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Vernon Davis happy he can break out the jump shot again

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Among the excessive celebration penalties that drew the biggest negative response last season was the one that tight end Vernon Davis received after scoring a touchdown in Week 6.

Davis mimicked a basketball jump shot using the ball and the crossbar, leading to a 15-yard penalty against the Redskins that set up a short kickoff that the Eagles returned for a touchdown. Davis, who wasn’t penalized for the move when he was with the 49ers, was later fined $12,154 as well, but he won’t have to reach for his wallet if he gets a chance to break it out again in 2017.

The league changed the rules on celebrations this week to allow for more expressive reactions to big plays, a decision that Davis was happy to hear about.

“Guys want to celebrate, they want to make it fun,” Davis said, via the Washington Post. “That’s what this game is – it’s all about having fun. Go out there, you don’t want to be uptight. You want to have fun and do things within the realm of your team and be in compliance, but at the same time, you want to have fun. I think that’s one thing we have to work on as players. We have to make sure that we’re doing everything that we can do to make sure that we can keep it this way so that they won’t come back and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to take it away from you guys again.’ If we just work together and do things the right way, then we can keep it.”

Davis’ teammate Josh Norman also ran afoul of the celebration police last year, drawing a penalty and a fine for miming a bow-and-arrow shot after an interception. Norman’s move appears to remain off limits due to the continued ban on simulating weapons, something he professes not to understand while also feeling “it’s good that they’re taking the fans’ perspective” on celebrations in general.

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Goal post dunks remain against the rules

AP

Although the NFL has loosened the rules against celebrations, one restriction remains in place: Players can’t dunk the ball over the goal post.

NFL owners voted this week to roll back some of the league’s longstanding celebration penalties, including using the football as a prop. But according to ESPN the league still doesn’t allow dunking over the goal post because it considers that using the goal post as a prop, and because of the potential for delaying the game.

Then-Saints tight end Jimmy Graham delayed a game by about 20 minutes in 2013 when he dunked over a goal post and hit the cross bar in the process, knocking the goal post off-balance. The next offseason, the league banned dunks.

Graham criticized the league for that rule change, but it’s a rule the league feels strongly enough about that it will stay in place even after this week’s move to let players have a little more fun in the end zone.

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Raiders are holding Marshawn Lynch out of OTAs, for now

AP

In some cities, there is wringing of hands and/or gnashing of teeth regarding the decision of key players to treat voluntary workouts as voluntary. In Oakland, the team is keeping recently-acquired running back Marshawn Lynch out of the OTA fray, for now.

He’s doing great, he’s doing great,” coach Jack Del Rio said, via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com. “He’ll continue to do the things that we’re asking him to do. He’s really soaking up the system. He’s doing a great job fitting in.”

Although the Raiders are choosing not to put Lynch in a helmet and on the practice field, Del Rio knew that Lynch would show up for the Phase Three sessions.

“He said, ‘Coach, this is home for me, so it’s not like I’m going home and I won’t be here,’” Del Rio said. “He’s committed to being here. He’s excited to be a Raider. We’re excited to have him.”

For now, the Raiders don’t want to get too excited about rushing into action a running back who hasn’t played in more than a year. In time, we’ll all see Lynch wearing a silver helmet and pounding into and through the line.

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Joe Woods doesn’t plan to make major changes to Denver defense

AP

The Denver Broncos have a great defense. New defensive coordinator Joe Woods knows that, and he plans to keep it that way.

“The foundation of our defense is going to stay the same,” Woods told reporters on Wednesday. “Our first two years, we played a high level defense. We did a good job. There’s a few things that we definitely need to improve on. But my big deal is, I don’t want to come in and change the fingerprints or the foundation of our defense. All I said is I want to sprinkle a little sugar on it. It’s something that will give us a little change up, make offenses work at the line of scrimmage. That’s all we’re doing.”

One area that requires improvement relates to an uptick in first-drive points allowed in 2016. In all aspects of the game, linebacker Von Miller has faith in Woods.

“We’ve always had great defensive coordinators,” Miller told reporters. “From [Dennis Allen] to Jack [Del Rio] and Coach [Wade] Phillips, all of the defensive coordinators that we’ve had, we’ve always been good and we’ve always been able to rush the passer. Joe Woods has been with us for three years now. He knows us. He has a great mind. He knows how to relate to guys, especially the secondary. That’s the strength of our defense. He brings a calm voice. . . . It’s just a special environment here, especially on defense. We’ll come out here and work hard. Whatever happens, we’ll be OK with.”

