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Steve Spurrier to Browns: Why not Connor Shaw

Cleveland Browns v Washington Redskins Getty Images

The Browns picked Brian Hoyer to be their starting quarterback this week, relegating Johnny Manziel to a backup role after a closely watched competition that fizzled on the field as neither player performed all that well.

The quarterback who played the best on Monday night against the Redskins was undrafted rookie Connor Shaw, who went 8-of-9 for 143 yards and threw a touchdown on a Hail Mary to give the Browns a chance to win the game with no time left on the clock. Shaw was never a serious contender for the starting job, much to the dismay of his coach at South Carolina Steve Spurrier.

“I thought Connor played pretty well,” Spurrier said, via the Greenville News. “What did he hit, eight out of nine? He has always been a pretty good percentage guy. Against Missouri he hit 20 out of 21 one day, 20 straight one day. It always amazes me, for some reason they just don’t assume that he is really a top quarterback and he is. I mean, look at his statistics. He’s a winner. He makes plays. I wish they would put him in the hunt for the starting job.”

Spurrier doesn’t have the best bona fides when it comes to picking professional quarterbacks — see Danny Wuerrfel, Patrick Ramsey and Shane Matthews of the 2002 and 2003 Redskins– but that hasn’t stopped him from promoting Shaw for a while now. Spurrier even compared him to Russell Wilson during the days leading up to the draft, but none of the league’s 32 teams thought he was worth selecting.

If Hoyer and Manziel both continue to sputter and he plays well in his remaining preseason action, Shaw might get a chance to prove the Ol’ Ball Coach right.

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Eighteen days later, still no Josh Gordon ruling

Gordon AP

Unless the NFL indeed announces the Josh Gordon suspension as part of a late Friday afternoon news dump, a decision on his appeal won’t be announced today.  Which will mean that 18 days have passed without a resolution.

The substance-abuse policy requires a decision from the hearing officer within a “reasonable time.”  It doesn’t specify or define “reasonable.”

In contrast, the PED policy specifically requires a decision to be made within five days after the conclusion of an appeal hearing.

Setting aside for now the failure of the NFL or the NFLPA to demand a specific deadline, the use of five days under one policy could become relevant in determining whether 18 days is “reasonable.”  Which could give Gordon something/anything on which to mount a legal challenge, if/when a decision finally is made.

Unless hearing officer Harold Henderson issues a decision in the next hour or two or over the weekend, the ruling will come at least 21 days after the hearing ended.  The problem for Gordon and the Browns comes from the reality that, if he’s suspended for a full year, he’ll be banished for a full calendar year — 365 days.  Which means that he won’t be eligible for reinstatement until the last couple of weeks before the start of the 2015 regular season.

Word of the proposed suspension first emerged in May.  When it comes to a full-year suspension, the process needs to move a lot more quickly.  With the first game of the regular season only 16 days away, this specific appeals process couldn’t have moved much more slowly.

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PFT Live: Michael Vick urges Geno Smith he needs to win now

Michael Vick has been candid so far this offseason and his honesty continued when telling the media it’s time for Geno Smith to win now as the Jets’ starter. “There’s really no patience,” Vick said. “We got to win and we got to win now.”

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Video emerges of Mike Evans in brawl outside nightclub

Evans AP

Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans has a reputation for being soft spoken.  He was anything but that in a video obtained by TMZ of a scene outside a Tampa nightclub.

The video, reportedly shot on Saturday night after the Buccaneers hosted the Dolphins in a preseason game, shows Evans arguing with bouncers.  Eventually, someone else appears to stick a finger in a bouncer’s face, the bouncer responds aggressively, and then all hell breaks loose.

At one point, it appears that Evans throws a punch that doesn’t squarely connect.  The punch occurs at roughly the same time the ass crack of one of the bouncers is visibly obvious in the foreground.

Police were present, but apparently no arrests were made.  Now that the video has come to light, however, the NFL could review the situation as a first offense for Evans under the personal-conduct policy.

UPDATE 4:08 p.m. ET:  According to the Tampa Bay Times, Evans’ agent says that the video was shot in March.  That would potentially make Evans exempt from scrutiny under the personal-conduct policy, since he wasn’t an employee of any NFL team in March.

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Washington Post stops using Washington team name, sort of

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Redskins Getty Images

It’s not easy to cover an NFL team without ever mentioning its nickname.  But that’s precisely what the Washington Post will do, from this point forward.

Sort of.

The editorial board of the Post has announced that it will stop using the team’s name, most of the time.

“While we wait for the NFL to catch up with public opinion and common decency we have decided not to use the slur ourselves except when it is essential for clarity or effect,” the newspaper said.

While it’s unclear why or how the Post would need to use the name for clarity or effect, it’s smart to leave a loophole, since the newspaper is in, you know, Washington.  The broader loophole comes from the fact that the newsroom will keep using the name.

The Washington NFL team, through spokesman Tony Wyllie, called the move “no surprise.”

