Matt Ryan “really impressed” with Todd Gurley

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Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has held workouts at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, California, this offseason as he has in previous offseasons. One of the players he has worked with “a handful of times” is new Falcons running back Todd Gurley.

Gurley has remained in Southern California since the Rams released him and the Falcons signed him.

“I’ve gotten to work with Todd, and he’s awesome,” Ryan told ESPN. “Really, really good guy. A hard worker. He’s super smart. The stuff I was telling him one day, the next day he had it down. I was really impressed with his ability to retain information. You don’t have to tell him twice. He’s on it.”

Gurley’s left knee issues the past two seasons are well documented and played into his release. The Falcons, though, don’t need Gurley to carry the load with Brian Hill, Qadree Ollison and Ito Smith sharing in the work.

But Gurley clearly is the leader of the group.

“I think he’s going to be an awesome fit for us,” Ryan said, “and I’m glad we have him.”

Gurley averaged 57 offensive snaps and 18 touches in the final six games last season.

In 15 games in 2019, Gurley played 787 snaps, or 71 percent of the team’s total offensive plays. He saw 825 snaps in 14 games in 2018 (75 percent) and 788 snaps in 15 games in 2017 (76 percent).

Texans special teams coordinator Brad Seely retires

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The Texans have a prominent position to fill on Bill O’Brien’s coaching staff.

Special teams coordinator Brad Seely announced his retirement on Friday. Seely was in his third year with the Texans and his 32nd year in the NFL.

“I’ve been incredibly fortunate to spend over 30 years in the NFL coaching the game I love,” Seely said in a statement. “I want to thank each and every coach, player and staff member I worked with from when I entered the league in 1989 until now. I’ve been blessed to be a part of some of the best organizations in professional sports and I will forever cherish the friendships and memories I’ve made around the league.”

Seely entered the NFL with the Colts in 1989 as a special teams and tight end coach. He’d stick with special teams through stints with the Jets, Panthers, Patriots, Browns, 49ers and Raiders before landing in Houston. He won three Super Bowl rings while on Bill Belichick’s staff in New England.

The Texans did not name a new coordinator. Tracy Smith is the assistant special teams coach and has worked with Seely for most of the last decade.

Adrian Peterson will “without a doubt” kneel during national anthem

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We already have our first NFL player who isn’t prepared to go along with the advice of President Donald Trump.

Washington running back Adrian Peterson said he definitely planned to kneel during the national anthem this year, following the protest cue of Colin Kaepernick, who knelt to protest police brutality and racial inequality.

“Years ago, seeing Kaepernick taking a knee, now we’re all ready to take a knee together going into this season without a doubt,” Peterson said, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Asked if he will take a knee, Peterson replied: “Without a doubt, without a doubt.”

Trump just tweeted out word that Drew Brees shouldn’t have apologized for this week’s comments, punctuating his message with an all-caps “NO KNEELING!”

But while too many players were willing to leave Kaepernick largely alone (or at least badly outnumbered) last time, there appears to be a new solidarity among players. A number of high profile stars have already produced a video which suggests silence isn’t an option this time.

“So on behalf of the National Football League, this is what we the players would like to hear you state: We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systemic oppression of black people. We, the National Football League, admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter.”

And while Peterson’s the first one to say it out loud, it doesn’t appear that he’s going to be alone.

Adrian Peterson: Drew Brees isn’t racist, but he should see things from our view

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Everyone, it seems, has an opinion on Drew Brees‘ national anthem stance. Even President Donald Trump has weighed in on Twitter.

The controversy surrounding the Saints quarterback has become the biggest story in the NFL.

So naturally, Washington running back Adrian Peterson was asked his opinion while helping families in need in Houston on Friday.

Peterson briefly played with Brees in New Orleans in 2017 before the Saints traded him to the Cardinals.

“When I first seen it, I didn’t really know what to think,” Peterson said, via Mark Berman of FOX 26. “I didn’t want to make any judgments without seeing exactly the question that was asked to him. So once I seen the question that was asked, it was like he diverted and went straight to what he wasn’t going to participate in and what he stood for. I know Drew Brees. He’s not a racist at all, and I have a lot of love for him, but I think this was a situation where he should have thought it out more. He should have thought things out more and tried to look at things in a different view. I know he made the comment about what he thinks about his grandfather and his great grandfather going to war and this, that and the other, but we had great grandparents that went to war as well, but when they came back, they still weren’t able to vote. We just didn’t have the same rights. When you look at it from that point of view, it’s like we understand where you’re coming from but we don’t understand where you’re coming from as well for those reasons.”