The defense needs to be better than OK (along with the offense) if the team that won Super Bowl 50 and then missed the playoffs hopes to contend again in 2017.

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Blake Bortles knows he has to stop the stupid turnovers

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Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles threw 16 interceptions and lost six fumbles last season. He knows that’s not going to cut it on a Tom Coughlin-led team.

Bortles said at Jacksonville’s Organized Team Activities that his top priority right now is being safe with the football.

“If you don’t turn the ball over, you’ll win football games,” Bortles said, via Mike Kaye of WTLV. “That’s our focus. Turnovers are going to happen. We get that. You have to make sure to minimize them as much as possible and stay away from the stupid ones.”

Bortles said Coughlin, who became the Jaguars’ front office boss this offseason, is already making his presence felt.

“To have a guy like that in the building that you can talk to – I’m sure [Head Coach Doug Marrone], having another head coach in the building, a former head coach in the building who has been successful and has done some good thing – I think it’s good for everybody,” Bortles said. “It allows everybody to have somebody to talk to, to help out. He has a ton of good information.”

And atop that list of good information is that if you don’t take care of the football, you won’t be around for long.

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Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott did not suffer a concussion

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Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott sustained a head injury in an automobile accident on Sunday. The team insists that Elliott did not suffer a concussion.

Via the Associated Press, running backs coach Gary Brown said Wednesday that Elliott bumped his head during the accident, in which he was a passenger, but that Elliott did not sustain a brain injury.

Coach Jason Garrett said Elliott will miss Thursday’s OTA session due to lingering soreness and neck stiffness. He’s expected to practice with the team next week.

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Browns hire Ryan Grigson

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Former Colts G.M. Ryan Grigson has found his new NFL home, in Cleveland.

Grigson has been hired by the Browns, joining the team he once gave a first-round draft pick for Trent Richardson.

“Ryan brings valuable experience to our personnel group,” Browns G.M. Sashi Brown said in a statement. “He was raised as a road-scout and has been evaluating talent in this league for almost 20 years. We place a premium on that experience and on his passion for football. Ryan has much to offer to any personnel department and we are pleased that he chose to join our staff.”

Grigson’s title in Cleveland will be Senior Personnel Executive. It’s his first job since being fired after five years as the G.M. in Indianapolis.

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NFL hopeful Jalen Robinette removed from Air Force graduation

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Jalen Robinette’s unusual final month as an Air Force Academy cadet has taken another strange turn.

Robinette, a wide receiver who found out just before the NFL draft that a policy change would force him into active duty after graduating rather than letting him play in the NFL, has been removed from the Academy’s graduation ceremony today.

“Cadet Robinette was removed from the graduation lineup after academy leadership became aware of information that called into question Cadet Robinette’s eligibility/qualification to graduate and commission,” the Air Force Academy said in a statement. “Cadet Robinette’s graduation and commissioning will be placed on hold while we further evaluate. Due to privacy-related concerns, we are unable to comment on the circumstances. We can say that the circumstances do not involve any allegations of criminal wrongdoing and are unrelated to Cadet Robinette’s professional football pursuits.”

Robinette had been viewed as a late-round prospect but went undrafted after the Air Force announced that he would not be allowed out of active duty until 2019. He went to the Bills’ rookie minicamp as a tryout player two weeks ago.

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Brock Osweiler thinks he has proven he’s good enough to start

AP

When the Browns traded for Brock Osweiler, he was a throw-in on a deal that allowed the Texans to dump his expensive contract and allowed Cleveland to gain a second-round draft pick. But now that he’s at the Browns’ Organized Team Activities, he thinks he can win the starting job.

Asked today if he thinks he’s good enough to start, Osweiler answered, “Absolutely. Absolutely.”

“I think the proof is in the film from the past two years,” Osweiler said.

Osweiler added that he thinks he’s going to win the starting job.

“My expectation is always to start,” Osweiler said. “But once again that is not my decision to make. Now if I came out here and told you guys I wanted to be the backup then I’m in the wrong business. Absolutely I want to play and I want to help this team win games, but I know there’s a lot of work that needs to go into that, and ultimately I need to earn that on the practice field. And I have a lot of work ahead of me to do that.”

Realistically, if Osweiler is the Browns’ starter that probably means that both second-year quarterback Cody Kessler and rookie DeShone Kizer have disappointed in training camp and the preseason. The reality is that after what Osweiler put on film in the past two years, no NFL team wants him as its starting quarterback.

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Myles Garrett has minor injury, working on sideline at Browns’ OTAs

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The first overall pick in the draft is hurt, but the Browns are not concerned.

