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“No doubt” Chargers will have contract discussions with Eric Weddle

Stephen Cooper, Eric Weddle AP

General Manager Tom Telesco said Wednesday that the team’s “plan and intent” is for Philip Rivers to remain their quarterback for the foreseeable future, which was the only update about the ongoing questions regarding Rivers’s status with the team after speculation that the two sides might part ways.

That wasn’t the only player whose outlook Telesco was asked to address during his press conference. Safety Eric Weddle, who is in the final year of his deal with the club, hasn’t been part of the team’s first week of offseason work and said that he feels “highly, highly disrespected” by the lack of movement toward a new contract.

Telesco said that the team was in draft mode at this point, but that they were open to talking about a new deal.

“We’ll have discussions at some point. No doubt. … He’s a major part of our football team,” Telesco said, via Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego.

Weddle, who turned 30 in January, has started every game for the Chargers over the last five years and has missed just four games since the team made him a second-round pick in 2007. He’s set to make $7.5 million this season.

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Glover Quin thinks the Lions will win seven of their first eight games

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions Getty Images

Lions safety Glover Quin was licking his chops when he saw the Lions’ schedule last night.

Quin told Detroit reporters that in his view, the Lions should win seven of their first eight games and be at 7-1 when they go into their Week Nine bye. Quin suggested that Week Four at Seattle is the one game the Lions may lose in the first half of the season, although he’s not ready to concede that one, either.

I try to be as realistic about the NFL as possible, and granted I know any team can beat you on any given day,” Quin said, via Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News. “But, at this point in time is when you get to look at the schedule and have fun and say, OK, hey man, I’m going to assume that everybody is playing their best game. I’m not going to assume that somebody’s playing a bad game or whatever. I’m going to assume that everybody’s playing their best game.”

Quin thinks if the Lions play their best game, they’ll beat almost everyone on their schedule, starting Week One at San Diego.

“OK, it’s a road game for us all the way across the country, but I feel like if San Diego plays their best game, we play our best game, I feel like the Detroit Lions, we should beat San Diego,” Quin said. “So I gave us 1-0. Then we go to Minnesota. Well, that is a division game. We have to win that one. I feel like we can go on the road, and we will beat the Minnesota Vikings. So that gives us 2-0.

“Then, we come home — primetime, Sunday night, Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos. Yeah, they’re a good team — playoff team, great quarterback, great weapons, great defense. But that’s going to be our home opener. Our fans are going to be rowdy. It’s going to be Sunday night. It’s going to be primetime, and we’re going to have some good momentum. We’re going to be 2-0 coming back home. I just feel like we could beat Denver at home on Sunday night. So that gives us 3-0.

“And that sets up for a perfect trip to Seattle, and you have to see how that one plays out.”

Quin says after that, the Lions should beat the Cardinals, Bears, Vikings and Chiefs.

“We played them tough in Arizona, and so this year Arizona has to come to us,” Quin said. “So we owe Arizona, so we should take that one. [Chicago is] a division game. We’ve got to win our division games, so we’ve got to beat Chicago. After that, Minnesota. So that’s a chance to sweep Minnesota early in the year and that’s another division game and that’s a home game for us, so we have to beat Minnesota. So that’s, what, 6-1?

“And then we go to London. You never know how that plays out. It’s a neutral field, Kansas City’s a great team, a great running back [Jamaal Charles] and you just never know, so I will say we could go to London and beat Kansas City. So, that puts us at 7-1 at the bye.”

That’s a bold statement. One Quin will surely be reminded of halfway through the season.

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Which playoff team is most likely to start 0-2?

Kickoff Getty Images

The schedule is out (in case you hadn’t heard), and the challenge becomes coming up with an angle different from the many other angles that media companies are angling to present.

Here’s one, which will be the poll question for Wednesday’s Pro Football Talk on NBCSN:  Which of these playoff teams from 2014 is the most likely to start the 2015 season 0-2?

The finalists are the Cowboys (Giants, at Eagles), Ravens (at Denver, at Oakland), the Steelers (at New England, San Francisco), the Lions (at Chargers, at Vikings), the Packers (at Chicago, Seattle), and the Seahawks (at Rams, at Packers).

(I realize that the other playoff teams — Patriots, Colts, Bengals, Broncos, Panthers, Cardinals — may start 0-2, but I had to draw the line at six.  If you disagree with the teams I put in the hopper, say so in the comments.  As if you need an engraved invitation.)

Tune in at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN for the outcome.  Along with plenty of other stuff.  Followed by NHL Live and NHL playoff action.

