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1/25/2015
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Jimmy Graham Has No Plans For Shoulder Surgery... As Of Now (1/23 12:13 PT)

The Facts: Graham showed no signs of discomfort on Thursday afternoon, running around and catching passes in the first Pro Bowl practice of the week. However, he is still in the process of rehabbing the shoulder he injured this past season. After the Pro Bowl, he'll go back to Miami to train, relax and continue the work he's been doing to heal the injury. Graham said "as of (Thursday)," there were no plans to have offseason surgery, however it was discussed. Reported by the New Orleans Times-Picayune

Diehards Line: If he had the surgery, he wouldn't have gone to the Pro Bowl at all, he said. "It's something we talked about and is something that's still being debated," he said. "This is kind of a trial to see where I'm at. I've had three weeks off and I've finally had some time to heal. It feels great, and I'm going to continue to do my rehab and get back to 100 percent." While Graham's shoulder was reportedly sprained, the pain never went away all season. Graham was criticized for his play toward the end of the season. At times, it appeared as if he was attempting to catch passes one handed to favor his good shoulder. However, he never missed a game, finishing with 85 receptions for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns.

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Mark Ingram Still Hopeful About Remaining A Saint (1/22 9:26 PT)

The Facts: Coming off his best season as a pro, Ingram is headed toward free agency, but hopes he doesn't have to change addresses. "I'm looking forward to getting a new deal," Ingram said Thursday from Pro Bowl practice. "Hopefully I'm with the Saints, man. They drafted me and I'd love to be with New Orleans for my career." Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: Ingram believes the interest is mutual, adding "they said they want me back." The running back said he hasn't spoken to the team since the Saints' season ended. ... Ingram racked up 964 yards on the ground on 226 attempts and nine touchdowns -- all career highs. He missed three games due to a shoulder injury that sapped some of his power down the stretch. However, the running back's 74.2 yards per game were good for eighth in the NFL. After a disappointing start to his career, the Saints declined to pick up the fifth-year option on the 2011 first-round pick's contract, making him a free agent in March. Ingram insists his first Pro Bowl-year wasn't a result of motivation, but rather of opportunity. Ingram hopes he'll get even more opportunities in a Saints jersey in the future. ... We shall see.

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Whaley: Time For EJ Manuel To Take The Next Step (1/22 5:08 PT)

The Facts: After plenty of friction with his last head coach, Bills general manager Doug Whaley is excited about Buffalo's new hire. Whaley told scribes at the Senior Bowl that he and Rex Ryan are "aligned" in their roster-building plans. The shared vision between Whaley and Ryan is critical under center, where the team must decide what to do with young EJ Manuel. "We have to give (Manuel) a fair enough shake to show his wares in game situations, but he's also got to make that step," Whaley said.  Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: Ryan told reporters last week that Buffalo's QB situation is "unresolved." Suspicions that Whaley might force Manuel down Ryan's throat are subsiding after the GM's admission that "it's a two-way street" for the quarterback. "This is that third year," the GM said of his QB. "He knows that this is the chance where he's got to basically step up or he's probably not going to be a starting quarterback in this league. ..." Even if you believe the latter is the more likely outcome, the fact that Whaley readily admits it should help the exec and coach get off to a more solid start.

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49ers Hire Mangini To Be Their Next DC (1/22 5:03 PT)

The Facts: Eric Mangini has a new job, on the same team. Manigni is expected to become the defensive coordinator of the 49ers, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.  Reported by Profootballtalk.com

Diehards Line: As PFT suggests, that comes as a bit of a surprise because there were previous reports that new 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula would almost completely overhaul the staff after taking over from former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. Mangini spent the last two years on Harbaugh’s staff, although he was working on the offensive side of the ball under Harbaugh. Most of Mangini’s prior experience, however, is as a defensive coach, and now he’ll get the opportunity to run the defense in San Francisco. Mangini was previously the defensive coordinator of the Patriots and spent time as a defensive assistant for the Jets before that.

