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Monday morning one-liners

Indianapolis Colts Rookie Camp Getty Images

Bills rookie WR Sammy Watkins says pressure isn’t a problem for him.

The offensive line will be a big focus of Dolphins camp.

Patriots LB Jamie Collins hopes more bulk leads to more playing time.

The Jets expect more from CB Dee Milliner this season.

Setting the stage for the Ravens defensive line.

How will the Bengals shape up on special teams?

Seneca Wallace is up next on the walk down Browns quarterbacks memory lane.

Steelers WR Martavis Bryant tries to model his game after Bengals WR A.J. Green.

Breaking the Texans down position by position.

Coach Chuck Pagano is a couple of days away from his third Colts training camp.

Will the Jaguars be favored in any games this season?

What to expect from Jake Locker and the other Titans quarterbacks this season.

Broncos S Rahim Moore’s experience with compartment syndrome has helped at least one Colorado resident.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid isn’t a fan of practicing with other NFL teams.

The Raiders website said farewell to Raiders fan James Garner.

What will the Chargers’ defensive line look like this season?

All you need to know about Cowboys QB Brandon Weeden.

A vote of confidence in Giants coach Tom Coughlin.

Eagles receivers are focused on beating press coverage this season.

John Clayton of ESPN thinks the Redskins could shoot for more than 70 offensive snaps per game in 2014.

The Bears have worked to put QB Jay Cutler into the best position to succeed.

A breakdown of the Lions secondary.

Running back has become a strength for the Packers.

Who will join Harrison Smith at safety for the Vikings?

Some optimism about the Falcons’ chances of rebounding this season.

Six-year-old George Gring’s wish to meet Panthers QB Cam Newton was granted.

Getting excited about the Saints’ move to West Virginia for training camp.

The Buccaneers website is making lists ahead of training camp.

Cardinals LB Larry Foote may not be well suited to pass coverage responsibilities.

Could LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar’s arrest lead to an opportunity for another Rams defender?

What’s the outlook for 49ers CB Dontae Johnson in his rookie season?

Seahawks CB Richard Sherman’s charity softball game drew a huge crowd.

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Chiefs officially begin process of turning page on playoff collapse

Reid AP

The Chiefs chased a 2-14 season in 2012 with an unlikely playoff berth.  And that wasn’t the most unusual development in Andy Reid’s first season with the team.

Up 38-10 in the second half of a wild-card playoff game against the Colts in Indianapolis, the Chiefs authored one of the all-time postseason collapses, losing 45-44.

With rookies, quarterbacks, and injured players reporting for camp on Sunday, the process of climbing out of the valley of 0-0 has begun once again, with higher expectations and an important lesson learned.

“[W]hat can we learn from that?” Reid said to reporters on Sunday.  “Heck, there’s a ton you can learn from that game right there on how to finish.  You have to know how to do that.  There is no time to let your foot off the accelerator.  That can make us a better team going forward.  That I think is a positive.  As much as it hurt and hurts when you lose any game and particularly a playoff game, those hurt, but at the same time, it’s something you can learn and build on for this coming year.”

The Chiefs will have to apply that lesson week in and week out, if they even hope to be in position to blow a 28-point lead in January.  The Chiefs took big hits on both lines of scrimmage in free agency, and the signs are pointing to a step back in Reid’s second year.

Then again, not making the playoffs at all could be better than a meltdown for the ages.

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PFT’s preseason power rankings reach the Fab Four

The Beatles Getty Images

Twenty-eight down, four to go.

The top four teams in PFT’s NFL preseason power rankings will be unveiled over the next two days. The fourth-ranked team will be announced Monday morning, while the third-rated club will take its spot on the medal stand on Monday afternoon.

The top two clubs will be announced Tuesday, with the runner-up in the morning and our No. 1-ranked club in the afternoon.

Before we get to the Fab Four, be sure to check out how we’ve ranked teams Nos. 5 through 32. All told, 14 AFC and 14 NFC clubs have been unveiled in our power rankings, which were determined by a vote of the PFT staff.

