Report: Gene Steratore to join CBS as rules analyst

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Gene Steratore is reportedly joining other recently retired referees in making the move from the field to the broadcasting world.

The NFL announced Steratore’s retirement on Friday, making him the fourth referee to retire since the end of the 2017 season, and Cameron Filipe of Football Zebras reports that he will join CBS Sports as a rules analyst.

Two other referees who retired this offseason are also reportedly set for jobs with networks broadcasting NFL games. Jeff Triplette is set to join the Monday Night Football team on ESPN while Terry McAulay has been linked to a job with NBC that the network has not confirmed. Former NFL officiating heads Dean Blandino and Mike Pereira both work for FOX Sports.

CBS employed former NFL referee Mike Carey in an analyst role during the 2015 season, but did not bring him back after his penchant for being wrong about what call on-field officials would make made him an object of derision around the league.

Patriots sign first-round pick Isaiah Wynn

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The Patriots drafted two Georgia players in the first round of this year’s draft and they have one of them under contract.

Field Yates of ESPN reports that the team has signed offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn to a four-year contract with a team option for a fifth season. Wynn was drafted 23rd overall, leaving 31st overall pick Sony Michel as the only member of New England’s draft class without a deal.

Wynn played left guard and left tackle in college and offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia said during the offseason that Wynn would get a look at left tackle as the team works to find a replacement for Nate Solder. He saw time at left guard alongside Trent Brown at tackle during minicamp with Joe Thuney missing practice time after having foot surgery.

With Wynn under contract, there are now 17 unsigned 2018 draft picks around the league.

Tre Boston says he got “very, very disrespectful” offer from Cardinals

AP

Tre Boston is one of several free agent safeties still looking for work this offseason, although Boston did get at least one offer from a team.

Boston visited with the Colts and Cardinals this offseason, but told Sirius XM NFL Radio that his visit with the Colts didn’t include any time with General Manager Chris Ballard, head coach Frank Reich or defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. Boston said he spent two hours in the lunch room and played basketball during his visit.

Boston also visited the Cardinals, who he said “rolled out the red carpet” for him in contrast. Boston termed the offer that the Cardinals made him “very, very disrespectful,” however, and he did not sign with the team. Boston also talked about the overall state of the market for him, Kenny Vaccaro, Eric Reid and other safeties.

“It’s kinda rough man, they got us where they think they want us,” Boston said. “For us, we have to communicate with each other so we don’t take this minimum wage.”

Given the experience these players have, it’s easy to understand why Boston feels that way. Given the way the market has failed to develop for these players, however, they may be faced with a choice of taking minimum salaries or something close to it if they are going to play during the 2018 season.

49ers sign Laken Tomlinson to three-year extension

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When the 49ers passed on exercising their option on Laken Tomlinson‘s contract for the 2019 season, General Manager John Lynch said that the team was going to work toward a long-term extension with the guard.

That work has paid off. Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reports that the two sides have agreed on a three-year extension. Per Garafolo, the contract is worth $18 million with $10 million in guarantees.

Tomlinson was selected by the Lions with the 28th overall pick of the 2015 draft and traded to the 49ers for a fifth-round pick last August. He started 15 games for the 49ers in his first season with the team.

Tomlinson is expected to be at left guard again this year with Mike Person, Jonathan Cooper and 2016 first-round pick Joshua Garnett in the running to join him on the right side of the line.

Orleans Darkwa cleared after leg surgery

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Running back Orleans Darkwa remains a free agent after leading the Giants rushing last season and his attempt to find a job for the 2018 season could get a boost thanks to some positive medical news.

Darkwa had surgery in May to remove a plate in his leg and announced on Twitter that he has been medically cleared to resume football work. Darkwa had the plate inserted after fracturing his leg in 2016.

Darkwa ran 171 times for 751 yards and five touchdowns for the Giants last year, but a return to the team would seem to be out of the cards with Saquon Barkley and Jonathan Stewart joining the backfield this offseason.

Other than a visit with the Patriots early in free agency, the market was quiet for Darkwa before his operation. We’ll see if things heat up before training camp as a result of the news about his leg.

