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Thursday morning one-liners

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 08:  Luke Kuechly #59 of the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 8, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills could have a rookie starter up front.

Dolphins RB Lamar Miller could be set for a breakout year.

The Patriots are hoping for more pass-rush this season.

The Jets have another missing DE, but no one knows why.

Ravens rookie WR Breshad Perriman is feeling right at home.

There are many Bengals looking for new deals.

The Browns are going to have competition on their defensive line.

Steelers DE Cameron Heyward wants to be there for the long haul.

Texans DE J.J. Watt’s thigh bruise last year was kind of gross.

Colts QB Andrew Luck should get rich, according to his punter.

The Jaguars finally had a guy make the NFL Network’s Top 100 list.

Titans FB Jalston Fowler wants to show he can do more than block.

Broncos QB Peyton Manning had his turn on the final David Letterman Show.

The Chiefs may have found future LB starters in the draft.

The opening for the Raiders to stay in Oakland “has shrunk.”

Not everyone thinks the Chargers are a goner.

The Cowboys are down to three unsigned rookies (which frankly is a lot).

Giants K Josh Brown sees the PAT rule change as job security.

Eagles WR Jordan Matthews has a huge fan in Penn State coach James Franklin.

There may be reason for Washington fans to be optimistic.

Longer PATs shouldn’t be a problem for Bears K Robbie Gould.

Lions DE Larry Webster is bulking up.

Packers legend Brett Favre thinks coming home on Thanksgiving is the “right fit.”

Former Vikings coach Bud Grant says he turned down chances to coach.

Take your bike to work day is a big deal for Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff.

Panthers LB Luke Kuechly is apparently huge in Brazil.

Saints rookie LB Stephone Anthony has drawn some Jonathan Vilma comparisons.

Whether the Buccaneers defense gels will be as important as their QB development.

Cardinals G Jonathan Cooper, now healthy, wants to prove himself.

Rams exec Kevin Demoff had the awkward task of presenting the St. Louis efforts to keep the Rams to owners.

Former 49ers DE Justin Smith doesn’t see a leadership void.

Maybe Seahawks QB Russell Wilson needs Ari Gold to head up his contract talks.

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Matt Bryant: PAT change will make cold-weather games more interesting

New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons Getty Images

Falcons kicker Matt Bryant doesn’t have to worry about weather during home games played in a dome, which shouldn’t make the change in extra points too much of an issue for him in 2015.

Bryant said moving the line of scrimmage back to the 15-yard line isn’t a “big deal” to him, but he does think it has the potential to be a big deal for kickers who do their work outdoors in cold-weather stadiums. Bryant said he thinks the rule change “can make things interesting” in places like Buffalo, Chicago and Cleveland because of the impact that the elements could have on big kicks that we’ve taken for granted.

“A 33-yarder, it’s not the hardest kick in the world. It’s not a gimme, either,” Bryant said, via “You’re talking about possibly having to tie a game and it’s 34-33 and you’ve got to kick it to tie it and possibly go into overtime. That will make things interesting for those teams. How bad would that to be to miss the playoffs because of a 33-yard extra point? It will make things interesting for those teams up there, I would say.”

Giants kicker Josh Brown shares some of Bryant’s thoughts and said he thinks it will add value to kickers who prove themselves reliable in the elements. That may be true, although it seems at least as likely that kickers with a high percentage of makes will continue to draw less attention than those who miss in big spots.

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Brees: Draft sent message that we believe in our skill position players

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Over the course of the offseason, the Saints said farewell to tight end Jimmy Graham, wide receiver Kenny Stills and running back Pierre Thomas.

They signed running back C.J. Spiller, but otherwise left the team’s skill positions untouched as they spent their nine draft picks on other positions. One of those picks was for quarterback Garrett Grayson, who won’t be playing at all if things go well for New Orleans but Drew Brees focused on the opportunities that await players like Nick Toon, Josh Hill and Seantavius Jones in the coming season.

“I think the message that was sent to our young skill position players is that we feel like we have the right tools in the building,” Brees said, via “Our young receivers have some great opportunities. The departure of Jimmy Graham, and [Darren] Sproles two years ago, and Pierre, these are all touches that have to go somewhere now. So we’re gonna have some young guys step up and contribute that haven’t had many opportunities in the past. Yet they’re gonna earn that right here throughout OTAs, minicamp, training camp. I’m excited to watch those guys develop. It’s been a fun offseason for me in that regard, starting to envision how it could all come together for some of those guys.”

The Saints also acquired center Max Unger in the Graham trade and drafted Andrus Peat in the first round in an attempt to upgrade the play on the offensive line, something that would make it easier for Spiller and Mark Ingram to balance out the offense with a strong rushing attack. That would make for a different offense than the one that led to otherworldly numbers for Brees in the past, but different won’t be bad if the Saints’ offseason bets pay off.

