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Ryan Broyles practices on second day of minicamp

Ryan Broyles AP

The Lions don’t have defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh taking part in their three-day voluntary minicamp this week, but wide receiver Ryan Broyles has made his return to the field after a long absence.

Kyle Meinke of reports that Broyles was on the field taking part in Wednesday’s practice session. It is Broyles didn’t practice on Tuesday, making this his first on-field work since he tore his Achilles in an October game against the Cowboys.

The Achilles tear was Broyles’ third serious injury in the last three years. He tore one ACL in 2011 and then the other one in 2012, wiping out his rookie year with the Lions and leaving him in serious need of showing he can still produce and stay healthy if he is going to carve out a substantial NFL career.

The Lions don’t seem to be counting on that as they’ve signed Golden Tate and spent a lot of the last few weeks talking to pass catchers they might select during the draft, but Broyles can work his way back into the picture if his body cooperates over the next few months.

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Buzz builds for Taylor Lewan to Oakland at No. 5

Taylor Lewan

Former Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan is looking like a candidate to be the Raiders’ first-round draft pick.

Oakland owns the fifth overall pick, and Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune reports that the Raiders like Lewan better than either of the other top offensive tackles in this year’s draft, Greg Robinson of Auburn or Jake Matthews of Texas A&M.

That’s surprising, as most draft analysts view Robinson and Matthews as superior prospects to Lewan. It’s also surprising that we’re even talking about the Raiders using their first-round pick on an offensive tackle, seeing as they’ve already signed left tackle Donald Penn to a two-year, $9.6 million contract and signed right tackle Austin Howard to a five-year, $30 million contract.

But the Raiders are often unconventional, so if their draft board looks different than most teams’ draft boards, that’s par for the course.

Most mock drafts haven’t had Lewan in the Top 5, but ESPN’s Mel Kiper suggested today that the Rams could take Lewan with the second overall pick. So it’s possible that Lewan won’t even be there for the Raiders at No. 5. But if he is, don’t be surprised if the Raiders take him.

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Seahawks leaning against picking up Carpenter option

Carpenter Getty Images

Like several teams that have yet to pick up the 2015 option on an eligible 2011 first-round pick, the Seahawks have yet to decide what to do with offensive lineman James Carpenter.

Per a league source, the Seahawks currently are leaning against it.

Carpenter, who made 18 appearances and 12 starts last season (including the Super Bowl), had been limited during his first two years by injuries.  With a price tag north of $7 million for 2015, the Seahawks likely will shy away from that kind of investment for one more year with Carpenter under contract.

It means that Carpenter will enter his contract year in 2014.  If he has a big year, the Seahawks could have a hard time signing him to an affordable long-term deal.  Even so, they’d likely be able to get him for less than the $7 million they’d have to pay if they were to pick up the option.

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Team-by-team draft previews wrap up today on NBCSN

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It’s a busy day for NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk.

We’ve got the last of the team-by-team draft previews, with the Broncos and Seahawks going under the microscope.  We’ve got interviews with Denver coach John Fox and G.M. John Elways and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.

We’ve got an interview with Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy.

And we’ll be looking at the latest news of the day and the looming schedule release.

The show ends with a look at the Thursday night opener poll question.  The show starts at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Tune in.

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Saints players not concerned with Jimmy Graham’s absence

Jimmy Graham AP

To no one’s surprise, tight end Jimmy Graham has not joined his Saints teammates at the team’s offseason workouts.

Graham hasn’t signed his franchise tender and would like to negotiate a long-term contract with the Saints before the July 15 deadline for franchise-tagged players to do so. Absent a contract, there’s not much chance that he’ll be joining the team before that date and that’s just fine with tackle Zach Strief.

Strief said that the team isn’t affected by Graham’s absence now because so much offseason work is focused on improving yourself and that his teammates understand that this is just how the business side plays out for a player in Graham’s position.