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Tom Brady Insists He Didn't Alter Footballs In Any Way (1/22 4:06 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... Brady insists he didn't "alter the ball in any way" during last week's AFC Championship Game win over the Indianapolis Colts. Asked point-blank if he is a cheater, Brady replied, "I don't believe so. ... I would never do anything to break the rules." Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: Addressing the NFL's investigation of overly deflated footballs, Brady explained that he went through the same process he always does. Once the equipment team gets the balls ready, Brady chooses the ones he wants to use. After that, he doesn't want anybody handling the footballs. Brady later added that he's "very comfortable" stating that nobody did anything wrong, to his knowledge. As Profootballtalk.com notes, Brady also said that no one from the NFL has contacted him as of Thursday, four days after the league discovered the under-inflated footballs during halftime. ... So the saga will continued. Stay tuned.

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Dolphins Sold On Ryan Tannehill As Their QB Of The Future (1/22 1:31 PT)

The Facts: Tannehill is technically entering a contract year. But after glowing praise from general manager Dennis Hickey on Wednesday, it’s clear Tannehill isn’t going anywhere. Hickey, addressing South Florida media after the Senior Bowl’s morning practice, said: “We are excited about [Tannehill’s] future as a Dolphin. ... We saw a lot of progress [in 2014].” Reported by the Miami Herald

Diehards Line: Translation (according to Herald staffer Adam Beasley): Expect the Dolphins, at the very least, to pick up the fifth-year option on Tannehill’s rookie contract, a $15 million commitment to their young leader that will be guaranteed in the case of injury. The QB finished with 4,045 yards passing, 27 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a 92.8 rating this season. Hickey, always cautious with his words, would not commit to the move Wednesday, but many around the league believe it’s a foregone conclusion.

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Steelers Awaiting Word On Le'Veon Bell; Two-Game Absence Seems Certain (1/22 12:53 PT)

The Facts: In an interview with the team's official web site, team president and owner Art Rooney II addresses the status of Bell in the wake of an arrest for driving while under the influence of marijuana during the preseason. “I haven’t heard anything, so we’ll just have to wait and see on that,” Rooney said. “He’ll have to go through that disciplinary process as all the pieces unfold here over this offseason. It’s just something we’ll have to deal with when we find out. It depends on where he gets put in the program, what his obligations will be to be subjected to random testing. I don’t know what it will be.” Reported by Profootballtalk.com

Diehards Line: As PFT's Mike Florio notes, based on the new substance-abuse policy, the outcome seems more clear than that. Now, a player found legally responsible for driving under the influence faces a two-game suspension. Previously, a first offense resulted in a fine in the amount of two game checks, not to exceed $50,000. The new policy provided a grace period for resolving pre-existing DUI incidents under the prior policy. Some players (such as Browns receiver Josh Gordon) concluded their cases before November 1, the deadline for working out pending cases. Bell, for whatever reason, didn’t — which means that, barring some unknown provision in the policy, Bell will be suspended two games if/when he’s deemed to be legally responsible for driving under the influence of marijuana.

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Gettleman Can't Make It Any More Clear; Cam Newton Is The Face Of The Panthers (1/22 12:51 PT)

The Facts: GM Dave Gettleman has exhausted every way he knows how to say Newton is the team’s franchise quarterback. The third-year GM won’t get into contract specifics, but Wednesday he told the Observer he believes Newton’s long-term future will be in Charlotte. “We want him here. I want him here,” Gettleman said. “The contract, in its time, will take place. I’m not going to get into the when, where, why and how of the contract. But we believe in Cam. He’s our franchise quarterback." Reported by the Charlotte Observer

Diehards Line: Gettleman’s directness in describing Newton as the team’s franchise quarterback contrasts with his statements at training camp before the 2013 season. In his first year as the team’s general manager, Gettleman said Newton was the quarterback to build around after a 7-second pause, and then added, “now it’s time to win.” Gettleman laughed off the pause in an interview Wednesday, and he also dispelled any notions that Newton wasn’t his kind of quarterback. Gettleman pointed out that Seattle and Indianapolis – as well as Green Bay, San Francisco, Baltimore, New England, Denver and Cincinnati – have gone to the playoffs at least three times in the past four years. He noted the common denominator is that all eight teams have franchise quarterbacks, and a playoff trip for Carolina next season would make nine teams. “We’re a quarterback-driven league. That’s just the way it is,” said Gettleman.

