Richard Sherman jogging, expects to be ready for camp

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49ers cornerback Richard Sherman‘s recovery from last year’s torn Achilles has taken a step forward.

Sherman told Josina Anderson of ESPN that he jogged on a field for the first time since his injury on Wednesday after previously being limited to working on a treadmill. Sherman said his Achilles “felt great” after the new work and that he anticipates being fully ready to go when training camp starts this summer.

“I’ll be ready for training camp, but [the team] is going to be overly cautious either way,” Sherman said.

There’s little reason for the 49ers to be anything but cautious with Sherman at this point in the calendar and that will continue to be the case for the next few months as they want the veteran to avoid any setbacks that would impact his availability come September. We’ll find out what that means for his preseason availability down the line, but, for now, the goal of having him in the lineup for Week One appears well within reach.

John Dorsey tries to make the best of being forced to do Hard Knocks

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Browns General Manager John Dorsey made clear that he didn’t want to be on Hard Knocks, didn’t see anything good about being on Hard Knocks, and didn’t think the NFL would force him into being on Hard Knocks. Now the Browns are on Hard Knocks.

Given that the Browns met the criteria to be forced on the NFL Films-HBO reality show, Dorsey had no choice. And now that it’s official that the Browns will be on the show, Dorsey is trying to make the best of it.

“Like many, I was reluctant about being the featured team on Hard Knocks but once we sat down and talked about it as an organization, I feel a lot better and understand why the time is right,” Dorsey said in a statement. “Hue [Jackson] and I both feel like this team is in a good place and that we are in the process of building something that will lead to success. Being a part of Hard Knocks will give our fans the opportunity to see how passionate the people in our building are about winning and how excited we are about getting to work and preparing for the 2018 season.”

If Dorsey really didn’t want to be on Hard Knocks, he did have one outlet available to him: He could have fired Jackson, as teams with new head coaches can’t be forced to do the show. Fortunately for Jackson, Dorsey didn’t go that far.

Report: Browns to be this year’s Hard Knocks team

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No team has undergone a more aggressive makeover this offseason than the Browns.

So they ought to make good television.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Browns will be the subject of this year’s Hard Knocks on HBO.

While no team really wants to let the NFL Films all-access crews into their lives, not every team has the choice. The Browns were one of six teams which could have been forced to do the show, along with the Ravens, Broncos, Chargers, 49ers, and Washington.

But only one of those teams has the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, quarterback in Baker Mayfield.

With Mayfield’s well-documented swagger and the general curiosity about their latest effort at a clean slate, the Browns seem the obvious choice.

NFL may make ejections subject to replay review

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The NFL is considering a new rule that would have the referee consult with the league’s centralized replay office before ejecting a player from the game.

Under the proposed rule, which the owners will vote on next week, disqualification of a player will be added to the list of reviewable plays, which also includes possession of the ball, touching the ball, touching the ground, plays governed by the goal line, sidelines, line of scrimmage, line to gain, number of players on the field and proper game administration.

The NFL’s official proposal for the owners to vote on says that it would permit instant replay to correct an officiating error that resulted in the disqualification of a player. It does not indicate that the reverse would be true, that the league’s officiating office could contact the referee to tell him to eject a player who wasn’t ejected.

The NFL has indicated that players may start getting ejected more frequently for violations of rules meant to protect players from brain injuries. This proposal could be an attempt to ensure that ejections do not go overboard.

Lane Johnson: Chip Kelly focused too much on sports science, not enough on football

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Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson was the first draft pick of the Chip Kelly era, but Johnson wasn’t thrilled with what he saw of Kelly.

Johnson said that although Kelly’s obsession with sports science had some value, he felt as if Kelly focused more on sports science than on football.

“We major in sports science, which is good thing — we still do it here. But I think we kind of went overboard with that. I think a good way to put it is we majored in the minors instead of focusing on some of the main points that we needed to,” Johnson said on Steve Austin’s podcast, via Philly.com.

Johnson also did not agree with the personnel moves Kelly made.

“It was definitely exciting whenever he first came in, and we did some good things,” Johnson said. “Then we start getting rid of our best players. You’ve got DeSean Jackson, who can outrun everyone on the field. You’ve got Shady McCoy, who’s going to be one of the best running backs of all time. You just get rid of those guys just like that, and you set a tone. Players didn’t really like that.”