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Hernandez will be called to testify in Odin Lloyd civil suit

Hernandez AP

After a jury convicted former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez of killing Odin Lloyd, Hernandez mouthed, “You’re wrong.”  He later reportedly said that the jury had gotten in wrong.

Eventually, Hernandez will get a chance to prove it.

Via the Associated Press, lawyer Doug Sheff told reporters on Wednesday that Hernandez will be called to testify in the wrongful death lawsuit filed against him by the estate of Odin Lloyd.

The Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination evaporates once the criminal process has ended.  However, the criminal process won’t completely end until Hernandez’s appeal has resolved, since he potentially could get a new trial.  It’s possible, if not likely, that the civil lawsuit will have to wait, if the goal will be to force Hernandez to tell his story.

If the goal is to secure compensation from Hernandez, it could be smarter to go forward as quickly as possible, without his testimony.  With two other alleged murder victims pursuing civil claims and Alexander Bradley suing Hernandez for shooting Bradley in the face, the money may not be there later — especially as Hernandez continues to rack up legal bills in his various prosecutions.

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Dolphins sign Jeff Linkenbach

Minnesota Vikings v Kansas City Chiefs Getty Images

The Dolphins had a few veteran offensive linemen in for visits on Wednesday and they’ve agreed to terms with one of them.

Agent Andy Simms announced Wednesday afternoon that his client Jeff Linkenbach has signed a one-year deal with Miami.

Linkenbach made three starts at guard for the Chiefs in 2014, his only season with Kansas City, and saw time at both guard and tackle during his four years with the Colts. With Branden Albert and Ja’Wuan James at tackle, he’ll likely be part of the mix of players vying for playing time on the interior.

The Dolphins have Billy Turner and Dallas Thomas pencilled in as their starting guards at the moment, but they’ve been meeting with offensive line prospects as part of the pre-draft process so there may be further additions to that competition before the offseason comes to an end. Linkenbach gives them some insurance in the event the draft doesn’t turn up the players they’d like,

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Broncos open as favorites vs. Ravens, but not as overwhelming favorites

Denver Broncos vs Baltimore Ravens Getty Images

The Broncos begin the 2015 regular season at home against Baltimore, and they have opened as point spread favorites, just as they have been in 27-of-28 games in Denver since Peyton Manning arrived three years ago.

However, the Broncos aren’t huge favorites by any stretch, and that’s telling.

The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, which set the first Week One lines in Nevada, has made Denver a four-point favorite over Baltimore. The CG Technology sports books have similarly listed the Broncos as four-point favorites, per VegasInsider.com.

Now contrast that line to the last two point spreads in Ravens-Broncos matchups in Denver with Manning under center.

In the 2012 divisional playoffs, the Broncos were nine-point favorites over Baltimore, which pulled off the upset and went on to win the Super Bowl.

In the 2013 regular season opener, the Broncos were 7.5-point favorites vs. the Ravens. This time, the Broncos turned the tables, rolling to victory.

In short, the opening point spread for Baltimore-Denver suggests the Nevada betting market doesn’t see a significant difference between the clubs entering 2015.

Think of it this way: it’s generally assumed the home field is worth about a field goal on the line. Take that out of the equation, and a Denver-Baltimore game on a neutral field might have an even narrower point spread.

There are multiple factors likely at play here. The Broncos lost some of their core talent in free agency, most notably tight end Julius Thomas and defensive tackle Terrance Knighton. There’s also the matter of what the 39-year-old Manning has left. Furthermore, the Ravens gave Super Bowl-winning New England all it could handle in the 2014 divisional playoffs.

It will be interesting to see how handicappers treat the Broncos in 2015. Some might see the prospect of a Manning-led team laying a mere four points as value. Others, however, might decide the end is near.

It’s against this backdrop that the Baltimore-Denver line is set. Are these the big, bad Broncos of recent years, or are they just the Broncos?

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$765 million concussion settlement gets approval from court

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In February, Judge Anita Brody requested changes to the $765 million settlement that the NFL and players agreed to resolve claims resulting from concussions suffered during playing careers before she would give it final approval.

Most of those changes had to do with which retired players would be able to file claims under the settlement and when and how they would be able to register those claims. The NFL and the plaintiffs have responded to Brody’s request and she gave her final approval to the revised deal on Wednesday.

Sophia Pearson of Bloomberg Business reports that the ruling is expected to be appealed by those that feel that the terms of the deal are unfair and/or that there isn’t enough money set aside to satisfy the claims. That suggests that the ruling may not be the end of the legal road, but players who are in need of financial assistance to help deal with the consequences of head injuries and have opted into the settlement are closer to receiving funds to help with their medical needs.

