Allen Robinson apparently ready to go in Bears camp

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The Bears might not have their first-round pick under contract as they begin camp, but they should have their high-profile free agent acquisition on the field.

Via Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, Bears coach Matt Nagy said he didn’t think any of his players would need to start camp on the physically unable to perform list.

That means that wide receiver Allen Robinson should be ready to go, which is good news for a revamped offense.

Robinson suffered a torn ACL last September, and though he did some work during OTAs, it was reasonable to wonder how much he was going to be able to do a little over 10 months later.

The Bears signed Robinson to a three-year, $42 million deal, which included $25 million in guarantees. They’re obviously hoping he returns to his 2015 form, when he caught 80 passes for 1,400 yards for the Jaguars.

Bears optimistic Roquan Smith will be in camp soon

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The Bears became the second team to open training camp when veterans reported to work on Thursday, but the team’s top draft choice remains absent.

Linebacker Roquan Smith did not report with the rest of the team’s rookies on Tuesday and remains away from the team because he has yet to sign a contract. At a press conference on Thursday, General Manager Ryan Pace said “a lot of details go into these things” and that he’s optimistic that the deal will be done soon.

“There’s a process and meanwhile we’re moving forward,” Pace said.

Pace didn’t delve into the details that need to be ironed out. As PFT noted earlier this week, issues like roster bonus structure, offsets and language that voids guaranteed money are often holdups in getting deals done with players at the top of the draft.

Joe Mixon heading into camp 12 pounds lighter than last year

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The Bengals expect Joe Mixon to be their “bell cow” in the backfield in his second season and Mixon’s preparation for that role included cutting some of the weight he carried as a rookie.

Mixon played at 230 pounds last year, but is down to 218 pounds with training camp getting underway next week.

“I was working in that heat,” Mixon said, via the team’s website. “I feel like that’s where I play my best. I was trying to get low last year but I wasn’t able to make it. I feel real good. My body feels real good. I feel like I’m in really good shape.”

Mixon ran 178 times for 626 yards and four touchdowns in 14 games during his rookie season. He closed the year with 18 carries for 96 yards in a victory over the Ravens and that’s likely the kind of performance the Bengals hope to see on a regular basis this season.

Regardless of what it says when Mixon steps on the scale, improved offensive line play will be crucial to making that happen. First-round center Billy Price and left tackle Cordy Glenn were brought in to help make that happen and the coming weeks should start to provide some answers about how that attempt will play out.

Report: Ravens to pay Breshad Perriman’s roster bonus Saturday

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Wide receiver Breshad Perriman has underwhelmed since being selected in the first round of the 2015 draft, but the Ravens are reportedly set to pick up his roster bonus this weekend.

Jamison Hensley of ESPN reports that the team will pay Perriman $649,485 on Saturday. The team opted not to exercise their option on his contract for the 2019 season earlier this offseason.

Per Hensley, the move to pay the roster bonus doesn’t guarantee Perriman, who stands to make over $972,000 in addition to the bonus, a spot on the team’s 53-man roster. They added Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead as free agents this offseason and also drafted a pair of wide receivers in April.

Perriman has missed 21-of-48 games due to injuries since being drafted and has 43 catches for 576 yards and three touchdowns in the 27 games he has played. General Manager Ozzie Newsome called this a make or break year for the wideout in March.

Beth Mowins, Brian Griese will call Monday Night Football in Week One


ESPN has announced that its B-team for Monday Night Football in Week One will be Beth Mowins and Brian Griese.

As usual, the NFL will have two Monday night games in the first week of the season. ESPN had already announced that its top team of Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten and Booger McFarland will call the later Week One Monday night game, Rams-Raiders. Today ESPN announced that Mowins and Griese will be in the booth for the early game, Jets-Lions, with Laura Rutledge as the sideline reporter.

Mowins also called one of the Week One Monday night games last season, becoming the first woman to call a nationally televised NFL game in 30 years. She also called four games for CBS last season.

Griese is a former NFL quarterback who has called college football for ESPN since 2009.

Danny Amendola: Gase is one of the guys, Belichick is like a principal

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Danny Amendola left the Patriots for the Dolphins in free agency this offseason, and he’s already feeling the difference in coaching styles.

Amendola said on the Comeback Szn podcast that playing for Dolphins coach Adam Gase is like playing for a friend, while playing for Patriots coach Bill Belichick is like playing for the boss.

