Christian Hackenberg: I’m 23, I have a lot of ball ahead of me

AP

Quarterbacks were a top storyline at the start of Jets OTAs on Tuesday as the team had Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold and Christian Hackenberg on the field for the same practice.

That’s the same order they took their reps, which did little to counter the feeling that Hackenberg is going to end up as the odd man out after spending the last two years watching from the sideline. The 2016 second-round pick has not taken that as a sign that his future in the league is limited.

“All I know is I’m 23 and I have a lot of ball ahead of me. Hell, my career hasn’t even started yet,” Hackenberg said, via Brian Costello of the New York Post.

Hackenberg has spent time this offseason rebuilding his throwing motion and said on Tuesday that he feels he has “a solid foundation from a fundamental standpoint” for the first time in a long time. He said it was frustrating to go through ups and downs the last two years and “not really getting any information from anybody on how to fix” what was wrong.

That’s a curious approach to take with a quarterback drafted with a second-round pick and it joins plenty of other evidence, up to and including Darnold’s addition, that any of that ball Hackenberg has ahead of him is likely to be played elsewhere.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie hoping to continue his career

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Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie remains a free agent, but the cornerback isn’t ready to retire.

Rodgers-Cromartie hopes to continue his career, telling Josina Anderson of ESPN that he is patiently waiting for a phone call.

“I’m good ya dig,” Rodgers-Cromartie texted to Anderson. “Yea ima play. Teams told me to wait til training camp. I can sign…but I will wait. No rush.”

Rodgers-Cromartie, 32, visited Washington after the Giants cut him to free up $6.5 million in cap space.

He played 15 games with the Giants last season, making six starts with 48 tackles and a defensed pass.

In his 10 seasons, Rodgers-Cromartie has made 30 interceptions and 150 pass breakups. A former first-round pick of the Cardinals, he has played for four teams.

Ben Roethlisberger mentoring Mason Rudolph at OTAs

AP

Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph were already texting buddies.

Now, they’re actually communicating face-to-face, and the Steelers’ elder quarterback said he was happy to help the guy who could eventually replace him.

Via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger said he’s always been willing to help the young guys (though that’s not really what it sounded like after the draft).

“I think people took some things that I said into a context that I was going to be mean or rude or whatever, and that was not it at all,” Roethlisberger said. “If you listen to the whole conversation, it was said in jest and laughing and having fun.

“I’ve never been the type to just be rude or mean to other quarterbacks. You can ask [Landry] Jones. I’ve had a lot of quarterbacks through here who were younger than me that I’ve tried to help any way that I can, so I’ll continue to do that.”

Of course, it’s easy to claim “out-of-context” now, but immediately after the Steelers chose Rudolph in the third round, Roethlisberger openly wondered why they didn’t take a player who could provide a more immediate benefit (especially after trading wide receiver Martavis Bryant). The rookie initially said he didn’t expect Roethlisberger to mentor him, and has tried to play nice.

Roethlisberger was also very complimentary of Rudolph while offering tips.

“He’s got a big arm,” Roethlisberger said. “He overthrew [Antonio Brown] even though AB’s not going to admit it. He seems to understand the offense, seems to not have any issues in the huddle, so I thought he did really well.”

It’s always much nicer when the kids get along.

A slimmed-down Leonard Fournette seen at Jaguars’ OTAs

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The Jaguars are on the field for Organized Team Activities, and Leonard Fournette is looking to be in good shape.

Michael DiRocco of ESPN posted a picture of Fournette looking like he has lost some weight. Fournette weighed in at 240 pounds at last year’s Scouting Combine and 228 pounds at LSU’s Pro Day.

Although Fournette topped 1,000 yards as a rookie, he didn’t have a great season. His 3.9 yards per carry was below the league average, as was his first down rate, gaining first downs on just 17 percent of his carries. Fournette missed three games and the Jaguars went 3-0 in those games and averaged more rushing yards in the games he missed than in the games he played.

Perhaps a slimmer Fournette will be a little quicker, and a little better, in his second season.

Falcons work out Kevin Bowen

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The Falcons are working out free agent offensive lineman Kevin Bowen on Wednesday, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports.

Bowen worked out for the Texans last week.

Bowen, 24, spent last season on Washington’s injured reserve after injuring his ankle. He also spent 2016 on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury.

He originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of East Central in 2016, signing with Washington. Bowen earned All-Great American Conference honors in 2015.

NFL approves sale of Panthers to David Tepper

AP

The stage is set for David Tepper to complete his purchase of the Carolina Panthers.

Tepper’s bid to buy the Panthers from Jerry Richardson was the first order of business at this week’s league meetings in Atlanta and it has been dispatched in short order. The finance committee approved the deal on Tuesday ahead of a vote by all of the league’s owners and the league announced on Tuesday afternoon that they have also given the deal the green light. The purchase was approved by a unanimous vote of the other 31 teams.

