Bradley Chubb finalizing contract with Broncos Thursday

AP

The Broncos are one of the dwindling number of teams with unsigned picks from the 2018 draft, but they are set to move closer to having everyone under contract.

Mike Klis of KUSA reports that first-round pick Bradley Chubb is finalizing his contract with the team on Thursday. Chubb, who was the fifth overall pick in April, will sign a four-year deal with a team option for a fifth season.

Per Klis, the four-year deal is expected to be worth a total of about $27.27 million with a $17.914 million signing bonus.

Chubb had 25 sacks and 54.5 tackles for loss at N.C. State and is expected to join Von Miller as an edge rusher on the Denver defense right out of the gate. How much playing time he gets in that role early in the 2018 season may be impacted by Shane Ray‘s wrist injury, but Chubb figures to be a prominent player sooner rather than later under any circumstances.

Once Chubb’s deal is done, third-round pick Royce Freeman will be the only unsigned Broncos pick and there will be 20 unsigned picks around the league.

UPDATE 2:31 p.m. ET: The Broncos have announced Chubb’s signing.

Robby Anderson gets six months probation for reckless driving

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Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson has resolved the final charge from a January arrest in South Florida.

Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reports, via Anderson’s lawyer, that the wideout pleaded no contest to a reckless driving charge on Wednesday. He was sentenced to six months of “non-reporting probation” and Garafolo adds that the NFL’s review of the incident under the Personal Conduct Policy is ongoing.

Anderson was arrested after being clocked at 105 mph in a 45 mph zone. He was initially charged with felonies, including harming a public servant or public servant’s family, but they were dismissed and only the misdemeanor reckless driving charge remained on the docket.

Anderson also had a felony charge of resisting arrest from a 2017 arrest dropped this offseason.

Terry McAulay retires, Shawn Smith promoted to referee

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Terry McAulay has refereed his final NFL game.

NFL senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron announced on Thursday that McAulay has retired. McAulay joined the NFL as a side judge in 1998 and became a referee for the 2001 season.

McAulay was the referee in three Super Bowls — XXXIX, XLIII and XLVIII — and 11 other postseason games.

Riveron also announced that Shawn Smith will take McAulay’s place on the league’s roster of officials. Smith has spent the last three years as an umpire. He spent two of those year’s on Jeff Triplette’s crew and worked on Ed Hochuli’s crew in 2017.

Both Triplette and Hochuli retired after the 2017 season with Shawn Hochuli and Alex Kemp joining Smith in making the move up to referee in 2018.

Streaker hit by player at CFL game hires lawyer, says he was injured

AP

Football players should be careful about how they approach fans who run on the field, lest they face a lawsuit.

Last week a fan ran on the field at a Canadian Football League game and was flattened by Marcell Young, a defensive back for the B.C. Lions. Now that fan says Young injured him, and he has hired a lawyer.

The fan’s lawyer released a statement saying he “suffered serious injuries, including a mild traumatic brain injury, as a result of being violently struck by BC Lions player Marcell Young.”

The fan was fined $115 for trespassing. He obviously didn’t belong on the field, although the CFL (and the NFL, and any sports league) would probably prefer that players let security handle it, rather than get involved in apprehending runaway fans themselves. In the days of Mike Curtis, a player could get away with decking a fan. But these days, fans can be quite litigious.

Jim Kelly having follow-up surgery today

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Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly is having a follow-up surgery today, as part of his ongoing battle against cancer.

Kelly’s wife provided the update via social media, and said if everything went well, they could be home by the weekend.

The 58-year-old Kelly was discharged from the hospital in April and returned to Buffalo.

He was diagnosed with cancer in his jaw in 2013, and has gone through a number of procedures. But he’s also been a presence around the Bills as well, attending minicamp and meeting with first-round pick Josh Allen.

Colts get creative to sell tickets

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The Colts have had a hard time selling season tickets, so they’ll be selling half-season tickets.

The team announced on Thursday that a pair of five-game packages will be available next week.

“In today’s demanding world, consumers have more choices than ever for their entertainment dollars,” Colts’ chief sales & marketing officer Roger VanDerSnick said in a press release.  “These five-game packs offer fans yet another option to experience our thirty-fifth season firsthand.”

The first pack includes the preseason game against the Ravens and regular-season games against Cincinnati, Buffalo, Tennessee, and Dallas. The second pack has the preseason game against San Francisco and regular-season games against Houston, Jacksonville, Miami, and the New York Giants.