“Coach Gase is one of the guys, one of the boys, and you want to fight hard for your boys. Back in New England, it’s almost like you’ve got a principal, the principal’s office and s–t like that,” Amendola said.

Amendola wasn’t ripping Belichick, whom he also called “the greatest coach of all time.” But he was saying that as a veteran player, he now appreciates having a coach who treats him more like an equal.

“It’s been great,” Amendola said of spending the offseason in Miami. “It’s worked out amazing. All the guys are cool. The team is cool, my group is cool. The coaches are awesome. Coach Gase is one of the guys. He’s our leader, he’s our head coach, but he’s also our boy. So it’s cool. It’s refreshing to have that kind of relationship with a coach, something I haven’t had in a long time. I facetimed coach Gase yesterday just to bulls–t with him, just to talk to him. I was talking to his kids. I have a relationship with him that’s real unique, something I haven’t had in a while.”

Amendola was looking for that kind of environment when he became a free agent this year.

“When free agency broke and I had the opportunity to talk to other teams and coaches and see what was out there, coach Gase called and he was cool fro the jump. We talked about football, we talked about life, we talked about Miami, we talked about New England, we talked about what we both had been through,” Amendola said. “He’s one of the guys and he works hard, he embraces the grind, he’s up at the facility 24/7 and he’s obsessed with the game. So any time you get around a coach like that, a coach you can relate to, a coach that will grind with the guys, you want to play hard for him.”

Now Amendola will try to help the Dolphins show that a team can win with a coach who is one of the guys.

Falcons focused on doing deals for three other players right now

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The Falcons have made it clear to wide receiver Julio Jones that he’s not getting a raise before the start of the regular season.

But that doesn’t mean they’re not looking to do some deals.

Via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Falcons haven’t budgeted for a renegotiation for Jones, but are “focused” on contract extensions for three other players.

That list includes defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, left tackle Jake Matthews and safety Ricardo Allen.

Jarrett is entering the final year of his rookie deal. Allen is working on his second-round tender as a restricted free agent, and Matthews is on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract.

With those three key contributors in the final year of their respective deals, it’s understandable for the Falcons would want to get them taken care of first.

But Jones, who has three years left on his deal, has registered his disappointment by not showing up for any of the team’s offseason work. He did go to quarterback Matt Ryan‘s passing camp with other teammates, but it’s unclear at the moment if he’s planning to show up next week for training camp.

Can Rams, Aaron Donald bridge the gap?

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The Rams have paid plenty of money this year to two guys who never have worn the team’s uniform in a preseason or regular-season game. So when will they pay the player who has become in four seasons one of the most dominant forces in the entire league?

Defensive tackle Aaron Donald reportedly has told others that he anticipates having a new deal before the start of training camp. But we’ve been hearing “almost there” for months. Will the deal finally get done?

The answer surely resides in the fundamental differences between what Donald wants and what the Rams will offer. Donald undoubtedly is looking for market value. The Rams, however, can keep him off the market until 2021 at the earliest, via a $6.892 million salary in 2018 and two years of the franchise tag (and roughly $15 million in 2019 and $18 million in 2020).

Under the Rams’ calculation, that’s a three-year haul of just under $40 million. If Donald is looking for $20 million per year, that’s a $20 million gap over the first three years.

The Rams may want to meet in the middle. Donald may be trying to hold firm. His leverage (other than holding out and losing real money) comes from going year to year and forcing his way to the market in 2021, when his franchise-tag number would be close to $26 million (a 44-percent raise over 2020) or the quarterback franchise tender, whichever is greater.

Of course, the Rams may decide to pay whatever it takes to keep him in 2021. Even if the quarterback franchise tag gets to $30 million by then (unlikely), the Rams will have paid $70 million for four years — and that’s still $10 million less than what Donald likely wants over four years.

So then the can gets kicked to 2022, which is an eternity as far as NFL teams are concerned. By then, the player will be closing in on 31, with four more years of wear and tear and Father Time possibly commencing the process of making Donald mortal.

The analysis ultimately is a lot like what the Steelers went through with Le'Veon Bell the last two years. What will it take to get the Rams to surrender the right to squat on Donald for the next four years at something in the range of $70 million?

In answering that question, here’s an important consideration: What will the potential impact on the locker room be, if the Rams continue to stiff Donald after giving Ndamukong Suh $14 million for one year and Brandin Cooks a five-year, $81 million deal? Also, with other key players (like Todd Gurley and Jared Goff) eventually due for new deals, will they fear that their efforts under a wage-scale rookie deal will be rewarded with a protracted game of hardball?