Chris Godwin: We have faith in Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Griffin

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Thursday’s news of a three-game suspension for quarterback Jameis Winston leaves the Buccaneers in position to start a backup quarterback in the opening weeks of the 2018 season.

The presumed No. 2 is Ryan Fitzpatrick, who re-signed with the Bucs this offseason after starting three games while Winston was injured in 2017, with Ryan Griffin in the No. 3 spot on the depth chart. Wide receiver Chris Godwin called both players “really smart guys” on Sirius XM NFL Radio on Thursday and said that the team has faith in either one of them to get the job done while Winston is out.

“I’m really just hearing about it myself, I’m not really sure of the details of that situation,” Godwin said. “But on our team, we have a next man up mentality. We have a ton of faith in Fitz and Ryan Griffin and all of our quarterbacks that whoever is in there we’re going to be able to utilize our playmakers and really get the ball moving. Obviously, you don’t wish that on anybody, but we’re looking forward to the opportunity that we have ahead of building through training camp and putting a great product on the field.”

There was some talk last year that Griffin would wind up moving ahead of Fitzpatrick on the depth chart before a shoulder injury in training camp put Griffin on the shelf. Another competition might have been in order for this summer, but it may be a stretch to think the Bucs slot Griffin, who has never thrown a regular season pass, ahead of Fitzpatrick under these circumstances.

Browns expect to ride the “hot hand” at running back this season

AP

The Browns made a variety of moves at running back this offseason.

They signed Carlos Hyde as a free agent and drafted Nick Chubb in the second round before signing Duke Johnson to a three-year contract extension this month, which answered the question of their plans for Johnson beyond the end of his rookie deal. The biggest question facing them now is how they will divide the work in the backfield during the season.

Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said earlier this month that it has “yet to be determined” and running backs coach Freddie Kitchens suggested that the answer may be a shifting one. Kitchens said the team will ride the “hot hand” because it doesn’t make much sense to fiddle with something that’s working.

“Ultimately, all three of those guys can run our running game,” Kitchens said, via the team’s website. “Duke can do a few more things in the passing game. Ultimately, we feel like that is a position of strength. Coach [Bill] Parcells taught me a long time ago, do not turn a position of strength into a weakness. You would like to keep it a strength, and we are fortunate that is where we are.”

Johnson’s role in the passing game may mean that the Browns are picking between Hyde or Chubb on early downs. Hyde’s experience may get him the first crack at showing he can do the job, but Kitchens suggests he’ll need to make the most of it to keep Chubb from making his bid for a big role right out of the gate.

Kerry Hyder was full participant in OTAs, minicamp after 2017’s torn Achilles

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The Lions didn’t make any veteran acquisitions at defensive end this offseason, but they will have one experienced player they didn’t have last season.

Kerry Hyder tore his Achilles in the team’s preseason opener, robbing him of the chance of following up on his eight-sack 2016 season and leaving the Lions without someone who profiled as a key part of their pass rush. Hyder is well on his way back to the field for the 2018 season.

Hyder was a full participant in OTAs and minicamp and said that his approach all along has been to focus on what’s in front of him rather than what happened in the past.

“I haven’t given [last year] too much thought,” Hyder said, via the team’s website. “Since the day it happened it was about the future and getting better. Chopping wood and getting better.”

A return to the form he showed in 2016 would be a welcome boost to the Lions defensive front.

Jack Mewhort believes he’ll be “playing at a high level” after knee problems

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Offensive lineman Jack Mewhort has missed 17 of the 32 games that the Colts played over the last two seasons because of knee injuries, but the team still re-signed him shortly after the start of free agency this offseason.

Mewhort said that it is “an unreal feeling” to get that show of support from the Colts despite his injury issues, although the team hasn’t held a starting spot at guard open for him. They signed Matthew Slauson before drafting Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith in the first two rounds of the draft, but Mewhort believes he’ll be back to the form he flashed earlier in his career this season.

“I do believe that I’m going to be able to be out there and be playing at a high level,” Mewhort said, via the team’s website. “I’m getting stronger every day. I’m feeling better every day. I’ve been moving around on the field, and I’m feeling good. At this point in my career, obviously I’m dinged up, and like you guys said, I’ve had to deal with some stuff. But for all that being said, I feel pretty darn good, and like I said, having the Colts show faith like this is making me feel even better.”

