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Texans running back Arian Foster “talks” to reporters, sort of

Arian Foster AP

I tell my kids at least a dozen times a day “It doesn’t have to be that hard.”

If someone in Houston could share that wisdom with Arian Foster, we’d appreciate it.

The Texans running back came back after missing two practices with an undisclosed injury, and “talked” to reporters.

Sort of.

I’m just trying to be the best teammate I can be,” he said in response to every question, via Brian Smith of the Houston Chronicle, who didn’t have much tape to transcribe.

Foster had declined all interview requests from the local media since the end of last season, and refused to talk during the opening days of training camp.

Maybe he’s just trying to adapt to new coach Bill O’Brien’s Belichickian ways, or maybe he saw Marshawn Lynch play peek-a-boo with his media responsibilities during the Super Bowl and thought it was cute.

Whatever it was, it was pointless.

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Charles Woodson finally feels like he’s playing safety

Charles Woodson AP

Charles Woodson was one of the best cornerbacks in the league for so long, shifting inside to safety as he aged seemed like a smooth transition.

But Woodson admitted it was largely winging it when he first moved.

“When I moved to safety a couple of years ago, I was really playing the position as an athlete,” Woodson told FOX Sports’ Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “I was just going back there and doing it because I can play football and for the most part put myself in the right position. But what [Raiders assistant] Marcus [Robertson] is doing is molding me into a safety and allowing me to see the game from the middle of the field and understanding angles from that position.
“I’m loving it because I’m growing. If you’re not growing in this game, you’re not getting better. I plan on getting better.”

Woodson has been playing safety the last three years, but he said he feels like this is his first season where he feels like a safety.

Robertson said he was a “little apprehensive” about coaching a player of Woodson’s magnitude at first, but likes that the 37-year-old is so fully invested in the transition.

“The one thing about him is the guy wants to learn,” said Robertson, the former Titans safety. “He’s eating it up and working on it. And he’s been extremely coachable.
“It’s a beautiful thing. He’s going to have a big year.”

Having veteran players with something to prove is a common thread among the Raiders this year, but Woodson’s example is something their young players should clearly benefit from.

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PFT Live: Kyle Rudolph, PFT Planet calls and tweets

Minnesota Vikings  v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

What did Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph do after he signed his five-year contract extension with the team this week?

You can find out on Wednesday’s edition of PFT Live. Rudolph will join Mike Florio to discuss why he decided to commit his future to the Vikings. Was it the presence of new offensive coordinator Norv Turner or the promise he’s seen in quarterback Teddy Bridgewater? We’ll ask about that and much more during Rudolph’s visit to the show.

And then it will be Florio’s turn to answer the questions instead of asking them. PFT Planet is invited to send in questions on Twitter — @ProFootballTalk — or give a call to 888-237-5269 during the show to share what’s on your mind.

It all gets going at noon ET and you can watch it all live at noon ET by clicking right here.

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Bucs sign Kip Edwards, officially cut Carl Nicks

Carl Nicks AP

The Buccaneers and guard Carl Nicks struck a deal last week to bring Nicks’s time with the Buccaneers to a premature end after a toe injury and subsequent MRSA infection left him unable to play for most of his two years in Tampa.

That parting of the ways became official on Wednesday when the Bucs announced that they have released Nicks, who has indicated that he will not attempt to continue his playing career with another team. The terms of the deal he struck with Tampa before his departure have not been made public.

The Buccaneers signed cornerback Kip Edwards to take Nicks’ place on the roster. Edwards went to camp with the Bills last year and then spent time on practice squads in Minnesota and Cleveland during the regular season.

Tampa needs some depth at corner right now with Alterraun Verner and Rashaan Melvin both nicked up, but Edwards faces an uphill battle to make the team.

 

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Bengals activate Geno Atkins from PUP list

Tom Brady, Geno Atkins AP

The Bengals’ wait for defensive tackle Geno Atkins to be ready to return to practice for the first time since tearing his ACL last season has come to an end.

The team announced Wednesday that they have activated Atkins from the Physically Unable to Perform list, signaling that his recovery from last year’s injury has progressed well enough for Atkins to start taking practice reps with his teammates this week.

While the Bengals’ website says “don’t look for [Atkins] to get right into the heat of the action,” any work he’s doing now will get him closer to full strength for the start of the regular season. Given Atkins’ importance to the Cincinnati defense, that qualifies as a major step in the right direction even if team drills and full contact remain things for future practices.

The Bengals also activated sixth-round pick Marquis Flowers from the PUP list. The linebacker has been bothered by a hamstring injury. Tackle Andrew Whitworth, wide receiver Marvin Jones and tight end Jermaine Gresham are a few of the Bengals still waiting for clearance to practice with the team this summer.

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Texans owner keeping an eye on Raiders’ eyes on Texas

Jerry Jones, Bob McNair AP

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he didn’t “make a lot” of the Raiders’ nosing around the other corner of Texas, but Texans owner Bob McNair is certainly paying attention.

