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Larry Fitzgerald Says He Can Still Play At A High Level Wednesday, April 22, 2015 | Time: 12:12 PT |  Reported by the Arizona Republic
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The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... Fitzgerald will be 32 when he catches another significant pass. He's coming off his least productive season since 2004, his rookie year. But the first fact didn't lead to the second, at least not in Fitzgerald's eyes. "I can still play the game at a high level, given the opportunity to go out there and thrive," he said on Monday.
Diehards Line:What happened last season, Fitzgerald said, was due mostly to bad luck. Fitzgerald suffered two knee sprains, and the Cardinals lost their top two quarterbacks, Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton, to knee injuries. "It was fluke stuff, too," Fitzgerald said. In addition, Fitzgerald's role under HC Bruce Arians has changed. He doesn't run many deep patterns any more, and last year he lined up in the slot position more often. "Larry struggled early when we gave him two- or three-way options," Arians said at the NFL meetings last month. "He has progressed so much, I don't think there is any doubt they can go down on an option route and Carson will know where he is going and the ball is on time. Larry is going to make the big, physical catches inside. He's a true mismatch inside." In the five games before Palmer's injury, he and Fitzgerald were starting to inflict consistent damage on defenses. Fitzgerald averaged six catches and almost 90 yards in those games, and scored his only two touchdowns. Palmer should be ready for training camp this summer.
Report: Six Teams In The Mix For Adrian Peterson Tuesday, April 21, 2015 | Time: 12:05 PT |  Reported by the St. Paul Pioneer-Press
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The Facts: A source named six teams in the mix for Peterson: Arizona, Atlanta, Dallas, Jacksonville, San Diego and Tampa Bay. The source did not include Oakland, mentioned in media reports as a possible candidate, in the group.
Diehards Line:The same source told Pioneer Press staffer Chris Tomasson that if the disgruntled running backisn't traded before or during next week's NFL draft, the Vikings won't deal him to another team before the 2015 season. "If he's not traded next week, they're going to keep him," the source said. Stay tuned.
Antonio Brown Trying To Get The Steelers To Do Something They Don't Do Tuesday, April 21, 2015 | Time: 9:35 PT |  Reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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The Facts: Following up on a previous item. ... The Steelers already have lost their All-Pro halfback for the first three games of the 2015 season, pending Le’Veon Bell’s appeal, and now they could lose their All-Pro wide receiver for a stretch. Brown, under contract for three more seasons, has asked the Steelers for a new contract and is prepared to sit out until he gets one, the Post-Gazette has confirmed.
Diehards Line: The problem with that, as Post-Gazette staffer Ed Bouchette notes, is the Steelers have long had a policy that they will not negotiate new contracts with players until they reach the final year of their current contract. Exceptions were made for their starting quarterbacks, which they have reworked with two years remaining on their deal. Even Ben Roethlisberger waited until the final season of his contract before he recently signed a new five-year, $99 million deal. As noted in the previous item, Brown will not attend the Steelers voluntary conditioning program and is considering holding out of required mini-camp in June and training camp which starts in late July. It has been some time since they have had a veteran hold out. Hines Ward held out into the early part of the preseason in 2005, but he was entering the final year of his contract and, once he reported to camp, the Steelers negotiated a new one.
Dennis Pitta On Hand For Workouts; Status For 2015 Still Uncertain Tuesday, April 21, 2015 | Time: 9:33 PT |  Reported by Profootballtalk.com
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The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... In a video posted to the team’s website from Monday’s kickoff to the offseason workout program, Pitta is seen working out alongside his teammates in the weight room.
Diehards Line: Pitta dislocated and fractured his hip before the 2013 season and missed most of the year before making a late season cameo and then suffered the same injuries three weeks into last season. Pitta has recovered, but HC John Harbaugh said last month that the team is waiting to hear if Pitta “wants or is able” to resume his playing career. It certainly looks like Pitta wants to at least keep the door open for a possible return. That said, we'll get a better idea of where the Ravens think Pitta is if they add a tight end in next week's draft.
A.J. Green Not Worried About Contract; WR's Focus Is On The Field Tuesday, April 21, 2015 | Time: 12:10 PT |  Reported by NFL.com
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The Facts: While Antonio Brown is skipping Steelers' voluntary conditioning in search of a new contract, the Bengals have no concerns about their own star wide receiver. Entering a contract year, Green was on hand Monday for the first day of Cincinnati's voluntary workouts. "I handle the part of playing. I'm not hurting for money," said Green. "I got my option. That's enough for now. I'm just focused on football. Next year will take care of itself."
Diehards Line: Because Green was drafted in the top 10 picks of the first round, his fifth-year option is comparable to the transition tag at his position. That means he will earn $10.176 million for the 2015 season. Although HC Marvin Lewis set the wheels in motion for contract talks last August, the sides have been unable to find common ground. According to NFL.com's Chris Wesseling, that's hardly a surprise. There's no rush for Green to sign until franchise-tagged wide receivers Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas set the market with new deals. ... Meanwhile, Green insists he's "100 percent" recovered from the toe injury that hindered him for three months. Prior to his injury-ravaged 2014 campaign, Green posted more receptions through three seasons than any receiver in NFL history. As Wesseling summed up: "Whether it's next offseason or the year after, he's going to be rewarded as one of the highest-paid players at his position."
Surprise: It Will Take A Huge Offer To Pry Adrian Peterson Away From Vikings Tuesday, April 21, 2015 | Time: 12:06 PT |  Reported by Profootballtalk.com
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The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... The Vikings have adopted the position that they’ll keep Peterson regardless of whether he’s happy and they’re confident that the passage of time will smooth over any ruffled feathers. That said, it’s possible that someone will make them a trade offer that gets Minnesota’s attention. If another team puts enough picks and/or players on the pile, even an untouchable player will be asked to pack his bags. In this case, that’s not expected to happen. A source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that a recent report that they’d want a first-round pick and a starting cornerback isn’t accurate, which suggests it would take even more than that to even begin to get the Vikings to consider making the deal.
