Three more names added to Dolphins G.M. candidate list

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The names keep coming as the Dolphins prepare their list of candidates for their vacant general manager job.

We’ve already heard that the team has already received permission to speak to Giants exec Marc Ross, Titans exec Lake Dawson and Browns exec Ray Farmer about the job. Now Albert Breer of NFL Network adds three more names to the list.

Per Breer, Steelers director of football administration Omar Khan and Cardinals V.P. of player personnel Jason Licht are expected to interview for the opening created by Jeff Ireland’s departure earlier this week. Breer also reports that Dolphins assistant general manager Brian Gaine is also going to interview for the next job up the ladder soon.

Like the previously reported candidates, Khan, Licht and Gaine have made the interview rounds as general manager jobs have opened up around the league in recent years without being tabbed. Their chance to change that starts when the Dolphins open the interview process on Friday.

Gruden says Griffin is the starter


During his introductory press conference, new Redskins coach Jay Gruden didn’t declare unequivocally that Robert Griffin III is the starting quarterback.

Then again, some things don’t need to be said.

Gruden said it later, during an appearance on 106.7 The Fan in D.C.

“Robert Griffin III is the starter,” Gruden said, via Chad Dukes of 106.7 The Fan.  “There will be no competition.”

It’s not a surprise, but some were curious about whether a competition could occur given that Griffin was frozen out of the process of selecting a coach.  That was likely more about creating the impression that Griffin doesn’t run the show and less about putting Griffin on even footing with Kirk Cousins, who recently said he assumed Griffin would be involved in the coaching search.

Kellen Winslow Jr. charged with synthetic pot possession


Jets tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. is facing a charge of possession of synthetic marijuana.

The Daily Record reports that police in East Hanover, New Jersey, reported that they found Winslow in possession of synthetic marijuana on November 19, but a criminal complaint was not signed until December 30. Winslow appeared in court on Wednesday.

Winslow was the Jets’ leading receiver early in the season, but he played a smaller role in the offense after returning from a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s PED policy. Winslow finished the season with 31 catches for 388 yards and two touchdowns.

The 30-year-old Winslow will be a free agent in March.

Lovie Smith names 11 new assistants, including son


New Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith used his year off to plan for his return to coaching, and it’s obviously paying off.

After having already named coordinators Leslie Frazier and Jeff Tedford, the Buccaneers announced the hiring of 11 more assistants Thursday.

The previously reported names include: Marcus Arroyo (quarterbacks), Joe Cullen (defensive line), Hardy Nickerson (linebackers), Kevin O’Dea (special teams coordinator) and Tim Spencer (running backs).

The new names announced along with those five were: Andrew Hayes-Stoker (wide receivers), Dave Kennedy (head strength and conditioning coach), Larry Marmie (senior defensive assistant), Mikal Smith (safeties), Ben Steele (offensive quality control) and Matt Wiegand (assistant offensive line).

Mikal Smith happens to be Smith’s son, which wasn’t mentioned in the team’s release.

The younger Smith spent last year coaching nickelbacks in Dallas, and had three years as a quality control coach and defensive assistant on his dad’s staff.

PFT on NBCSN: Curtis Lofton, Divisional Round storylines

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The Saints defense had a rough time in their last visit to Seattle and we’ll talk to a member of the unit to find out what will be different this time around on Thursday’s edition of Pro Football Talk on NBCSN.

Linebacker Curtis Lofton will join the crew to talk about the Divisional Round rematch of a 34-7 regular season win for the Seahawks. We’ll hear from Lofton about the difficulties involved in facing an offense with running back Marshawn Lynch and quarterback Russell Wilson in lead roles as well as what the Saints were able to do right on defense when they beat the Eagles.

The Saints-Seahawks game is one of four in the Divisional Round and we’ll be covering them all during the hour. We’ve got the latest on any developments on Thursday to make sure you’re ready to go for the second weekend of the postseason and we’ll also have plenty of updates from the league’s coaching and general manager searches.

It all gets started at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Carlos Rogers still hopeful about playing, but remains out of practice


49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers is running out of time to show the team he can play against the Panthers.

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Thursday that Rogers will have to practice in order to be in the lineup against Carolina on Sunday, but Rogers’ hamstring injury kept him on the sideline for another day. That leaves Rogers with one more day to satisfy Fangio’s requirement for getting on the field and the cornerback is hopeful that things will go that way.

“I’m making steady progress,” Rogers said, via Steve Corkran of the Bay Area News Group. “We’ll see.”