It’s not surprising they would look there cause they’re looking around,” McNair said, via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. “We have a growing fan base there.

“I’m not concerned bout it. We’ll see what the options are. If that’s the best option we’ll see how it plays out.”

Of course, McNair is just one vote of the 32, and the Raiders would need 23 others to get approval to move. But McNair sounded like a guy reminding people about his turf, while trying to sound open-minded.

“The finance committee would have to approve it and I’m chairman of finance committee,” he said. “You’d have to do market research.”

“They need a new stadium. If San Antonio turns out to be the best option I wouldn’t oppose it just cause it’s San Antonio.”

Considering the still vacant hole in the country’s second-largest market, all this talk about the 36th-largest market seems unusual.

But then again, these are the Raiders we’re talking about.

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David Wilson out this week, will see his surgeon on Monday

David Wilson AP

Giants running back David Wilson went to the hospital for a battery of tests after suffering a burner during Tuesday’s practice, but that won’t be the end of the medical evaluations for a player who had spinal fusion surgery last year.

The Giants said Wednesday, via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, that Wilson will visit Dr. Frank Cammisa on Monday. Cammisa performed the surgery on Wilson and will presumably checking to make sure that Tuesday’s injury didn’t adversely impact the structural repairs made during the operation.

Wilson will be out of action until at least that appointment, which means he won’t be practicing this week or facing the Bills in the Hall of Fame game on Sunday. That game is one of five that the Giants will play this preseason, so there will still be a lot of time for Wilson to shake off any rust during the preseason as long as the doctors feel that playing won’t create further problems.

It also gives the Giants time to be cautious in bringing Wilson back, something that will almost certainly be their preferred course of action given the nature of Wilson’s injury in 2013 and his quick return to the medical report this year.

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Arian Foster back at practice, Andre Johnson still out

Arian Foster AP

The Texans have had two of their veteran offensive stars on the sideline this week because of hamstring issues, but one of them made it back to the field on Wednesday.

Running back Arian Foster missed a pair of practices because of his hamstring, but Brian Smith of the Houston Chronicle reports that Foster has returned to work. There’s no word on whether Foster will be a full participant in this session, although the quick return is a good sign that the tweak was as minor as Texans coach Bill O’Brien said it was.

While the Texans have also downplayed the seriousness of wide receiver Andre Johnson’s hamstring injury, Johnson was not able to join Foster and the rest of the team on the practice field Wednesday. That makes two missed practices in a row for Johnson as he tries to catch up for time missed when he was staying away from offseason workouts because of dissatisfaction with the overall direction of the franchise.

If the team’s assessment of Johnson’s hamstring was as on point as their assessment of Foster’s, the receiver shouldn’t be out too much longer.

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Chip Kelly: DeSean Jackson didn’t open things up for others last year

Chip Kelly AP

When the Eagles released wide receiver DeSean Jackson, there was a school of thought that believed their offense would suffer in 2014 because Jackson wasn’t there.

The two main reasons cited were that Jackson’s speed is difficult to replace and that his presence opened things up for other members of the offense. The Eagles didn’t have such worries and coach Chip Kelly explained why the team is confident that everything can continue to run smoothly with Jackson in Washington.

“I think most people played us in single high [safety] coverage and they played man across the board on anybody and no one was getting any help,” Kelly said, via ESPN.com. “Riley [Cooper] was getting man [coverage] on his side. DeSean was getting man on his side. Jason Avant was getting man in the slot. Zach Ertz, whoever our tight end was, was getting manned. Running back was getting manned. No one is going to play us in two [safeties] deep because if you play us in two deep, we can run the heck out of the ball. We had everybody as close to the line of scrimmage as possible and nobody was helping anybody. They were trying to stop the run game.”

With LeSean McCoy still in the offense, that figures to be the case again this season. As a result, finding receivers that can beat the press coverage that comes with defenses playing close to the line of scrimmage will be the biggest thing for the Eagles this offseason. Rookie Jordan Matthews has the build to be that kind of receiver and has been getting rave reviews, perhaps to Kelly’s consternation, for his ability to make an impact this fall.

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Tom Coughlin, Odell Beckham clear the air about hamstring

Tom Coughlin AP

It wasn’t hard to read the frustration in coach Tom Coughlin’s tone, regarding Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham’s hamstring problems.

So the rookie sat down with his old-school coach to make sure they were on the same page.

“We had that talk today and it was just kind of like, ‘I know I’m new and we don’t know each other that well,’ ” Beckham said, via Mitch Abramson of the New York Daily News. “So over time you get to know people, and the bad part about it is your first impression is the kind that lasts forever, so you don’t ever want to leave a bad impression.

“But at the same time I’m just trying to reassure him that he knows how hard it is for me to not be practicing.”

Beckham missed OTA time with the hamstring problem as well, giving Coughlin a limited scope to see the 12th overall pick in the draft.