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Jameis Winston is fine with not getting paid

Winston Getty Images

Maybe Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston should change his major to business.  Because it’s obvious that the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner doesn’t fully understand economics — and he doesn’t comprehend the manner in which the billion-dollar machine that is college football is screwing him.

As explained by John Taylor of CFT, Winston opened the ACC Media Days by launching into a passionate defense of simply getting room, board, and tuition in return for helping his college and its conference and, ultimately, NCAA Incorporated generate far more value that he’ll ever realize.

It’s very important to me,” Winston said.  “I was always raised as a student first and an athlete second. . . .

“I think that’s the main purpose in college.  Some athletes lose that perspective.  It’s about being a student-athlete, and not just getting that easy money and going to the league.  Even if kids leave early, I would want them to come back and get that degree. . . .

“We’re blessed to get a free education . . . and that’s enough for me.”

It shouldn’t be.  Winston’s talents and physical sacrifices generate revenue that isn’t being fairly shared with him, thanks to a system that quite possibly violates federal antitrust laws by allowing the various colleges to hide behind an artificial limitation on what an athlete can receive in return for his efforts.

Maybe Winston is simply accepting the fact that nothing will change in time for him to get any of the money, which means there’s no reason to complain about something that ultimately won’t matter.  But if that mindset prompts Winston to remain at Florida State after 2014 at a time when the NFL is ready to make him one of the top picks in the 2015 draft, he’ll be making a huge mistake.

Most if not all kids go to college to develop marketable skills.  Winston’s most marketable skills flow from his physical talents.  The longer he plays college football, the greater the chance those skills will be diminished by serious injury.  If/when the window opens for Winston or any other college player to be compensated for his abilities, the business savvy that would flow from a free education points to the unmistakable conclusion of getting paid now and finishing the education later.

Until then, Winston is unwittingly giving Florida State and the rest of the college system even greater value by aiding the process of influencing other kids to continue to get far less than they deserve for the services they are providing.  If, after all, a free education is good enough for Jameis Winston, it should be good enough for them, too.

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Jon Beason won’t run in conditioning test on Monday

Washington Redskins v New York Giants Getty Images

Giants linebacker Jon Beason is still planning to play in this year’s season opener after injuring his foot this offseason, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll be practicing when the team opens training camp this week.

Beason told Tom Rock of Newsday that he won’t be running in the conditioning test that his teammates will be taking when camp opens on Monday. That suggests he’ll open up camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list that will bar him from practicing until the team feels sure his foot is ready after this spring’s ligament tear and fracture, although he told Rock he feels he could take the test and that he’s feeling great.

“We’re hitting all those benchmarks in terms of the prognosis. It’s getting better and better every day,” Beason said. “I feel fine right now. But then again I know that I’m not ready to go full speed and change direction and tackle people.”

Beason also added that he’s had seasons without any camp and hit the ground running, but the Giants would surely prefer things play out in a way that allows the veteran to get his feet wet before the games count. Beason’s arrival was a major turning point for the Giants’ defense last season and they are back in similarly undermanned straits at middle linebacker as long as he’s out of the lineup.

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Mike Tomlin on job security: Hopefully I’m not an ex-coach when season ends

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Tomlin directs his team's play in the third quarter of play against the Minnesota Vikings during their NFL football game at Wembley Stadium in London Reuters

Earlier on Sunday, we shared Giants co-owner John Mara saying that he didn’t think winning two Super Bowls gave Tom Coughlin the right to decide when his run as Giants coach comes to an end.

Based on his comments on his own job security in Pittsburgh, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin would almost certainly agree with Mara because he’s not taking anything for granted after winning one ring. Tomlin is 71-41 since becoming the head coach and took the Steelers to another Super Bowl, but Tomlin says “I don’t assume that” there’s job security coming off back-to-back 8-8 seasons.

