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Randy Gregory tested positive for marijuana at NFL Combine

Randy Gregory Getty Images

Randy Gregory is easily one of the top defensive prospects in this year’s draft class. Gregory, a standout defensive end from Nebraska, views himself so highly as a prospect that he believes he’s worthy of the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

However, failing a drug test at the NFL Combine won’t help his status.

In an interview with Kim Jones of the NFL Network, Gregory admitted that he tested positive for marijuana at the event in late February in Indianapolis.

“I blame myself,” Gregory said. “And I know it sounds cliché, but there’s really no one else I can blame.”

The combine has set dates. All the participants know when it is. And yet, somehow players still occasionally fail the drug tests they know await them in Indy.

Gregory says he hasn’t smoked marijuana since December and yet still tested positive because of how high his THC levels were.


That seems incredibly far-fetched. A highly trained athlete preparing for the combine, working out several times a week in the lead-up to the event, having not smoked marijuana in close to two months and still tests positive? Not sure I buy that one.

Now Gregory will be in the league’s drug system, which means he’ll be tested for recreational drugs more frequently and will be much closer to a potential suspension in the future.

It could have an effect on how early Gregory is drafted next month.

Gregory is an intriguing pass rushing prospect and his skills will still lead to him being selected early in the draft. However, if Gregory cannot control his off-field decisions, he could find himself following Josh Gordon’s footsteps in the future.

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Broncos want to limit Peyton Manning’s workload

Peyton Manning Getty Images

Peyton Manning’s arm was shot at the end of the 2014 season. The 38-year old Manning had lost the velocity on his passes and could not throw as many routes effectively as he used to be able to accomplish.

Now 39, Manning is set to return for his 17th season as a starting quarterback this fall.

Hoping to avoid the same late season regression Manning experienced last year, the Denver Broncos are looking to lessen his workload throughout the season to keep him fresh down the stretch.

According to Mike Klis of the Denver Post, Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak has had preliminary talks with Manning about having Brock Osweiler take more reps at times to help preserve Manning.

“I think as a coach you have to make those suggestions to players,” Kubiak said. “But sometimes with the great ones, the reason they’re great is you have to battle them on things like that because they’re used to being a part of it every day.

“I want to do what’s best for him. I went through the same process with John (Elway) late in his career, and it was a battle for me and Mike (Shanahan) to do some things with him.”

Osweiler has only attempted 30 passes in three seasons while serving as Manning’s backup. Manning is notorious about his preparation and wants to play as much as possible. However, that approach may be detrimental at this stage of Manning’s career.

It’s also in the Broncos best interest to see more of Osweiler. He is set to be an unrestricted free agent after the 2015 season.


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Jerry Jones says Greg Hardy “paid a terrific price”

jerryjones AP

Jerry Jones does not believe Greg Hardy got off scot-free when a domestic violence charge against him was dropped.

Jones, who signed Hardy to play for the Cowboys, said on PFT Live that Hardy has lost millions of dollars because the Cowboys will be paying him a lot less money this season than Hardy would have made if not for the domestic violence case.

“He’s paid a terrific price,” Jones said. “Had he not had this incident his contract would be one like Ndamukong Suh, possibly, but he doesn’t have that. So he’s got more to come because the league is going to rule on if he has suspensions this year. All of that is all incorporated in that agreement and the bottom line is we hope and feel that he won’t do that, go down this road again.”

Hardy may still be suspended by the NFL, and Jones said the Cowboys have received no assurances about when Hardy will be eligible to play for them.

“No, that’s a part of the risk that we took to sign him and deal with whatever comes,” Jones said.

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Browns, Falcons punishments to be announced soon

Punishment Getty Images

It’s been known for weeks that the Browns and Falcons violated league rules via sending in-game texts to the coaching staff and using artificial crowd noise, respectively.  By next week, the punishments will be known publicly.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that both teams were informed during the league meetings that the discipline is expected to be announced next week.  Per Schefter, the teams already have been privately informed of the looming punishment.  One source told him the discipline for both teams is expected to be “severe.”

At the Scouting Combine last month, there was talk of the Falcons losing a second- or third-round pick for using artificial crowd noise in 2013 and 2014.  The Browns reportedly are bracing for a multi-game fine for G.M. Ray Farmer, possibly along with the loss of one or more draft picks.

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Report: Belichick went on profane tirade about replay cameras

Bill Belichick Blinds NFL WIth Science On Deflategate Getty Images

Speaking publicly to reporters this week, Bill Belichick said he was disappointed that some owners don’t want to spend the money to put cameras on the sidelines and goal lines to give referees better angles on replay reviews. Speaking privately to his colleagues, Belichick reportedly let loose with a much more obscene version of the same message.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Belichick went off on a tirade about the issue in a closed-door meeting, saying he was angry that the league — with its billions of dollars a year in revenue — isn’t willing to pay the price to make the officiating better.

