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Danny Woodhead back with “no restrictions” after torn ACL

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There’s no good time for an NFL player to tear an ACL, but if you’re hoping to be ready to play in time for the next season it is always better for it to happen earlier rather than later in the season.

That’s particularly true for a player who is headed for free agency like running back Danny Woodhead was after tearing his ACL in the second game of the 2016 season. The Ravens weren’t put off of signing Woodhead because of the injury and they won’t have to wait for him to get back to practicing without restrictions either.

“Yes, I’m back. No restrictions,” Woodhead said, via the team’s website. “I’m just playing football now. I haven’t been thinking about needing to do stuff to rehab it because I’m healthy now. It’s exciting to get football going.”

Woodhead said he feels “there’s some rust” as a result of the injury, but is otherwise “pretty similar” to how he was before getting hurt. That should bode well for his chances of taking on a big role out of the backfield in Baltimore, especially with Kenneth Dixon set to miss the first four games while serving a suspension.

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Vernon Davis happy he can break out the jump shot again

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Among the excessive celebration penalties that drew the biggest negative response last season was the one that tight end Vernon Davis received after scoring a touchdown in Week 6.

Davis mimicked a basketball jump shot using the ball and the crossbar, leading to a 15-yard penalty against the Redskins that set up a short kickoff that the Eagles returned for a touchdown. Davis, who wasn’t penalized for the move when he was with the 49ers, was later fined $12,154 as well, but he won’t have to reach for his wallet if he gets a chance to break it out again in 2017.

The league changed the rules on celebrations this week to allow for more expressive reactions to big plays, a decision that Davis was happy to hear about.

“Guys want to celebrate, they want to make it fun,” Davis said, via the Washington Post. “That’s what this game is – it’s all about having fun. Go out there, you don’t want to be uptight. You want to have fun and do things within the realm of your team and be in compliance, but at the same time, you want to have fun. I think that’s one thing we have to work on as players. We have to make sure that we’re doing everything that we can do to make sure that we can keep it this way so that they won’t come back and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to take it away from you guys again.’ If we just work together and do things the right way, then we can keep it.”

Davis’ teammate Josh Norman also ran afoul of the celebration police last year, drawing a penalty and a fine for miming a bow-and-arrow shot after an interception. Norman’s move appears to remain off limits due to the continued ban on simulating weapons, something he professes not to understand while also feeling “it’s good that they’re taking the fans’ perspective” on celebrations in general.

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Bruce Arians: OT change will affect calling of plays

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The Cardinals played one of the two tie games in the NFL last season, a 6-6 spellbinder against the Seahawks that saw both teams miss field goals that could have ended the game during a 15-minute overtime period.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said that the effort left him with a “tired football team” that had to limit their practice time leading into a loss to the Panthers the next week. This week’s rule change that cuts overtime to 10 minutes, which could leave more in the tank if teams find themselves in a similar situation.

It may not lead to a different result on the scoreboard, but Arians thinks it will lead coaches to call plays differently than they would with 15 minutes to play. It isn’t one that involves 10-minute drives that eat up all the clock, however.

“I think it’ll affect the calling of the game a little bit,” Arians said, via ESPN.com. “People are worried about a 10-minute drive. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a 10-minute drive. I guess there have been a couple but if you get the ball run on you for 10 minutes, you deserve to lose anyway.”

It’s hard to argue with the notion that a different overtime length will lead to a different approach from coaches, but we won’t know exactly how they change until we get a few extended games to use as evidence.

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Dolphins sign Charles Harris

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The Dolphins have signed all their 2017 draft picks.

First-round defensive end Charles Harris became the final member of the draft class to agree to terms on a contract with the team on Wednesday. Like all first-round picks, Harris’ deal is for four years with a team option for a fifth season.

Harris was the 22nd overall pick last month after wrapping up a career at Missouri that saw him rack up 34.5 tackles for loss and 18.5 sacks. That pass rushing prowess made him a popular mock draft choice for the Dolphins before they made him their actual pick in Philadelphia.

Harris will join Cameron Wake, William Hayes and Andre Branch at defensive end for the Dolphins and seems like a good bet for a role as a rotational pass rusher at the very least during his rookie season.

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Michael Floyd: I couldn’t be in a better position right now

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Wide receiver Michael Floyd is back in his hometown after signing with the Vikings and having the remainder of his house arrest sentence for last year’s DUI transferred to Minnesota so he can begin working with the team, something that coach Mike Zimmer said is a good thing because of the support system the team has in place for Floyd.

