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Aaron Rodgers: We’re right where we need to be

Aaron Rodgers AP

After Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson tore his ACL last Sunday, quarterback Aaron Rodgers lamented that his top target from last season had been injured in a “meaningless” game.

Nelson’s absence will force some players into new roles and cause some changes with the way things flow on the offense, but the man who told the world to relax after the Packers started 1-2 last season doesn’t seem overly concerned about working on them in two meaningless games this summer. Rodgers said Wednesday that he feels he’s had enough work already this summer to prepare for the start of the regular season.

“We’re right where we need to be,” Rodgers said, via ESPN.com. “We’ve had some productive drives when we’ve been out there. I’m happy where we’re at. We have some guys banged up right now, so not sure what the playing time will be, but whatever Mike [McCarthy] decides, I’m confident we’ll be ready when the season starts.”

One thing that should factor into McCarthy’s decision is injuries to left tackle David Bakhtiari, left guard Josh Sitton and right guard T.J. Lang. None of those need to risk further issues by playing in a preseason game and playing Rodgers behind backups ups the risk to his health to a level that might be more than the Packers need to take at this point in the schedule.

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League reminds teams of rule against artificial crowd noise

Loud Getty Images

As the low hum of #DeflateGate continues to permeate the NFL, the league office has issued a reminder to all teams that relates to another of the 2015 offseason controversies: The Falcons’ use of artificial crowd noise in 2013 and 2014.

The connection between the two incidents coincidentally comes from the fact that NFL V.P. of game operations Mike Kensil’s name appears at the bottom of the email sent Wednesday to all teams regarding the 2015 Video Board and Crowd Noise Policies.

Per a source with knowledge of the pre-existing rules, the email reflects no new provisions or procedures. But the reminder regarding the policies regarding the use of sound and video during a game carry a little more weight this year given that the Falcons deliberately defied the rules — and were caught doing it.

The Falcons ultimately lost a fifth-round draft pick in 2016 and paid a fine of $350,000 for the infraction, a penalty that doesn’t really seem to provide much of a deterrent given the potential benefits of disrupting the opposing offense with a level of noise that removes its inherent advantage of hearing the snap count.

Owner Arthur Blank has explained that the Patriots faced a much greater punishment for what arguably was a lesser infraction because they “failed to acknowledge” what they had done. Of course, the difference is that the Patriots denied deflating footballs — and the evidence of their guilt is far less compelling than the evidence against the Falcons, which was sufficiently clear that they didn’t even try to deny it.

Still, with the punishment being a future late-round pick, a mid-six-figure fine, and a three-month suspension for the team CEO from a voluntary committee but not from his job, other teams may be tempted to roll the dice on cranking up the decibels in the hopes of getting an advantage. Then again, without a well-connected CEO who possibly lobbied the league office to go easy on the Falcons, the next team to be caught using artificial crowd noise could end up facing the kind of punishment that would serve as a much stronger deterrent moving forward.

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Terrell Suggs, used to being the bad guy, offers tips on rules

New Orleans Saints v Baltimore Ravens Getty Images

At this point in his career, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs is used to being called dirty, and hated. To be honest, he revels in it.

After being the center of controversy over his low hit on Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford (playing his first game since his second straight ACL tear), Suggs said he didn’t anticipate anything other than the reaction he got from Philadelphia, but offered some advice.

What do you expect? Nobody wants to see their quarterback get hit,” Suggs said, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. “But I think if people had a firm understanding of the read-option, it wouldn’t be as frustrating. Like I said before, if you’re going to run the read-option, you’ve got to be keen on the rules.”

(It’s also important to be keen on substitution and formation rules, but that’s a different story.)

Suggs said he’s had “plenty” of conversations with Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome about where to draw the line on hitting quarterbacks, and said he understands why it’s such a sensitive topic.

“Those guys gets a lot of sponsors. A lot of those guys are good-looking guys,” Suggs said. “We don’t want to damage them too much. It’s the most valuable position on the field. You got to protect them. If we have anybody to blame, it’s our own Ozzie Newsome. He’s on the competition committee. He helps put the rules in. . . .

“He said, ‘The quarterback keeps a lot of people employed. So we got to protect them.’ I understand. I wouldn’t want my guy getting mistreated.”

The good news for the Ravens is, there’s little chance of Joe Flacco running the read option, so opponents won’t be faced with the same dilemma Suggs was against the elusive Bradford.