“Look, I think all of us understand and I think it’s the hardest thing to understand from the outside. It is a business. Neither side is right, neither side is wrong. It just is what it is. I think that everyone knows that the first game of the season, Jimmy will be there and be ready to go,” Strief said, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “That’s all you really want at the end of the day. You forget all of a sudden that he wasn’t there for OTAs and all of those other things. Hopefully they get something done for Jimmy’s sake, for the team’s sake. I think it’s best for everybody and they all agree with that. But we’ll see how it plays out.”

The Saints went through something similar with quarterback Drew Brees a couple of years ago, so there shouldn’t be any panic about how things will play out over the next couple of months. As Strief said, Graham will almost certainly be there when the games start and that’s when the Saints will need him the most.

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Trent Richardson remains confident after a bad year

Trent Richardson AP

Trent Richardson was nothing short of terrible after the Colts traded a first-round draft pick for him last season. But Richardson hasn’t lost his confidence.

Richardson told reporters today that when he looks in the mirror, he sees the same running back who was viewed as a can’t-miss prospect heading into the draft two years ago.

“As far as confidence, man, I can’t wait. There’s a lot that I want to do,” Richardson said. “I’ve been playing football my whole life. I never thought it would become a struggle for me. I look back at it and I say, ‘Hey, you’re still the guy, you’re still the Trent Richardson you’ve always been. Just keep your mindset right.’”

Now Richardson needs to do something to inspire confidence in the Colts’ coaches, who phased him out of the offense as the season wore on. He sure didn’t do that last year, when he played 14 games for the Colts and totaled just 458 yards on 157 carries — and followed that with an even worse performance in the postseason, with four carries for one yard and one fumble. If Richardson isn’t a whole lot better than that this year, he belongs on the bench.

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Bills plan to address web blunder “internally”

Donald Trump Speaks To GOP Women's Groups Getty Images

If Donald Trump owned the Bills, he’d likely be spouting off his catch phrase today.  In the interim, someone else may be doing the same thing.

A day after the team’s website prematurely posted a story disclosing that coach Doug Marrone has cancer, the team said it’s looking at the situation.

“We are continuing today to discuss the unfortunate situation we experienced last night with our website and will address the matter internally,” the Bills said in a statement released Wednesday, via Mike Rodak of

It’s unclear whether Marrone publicly would have revealed the removal of a cancerous mole if the issue hadn’t been forced by the accidental posting of a live web link.  If Marrone hadn’t made a decision about whether to publicly acknowledge the disease, the mistake left Marrone with no realistic option.

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PFT Live: Eli Manning wants to reinvent his game

Bob Glauber from New York Newsday joins Mike Florio to discuss Eli Manning declaration that he wants to reinvent himself. Glauber believes the biggest aspect that needs to be reinvented is the 27 interceptions Manning threw a year ago, but Glauber is also optimistic about the passer’s stats for the upcoming season.

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Cardinals don’t think Tyrann Mathieu will be ready for camp

Tyrann Mathieu AP

The Cardinals lost safety Tyrann Mathieu to a torn ACL and LCL last December, creating some doubt about his status for the start of the 2014 season.

That question will likely remain unanswered into the summer. Mathieu said Wednesday that he’s pushing to be ready for the start of training camp, but coach Bruce Arians said it is more likely that Mathieu will be sidelined when camp gets underway.

“I think Ty is going to up to the wire,” Arians said, via Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. “I still anticipate him on PUP, but he refuses to believe it. That’s a good thing.”

Mathieu and the Cardinals feel he’s on schedule to make it back in time for the start of the season, but there’s a lot of time between now and September for a snag in his rehab to slow things down. With Yeremiah Bell still weighing whether or not he wants to return, the Cardinals have Rashad Johnson and Tony Jefferson as their top safeties until Mathieu’s back at full speed.

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Bears sign RB Shaun Draughn

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The Bears have added a running back who might also be able to contribute on special teams, signing Shaun Draughn to a one-year deal, the club said Wednesday.

