Dalvin Cook has “knocked the rehab out of the park”

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Dalvin Cook will participate in organized team activities and minicamp on a limited basis and expects to be a full participant by the time training camp starts.

The Vikings running back tore the ACL in his left knee in Week 4, ending his rookie season on injured reserve.

“It’s a process. It’s a journey,” Cook said, via quotes distributed by the team. “It is something that you have to trust yourself and know that you did everything in your power to get your knee back the way it is at. I attack this thing every day and I did what I needed to do to get to this point. I had no doubt when I first touched the field is where I wanted to be at.”

Cook has done some work on the field since offseason workouts began April 16, and Vikings athletic trainer Eric Sugarman said Cook has “knocked the rehab out of the park.”

“He’s done great job,” Sugarman said. “He’s been here every day since the injury occurred, post-surgery and really hasn’t missed a beat. . . . He’s been here with a smile on his face every day. Really just to give him the credit because he’s put in all the work to get to the point to where he is.”

Does John Dorsey’s assessment of Tyrod Taylor point to Baker Mayfield?

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Four weeks ago, Browns G.M. John Dorsey visited PFT Live at the league meetings in Florida. In the aftermath of the interview, multiple readers mentioned on Twitter that things said about Dorsey regarding new Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor possibly contained strong clues about Dorsey’s assessment of the incoming quarterback class.

“I loved Tyrod coming out of college, I always did,” Dorsey said at the time. “I thought there was a dynamic set about him, not only his athleticism [and his] ability to extend a play,  but he had — as coach [Frank] Beamer would always say, ‘He’s one of the best leaders I’ve ever been around.’  He’s got enough arm talent with accuracy to get the ball downfield, and he doesn’t turn the ball over.”

Of the current crop of rookies, Baker Mayfield represents the closest approximation to the skills and abilities that Taylor possesses. Mayfield has the athleticism to extend plays, he’s widely regarded as a great leader, and he had only six interceptions against 43 touchdowns last season, along with a completion percentage north of 70, more than 4,600 passing yards, and an eye-popping 11.5 yards per pass.

The other top contenders at No. 1 (Josh Allen and Sam Darnold) have accuracy and turnover concerns, respectively, and they lack the mobility that Mayfield consistently has displayed.

Not that the sudden talk of Mayfield to the Browns at No. 1 should be a surprise. For a while, Darnold was regarded as the clubhouse leader. A couple of weeks ago, Peter King raised the prospect of Josh Allen being the first pick. Now, Mayfield is gaining focus thanks in part to more not-really-news from ESPN regarding the notion that an unnamed league source has observed that Mayfield remains in the conversation for the top pick.

As noted earlier today by Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Browns coach Hue Jackson made it clear last month that Mayfield is in play for the top pick, that Jackson hasn’t wavered about Mayfield as being in the discussion for the first pick. “So let’s not act all surprised that he is,” Cabot said.

Based on Dorsey’s remarks about Taylor, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised if Mayfield isn’t simply in the conversation to be the pick, but if he actually becomes the pick.

Sam Darnold explains how teams test incoming rookies on playbooks

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The pre-draft process routinely includes efforts by teams to test players regarding playbooks. In a recent visit to PFT Live, quarterback Sam Darnold explained his experiences with certain teams that quizzed him about their playbooks.

“Some teams will do that,” Darnold said. “Some teams will ask how much information I retained. Then some teams they’ll literally just say, ‘We’ll give you three minutes. Write everything you can about the playbook that you can remember.’ There’s just different strategies that teams use. They want to see how you react under pressure. And they also, you know, it’s a good way of testing that but it’s a good way of obviously seeing how much information you can soak in because they only give it to you a couple days in advance. It’s a good way of seeing how fast a kid can learn the information and retain it. . . . Usually the owner and the G.M. are in the room as well, ‘Go on the board and we’ll give you three minutes to write down everything you know about the playbook that we just gave you.’ That’s a good way of kind of testing you know how the kid kinda responds to pressure.

Darnold said that, for the most part, the playbooks he received from teams were “not really different from the USC playbooks” he receiver.

“It’s just different terminology,” Darnold said. “Different words that you have to learn. For the most part, everyone’s running the same concepts. The same formations. It’s all kind of the same. You just have to learn the different terminology. . . . I mean the playbooks that they give us are very condensed. Obviously it’s not the whole playbook. . . . Every playbook that I’ve been given I’ve been able to learn and pick up right away.”

Mastery of the playbook is simply one part of the overall pre-draft process. As Darnold tells it, he aced it. That surely can’t hurt his effort to get drafted as early as possible.

Jason Witten: Hopefully Jason Garrett’s mom doesn’t watch All or Nothing

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Jason Garrett claims he hasn’t watched All or Nothing yet, but he surely knows his language in the eight-part documentary of the Cowboys has created a stir.