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Andy Dalton: Criticism comes down to “the whole playoff thing”

George Johnson, Andy Dalton AP

There are plenty of teams that are entering the 2015 season with quarterback situations worse than the Bengals, who will be riding a four-year string of playoff appearances with Andy Dalton into Dalton’s fifth professional season.

That record doesn’t protect Dalton from criticism, though. In fact, it might draw criticism his way because those playoff appearances have all been one and done as the Bengals have faded from view with a whimper once the postseason started. Dalton doesn’t pretend that he’s ignorant of the negativity.

“As much as I want to say I don’t look at it and I don’t see it, with the world today, it’s hard not to see stuff,” Dalton said, via ESPN.com. “And a lot of stuff that’s said, you can look at it and it could be an eighth grader or something. People can hide behind a computer screen and it’s the same person that’s coming up wanting my autograph. So it is what it is.”

Dalton also isn’t playing ignorant about the reason why he draws vitriolic comments on Instagram posts that have nothing to do with football. Dalton says that there was plenty of positivity when he took the Bengals to the playoffs as a rookie, but “the whole playoff thing” has gone the other way over the last three seasons.

There’s no doubt that the inability to win in the playoffs overshadows everything else Dalton has done in the NFL. It’s not personal to him since postseason success has become a defining factor in the profile of every starting quarterback, but it can feel bigger for Dalton than for some of his peers. Because he’s neither in the upper echelon nor the bottom of the barrel, Dalton’s only path out of the middle of the road is postseason success and anything else feels like a talented team is being let down by their quarterback.

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Thursday morning one-liners

Belichick Getty Images

The Bills have some tough decisions ahead at WR.

Dolphins LT Branden Albert is getting closer to a return.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick can’t coach forever, can he?

Jets S Calvin Pryor remains confident after a rough rookie season.

Ravens QB Joe Flacco’s parties are not elite.

Bengals T Jake Fisher is ready to get back on the field.

Browns QB Thad Lewis gets another chance.

The Steelers punting competition is sure to leave someone heading down under.

Texans DE J.J. Watt admits he wasn’t very good as a rookie (which isn’t really true).

The Colts are still evaluating their NT position.

Jaguars RB Toby Gerhart is probably finished for the preseason.

Titans G Chance Warmack is bouncing back from toe problems.

Broncos QB Peyton Manning is looking for progress on offense.

Chiefs OLB Dee Ford’s rib is just bruised, not broken.

Raiders LB Sio Moore has missed so much time he’s probably not getting his starting job back.

Chargers rookie Nick Dzubnar has drawn some high praise.

Cowboys CB Morris Claiborne is back in the spotlight.

The Giants may have the next version of Osi Umenyiora on the roster already.

The Eagles are going to use three guys at ILB.

Washington has lost five players for the season in two weeks.

The Bears are running thin at WR in practice.

Lions rookie G Laken Tomlinson is expected to make his first start Friday night.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers expects their young WRs to respond after Jordy Nelson’s injury.

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson missed practice for a court appearance.

Falcons DT Ra’Shede Hageman was cleared to return to practice after his concussion.

Panthers TE Brandon Williams returns eight months after groin injury (write your own punch lines)

There were signs of pass rush at Saints practice.

Buccaneers C Evan Smith hopes to be able to play Saturday.

Cardinals S Deone Bucannon is helping to make up for the loss of LB Daryl Washington.

Rams DT Ethan Westbrooks is trying to write his own story this year.

49ers FB Bruce Miller’s case with the NFL remains under review after disturbing the peace charges.

Veteran DT Ahtyba Rubin thinks he found “heaven” with the Seahawks.

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DeVante Parker expected to start practicing next week

Miami Dolphins OTA's Getty Images

The Dolphins activated wide receiver DeVante Parker from the physically unable to perform list a week ago, which meant the first-round pick became eligible to begin practicing with the team for the first time since offseason foot surgery.

Parker hasn’t actually started practicing, though. While Parker dressed for Wednesday’s practice and has resumed running, rehab continued to be the only work on his plate. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports that is expected to change next week.

Parker is expected to join practice on at least a limited basis with an eye on being in the lineup when the regular season gets underway. Being in the lineup is one thing, but will Parker be able to contribute after so little time on the field since being drafted?

“That’s the plan, but you never know,” Parker said, via the Herald.

It’s an ambitious plan given Parker’s injury and inactivity, but a growing role in the offense over the first weeks of the season seems like a realistic trajectory for Parker to take as he acclimates himself after the layoff.

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Sheldon Richardson waiting for decision on his future

Sheldon Getty Images

Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson is going through the preseason as if nothing’s different. But he knows things are about to change.