“They were in a meeting the other day with Dean Blandino, the head of the officials, and Bill Belichick got up there, and in profane language, told the NFL: ‘We spend money to send the Pro Bowl to Brazil, we spend money to go overseas to London, but we can’t spend money to have four cameras in the end zone, four cameras to help determine the correct call in the end zone on certain plays?’ He went off, and the way it was explained to me, from people in the room at the time, they were laughing at it because his language was so profane and because he was so incensed about it, and the NFL didn’t know how to handle it. But the bottom line is, they did not introduce the four cameras in the end zone, they thought right now it’s too cost-prohibitive for the NFL even, and they don’t know how to do it. They’ll probably continue to look at this, but Bill Belichick left these owners’ meetings not particularly happy,” Schefter said on Olbermann.

Belichick isn’t going to make many friends that way, but he’s right that if additional cameras would make officiating better, the NFL should spend the money. The billionaire owners can afford it.

UPDATE 7:08 p.m. ET:  Three sources who were in the room tell PFT there was no profane tirade from Belichick.

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NFL still has issues to iron out before expanding playoffs

Divisional Playoffs - New Orleans Saints v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

The NFL seems to want to expand its playoff field from 12 teams to 14, and the reasons for that are obvious: That would add two playoff games a year, which could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in television revenue.

But the way the playoffs would be scheduled with 14 teams is less obvious. And as a result, the league can’t get a 14-team playoff format done this year.

At first, it looked like the NFL would play six games during wild card weekend: Two on Saturday, three on Sunday and one on Monday night. But there are questions about whether that schedule would really work. The team that won the playoff game on Monday night would have to play its next playoff game on a short work week, and the Monday night format could also conflict with the college football national championship game.

“This is something we’ve been evaluating over the last couple of years and I think several factors went into the decision to at least postpone the expanded playoffs,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We want to make the regular season more important, more exciting and have more teams in the race. . . . We also have scheduling issues as far as when we could play the games: Saturday, Sunday, we’ve looked at a Monday night. College football has the national championship on Monday night, we certainly don’t want to conflict with that. So there are a number of factors that are going on, so we just felt the right thing to do was take another year and evaluate all this.”

Goodell said he could see selling the new postseason games to a network along with the Thursday night TV package, which would help make it even more attractive to networks.

Eventually, expect the league to expand the playoffs. But only when they can find a schedule that makes sense.

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NFL bans Patriots’ ineligible receiver ploy

AFC Championship - Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots Getty Images

The trick play the Patriots used against the Ravens in the playoffs will no longer be legal under an NFL rule adopted today.

The league has made it illegal for an offensive player with an eligible receiver’s jersey number (1-49 and 80-89) to report as an ineligible player and line up outside the tackle box. That means the play on which Patriots running back Shane Vereen lined up as an ineligible receiver in the slot would now be a penalty.

It was a crafty ploy by Patriots coach Bill Belichick and his staff to come up with that play, and it clearly caught the Ravens off guard. Baltimore coach John Harbaugh was so upset about the play that he got a penalty for yelling at the officials about it. A week later, the Patriots also caught the Colts off guard by playing tricks with eligible receivers.

But those tricks are coming to an end after a vote of the owners today.

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Jeffrey Lurie: I love LeSean McCoy, but I had to let Chip build his team

Philadelphia Eagles v Washington Redskins Getty Images

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie is conflicted about seeing a great player like LeSean McCoy leave Philadelphia. But Lurie says he’s not conflicted at all about his belief that Chip Kelly is the man to build the Eagles.

Asked about the McCoy trade at the league meeting, Lurie said it was all about trusting in Kelly to do the job he was hired to do.

“LeSean McCoy is a great running back – all-time franchise leader,” Lurie said, via “Great guy in every way. To maximize [Kelly’s] power spread offense, he’s always admired the one-cut runners. That’s what he admired. You’ve got to let a coach try to bring in the players that fit best what he’s all about to maximize what he’s trying to accomplish.”

But as much as Lurie trusts Kelly, he admits that it’s hard to say goodbye to players he likes.

“The sad part is you’re dealing with people’s lives,” Lurie said. “For me, I take it really seriously. It’s not easy to talk to Nick Foles for a long time after the trade, or LeSean, Trent Cole, guys that have devoted their lives to us, and are wonderful people.”

Now the Eagles will need to win in 2015, so that Kelly can show his boss that getting rid of all those players was the right move.