Tepper is set to pay $2.275 billion for the franchise, which has been owned by Richardson since it entered the league as an expansion team for the 1995 season. Richardson put the team up for sale after allegations of workplace misconduct and settlements with employees for such misconduct became public late last year. Tepper addressed that briefly in a press conference Tuesday.

“I’m a person that believes in equality for everybody, men and women,” Tepper said, via Mark Maske of the Washington Post.

Tepper also said that the Panthers will remain in Charlotte and that he does not anticipate any big moves within the organization upon taking control of the team.

Tepper previously owned a piece of the Steelers, which means he’d been vetted by the league before bidding on the Panthers and that helped make for a smooth trip through the approval process. The deal is expected to become official in July.

Khalil Mack remains away from Raiders as OTAs begin

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Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack has not been taking part in the team’s voluntary work all offseason and nothing changed with the start of OTAs on Tuesday.

Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal passes along word that the Raiders took the field to kick off this phase of their offseason work without Mack in attendance. There had been no sign that Mack was planning to show for the OTAs.

There’s also been no word of progress toward the new contract that Mack is looking for as he enters the final year of his rookie deal. Word in April was that Mack is looking for some $65 million in guarantees in a new deal and General Manager Reggie McKenzie said all conversations about a deal have been positive, but that hasn’t been enough to push the two sides to an agreement.

The Raiders will hold their only mandatory offseason practices at minicamp next month. That and the start of training camp are shaping up as possible inflection points in Mack’s push for a new contract before the start of the 2018 season.

Arthur Blank on Julio Jones’ absence: A process we have to go through

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According to a report last week, Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones was expected to skip at least the start of the team’s OTAs as he looks for a contract adjustment that would bump up his take-home pay in 2018.

Jones has indeed been a no-show on the first two days of voluntary practice this week and that led to a question for team owner Arthur Blank at Tuesday’s league meetings in Atlanta.

“It will be fine. It’s just a process we have to go through,” Blank said, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com.

Jones’ contract calls for a base salary of $10.5 million this year and the five-year pact has an average annual salary of $14.25 million. That currently ranks eighth among wide receivers.

Last week’s report indicated the Falcons are amenable to revisiting Jones’ deal, but it’s not clear whether that will happen if he stays away from the team for the remainder of the offseason program. He would be eligible for fines if he does not take part in the team’s mandatory minicamp next month.

Bay Area wants another Super Bowl

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With the Raiders poised to leave Oakland and enter a stadium that will become part of the Super Bowl rotation, their Bay Area partners hope to lure another Super Bowl of their own.

San Francisco (actually Santa Clara) hosted Super Bowl 50 as part of the “if you build it, they will come” new stadium quid pro quo. San Francisco (actually Santa Clara) now wants another one.

Via Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News, the Bay Area had hoped to be in contention for Super Bowls LVII and LVIII, which are expected to be awarded to Arizona and New Orleans, respectively. The Bay Area will now turn its attention to the next two games — Super Bowls LVIII and LXIX — to be played in 2025 and 2026, respectively.

Per Inman, San Francisco (actually, San Francisco) is expected to compete with Las Vegas, Dallas, and Indianapolis. Eventually, the league will select the cities to approach with the opportunity to host the game. Until then, however, plenty of politicking will be taking place.

For San Francisco (actually, Santa Clara), the challenge becomes flipping its perfunctory hosting opportunity into a semi-regular spot. With a four-city rotation envisioned (L.A., Vegas, Miami, and Arizona or New Orleans), each half decade will include one wild-card spot.

As to Super Bowls LVIII and LXIX, it seems that Vegas will get one and that the other three cities would be in the mix for the other.

Paul Worrilow carted off at Eagles practice

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Practices during the OTA phase of offseason workouts aren’t full contact, but injuries can still happen and the Eagles got a reminder of that on Tuesday.

According to multiple reports from Philadelphia, linebacker Paul Worrilow has been carted off the field after suffering an apparent knee injury. Worrilow went down after colliding with another defender during a 7-on-7 drill and members of the medical staff put an air cast on his knee before he was taken for further evaluation.

Worrilow signed a one-year contract with the Eagles this offseason. Worrilow spent last season with the Lions, making eight starts in 13 appearances and finishing the year with 20 tackles. He spent the first four years of his career with the Falcons.

Joe Walker, Corey Nelson, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nathan Gerry and LaRoy Reynolds are others looking for depth spots in the Eagles linebacking corps this offseason.

Who are the best CFL players who made it in the NFL?

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Tuesday’s PFT Live featured an interview with Johnny Manziel, who will try to parlay an opportunity with the CFL into another chance in the NFL, eventually. Which inspired a PFT Live draft based on the identifying the best CFL players who made it to the NFL.

Simms, who always wins the toss when the No. 1 pick is obvious (#rigged), blew the rest of the draft. And the (Dis)Honorable Robert F. Stats Guerrera blew the ruling. And the youngsters chiming in on Twitter are blowing the vote.