Part of that support system is the presence of college teammates Harrison Smith and Kyle Rudolph, who is hosting Floyd at his house while he re-acclimates himself to life in the Twin Cities. While Floyd isn’t crazy about the idea of helping out with diaper changes for Rudolph’s twin daughters, he’s otherwise happy to be home after bouncing from being released by the Cardinals to a stint with the Patriots last season.

“Everything I’ve been through was eye-opening,” Floyd said, via the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “The stuff that you go through, positive or negative, grows you as a person. I couldn’t be in a better position right now.”

Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said that Floyd is behind his teammates after signing late in the offseason, but called the wideout a fast learner “that can make plays.” If that proves to be true on the field, Floyd should find plenty of playing time on an offense that’s looking to take a step forward from last year’s output.

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Cowboys anticipate Ezekiel Elliott will practice next week

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Running back Ezekiel Elliott has not participated in the Cowboys’ first two Organized Team Activities this week after he was a passenger in a car involved in an accident last weekend, although the team doesn’t sound overly concerned about his condition.

Coach Jason Garrett met with the media on Wednesday and said that he anticipates Elliott will be back on the field when the second week of OTAs gets underway next Tuesday. Garrett said that Elliott had some soreness and stiffness after the accident, but is otherwise OK.

Given Elliott’s importance to the offense, the cautious approach is an unsurprising one and it wouldn’t come as a great shock if the Cowboys gave him even more time off if he isn’t feeling all the way back to normal come Tuesday.

Garrett also updated a couple of other injuries on the offensive side of the ball. Wide receivers Cole Beasley and Lucky Whitehead are both dealing with hamstring injuries, which gave rookie Ryan Switzer a chance to play with the first team during Wednesday’s workout.

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Myles Garrett expects to return to practice next week

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Browns defensive end Myles Garrett isn’t practicing this week, but he doesn’t expect to be out of action for too long.

While Garrett didn’t specify the injury that’s keeping him on the side when he spoke to reporters on Wednesday, he didn’t do anything to cast doubt on word that it is a minor issue. Per multiple reports, the first overall pick in this year’s draft said that the team was being cautious and that he expects to be back on the field next week.

Garrett isn’t the only Browns first-round pick working on the side. Safety Jabrill Peppers was also held out of practice and, as with Garrett, the team isn’t showing any great concern. While discussing both players, coach Hue Jackson talked about a “little soreness” and “slips and bumps and bruises” as the reason why they weren’t on the field while saying he expected all would be well sooner rather than later. 

Wide receiver Corey Coleman also produced a brief scare in Wednesday’s practice when he stayed down after making a catch, but Jackson said that he simply landed wrong on the ball and would be fine.

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Bills wrap up draft class by signing Nathan Peterman

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The Bills have all of their draft picks under contract.

The final piece of the puzzle came on Wednesday when they signed quarterback Nathan Peterman. The fifth-round pick signed a four-year deal.

Peterman started 24 games at Pittsburgh after transferring from Tennessee during his college career. He threw 47 touchdowns while completing 60 percent of his passes, which led to high marks from some draft evaluators that obviously didn’t match up with the way teams viewed him as he dropped to the third day.

He joins Tyrod Taylor, Cardale Jones and T.J. Yates on the quarterback depth chart in Buffalo. Taylor may be gone after this season, which should earn Peterman some looks in the preseason as the team plots its course at the position.

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Stephon Tuitt recovering from hand surgery

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The Steelers are down a defensive lineman at their Organized Team Activities.

Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that defensive end Stephon Tuitt is not practicing after having surgery on his hand. Bouchette adds that the team does not expect the surgery will impact him for the regular season.

That’s good news for the Steelers as Tuitt has developed into a crucial part of their defense since joining the team as a second-round pick in 2014. He’s produced 10.5 sacks over the last two years while also proving strong play against the run.

Tuitt’s entering the final year of his contract and his performance makes him an extension candidate at some point this year. Given the outlook for a return in time for the regular season, his surgery shouldn’t get in the way of that.

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Andrew Hawkins says he’s signing with Patriots

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Wide receiver Andrew Hawkins recently got a master’s degree in sports management from Columbia University and said that his goal is to become a General Manager in the NFL, but he won’t be heading to the front office just yet.

Hawkins said in a video posted to Uninterrupted’s Twitter account that he is signing with the Patriots. Hawkins visited with the team last week.

Hawkins caught 33 passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns while playing in all 16 games for the Browns last year. That was his third season in Cleveland, a run that started with career highs of 63 catches and 824 yards in 2014.

