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Which teams have faced ridiculously high expectations?

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In the same way that the abrupt decision of the Jets to cut linebacker David Harris created the impression that the Jets are taking a nosedive in 2017, the abrupt decision of Harris to join the Patriots becomes a layer of icing on top of the cherry on top of the icing on top of the cake in New England.

The Patriots have firmly entered “crown their ass” territory, with the coming season seemingly an exercise in watching and waiting for whether enough injuries will derail the inevitable.

So with the Patriots facing ridiculously high expectations, here’s your PFT Live question of the day: Which teams from the past have had ridiculously high expectations?

I’ve got a few ideas, but I’ll be happy to take a few of yours off your hands. Chime in below.

We’ll ponder the issue during Thursday’s show, which launches at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio and continues on NBCSN at 7:00 a.m. ET.

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At 83, Sonny Jurgensen will slow down but not stop

Sonny Jurgensen was a Hall of Fame quarterback whose NFL career spanned 18 seasons, and now his career calling football on the radio in Washington has doubled that length. But at age 83, Jurgensen is not ready to call it quits.

Jurgensen told the Washington Post he’ll still be calling games in Washington this season, after initially thinking he was going to retire from broadcasting.

“I had thought about hanging it up because I’d been doing it 35 years,” Jurgensen said. “I came to Florida, and I thought about it. I said, ‘I’ve got to have something to do. I was somewhat bored. So I went back to ‘em and said, ‘You know, I’m a little bored.’”

So Jurgensen, who turns 83 in August, agreed with the team that he’ll work the eight home games in Washington but not travel to any road games. Team President Bruce Allen told Jurgensen the team would let him work whatever schedule he liked.

“It’s very nice of them,” Jurgensen said. “I’m looking forward to it, I really am.”

Jurgensen was drafted by the Eagles in 1957 and was a first-team All-Pro for them in 1961. He was traded to Washington in 1964 and played there until 1974. He is in both teams’ halls of fame as well as the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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Tramon Williams says he wanted out of unstable Cleveland environment

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Cornerback Tramon Williams was released by the Cleveland Browns in February after spending the last two seasons with the club.

Williams started 22 out of a total 27 games played for the Browns over that span, recording 105 total tackles with two interceptions.

However, Williams said he was as ready to move on from the Browns as the team was from him at the end of last season. In an interview with John Clayton and Pat Kirwin on Sirius XM NFL Radio, Williams felt the situation in Cleveland wasn’t exactly ideal.

“At the end of the day, those guys were just going in a different direction,” Williams said. “From the start of training camp to the beginning of the season, they were going in a different direction. And it came a point during the season to where I wanted to be released. That’s why we got released because it wasn’t a stable spot. It’s not a stable spot. You don’t know who’s going to be the coaches from year to year, and I didn’t know that so I didn’t want to be one of those veterans who is stuck in a spot and at the end of the day, I’m not going to be able to get a job because I was on a bad team. That’s why I wanted to get out of there.”

Williams had two different head coaches – Mike Pettine and Hue Jackson – and two different defensive coordinators – Jim O’Neil and Ray Horton – in his two years in Cleveland. Williams would have had to adjust to a third defensive coordinator in Gregg Williams should he have remained with the Browns in 2018. Considering Williams came from a nine-year run with the Green Bay Packers that featured little flux in the coaching staff over that span, it’s hardly surprising he would view the Browns environment as chaotic.

Williams thanked the Browns for allowing him to move on and seek a different opportunity. He added that he’s been in contact with several teams about playing for the upcoming season.

“I’m ready to get to one of these teams and help out,” Williams said. “And the team that I’m look for is going to be a team, obviously, that is stable and wants to win, so that’s kind of what I’m looking for at this point.”

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Seahawks expecting fierce competition at running back in training camp


The Seahawks are still searching for an answer in their backfield in the post-Marshawn Lynch era. Seattle struggled to find consistent success on the ground last season as injuries to Thomas Rawls, C.J. Prosise and Russell Wilson sapped much of the team’s rushing potential.

Now with the addition of Eddie Lacy this offseason, the Seahawks are expecting a strong battle to ensue in the fight for roster spots.