It’s been remarkable how quickly Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson turned the Eagles around: Kelly left them a mess, and in two years they won a Super Bowl.

Dak Prescott wants to be “the best quarterback Cowboys ever had”

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Stephen Jones said last week he wants Dak Prescott to earn league MVP honors this season, giving the Cowboys even more reason to pay the quarterback a deal he “deserves.” Prescott wants even more than to be the best in the league this season.

He wants to become “the best quarterback that the Cowboys ever had.” That’s saying something considering Hall of Famers Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman wore the star on their helmets, and Tony Romo owns most of the team’s passing marks.

Prescott’s comment came after he was asked about the pressure of playing for a contract this season.

“It’s not any pressure,” Prescott said, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “I want to be the best I can. I want to be the best quarterback that the Cowboys ever had. All that stuff comes when you play the game well.”

Prescott, a fourth-round pick in 2016, has a $630,000 base salary this season. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has promised an “extraordinary contract” and executive vice president Stephen Jones said last week that “it’s going to be as he deserves.”

The Cowboys can reward Prescott with a new deal after this season.

Sports leagues slash the price of money for nothing, as NFL remains silent

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Major League Baseball, the NBA, and the PGA want states that adopt gambling to cough up one percent of the action in exchange for, well, nothing. But the sports leagues are willing to take a lot less in exchange for, well, nothing.

Via Patrick Anderson of the Providence Journal, the trio of leagues has slashed their request from 1.0 percent to 0.25 percent in Rhode Island.

PGA Tour vice president David Miller told the Rhode Island Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday that the “[l]eagues create the source of activity” on which the betting will be used, and that the leagues “bear the burden of integrity risk” of gambling-driven irregularities like match fixing and point shaving.

“These are our games,” NBA senior V.P. Dan Spillane argued at the same hearing. “The games and the fans who are interested in them. That’s what you are getting for it.”

That argument has never flown in Nevada, and the sports leagues never have tried to take a stand against illegal gambling on this plank of sanctimony. Instead, they’ve historically enjoyed the increased interest in their sports via legal betting in Nevada and illegal betting elsewhere. Now that the other 49 states can get in on the act, the sports leagues are putting a hand out because: (1) they can; and (2) the cost for doing so pales in comparison to the money they could make, if they can convince one or more states to swallow a hook that holds no actual bait.

The NFL has yet to make a move for any type of integrity fee, but the league’s constant references to the “integrity of the game” (even with one of the teams already slated to move to Las Vegas) seems to be the precursor to making a play not in statehouses but in Congress to get a fee aimed at giving them the money, ostensibly, to ensure that the games will have something they already should.

Washington hires new COO, increasing speculation that team president could be on the way out

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The top of the organization in Washington is getting a little crowded.

Owner Daniel Snyder has added league office executive Brian LaFemina as COO and President of Business Operations. In that role, LaFemina will oversee all club business operations and report directly to Snyder.

“I am thrilled to welcome Brian to the Washington Redskins,” Snyder said in a team-issued statement. “Brian has been one of the most highly regarded NFL executives amongst league ownership for many years because of his deep understanding of our business, his focus on partner relationships and his genuine belief that fans must be at the center of every decision we make. Brian is coming to Washington with fresh thinking and big ideas to implement, and I have full confidence that with Brian’s addition and with Bruce Allen continuing as team President, the Redskins’ success will continue to grow, both on and off the field.”

LaFemina said in the same press release that Snyder approached LaFemina “about a year ago” to discuss the possibility of hiring him.

“Working with Dan and Bruce to develop a new, dynamic stadium that matches the vibrancy of this organization and its fan base will be an exciting challenge and one of our top priorities,” LaFemina said.

The fact that LaFemina will report directly to Snyder (and that the press release contains no quote from Allen) suggests that Allen at a minimum has been undermined by the move, and at most could be on the way out. Indeed, if Allen were getting done everything he needs to get done, as the president of the team, there would be no need to hire a President of Business Operations/COO who reports directly to Snyder.