“I really haven’t seen it,” Garrett said Tuesday. “I saw bits and pieces of it along the way. So, I don’t really know that much about it to comment.”

Yet, the Cowboys coach turned several shades of red when owner Jerry Jones jokingly dropped the F-bomb, making fun of Garrett’s repeated R-rated language in the series.

“That’s an ender,” Garrett said.

The release of the behind-the-scenes shots of Garrett talking to his team has changed the coach’s public image. Many fans and media previously viewed him as robotic, which was an inaccurate portrayal.

“People probably enjoy seeing that because he is so controlled and poised in a lot of ways,” Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said. “I think it’ll be good for people to see that side of him. Hopefully his mom’s not watching it.”

Witten also gives an expletive-laced speech to his teammates after a 37-9 loss to Philadelphia dropped the Cowboys to 5-5 in November.

“I’ve only gotten to see bits and pieces of it,” Witten said. “It’s interesting because when you’re living it and they’re there, you sometimes forget that the cameras are there. The eye in the sky. But I think when you reflect back, they’re able to capture so many neat memories and situations. I’d be anxious to see it. I’m looking forward to watching it. Like anybody, I think some of it you wish you could protect. But that’s part of playing in the spotlight and having this opportunity. I think it’ll be good for fans to see perspective and what all lies behind the scenes.”

Report: Agent says diluted sample caused Antonio Callaway’s positive test

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Former Florida receiver Antonio Callaway tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Scouting Combine, via multiple tweets.

Callaway’s new agent, Malki Kawa, said a diluted sample caused the positive test.

“Callaway has told those close to him he was over-hydrated and will address the issue with teams,” Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports.

Callaway was expected to be a mid-round pick, though he had red flags already.

UF suspended Callaway for the 2017 season. His off-field problems included a citation for marijuana possession last May.

He made 54 catches for 721 yards and three touchdowns in 2016 and 89 receptions for 1,399 yards and seven touchdowns in two seasons at UF.

Rob Gronkowski: “I will be back for the 2018 season with the Pats”

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Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has removed any doubt: He’s playing this season.

Gronk, who said after the Super Bowl that he needed some time to consider whether he wanted to keep playing, wrote today on Instagram that he spoke with Patriots coach Bill Belichick and confirmed that he is playing this season.

“I met with coach today and informed him I will be back for the 2018 season with the Pats. I have been working out, staying in shape and feel great. Looking forward to another championship run,” Gronkowski wrote.

Gronkowski did not say whether he received any assurance that he won’t be traded, but he specifically referred to playing “with the Pats,” which suggests that he believes he’s staying in New England.

When healthy, Gronkowski is the best tight end in the NFL. Although there have been reports that Gronkowski and Belichick don’t see eye to eye over Gronk training with Tom Brady‘s guru Alex Guerrero, Belichick has to be thrilled to have the best tight end in the game back.

Shaquem Griffin vows to continue silencing doubters

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Shaquem Griffin expects to be drafted. Of course, the University of Central Florida linebacker always has expected to be drafted.

It’s others who doubted, some of whom have come around after seeing his Scouting Combine and Pro Day workouts.

“What I did so far is only the beginning,” Griffin said Tuesday during a promotional appearance at The Star, the Cowboys’ training complex. “I knew what I was going to do, and I did it. But that’s just the beginning of everything I want to show and what I want to showcase. The doubters are not gone. They’re just a little quiet right now. They’re trying to see how everything is going to go. But doubters are never going to stop. They’re going to be doubting the rest of my life. Once they come back out from being silent, I’m just going to make sure I give them a reason to be silent again, and that’s what I plan on doing.”

Griffin was born with a condition that resulted in amputation of his left hand when he was 4. He never has let it stop him, making 195 tackles, 33.5 tackles for loss, 18.5 sacks, three interceptions and four forced fumbles in his career at UCF.

Griffin improved his draft stock with a 4.38-second 40-yard dash and 20 repetitions in the 225-pound bench press in Indianapolis.

“I’m hoping to be drafted and whatever team gives me an opportunity to be drafted and gives me an opportunity to play with them, that’s going to be a team that’s going to get a good caliber guy who’s going to give everything I’ve got,” Griffin said. “Whatever team does give me an opportunity, they’re going to see what Shaq Griffin is all about.”

Jerry Jones hopes for positive reaction for Roger Goodell at draft

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Boos for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell have become as much of a staple of the NFL Draft as pundits raving about a prospect’s pad level or explosiveness.

Given his recent battles with the league, one might assume that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wouldn’t mind if this week’s crowd at AT&T Stadium kept the trend alive. Jones said otherwise during a press conference on Tuesday, however.