“I think it’s an exciting group,” head coach Pete Carroll said. “We’ve never been this strong with this many guys who can compete and do things. We have a variety of different guys that have different strengths that they bring.”

In addition to Lacy, Rawls and Prosise, the Seahawks added Chris Carson in the draft and return last year’s fifth-round pick Alex Collins as well. Mike Davis and receiver-convert J.D. McKissic will also be fighting for spots.

Rawls had a hairline fracture in his tibia that forced him to miss seven games. Prosise broke a bone in his wrist and fractured his scapula during the season, which caused him to sit out all but six games as a rookie. Collins was too heavy last year and is much better positioned to contribute this year as well.

“Once we’re able to go past those first two days (of training camp) and get the pads on and start to be able to get to the combative part of the game, then we’ll learn more,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. We like how they’re running, we like how they’re moving around. We have a good feel for how they hit holes and the vision that they have, but there’s still another step to come.”

Lacy has been limited so far as he continues to recover from ankle surgery last season. It won’t be until training camp when the Seahawks can get a true feel for how he fits into the mix.

“Obviously we don’t get to see the part that we think is going to be the best about him, that bruising nature that he has,” Bevell said. “He has caught the ball really well, that’s something that’s kind of jumped out at me. We’re really excited to have him.”

Along with wide receiver and Seattle’s secondary, running back figures to be one of the biggest points of contention of the roster in training camp.

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Eric Ebron feels Lions’ additions at tight end will help him maximize production

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With the additions of Darren Fells in free agency and the selection of Michael Roberts in the NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions have added some heft to their tight end position behind starter Eric Ebron.

Ebron, who posted career-highs in receptions and yards last year for Detroit, feels that bringing Fells and Roberts into the group should help him be used in a matter that better suits his skill set.

I think it’s going to play a significant role for me to allow me to do the things that I’m best at,” Ebron said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

Ebron had 61 catches for 711 yards last year for the Lions. However, he was also usually the only tight end on the field as Detroit frequently employed personnel groupings with three wide receivers and one running back. A revolving door of reserve options did little to contribute to the group either.

Detroit’s roster is better situated to allow Jim Bob Cooter to be a bit more diverse with his formations and personnel groupings this year. If it allows Ebron to become more productive, it will be a plus for the Lions.

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Byron Jones provides steady hand in Cowboys secondary

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The Cowboys lost Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox, Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne in free agency. Those four contributed 39 starts, 254 tackles, five interceptions and 28 pass breakups last season. The Cowboys had Orlando Scandrick on the trade block on draft day. He started 10 games last season and made 46 tackles, an interception and nine pass breakups.

That leaves free safety Byron Jones as the one constant in the Cowboys secondary.

“Like all things in life, when you’re having a good time it goes by fast,” Jones said, via the team website.

Jones has started 27 of a possible 32 games since the Cowboys drafted him in the first round in 2015. He played in the other five games. That gives him a leg up on most of the other defensive backs on the roster.

The Cowboys drafted four defensive backs and are counting on second-year cornerback Anthony Brown. Safety Jeff Heath, the projected starter opposite Jones, has started only 10 games in four seasons. That leaves Jones, Scandrick and free agent addition Nolan Carroll as the most veteran players in the team’s secondary.

“It’s nuts,” Jones said. “I remember when I came in I was looking at a guy who was in his third year, thinking, ‘Wow, he’s played a lot of football.’ Within an instant, I’m that guy.”

Jones plans on becoming a leader, filling a role Church had in the secondary as a team captain.

“It’s an opportunity to step up,” Jones said. “You’ve got older guys that are gone. What am I going to do to respond? For me, it’s stepping up and leading the young guys and steering them in the right direction so we can win some games.”

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Could Tajae Sharpe be on the bubble in Tennessee?

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Titans receiver Tajae Sharpe could be going from Week One starter in 2016 to off the roster in 2017.

As explained by Jason Wolf of the Tennessean, the guy who contributed as a fifth-round rookie a year ago may be in danger of missing the final cut in September. The problem arises from the players the Titans have added at the position, including rookie first-rounder Corey Davis and, more recently, veteran Eric Decker, whose contract has a structure that essentially guarantees him a roster spot.

