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Thomas Rawls, Jimmy Graham won’t practice on first day of camp

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 13: Running back Thomas Rawls #34 of the Seattle Seahawks carries the ball against defensive back Shareece Wright #35 of the Baltimore Ravens and free safety Kendrick Lewis #23 of the Baltimore Ravens in the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Earlier this month, Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls said that he would “most definitely” be ready to go for the start of training camp.

Rawls may feel ready to go, but the Seahawks aren’t going to turn him loose just yet. General Manager John Schneider said, via Curtis Crabtree of PFT, that Rawls will not take part in the team’s first practice of camp on Saturday.

Schneider said the same of tight end Jimmy Graham, who tore his patellar tendon last season. It wouldn’t be a surprising destination coming off of that injury, if only to make sure that Graham isn’t trying to do too much too soon. Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz suffered a calf injury in his return from a patellar tendon tear last year and never saw the field during the regular season.

“We’re going to be very, very careful with those guys,” Schneider said. “We’re still trying to decide if we’re going to put them on PUP [physically unable to perform]. If we’re not, we’re going to be really careful with them.”

The Seahawks said all offseason that they expect both players to be ready for Week One. Schneider said that remains their “understanding” with camp about to open.

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Jason Pierre-Paul: My right hand feels like my left hand

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 20:  Jason Pierre-Paul #90 of the New York Giants in action against  Mike Remmers #74 of the Carolina Panthers during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 20, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul saw the additions that the team made to the defense in free agency and he’s heard the predictions of better results this season, but he said Thursday that he’s aware “we don’t know” what the unit will be at this point in time.

One thing that would help the unit achieve their goals would be a return to form from Pierre-Paul after he missed half of last season while recovering from the fireworks accident that mangled his right hand. Pierre-Paul had some good moments, but wearing a club on his right hand limited his ability to make plays when he got to the quarterback. He’s not wearing the club this year and says everything feels like it is back to normal on the field.

“My hand feels great,” Pierre-Paul said, via ESPN.com. “No complaining, no nothing. I’ve been training hard, been getting after it and getting ready to play some football. The club isn’t going to be an issue or anything. My right hand feels like my left hand. I don’t have to prove anything. It’s free will. I know I don’t need nothing to go out there to protect myself. I feel comfortable in using my hand and striking with it and hitting with it. I’m very excited to show people, ‘Hey, nothing has changed.'”

The Giants will be thrilled if that turns out to be the case because the pre-fireworks Pierre-Paul was an integral part of their defense for most of his first five seasons with the team.

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Jimmy Garoppolo “very excited” about chance to start

Green Bay Packers v New England Patriots Getty Images

The Patriots held their first practice of training camp on Thursday, which means we got our first chance to see how the team will be divvying up the reps at quarterback between Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo.

Mike Reiss of ESPN.com reports that it was an even split between the two quarterbacks during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills as the team begins the process of getting Garoppolo ready to start the first four games of the season. That will have to be balanced with getting Brady enough work to be sharp when he returns to the lineup after his suspension, something that coach Bill Belichick confirmed will happen on Wednesday.

That was a fairly obvious declaration and hasn’t stopped Garoppolo from being “very excited” about the chance to start.

“Yeah, it’s a great opportunity just like you said,” Garoppolo said in comments distributed by the team. “You have to go out there and take advantage of it. You don’t get many opportunities in this league, you might only get one, so you’ve got to make the best of it.”

If Garoppolo makes the best of his cameo in the starting lineup, it’s hard to believe that it will be the last of his opportunities to start in the NFL. Those future chances probably wouldn’t come in New England, but a strong showing in the first quarter of the season should make Garoppolo a hot commodity on the trade market come the offseason.

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John Fox: Leonard Floyd was sick, will be fine

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 10: Leonard Floyd #84 of the Georgia Bulldogs recovers a fumble an would return it 96 yards for a touchdown against the Tennessee Volunteers on October 10, 2015 at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) Getty Images

After Bears rookie linebacker Leonard Floyd was carted off the field at practice on Thursday, a league source told PFT that Floyd was “woozy” early in practice and his departure was related to that rather than a torn ACL or other injury that would have him joining wide receiver Kevin White as Bears first-rounders who missed their rookie seasons.

