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Jason Kelce: Missing the playoffs “almost a good thing” in hindsight

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The roster turnover of the Eagles (and the opinions about the reasons for it) have been a major topic of the NFL offseason and another member of the team has weighed in with his opinion.

Center Jason Kelce didn’t cite race, egos or anything other than the simple fact that the Eagles weren’t talented enough last year. Kelce said that he thought the team’s locker room was strong last year, but that “we were lacking in talent at a couple positions” and that failing to make the playoffs could almost be spun as a positive because it made the team address those needs.

“This might [tick] off a few people, but when we started off 9-3 … [but] we got lucky quite a few times to win games that we probably shouldn’t have been in,” Kelce said, via the Philadelphia Daily News. “I think that ending the season the way we did — didn’t make the playoffs — in hindsight is almost a good thing because it forced the coaches and the organization to reevaluate what we had. Guys all of the sudden that were on the bubble, [coaches now knew] that we need to make an upgrade there. We need to do this. We need to do that to improve the team as a whole.”

Kelce didn’t specify the areas, but the list of positions that the Eagles addressed this offseason is pretty much the list of positions on their roster as well as Chip Kelly’s move to the top of the personnel hierarchy. For a team that’s won 10 games in each of the last two seasons, it’s a major overhaul and one that’s going to be placed on Kelly’s shoulders however it plays out.

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Brandon Spikes on Belichick: We kissed and made up

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Linebacker Brandon Spikes’s first stint with the Patriots didn’t come to a happy end.

Spikes finished the 2013 season on injured reserve after he missed a practice and Spikes later said that the Patriots filed false injury reports while he was a member of the team. Spikes also referred to his time with the Patriots as “4 years a slave,” which only added to the surprise when Spikes wound up re-signing with the Patriots this month after spending last season with the Bills.

It’s less surprising that Spikes had nothing bad to say about coach Bill Belichick or the Patriots on Friday. Spikes referred to Belichick as a “genius” and described himself as “honestly in awe to be standing here talking” to the media as a member of the Patriots while sticking to the company line that the past will remain in the past.

“I don’t want to talk about that. You can clearly see me and The Hoodie kissed and made up. I’m here, that’s in the past. I’m moving on,” Spikes said, via WEEI.com.

Spikes said his only focus now is on making the team and his chances will be greatly improved if Belichick decides the team needs to shore up their run defense in 2015.

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Chris Chester scheduled to visit Eagles, Falcons

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Guard Chris Chester lost his job in Washington earlier this week, but he may not be unemployed for long.

Adam Caplan of ESPN reports that Chester has lined up visits with the Eagles and Falcons.

The Eagles know Chester well after facing the Redskins eight times in Chester’s four seasons with his old team. They released Todd Herremans early in the offseason and gave Evan Mathis the chance to shop himself in a trade, so they’re clearly open to making some changes on the interior of their offensive line. Mathis remains on the roster, but isn’t taking part in the team’s offseason work.

There’s familiarity with Chester in Atlanta as well. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan held the same job in Washington during Chester’s first three years with the Redskins and Chester could provide an upgrade on some of the current players vying for spots on the depth chart with the Falcons.

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Andre Johnson rejuvenated after frustrating final years in Houston

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Wide receiver Andre Johnson was released by the Texans in March, but he felt the end coming a few months before that.

Johnson said that he knew “deep down inside” that he wouldn’t be back with the Texans after the final game of the 2014 season even though he told reporters the opposite and those feelings became fact when he asked Houston to move him after coach Bill O’Brien laid out a limited role in the offense for the 2015 season. It was the last beat in a frustrating end to Johnson’s long and successful run with the team that took him third overall in the 2003 draft.

“Everyone saw the frustration the last few years,” Johnson said, via Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star. “Not only in me, but in my play on the field.”

It didn’t take long for Johnson to focus on the Colts as his next destination. He knew coach Chuck Pagano from the University of Miami and he spoke to running back Frank Gore about their shared belief that they could win a Super Bowl with Andrew Luck at quarterback.

Nothing’s changed since then other than Johnson’s renewed zest for the game. His mother and uncle both told Keefer that Johnson is happier now that he’s with the Colts and the hope in Indy is that the restoration of Johnson’s passion for football helps them make it to Santa Clara next February.