“The editorial board has been opposed to the Washington Redskins name for more than 30 years,” Wyllie said, inadvertently gutting one of the knee-jerk argument from the name truthers, who insist that opposition has arisen only recently. “We just wish they would have had taken us up on our offer to visit several reservations to see how much Native Americans embrace and value the name and use it as their own logo and mascots across this country.”

That position ignores the reality that the National Congress of American Indians actively opposes the name. Which is no surprise, since the franchise generally continues to ignore the fact that the NCAI actively opposes the name.  If the franchise had simply ignored the debate in 2013 instead of attempting to engage or debunk it, the franchise probably wouldn’t be dealing with an issue that has now grown to the point where the editorial board of the biggest newspaper in the team’s market now refuses to use the name.

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PFT Live: Mark Sanchez the Eagles’ QB of the future?

Chip Kelly was reluctant to proclaim Nick Foles his franchise QB a year ago and with nothing promised at the position, Mike Florio wonders if Mark Sanchez could creep into the picture coming off a stellar preseason showing.

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Brandon Graham: I may not be a good fit, but I can get to the QB

brandongraham AP

Brandon Graham was the Eagles’ first-round pick under a different regime in 2010, but he has never looked like the right fit in the 3-4 defense preferred by head coach Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator Bill Davis. Graham understands that, but he also understands this: There’s always room on an NFL roster for a guy who can get to the quarterback.

So Graham, who got his second sack of the preseason on Thursday night, feels confident that he’ll play and play well for the Eagles this season. And if the Eagles cut him, Graham thinks he’ll play well for someone else.

It’s just a tricky situation,” Graham said, via “Hopefully, I’m here. If not, hopefully I can show somebody else that I can definitely get the job done, and that’s all I’m trying to do. I know I’m not the ideal size and I don’t play as good in space as I would like. I’m getting better at it, but it’s just one of those things where I know I can go get that quarterback, and I know I can play the run good. It’s just in space, I’m trying to get a lot better at that.”

Graham said he hopes the Eagles’ coaches will keep him on the roster because he believes the Eagles are ready for big things this year.

“I come in, practice every day, work hard and I just try to put it on film to show them that I can help this team win,” Graham said. “I’m just trying to secure a spot because I know how great we can be. I know I can get better, and that’s the thing. Man, if I’m here, I know I’m going to get better each week, because my attitude and focus is all about the team. I know we can take it to the next level, and I want to be here to see us win the championship. I want to be a part of it.”

If Graham isn’t a part of it in Philadelphia, he’ll catch on somewhere. Perhaps on a team with a defense that’s a better fit for his skills.

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Jim Harbaugh: “Very good chance” Glenn Dorsey returns this season

Glenn Dorsey AP

Immediately after defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey had biceps surgery, the 49ers were unsure whether or not he’d miss the entire season.

It’s been a few weeks since the operation and the team is optimistic that they haven’t seen the last of Dorsey in 2014. Matt Maiocco of reports that coach Jim Harbaugh said Friday that there is a “very good chance” that Dorsey is able to return to the team before the end of the year.

Harbaugh pegged the timetable for Dorsey’s return at three-and-a-half months, which would keep him out of the lineup until the final weeks of the regular season. If the 49ers season unfolds the way the last few have, the team should be in the hunt for the playoffs and/or the NFC West at that point and a healthy return would likely be welcomed given the way injuries can pile up over the course of the season.

If that time frame is accurate, the 49ers will have to either keep Dorsey on the roster as an inactive player or place him on injured reserve with the designation to return after at least eight weeks out of the lineup.

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Stephenson blames suspension on unspecified prescription medication

Stephenson AP

The NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy continues to ensnare anyone but cheaters.

The latest player to be suspended, Chiefs tackle Donald Stephenson, has become the latest to offer up an excuse unrelated to the intentional ingestion of a substance aimed at enhancing performance.

“”I’’m extremely sorry that I failed to check with the NFL, NFLPA, or Chiefs medical team before I took a medication that requires a therapeutic use exemption,” Stephenson said in a statement issued by the NFLPA.  “The rules are strict, and without at TUE, the consequence is a four game suspension.  I apologize to the Hunt family, John Dorsey, Coach Reid and his staff, my teammates, and our awesome Chiefs fans.  It is not a mistake I will ever make again.  I will train extremely hard during my time away from the team, and I will be ready to contribute to my team’s effort to win a Super Bowl as soon as I return.””

Stephenson doesn’t say that he had a prescription for the medication that he took.  He also doesn’t specify whether the medication is a stimulant or something that would help build muscle mass or speed recovery from injury.

For the Chiefs, it doesn’t matter.  For the second straight Friday, they’ve lost an offensive starter to a suspension.  (Last week, it was receiver Dwayne Bowe for one game under the substance-abuse policy.)  They’ll also be required, by league policy, to pay a share of Stephenson’s lost salary to the league in the form of a fine, since he becomes the second Chiefs player to be suspended this year.