Myles Garrett was spotted on the sideline at Organized Team Activities today, riding a stationary bike and working with kettlebells rather than participating in football activities with the rest of the team. But multiple reporters posted on Twitter that he has only a minor injury.

There’s no word on the nature of Garrett’s injury, but the Browns are likely showing an excess of caution with a player they hope will be a cornerstone of their franchise for years to come.

A pass rusher from Texas A&M, Garrett played much of his final college season through a nagging leg injury.

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Cowboys keeping Ezekiel Elliott out of OTAs after car accident

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Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott currently isn’t participating in Organized Team Activities, for reasons unrelated to football. According to ESPN, Elliott was a passenger in a Sunday automobile accident.

Via Todd Archer and Adam Schefter of ESPN, Elliott did not suffer significant injuries. The Cowboys have opted to keep him out of the first two OTA sessions in the exercise of caution.

This implies that Elliott has injuries, but that the team doesn’t currently believe the injuries are significant. In January, Elliott was involved in an automobile accident that coach Jason Garrett dubbed a “fender bender.”

It’s unclear how many of the 10 OTA sessions Elliott will miss. Each team is permitted to conduct up to 10.

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Rick Spielman: We’ll take it a day at a time with Teddy Bridgewater

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The Vikings released video of Teddy Bridgewater taking snaps, dropping back and throwing passes during Tuesday’s practice, but they still aren’t ready to talk about when Bridgewater may be able to take on a full workload after last year’s knee injury.

General Manager Rick Spielman met with the media on Wednesday and said that the team will “take it a day at a time” with Bridgewater while adding that the quarterback hasn’t been cleared for full practices at this point. Spielman declined to comment on when that might happen and said it was “still the unknown” whether he’ll play in 2017, but acknowledged that it’s “very encouraging” to see Bridgewater doing things on the field.

“Very limited in what he’s able to do at this point, but it’s progress,” Spielman said.

Bridgewater is not at Wednesday’s practice for a previously scheduled doctor’s appointment and Spielman said the release of the video from Tuesday’s closed practice was partly because the media wouldn’t be able to see him working. If all goes well at the doctor and the progress continues, it shouldn’t be too long before they get that opportunity and the Vikings have to make a call about when he moves to the next step of his football work.

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Shane Vereen: The best overtime is college football overtime

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A day after the NFL shortened overtime from 15 minutes to 10, Giants running back Shane Vereen said he’d prefer a much more radical change: College overtime.

Vereen said on PFT Live that the college system, in which teams take turns starting possessions from the 25-yard line, is a better format than the modified sudden death format that the NFL uses.

“My favorite overtime is college football,” Vereen said. “Line the ball up at the 25, give each team a chance to go at it, then after the second overtime you have to go for two. I love watching college football overtime. It usually doesn’t take too long. The drives usually aren’t that long. And it’s still exciting. Overtime that’s long and drawn out doesn’t necessarily add to the excitement of the game. If anything it just adds more drives, more punts.”

Vereen says he’s never been involved in a tie game and hopes he never will be. The league’s new overtime rule makes it more likely that he’ll play in a tie this season.

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David Quessenberry participating in OTAs after finishing chemo

AP

David Quessenberry has spent most of the last three years focused on battling lymphoma, but he had his final round of chemotherapy in April and that’s allowed him to get back to other things.

Among the top items on that list would be his career as an offensive lineman for the Texans and Quessenberry has taken a big step toward a full return to that life. Quessenberry was on the field with the team as they opened up Organized Team Activities this week.

Quessenberry was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin Lymphoma in June 2014 and has spent the last three seasons on the non-football illness list while receiving treatment. That left Quessenberry to say in April that he’s in “uncharted territory” while discussing his attempt to resume his playing career.

There’s a long way to go from a May practice to a September roster spot, but we’re not putting anything past a guy who has overcome as much as Quessenberry has to just get on the practice field in the first place.

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Report: Seahawks expected to work out Colin Kaepernick, others

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Someone is finally going to actually see for themselves whether Colin Kaepernick is able and willing to play football.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Seahawks are going to audition some backup options soon, and “barring a change of plans” Kaepernick is expected to be among them.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said last week that Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III were among the guys they were considering as a potential backup to Russell Wilson, since they have no experience on the bench.

If nothing else, it supports commissioner Roger Goodell’s stance that Kaepernick isn’t being blackballed.

Barring a change of plans, of course, which sounds sort of ominous the way it was dropped in there so casually.

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