The more immediate concern should be whether Donald would actually hold out and skip game checks. Given that Donald caved last year on the eve of Week One, the Rams could be banking on Donald not passing on his weekly bank deposits.

Jason Kelce didn’t think much of the Patriots’ defensive talent

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The Eagles’ offense moved the ball up and down the field against the Patriots’ defense in the Super Bowl, so perhaps it’s no surprise that Eagles center Jason Kelce wasn’t particularly impressed with the players on the other side of the ball.

Kelce told that when the Eagles were preparing for the Patriots, they felt like Bill Belichick and his staff had dragged inferior defensive talent to the Super Bowl.

“The last defense we had seen was Minnesota’s, and we were like, ‘These dudes have got some players.’ Then we see [the Patriots] and we’re like, ‘These dudes have got some . . . coaches.’ ”

When Belichick first led the Patriots to the Super Bowl, 16 years ago, his defense led the way. But for most of the Patriots’ dynasty, it’s been Tom Brady and the offense. The Patriots’ defense isn’t very good right now, and Kelce and the Eagles noticed it on film, and showed it on the field.

T.O. defends his HOF no-show


Receiver Terrell Owens has come under attack from many for his decision not to attend the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony. Even Dick Vitale, an annoying fountain of reckless positivity, has repeatedly called T.O. out, dubbing his decision “childish.”

Owens nevertheless remains committed to his decision.

“It’s always unfortunate and people have a lot to say when someone does something different, but what I’m doing is not wrong,” Owens said prior to Wednesday’s ESPY awards.

“For me I think, overall, everybody’s obviously wondering what went into my decision. I think John Wooden said it best: ‘Be more concerned about your character than your reputation.’ I think what the noise is right now is more about my reputation than my actual character.”

Owens insisted that he’s not trying to offend the members of his newest team.

“They’re making the narrative more so about me offending the Hall of Famers, and that has nothing to do with it,” Owens said. “I respect all of those Hall of Famers that have gone in before me and going in with me and after me. It has nothing to do with those Hall of Famers.”

Owens has recently said that he’s boycotting the ceremony for the Hall of Famers who have had to wait longer than they should have. But that may have been a narrative fashioned in the wake of the criticism; the real reason(s) may be more related to: (1) the unwillingness of any of his former teams to throw a lavish party for him in Canton; and (2) the over-the-top manner in which some voters attacked Owens to justify his omission from the Hall of Fame on his first two tries. Throw in Randy Moss getting in on the first try, and that probably was enough to get T.O. to decide on a no-show.

Ravens trying to win again, and win back fans

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The Ravens tried to re-tool their roster this offseason, but the team also had plenty to do to repair fan relationships, as a number of factors have led to increasing no-shows in Baltimore.

And while there were a number of factors that fans expressed concern about (including ticket prices, wi-fi quality in the stadium, and protests during the national anthem), the Ravens are also aware there’s an easy way to make people happy again.

“We didn’t make the playoffs three years in a row. That affects everything you do,” team president Dick Cass said, via Jeff Zrebeic of The Athletic. “It affects the morale here in our building, it affects the way the fans look at us. I think the fans have always trusted that if we didn’t make the playoffs one year, they’ve trusted us to fix it and get back the next year. And we haven’t done that. Everything we do is made so much easier if we win. When you’re not in the playoffs, it’s harder to connect with your fans. People don’t care as much about you.”

The Ravens have flatlined in recent years, with a perfectly boring 40-40 record the last five seasons, and just one playoff appearance. Getting that part fixed will be a different accomplishment, but Cass said he and the team’s business staff made “thousands” of phone calls this season to try to fight off the ennui of a fanbase that was used to winning.

“The major complaint, more than anything else, is ‘you guys are not fun to watch,’” Cass said. “I don’t think it’s a style of play honestly. It’s whether you win-or-lose, because we weren’t a fun team to watch in 2000 [when they won the Super Bowl]. We didn’t score an [offensive] touchdown for five straight games, but fans were excited and still came to all the games and were really engaged.”

There’s also the matter of the team not having an identifiable star like a Ray Lewis, though rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson could end up turning into that kind of player if he ends up with the starting job. If he does and the victories follow, that will go further toward mending the relationship with fans than any cosmetic fixes they might make.

Thursday morning one-liners


Bills legend Jim Kelly gave an emotional speech while receiving the Jimmy V award last night.