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New OC Not Sure 2015 Starting QB Is In The Building Or Not (1/22 12:48 PT)

The Facts: Following up on a previous item. ... During his introductory press conference, new OC John DeFilippo admitted he wasn’t sure for whom he’d be calling plays this year. “We’re not sure if our starting quarterback is in the building or not,” he said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Reported by Profootballtalk.com

Diehards Line: With Brian Hoyer about to become an unrestricted free agent, the Browns have 2014 first-rounder Johnny Manziel and undrafted rookie Connor Shaw on the roster, so they’ll obviously be adding someone. As PFT's Darin Gantt suggests, it’s not really fair to expect the former Raiders quarterbacks coach to endorse a guy he’s never worked with, but it’s also telling that Manziel doesn’t get any kind of automatic head start over anyone they bring in. DeFilippo said he met Manziel during the pre-draft process a year ago, and looked forward to working with him. Still, based on the initial statements, it sounds like Manziel’s going to have to earn any playing time he gets.

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Rooney Confident Steelers Will Get A New Deal Done With Ben Roethlisberger (1/22 12:47 PT)

The Facts: Team president and owner Art Rooney II said before the start of training camp in late July that the organization planned on working on a contract extension with Roethlisberger following the season. Nearly six months later, the plans haven't changed even though the time frame is yet to be determined. “I think it is fair to say the sooner the better,” Rooney said about the urgency of getting a deal in place. “But I am not going to put any particular time frame on these things. It is kind of hard to predict how long it takes to get something done. But we certainly want to get something done this offseason. That's for sure.”  Reported by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Diehards Line: The $102 million contract Roethlisberger signed in 2008 runs through next year. Rooney doesn't anticipate any snags with Roethlisberger's negotiations even if the new deal is expected to put him among the elite-paid quarterbacks in excess of $20 million per year. Rooney doesn't have a problem that the price tag on Roethlisberger's new deal likely increased significantly by waiting a year. Roethlisberger is coming off his best statistical season of his career. He became the first player in Steelers history to win at least a share of the NFL passing title and established franchise single-season marks in passing yards and completions (408) and tied his Steelers record with 32 touchdown passes. “I will take that problem,” Rooney said. “I am not complaining about it. I would rather have that situation than the reverse.”

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Marshawn Lynch Fined $20,000 For Obscene Gesture; More Coming? (1/22 9:48 PT)

The Facts: According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the NFL fined Lynch $20,000 for an obscene gesture after his TD in Sunday's NFC Championship game, per an NFL official. Reported by FootballDiehards.com

Diehards Line: But that was just the start of what was a costly Sunday and could be a costly Super Bowl week for Lynch. The NFL is considering fining Lynch "significantly more" than the $50,000 it has fined him in each of the past two seasons for not speaking to the media, something Lynch declined to do post-game again Sunday, an NFL official told Schefter. Lynch is required to speak to the media Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week. An NFL official told Schefter, there would be increasing fines for each session Lynch missed, with each fine being more than the two $50,000 fines already imposed and the upcoming one that soon is expected to be handed down. As of now, the NFL and Seahawks are in discussions about the best way to handle Lynch.

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Belichick Denies Knowledge Of Deflated Footballs; Tom Brady Will Address Issue Later (1/22 9:36 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... HC Bill Belichick said Thursday he was "shocked" when he was informed of the allegations that his team used balls that were deflated after they were inspected by officials before the game. Belichick's news conference was devoted completely to the controversy. He said the Patriots are fully cooperating with the NFL's investigation and was "totally unaware" of the controversy until Monday morning. "I was shocked to learn of the footballs on Monday. I had no knowledge until Monday morning," he said. Reported by ESPN.com

Diehards Line: The NFL reportedly found that 11 of the Patriots' 12 game balls were inflated significantly below the NFL's requirements. Belichick said the footballs he uses at practice are as bad as possible to prepare his players for any playing condition. But that's as far as he would go. "In my entire coaching career, I have never talked to any player or staff member about football air pressure," he said. He said quarterback Tom Brady, who is scheduled to talk to the media at 4 p.m. ET Thursday, can talk more about how he prefers his footballs. ... Under NFL rules, no alteration of the footballs is allowed once they are approved. If a person is found breaking league rules and tampering with the footballs, that person could face up to a $25,000 fine and potentially more discipline. ... Stay tuned.