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Byron Maxwell expects a third straight Super Bowl trip

Byron Maxwell AP

Cornerback Byron Maxwell has played in the last two Super Bowls and he doesn’t think his move from Seattle to Philadelphia is going to get in the way of a third straight trip to the NFL’s biggest game of the year.

Maxwell signed with an Eagles team that fell short of the playoffs in 2014, but told Jenny Vrentas of TheMMQB.com that he’s found the same “winning culture” that he experienced in with the Seahawks. He also said that he thinks his time in such a culture has him feeling like the Eagles are going to replace his old team as the tops in the NFC.

“Experience. Because I’ve been there before,” Maxwell said. “Knowing what it’s like if we go that far. Because we’re gonna go that far this year — meaning the playoffs and the Super Bowl. We’re gonna go that far. Hopefully that experience I already had, I can help them.”

Maxwell added that you “can take that as a guarantee” because he has “no choice but to think that way” heading into the season. Eagles fans, meanwhile, will have to hope that his big talk works out a bit better than the last time a new member of the team crowned himself and his teammates before the any games were played.

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PFT Live: DeVante Parker, Tevin Coleman

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Another week of PFT Live comes to an end on Friday and we’ll close things out with a pair of guests who are just getting started in the NFL.

Dolphins first-round pick DeVante Parker will join Mike Florio to talk about his first days as part of Miami’s reshaped wide receiver group. Parker, Kenny Stills and Greg Jennings have joined Jarvis Landry after an offseason of change and we’ll get Parker’s take on his new teammates, including quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Falcons running back Tevin Coleman will also stop by the show a few weeks after Atlanta made him a third-round pick. We’ll hear about his his initial impressions of coach Dan Quinn, fellow running back Devonta Freeman and more during his visit.

We also want to hear what PFT Planet thinks. 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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Packers will keep Clay Matthews moving on defense

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Clay Matthews had to learn to play inside linebacker on the fly last year when the Packers stuck him there in the middle of the season for a game against the Bears, but Matthews handled the move well enough that it remains part of the team’s plans for the 2015 season as well.

Matthews and Sam Barrington were playing inside with the first team during Thursday’s organized team activity and Matthews says that the practice time has him “actually learning why I’m doing certain things” at the position. The Packers are quick to say that they aren’t going to play Matthews exclusively at that spot, however, and defensive coordinator Dom Capers said the plan is to keep offenses on their toes.

“It makes it harder for people to prepare for you,” Capers said, via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We’ve tried to do that since we’ve been here….I felt at the time we drafted him, watching him work, that he’d be a Pro Bowler outside, inside. It didn’t make a difference where you put him: he was going to have a significant impact.”

Matthews had 8.5 of his 11 sacks in the second half of last season, so the trips inside didn’t neutralize his ability to get after the quarterback. Matthews said he viewed the shift as playing the same position at “two different spots” and it looks like something that the team’s opponents will have to be ready for again in 2015.

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Steve Smith: I won’t be playing at 40

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Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith never gave serious thought to retirement this offseason after catching 79 passes for 1,065 yards in 2014, but he has given some thought to when he might bring his playing days to an end.

Smith turned 36 this month and he said Thursday that he can see the finish line coming in the next few years. As Smith explained, he doesn’t plan to follow Jerry Rice’s lead and play until he’s 42 years old.

“Jerry Rice is obviously the greatest wide receiver to ever play, and I really don’t have the family structure to chase 40, to be honest,” Smith said, via the Baltimore Sun. “I have got a lot of things on my to-do list that don’t have anything to do with football. I’m going to take it day by day, but I will not be playing until I’m 40.”

Smith remained productive last season, but he did average six more yards per catch in the first half of the season than he did in the second half, which may explain why coach John Harbaugh has talked about limiting the veteran’s snaps in 2015. That may not be the easiest thing to pull off given the makeup of the receiving corps, which added Breshad Perriman while losing Torrey Smith and doesn’t have anyone with anything close to Smith’s track record as a reliable target.

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Friday morning one-liners

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CB Leodis McKelvin likes the schematic changes to the Bills Defense.

Before heading to the Dolphins, Mike Tannenbaum helped Steve Kerr and David Blatt land the coaching jobs that have them in the NBA Finals.

Rookies Geneo Grissom and Trey Flowers are trying to earn roles on the Patriots defensive line.

A critical take on the Jets’ handling of their quarterbacks.

Ravens CB Jimmy Smith says he’s ahead of schedule in his return from a foot injury.