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Roger Goodell closes meetings with serious tone, little action

Goodell AP

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke of many things in his press conference wrapping up the league meetings in Phoenix.

They were all taken seriously. Efforts are being made to do many of them right. And nothing is settled.

Goodell offered no resolution for the many issues on his plate at the moment, with no announcements on #DeflateGate, the proliferation of illegal legal tampering, the Cleveland texting violations or any possible suspension for Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy.

He said Ted Wells’ investigation into the charge the Patriots manipulated the air pressure of balls against the Colts in the AFC Championship Game was ongoing, and wouldn’t put a timetable on it.

He wouldn’t address the Browns issue, saying he hadn’t been caught up to speed but said: “I’m sure there’ll be a focus on it in the next couple days.”

He said they were investigating “several teams and several issues” regarding the premature cutting of deals in free agency, which was rampant this year.

On the potential move of a team to Los Angeles, he said he expected to hear from each of the three teams involved before the next meeting in May, and that they’d continue to move at “a very disciplined pace.”

Asked about a possible suspension for Hardy, who was signed by the Cowboys before they could know how many games he’d be eligible for, there was equal clarity.

“Any club is free to sign Greg Hardy, they understood that we were reviewing his case for potential discipline,” Goodell said, adding that they were “trying to get as many facts as we can” and that “I expect that will conclude some time in the near future.”

Of his recent meeting with Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, Goodell said “this is a young man who understands his responsibility.”

So there you have it. Things are being taken seriously. They want to handle them the right way. Tune in the next few Fridays around 5 p.m. for something to actually be done about them.

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No vote yet, but owners want to change extra points this year

extrapoint AP

The NFL made no changes to extra point rules at this week’s league meeting, but a change may be coming soon.

Competition Committee Co-Chair Rich McKay said after his group met with the owners today that no vote was taken on any proposals to change extra points. But there is a good chance of some type of change being made to extra points at the next league meeting, in May.

“We did not vote on the extra point,” he said. “We did have about a 30- to 40-minute discussion on the extra point, a very interesting and lively discussion with a lot of ideas. Clearly, positive, in support of making a change. I think in the next 30 days you will see the Competition Committee, in conjunction with a lot of coaches, develop a lot of alternatives and be ready to put something forward for potentially a vote in May.”

The problem, however, is that the NFL just hasn’t been able to come up with the right alternative to the current rule of lining up at the 2-yard line, which for NFL kickers is an extremely easy kick.

“The alternatives explored today were all over the place, but some very consistent: The idea of moving the extra point to the one and a half, as opposed to the 1-yard line, incentivizing people to go for two,” McKay said. “I think all teams pretty much said the same thing: It’s time to make this play a football play, and the way to make it a football play is No. 1, allowing the defense to score. So really adopt the college rule that says if you block the kick or you stop a two-point play and the defense happens to get control of the football, they can score two points. I think there was a lot of consensus to the idea of the alternative, that being move the ball to the 1.5, or kick from the 15, you make the choice: One point for kicking, two points for going for two. But it was a very good discussion. I think there’s clear sentiment that there’s a movement to want to change and change this year. The charge to us as a Competition Committee was, come back with a recommended proposal, do it within the next 30 days, and give everybody a chance to look at it and vote on it in May.”

That sure sounds like the NFL is about to make significant changes to the extra point, changes that will be implemented for the 2015 season.

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Lovie Smith makes it clear Bucs are good with Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston AP

Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith isn’t ready to say who he’s using the first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft on.

But the more he talks about Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, the more it sounds obvious they’ve found their guy.

Winston was the bulk of the conversation around Smith Wednesday morning at the NFC coaches breakfast, and rightfully so. Getting the decision right on a quarterback is key for the Buccaneers, on the field and in the community, given Winston’s track record. And Smith made it clear Winston was somebody he’s comfortable with.

“I believe in second chances, after I’ve done my research,” Smith said. “We feel very comfortable with who Jameis Winston is, what he’s done, and what he can become.

“Jameis Winston is definitely on our board.”

He laughed when asked why he didn’t go ahead and turn in the card, saying there was plenty of time to go through the “process,” calling it a “hard decision.”

But given the amount of time he spent talking about how players with potential character issues might fit into his locker room, there seems to be an obvious lean.

“The face of our franchise is Gerald McCoy,” Smith said of his Pro Bowl defensive tackle. “He sets the tone in there.”

That would certainly take the leadership burden off, say, a rookie quarterback. And that might be enough to make the Bucs feel better about what seems an apparent call.