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Tom Telesco: “Our plan and intent” is for Philip Rivers to be our quarterback

San Diego Chargers v Kansas City Chiefs Getty Images

Speculation about quarterback Philip Rivers’s future with the Chargers has been swirling for a while now as Rivers heads into the final year of his contract.

There’s been talk of a trade, perhaps to the Titans for the second pick so that the Chargers can select Marcus Mariota, and Rivers’s own comments about not extending his contract until it expires to fuel that speculation. Rivers reported for the first week of offseason workouts this week, however, and General Manager Tom Telesco said Wednesday that the team’s goal is to keep him in the fold.

“Philip is our quarterback. It’s our plan and intent [that] he is our quarterback well into the future,” Telesco said.

Plans can change with the right trade offer, of course, and it takes two to make an extension that keeps Rivers in the organization so Telesco’s comments probably won’t do much to quiet the chatter that Rivers could move on to another team. Until a new deal is signed, Rivers’s future will continue to be a major topic of conversation around San Diego, Nashville and other points around the league.

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C.J. Mosley might miss some practice time after wrist surgery

C.J. Mosley AP

Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley should be fine by training camp, but the recovery from his offseason wrist surgery could cost him a chunk of the offseason workouts and OTAs.

Via Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, Mosley is still in a cast after having his left wrist worked on, and isn’t sure when he’ll be cleared.

“I’ll probably do everything that I can,” Mosley said. “I don’t know how much physically I can do. I’m definitely going to be out on the field.”

Mosley was injured in December, the only downside of a brilliant rookie season for the first-round pick.

Now, he’s doing only a portion of the offseason workouts of his teammates.

“Everything is progressing,” Mosley said. “I haven’t had any major setbacks so far.”

That’s good news for the Ravens, as he was on the field for all but 15 snaps last year, and made a major impact, finishing second to Aaron Donald for defensive rookie of the year honors.

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Stevie Brown visited with Texans

Stevie Brown AP

Last week, there were a couple of reports about free agent safety Stevie Brown’s potential landing spots.

One had the Giants close to re-signing him while the other included them among a group of five teams that were interested in Brown’s services. The Texans weren’t one of those teams, but they may work their way into the mix.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Brown visited with the Texans on Tuesday.

Houston signed Rahim Moore as a free agent earlier this offseason and have D.J. Swearinger returning for his third season, which doesn’t provide Brown with a clear shot at a starting job. The Giants have fewer obstacles in Brown’s way, but if their offer isn’t where Brown wants it to be that might not be enough for them to close the deal.

Visiting with another team can be a good way to get the wheels moving, however, so Brown may still wind up back with the Giants.

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Antonio Brown: I’m spending time with my newborn, can’t wait to be back with team

Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown isn’t working out with his teammates at the team’s offseason program and reports on Monday indicated that he was looking for a new deal from the team.

That may be the case, but it also may not be the only reason why Brown hasn’t decided to take part in the opening week of the team’s voluntary workouts. Brown sent out a tweet on Tuesday evening that said “I’ll be there” and added a pair of tweets on Wednesday explaining that he’s spending time with his new child and making no mention of his contract.

“Just enjoying my new born Ali can not wait to get back with my teammates! I am dad first and working to be best player I can be,” Brown wrote.

The next few months will determine how much Brown will push for a new deal after signing a six-year extension in 2012, but the Steelers have had a policy of not negotiating a new deal for non-quarterbacks with more than a year left on their deals. We’ll see if they change their minds if Brown misses mandatory work but, for now, Brown’s own words don’t suggest a long holdout is in the offing.

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NFL bends schedule to special interests (to avoid God’s wrath)

Pope Francis AP

As the NFL fashions its 256-game schedule, it will check in with the powers-that-be, the owners, for their preferences.

But they’ll also listen to higher powers as well.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated, explaining the sausage-making process of the NFL schedule, illustrated the way lobbying is definitely kosher.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput sent a letter to the league office asking them to not give the Eagles a home game in Week Three, since Pope Francis will be holding a mass that is expected to draw 2 million people in Philadelphia that Sunday.

NFL senior vice president of broadcasting Howard Katz, replied that their prayers would be answered, and the Eagles would be sent elsewhere.

“Yes,” Katz said. “The pope did influence the NFL schedule. My name may be Katz, but I wasn’t taking any chances.”

The league has worked around the preferences of religion before, such as sending the Ravens on the road for their opener in 2013 because of a conflict with a local baseball game, since bumping the football game up a day would have landed it on Rosh Hashanah.

Of course, as powerful as the league is, there was also an inadvertent reminder of who also draws well on Sunday, as the archbishop sent his letter to “Rodger” Goodell.