S Shawn Williams has a chance to land a bigger role for the Bengals.

Rookie RB Duke Johnson wasn’t at Browns OTAs this week.

James Harrison hopes he can help younger Steelers linebackers reach their potential.

Texans DL Louis Nix III wants to emulate new teammate Vince Wilfork.

The Colts are looking for the right center to snap the ball to Andrew Luck.

Jaguars DE Dante Fowler had surgery to repair his torn ACL on Thursday.

WR Hakeem Nicks is trying to return to the good old days with the Titans.

Broncos players responded to the news of T Ryan Clady’s torn ACL.

The Chiefs are excited about their pass rushing potential.

A numerical breakdown of Raiders S Charles Woodson’s career.

Chargers CB Jason Verrett is from the Bay Area and has a tattoo of the Golden Gate Bridge, but won’t be rooting for the Warriors in the NBA Finals.

RB Ryan Williams is looking for redemption in the Cowboys backfield.

Giants WR Odell Beckham is branching out into radio.

Said Eagles QB Mark Sanchez, “You act like you’re the starter, and that’s the only way I know how to play. As soon as you start thinking and counting reps, or ‘I wonder if this guy is going to be healthy,’ then you’re already beat.”

Redskins S Duke Ihenacho tapes his cleats to look like Chuck Taylors.

Jeremiah Ratliff is willing to play wherever the Bears want him on the defensive line.

DT Caraun Reid is making a bid for playing time up front for the Lions.

QB Aaron Rodgers isn’t expecting any big changes to the Packers Offense.

Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater is looking forward to playing with a healthy TE Kyle Rudolph.

DL Tyson Jackson has cut weight in hopes of making a bigger contribution to the Falcons.

The Panthers are getting a glimpse of WR Stephen Hill’s potential.

The Saints and Cam Jordan continue to talk about an extension.

The Buccaneers aren’t concerned about WR Mike Evans after a hamstring tweak.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said rookie T D.J. Humphries has been progressing slowly.

The Rams are banking on better things from the same set of wide receivers.

CB Dontae Johnson could play a bigger role in his second season with the 49ers.

Seahawks sixth-round OL Kristjan Sokoli is blazing a previously untravelled trail from Albania to the NFL.

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Saints happy to have healthy safeties in OTAs this year

Terrance West, Jairus Byrd AP

The Saints made one big offseason acquisition in the secondary this year when they signed cornerback Brandon Browner, but it feels like they actually have a pair of new additions.

Safety Jairus Byrd, last year’s free agent splash, had back surgery that kept him from practicing in the offseason and then landed on injured reserve with a knee injury four games into the regular season. Byrd is participating fully in OTAs this year, though, and coach Sean Payton said that’s a step in the right direction for the defense.

“I think it is significant,” Payton said, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “He is in good shape now and working through. There are still some maintenance things he is doing with his knee and yet to get out here, for all of these guys, but specifically a player like him [it’s important]. … I think it is also beneficial to the other 10 guys when you are talking about a veteran playing like him with regards to calls, with regards to communication and leadership.”

The Saints also have safety Kenny Vaccaro on the field after he was limited last spring while coming off a fractured ankle. Vaccaro struggled on the field in 2014 and said Thursday his year was also negatively impacted by injuries, but thinks things are coming together for him and Byrd.

“Jairus has rehabbed well and we’re meshing together,” Vaccaro said. “We’ve been working this whole offseason together. It’s been fun. You’ve got to work off each other. The secondary has to work like glue. You’ve got to stick together. I think that’s what we’re building.”

The Saints Defense needs to be better across the board in 2015, a goal that will be easier to attain if they are more secure in the back end. Byrd and Vaccaro will be a big part of that, which makes their presence on the field a big plus in New Orleans.

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Jordy Nelson not practicing, but not worried after hip surgery

Jordy Nelson AP

Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson needed to have hip surgery earlier this offseason and coach Mike McCarthy said in late March that the receiver would be “fine” in a couple of weeks.

It’s now late May, but Nelson hasn’t started practicing with the team. He was stretching and throwing the ball on the sideline during Thursday’s OTA and said after practice that there wasn’t a timetable for when he’ll be back to full speed, although he added that there was also no major concern as the season draws closer.

“Not necessarily,” Nelson said, via the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “We’re just going to continue to progress going forward. Like I said, we’re excited where we’re at and don’t have any worries about anything that’s of importance down the road.”