The word from the Bears is along the same lines. Coach John Fox said after practice concluded that Floyd has been sick for the last couple of days and that he wasn’t able to do as much as anticipated during the team’s practice session.

“He was sick,” Fox said, via Peggy Kusinski of NBC Chicago. “He tried to go. He’s a tough kid, just didn’t make it through.”

Fox said that the team thinks Floyd will be fine, which should lead to a lot of exhaling in the Chicagoland area.

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Browns expect to name starting QB before first preseason game

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 26: Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins looks on prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles on December 26, 2015 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Browns haven’t named their starting quarterback for the 2016 season, but it doesn’t sound like coach Hue Jackson plans to extend the competition too deep into August.

During a press conference on Thursday, Jackson said that “whoever earns the job is going to earn it on the field” and suggested that they’ll do it pretty soon.

“It’s going to show itself really quickly and it would definitely be before we play our first preseason game,” Jackson said.

Despite some reports of shaky play from reporters on the Browns beat, Robert Griffin III came out of the offseason workouts looking like he was in position to nab the starting job. That was followed by a report this week that Griffin will be taking 80 percent of the snaps with the first team in training camp.

Given the timeline that Jackson set down on Thursday, that points to Griffin being No. 1 in Cleveland and could lead to Josh McCown going on the move should the Browns feel comfortable with Cody Kessler and Austin Davis as backups.

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Leonard Floyd leaves Bears practice on a cart

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 21: Leonard Floyd #84 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates after tackling Matt Breida #36 of the Georgia Southern Eagles for a loss during the second half at Sanford Stadium on November 21, 2015 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Training camp practices are underway, which means reports of injuries suffered during training camp practices are also starting to buzz across social media.

One of the first is likely to have people in Bears country crossing their fingers. Multiple reporters at Bears practice on Thursday have shared the news that linebacker Leonard Floyd left practice on a cart.

There’s no word on what injury Floyd suffered or his condition. Coach John Fox will speak to the media after practice and the first-round pick’s status is sure to be a hot topic.

Floyd, the ninth overall pick, is slated for an outside linebacker spot on the Bears defense this season. He had 17 sacks during his career at Georgia and his pass rushing ability helped convince the Bears to trade up two spots to get him in April.

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Multiple suspensions expose Cowboys, Steelers to major fines

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 28:  A man takes money from a cash machine at a branch of Lloyds Bank on July 28, 2016 in London, England. The part state-owned banking group today announced it will cut 3,000 jobs and close 200 more branches despite reporting a doubling of pre-tax profits.  (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images) Getty Images

Nearly a decade ago, the NFL crafted a policy aimed at promoting good player behavior by requiring teams to surrender a portion of a suspended player’s lost salary as a fine, if multiple players are suspended in a given year.

In 2013, the then-five-year-old policy likely cost the Seahawks more than $60,000 for a trio of suspensions to offensive lineman Allen Barbre, safety Winston Guy, and cornerback Brandon Browner. The Rams likely faced a similar problem in 2013, due to multiple player suspensions.

As noted by Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, the policy that was first applied to the Cowboys in 2008 will be applied to them again, given the suspensions of Randy Gregory, Demarcus Lawrence, and Rolando McClain. The policy as currently written requires in the event of three suspensions the payment of 25 percent of the collective forfeited base salary to the league, with a maximum payment of $250,000.

With Gregory due to make $608,406 in 2016, Lawrence on the books this year for $920,604, and McClain owed $1.25 million, the Cowboys easily got to the $250,000 ceiling. (Absent the limit, they would have owed 25 percent of $1.095 million, or $273,750.) If another player is suspended, the Cowboys will be required to cough up a full third of the lost wages for each suspended player.