But beyond the religious undertones, that’s a simple logistical problem that was easy to fix. Teams can request the league to work around baseball, bowl games and other events, so keeping Eagles fans from trying to part the Red Sea to get to the parking lot was probably an easy call.

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Dan Quinn would probably like to recruit Leonard Williams again

Leonard Williams AP

Many consider Southern Cal defensive lineman Leonard Williams the best defensive player in the 2015 NFL Draft, if not the entire class.

So the chances of his falling to the eighth pick are slim, but he already has a relationship with Falcons coach Dan Quinn prior to his pre-draft visit there.

“Dan Quinn is a great guy,” Williams told Coley Harvey of ESPN.com. “I almost forgot he was the head coach for a minute because he recruited me out of high school. He was the defensive line coach [and defensive coordinator] with the Florida Gators. Me and Dan Quinn, we have a great relationship just from the past. We’ve always kept in touch. It was a great visit with those guys.”

Of course, that visit might also be in vain, unless the Falcons are looking to make a move up, as many think Williams will be the first non-quarterback taken.

The Falcons could certainly use a building block such as Williams as they try to remake a shabby defense, and Quinn wouldn’t have needed background with him to know that. An inside rusher would allow them to do more, and perhaps get away with guys such as free agent pickups Adrian Clayborn and O’Brien Schofield.

If he falls to eighth, it seems like a no-brainer pick for them, despite their need for edge rushers (which has existed for a few years now).

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Jerod Mayo agrees to pay cut to stay in New England

Jerod Mayo, Pepper Johnson AP

Jerod Mayo was once viewed as the Patriots’ brightest young star on defense, but after injuries cut his season short two years in a row, he’s had to take a pay cut to stay in New England.

Mayo had been scheduled to make a base salary of $6.25 million this season. Now, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, he’s going to get $4.5 million, with the chance to make up to $6 million if he meets certain incentives. The $4.5 million is guaranteed, and the Patriots have option years on his contract for 2016 and 2017.

Mayo suffered season-ending injuries in the sixth game of the season in each of the last two years. Last year it was a torn patella tendon; the year before it was a torn pectoral.

The Patriots would love to see the 29-year-old Mayo, a Pro Bowler in 2010 and 2012, return to his earlier form. That won’t be easy after an injury as severe as the one Mayo suffered, but he’ll have at least one more year in New England to show what he can do.

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Oddsmaker installs Patriots as biggest favorites of Week One

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptkwywi1ognjmte2yjbkodexnwzkowzjndq4yzi2ndg5 AP

The high temperature in Las Vegas is expected to peak around 80 degrees on Wednesday, and you are unlikely to see anyone wearing Santa hats or reindeer-emblazoned sweaters on the Strip, but for certain folks, Wednesday might feel a little like winter in the desert.

After all, the NFL point spreads are back on the board, available to be bet.

According to VegasInsider.com, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has already put up lines for every Week One game after Tuesday’s schedule release.

The biggest favorites of Week One? The Patriots, who are favored by six points over the Steelers in the NFL regular season opener.

The Cowboys are the second-biggest favorites of Week One. Dallas is favored by 5.5 points against the Giants in the first Sunday night game of the season.

Seven teams are road favorites in the opening week: Green Bay (at Chicago), Indianapolis (at Buffalo), Miami (at Washington), Carolina (at Jacksonville), Seattle (at St. Louis), Cincinnati (at Oakland) and Philadelphia (at Atlanta).

Below is the entire Week One NFL slate. Over-Unders are in parentheses, and home teams are in CAPS:

Week One lines (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)

Thursday, September 10

NEW ENGLAND -6 vs. Pittsburgh (53)

Sunday, September 13

Green Bay -4 at CHICAGO (50)

HOUSTON -1.5 vs. Kansas City (43)

N.Y. JETS -1 vs. Cleveland (41)

Indianapolis -3 at BUFFALO (48)

Miami -2.5 at WASHINGTON (44)

Carolina -4 at JACKSONVILLE (43.5)

Seattle -3.5 at ST. LOUIS (44)

ARIZONA -2.5 vs. New Orleans (48)

SAN DIEGO -2 vs. Detroit (46.5)

TAMPA BAY -3 vs. Tennessee (42.5)

Cincinnati -3 at OAKLAND (44.5)

DENVER -4 vs. Baltimore (53)

DALLAS -5.5 vs. N.Y. Giants (50)

Monday, September 14

Philadelphia -1.5 at ATLANTA (53.5)

SAN FRANCISCO -3.5 vs. Minnesota (42)

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