“Hopefully, I’m not one of them [when the season ends],” Tomlin said of having three ex-head coaches on his staff, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The Steelers don’t take coaching changes lightly and Tomlin is signed through the 2016 season, so there’s no real discussion that Tomlin is coaching for his job this season. The Steelers have been transitioning away from the stars of the last generation to players they hope will form the base for another winner, which is all the more reason for Tomlin to see out his current deal.

All that said, the Steelers face the possibility of three straight years without a winning record since 1971 and that would increase the pressure for Tomlin even without claiming his job.

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Vikings walk fine line in justifying Kluwe release

images Getty Images

Over the past two days, I’ve been trying to strike the right balance when it comes to determining how many blurbs to post from the 29-page memo analyzing the results of the investigation conducted by the Vikings in response to various allegations made by former punter Chris Kluwe.  It’s not nearly as delicate as the balance the Vikings have tried to strike in justifying the decision to cut Kluwe in 2013.

The management-side law firm hired by the Vikings to analyze the investigation gives the Vikings a path through the litigation mine field that could nevertheless cause an explosion or two.

“The record does not support the claim that the Vikings released Kluwe because of his activism on behalf of marriage equality, but instead because of his declining punting performance in 2012 and potentially because of the distraction caused by Kluwe’s activism, as opposed to the substance of such,” the report concludes.

On one hand, it makes sense. If a man who plays a position with low demand, high supply, and little interplay among the other 10 players on the field creates a distraction, it becomes very easy to find someone who will do the same job nearly as well without a distraction. But when the actual or perceived distraction arises from legally protected activity, it becomes difficult to separate the distraction from the activity.

Under that theory, any player whose presence creates a distraction could be released, regardless of whether the distraction comes from, for example, homosexuality, disease, disability, or membership in an obscure, unpopular, and/or controversial religious group. If Kluwe, for example, belonged to a satanic cult, that would be a distraction. And it would be hard to fire him based on the distraction caused by the religious beliefs without creating the impression that he actually was being fired because of those beliefs.

Coupled with a specious analysis of his 2012 punting skills, Kluwe’s upcoming claim for wrongful discharge could be much stronger than a legal theory based on special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer creating a hostile work environment by making homophobic remarks, especially in light of Kluwe’s admitted workplace conduct.  But the question of whether Kluwe’s jokes about the Jerry Sandusky scandal show that Kluwe wasn’t offended by Priefer’s remarks won’t matter when the time comes to assess the philosophical question of whether the protected activity and the distraction arising from it are one in the same.

If they are, Kluwe easily could win in court.

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Colts offer single-game tickets, with an asterisk

Colts Getty Images

On Monday, Colts fans can buy tickets to one or more of the 10 individual games on the team’s home slate for 2014.  But to get tickets to one of the games, fans must buy tickets to another game.

The team announced that seats for the latest showdown with the Patriots can be had only by buying tickets to another game on the schedule.  The good news?  It’s the Giants.  Bad news?  It’s a preseason game.

Last year, Colts owner Jim Irsay justified the application of the same prices to preseason and regular-season tickets by arguing that the value evens out over the full course of 10 games.  By forcing fans who want to see the most valuable game on the 2014 docket to buy tickets to a far less valuable game, the Colts are applying a form of flexible pricing, essentially doubling the cost of the Patriots game — especially if Patriots fans will be buying any of the tickets.

It would be more sensible to simply adopt flexible pricing.  Approved to be used for the first time in the coming season, several teams (including the Steelers, Bills, Lions, Patriots, and Dolphins) have opted to slide prices up and down based on the perceived quality of the game.

The Patriots will visit Indianapolis on November 16 for a game currently due to kickoff at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC.  That could change under the concept of flexible scheduling, which begins in theory as early as Week Five in 2014.

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John Mara: Tom Coughlin not on hot seat, but hasn’t earned right to leave on own terms

Denver Broncos v New York Giants Getty Images

Giants coach Tom Coughlin has a contract that runs through the 2015 season and some people have opined that the two-time Super Bowl winner has earned the right to decide when his run as the team’s coach comes to an end.