Jones said he appreciates “having this draft here in Dallas” and that he hopes fans show they feel the same way by giving Goodell a positive reception. Jones was then asked if he’d be willing to bet paychecks on a warm reaction from the crowd.

“May be a pretty good bet, but seriously we all know it’s a convenient place to be,” Jones said. “I don’t know of anybody maybe other than me that’s had more boos than Roger has. I know about how that works. I do hope we can be positive in our reception. We are going to do something pretty special and he did have a final say in that.”

We’ll find out on Thursday night, but there may not be too many people joining Jones in a bet on a big hug for Goodell.

Josh Allen wants pressure of being No. 1 overall pick, going to Browns

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If the Browns want Josh Allen, Josh Allen wants the Browns to know he wants them.

The Wyoming quarterback made it clear he wants to be the No. 1 overall draft choice.

“Yeah, it would mean that I’m going to Cleveland,” Allen said Tuesday. “My biggest interest of being the No. 1 pick, obviously the pressure that comes along with that, I would love to have that pressure on my shoulders because I’ve always thrived in those situations, and I feel like Cleveland would be a great spot to be. But if I’m not, I’m not, and I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team that actually picks me and actually wants me so we’ll go from there.”

Allen, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Shaquem Griffin and Mason Rudolph joined Jason Witten at The Star, the Cowboys’ training facility, for a Day of Mentorship for young men from Witten’s Score Foundation sponsored by the Collection by Michael Strahan at JCPenney.

Allen was the top draw of the media crowd since he has a chance to go first.

Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield also could be in play for the Browns. Some have USC’s Sam Darnold as the top-rated quarterback.

“It doesn’t bother me one way or another,” Allen said when asked who the top-rated quarterback is. “Everybody’s got their own opinion and their own say. In today’s age, everybody wants to be right, so there’s people that hate you; there’s people that love you. I’m going to go out there and play my game, and whatever team is fortunate to pick me, or I’m fortunate to be picked by, is going to be a team I’m going to give everything to. Hopefully I’ll be there for the next 15 years. It’s an exciting time, but at this moment, right now, I’m content with whatever happens. My job is done, and now it’s just sitting back and hearing my name being called.”

Allen said he had seven visits and named the Browns, Giants, Jets, Broncos, Bills and Cardinals as showing the most interest.

“Whatever happens,” Allen said. “I visited seven teams for a reason, just because of the uncertainty. Whatever happens happens, and I guess we’ll find out come Thursday.”

Tuesday’s #PFTPM has a trio of first-round prospects

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Here it is. You’ve waited patiently. (Mostly.)

Tuesday’s edition of the #PFTPM podcast has interviews with three of the top draft prospects. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb, and Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley.

It’s all part of a 90-minute edition of the afternoon, drive-home podcast, which has plenty of other content beyond the three interviews — including questions from the @PFTPMPosse.

Those interviews and more (including a visit with Peter King) will be included in Wednesday’s PFT Live. But if you want to hear the interviews now, there’s only one place to get them.

 

Who secretly taped Jeffrey Lurie’s comments about the President?

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Monday’s item in the New York Times regarding the Eagles’ negotiations with the White House regarding the traditional visit by the Super Bowl champions buried the story’s most interesting fact: Someone secretly taped Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie during last October’s ownership meeting regarding the anthem issue and provided the recording to the Times.

“Many of us have no interest in supporting President Trump,” Lurie said. “Yes, there are some. There are some players who do, too. But this is not where you brandish a group of people because they own assets in a sport we love, supporting what many of us perceive as, you know, one f–king disastrous presidency. Don’t quote me.”

Lurie wasn’t quoted. He was taped, saying inflammatory things about the president. Obviously without Lurie’s knowledge. And that wasn’t the headline.

It should have been, and Lurie should be upset. Who taped it? Was it another owner? Was it someone from the league office? Was it one of the players who attended the meeting at the invitation of ownership?

While it’s not a legal issue (New York is a one-party state), the notion that someone secretly recorded Lurie and gave it to the Times raises significant trust issues between Lurie and whoever it was that recorded his words and handed it to the media.

Jerry Jones says no truth to “Garrett’s Guys” playing role in Dez decision

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Jerry Jones made it clear that Dez Bryant won’t be returning to Dallas. He also made it clear that the decision was his.

The Cowboys owner refuted the receiver’s claim that “Garrett’s Guys” played a part in his departure.

“I don’t [have any feelings] at all. I just don’t because it was not the case,” Jones said. “Dez is a loved player on this team. Everybody had the right perspective in their respect for him. So that’s as I know it and the sentiment that that might imply was not a factor in my decision — at all.”