Here’s where you rectify the situation, by watching the video and telling Simms, Stats, and the Twitter horde how wrong they each are. You also may learn a thing or two about the historical overlap between the CFL and the NFL.

Or you can watch the video again of the little kid smashing Dad in the face with a plastic golf club.

Carlos Dunlap opts to not attend Bengals OTAs

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Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap is willing to lose $300,000, so he must be hoping for an even bigger payday.

According to Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Dunlap has continued his absence from Bengals workouts this offseason, by not volunteering for the first day of voluntary OTAs.

The 29-year-old Dunlap is entering the final year of the six-year, $40.6 million extension he signed in 2013, and he’s due to make $7 million this year.

There has been some discussion about an extension for Dunlap as well as Geno Atkins this offseason, but nothing has happened so far.

Dunlap didn’t attend the earlier workouts, forfeiting a $300,000 workout bonus he could have earned with regular attendance. But that’s a decision he’s making, and we’ll find out when the Bengals hold a mandatory minicamp in mid-June (when he can be fined for an absence) how strongly he feels about working out on his own.

Report: Terrelle Pryor dealing with another ankle injury

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Among the players taking part in the first OTA of the Jets offseason is wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, who missed all of last season with a neck injury.

Enunwa isn’t wearing a helmet, so he’s still limited but being on the field is a step up from what Terrelle Pryor is up to on Tuesday. Pryor, who signed with the Jets in March, is not taking part in practice and Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports that the wideout is recovering from an ankle injury.

Pryor’s 2017 season with Washington also ended because of an ankle injury and he required surgery to repair it before he hit the market as a free agent. Pryor’s lone season in D.C. was largely a bust as he caught just 20 passes in nine games after a 77-catch/1,007-yard 2016 season with the Browns.

Enunwa’s return and Pryor’s signing added to the depth at receiver for the Jets. They also have Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse back after solid 2017 seasons and round out the group with Chad Hansen, ArDarius Stewart, Devin Smith, Andre Roberts and Charone Peake.

Brett Favre reveals he went to rehab three times

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Brett Favre was open about his addiction to painkillers during his playing career. But he has just revealed his struggle with addiction hung over his life for longer than he had previously disclosed.

Favre told Peter King that his 1996 stint in a rehab facility was one of three times during his NFL career that he had to seek in-patient treatment for addiction, both to painkillers and to alcohol.

“That was an MVP year for me,” Favre told King, referring to the 1995 season. “But that year, when I woke up in the morning, my first thought was, ‘I gotta get more pills.’ I took 14 Vicodin, yes, one time. I was getting an hour or two of sleep many nights. Maybe 30 minutes of quality sleep. I was the MVP on a pain-pill buzz. The crazy thing was, I’m not a night owl. Without pills I’d fall asleep at 9:30. But with pills, I could get so much done, I just figured, ‘This is awesome.’ Little did I know [fiancée and now wife] Deanna would be finding some of my pills and when she did, she’d flush them down the toilet.

“I actually went to rehab three times. I saw the most successful, smart people—doctors, professional people—lose it all, ruin their lives. A year or two before you saw me, I went to a place in Rayville, La., just outside Monroe. It was pills then too. Deanna and [agent] Bus [Cook] talked me into it. I didn’t think I had a problem, but they talked me into it. I went for 28 days. When I got out, I was able to control myself for a while. I wouldn’t take anything for a day or two, and I wouldn’t drink. But I was a binge drinker. When I drank, I drank to excess. So when I went in the second time, to the place in Kansas, I remember vividly fighting them in there. They said drinking was the gateway drug for me, and they were right, absolutely right, but I wouldn’t admit it. I will never forget one of the nurses. I had it all figured out. I fought with this nurse all the time. I would not admit the drinking problem. At the end she said to me, ‘You’ll be back.’

“I was back. 1998. Guess who was waiting there when I walked in—that same nurse. This time it was strictly for drinking. I didn’t go back to the pills. I admitted my problem, I was in there 28 days, and it worked.”

Favre managed a 20-year NFL career, while fighting through much of it with a harder battle than anyone knew.

Teddy Bridgewater taking part in Jets OTAs

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Jets coach Todd Bowles said early this month that he wasn’t sure how full a participant quarterback Teddy Bridgewater would be during the Organized Team Activity phase of the team’s offseason program.

Bowles added that he wanted to see Bridgewater “out there throwing and competing” with everyone else and things got off to a good start on that front Tuesday. According to multiple reports from Jets practice, Bridgewater, who has only played a handful of plays since injuring his knee in August 2016, followed Josh McCown in quarterback drills with first-round pick Sam Darnold going third in the order.

Bridgewater continued to work in team drills, so it seems like any limitations are minor ones at this point in the schedule.

Several of those reports include video of Bridgewater dropping back and throwing passes and he looks smooth enough doing it, although that’s the bare minimum you’d expect during a May practice conducted at a comfortable pace. If Bridgewater should continue to look good as things ramp up, it will make for a more interesting quarterback competition this summer.