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Vikings shrug, Cardinals aren’t touching Adrian Peterson talk

Adrian Peterson AP

As the NFC coaches shared their thoughts with reporters over breakfast Wednesday morning at the owners meetings, two guys got asked about Adrian Peterson.

Neither one of them had much to say.

In one corner of the room, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians made sure to steer clear of any speculative linking of his team to the Vikings running back who wants to be a former Vikings running back.

I’m not saying jack,” Arians said, via Darren Urban of the team’s official website. “You trying to get me fined?”

While Arians is smart enough to not say anything out loud (lest we have to call in Tom Curran and Manish Mehta again to weigh in on the tampering implications), it seems reasonable that the Cardinals might be on a list of potential destinations for Peterson if the Vikings did want to move him.

But at the moment, there’s no indication they do, or are willing to budge while Peterson’s agent is fighting a PR war to get his client out of town.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, on the other side of the room from Arians, was very matter-of-fact about Peterson.

I don’t know that there is a next step,” Zimmer said, via Tom Pelissero of USA Today. “We’re good to go.”

That dovetails with the perception that the Vikings are willing to call Peterson’s bluff, and insist on being the one to pay him an exorbitant amount of money to play for them, after they paid him an exorbitant amount of money to not play for them last year.

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Chip Kelly: I rated Odell Beckham No. 1 overall in last year’s draft

Washington Redskins v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was the best rookie in the NFL last year. That came as no surprise to Eagles coach Chip Kelly.

Kelly said that heading into last year’s draft, he personally considered Beckham not just the best receiver in the draft but the best player, period. So why didn’t the Eagles move up from the No. 22 overall pick so that they could draft Beckham before the Giants got him at No. 12? Kelly said he just doesn’t believe in giving up that much to move up.

“I said it a year ago: I thought Odell Beckham was the best player in the draft. I was right. We didn’t have a chance to get Odell Beckham, but a lot of it depends on where you’re selecting,” Kelly said.

Asked if he was disappointed not to get Beckham last year, Kelly noted that last year, Howie Roseman had final say in the draft room.

“I didn’t have final say so, I mean, you always defer to who’s in charge,” Kelly said.

This year, Kelly has been given total control over personnel, and Kelly will run the draft. Which means that if there’s one player Kelly feels confident is the best in the draft, Kelly can do everything in his power to get that player. If that player is Marcus Mariota, the Eagles may not be done wheeling and dealing this offseason.

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Catch rule needs to be actually changed

dez AP

The always-reactive NFL has reacted to the most controversial call of the 2014 season by changing the underlying rule without changing it.  Instead, the language of the rule regarding what is and isn’t a catch has been tweaked.  The rule itself remains unchanged.

Most importantly, the rule remains inherently subjective, with the confusing and reasonable-minds-may-differ formula based on performing an act common to the game now officially replaced by the confusing and reasonable-minds-may-differ formula of the receiver clearly establishing himself as a runner.  An objective standard is needed, and we’ve yet to see anything better than the objective standard unveiled here last Friday.

The league defends the change without a change by pointing out that the problem rarely arises.  But that doesn’t make it any better when the problem rears its ugly head, leading to an outcome that defies the expectations of those who see a play, believe it to be a catch (especially after the official standing right there calls it a catch), and then find out after further review that it wasn’t a catch, after all.

By failing to scuttle the subjective rule and replace it with a simple, clear objective formula now, the NFL invites a similar outcome in a future high-stakes game (perhaps with even higher stakes than the divisional playoffs), followed by those who believe they saw a catch asking why the NFL didn’t fix this mess after the Cowboys-Packers Dez Bryant fiasco?

The tweaking of the language represents a concession that change is needed.  The failure to make an actual change is unacceptable.

But it still can be fixed, if the 32 people who ultimately are responsible for the sport ignore those who have decided (for whatever reason) not to fix the rule and to fix it themselves.

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Jason Garrett: Greg Hardy gets nothing guaranteed, we can move on

NFL: Saints v Panthers Getty Images

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett wants Greg Hardy to know he’d better be on his best behavior in Dallas, or he won’t be there long.

Garrett said at today’s league meeting that Hardy, who played only one game for the Panthers last year after a domestic violence accusation, understands that the Cowboys will cut him if he doesn’t conduct himself the right way.

“The conditions of the contract were important: No guaranteed money, earn it every step of the way. At any point, if we don’t feel like you’re doing what we want you to do as a player and as a person, we can move on from you,” Garrett said.

Hardy’s contract is heavy on incentives, with the potential to earn more than $13 million if he plays in every game and plays well. But Hardy also has the potential to earn zero. The Cowboys want him to know that’s a real possibility, if he does anything that makes the team decide he’s not worth the trouble.

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