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Musgrave Likes What He Sees In Latavius Murray (1/22 12:17 PT)

The Facts: Murray missed his rookie season with an ankle injury, and playing sparingly until breaking out in a week 12 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. Still, new OC Bill Musgrave has seen enough to believe he’s got a good one at hand. “I have a very positive impression,” Musgrave said Tuesday. “He has tremendous size and speed. He had a super career (at Central Florida). I’m looking forward to getting on the field and finding out what he’s all about and what his strengths are so we can tailor our run game so it’s right up his alley.” Reported by CSNBayArea.com

Diehards Line: Murray has just 82 regular season carries, 17 receptions and 567 yards total offense as a pro, with some dynamic touches mixed into the bunch. But Musgrave, hired this week by new HC Jack Del Rio, said he plans to tailor his system to his talent. And there’s no doubt the new play-caller likes to run the football. He’s had a Top-10 rushing attack in four of his six years as an offensive coordinator, and has helped some excellent backs (including Fred Taylor and Adrian Peterson) achieve some big numbers. Past performance doesn’t guarantee success, but Murray must be excited about the prospect of working with a coordinator with a track record of production on the ground. Fantasy owners should share in that.

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Lewis Has No Problem With Andy Dalton; Won't Waste Time With A New QB (1/22 12:13 PT)

The Facts: HC Marvin Lewis sounds resolved as ever to stick with quarterback Dalton. “We have no problem with Andy Dalton as our quarterback. We don’t have time to waste time with another QB. To not continue to press forward and get Andy better and to get whoever the backup quarterbacks are better.” Reported by Bengals.com

Diehards Line: Realizing that Dalton, Carson Palmer, and Jon Kitna have started all but 12 of his 198 games, Lewis said the club has no plans to bring in a backup quarterback to push Dalton. "The quarterback competition," Lewis said, "where has it worked? It doesn’t get you wins. Fortunately, somehow I’ve got the right little thing on my shoulder that says, ‘Don’t get into a quarterback controversy.' That’s worked from Jon to Carson to Andy. It’s helped us have the success we’ve had and those guys have been good players, productive players. ..." All that said, Dalton failed to make the jump the team had hoped he would after signing him to a six-year, $96 million extension in August. He continues to struggle with decision making and deep-ball accuracy, particularly outside the numbers. He had more interceptions (17) than he did as a rookie (13) despite fewer attempts. But as the Sports Xchange notes, the Bengals will have to ride with him for at least one more year, when they can escape his contract with little cap damage.

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Back To Square One For Blake Bortles? (1/22 12:08 PT)

The Facts: Following up on a previous item. ... NFL Films guru Greg Cosell believes the first order of business in Jacksonville is undoing what Bortles learned under duress during a campaign that saw him sacked a league-high 55 times. Cosell told WGFX-FM in Nashville that Bortles fell into bad habits in the process, suggesting coaches "probably need to start over with him with basics," per ESPN's Paul Kuharsky. Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: Bortles, who was forced into action more quickly than the team hoped, struggled mightily with his accuracy and decision-making, but NFL.com's Marc Sessler believes those traits are bound to improve with an entire offseason under Olson. But newly-hired OC Greg Olson spent this past season calling plays for the Raiders and developing the performance of rookie QB Derek Carr. Olson also showed promise in this area, working with Jeff Garcia in San Francisco in the early 2000s and helping Marc Bulger of the Rams to his only 4,000-yard campaign in 2006. Olson's guidance of Carr last season must have been attractive to Jags HC Gus Bradley, who knows his future with the team hinges on Bortles blooming into a tangible talent in the AFC South.