The five-game packages go on sale next week. Have the Colts mentioned that they’re once again optimistic that quarterback Andrew Luck will play this year?

Justin Britt: New offensive coaches have brought back “our old attitude”

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The Seahawks underwent serious changes on both sides of the ball this offseason, including the arrival of a new offensive coordinator in Brian Schottenheimer and new offensive line coach in Mike Solari.

After spending the offseason working with them, center Justin Britt is feeling bullish about what those changes will mean for the team. Britt said the two coaches have brought a different perspective in “a real good way.”

Part of that perspective has been “kind of re-introducing us to our old attitude” when it comes to building a strong running game after struggling on that front over the last two seasons. Britt also noted that the team has younger players than they have in past years and thinks that shift has had a positive impact.

“I think this is the youngest we’ve been since I’ve been here, so you see a lot of speed, a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of want-to and not a lot of have-to,” Britt said, via the team’s website. “The attitude is right, I’m excited heading into camp after having the OTA and minicamp that we’ve had. If we stay on course like the way we are, I don’t see why we can’t be one of the top offenses in the league. We have the tools, we have the coaching and we have the attitude, so we just have to have a good six weeks leading up to camp, and hit it full stride.”

The talk all offseason in Seattle has been about reinvigoration after missing the playoffs last season. Britt’s feelings fit right into that mindset, although any final judgments will have to wait until the pads come on.

Personal Conduct Policy imposes broad duty to report allegations

AP

Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston reportedly is bracing for a suspension arising from a failure to report to the league the allegations of an Uber driver arising from a March 2016 incident. While it’s possible that the “failure to report” angle is being used to take some of the sting out of the possibility that Winston will be suspended in whole or in part for the underling incident, the Personal Conduct Policy contains no ambiguity regarding a player’s obligations when aware of a claim of off-field misconduct.

“Clubs and players are obligated to promptly report any matter that comes to their attention (through, for example, victim or witness reports, law enforcement, or media reports) that may constitute a violation of this Policy,” the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy states. “Clubs are expected to educate their employees on this obligation to report. . . . Failure to report an incident will be grounds for disciplinary action. This obligation to report is broader than simply reporting an arrest; it requires reporting to the league any incident that comes to the club’s or player’s attention which, if the allegations were true, would constitute a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy.”

This obligation applies even if the player firmly believes the allegations are false. “If the allegations are true” is the standard, and in this case Winston apparently knew enough (based on his banishment from using Uber) to know that allegations had been made that, if true, would have violated the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy.

That said, it’s hard to fault Winston for keeping his head low and his mouth shut. It’s human nature to sit tight and to see whether something that could become problematic blows over. However, the Personal Conduct Policy mandates more.

The policy mandates more even though the NFL hardly has a reputation among players for hearing the players’ side of the story and giving them a full and fair chance to defend themselves. Last year, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott found himself trapped in the pouch of a kangaroo court that gave him no meaningful opportunity to question his accuser. Indeed, the process that banished Elliott ultimately ignored the opinions of the investigator who had interviewed the accuser on multiple occasions.

Then there’s the reality that, if Winston had self-reported, someone at 345 Park Avenue would have leaked, either to a colleague at NFL Media or to Schefty, that Winston had self-reported a potential violation of the Personal Conduct Policy. How would the average football fan have reacted to that one? Probably by concluding that Winston’s decision to self-report must mean that he did something wrong.

Regardless, the policy is clear — and teams have a strong incentive to make sure players understand that anything and everything that potentially falls under the Personal Conduct Policy must be communicated to the team. The Buccaneers obviously didn’t do a good enough job of that; otherwise, Winston would have self-reported the potential violation.

Brian Gaine: Texans trying to build “football culture” to withstand test of time

AP

Texans coach Bill O’Brien said recently that he feels like the team is in a “good place” heading into training camp after going 4-12 last season and installing Brian Gaine as the team’s new General Manager.

Gaine agrees that the Texans have “positioned ourselves well” and now need to “see some results” from the work they’ve put into the team. He doesn’t feel the job is done, however.

Gaine has been on the job since January, which meant the team’s been moving at a “rapid pace” to restock the roster heading into the season. Changes to the organization go beyond new players, however. O’Brien and Gaine asked for improvements to the team’s practice facility, locker rooms and staffing as they work to shape the organization into the one they want.