The Steelers could be facing a similar problem, with the full-season suspension of Martavis Bryant and the looming suspension of running back Le’Veon Bell. The policy requires the forfeiture of 15 percent of the lost salary when two players are suspended. With Bryant due to make $600,000 this year (he’ll lose all of it) and Bell slated to earn $966,900 (he’ll lose $235,294 if the suspension is upheld), 15 percent of the lost salary equates to $125,294.

“It’s obviously so important to us in drafting guys with the right character but sometimes things happen that are unforeseen,” Cowboys COO Stephen Jones said earlier this year. “Right now, I totally get that it may not look like it in terms of the mishaps we’ve had here, but it’s certainly very important to us and something we’ll continue to evaluate and try to be better.”

Ultimately, giving up a chunk of the salary that otherwise won’t be paid won’t deter teams from taking risks on players who may be predisposed to engaging in behavior that could get them suspended or provide an even stronger incentive to keep troubled players out of trouble. To get the attention of teams, they must face the potential loss of draft picks.

Previously, the possibility has been considered in connection with multiple violations of the Personal Conduct Policy. That idea never went anywhere. If the league truly wants to reduce suspensions under all policies, that’s the best (and perhaps only) way to do it.

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Ryan Fitzpatrick: “It’s been a long six months for sure”

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 27:  Eric Decker #87 of the New York Jets jumps on the back of  Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets during a television interview after their 26-20 overtime win against the New England Patriots  at MetLife Stadium on December 27, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Ryan Fitzpatrick has been without a job for six months, and that means he’s been out of the context he’s most comfortable in.

The once-and-future Jets quarterback told Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News he’s relieved to be back and get to work.

“Oh my gosh… it’s been a long six months for sure,” Fitzpatrick said. “The biggest feeling was relief. Just relief to have it over and done with. And then when I was driving in [Wednesday night to the team facility] and walking up to the team meeting, it was like the first day of school. I was just all excited to see everybody and to be back in the building. Because through the entire offseason program, I wasn’t allowed to be there.

“It was such a weird feeling. I was 10 minutes away just sitting at home getting calls and texts every day. After every practice, talking with the guys and not being allowed in the building to participate and compete with them. That made it an awfully long offseason for me. Now I’m ready to get to work.”

Fitzpatrick said — as everyone believed — that he always thought a deal would get done. He didn’t anticipate it taking this long, but remained positive through a stretch when Jets offers were being leaked.

“Unfortunately, we had to go through that long process to get to the end result,” he said. “But I didn’t have any doubts that at some point it would work itself out. . . . Everybody’s trying to get a leg up on the bargaining table with negotiations. I thought for the most part it was good that it stayed behind closed doors.

“There was obviously that one period where they released some of the numbers on the contract. Then all the numbers came out. There was such a he said-she said back-and-forth going on. I didn’t really love that part of it. Like I said, I’m ready to go and get to work and put it all behind us. And I’m glad that it’s over.”

The 34-year-old quarterback said he never considered retirement, and feels like he’s still getting better. After a productive season and 10 wins, he’s hoping to build on what the Jets did last year.

And now that he’s finally under contract, he can get back to what he enjoys most.

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Packers applying pressure to Matthews, Peppers to submit to PED interviews

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 13: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears passes under pressure from Julius Peppers #56 and Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on September 13, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Packers defeated the Bears 31-23. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

The impasse between the NFL and the NFL Players Association over the investigation regarding the Al Jazeera documentary containing allegations against four active NFL players lingers, with the league wanting to interview them, the union declining to make them available, and the league not yet saying, “The interview will occur at this specific time. Show up and cooperate or be punished for failure to do so.”

It’s unclear whether the league will make such an ultimatum. Behind the scenes, however, efforts are ongoing to persuade the players to comply. In Green Bay, for example, a league source tells PFT that some pressure is being applied by the Packers to linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers to submit to the requested interviews.