Richardson, who was suspended four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy already, is facing more time off after he was charged with resisting arrest and multiple traffic violations in July.

I don’t know what to expect,” Richardson said, via Seth Walder of the New York Daily News. “That’s out of my hands.

“I can go from four games to however long he [Roger Goodell] wants it to be. So it’s pretty tough.”

Richardson should keep an eye on the next few Fridays, otherwise there is no indication when he’ll find out about the latest problem. With the league writing broadly its new personal conduct policy, he could be punished for endangering a child while driving 143 mph even though he wasn’t charged with that in Missouri, though he’s certainly facing some degree of additional punishment.

“When I get the date of when I can actually return, then I can actually start moving forward,” Richardson said. “But until then it’s just going to be a cloud over my head.”

And over the Jets’ as his off-field issues are almost enough to obscure his on-field talent.

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Walter Thurmond grabbing hold of Eagles second safety job

Walter Thurmond Getty Images

Despite being a cornerback for his first five seasons in the NFL, Walter Thurmond is finding a home at safety with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Thurmond appears to be the favorite to grab the second starting job with the Eagles alongside Malcolm Jenkins. Thurmond has started both preseason games for Philadelphia and intercepted Joe Flacco in last week’s game against the Baltimore Ravens.

“It really hasn’t been close when you talk about second safety spot,” Jenkins said, via Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “You wanted to see someone grab that spot by the horns, and he’s done such.”

Thurmond has started just nine games in five season, eight of which came with the Seattle Seahawks from 2010-13. He’s primarily been a slot cornerback during his career but has struggled to stay on the field due to numerous injuries.

Thurmond has 89 tackles, two forced fumbles, a sack and an interception returned for a touchdown in 36 career games with Seattle and the New York Giants.

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Pat Devlin to work out for Browns

Pat Devlin Getty Images

With Johnny Manziel not expected to play this week due to a sore elbow, the Cleveland Browns are looking at interim options at quarterback.

According to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com, the Browns will host Pat Devlin for a workout on Thursday.

Devlin was most recently with the Chicago Bears, where he lasted just over a month on their offseason roster. He spent the first three seasons of his career with the Miami Dolphins and also spent time with the Minnesota Vikings on their practice squad last season.

Manziel has had soreness in his right elbow that has kept him out of practice this week. The Browns still have Terrelle Pryor on their roster as well as a wide receiver, but the audition for Devlin seems to indicate an unwillingness to return Pryor to his former position.

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Bucs want Winston to protect himself

Jameis Winston, Trae Waynes AP

In each of his two career preseason games, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has scored a touchdown by diving head first into the end zone. He also has resisted sliding when not running for the goal line.

The Buccaneers want him to be more careful with his body.

[W]e don’t run an option football,” coach Lovie Smith said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “We want to protect our quarterback. Sometimes the play calls for you to get what you can and get down. We need to work on him getting down. We’re not going to put him at risk an awful lot, but it’s football. Believe me, we know who we have there, and we want to keep him protected.”

“Jameis is such a competitor, he has a hard time cutting his losses,” offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said. “He doesn’t ever want to cut his losses. That’s good and bad. That’s well documented. He’s going to make some plays, and we’re going to love him, and there’s going to be some other times we’re going to say, ‘Get down! Get down!’ That’s how it’s going to be, so get used to it. We’re working on it, but get used to it.”

Winston knows that he can’t play well unless he’s able to play. And he won’t be able to play if he’s injured.

“I got to learn that, because I love to compete, I love to be competitive,” Winston said. “But at the end of the day, it’s like Coach Koetter says, you’ve got to know just when to leave it alone. And I’m young right now and I love the action. You know, as quarterbacks, we don’t get hit at practice, so I want to go in there in the preseason and get it out of the way. . . . It’s going to take some time for me to adjust. But I know I’ve got to protect my body, and I’ve got to protect this team by staying injury-free.”

Already, Winston has taken too many risks with his body. With 16 regular-season games looming, Winston needs to figure out how to protect himself, quickly.

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Barth goes back to Tampa Bay, joins familiar competition

Connor Barth,  Michael Koenen AP

Connor Barth’s unemployment didn’t even last all of Wednesday. The Bucs are bringing back the veteran kicker to compete with Patrick Murray over the next week.

Barth kicked for the Bucs from 2009-12, was hurt in 2013 and was cut in the preseason last year in favor of Murray.