“We just had a discussion, that’s all, player [and] coach, trying to get to know each other better,” Coughlin said. “I see his frustration and he sees our frustration — but don’t make anything more of it than it is. It’s a coach wanting a player on the field and the player wanting the player on the field.”

Beckham had tests which showed no structural damage, so it’s a matter of day-to-day recovery. He said he hopes to play in some preseason games, which would certainly help Coughlin get to know him even better.

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Kelvin Benjamin feels like “a new man” after knee scare

Kelvin Benjamin AP

Panthers rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin was able to smile after his first NFL injury scare, saying he felt like “a new man” after a precautionary MRI revealed only a bone bruise.

(If that new man was Calvin Johnson, the Panthers’ passing game should be OK.)

Benjamin’s MRI revealed no structural damage, and the indication that his absence will be measured in days rather than weeks.

I’m coming back even harder, 10 times harder,” Benjamin said, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “I’m getting a lot of treatment, just get better.”

Benjamin didn’t practice yesterday, and the team has today off, so there’s no rush.

“I think they just want to take their time on it,” he said. “I woke up [Tuesday] morning like a new man. I was telling them it feels way better. But they were still telling me still take your time with it.”

In his absence, the Panthers rotated Marvin McNutt into the starting mix with Jason Avant and Jerricho Cotchery.

And that should tell you all you need to know about the importance of Benjamin’s return.

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Kyle Rudolph visits PFT Live on Wednesday

Rudolph AP

On Sunday, he signed a long-term, big-money deal with the Vikings.  On Wednesday, he’ll give PFT Live a little of his time for free.

We think.

Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph inked a five-year, $36.5 million contract that can be worth up to $40 million.  I’ll ask him about that and other stuff related to the 2014 edition of the team, his fourth NFL season, and the first year with coach Mike Zimmer and offensive coordinator Norv Turner during the show that streams right here at 12:00 p.m. ET.

If you have questions for Rudolph or questions for our daily (mostly) PFT Planet segment, ask them via Twitter.

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Dr. Jerry Jones declares Tony Romo “100 percent”

Jerry Jones AP

If you had any lingering concerns about Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo taking the day off yesterday rather than install the two-minute offense, let Dr. Jerry Jones set your mind at ease.

He is 100 percent. He’s 100 percent,” Jones said, via Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “He’s just being real smart and sensitive about having come off the back surgery. He’s certainly not losing any ground from the standpoint of opening up against San Francisco [in the regular-season opener].”

The good doctor’s son Stephen had said earlier Tuesday that Romo was practicing, but then coach Jason Garrett said he was giving Romo the day off since they were working on the faster-paced part of the program.

“I just had a brief visit with him on the way out to practice,” Doctor Jerry said. “We feel real good. We’re really pleased with the way he’s practicing and the work he’s getting done and what he’s doing both on and off the field, but nothing in any way would concern you certainly about his back.”

A healthy Romo is a key for the Cowboys trying to get off their perpetual 8-8 slide, so giving him days off in July is probably a prudent use of Owner Jerry’s money.

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Jerry Jones doesn’t “make a lot” of Raiders meeting with San Antonio

Jerry Jones

Tuesday night brought news of the Raiders talking to officials from San Antonio as part of what the city manager called “preliminary due diligence” about a possible move to the city for the stadium seeking team from Oakland.

There’s no sign that any move is imminent, not least because any relocation would need the approval of 23 other owners. One of those owners has had his team hold parts of training camp in San Antonio in the past and Jerry Jones called the town “very important” to the Cowboys franchise while discussing word of Raiders owner Mark Davis’ conversations.

Jones didn’t say whether that importance would make the Raiders moving to San Antonio problematic, but he didn’t sound overly worried about having to protect the Alamo from outside invaders.

“I don’t make a lot of this. At all,” Jones said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “It’s not … something I necessarily would be familiar with. Again, my interest in San Antonio is because how important it is to the Cowboys, and our history of having our training camp there and the fact that we’ve got such a tremendous fan base in San Antonio.”

Jones and Texans owner Bob McNair will surely have more to say if things move forward in San Antonio. For now, though, they can focus on getting their own teams back into the playoffs.

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Report: No structural problems with Lardarius Webb’s back

Lardarius Webb AP

The Ravens got more worried about cornerback Lardarius Webb’s back after his Friday injury had not resolved itself in time for Monday’s practice, which led them to send him for more tests in hopes of finding out when he’d be able to get back to work.

Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports that doctors found no structural damage to Webb’s back during their examination. It is thought to be a muscular problem that will be treated with rest and rehabilitation.

In other words, it is going to take some time for Webb’s back to get well enough for football action. The Ravens don’t think that his availability for the season opener is at risk at this point and a cautious approach from here will be designed to keep Webb on track for early September.

Webb had 74 tackles and two interceptions last season, making a successful move from a torn ACL back to the top of the depth chart at cornerback in Baltimore.

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