Complicating matters for Sharpe are a civil lawsuit and companion criminal investigation into an off-field issue and a stress fracture in his foot that, following surgery, caused Sharpe to miss a chunk of the offseason program, and that will make it harder on him when training camp opens.

“Some of them like Tajae [are] going to have a hard time,” coach Mike Mularkey said last week regarding players who will be unable to exercise as usual. “Obviously he’s not going to run right now, but he’s got to do something to stay in shape. You can’t come back and expect to get in shape in training camp. It’s not like the old days. Training camp is short. You used to be able to build into it in the training camps. You can’t do that anymore. You’ve got to be ready to go. No matter what your injury is, there’s something you can do, cardio-wise, to train.”

Ultimately, Sharpe will need to perform, during practice and preseason games. Last year, he caught 41 passes for 522 yards and two touchdowns in 16 games, with 10 starts. This year, the Titans surely want more from a spot that high on the depth chart, which means Sharpe could end up lower in the pecking order. Which could ultimately hinge his employment on the extent to which he’s expected to contribute to special teams.

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Plenty of receiving duos are great; which is the best?

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Offenses that boast a pair of high-end receivers have a tremendous edge, because it’s impossible to double-team both of them. On Wednesday, former Colts punter and Barstool Sports contributor Pat McAfee and I teamed up to pick the best 1-2 punch at receiver in the league during PFT Live.

We disagreed, as the video demonstrates. One of us went with Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson of the Buccaneers, while the other opted for Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant.

And that shouldn’t be viewed as a slight to the many other great receiving duos, from Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall to Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree to Brandin Cooks and Julian Edelman to Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith to Golden Tate and Marvin Jones to Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills (or Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker) to Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb (or Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams . . . or Randall Cobb and Davante Adams) to several others that are or have the potential to be great.

If you didn’t chime in early, make your voice heard now in the comments. Especially if you agree with me.

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Rams waive DB Brian Randolph

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The Rams waived defensive back Brian Randolph, leaving them with 85 players on their roster.

Randolph signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Tennessee last offseason. He spent the 2016 season on injured reserve after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament on the opening kickoff of a preseason game against the Cowboys.

In his final college season, Randolph started all 13 games, made 70 tackles, broke up five passes and had two interceptions.

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Darryl Tapp gets snaps at DT in Nick Fairley’s absence

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If Nick Fairley’s heart condition keeps him out this season, the Saints might tap into Darryl Tapp’s versatility. Tapp, despite his size, saw some snaps at defensive tackle in 2014 when Fairley was lost to a season-ending knee injury while both were with the Lions.

Tapp also took some reps inside last week with Fairley out of minicamp, as did defensive end Mitchell Loewen.

“The more things you can do to make yourself valuable to a team, the better off you are,” Tapp said, via Josh Katzenstein of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Tapp, now in his 12th season, has played defensive end, outside linebacker and on special teams during his career. He has shown he can fill in at defensive tackle, too, if necessary. The Saints hope “if necessary” doesn’t come to pass, and doctors clear Fairley to return to action. Fairley has sought a third opinion on whether he should continue playing with an enlarged heart.

The Saints have Sheldon Rankins, Tyeler Davison and David Onyemata at the position and use four in their rotation.

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Whitney Mercilus has figured out how to get to the QB

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It took awhile, but Whitney Mercilus has figured out how to get to the quarterback: Any way possible.

Mercilus made 18 sacks his first three seasons combined. Not bad, but not what the Texans expected after making him a first-round choice in 2012. In his past 25 games, though, Mercilus has 19.5 sacks using a variety of moves.

He can beat you several ways,” Texans linebackers coach Bobby King said, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “He can beat you with speed; he can beat you with power; he can also drop; he can rush over the center, the guard, the tackle. He’s just a hard matchup, and he’s a true pro, too. He really studies the game, and he’s a good football player.”

Mercilus, who holds the franchise record with six postseason sacks led the Texans with 7.5 sacks last season, should see fewer double teams this season with J.J. Watt returning from from back surgery.

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All quiet regarding Gareon Conley case, for now


Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley should soon learn whether he will, or won’t, be charged with sexual assault in Ohio.