“It’s not just trying to build a roster,” Gaine said, via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. “We’re trying to build a football culture that’ll withstand the test of time and not just be on a year-to-year basis.”

Such changes will likely take more than one offseason to fully take hold, but the work already done and the return of several injured stars may be enough to bear some fruit immediately as well.

Joe Thomas taking his time with broadcasting offers

AP

Joe Thomas knows he’s finished with football, and likely to end up in broadcasting.

But the former Browns left tackle wants to take some time to find the right fit for what should be a successful second career.

I’ve had some offers from FOX [and] some other networks for doing it this fall, but I think right now I just want to take time away, step back, not overcommit myself this fall,” Thomas said, via Jason Wilde of ESPN Wisconsin. “It’ll be my first year away from football in a long time, so I’d rather just take little bites at the media/broadcasting apple and then see where I am at this point next year and see if it’s something I want to do.”

It’s good to have options, and Thomas has already had a number of auditions (including for the Monday Night Football gig that went to Jason Witten).

Other broadcasters have raved about him, as MNF play-by-play man Joe Tessitore told Richard Deitsch of The Athletic that Thomas had shades of John Madden in his audition.

Thomas did a mock call of last year’s Chiefs-Titans playoff game as part of his audition with Tessitore, both admitted he needs more practice before he’s ready for such a job full-time.

“The ‘Monday Night Football’ [opportunity] was pretty cool,” Thomas said. “Obviously it’s the iconic sports broadcast for a lot of us from the moment we were growing up as kids watching ‘Monday Night Football’ with the Packers and Brett Favre and all those great players. So it was really neat and humbling just to be considered for that job. I learned a lot about the process, I learned a lot about the position of color analyst.

“I think what Joe said was accurate. I’m obviously very green — no experience whatsoever as a color analyst — so for me, I wanted to just show up, show my personality as much as I could and then hopefully people could see that there was something in there that they could take that rough diamond and give me some practice and turn me into somebody who could be good.”

As a guy who speaks in paragraphs rather than phrases, Thomas said he needed to learn to get to his point quickly. But it’s clear that he has promise, and will have more opportunities in the future.

Shaq Lawson: It’s time to wake up

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Defensive end Shaq Lawson has lost weight this offseason in a bid to stay healthy and productive for the Bills after two seasons that saw him fall short on both those fronts.

Those shortfalls have led coach Sean McDermott to say it is time for Lawson to step up and led to speculation about the 2016 first-round pick possibly being off the team come September. General Manager Brandon Beane did nothing to quiet that speculation by saying that “training camp will tell a lot about where his career in Buffalo is headed” and Lawson has heard all of it as he prepares for the 2018 season.

“Shoot, I’ve been on the trading block I feel like,” Lawson said, via Matthew Fairburn of The Athletic. “I’ve just been seeing it. Yeah, it’s been a wake-up call. I’ve been hearing trade rumors and then I kind of realized, ‘I’m a first-round pick, third-year now. It’s time to wake up.’ I know I’m a good player. I just have to put it all together and be not just a talented player but a talented player who works hard and works on his craft and skill all together.”

Lawson said that he’s approaching “every day like my job is on the line” and that urgency appears to be the appropriate response to the way the team feels about him.

Shayne Graham starts climbing the special-teams coaching ladder

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Shayne Graham kicked in the NFL from 2001 through 2015. He’s now taking a swing (see what I did there) at coaching.

Via the Lynchburg (Va.) News & Advance, Graham will served as a special-terms intern at Michigan State. Graham spent 2017 as a special teams quality control coach with Central Michigan.

Graham appeared in six games with the Bills in 2001, 11 with the Panthers in 2002, spent seven seasons as the full-time kicker for the Bengals, bounced around for a couple of years before landing with the 2012 Texans, and last spent a full season as kicker with the 2016 Saints.

Graham scored 1,260 career points, putting him at No. 36 on the all-time scoring list.

Players respond to President Trump’s pardon recommendation request

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Earlier this month, President Trump addressed protests by NFL players by saying that they’ve seen “a lot of abuse” and unfairness before asking players to recommend names of people they would like to see considered for pardons.

Four players responded to that request in an Op-Ed for the New York Times published on Thursday. Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin, former NFL wideout Anquan Boldin, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, and Saints tight end Benjamin Watson called the power to pardon “a valuable tool for redressing injustice” and commended the President for pardoning Alice Johnson from serving a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense.