The 26-year-old Draughn has played for Washington (2011), Kansas City (2011-2013) and Baltimore (2013). He appeared in three games for the Ravens last season, rushing four times for two yards. The Ravens waived him in October.

Draughn had his most productive pro season in 2012, rushing 59 times for 233 yards and two touchdowns, catching 24 passes for 158 yards and returning 23 kickoffs for 537 yards.

The Bears were in need of RB depth. Before Draughn’s addition, they had just two backs on the roster: Matt Forte and backup Michael Ford. Draughn could also get a shot on kickoffs, where the Bears must replace the departed Devin Hester.

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Continuing our draft preview series with a look at the Falcons

Mike Smith AP

The Falcons had methodically turned themselves into one of the NFC’s most consistent teams of the last half-decade, and even won a playoff game.

But it all came crashing down last year, when injuries exposed them as a bit of a house-of-cards team.

This offseason, they’re determined to become more physical on both lines, and the early free agent acquisitions of Jon Asamoah, Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson are evidence of that.

There’s still more work to be done, as they have a number of missing parts to fill in on both sides of the ball, and they’re not afraid to make aggressive moves to fill them. How should they best go about it?

You can click here for the full preview, and vote below on what you think they need to do with the pick.

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Draft needs: Atlanta Falcons

Panthers Falcons Football AP

With the NFL Draft approaching, we’re taking a team-by-team look at the needs of each club. Up next is the one with the No. 6 overall selection, the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons have 10 choices total (with a pair of fourths and three sevenths), so they have some flexibility to make a deal if they need to.

Pass-rusher: Ordinarily we’d say “defensive end” or “linebacker,” but the Falcons aren’t willing to commit to being a 4-3 or a 3-4, so what difference does it make.

What they need is for someone to get after the quarterback with regularity, more than the Osi Umenyioras (a decent 7.5 sacks last year) of the world can provide. They were 29th in the league in sacks last year with 32, and if they can’t get more pressure up front, they’re going to continue to have to play track-meet football to keep up.

The need, coupled with their well-stated willingness to move up, is why they’re linked with players such as Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack. The need for an impact rusher is clear, after they spent the early part of free agency on bulk such as Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson for what looks like a three-man front.

If they don’t address it in the first round, they can’t wait too long. The need for pressure is glaring, and dipping into the second-round crop of players such as Dee Ford would be about as long as they could wait.

Offensive tackle: The Falcons need to be able to protect quarterback Matt Ryan to have a chance, following their offseason statement of intent about toughness.

That’s why they’re checking out the top tackles such as Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews, as both would add an element of nasty that the Falcons need.

Signing Jon Asamoah early in free agency gave them some flexibility in the middle, but they need another anchor on the edge, even if it means moving Sam Baker to right tackle. Baker’s locked in contractually, but he’s a player they could upgrade, especially if they go this direction with the No. 6 pick.

Otherwise, using a later pick on a player who can challenge for the right tackle job would be possible deeper in the draft, if they decide they can live with Baker on the left.

Safety: The Falcons cut former Pro Bowler Thomas Decoud (who drifted up the road to Carolina), and haven’t done much of significance to replace him.

They need playmaker in the middle of the field to pair with William Moore, preferably one with center field-type range.

The fact they tried to poach RFA Rafael Bush away from the Saints (who matched their offer sheet) indicates they feel the spot is unfilled, and adding some young legs in the back would better allow defensive coordinator Mike Nolan to play his style of defense.

Tight end: It’s hard to say they need to replace Tony Gonzalez, because you just don’t replace a player of his caliber with any draft pick, at least in this draft.

But they do need to diversify their passing game, beyond the progression of Levine Toilolo.

The Falcons are built to be a bit of a finesse team, so adding a quality tight end would help them in ways beyond complementary receivers to Julio Jones and Roddy White.

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Jets add Jimmy Garoppolo, two tight ends to visit list

Jimmy Garoppolo AP

The Jets have set up a quarterback competition between Michael Vick and Geno Smith for this summer, but they’re still doing some due diligence on the position before the draft.