After the first-round rookie met with police in early May, Conley’s lawyer said that a decision from authorities is expected within 6-8 weeks. Seven weeks have passed.

It’s likely no coincidence that the Raiders have yet to sign Conley to a rookie contract. Why give him a signing bonus and guaranteed salaries for three years and part of a fourth if Conley ultimately may not be available to play?

The situation will become extremely murky for the Raiders if Conley is charged. The league can’t discipline him for pre-draft misconduct, but how can the NFL allow a person charged with felony rape to show up for work? The image-obsessed league office will twist arms to get Conley off the field, similar to what the league did in 2014 after the Ray Rice debacle led to extended leaves of absence with pay for Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson while both were facing unresolved criminal charges.

If Conley hasn’t signed, the safest approach for the league would be to nudge the team to not sign Conley but also not to rescind the draft pick. The Raiders would hold his rights until the next draft, and the team’s hope would be to see the situation fully and completely resolved by then.

Regardless of how it plays out, the Raiders will have only themselves to blame if prosecutors eventually can persuade a grand jury that sufficient evidence exists to indict him. They can’t say they weren’t aware of the risk that Conley would be charged.

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Ron Jaworski says he’s “in limbo,” unsure if he has a future on ESPN


Ron Jaworski’s name has been included in some reports about ESPN’s recent round of layoffs, but Jaworski himself says he doesn’t know if he’s done at ESPN or not.

Jaworski appeared on a podcast with Matt Mosley and Ed Werder and said he isn’t sure if he’s going to be part of ESPN’s NFL coverage in 2017.

“I wish I could give you a definitive answer but I don’t have one,” Jaworski said. “I’m absolutely very grateful and thrilled to have worked at ESPN for 27 years. I still may continue to work at ESPN. I do not know what the future is going to hold. I still have a contract with them until May 31st of 2022, and if they choose to want to use me in some other areas, that is being talked about with my agent basically as we speak. So I’m a guy in limbo right now. But I do want to continue some broadcasting. I love what I do.
I still maintain my office at NFL Films and the film wonk that I am, I try to give the audience something that they normally don’t get. It may be a little bit drilled down football, but I think there’s far too much football on TV that doesn’t scratch the surface and I try to drill down and give the viewers and the listeners something they don’t get anywhere else.”

Jaworski has long served as one of the analysts on NFL Matchup. ESPN has confirmed that Matchup will return in 2017, but there’s no word on who the analysts will be.

“The Matchup show was on the air before I started at ESPN. If I do it or not in the future it will still be a great show,” Jaworski said. “There was a time when people said, ‘The fans don’t care about Xs and Os.’ That is bull. People care about football.”

People care about football analysts, too, and ESPN still hasn’t told people who the network’s analysts will be this year. Jaworski might be on the air, but right now he’s in the dark.

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Jaguars claim offensive lineman Demetrius Rhaney

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The Jaguars claimed offensive lineman Demetrius Rhaney off waivers from the Rams. The Jaguars released rookie offensive lineman Parker Collins to make room for Rhaney.
Rhaney originally was a seventh-round pick of the Rams in 2014. He spent his rookie season on injured reserve before seeing action in all 16 games in both 2015 and 2016. He started one game at left guard in 2015.

He started 22 games for Tennessee State after transferring from Ellsworth Community College. During his senior year in 2013, Rhaney played in all 12 games, starting 11 at center, and was part of an offensive line that helped earn an at-large berth to the FCS Playoffs.

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Lorenzo Mauldin charged with misdemeanor assault

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Jets linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin faces a civil suit from a man who alleges Mauldin attacked him at a New York City nightclub in April and he’s now facing criminal charges as well.

According to multiple reports, Mauldin turned himself in to the New York City Police Department on Wednesday and has been charged with misdemeanor assault. TMZ Sports reports that Mauldin faces up to a year in jail if convicted of the charge and a court appearance has been set for August on the matter.

Mauldin has been accused of striking Jean Lopez after Lopez spilled champagne on him. Lopez’s lawsuit claims that he suffered multiple facial fractures as a result.

Mauldin’s attorney said earlier this month that another person struck Lopez and that Mauldin is “anxious to be exonerated.”

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