They also write that a “handful of pardons will not address the sort of systemic injustice that N.F.L. players have been protesting.”

“These injustices are so widespread as to seem practically written into our nation’s DNA. We must challenge these norms, investigate the reasons for their pervasiveness and fight with all we have to change them. That is what we, as football players, are trying to do with our activism.”

Using Johnson’s example and noting that 79,000 of roughly 185,000 federal prisoners are there for drug offenses, they suggest he could issue “a blanket pardon” for people given such sentences in nonviolent cases. They also point to the number of elderly people in the federal prison population — 28 percent by next year — and suggested releasing prisoners over 60 who are serving time for drug offenses that took place a long time ago.

They also make a call to end eliminate life without parole for nonviolent crimes on the federal level and point out that 30 percent of federal prisoners currently serving life without parole are there for nonviolent offenses as opposed to two percent on the state level.

“These changes, if President Trump were to make them, would positively affect the lives of thousands of people and have a lasting beneficial effect on many more people in the future. The president can implement these changes with his pardon power and other executive decisions. His ability to change the lives of people for the better is immense. We hope he uses it, not just for the few, but for the many.”

The players have also filmed videos for Twitter featuring many of the same points raised in their Op-Ed.

Eagles are raffling a Super Bowl ring for charity

Philadelphia Eagles

There aren’t many chances to get a Super Bowl ring unless you’re part of an organization that wins the game, but one person outside the Eagles organization will get one of the rings they handed out to players earlier this month.

The Eagles announced that they are raffling off one of the rings to raise money for autism research through Eagles Autism Challenge. A donation of $10 provides 100 entries and those who purchase 2,500 entries or more will be eligible for other prizes, including a photo opportunity with Nick Foles and the Lombardi Trophy.

“This has truly been one of the most remarkable seasons in franchise history,” Eagles Autism Challenge executive director Ryan Hammond said in a release. “From winning our first Lombardi Trophy to raising more than $2.5 million for innovative autism research, our fans have supported us every step of the way. The Eagles World Championship Ring Sweepstakes will present one lucky Eagles fan with a once-in-a-lifetime keepsake, while directing much-needed funds to a cause that affects the lives of so many in our communities.”

The winner will attend the December 3 game against Washington, meet Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and be on the field for pre-game warmups before getting their personalized ring.

Thursday morning one-liners

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Bills RB LeSean McCoy could use some help.

A look at the chances of Dolphins K Greg Joseph.

Three Patriots players hosted a criminal justice forum.

Why it’s important for Jets QB Sam Darnold to get as many reps as possible.

Former Ravens LB O.J. Brigance writes a touching first-person account of living with ALS.

Bengals QB Andy Dalton‘s apparently in the best shape of his career.

Browns TE David Njoku made strides this spring.

The Steelers are a top-three team in the league, at least in video game rankings.

The Texans made a pre-training camp roster move.

Colts coach Frank Reich likes his TE group.

Projecting the Jaguars’ 53-man roster.

The Titans are producing their own version of Hard Knocks.

The Broncos’ rookie WRs are making a good first impression.

The Chiefs met with supplemental draft prospect Adonis Alexander after his pro day.

A look at whether and how the Chargers can get a foothold in L.A.

The Raiders are offering their rookies some help adapting to life in the NFL.

Ranking the top CBs in Cowboys history.

The Giants rounded out their personnel staff.

The Eagles figure to be well-represented at an awards show.

Washington coaches love veteran G Shawn Lauvao.

A look at how the Bears can maximize OLB Leonard Floyd.

The Lions are trying (again) to build a running game.

Packers TE Jimmy Graham is hosting a cornhole tournament.

Former Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is still out there looking for work.

Falcons DT Grady Jarrett was among the top third-year players in the league last year.

Panthers CB Kevon Seymour is playing faster, and hoping to secure a starting job.

Saints RB Alvin Kamara is atop the fantasy football rankings.

The Buccaneers should feel good about their WR depth.

Cardinals DE Benson Mayowa is trying to carve out a role.

Rams RB Todd Gurley has a new Gatorade commercial.

49ers rookie LB Fred Warner got plenty of work in the middle, and responded well.

A look at Seahawks WR Brandon Marshall’s prospects this year.