The fact that the discussions with LaFemina began roughly a year ago hints that Snyder possibly began looking for someone to do many of the things Allen was doing at roughly the same time as Allen clumsily fired G.M. Scot McCloughan and took plenty of flak from fans and the media for chasing a successful football executive from the organization on dubious grounds, at best.

Thus, the move will serve only to fuel speculation that Allen will indeed be leaving, possibly for the Raiders. (Allen has denied that he’s returning to Oakland.) At the time Russ Brandon abruptly resigned from the Bills, some in league circles said that there had been rumors that Snyder was trying to lure Brandon from Buffalo.

Regardless, there’s now a new high-level executive in Washington whose job duties seem to immediately overlap with Allen’s. If the organizational chart isn’t big enough for both of them, Allen indeed could be leaving, either voluntary or otherwise.

NFL to vote on new kickoff rules, limiting full-speed collisions

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The NFL is planning further changes to the kickoff, hoping to reduce the number of high-speed collisions that happen on the play.

A proposed new rule that owners will vote on next week will make several changes to the kickoff. The key takeaways are:

1. The kicking team must line up within one yard of the line where the ball is kicked (typically the 35-yard line), and must have five players on each side of the kicker. That changes the rule that allowed players to line up five yards behind the spot where the ball is kicked to get a running start. Now the kicker will be able to get a running start, but everyone else will get one step at best.

2. At least eight of the 11 players on the receiving team must line up within 15 yards of their restraining line, which would typically mean between the kicking team’s 45-yard line and the receiving team’s 40-yard line.

3. At least two players on the kickoff team must be lined up outside the numbers, and two players between the numbers and the hashmark.

4. Until the ball is touched or hits the ground, players on the receiving team can’t cross the restraining line (typically the 45), or initiate a block within 15 yards of the line where the ball is kicked.

5. Wedge blocks will be eliminated. Past rule changes have limited wedge blocks to two players, but now even the two-man wedge will be banned.

6. The ball will be dead if it touches the ground in the end zone. In the past the returner could pick up the ball off the ground in the end zone and run it out, but now it would be a touchback immediately if it touches the ground in the end zone.

These rules are likely to result in fewer high-speed collisions on kickoffs and, the NFL hopes, fewer concussions.

Bashaud Breeland set for visits with Colts, Cardinals

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Cornerback Bashaud Breeland is ready for his second shot at free agency this offseason.

Breeland agreed to a deal with the Panthers early in free agency, but never became a member of the team because of a failed physical. Breeland needed a skin graft to repair a cut to his foot and the condition led to a waiting game for Breeland to be well enough to pursue work with another team.

That time appears to have arrived. Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com reports that Breeland is visiting the Colts on Wednesday and is scheduled to meet with the Cardinals on Thursday. Demovsky adds that Breeland is expected to pass a physical at this point.

Breeland, who spent the last four seasons with Washington, would give Indy an experienced corner to go with Quincy Wilson, Kenny Moore and Nate Hairston. The Cardinals have Brandon Williams, Marcus Williams and Bene Benwikere on hand as options to match with Patrick Peterson.

Bills to retire Thurman Thomas’s number 34

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Thurman Thomas will become just the third player in the history of the Buffalo Bills to have his number retired.

The Bills announced today that Thomas’s No. 34 jersey will be hung in the rafters during the Bills’ Monday Night Football game against the Patriots on October 29.

Thomas will join his former teammates Jim Kelly (No. 12) and Bruce Smith (No. 78) as the only players with their jerseys retired by the Bills. The team also does not give out O.J. Simpson’s No. 32, although his number hasn’t been formally retired.

Today was a good day to announce the move, as it’s Thomas’s 52nd birthday.

Thomas played for the Bills from 1988 to 1999. He was a first-team All-Pro three times and league MVP in 1991. A running back who was also an excellent receiver, Thomas led the league in yards from scrimmage four years in a row from 1989 to 1992.

Dolphins think Danny Amendola’s work ethic is making the whole team better

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Danny Amendola has only been a Miami Dolphin for two months, but he’s already making a difference.

Dolphins coach Adam Gase said on PFT Live that Amendola, through his effort in offseason workouts, has shown other players what a championship-level effort looks like.