Murray has missed two field goals and an extra point this preseason, which prompted the team to bring back Barth after he was released by the Broncos Wednesday morning. Barth went 15-of-16 on field goal tries with the Broncos over the final five weeks of last season but was cut in favor of the player he replaced last year, Brandon McManus.

Murray was 20-of-24 on field goals last season, his first in the NFL. Now he’s kicking for his job, again, against the player he beat out a year ago.

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Revis says Beckham needs to “step up to the challenge”

Darrelle Revis AP

One of the best cornerbacks in the NFL will face one of the best receivers in the NFL twice this year, as the Jets and Giants prepare for an annual preseason game and a once-every-four-year regular-season battle of New York/New Jersey/whatever. And at a time when Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. realizes that he’ll be a target in 2015, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis agrees — but believes Beckham can overcome it.

He just has to step up to the challenge,” Revis said Wednesday, via Dom Cosentino of NJ.com. “He’s one of the best receivers in the league. He definitely is maybe a target for coaches to game plan, or maybe slide the coverages over his way, or maybe a safety, or maybe a double [team]. The guy did awesome last year. This comes with it, in years after. It’s something that he has to work at.”

In addition to all of that, Beckham is concerned that defensive backs will target him physically in lieu of playing the ball, subjecting Beckham to the kind of big hits he didn’t see very often (if at all) in 2015. Come November 6, he may not be getting hit hard by Revis but Beckham could find himself covered like he never has been covered before.

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Russell Wilson’s claims about Recovery Water could create FTC problems

Russell+Wilson+Seattle+Seahawks+v+Denver+Broncos+OxajuAhdvFol Getty Images

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is entitled to believe whatever he wants to believe about the healing powers of Recovery Water. He’s not entitled to share those beliefs with the rest of the world, if his beliefs can’t be corroborated with scientific fact.

As an investor and de facto celebrity endorser in the product, Wilson is bound by the rules of the Federal Trade Commission, which prevent a celebrity endorser from saying things that the manufacturer of the product couldn’t say directly.

“Advertisers are subject to liability for false or unsubstantiated statements made through endorsements,” FTC guidelines promulgated in 2009 state. “Endorsers also may be liable for statements made in the course of their endorsements.”

Few if any are likely taking Wilson’s claims seriously, but plenty of outlandish claims have been made over the years regarding the attributes of a given product — and plenty of people have bought the product assuming the claim to be true.

In Wilson’s case, he admitted in the new Rolling Stone profile that they’re not claiming to have “real medical proof” that Recovery Water cures or prevents concussions. His follow-up tweet, which comes off as borderline defiant in the face of the criticism he has absorbed for his comments in Rolling Stone, contains no such caveat.

Which could mean that Wilson and/or the makers of Recovery Water will soon be hearing from the FTC, especially if any of Recovery Water’s competitors make a complaint to the agency.

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Impasse continues between Chancellor, Seahawks

Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor ( AP

Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor continues to hold out for a new contract. The Seahawks continue to refuse to give him one.

Chancellor’s teammates continue to support Chancellor, and more importantly to place no pressure on him whatsoever.

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman was the latest player to say nothing that would put Chancellor in an awkward spot during a Wednesday session with reporters.

“I’m not sure,” Sherman said regarding whether the team is “wondering” about Chancellor. “I don’t think we’re wondering about anything. I think we’re focused on what we’re doing here and if they work something out with him that will be phenomenal and we’ll welcome him back with open arms. But if not, then we’ll focus on what we have here and continue to play.”

It’s looking like the “not” is winning.

“Both sides are digging their heels in,” Sherman said. “That’s how it goes when you have deals like this. He’s digging his heels in, they’re digging their heels in. I don’t know when it’s going to get resolved. I try to focus on what we control here and hope that it gets resolved.”

Sherman is right; neither side is budging, and there’s no apparent middle ground that would allow a win-win or at a minimum some face saving. As one league source put it earlier today, the Seahawks refuse to do anything to Chancellor’s contract. At this point, the only question is whether Chancellor will cave — and then whether the Seahawks will waive all or part of daily fines in the amount of $30,000 per day.

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Which team in the NFC East has the best defense?

Dfence Getty Images

We know that the teams of the AFC East have strong defenses. What about the teams of the NFC East?

Here’s your chance to pick the best defense from among the quartet of teams in the division that produced only one playoff team in 2014 but that has generated a dozen Super Bowl champions since the merger.

Tune in to NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk at 6:00 p.m. ET to see the results. And to hear what we have to say on that topic and plenty of others.

It’s Rodney Harrison, Paul Burmeister, and yours truly getting you all the latests news and analysis from the NFL in only 30 minutes.

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