There’s not much the team can do other than appeal to their desire to be exonerated, to avoid negative P.R., to get the matter behind them, and to minimize the possibility of a potential distraction. If the players are clean, it’s easy to argue that they should want to submit to the interviews so that the league eventually could issue a press release exonerating them, like the one issued earlier this week to exonerate Peyton Manning.

The NFLPA, which still harbors some lingering ill will toward Packers president and former player Mark Murphy from the CBA talks of 2011, nevertheless believes that allowing players to be interviewed based only on the recanted allegations of Charles Sly creates a bad precedent. The fact that the league ultimately regarded Sly’s allegations against Manning to be not credible makes it even more important to insist on something more than Sly’s shaky word before allowing the league to launch a fishing expedition aimed at getting them to say something that could be used against them.

For now, the active players have held firm. Even free-agent Mike Neal, who has linked his ongoing unemployment to the lingering cloud of PED suspicion, has not yielded. As long as they do, the ball will be in the NFL’s court — and the question will be whether the league wants to draw a line in the sand based on allegations from someone whom the league already has determined to be, as it related to Peyton Manning, not believable.

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Jarryd Hayne: If the NFL had a minor league I’d still be playing

Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

Rugby star Jarryd Hayne had never played American football when he left his Australian team in 2014 to try to make it in the NFL. Although he made it on the 49ers’ roster last year, he didn’t get a lot of playing time and quit football to go back to rugby this year.

Now Hayne is telling the NFL that if it wants to attract international talent like him, it needs a minor league.

“If there was a second division team where I could get those mental reps of being on the field, 100 per cent I’d go back to the NFL,” Hayne told the New Zealand Herald. “I’m at the end of my career where I really (have) just got to get on the field. I just want to be on the field. I’ve played eight games in two years. If I went back there to the NFL it’d be one of those things where I’d be a second or third string guy helping out but not really getting a lot of game time.”

The NFL tried, with NFL Europe, to have a minor league that would attract international attention. That experiment failed. And the NFL doesn’t really need a minor league because the NCAA does that for the NFL, without the NFL having to pay for it.

But the NFL might some day try some type of developmental league. It could be a way to get international talent like Hayne on the field.

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Eric Berry may skip all of training camp, preseason

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 27:  Eric Berry #29 of the Kansas City Chiefs enters the field at Arrowhead Stadium during pre game against the Cleveland Browns on December 27, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

With the Chiefs not signing safety Eric Berry to a long-term deal before July 15, the franchise-tagged player remains without a contract. Under the terms of the tender, he can show up just a few days before the start of the regular season and still get the full amount of his $10.8 million salary.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Berry may do just that, skipping most if not all of training camp and the preseason, losing no money to fines but still getting the full $10.8 million salary.

The sole risk comes from the team’s ability to rescind the tag — something Chiefs coach Andy Reid did not once but twice during his time with the Eagles. Doing so would make Berry a free agent, and he would be hard pressed to get a deal on the open market that averages $10.8 million per year.

Under prior Collective Bargaining Agreements, the franchise tag for a given position was driven by the average of the five highest cap numbers in the prior year. Under the 2011 CBA, the tag is determined by the five-year average percentage of the overall cap that the franchise tag has consumed. With the growth of the cap outpacing in recent years the growth of the market at most positions, some franchise-tagged players — like Berry — instantly become the highest paid player at his position, albeit for only one year.

If the Chiefs would remove the tender, would another team pay Berry $10.8 million for 2016, or a multi-year deal averaging that much? Probably not.

It would be an unpopular move, to be sure. Berry has become a national inspiration given his recovery from cancer and his performance last season. But with Berry due to make more than any other safety and with the prospect of Berry showing up not fully prepared for Week One while still making $10.8 million, the Chiefs have to at least consider doing what Reid previously did with linebacker Jeremiah Trotter and defensive tackle Corey Simon.

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Pessimism swirls regarding Le’Veon Bell’s chances on appeal

Pittsburgh Steelers v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

Yes, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell has vowed to not miss any games after reportedly missing several drug tests. No, no one beyond a very small circle should have even known about the potential suspension until the appeal process had concluded.