“It’s one of those values that I don’t think you can put a price on,” Gase said. “He’s been great in our locker room. I think the guys watch him work on the field and in the weight room and they understand why he’s played as long as he has, why he’s had success in big situations.”

Gase believes Amendola is making the Dolphins better even before he starts catching passes.

“Any time you can get a guy who can not only produce for you but can be a great example for other guys in your locker room, he’s making other guys better,” Gase said. “He makes 24 other offensive guys better if they watch him work.”

The 32-year-old Amendola spent the last five years in New England before moving on this year, and the Dolphins like the winning attitude he brings from the Patriots.

Adam Gase: Ryan Tannehill wasn’t worried about Dolphins drafting a quarterback

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The Dolphins visited with the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft class, and they talked to Ryan Tannehill before the draft about what it would mean for his future if they chose a quarterback in the first round. But Tannehill wasn’t concerned.

That’s the word from Dolphins coach Adam Gase, who said this morning on PFT Live that Tannehill has always had the right attitude about focusing only on the things he can control.

“He’s one of those guys who’s going to worry about himself and keep working. He’s not going to worry about what’s going on outside,” Gase said.

Tannehill missed the entire 2017 season and the end of the 2016 season with knee injuries, and Gase says Tannehill is eager to show he still has it.

“Expect a guy that’s extremely hungry to get back on the field and lead this team,” Gase said. “I think there’s an appreciation for him after him not being here last year and guys are excited for him to get this thing going.”

This year, the Dolphins are still Tannehill’s team. Whether the Dolphins are again looking at quarterback in next year’s draft will depend largely on Tannehill’s production and his health.

Panthers announce sale to David Tepper

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Now it’s official.

The Panthers announced the sale of the team to Steelers minority partner David Tepper, setting the stage for his being approved at next week’s owners meetings in Atlanta.

“I am thrilled to have been selected to be the next owner of the Carolina Panthers,” Tepper said in a statement from the team. “I have learned a great deal about the community and the team over the past several months and look forward to becoming part of the Carolinas. I want to thank Jerry Richardson and the other Panthers partners for all they have done to establish and develop the NFL in the Carolinas. It has been a remarkable 25-year journey and I promise to build upon the Panthers’ success on the field and in the community.”

Tepper was able to buy the team after Richardson put it up for sale hours after a Sports Illustrated story regarding his alleged workplace misconduct.

That closed the book on the run of the only former NFL player to own a team, as the North Carolina-native said goodbye.

“Bringing the Panthers and the NFL to the Carolinas in 1993 was enormously fulfilling for Rosalind and me and all of our partners,” Richardson said. “We are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support over the last 25 years. You have taken the Panthers into your hearts and made them part of this warm and supportive community. We want to thank all of our past and present players, coaches and staff for their hard work in making the Panthers a great success both on the field and in the community. The personal relationships we have enjoyed have been very meaningful to us.

“I look forward to turning the stewardship of the Panthers over to David Tepper. I have enjoyed getting to know him in this process and am confident that he will provide the organization with great leadership in both its football and community initiatives. I wish David and his family the very best as they enter this exciting new phase of their lives.”

The sale might not close until July, but the league was eager to get Tepper into the club on a bigger basis, making him one of the richest in a club of very rich people.

Dez Bryant doesn’t regret passing on Ravens offer

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Former Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said this week that he thinks Dez Bryant will wind up with the Packers, but a report on Tuesday indicated that’s not a likely development at the moment.

Given the lack of other word about interest in Bryant’s services, some might wonder if the wide receiver has had second thoughts about passing on a contract offer from the Ravens that came not long after he was released by the Cowboys. One person who did wonder about regrets posed the question to Bryant on Twitter on Tuesday night.

Bryant responded by saying “not one bit” and said he was “very appreciative” for the offer. He wrote in another tweet that he isn’t thinking about retiring and that “not being signed to a team yet has a lot to do with my personal decisions.” Both tweets were punctuated by shots at the media for the way they’ve portrayed him during his search for a new job.

He probably doesn’t have the same issue with former teammate Ezekiel Elliott telling people not to doubt Bryant in a supportive social media post of his own on Tuesday, but doubts about the brightness of Bryant’s football future are likely to persist as long as he remains without a job for the coming season.