Taking a look at what the Dolphins can expect from older players in camp.

The Patriots are focusing on their LBs getting better in pass coverage against backs.

Former Jets coach Rex Ryan had high praise for retired CB Darrelle Revis.

The Ravens were optimistic on the first day of training camp.

Not everyone is feeling optimistic about the Bengals’ chances, however.

Browns QBs Tyrod Taylor and Baker Mayfield are building chemistry with their receivers at USC.

The Steelers are young at CB but they’re deep.

Some former Texans are competing for the flag football title.

Saints QB Drew Brees thinks Colts counterpart Andrew Luck will rebound well.

The Jaguars have taken care of their paperwork before camp.

The Titans will count on their RB tandem this season.

The Broncos defensive line will be counted on to keep a high standard this year.

A closer look at Darrelle Revis’ Chiefs era.

Chargers QB Philip Rivers has some land to sell.

Former Raiders coach Tom Flores is also out of the team’s radio broadcast.

The Cowboys aren’t bringing in other sporting events the way they used to.

The Giants CBs need to bounce back this season.

The Eagles may have a more talented roster entering camp than last year.

Perhaps Washington’s football team can ride the wave of local sports success.

Bears LT Charles Leno provided some roadside assistance to a Bears fan.

A look at what to expect from Lions rookies this year.

Packers WR Davante Adams has to adjust to being the top target now.

Vikings WRs Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen miss each other.

Former Falcons RB Warrick Dunn will have a role in the city’s Super Bowl effort.

Panthers S Mike Adams is making an impact beyond the field.

Former Saints LB Jonathan Vilma is getting a boost in his broadcasting career.

The Buccaneers’ run defense will be tested early this season.

Cardinals DT Robert Nkemdiche is planning a breakthrough season (look out below).

Taking a look at the new Rams LBs heading into camp.

Gauging which players the 49ers can least afford to lose to injury.

The Seahawks have some intriguing battles at the bottom of the roster.

Randall Cobb out of walking boot, ready for camp

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Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb created a bit of a concern when a reporter saw him wearing a walking boot in an airport in June.

But the ankle injury he was dealing with then has apparently healed, a good sign as they prepare for camp to start next week.

Chris Roth of WBAY caught up with Cobb at his youth football camp, and saw him running a few drills with the campers.

I will be involved in training camp when training camp comes around,” Cobb said.

He didn’t get into many of the details, saying he had to meet with the team’s medical staff to determine his level of involvement, but said the boot was for “protection” and that he felt “great” at the moment.

That has to be a relief for the Packers, as their receiving corps has a new look this year and need all the known commodities they can get. They released Jordy Nelson and brought in three rookies, so having a healthy Cobb working alongside Davante Adams and new tight end Jimmy Graham provides some stability.

Report: Chiefs to workout running back Marty Carter

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Grand Valley State running back Marty Carter was one of three players to go unselected in last week’s supplemental draft. He now has his first workout scheduled with an NFL team.

According to Terez Paylor of Yahoo Sports, Carter is scheduled to workout with the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday.

Carter finished fifth in voting for the Harlon Hill Trophy – the Heisman of Division II football – in 2016 after rushing for 1,908 yards and 20 touchdowns for Grand Valley State. He was named the Division II Offensive Player of the Year and was a first-team All-American.

He rushed for 957 yards and scored nine touchdowns in nine games last season before entering the supplemental draft.

Report: Falcons have informed Julio Jones he won’t get a contract adjustment

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Julio Jones sent the Falcons a message in skipping the offseason program and mandatory minicamp. So what does the star receiver do now that the Falcons have told him they won’t adjust his contract?

Jeff Schultz of The Athletic reported Wednesday night that the Falcons recently informed Jones they have not budgeted for a renegotiation for 2018 and have no plans to give Jones a raise for this season. Jones signed a five-year, $71.25 million contract extension with the Falcons before the 2015 season but is scheduled to make only $10.5 million in base salary for 2018.

The Falcons have never renegotiated a contract with more than a year remaining, per Schultz, but they have promised Jones a renegotiation after this season.

Despite the news, which surely doesn’t sit well with Jones, the Falcons still hope the five-time Pro Bowler will report to training camp on time next week. Jones has spoken to head coach Dan Quinn, and agent Jimmy Sexton has had a number of conversations with the front office, according to Schultz.

Jones has participated in quarterback Matt Ryan’s annual passing camp with the team’s other receivers in Los Angeles.