Bryant has not found much interest on the open market, with even the Ravens now out of the market for his services. He would have found more interest earlier in free agency, but the Cowboys had no reason to move on earlier.

“I have no thoughts about the timing about when we decided to move on,” Jones said. “For everyone concerned, that was as a good a time as any. Having said that I think that the … I don’t want to in any way diminish what how we feel about Dez as a person, how proud we are of him as a person and what he has contributed in the past. And because he has really been so notable relative to our team, I think a nice crisp time to call it a day is a way to do this. I thought it was the case when we discussed his future with the Cowboys.”

In other words, Jones said the Cowboys have made their decision and moved on, and moved on not just because of the $12.5 million base salary Bryant carried. Bryant will not return at a reduce rate.

“I think that would pertain to your question about if the doors is still open,” Jones said. “I think we need to keep this real crisp and the lines real bright. We need to move to move on knowing we don’t have Dez. That sounds a little intangible, but it’s got a little more than that.”

Ryan Pace on letting Cameron Meredith go: We lean on our medical staff

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After his two-year deal with the Saints became official, wide receiver Cameron Meredith said he saw no reason why he wouldn’t be able to play at the start of the 2018 season after tearing his ACL and partially tearing his MCL last summer.

It seems the Bears aren’t so sure about that. There was word at the time the Bears passed on matching the offer to Meredith, who was a restricted free agent, that the team was unsure if Meredith’s knee was sound and General Manager Ryan Pace confirmed as much on Tuesday.

“Without getting into specifics, obviously he was coming off an injury,” Pace said at a press conference, via ESPN.com. “We lean on our training staff and our docs. Hey, I got a lot of respect for Cam and a lot of respect for the organization he went to. We wish him luck.”

Pace went on to say that every team “comes to different assessments” when it comes to medical evaluations. The Bears medical staff didn’t have an issue signing off on wide receiver Allen Robinson‘s signing despite the torn ACL he suffered in September, so Robinson and Taylor Gabriel will be fronting the wide receiver group in Chicago while Meredith gets back to work in New Orleans.

Dolphins to pick up DeVante Parker’s fifth-year option

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The Dolphins are among the teams with decisions to make about 2019 options for their 2015 first-round picks before May 3 and they’ve made their call.

According to multiple reports, the Dolphins have decided to exercise their option on wide receiver DeVante Parker‘s contract. The option, which is guaranteed against injury only, will come with a salary somewhere north of $9 million.

If Parker plays out the year under the option, it will set the Dolphins up to make another call on the long-term future of one of their wide receivers. They used the franchise tag on Jarvis Landry this offseason, but wound up trading him to the Browns rather than keep him in Miami. Landry later signed a five-year extension worth up to $75 million in Cleveland.

Parker hasn’t matched the kind of production that Landry had during his time in Miami. Annual doses of offseason optimism about what Parker can do haven’t stopped him from missing time with injuries and his 139 catches for 1,908 yards and eight touchdowns had him firmly in a complementary role for Landry the last few years.

There should be more opportunities available for Parker this season and making good on them would go a long way toward making Parker’s stay in Miami a longer one.

UPDATE 4:11 p.m. ET: The Dolphins officially announced the move on Tuesday afternoon.

Stephen Jones wants to keep kickoffs by finding way to reduce injuries

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Stephen Jones wants to see the NFL keep kickoffs. The Cowboys executive vice president concedes that means making the play safer but is hopeful that the league will find a way to do that, beginning next week with a player safety summit.

“I think what we’re doing is really calling upon our special teams coaches, our head coaches and our management and ownership to see if there’s some creative ways to do some things that we can do with that play to make is safer to make it where we don’t have to do away with it, which is where I would hope we would end up,” said Jones, a member of the league’s competition committee.

Packers president Mark Murphy, also a member of the competition committee, has said the kickoff is headed toward elimination without a reduction in injuries on the play.

Although the NFL has moved touchbacks to the 25-yard line, it did little to mitigate the safety risk last season.

“We want to make the play safer,” Jones said. “I think sometimes we get into data that can be misinterpreted. I know Mark feels strongly, and I certainly respect that. We certainly want to look out for our football players first and foremost. At the same time, you want to make sure you’re looking at it through the proper lens.

“My goal and I think the goal of the group that’s probably up there next week is to see what we can with the play to make even safer without not having it, if you will. There’s no question I think everybody’s on board that it’s more dangerous than our other football plays that we have in our game today. But at the same time, I do think we’ve done a lot of good things with it that have helped it. Obviously, with what college football is going to do with the fair catch, so you get rid of the pooch kick and that ball comes out to the 25-yard line, there’s a lot of ways to look at it.”

College football introduced a rule change for 2018 that allows the receiving team to fair catch the ball anywhere inside the 25-yard line and have the play count as a touchback.