rouge wanted to speak to him as part of a double murder investigation. Collins had that conversation with police on Monday and is not a suspect in the case.

“We thought about La’El the whole draft because he was sitting up there,” vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross said. “But we were gonna pass on that.”

The Giants took tackle Ereck Flowers with their first-round pick, but Raanan reports that they see Collins as a guard at the NFL level. With underwhelming play across the line last season, Collins would join Flowers as a serious contender for early playing time wherever he might wind up if he landed in Jersey.

Should pursuit of Collins progress to following the Dolphins’ players lead and sending former LSU teammates to talk to him, the Giants could enlist last year’s first-round pick Odell Beckham to do some recruiting. The team can’t send any officials to meet with Collins on campus until May 9.

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Old Dominion QB Taylor Heinicke among Vikings rookie free agent signings

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The Vikings know that Teddy Bridgewater is their starting quarterback and they signed veteran Shaun Hill as a free agent to back him up, which leaves them with only the third spot on the depth chart to contemplate in the coming months.

Journeyman Mike Kafka is on the roster, but the Vikings added some competition for him on Tuesday when they made Old Dominion’s Taylor Heinicke one of their undrafted free agent signings. Heinicke passed for 14,959 yards and 132 touchdowns during his college career and will be trying to show that the skills that created those numbers translate to the NFL.

“I can say I’m an NFL quarterback,” Heinicke said, via the Virginian-Pilot. “Now I have to go out and prove it.”

The Vikings also signed former Notre Dame wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, who is the son of longtime NFL defensive lineman Phillip Daniels. He had 49 catches and seven touchdowns in 2013, but didn’t play last season because of academic difficulties.

The Vikings also signed Virginia safety Anthony Harris, BYU wide receiver Jordan Leslie, Tennessee cornerback Justin Coleman, Iowa State center Tom Farniok, Pittsburg State wide receiver Gavin Lutman, Boise State fullback Blake Renaud, Saginaw Valley State guard Jesse Somsel and Boston College guard Bobby Vardaro.

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Bucs put Donovan Smith at left tackle, move Demar Dotson back to right side

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After free agent acquisition Anthony Collins flopped last season, the Buccaneers moved Demar Dotson from right tackle to left tackle for the final weeks of the season.

Dotson spent the offseason preparing to play left tackle again in 2015, but that work may have been made moot in the second round of the draft last Friday. The Bucs added Penn State product Donovan Smith with the 34th pick in the draft and Dotson said that the team let him know that Smith’s arrival meant he’ll be moving back to his old spot on the line.

Right tackle isn’t quite as high profile an assignment, but Dotson said he’s comfortable at the position and comfortable with moves that make the line a better unit than the Bucs had in 2014.

“When I left, there were indications that I was going to come back and start off on the left, so I did train myself, prepare myself to come back and play left,” Dotson said, via the Tampa Bay Times. “Shortly after we got back, they said it depends on who we draft. Then after we drafted the kid from, I’m not sure where he’s from, but the kid, Donovan kid, they said they were going to put me back to right and perhaps put that kid on the left. … I was told that’s going to be a big thing to build through the draft, to get some young guys in there that can come in and compete and make this offensive line better. We struggled in so many ways last year. It’s going to be good competition, with guys coming back that are hungry and young guys coming in that I hope are hungry.”

Smith started 31 games at left tackle while in Happy Valley, so it’s not much of a surprise that the Bucs would see if he can handle the spot before turning back to Dotson.

Smith was joined by guard Ali Marpet later in the second round and both could be starters up front when the Bucs kick off the season in September. With Jameis Winston also a good bet to be with the first team, it’s clear that building through the draft is the offensive plan across the board this season.

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Titus Young sentenced to five years probation, inpatient treatment

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Former Lions wide receiver Titus Young pleaded no contest to a felony battery charge last month, which opened up the possibility of three years in jail for someone who has spent the last few years in and out of custody.

Young was sentenced on Tuesday and avoided that time behind bars. Young was sentenced to five years probation and a year of inpatient treatment and therapy. Young has been at the Crosby Center in California receiving that treatment for the last three months and the center’s director and one of his psychologists testified on his behalf at the sentencing hearing.

They testified that Young had been misdiagnosed and mistreated as schizophrenic and bipolar and that they’ve seen better results since he’s come to be under their care.

“We’re not seeing the irritability, the anger, the acting out, the violence,” Dr. Robert Knol said, via the Detroit Free Press. “We have seen cooperation. We have seen a genuine investment in all forms of his treatment, both in individual sessions and group sessions. We’re very optimistic. I predict we’ll all celebrate the restructure of a fine young man.”

Young’s restructure would come too late to salvage an NFL career, but not too late to stop him from doing harm to himself or others. We hope that his continued treatment leads to that result.

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Chargers staying in touch with La’el Collins

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We found out on Tuesday that tackle La’El Collins isn’t meeting with any teams right now because NFL rules prohibit teams from official visits with him at LSU’s campus until the school year wraps up on May 9.

We also found out about one of the teams that might be interested in having a conversation with Collins once that restriction is lifted. Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco was on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Alex Marvez and Bill Polian and said that the team was doing what it could to research Collins while staying in touch with his team.

“We were working on this before the draft, we worked on it through the draft and we’ll continue to work through it right now even today,” Telesco said. “Compiling information, talking to a lot of different people, seeing where it goes and staying in contact with his representatives. We’ll just see how it plays out.”

The Chargers aren’t the only team staying in communication with Collins and we’ll likely get more of an idea of who’s making a serious market for his services once the visiting restrictions are lifted this weekend.