Brees twice has apologized publicly, and he apologized privately to his teammates in a virtual meeting Thursday.

Vikings players distribute food, water, essential goods in Minneapolis Friday

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A number of Vikings players attended George Floyd’s memorial service in Minneapolis on Thursday and many of those players were back in the community on Friday to assist in getting food, water and other essential goods to those in need.

Tight end Kyle Rudolph helped to organize the event, which saw more than 100 people lined up well ahead of the 11 a.m. opening. In addition to helping to hand out items, the players interacted and listened to members of the community in an effort that defensive end Danielle Hunter hopes is going to filter throughout the area.

“A lot of people watch us and are influenced by what we do, so it’s just coming out and making a difference, being a difference and restoring the community,” Hunter said, via the team’s website. “That will influence the younger ones for when they grow up. They’ll have the same change of heart, ‘If something happens, I can be the one to change it. It can start with me.'”

Wide receiver Adam Thielen, center Garrett Bradbury, offensive lineman Aviante Collins, offensive lineman Dakota Dozier, wide receiver Chad Beebe, linebacker Cameron Smith, quarterback Jake Browning and wide receivers coach Andrew Janocko were also part of the group helping out on Friday.

Donald Trump: Drew Brees should not have apologized, we all should stand

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President Trump weighed in today on the controversy surrounding Drew Brees, saying the Saints’ quarterback was right to criticize kneeling during the national anthem and wrong to apologize for his statement.

Trump wrote on Twitter that Brees should stand by what he initially said, when he suggested that kneeling during the anthem is disrespecting the country. Brees has apologized but has not taken back his initial statement.

“I am a big fan of Drew Brees. I think he’s truly one of the greatest quarterbacks, but he should not have taken back his original stance on honoring our magnificent American Flag. OLD GLORY is to be revered, cherished, and flown high,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart. There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag – NO KNEELING!”

Trump has been a frequent critic of NFL players who kneel during the national anthem, and he may see that stance as a winning campaign issue in the fall. Some NFL players are sure to kneel again during the coming season, and Trump is sure to criticize them.

Malcolm Jenkins has been silent, for the most part

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Since posting a pair of passionate, emotional videos on Wednesday reacting to Drew Brees‘ controversial comments reiterating his belief that he “will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag,” Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins has posted nothing new on social media.

Beyond former NBA star and current NBA analyst Shaquille O’Neal explaining that Jenkins accepted Brees’ apology during a virtual team meeting in which O’Neal participated, Jenkins has said or done nothing to indicate whether he believes the matter has been resolved by Brees’ public and private apologies.

But Jenkins has provided one clue as to where he possibly stands. This afternoon, Jenkins “liked” a clip tweeted by ESPN’s Maria Taylor from her Friday appearance on First Take. 

“Let me be clear,” Taylor said regarding the second apology from Drew Brees. “I don’t know about his heart either, but I know what should reside in your heart is empathy. And I don’t believe that you have to be trolled and dragged through Twitter and Instagram in order to change your mind and realize that what you said was intolerant and/or could be considered insensitive later. If you had been educated and forced to confront the issues and, like I said, had empathy in your heart, then you would have known the black experience is not easy, especially when 70 percent of your league is African-American and these are the conversations that you should have had. So maybe it’s not, not his whole heart is bad but something about empathy was off if the first thing — the first thing — out of his mouth was . . . ‘I will not tolerate anything that’s disrespectful to the nation and the flag.’ That was the first thing. . . . 

“I’m exhausted and I’m tired of having to listen to someone say something like that and then have to sit back and [say], ‘Well maybe he didn’t, maybe it’s not his heart, and it’s this and it’s that.’ When you reveal yourself to me and you say something like that and you say it out of an intolerant mind and/or heart or a non-empathic heart and for the last five years all we’ve done is see countless deaths in the street. My patience left my body when I watched George Floyd take his last breath, so if that didn’t affect you and make you want to reassess the way that you’re going to answer a question that includes racial injustice in our country after you watched that man die in the middle of the street, something’s off. I don’t know if it’s your heart. I don’t know if it’s your mind. But I don’t accept either of them anymore. I will not tolerate it anymore.