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Derek Carr’s agent: No surgery needed on finger

Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders Getty Images

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr hasn’t been practicing with the team this week because of a right ring finger injury that Chris Mortensen of ESPN reported may require surgery if the current rest doesn’t alleviate numbness in the digit.

Carr’s agent Tim Younger has reacted strongly to the report of that possibility. Younger called it a “non-story” and said that he thought Carr would be throwing again by the June 9 start of minicamp if not before the end of OTAs.

“I don’t know where this idea came up that he’s going to be having surgery,” Younger said, via the San Francisco Chronicle. “The situation, I don’t even want to call it an injury, is very minor, and we’re just being cautious.”

There hasn’t been much alarm raised about Carr’s condition and it seems Younger wants to stamp out even the lowest levels of fear in Raider Nation. It’s always going to be noticed when a starting quarterback misses practice time with an injury on his throwing hand, however, and concern is only going to rise if Younger’s prediction of a quick return goes by the wayside for any reason.

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Darrelle Revis: Tom Brady’s status shouldn’t impact punishment

revis Getty Images

Former Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis doesn’t necessarily have much sympathy for his old team’s penalties, or Tom Brady’s four-game suspension.

At the same time, his respect for his former quarterback is clear.

In an interview with Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Revis said Brady was “definitely a Hall of Famer,” and that he “is going to go down as one of the greatest — if not the best — quarterback that’s ever played.”

But Revis said that’s not the same as a “get out of jail free” card.

“If I fail a drug test, then I fail a drug test. If I get a DUI, I get a DUI,” Revis said. “If Tom gets caught with a DUI, it’s a DUI, . . . If they are saying that he did what he’s done, then the suspension is the suspension. I’m not the commissioner and don’t make the rules. If they want to change [the suspension] based on new information or new evidence, then okay, but it should have nothing to do with Tom being the face [of the NFL].”

While most former Patriots will line up squarely behind Brady, Revis has been his own man (less charitable types would say a mercenary) for so long, it’s not unexpected to hear this.

At the same time, Revis acknowledged the investigation might not have been, shall we say, air-tight.

“If he had nothing to do with it, then hey, …” Revis said. “There’s really nothing you can say. There’s people in the world that get convicted all the time that didn’t do the crime. That’s just the history of how stuff goes sometimes.”

And not even Tom Brady is immune to that.

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Jim Irsay says team in L.A. is a matter of when, not if

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 26: Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay talks with general manager Ryan Grigson before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 26, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Colts 51-34. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said yesterday that a team in Los Angeles was still a good possibility, but not “inevitable.”

One of his bosses disagrees.

“It’s not a matter of ‘if’ now, but ‘when,’” Colts owner Jim Irsay said, via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle.

While 49ers CEO Jed York wasn’t quite as certain, he also mentioned the significant lead Los Angeles had over the current situations of the Rams, Chargers and Raiders.

“I don’t think they’re in the same position as Los Angeles,” York said. “If I was going to handicap it, I think L.A. is much further along than any of the home markets at this point.”

As is his custom, Goodell’s answer to the L.A. question wasn’t a firm and complete and buttoned-up expression of certainty. But with talk coming out of the meetings of teams playing there in 2016, and the Super Bowl possibly by 2020, it’s hard to imagine something doesn’t happen soon.

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Duerson family won’t appeal concussion settlement

GETTY_H_110210_BrainScan Getty Images

While there is still a push by some to appeal the approved $765 million settlement approved by Judge Anita Brody last month, the family of Dave Duerson is dropping their intentions to appeal the agreement.

According to the Associated Press, Chicago lawyer Thomas Demetrio said the family of the former Bears safety doesn’t want to obstruct the financial awards being distributed to retirees in need of the assistance as soon as possible.

While Demetrio still sees issues with the agreement, the Duersons will support the plan for the sake of the other retirees.

Duerson committed suicide in 2011 with the request his brain be donated for study. Duerson played for the Bears, New York Giants and Phoenix Cardinals during his 11-year NFL career.

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Referee Bill Leavy retiring from field, will become supervisor

Bill Leavy Getty Images

After 20 seasons, referee Bill Leavy is retiring from on-field officiating and will become a supervisor of officiating.

According to, Leavy will replace Johnny Grier as the northeastern regional supervisor of officiating.

Leavy’s replacement has not been released, though the league’s roster of referees is expected to be released later this month for the 2015 season. is also reporting that line judge John Hussey has been promoted to a referee position, though it’s unclear if he is the direct replacement for Leavy.