Regardless, the cat has escaped from the bag — and based on information PFT has gathered there’s a strong sense Bell won’t be escaping the suspension.

Even with neutral arbitration now available in suspensions arising under the substance-abuse policy and the PED policy, none in the know believe Bell has a strong chance to win the appeal.

It’s been suggested that Bell changed phones and didn’t receive notice of the tests. If that’s his defense, it’s hard to imagine it flying. For a guy in the program, surely an obligation exists to notify all appropriate persons of a change in cell service. Otherwise, a guy could avoid testing simply by buying a new phone.

Bell’s appeal possibly will be finalized before Week One. For now, the smartest move for the Steelers will be to assume that DeAngelo Williams will once again carry the load early in the season after Bell makes his exit following the fourth preseason game.

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Jets sign Ryan Fitzpatrick to one-year, $12 million deal

Ryan Fitzpatrick AP

The Jets and their starting quarterback finally have a deal.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has signed a one-year, $12 million deal to return to the Jets for the 2016 season, according to multiple reports.

This ends a long negotiation that spanned the entire offseason and got contentious at times, with Fitzpatrick seemingly upset that the Jets weren’t willing to give him the kind of money that quarterbacks who had lesser seasons last year — like Brock Osweiler and Sam Bradford — received.

In the end, however, they’ve come to an agreement that will bring Fitzpatrick back, and put back together a passing game that was surprisingly effective in 2016. The Jets think they can compete for a playoff spot this season, and now they have their leader.

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Saints GM: “No progress” on talks with Brees

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 27:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints looks to pass during the third quarter of a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 27, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the Saints arrived in West Virginia for training camp Wednesday, general manager Mickey Loomis told reporters that the sides “have not made any progress” an a potential contract extension for veteran quarterback Drew Brees.

Though Loomis going on the record with that means it’s news, it’s no surprise to those who have followed the story. Brees recently said he hasn’t heard from the team regarding a possible extension in three months.

Considering Brees set a deadline of the start of the regular season for cutting off talks, this thing could get sticky.

Loomis said he doesn’t think the situation will become a distraction for the team, and Brees has been a good soldier. But the Saints have been hurting for salary-cap space, and getting a deal done earlier could have lessened the $30 million cap number Brees is carrying and helped the team in areas besides goodwill with its most important player.

Because Brees has already been given the franchise tag twice in his career, the Saints would have to guarantee him a 44 percent raise to franchise him next year, which would mean a franchise tag of $43.2 million. That’s not going to happen, so the Saints have to get a deal done in the next five weeks or risk losing Brees next March.

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Joe Flacco will wear knee brace, may not play much in preseason

Joe Flacco AP

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco’s recovery from last year’s torn ACL and MCL has gone well enough that Flacco avoided the PUP list to start training camp and all indications from the offseason are that he’s right on track for a return to the lineup in Week One.

It’s less clear whether he’ll be doing much in the team’s preseason games. Flacco met the media on Wednesday and said his focus is on the team’s September 11 opener against the Bills rather than on getting his feet wet during the exhibition season.

“The goal is to make sure I’m as healthy as possible, regular season, Game 1,” Flacco said. “I’m not ridiculously worried about playing a ton in the preseason.”

One plus to preseason action would be a chance to see how he responds to taking hits as that’s not something that will happen during Ravens practices this summer. The flip side of that is the risk of what taking the wrong hit could do to his health, so the Ravens will have to balance both before making a call. Whether his next game action comes in August or in the regular season, Flacco will take the field wearing a brace on his left knee.

“If it helps a little bit, that’s huge,” Flacco said. “I’m not going to leave it up to risk and then have something happen and say, ‘What if?’ I’m going to wear it. There’s no reason not to.”

Flacco said his knee has felt “really good” in the workouts he’s done with rookies and injured veterans over the last few days. Whatever he needs to do in regards to braces and preseason playing time to keep it that way will likely be just fine with the Ravens.

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