Diehards Line: As PFT's Mike Florio suggests, there is good reason for that. "Absent a package that will have the same impact on the Vikings that Peterson could have in 2015," Peterson wrote, "given an improving defense and a young franchise quarterback distributing the ball to a respectable complement of receivers, the Vikings have no reason to make a deal. ..." That notion won't stop speculation about a trade between now and the draft. In the end, however, Florio believes the Vikings likely will keep Peterson’s rights and hope that he eventually realizes that his best move will be to honor his contract, accept $13 million, and resume his chase for the all-time rushing record, which remains 8,165 yards away.
Tim Tebow Officially Signs With Eagles; Has Tough Row To Hoe Tuesday, April 21, 2015 | Time: 12:05 PT |  Reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer
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The Facts: Following up on a previous item. ... If Tebow is to have any chance of making the Eagles’ 53-man roster, his best chance is winning the third spot behind Bradford and Sanchez. That is assuming, of course, Kelly doesn’t draft a quarterback. Barkley’s grip on the No. 3 role is not secure.
Diehards Line:The Eagles officially announced Tebow's signing Monday. As Inquirer staffer Jeff McLane notes, Kelly prefers multi-positional players and could be swayed to keep Tebow if he can perform other tasks on game days. The Eagles offense also has plenty of flexibility for mobile quarterbacks. Still, McLane wrote: "Tebow’s odds are long. ..." True enough. Kelly kept five quarterbacks on the roster through training camp two years ago. He re-signed Sanchez in March, traded Nick Foles for Bradford a few days later, and now added Tebow to great surprise. And he still may have one more quarterback move up his sleeve. Bottom line? We're going to hear a lot about Tebow in coming days (and perhaps weeks) -- most of which will be nothing more than noise if he hasn't made the significant improvements as a passer we've heard about during his down time.
Philip Rivers In Attendance For The Start Of Voluntary Workouts Monday, April 20, 2015 | Time: 7:25 PT |  Reported by Profootballtalk.com
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The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... Despite talk that he could be traded before next week’s draft, Rivers is at work in San Diego. The Chargers opened their offseason program today, and Rivers was in attendance.
Diehards Line:Because why wouldn't he be? Although there’s been speculation that Rivers could be traded to the Titans for the No. 2 overall pick, and that the Chargers could then use that pick on QB Marcus Mariota, everyone in San Diego seemed to believe that’s nothing more than talk. Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego quoted multiple Chargers players as saying Rivers is their leader. New arrival Jacoby Jones has already started working out with Rivers and likes what he sees. “I’ve never seen a quarterback work like he does in the offseason,” Jones said. As PFT's Michael David Smith suggests, if the Chargers are thinking about trading Rivers, they’ve done a good job of concealing that fact from their players. Because everyone in the locker room seems to think Rivers will remain their teammate.
Zach Mettenberger Continues To Get Love Monday, April 20, 2015 | Time: 7:24 PT |  Reported by NFL.com
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The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... The positivity pouring from Tennessee about Mettenberger's potential continues to flow.The latest comes from Titans veteran TE Delanie Walker, who praised the young signal-caller for organizing practice sessions and believes the team's party line: Mettenberger can be a franchise quarterback. "He's a very young quarterback and for him to do that shows a lot of leadership," Walker saud. "I think that he can be the franchise QB that the Titans are looking for."
Diehards Line:As NFL.com's Kevin Patra notes, Walker's analysis falls in line with some members of the organization who view Mettenberger as a poor man's Tom Brady. All of the pre-draft talk feels like an organization that is bracing for the fact that it might not have a better option than the second-year signal-caller under center, so they might as well start the PR blitz now as opposed to mid-June. On the other hand, Walker pointed to the struggles of the entire team to combat those of us who weren't impressed with the tape Mettenberger put down during his time as a rookie. Walker believes, given the full benefit of being a starter, the quarterback can flourish. "Now he's got the opportunity -- if we don't draft anyone or trade for somebody -- he's got the opportunity to go in and show everybody what he can do, by having minicamp, training camp and then the starter, doing it with the first team, getting the reps he needs," Walker said. Next week's draft will obviously be a determining factor in that. Stay tuned.
Cody Latimer Admits He Struggled To Keep Up With His QB Last Year Monday, April 20, 2015 | Time: 7:23 PT |  Reported by NFL.com
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The Facts: Following up on a previous item. ... Latimer spent most of his rookie season on the sidelines. The 6-2 wideout caught just two passes for 23 yards on 37 offensive snaps. Latimer admitted he struggled keeping up with Peyton Manning's pace of play. "It took me too long to actually catch on," Latimer said. "I was in the playbook, but I could have done even more. When I actually got it, it was too late. It was just way different (than college). I would know the play, then Peyton would change it. Then I'd get to thinking too much and play slower."
Diehards Line: Entering his second season the coaching staff expects Latimer to make a big jump. The wideout is slated to take more snaps on the outside in three-receiver sets, with Emmanuel Sanders bumping to the slot. After spending time working with Manning this offseason, Latimer believes he's ready to take advantage of the opportunity. "I am pounding it into my head. I have to make sure I get it especially by the time of minicamp," he said. "You don't want to be out there looking like a fool. ..." Given his physical attributes and overall talent level, Latimer will be of great interest to fantasy owners if he can demonstrate he's on the same page as Manning in coming weeks.