Leavy worked 16 playoff games and two Super Bowls during his career. He was a back judge for Super Bowl XXXIV between the St. Louis Rams and Tennessee Titans and headed up the officiating crew for Super Bowl XL between the Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers.

The latter Super Bowl was subject to much controversy regarding the quality of the officiating in the game. Seattle head coach Mike Holmgren publicly lambasted the crew in the days following the game.

“We knew it was going to be tough going against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I didn’t know we were going to have to play the guys in the striped shirts as well,” Holmgren said.

Leavy was not assigned to work Seahawks games for several years in the aftermath. He later apologized for some of the calls in the game in a meeting with Seattle reporters in 2010 to address rule changes for the coming season.

“It was a tough thing for me,” Leavy said. “I kicked two calls in the fourth quarter and I impacted the game, and as an official you never want to do that. It left me with a lot of sleepless nights, and I think about it constantly. I’ll go to my grave wishing that I’d been better … I know that I did my best at that time, but it wasn’t good enough … When we make mistakes, you got to step up and own them. It’s something that all officials have to deal with, but unfortunately when you have to deal with it in the Super Bowl it’s difficult.”

As someone who was at that briefing, it was surreal to hear Leavy deliver that message, unprompted, so many years after the fact.

Leavy’s final game worked was January’s playoff game between the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos.

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Teams can change mind on extra point after penalty


The new rule regarding the single-point PAT is simple, but it has a few interesting complexities — especially when a penalty happens.

In the event of a penalty, the team that has scored a touchdown can change its mind about whether to go for one or two.

For example, if the team that has scored a touchdown opts to go for two but is called for holding, the team can then go for two from the 12, or go for one. The only catch is that the 10-yard penalty also would apply to the try for one point, pushing the line of scrimmage to the 25 and making the kick 42 yards. Still, a 42-yard kick for one would make more sense than a 12-yard gain for two.

The same concept applies in the event of a defensive penalty. If the team that has scored goes for one and the defense jumps offside, the team can then go for two, with the penalty enforced from the two.

It adds another potential layer of strategy for coaches, requiring them to revisit the decision they’ve already made based on whether the snap will now be closer or farther back.

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Raiders sign rookie linebacker Ben Heeney

2015 NFL Scouting Combine Getty Images

The Raiders have reached another deal with a draft pick, signing Kansas linebacker Ben Heeney to a four-year contract, the club said Wednesday.

A fifth-round pick from Kansas, Heeney (6-0, 231) recorded 127 tackles as a senior in 2014. He could earn a spot in Oakland as an understudy to starting middle linebacker Curtis Lofton.

“… Heeney’s a real productive player, a smart guy, a tough guy, a fast guy,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said after the draft, according to the club, with Del Rio noting that Heeney could contribute on special teams right off the bat.

Four of the Raiders’ 10 draft picks are unsigned, with defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr. (Round Two) the highest selection yet to finalize a deal.

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Revis fires shots at union over Commissioner’s power

Revis Getty Images

Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis didn’t limit his strong comments from Wednesday to the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady. The former New England defensive back also had pointed criticism of the union that will now try to get Brady’s four-game suspension overturned.

He’s the judge, jury and executioner,” Revis said of Commissioner Roger Goodell, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. “Everybody signed off on it. . . . Why didn’t we stand up when it was time to stand up? You can talk about it after the fact, but we all agreed to it. So [the union’s] got to point the finger back at [the union].”

He’s right.  Everybody did sign off on it. In 1968.

That’s when the first CBA was executed, and that’s when the Commissioner secured final-say authority over discipline imposed for conduct detrimental to the integrity of the game. Despite that fact, many continue to chide the union for surrendering power to Goodell in 2011, even though the power had been surrendered many years ago.

Even if Goodell were inclined to give up that power during the last round of negotiations, what would it have taken to do so? And how much would the many have lost in, for example, revenue or reduced practice time in exchange for protections that apply, as a practical matter, to a small handful of players every year?

It’s not surprising to see the false narrative pushed by folks in the media who don’t like the union and/or don’t like NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and/or hope to curry favor with the league and its owners and/or are simply repeating what they’ve seen from others in the media. It’s more surprising to see those remarks from a prominent member of the union.

But it’s not really surprising in this case, because Revis is the nephew of Sean Gilbert, who failed to defeat Smith during a March election with a candidacy that failed when Gilbert became agitated during breakout sessions with players.

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Darrelle Revis feels no sympathy for Patriots or Tom Brady

bradyrevis AP

Apparently when you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet for life.

Because even though he ducked out of town and won a Super Bowl with Tom Brady and the Patriots, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis said he’s not losing any sleep over Brady’s four-game suspension.