Rich Cimini of reports that Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is visiting with the Jets on Wednesday. Garoppolo has been a busy man the last few weeks as he’s made the rounds of teams wondering if he might be the answer to their need at quarterback now or somewhere in the near future.

Whether or not the Jets are one of those teams has a lot to do with what Smith does in his second season, which may preclude another early pick on a quarterback. Vick’s arrival gives them another option for 2014 if Smith fails to progress and there are plenty of other needs they can address in May.

One of them is a pass-catching tight end to go with Jeff Cumberland and the Jets have met with two players who fit the bill. Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports that Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro is also visiting on Wednesday while reports that North Carolina’s Eric Ebron was in on Tuesday. Ebron probably won’t be around for the 18th pick, but Amaro could be a second round possibility for the Jets.

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Cowboys could pounce on Manziel

Manziel Getty Images

From the moment the Joneses who own the Cowboys started gushing about Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, we began to pay attention to the possibility that the Cowboys would be inclined to add the potential franchise quarterback a year after giving Tony Romo a franchise quarterback contract.

Ed Werder of ESPN fuels that notion, explaining on SportsCenter that, if Manziel falls to No. 16, the Cowboys could take him.

Let’s take a step farther.  We think that, if Manziel slides past the Vikings at No. 8, the Cowboys could be inclined to trade up to get Manziel.  In 20 of 25 drafts, Jerry Jones has made a move with a first-round pick.  This year, moving up for Manziel could give the Cowboys the kind of offseason shakeup they surely covet.

Said Werder on the air, “Jerry Jones was raving about [Manziel] this weekend . . . in front of Romo.”

It would be a circus, a distraction, a potential mess to have Romo and Manziel on the roster.  Cap considerations would make a trade of Romo difficult if not impossible this year.  The cap hit would be stiff next year but not insurmountable, if the Cowboys were to move Manziel to the starting lineup and move Romo out of the building.

With an extended lull resulting from the league’s insistence on delaying the draft by two weeks, it’s fun to consider what may happen.  It would be even more fun to cover the efforts of Romo and Manziel to coexist as the top two quarterbacks on the depth chart of America’s Team.

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Mike Adams stabbing trial features two sharply different theories

MikeAdams Getty Images

Back when I was practicing law for a living and doing this as a hobby that went from paying nothing to paying a little to paying enough to stick my law license in the cushions of a couch and burn it, I’d explain at the start of the trial that the opening statement is the picture on the cover of a puzzle box, and that the jury eventually will piece the puzzle together to make that very picture.

For the trial of three men accused of stabbing Steelers tackle Mike Adams, the pictures on the puzzle box couldn’t be much different.

As explained by Paula Reed Ward of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the prosecution claims that three men stabbed Adams last year during an attempted carjacking.  The defense claims that Adams was drunk and obnoxious, that he bumped into one of the men, who dropped his cell phone and shish kebab, and that a fight ensued.

The lawyers representing the defendants continue to insist that Adams is lying to protect himself at work.

“Mike Adams has a huge, multimillion-dollar motive to lie,” attorney Fred Rabner said.  “Being out at 3 o’clock in the morning, drunk, is not the Steelers’ way.”

Strengthening the defense is the fact that Adams had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.185 percent, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

Adams still ended up being stabbed, but it will be difficult to eliminate reasonable doubt on the pending charges of attempted murder, conspiracy, and attempted robbery, especially in light of Adams’ inebriation.  Not only does his alcohol content make the defendants’ theory of the case more likely but it also makes it hard to rely on Adams’ recollection of the events in question.

The defendants also claim that Adams’ story has changed along the way, which again makes it hard to eliminate reasonable doubt.

It’s still early, but the prosecution in this case is facing an uphill climb.  The best chance of a conviction could arise if one or more of the three defendants opt to take the stand, and if they can be caught in one or more lies while testifying.

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