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Dennis Pitta's Future Still Uncertain (1/22 12:04 PT)

The Facts: Pitta, who suffered his second dislocated and fractured hip in as many seasons in Week 3 against the Cleveland Browns, met with specialists last week regarding the injury, HC John Harbaugh said. Harbaugh, however, did not get into specifics about how those meetings went, or what the prognosis about Pitta's future in football would be. “I did get kind of an overview of that report from our trainer that I wouldn’t really want to share until Dennis has had a chance to kind of consider all of the ramifications of it,” Harbaugh said. “But I think we’ll have something on that in a couple of weeks, kind of on Dennis’ time frame. We’ll see where that goes.”  Reported by the Baltimore Sun

Diehards Line: Harbaugh spoke last week of the specialist appointments. He said then that he remained “cautiously optimistic” about a return for Pitta, but that the tight end being “totally healthy” and “totally safe” would be priorities. Pitta said in October that both this year’s injury and the previous season’s hip injury, which occurred in training camp, brought uncertainty about whether he could continue playing. He preached patience then, while acknowledging it would still be months before a return could be discussed. Tight end Owen Daniels is a free agent after catching 48 passes for 527 yards and four touchdowns in Pitta’s stead, leaving Pitta, Crockett Gillmore (10 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown in 15 games), and Phillip Supernaw (two catches for 27 yards in six games) as the only tight ends on the roster at season’s end.

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Adam Gase Will Team Up With Fox Again, This Time As Bears OC (1/21 7:01 PT)

The Facts: Adam Gase and John Fox will team up again in Chicago. The Bears have reached a three-year deal with Gase to become their offensive coordinator, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Wednesday night.  Reported by Profootballtalk.com

Diehards Line: The 36-year-old Gase had been the Broncos’ offensive coordinator the last two seasons under Fox, who took the Bears’ head coaching job last week. Gase had interviewed for multiple head coaching roles this offseason, including for Denver’s job, which eventually went to Gary Kubiak. Gase will be charged with jump-starting a Chicago offense that too often sputtered a season ago. His work with whomever starts at quarterback for the Bears will be key. The Bears have a decision to make on incumbent Jay Cutler.

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DeMarco Murray Has A Realistic View Of Looming Free Agency (1/21 4:53 PT)


Bowles, Maccagnan Noncommittal About Geno Smith (1/21 1:06 PT)

The Facts: Following up on a previous item. ... It didn't take long for Todd Bowles to field questions about New York's QB situation. The new coach said little about Smith, though, other than to call him "a great college QB." New GM Mike Maccagnan conceded that he was "excited to work with Geno," but stayed away from details about the team's plans under center. Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: The hiring of play-caller Chan Gailey will certainly impact how the team proceeds at the NFL's most important position. Said Bowles: "We understand that if Geno's our guy going forward, we have to get some people around him and do a lot of things better, and Chan is outstanding at that." Remember, however, Smith finds himself without the in-house support of fired GM John Idzik, who hand-picked the passer in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Could Bowles and Maccagnan be ready to move on? As Profootballtalk.com's Michael David Smith contends, it's hard to see the Jets going into training camp with Geno Smith as their starter. Nor is veteran Michael Vick expected back. If that's the case, the options are obvious; they'll sign a free agent, trade for a quarterback or draft a quarterback. Bottom line? Smith has had two years to prove himself, and he hasn’t done so.

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New GM Hickey Isn't Ready To Address Mike Wallace's Future In Miami (1/21 1:04 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... GM Dennis Hickey refused to comment on whether Wallace will be back with the team in 2015 during his media session at the Senior Bowl practice Wednesday, according to Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post. Reported by the Redzone.org

Diehards Line: According to the Redzone.org, Hickey dodged the question by suggesting the decision would be a "collaborative" one. The comment comes in the wake of owner Stephen Ross admitting Wallace's future with the club is in doubt. Wallace's 2015 cap number ($12.1) makes it difficult to move on despite his reported attitude issues and defiance of the coaching staff. And while Wallace found more success in the red zone in 2014, his act seems to be wearing thin with Ryan Tannehill, who has struggled to find Wallace deep. Adding to the issues, the Dolphins don't have a great deal of quality depth at the position beyond Jarvis Landry. ... We'll continue to follow up, but it sounds like the Dolphins will more than likely be dealing with Wallace and his issues again in 2015.

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