He’ll join a Patriots receiving corps that includes Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan, so there’s going to be some work for Hawkins to do to claim a roster spot come the end of the preseason.

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Rick Spielman: We’ll take it a day at a time with Teddy Bridgewater

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The Vikings released video of Teddy Bridgewater taking snaps, dropping back and throwing passes during Tuesday’s practice, but they still aren’t ready to talk about when Bridgewater may be able to take on a full workload after last year’s knee injury.

General Manager Rick Spielman met with the media on Wednesday and said that the team will “take it a day at a time” with Bridgewater while adding that the quarterback hasn’t been cleared for full practices at this point. Spielman declined to comment on when that might happen and said it was “still the unknown” whether he’ll play in 2017, but acknowledged that it’s “very encouraging” to see Bridgewater doing things on the field.

“Very limited in what he’s able to do at this point, but it’s progress,” Spielman said.

Bridgewater is not at Wednesday’s practice for a previously scheduled doctor’s appointment and Spielman said the release of the video from Tuesday’s closed practice was partly because the media wouldn’t be able to see him working. If all goes well at the doctor and the progress continues, it shouldn’t be too long before they get that opportunity and the Vikings have to make a call about when he moves to the next step of his football work.

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Titans sign fifth-rounder Jayon Brown

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The Titans signed first-round cornerback Adoree’ Jackson on Tuesday and they got another one of their draft picks under contract on Wednesday.

Linebacker Jayon Brown has agreed to a four-year deal with the team. Brown, a fifth-round pick, is the seventh player in the draft class to sign a deal.

Brown made 21 starts at UCLA and took over for Myles Jack in the middle of the defense last season. He led the Pac-12 in tackles and intercepted three passes on his way to first-team all-conference honors.

Brown will join college teammate Aaron Wallace in Tennessee’s linebacking corps and will also be reunited with Lou Spanos, who was UCLA’s defensive coordinator in his freshman year before moving on to become the Titans’ linebackers coach.

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Report: Matt Jones skipping OTAs

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There hasn’t been much sign that running back Matt Jones is in the Redskins’ plans for the 2017 season and it appears he won’t be in the picture at all during Organized Team Activities.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Jones will not be attending OTAs this year.

Jones started the first seven games of the year and ran for 460 yards on 99 carries, but didn’t play in the final nine games of the year. Rob Kelley took over as the lead back. Chris Thompson returns as the third-down back and Samaje Perine was drafted in the fourth round to give the team another reason to keep Jones out of the rotation.

Rapoport reported during the draft that Washington was shopping Jones in a trade, although no one bit on a player who finished last season as a regular on the inactive list. A trade remains a possibility, although teams may prefer to wait for what seems like an inevitable parting of the ways rather than giving up anything in compensation.

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Mike Williams missing time with back injury

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The Chargers got their first-round pick signed a lot quicker than they did last year, but wide receiver Mike Williams may not wind up doing too much work during the team’s offseason program.

Williams hurt his back during the team’s rookie minicamp and has yet to return to the field. Coach Anthony Lynn said Tuesday that he’s hopeful that Williams can return to action in the near future because he’s missing out on reps that he needs to be successful during his rookie season.

“I’d like to see him out there next week because he’s getting behind right now, and we’ve got to get him back out on the field,” Lynn said, via ESPN.com. “If he wasn’t a rookie it would be different. But he has so much to learn, and some of this you can only learn on the field.”

With Dontrelle Inman recovering from core muscle surgery, Williams’ absence leaves the Chargers without a couple of wide receivers as they work through OTAs.

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Jordan Matthews unfazed by trade speculation

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The Eagles addressed the wide receiver position by signing Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery as free agents this offseason and there was conjecture that they may have more moves in mind.

There was talk about the possibility of a trade involving Jordan Matthews at various points over the last few months, but he remains in Philadelphia with May coming to an end. Matthews was asked about the trade chatter on Tuesday and he said he didn’t talk to anyone from the team about it, saying that “whatever happens is going to end up happening” and that he’s not going to be affected by what might have been said in conversations with other teams.

“That’s fake news. Alternative facts,” Matthews said, via Philly.com. “I don’t really care about that stuff, bro. I feel like it’s the NFL — everybody has a price. Those talks, they happen. It really doesn’t faze me in any way.”

Matthews is heading into the final year of his contract and could be moving on come the end of the season even if he isn’t traded. If that’s the case, the Eagles receiving corps could get overhauled again as Jeffery is on a one-year deal and Smith’s three-year pact can be dissolved rather easily after the 2017 season.

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