Fangio said that the team would be open to using Rogers in a reduced role if they feel he’s able to play, but not able to play his normal workload. Tarell Brown and Trumaine Brock started at cornerback for the 49ers last weekend with Perrish Cox taking slot duties that usually belong to Rogers. Fangio said he anticipates using the same lineup this week if Rogers remains on the sideline.

Gruden says he hasn’t spoken to Griffin yet


Redskins coach Jay Gruden wasn’t asked by the media during his introductory press conference whether quarterback Robert Griffin III was involved in the interview process.  The media didn’t need to ask, because it was clear that the two men have had no communication.

“I have not talked to Robert,” Gruden said.  “I look forward to it, though.”

Gruden separately addressed the issue of trust with his quarterback.

“It’s gotta be genuine, he’s gotta believe,” Gruden said.  “And I’m gonna let him know I’m a trustworthy guy.”

Gruden also made it clear that he expects Griffin to work hard and, when necessary, to be accountable.

“I expect him to take the blame on some throws,” Gruden said, a remark sparked a memory of the the strong stance receiver Santana Moss took in November regarding the importance of a young leader periodically taking blame, even when the blame perhaps doesn’t belong to him.

Still, Gruden said that he’s excited to coach Griffin, and that Griffin has “every trait that a quarterback has to have to be successful.” Gruden hopes the feeling of anticipation is mutual.

“Hopefully he’s excited to play here,” Gruden said.

Gruden doesn’t actually know whether Griffin is excited because he hasn’t heard it.  Griffin has been quiet throughout the last 10 days, reading a prepared statement to the media during a conference call and then otherwise dropping out of view.

Even on Twitter, Griffin has said nothing about his new coach.

And so the relationship between new coach and incumbent franchise quarterback will continue to hover over the franchise through the offseason, and likely beyond.

UPDATE 5:18 p.m. ET:  Griffin opted to go old school just before 5:00 p.m. ET, posting a message on Facebook, not Twitter.  “Excited about the hiring of Coach Jay Gruden. Can’t wait to get to work with him & the guys!”

UPDATE 6:02 p.m. ET:  The same message also has been posted on Twitter.

Bengals officially name Hue Jackson offensive coordinator


The Bengals didn’t go long without an offensive coordinator.

While Jay Gruden was being announced as the new head coach of the Redskins at a press conference, the Bengals were confirming that Hue Jackson will be Gruden’s replacement as the team’s offensive coordinator. The move was expected once Gruden’s departure became official and Jackson will meet the media in his new role on Friday.

“I am very excited to move forward with Hue,” head coach Marvin Lewis said in a statement from the team. “We are blessed to have a staff that allows us to promote from within. It keeps some of the continuity with our offensive team, yet we get new direction and fire from an aggressive and innovative coaching mind. Hue’s expertise in all aspects of football and coaching is very wide.”

Jackson was the Bengals running backs coach and special assistant to Lewis in 2013, his second year of his second stint in Cincy. Jackson spent one year as the head coach of the Raiders in 2011 after coordinating the offense in 2010 and he’s also had stints running offenses in Washington and Atlanta during his long coaching career.

With defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer in the running for some of the remaining head coaching vacancies, the Bengals may find themselves with new coordinators on both sides of the ball next season.

LaRon Landry practices fully again on Thursday


It looks like the Colts will have safety LaRon Landry in New England on Saturday night.

Landry was knocked out of last weekend’s 45-44 victory over the Chiefs after suffering a concussion while making a tackle, but all signs continue to point to his presence on the field this weekend. Landry was a full participant in practice for the second straight day on Thursday, which indicates no continued concussion symptoms and should bring a green light from doctors for the Divisional Round.

The Colts only had one player, wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey is expected to miss a week or so with a hamstring injury, miss practice on Thursday. Defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin returned to practice after taking a rest day on Wednesday and was a full participant, as was everyone else on the roster other than Heyward-Bey.

That’s a pretty good place to be health-wise at this point in the season and they’ll be looking for contributions from all hands currently on deck to get past the Patriots on Saturday.

Percy Harvin says he’s “absolutely” playing this week


The Seahawks have gotten pretty far without him, but it appears they’re going to get a boost at wide receiver this week with Percy Harvin returning.

According to Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post, Harvin just replied “absolutely” when asked if he planned to play this week against the Saints, indicating no setbacks with his surgically repaired hip.

All week, the signs have pointed in a positive direction for Harvin to return to play in the Divisional Round, after minimal work in the regular season.