“And Drew Brees, I will accept your apology. But I don’t have to sit here and wonder what is wrong or what is right and guess if you are a good or bad person. I am not the judge and/or the jury. All I can do is let you reveal yourself, and countless people are doing that right now. And for the first time ever, they are reaping some kind of consequence that does not have any retaliation for me or the people that are calling them out. For the first time, I feel like I can go on TV and say certain things. For the first time, people feel that they can tweet certain things. And people can be held accountable for the things that they are putting on display. And I’m not going to apologize for that. Drew Brees and everyone else can keep apologizing, over and over and over.”

The Brees apologies continue to omit one key point: Whether Brees still believes that he “will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag,” whether he has abandoned that position, or whether he is actively in the process of reconsidering his viewpoint. If Brees still believes on Friday what he said on Wednesday, the best comparison crafted on the fly during Friday’s PFT Live is this: Brees wore a T-shirt in his neighborhood with an offensive phrase written on it, his neighbors complained loudly about it, he apologized profusely and sincerely for it, and then he showed up the next day wearing the same T-shirt.

As applied to the “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag” opinion directed to potentially renewed protests during the anthem in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, where is the T-shirt? Is it still being worn? Has it been thrown in the trash? Is it a layer or two beneath a Saints jersey? Or is it hanging in the closet, possibly to be worn again in the future?

Maybe Brees answered these questions during the team meeting. If he did, his teammates should want him to answer these questions publicly, too. If someone like Brees were willing and able to say to other white Americans who share his Wednesday viewpoint that he has seen the light and that he understands the true intent of a peaceful protest during the national anthem aimed at bringing attention to police brutality against minorities, that would send a powerful and persuasive message to millions who need to hear the message right now.

At some point, Jenkins presumably will address the situation again. For now, all we have from Jenkins is silence, which when coupled with his decision to “like” Maria Taylor’s candid, well-reasoned remarks quite possibly speaks volumes.

Report: More than half of NFL coaching staffs not at team facilities

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The NFL allowed coaching staffs to return to the workplace Friday with the approval of state and local authorities. The 49ers coaches weren’t allowed to go back to the team facility because a Santa Clara County mandate remains in place, and the Raiders are in the process of moving to Henderson, Nevada.

But more than half the teams in the NFL continued to work remotely Friday, according to Barry Wilner of the Associated Press.

Coaches in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Houston, Denver, Dallas and Atlanta returned to their training complexes Friday. While entire staffs had not yet returned in some of those places, Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, Atlanta’s Dan Quinn, Denver’s Vic Fangio and Cleveland’s Kevin Stefanski were back in their buildings, per Wilner.

Most of the Bengals’ coaching staff joined head coach Zac Taylor in the building Friday, with some coaches traveling back to Cincinnati.

Texans coach Bill O’Brien is discussing when his staff will join him at the team facility, according to Wilner.

The Rams, Raiders, Cardinals, Saints, Chargers, Titans, Dolphins and Colts were among the teams confirming to Wilner their coaches have yet to return. The Buccaneers announced their coaches will return the week of June 15.

Many teams plan to have coaches in place next week.

The Saints are working up protocols to allow coaches the choice of working from team offices or home depending on individual circumstances, per Wilner.

The NFL has not approved the return of players to team facilities aside from those rehabbing.

Matt Patricia joins Lions players at march in Belle Isle

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Word on Thursday was that some current Lions players would take part in a Friday march protesting police brutality organized by former Lions running back Joique Bell in Belle Isle, Michigan and they got company from their head coach.

Pictures from the event shared by Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press show Matt Patricia is there along with several players, including kick returner Jamal Agnew and linebacker Christian Jones.

Patricia said this week that the team has had “enlightening” meetings with players sharing their experiences this week and said that he wants to turn those conversations into making changes.

“And listening to some thoughts and ideas, I think that’s when you gotta make sure you follow through,” Patricia said, via Albert Breer of SI.com. “You gotta try. And they’re not all gonna work. But if a couple of them work, and you make change, you connect. . . . We gotta try, and we gotta stick with it and we gotta persevere through that. And we talk a lot about leadership and the team driving that leadership. And I think that’s important for us to make sure that it’s an everyday thing.”

Jaguars coach Doug Marrone took part in a team-organized march in Jacksonville on Friday and the Broncos have planned a march for Saturday in Denver.

SoFi Stadium worker dies after fall from roof

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A worker at the new stadium being built for the Rams and Chargers has died in a fall.

The SoFi Stadium worker fell 50 to 60 feet while working on the stadium’s roof, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Work has been suspended on the stadium today.