One of the guys who pays Coughlin’s salary is not one of those people. In an interview with Steve Serby of the New York Post, Giants co-owner John Mara said that the furthest thing from his mind right now is making a change involving Coughlin and stressed that he wasn’t on the hot seat while also saying that he didn’t think any coach is guaranteed the right to choose their own departure date.

“Does anybody ever earn that right? That’s just not the way this business is in this day and age,” Mara said. “Let’s hope that it goes that way, but we haven’t even had that discussion yet. … We’re just looking forward to the next couple of seasons.”

Mara said nothing to suggest that Coughlin has to reach a particular number of wins or the playoffs in order to keep his job, but the reality is that another year out of the postseason would be three in a row for the Giants. There aren’t many coaches who hold onto their jobs through runs like that, even ones with two Super Bowl rings, and there will surely be more questions for ownership about the future of the league’s oldest coach if things don’t go their way in 2014.

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RG3: Offense is “very similar” to last two years

Robert Griffin III AP

The change in coaches in Washington this offseason has led to a lot of discussion about the different things Jay Gruden wants to do on offense from what Mike Shanahan did with quarterback Robert Griffin III over the last two years.

There’s been talk about fewer planned runs by Griffin in hopes of building up his skills as a pocket passer so that the team can take advantage of a talented receiving group that includes DeSean Jackson, Jordan Reed and Pierre Garçon. That would be a noticeable difference from Griffin’s first two seasons, but the quarterback says that things aren’t completely different for the Redskins offense.

“I think having two years’ experience running an offense, a pro-level offense, West Coast type, this is very similar,” Griffin said, via the Washington Post. “So it’s not been as tough as you might think. But all the concepts translate over. They might be called something different. But the reads are similar. It’s just about the philosophy of the coach. Jay has a little bit different philosophy. We’ll find out what that is on Sundays.”

Outside of limiting Griffin as a runner, the Redskins aren’t expected to make big changes to the run game as things worked pretty well with Alfred Morris even when the offense struggled elsewhere last season. If Griffin can adapt to his new responsibilities as a passer, the chances of a rebound for the Redskins will look pretty good despite last year’s issues.

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Saints march into 6th spot in Preseason Power Rankings

immy Graham AP

In the end, it didn’t matter whether Jimmy Graham was a tight end or a wide receiver.

He’s back, and that means the Saints are still going to be in the thick of the NFC title chase.

With Graham inked to a long-term contract, the Saints should still be among the most dynamic offenses in the league.

But they’re also going to need to continue to make improvements on defense, in order to push against the more physical teams which dominated the conference last year.

That’s why we slotted the Saints sixth in in Preseason Power Rankings. You can read the full preview by clicking right here, then weigh in with the poll below and in the comments.

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Sunday morning one-liners

Derek Carr AP

Will the recently signed LB Stevenson Sylvester stick with the Bills?

The Dolphins are trying to recapture a bigger piece of the local market.

How concerned should the Patriots be about their depth?

A look at Calvin Pace, David Harris and the rest of the Jets linebackers.

With camp opening, the Ravens can shift the focus to on-field activities.

Hosting camp in Cincinnati makes it easy for some Bengals fans to check out practices.

Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal doesn’t think Johnny Manziel will beat out Brian Hoyer for the Browns quarterback job.

Some storylines to follow during Steelers camp.

Catching up with Texans C Chris Myers before training camp.

Running through some linebacker questions that the Colts have to answer.

Said Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, “There are going to be times where we will make a period of practice live, but not many. Hopefully, we can do some of that during the individual drills. But you could still see some live [team] reps.”

A look at how the Titans are shaping up at tight end.

The Broncos could move Omar Bolden to safety.

Chiefs rookies will report to camp on Sunday.

Getting to know Raiders rookie QB Derek Carr.

A look at the specialists for the Chargers.