“Everybody’s blowing it up because it is Tom Brady,” Revis told Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. “I understand that. But if [the NFL] feels he did the crime or he did something and they want to penalize them, then that’s that.

“[The Patriots] have a history of doing stuff. You can’t hide that, . . . Tom was there when they did that stuff in the past.”

The recidivism was noted when the league doled out its punishment for #DeflateGate, hitting the Patriots for $1 million and a first- and a fourth-round pick, with the lingering memory of Spygate (back before we had hashtags) mentioned specifically in the league release.

Revis said he wasn’t aware of any PSI shenanigans, but said the franchise’s history had to have been a factor.

“New England’s been doing stuff in the past and getting in trouble,” Revis said. “When stuff repeatedly happens, then that’s it. I don’t know what else to tell you. Stuff repeatedly happened through the years. You got SpyGate, you got this and that and everything else. Obviously in those situations in the past, they had the evidence. So they did what they needed to do.”

And just because Brady’s been one of the league’s poster boys for years, Revis said he didn’t feel like that had any influence, and didn’t know whether that would change the perception that Brady cheated.

“I don’t know,” Revis said. “I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. If people want to judge him as a cheater, that’s their opinion.”

So while even though he respects Brady, and Brady helped him get the ring he never won with the Jets or Buccaneers, that doesn’t merit him special treatment now.

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New extra point rule may not change things much for coaches

Coin Getty Images

The rule that moves the one-point extra point from the two to the 15 changes things for kickers. It also changes things for coaches.

Unless it doesn’t.

Dropping the success rate of the one-point attempt from 99-plus percent to 95 percent likely won’t be enough to persuade most coaches to defy convention. Because coaches stubbornly refuse to defy convention.

Coaches never get criticized by outsiders — or scrutinized by their owners — when coaches make conventional decisions that fail. In contrast, making unconventional decisions that fail will eventually make a football coach into a former football coach.

Even if the risk-reward analysis suggests that it makes sense to go for two all the time, most coaches won’t do it. Most coaches will keep going for one and going for one and going for one until the circumstances of the game make going for two the conventional move.

To get more coaches to go for two, going for two needs to become the conventional thing to do. And that won’t happen by making going for two and going for one a statistical wash. To change the conventional wisdom, going for two must become the significantly more attractive option — which means that going for one must become the significantly less attractive option.

That means moving the two-point try to the one and/or moving the one-point try back to the point where it’s not a 95-percent certainty but something like a 75-percent proposition.

After a year with the new rule, the NFL likely will realize this, and if the NFL is intent on making the post-touchdown process more exciting, the NFL likely will make even more changes.

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More trouble for Aaron Hernandez

Hernandez AP

On Thursday, former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandnez likely will receive a date for his next murder trial. On Tuesday, Hernandez may have added yet another item to his already length legal docket.

Via CNN, Hernandez allegedly agreed to serve as the lookout for another inmate who went into another prisoner’s cell for the purposes of fighting. The incident happened at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, where Hernandez is serving a life sentence without parole for the murder of Odin Lloyd.

Hernandez was placed into a special management section as discipline for his conduct.

As Hernandez’s overall legal problems go, this one is like a ticket for jaywalking. Still, the news suggests that there will likely be more and more news involving Hernandez throughout the rest of his life. Sentence.

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Mara insists no quid pro quo exists with the Patriots

Goodell Reuters

From the moment Patriots owner Robert Kraft surprised everyone — and frustrated his team’s fans — by deciding not to appeal the #DeflateGate punishments imposed against the team, league observers suspected that Kraft was simply performing his part of a bargain that eventually will entail Commissioner Roger Goodell exercising lenience when considering the appeal of quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension. Giants co-owner John Mara insists that’s not the case.

Mara told Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post that a quid pro quo arrangement regarding Brady’s punishment “doesn’t exist.”

And that’s precisely what Mara would say if a deal did exist. With the NFL Players Association determined to force the Commissioner to permanently yield his final say over matters like the Personal Conduct Policy (which he has held since 2007) and Article 46 “integrity of the game” discipline (which he has held since 1968), any suggestion that the NFL and one of its teams have engaged in horse trading regarding player rights would send the NFLPA straight to court with claims of collusion, or worst.

Besides, why does anyone think Mara would even know about a discreet wink-nod deal between Goodell and Kraft, once-and-possibly-future BFFs who may have worked out an understanding with the understanding that they’d tell no one about it?

Here’s the truth: If a deal exists between Goodell and Kraft, no one will be admitting it, and as few people as possible will even know about it. And if a deal truly doesn’t exist between Goodell and Kraft, they’ve nevertheless created the impression that a deal does exist.

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