The stadium construction project has been plagued by budget overruns and has seen 12 workers test positive for COVID-19.

SoFi Stadium is scheduled to open on August 14 for a preseason game between the Rams and Saints.

Titans offensive coordinator: Corey Davis is a big part of our offense

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The Titans did not exercise the fifth-year option on receiver Corey Davis‘ contract. That means Davis is scheduled to become a free agent in 2021.

In a contract season, Davis has much to prove.

Davis, the fifth overall choice in 2017, has made only 142 receptions for 1,867 yards and six touchdowns in 42 games.

Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith is excited to see what Davis will do this season.

“We want to see their growth as well,” Smith said in a conference call, via Jim Wyatt of the team website. “We want to be the most explosive unit we can. . . . Corey is a big part of our offense, and there were some huge explosive plays [last season] that Corey was the unsung hero to. He’s a big part of this offense, and I think he’ll take another step. I feel very confident in Corey, A.J. [Brown] and Adam [Humphries] and that group.”

Behind Brown, Davis and Humphries, Smith named receivers Cody Hollister, Cam Batson and Rashard Davis while also complimenting Kalif Raymond.

“I think we’re going to have great competition there,” Smith said.

Kyle Long denies report of Jets interest

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The Jets might have asked, but Kyle Long is apparently not interested in coming back.

According to Rick Tarsitano of WGN, Long was asked if there was any truth to the report from the New York Daily News about the Jets asking him to come out of retirement, and Long replied: “No. None.”

The 31-year-old Long retired after the end of the season, citing the physical wear and tear. The Bears subsequently declined his contract option, so he’s a free agent. He only played 30 games the last four seasons because of injuries.

Like many retired linemen, he’s lost weight since stepping away from the game, making it hard to come back now anyway.

Buccaneers will open facility June 10, coaches likely back week of June 15

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The Buccaneers are getting ready to reopen their facility.

The team announced on Friday, via multiple reporters, that they will begin the first phase of the reopening process on Wednesday, June 10. That will allow up to 75 employees to work from the facility.

Coaches are now allowed back in the building, but it does not appear that they’ll be among those coming in next week. The team said they’re expected to return to work the week of June 15.

Players are not permitted back in the facility unless they are rehabbing injuries. The league has not formally closed the door to having them back before the offseason program ends, but some teams have already said they’ll pass on that option if it exists and training camp seems to be a likelier return date. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said this week that the Bucs plan to start camp on July 21.

Doug Marrone, Dave Caldwell march with Jaguars players

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Members of the Jaguars marched from their stadium to the steps of the sheriff’s department Friday to protest inequality and police brutality.

The march included General Manager Dave Caldwell, coach Doug Marrone and assistant coach Terry Robiskie. Twenty-one players also participated, including Chris Conley, Joshua Dobbs, Brandon Linder and Josh Lambo.

Today we say no more,” Conley said, via Teresa Walker of the Associated Press. “Today we see a nation that can’t await change, a city that won’t sit still or be quiet.”

The team called the march an attempt to “raise awareness for racial injustices against the Black community,” and many participants wore “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts.

Marrone said conversations in the team meeting Monday prompted the team walk.

“I started to listen, learn from [Director of Player Development] Marcus [Pollard] on my position and how I can support the players and we opened it up on Tuesday,” Marrone said in quotes distributed by the team. “I’ve always prided myself in not really — no matter what it is — never to walk in anyone else’s shoes. I wanted to make sure the players understood that I want your help. I want to learn. I want to listen. I want to be able to support. . . . I couldn’t be more proud of these men, both black and white. The way they presented themselves and what they talked about, it’s a special group. And obviously with our owner, Shad Khan, even Dave Caldwell, the way they’ve come out and supported what the players are discussing is just outstanding.”

The Simms top 40 quarterback countdown, No. 27: Andy Dalton

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The Red Rifle will wear a blue star this season, and he has landed higher than expected in the annual Chris Simms top 40 quarterback countdown.

Andy Dalton comes in at No. 27 on Simms’ list.

Yes, No. 27. And for good reason. Just because the team hasn’t been very good in recent years, Dalton has the skills to perform at a high level. With the right cast around him, he still can.

Most likely, Dalton won’t play this year. Dak Prescott most likely will show up before Week One, with or without a new contract, and Prescott doesn’t miss games. But the Cowboys are in good shape at the position, since they have behind Prescott a guy who, in Simms’ opinion, is better than plenty of guys who have starting jobs.