Cowboys S J.J. Wilcox says he’s more focused entering his second season.

The Giants could make early use of WR Odell Beckham’s speed.

Looking ahead to Eagles QB Nick Folesfirst full season as the starter.

How many yards will Redskins RB Alfred Morris gain this season?

Ten players who need to produce for the Bears this season.

Will defensive focus on Calvin Johnson make life easier for other Lions receivers?

The Packers are feeling confident about their offensive line.

Plenty of eyes will be on the quarterbacks when Vikings camp opens.

Previewing the Falcons’ options on the defensive line.

A soccer match led the Panters to alter the start to this year’s training camp.

A prediction of double-digit wins for the Saints this season.

Five newcomers whose performance will be essential to the Buccaneers’ hopes this season.

A few of the big training camp questions for the Cardinals.

CB Trumaine Johnson is on the spot for the Rams.

49ers WR Anquan Boldin’s hometown of Pahokee, Florida means a lot to him.

Who will be the surprise player of Seahawks camp?

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Report: Patriots reach deal with TE Nate Byham

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

The Patriots are reportedly set to add a veteran tight end in advance of training camp.

The club has reached a deal with Nate Byham, who’s played the last two seasons with Tampa Bay. He reportedly worked out for New England in May.

The 26-year-old Byham caught three passes for 38 yards in four games for the Buccaneers in 2013. He was placed on injured reserve in October after sustaining calf and knee injuries.

Byham began his career with the 49ers, who selected him in Round Six in 2010. He signed with Tampa Bay in October 2012.

Byham’s addition would give the Patriots six tight ends. The Pats’ top tight end, Rob Gronkowski, could be in for a light workload this summer as he makes his way back from a torn ACL suffered last December.

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Gus Bradley: Gerhart “even faster than we gave him credit for”

Toby Gerhart, J.T. Thomas AP

After backing up Adrian Peterson for four seasons in Minnesota, tailback Toby Gerhart gets a starting job of his own in Jacksonville. The 27-year-old Gerhart, who had just 276 regular season carries for the Vikings, could conceivably get that much work alone this season for the Jaguars, who saw Maurice Jones-Drew leave in free agency and didn’t draft a back until Round Seven (Storm Johnson).

In an Q&A with the Florida Times-Union published Saturday night, Jaguars coach Gus Bradley indicated Gerhart was ready to be the team’s featured back.

“His work ethic, his knowledge of the game, his ability to fit in with our team, his competitiveness — he checks all those boxes,” Bradley said, according to the Times-Union‘s Ryan O’Halloran. “The one thing we saw during the OTAs was that his speed — he’s even faster than we gave him credit for.”

Gerhart showed some playmaking ability in limited action a season ago, racking up 283 yards on 36 carries — an average of 7.9 yards. Four of his carries went for 20 yards or more. By contrast, in his previous three seasons, he averaged one rush of 20-plus yards for every 48 attempts (5-of-240).

We figure to learn more about Gerhart’s capabilities this season. The Jaguars seem to still be learning about him, too.

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Report: NFL weighing whether to own a stadium in Los Angeles


The NFL is many things to many people.

But could it be a landlord for a team in Los Angeles?

According to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times, the NFL is considering financing and owning a stadium in the Los Angeles area, though that’s just one of the scenarios on the table.

The NFL, Farmer reports, is “evaluating” a number of stadium locations in Los Angeles.

The NFL hasn’t had a team in Los Angeles since 1994. And as the Times details in its piece, any NFL-owned stadium would have to work both for the tenants and the league.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft told the Times he would be in favor of a league-owned Los Angeles stadium.

“Whatever gets us a team in L.A., that would be awesome. That might be the solution. Whatever it takes, I know I’d be willing to support,” Kraft said, per the Times.

This much is certain: were the league to build and own a stadium, it would be a regular in the Super Bowl-hosting rotation. The last Super Bowl in the Los Angeles area was in 1993, when the Cowboys beat the Bills in Super Bowl XXVII.

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