“This team is set,” Harvin said. “I’m just looking forward to jumping on the bus and enjoying the ride.”

Harvin played in one game, catching one pass for 17 yards against the Vikings in November.

But if he can even provide a decoy for the Seahawks, that’s an advantage for a team that earned the top seed in the NFC playoffs without their biggest offseason acquisition.

Dolphins add Ray Farmer to G.M. interview list

The Dolphins will start interviewing general manager candidates on Friday and they’re quickly building up a list of interviews.

The latest addition is Browns assistant general manager Ray Farmer. Fritz Pollard Alliance chairman John Wooten said Thursday, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Dolphins have asked for and received permission to interview Farmer.

Farmer was a contender for the G.M. job in Cleveland last year before ultimately ending up under General Manager Mike Lombardi in the team’s front office hierarchy. Farmer had spent the previous seven seasons in the Kansas City front office and was a pro scout for the Falcons before that.

“Ray is more than capable,” Wooten said. “He’s ready to be a general manager. He needed a little more experience, and he got that in Cleveland. He’s ready to go.”

Farmer joins Titans exec Lake Dawson and Giants exec Marc Ross as candidates expected to interview for the job in Miami.

David Wilson will have neck surgery


Giants running back David Wilson’s 2013 season came to an early end because of a neck injury that doctors told him carried an increased risk of further problems if he continues his playing career.

Wilson said during the season that he intends to keep playing, but he’ll need to rehab from surgery before he can do that. Giants General Manager Jerry Reese said on WFAN Thursday, via Ralph Vacchiano of the Daily News, that Wilson will need to have an operation on his neck this offseason. Owner John Mara, speaking on the same radio station earlier in the day, also touched on Wilson’s status.

“We’re hopeful that David will be able to play for us again next year. Time will tell on that one,” Mara said.

There was no timetable given for when the surgery will occur or when Wilson might be ready to resume a full workload. His status is cloudy at best, though, and that should make running back an area that the Giants address the offseason because an Andre Brown/Michael Cox combo isn’t a particularly appealing one for a team trying to return to the playoffs.

Four names have emerged as potential replacements for Ray Anderson

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With NFL executive V.P. of football operations Ray Anderson slated to become the new A.D. at Arizona State, the question of his replacement still lingers.

Based on multiple reports that have surfaced over the past few weeks, four names are in contention for the job:  Dolphins executive V.P. of football administration Dawn Aponte, Jets senior director of football administration Rod Graves, NFL V.P. of operations Merton Hanks, and former Chiefs G.M. and Patriots V.P. of player personnel Scott Pioli.

Interviews have not yet commenced, and the timetable for filling the position isn’t known.

Peter King of previously has suggested that Hanks has the inside track.  If, however, the league wants someone with experience working for one of the teams, Hanks would be at a disadvantage.

Steve Smith downgrades himself, but still likely to play


Panthers receiver Steve Smith still expects to play against the 49ers on Sunday. He’s just slightly less confident than he was yesterday.

Smith, who missed Carolina’s regular season finale with a knee injury, was able to practice today. But he said that after feeling “71 percent” yesterday, he put himself at “57 percent” today.

Still, as Steve Reed of the Associated Press notes, when Smith puts a percentage on the health of his knee, he seems to be doing it more to have fun with the media than to give an accurate update on his status. And the fact that Smith practiced makes it highly unlikely that he’ll sit out on Sunday, which is one of the biggest games of his career.

So Smith is still likely to play. Even if he may be playing on a knee that’s less than 100 percent.

Nick Hardwick remains sidelined with a concussion

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Time is running short for Chargers center Nick Hardwick to get cleared in time to face the Broncos this weekend.

Hardwick is out of practice again on Thursday because of the concussion he suffered in last weekend’s victory over the Bengals. Hardwick’s injury was initially termed a stinger, but coach Mike McCoy revealed that Hardwick suffered the head injury in the first quarter of the game. He’ll need to get cleared to practice before he gets cleared to play, something that may not happen before the Chargers run out of time before kickoff in Denver.

Rich Ohrnberger took over for Hardwick and handled things well for the rest of the game.

The news was mixed elsewhere on the offensive line. Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego reports that right tackle D.J. Fluker is practicing after sitting out on Wednesday and is expected to play. Right guard Jeromey Clary isn’t practicing after leaving Wednesday’s practice with a shoulder injury, however.

Running back Ryan Mathews is also skipping practice on Thursday to rest his ankle, but is expected to practice on Friday and play on Sunday after missing the final quarter-plus against Cincinnati.