Mewhort also has experience at tackle, so he could find his way into the mix on the right side after spending OTAs playing guard on the second unit of a deeper Colts offensive line. Depth is not something Indianapolis has enjoyed up front in recent seasons and the hope is that it will translate to better play whether Mewhort makes it to that high level or not.

John Ross: Tough to have your desire questioned

AP

If one were looking for one word to sum up Bengals wide receiver John Ross‘ rookie season, pain wouldn’t be a bad one.

Ross was in pain because of shoulder and knee injuries that limited him to 17 snaps and the Bengals offense was pained to find a replacement for what they expected to get from their 2017 first-round pick. For Ross, there was also the pain of having people question his desire to play while he was injured.

“When people question the things that you desire when they don’t understand, it’s kind of tough on a player,” Ross said to Bruce Murray and Brady Quinn of Sirius XM NFL Radio. “Because you don’t understand why they would do something like that, because they just really don’t know what you’re going through. And I think that’s the problem sometimes, the fact that people don’t understand that you are dealing with something that’s traumatic to your career and they really can’t seem to feel the pain that you’re going through. So they really don’t understand.”

Ross was healthy and doing team drills this offseason, which is a change from last year that he and the Bengals hope will be the first of many differences after a painful 2017 season.

Friday morning one-liners

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Setting the stage for the Bills’ quarterback competition.

Dolphins rookies are getting an early start to training camp.

Patriots players tried their hand at an oversize game of Operation.

CB Morris Claiborne bet on himself when he re-signed with the Jets.

WR Chris Moore feels he’s positioned himself well heading into Ravens training camp.

A look back at one of former Bengals QB Jeff Blake’s biggest plays.

Six things to know about Shon Coleman‘s push for the Browns left tackle job.

Identifying areas where the Steelers can improve in 2018.

Texans LB Whitney Mercilus wasn’t always a big guy.

The Colts have kept an undrafted rookie on their roster for 19 straight seasons.

LB Donald Payne is shooting for a starting spot on the Jaguars.

TE Jonnu Smith is preparing for the challenges of his second season.

A scouting report on Broncos LB Bradley Chubb from his college coach.

Chiefs rookies took a tour of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

Will the Chargers secondary be Legion of Boom 2.0?

Raiders coach Jon Gruden didn’t pick the earliest possible date for rookies to report to training camp.

Can Cowboys CB Anthony Brown bounce back in 2018?

Giants S Michael Thomas isn’t a fan of the new kickoff rules.

Former Eagles LS Jon Dorenbos got his Super Bowl ring.

Coaches for Washington believe QB Alex Smith‘s experience will be a plus for the offense.

Bears LB Leonard Floyd has been labeled as a potential Pro Bowler this season.

Lions LB Devon Kennard would like to have as long a career as his father.

Packers president Mark Murphy is selling his house, but isn’t leaving the team.

The Vikings held a summit on inclusivity.

Falcons WR Mohamed Sanu is getting into the juice business.

Two rookie defensive backs had a strong finish to the Panthers offseason program.

Did the Saints have a better draft than the NBA’s Pelicans?

Can the Buccaneers trust QB Jameis Winston with a long-term deal?

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald has gone from idol to friend and teammate to Christian Kirk.

Will DL Dominique Easley make the Rams this year?

Signing LB Jeremiah Attaochu could prove to be the wisest move of the 49ers offseason.

A post-minicamp projection of the Seahawks’ 53-man roster.

Bengals sign Sam Hubbard to wrap up draft class

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The Bengals have signed all of their 2018 draft picks.

The team announced that third-round pick Sam Hubbard signed his four-year rookie deal with the team on Thursday. They also signed linebacker Malik Jefferson, who went one pick after Hubbard at No. 78 overall, to get all 11 of their picks under contract.

Hubbard grew up in Cincinnati and played at Ohio State, where he had 17 sacks in three seasons for the Buckeyes. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said recently that his early work with the team has gone well.

“He has been way ahead of the curve,” Lewis said. “We’re just excited about that. He’s going to really complement and add to our football team right away. I’m just excited because he’s probably out here a little mature beyond his years right now.”