If Nelson is feeling well enough to get on the field before training camp, that would probably suit the Packers fine. There’s plenty of time for him to be sure all is well before camp and little reason for a veteran of his significance to the team to push things before that point, however.

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DeMarco Murray hopes Joseph Randle “can taste some of that meat this year”

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Cowboys running back Joseph Randle shared his opinion about how much the Cowboys might miss running back DeMarco Murray this week by saying that he thought Murray “left a lot of meat on the bone” on his way to a league-leading 1,845 rushing yards in 2014.

That comment made its way to Murray on Thursday, but Murray didn’t fire back at Randle or try to make the case that he gnawed all the way down to the bone while carrying the ball the seventh-most times in league history last year. Instead, Murray wished Randle well in his opportunity to do a little feasting of his own behind the Cowboys offensive line.

“Hopefully he can taste some of that meat this year,” Murray said, via CSNPhilly.com. “They’re a good team. Hopefully he can get a chance to run behind that line and do some good things. But I’m not worried about it. I didn’t hear about it until now. It’s not a big deal.”

It’s a good response to Randle since Murray has no need to defend himself for his 2014 performance. His chief concern now should be making sure that he wasn’t worn down to the bone after being used so heavily last season because the Eagles will need Murray to play well to vault themselves above the Cowboys and the rest of the NFC East in 2015.

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Jets release Matt Simms

Matt Simms, Josh Mauga AP

Former NFL quarterback Chris Simms recently shared his opinion that his younger brother Matt hasn’t gotten a serious shot to be a starting quarterback in the NFL because he’s the son of Phil Simms and, therefore, a victim of “the politics of the NFL.”

Simms got some more fodder for his feeling on Thursday. The Jets announced that they have released Matt Simms from their roster.

The decision isn’t a great surprise with the Jets adding Bryce Petty in the fourth round of this year’s draft. Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick are going to hold down the top two spots on the depth chart and Petty will be developed behind them, which doesn’t leave many reps for the latest member of the Simms family to play quarterback in the NFL.

Getting released now will give him a chance to catch on with another team in time to make his case for a roster spot in the fall, assuming, of course, that the anti-Simms bias doesn’t rear its head once again. Simms played in four games for the Jets over the last two seasons and completed 19-of-39 passes for 195 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

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Broncos sign Ryan Harris

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The Broncos may not be ready to rule Ryan Clady out for the 2015 season, but they didn’t wait long to add to their tackle options in the wake of his torn ACL.

Jeff Legwold and Adam Schefter of ESPN report that the team has added veteran Ryan Harris to the roster. It will be Harris’s third tour of duty in Denver after he began his career with the team as a third-round pick in 2007 and spent the 2012 offseason and preseason with the team.

Harris also has history with head coach Gary Kubiak and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison after spending the 2012 and 2013 seasons with the Texans when both men were on Houston’s staff. He started 15 games for the Chiefs at right tackle last season and has also played on the left side of the line during his time in the NFL.

Harris joins Chris Clark, Ty Sambrailo and Michael Schofield as options at tackle as the Broncos try to sort out their offensive line with Clady out of the picture.

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Kubiak on Ryan Clady’s 2015 status: No decisions will be made quickly

Denver Broncos v Cincinnati Bengals AP

The Broncos Offense suffered a serious blow on Wednesday when left tackle Ryan Clady tore his ACL, but coach Gary Kubiak isn’t ready to rule Clady out for the season yet.

Kubiak met with the media on Thursday and said that the team wasn’t ready to make a decision about whether or not Clady will be able to return at some point in 2015. Even in the best-case scenario they are going to need to replace Clady for a large chunk of the year, however, and the team isn’t ready to make any final calls on that front either.

Kubiak said, via Troy Renck of the Denver Post, that the team will move players around to figure out the best mix in front of quarterback Peyton Manning. The coach added that the initial thought is to leave Chris Clark, who replaced Clady after a 2013 foot injury, on the right side and second-round pick Ty Sambrailo on the left side. Sambrailo, who Kubiak said isn’t “a rookie anymore,” played left tackle at Colorado State.

Michael Schofield is another option at both tackles and the Broncos will likely keep a close eye on players who become available before the start of the regular season. However they line up come September, though, the team will be scrambling to fill a spot they weren’t expecting to be an issue during an offseason that’s already seen a lot of change in Denver.

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