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Cardinals sign 14 undrafted free agents

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The unexpected retirement of tight end John Carlson might have caught the Cardinals unaware on Tuesday, but they didn’t have to wait long to fill his roster spot.

The team announced the signing of 14 undrafted rookies to round out their roster for the rest of offseason and training camp. They also announced that cornerback Roc Carmichael and running back Zach Bauman have been released.

Among the new additions is wide receiver Jaxon Shipley, who followed in his brother Jordan’s footsteps as a productive wideout at the University of Texas. Like his brother, he’s also best suited for the slot on offense and has experience as a returner.

The rest of the new Cardinals are Adams State cornerback Cariel Brooks, N.C. State tackle Rob Crisp, BYU linebacker Alani Fua, Shippensburg wide receiver Trevor Harman, Georgia Southern linebacker Edwin Jackson, Florida Atlantic linebacker Andrae Kirk, BYU running back Paul Lasike, Bowling Green linebacker Gabe Martin, Iowa wide receiver Damond Powell, Colorado State-Pueblo cornerback C.J. Roberts, Missouri State tight end Gannon Sinclair, Montana linebacker Zack Wagenmann and Northern Iowa nose tackle Xavier Williams.

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Mike Wallace: Nobody in the NFL can run with me

Mike Wallace, Harrison Smith AP

Speed has long been Vikings wide receiver Mike Wallace’s calling card, although it was hard to tell at times in Miami.

Whether because of scheme, chemistry with Ryan Tannehill or something else, Wallace wasn’t the deep threat for the Dolphins that he was earlier in his career with the Steelers. On Tuesday, Wallace made it clear that he doesn’t think it was because the league has caught up to his fleet feet.

“Without a doubt, I’m the fastest player in the NFL,’’ Wallace said, via the Pioneer Press. “If somebody feels foggy about that, we can (race). I’m never going to back down from competition. “I’ve run a lot of routes and I’ve got a lot of miles on my legs, but I still feel that there’s nobody (in the NFL) who can run with me. I might have slowed down a little but I could still run 4.25.”

Wallace didn’t point the finger at Tannehill, saying that there were things that both he and his Dolphins teammates could have done better over the last two years. He also said that “when you separate, you still have to connect” and that he’s “positive” he’ll be able to “showcase” his ability to get free of defenders in Minnesota.

The Vikings likely have the same optimism after trading for Wallace and planting him at the top of their receiver depth chart this offseason. If they’re right, the offense in Minnesota should be more explosive this time around.

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Nate Solder keeping focus on football after cancer treatment

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Patriots left tackle Nate Solder didn’t go public with a diagnosis of testicular cancer last season, choosing to have surgery before returning to the field to help the Patriots to a Super Bowl title.

Solder has since revealed how he dealt with the disease and urged men to be vigilant about their health, a message he repeated while talking to the media at the Patriots’ facility on Tuesday. Solder offered thanks for the support he got from team officials, his teammates and his doctors during an experience that he said “changes your perspective a little bit.”

Solder was able to concentrate on football last year and he said he’ll be able to do the same this year despite an expiring contract. Solder said he wants to remain in New England, but said he won’t be stressing about his deal.

“Who knows what will happen? My approach with that too is just to do the best that I can while I’€™m here. You have to [live in the present] there’€™s too many unknowns,” Solder said, via WEEI.com.

Solder has been a fixture up front for the Patriots since arriving in the first round of the 2011 draft so you’d expect the team to have interest in an extension that allows him to continue in that role for a few more years.

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Agent: La’el Collins not meeting with teams at this time

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La’El Collins met with the Baton Rouge police department on Monday regarding their investigation into the shooting deaths of his former girlfriend and her newborn child and the police said he cooperated fully and is not a suspect in the case.

That has been the case since the first reports of police interest in speaking to Collins regarding the murders, although Collins went undrafted last week because of the uncertainty about the situation. Collins is therefore free to sign with any team and there appears to be interest, but Collins’s agent Deryk Gilmore told the Associated Press that he’s not taking any meetings with teams “at this time.”

Gilmore’s statement seems to refer to official meetings with teams because Collins has had contact with a couple of clubs. Collins met with Bills coach Rex Ryan on Monday night and LSU alums that played for the Dolphins are doing some recruiting of their fellow Tiger, but Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that the team is “not ready to send any team officials” at this point.

With limitations about the deal teams can offer Collins as a free agent, fit and comfort will likely be important to Collins’s ultimate decision about where to sign. Assuming, of course, that things progress to a point that he is cleared and signs with one of the teams considering the move.

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Report: Bears part ways with college scouting director Marty Barrett

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When Ryan Pace took over as the Bears General Manager, the team made a couple of changes in their personnel department but Pace said they would be reviewing the rest of the holdovers from the Phil Emery regime and beyond after the draft.

Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports that their review has led to a change at college scouting director. Biggs reports that Marty Barrett will not be back in that job for the 2015 season.

2014 was Barrett’s third year in that job and he’d been with the Bears organization since 1997 as a scout. Teams often hold onto members of their scouting staff through the draft when they make a change at the top of the hierarchy and then make changes after their work on the year’s rookie class is complete. The Jets and Eagles made similar changes this week and there could be more to come as organizations set their rolls for the coming year.

The Bears previously parted ways with pro personnel director Kevin Turks and released Rex Hogan from his contract to become the college scouting director for the Jets. That could be a landing spot for Barrett now that they’ve opened some spots in Jersey.

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