With the two Bengals and Broncos first-round pick Bradley Chubb signing on Thursday, there are now 18 unsigned picks around the league.

Saints waive Paul Turner

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Word that the Saints were signing running back Terrance West came over a week ago, but the deal did not become official until Thursday.

The NFL’s transaction report for Thursday includes West’s arrival in New Orleans as well as the corresponding move the Saints made to clear space on their 90-man roster. They have waived wide receiver Paul Turner.

Turner signed with the Eagles as an undrafted free agent in 2016 and spent most of the season on the practice squad. Turner was promoted to the active roster in November and caught nine passes for 126 yards in four games. He was out of the league last year after being waived by the Eagles in early September.

With Turner gone, the Saints have 12 wide receivers on the roster while West gives them seven running backs.

Training camp reporting dates for all 32 teams

AP

The end of offseason programs around the league last week have all 32 teams looking forward to training camp and the start of the push to the regular season.

All 32 teams have now announced the reporting dates for training camp. Many teams will have their rookies report ahead of their veterans and all teams will have all of their players in camp by July 27.

The first two teams to open camp are the Ravens and Bears. They will also open up the preseason schedule when they meet in the Hall of Fame Game on August 2 in Canton, Ohio.

The reporting dates for all 32 teams appear below:

Buffalo – Rookies and Veterans 7/25

Miami – Rookies 7/18, Veterans 7/25

New England – Rookies 7/22, Veterans 7/25

New York Jets – Rookies 7/24, Veterans 7/26

Baltimore – Rookies 7/11, Veterans 7/18

Cincinnati – Rookies 7/23, Veterans 7/25

Cleveland – Rookies and Veterans 7/25

Pittsburgh – Rookies 7/24, Veterans 7/25

Houston – Rookies and Veterans 7/25

Indianapolis – Rookies 7/22, Veterans 7/25

Jacksonville – Rookies 7/18, Veterans 7/25

Tennessee – Rookies 7/22, Veterans 7/25

Denver – Rookies 7/24, Veterans 7/27

Kansas City – Rookies 7/22, Veterans 7/25

Los Angeles Chargers – Rookies and Veterans 7/27

Oakland – Rookies 7/23, Veterans 7/26

Dallas – Rookies and Veterans 7/25

New York Giants – Rookies 7/22, Veterans 7/25

Philadelphia – Rookies and Veterans 7/25

Washington – Rookies and Veterans 7/25

Chicago – Rookies 7/16, Veterans 7/19

Detroit – Rookies 7/19, Veterans 7/26

Green Bay – Rookies and Veterans 7/25

Minnesota – Rookies 7/24, Veterans 7/27

Atlanta – Rookies 7/23, Veterans 7/26

Carolina – Rookies and Veterans 7/25

New Orleans – Rookies 7/18, Veterans 7/25

Tampa Bay – Rookies 7/23, Veterans 7/25

Arizona – Rookies 7/22, Veterans 7/27

Los Angeles Rams – Rookies 7/23, Veterans 7/25

San Francisco – Rookies and Veterans 7/25

Seattle – Rookies and Veterans 7/25

Maurice Hurst “amped up” to play for Paul Guenther after watching Geno Atkins

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Defensive tackle Maurice Hurst was considered a possible first-round pick before an irregular heartbeat was detected during a medical exam at the NFL Scouting Combine and questions about whether he’ll be able to have a long career in the NFL helped push him to the Raiders in the fifth round.

While he might not like where he wound up being drafted, Hurst likes the landing spot. He said that watched a lot of film of Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins while at Michigan and is excited to have a chance at filling a similar three-technique role with defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, who previously held the same job in Cincinnati.

“It definitely gets me amped up,” Hurst said, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “The Bengals, their best player was their three technique. That’s the focal point of their defense, and that’s what coach Guenther is used to getting, and what he has got his whole time in the NFL [with Atkins]. He drafted Geno, and it says something for him drafting me and P.J. [Hall, a second-round pick this year]. I think he expects a lot from us and expects us to fill that role he had with the Bengals.”

Expecting Atkins-esque production from any rookie would be a mistake, but immediate positive impact of any kind from Hurst would be a good development for both the Oakland defense and Hurst’s chances of putting those health concerns behind him for good.