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PFT Live: Aaron Rodgers healthy, but plenty of questions for Packers

The Packers welcome back Charles Woodson in a preseason game with Oakland and while fans will give him a warm welcome, Tyler Dunne from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel talks what fans should be watching for on Green Bay’s side of the ball.

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Dolphins cut bait on draft bust Michael Egnew

Unknown-1 Getty Images

Whenever a General Manager gets fired, his pet projects are living on borrowed time.

So when 2012 third-rounder Michael Egnew failed to progress, he was an easy mark for the Dolphins now that Jeff Ireland is gone.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Dolphins are waiving Egnew today.

Criticism of Egnew was common during Hard Knocks in his rookie season, and with the guy who picked him no longer in charge, it became easier to admit a draft mistake.

He caught seven passes for 69 yards last year, after appearing in just two games as a rookie.

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Jimmy Graham fined $30,000 for dunks over crossbar

Jimmy Graham AP

Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said that he’s done dunking balls over the crossbar, which will save his team penalty yards and save him money.

PFT has confirmed that Graham has been fined $30,000 for a pair of dunks following touchdowns during last week’s preseason game against the Titans. That’s a lot of money to spend for celebrating a touchdown even if Graham had been labeled a wide receiver during his franchise tag grievance earlier this offseason.

In addition to the fine, those dunks led to 15-yard penalties that prompted Saints coach Sean Payton to say he was “very upset” with Graham after the game. Ultimately, Graham, who predicted he’d lead the league in penalties after the rule was changed, promise not to do it anymore.

Should Graham go back on his word, the fines will go up now that he’s racked up a pair of offenses. Given how avoidable and damaging these penalties are, Payton might have to use stronger words than “very upset” to describe his feelings about Graham.

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Chiefs tackle Donald Stephenson suspended four games for PEDs

Donald Stephenson AP

The Chiefs were already worried about rebuilding an offensive line, now they’re minus a big part of what was left.

The league announced that right tackle Donald Stephenson was suspended the first four games of the season for violating the performance enhancing substances policy.

Obviously losing Donald is disappointing, but we are in full compliance with the league’s policy,” the Chiefs said in a statement, via Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star.

Stephenson issued a statement through his agent citing the now-common line that he took a medication without a “therapeutic use exemption,” which is the new version of the Adderall defense.

Coupled with the losses in free agency of Branden Albert, Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah, and the uneven play of 2013 No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher, the Chiefs didn’t need one more problem on the line.

But now they’ve got a big one, for the first quarter of the season.

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Report: Some Jets coaches disappointed Vick wasn’t more hell-bent on winning starting job

Indianapolis Colts v New York Jets Getty Images

Jets quarterback Michael Vick said that there’s pressure on Geno Smith to win and win now because there’s “really no patience” for quarterbacks in the NFL these days.

Although the Jets haven’t officially named Smith their starter to open the regular season, Vick makes it clear that’s where things are heading. It’s something he’s done all offseason, even as some members of the Jets staff and brass have insisted that there’s a more spirited competition than anyone has actually seen unfold. Vick’s said all the right things about Smith and his own backup role, so it would seem that all’s well with the team’s plan to have the veteran ready and waiting if Smith can’t handle the job.

That may not be the case, though. Jenny Vrentas of reports that some Jets coaches “have privately expressed disappointment that Vick didn’t show up more hell-bent on winning the starting job.” One would have to guess that those coaches weren’t the same ones involved with making decisions about the quarterbacks since that has always felt more like it was Smith’s job to lose than Vick’s to win.

“The last five years I spent in Philly, I had some great years and played in some great games and went through a lot. Now it’s an opportunity for me to refresh myself and take a step back away from the game. I’m kind of relishing the moment that I’m in right now,” Vick said. “I am not required to have to do a lot. Preserving my body right now is very important to me, and making sure I can make a strong push late in my career in case I am needed.”

There’s some resignation in his words, but would it really be better for the Jets if Vick was causing problems about not being the starter? He’s said multiple times that he still wants to start and his willingness to accept being Smith’s backup likely had something to do with the likelihood that he’ll be called on at some point this season and the way the Jets presented the situation to him. If there’s a problem with that answer, someone with the Jets should have asked different questions earlier in the process.

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Report: Delano Howell’s neck injury isn’t career ending

Indianapolis Colts v New York Giants Getty Images

Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson didn’t sound too many optimistic notes about safety Delano Howell’s neck injury earlier this week when he said that Howell would need to form an “opinion with his wife and his agent” about next steps.

Whatever those conversations might be, it doesn’t sound like they’ll involve bringing an end to his career. Mike Wells of reports that the injury is not going to force him to stop playing football.

Howell met with doctors this week to discuss the best course of action and, per Wells, the Colts are expected to speak with them on Friday about where things go from here. At that point the timetable for a return to the field will presumably start to take shape.

The injury knocks Howell out his presumed spot alongside LaRon Landry in the Colts defense. Mike Adams is the next man up in that spot.

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