Belichick skillfully evades OTA questions

The Patriots launched their mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. Coach Bill Belichick made himself available to reporters, who wanted to talk more about the non-mandatory workouts that players like Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski had skipped.

He was suspended for two games at North Carolina because of a misdemeanor assault charge stemming from a fight in 2015. Hughes is good in and out of coverage and has the ability to redirect receivers at the line of scrimmage. He also returned punts and kickoffs this past season, with a punt return for a touchdown and two kickoff returns for touchdowns.

His ability to absorb information and take it from the meeting room to the field, combined with his accuracy and anticipation, should outweigh concerns about his height and work in the spread offense. Mayfield can bounce back from mistakes and controls the huddle.

Just trying to get a feel for coaching, and if this is something that I want to pursue maybe going forward, Holt said, via Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times.

He walks in the door with immediate respect from players, because he did it at a higher level than almost any other.

He’s 21st in league history with 920 receptions, 16th with 13,382 yards. He also went to seven Pro Bowls, and had six straight years of at least 1,300 receiving yards from 2000 to 2005.

Whatever he talks about, Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks said, I’m just soaking it in and being a sponge and trying to add it to my game.

Coach Sean McVay said he appreciated Holt’s attention to detail, something he clearly hopes he passes along.

He brings a unique perspective from a player that’s had as much success as anybody, understanding the nuances of the receiver position, how to separate, McVay said. You talk about a guy that had ownership and a mastery of the system that he was playing in, that they had so much success in, for so many years.

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Seahawks expecting a lot from Chris Carson after great offseason

The Seahawks drafted Rashaad Penny in the first round, but Chris Carson hasn’t let them forget about him.

Carson, a seventh-round pick in 2017, had 49 carries for 208 yards in the first four games before fracturing his leg and finishing on injured reserve.

Antonio Brown is the league’s highest paid receiver at $17 million annually, the result of a deal he signed in February 2017 after seeking a raise during the 2016 offseason. –Young quarterbacks are a hook for HBO’s Hard Knocks documentary series, and Baker Mayfield happens to be the hottest commodity in the rookie QB market as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, even though the Browns had previously acquired their intended starter — Tyrod Taylor — in a deal with the Buffalo Bills.That subplot figures to be a key storyline, and from Mayfield’s perspective, additional eyeballs on the Browns should be a positive.

I think he’s on schedule, Wilks said, via the team’s website. He feels real confident right now with how his knee feels. Again, we are doing a great job in-house with the trainers and strength and conditioning coach and getting him where he needs to be. I think from a mental standpoint, he’s feeling pretty good.

Wilks also said that they plan to ramp up Bradford’s work in the final week of the offseason program and identified different looks from a blitz standpoint and two-minute offense as areas that they hope to focus on with the veteran quarterback.

As for 49ers defensive end Cassius Marsh, I’m told he pitched a fit over playing time at halftime of the Patriots-Raiders game in Mexico City (he was in on two snaps that week), which contributed to his release days later.

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Packers getting used to Mike Pettine’s more vocal style

Things are clearly different with the Packers defense this season. But you can’t merely see the changes, you can hear them.

After nine years of the calm stylings of long-time coordinator Dom Capers, having his more vocal replacement Mike Pettine stop a drill to yell at guys when mistakes are made is a bit jarring.

Part of that’s out of necessity, as the Packers have gotten younger on that side of the ball.

Dom was more quiet, defensive tackle Kenny Clark said. We had a lot of older guys. I would say our defense is more younger. So Julius (Peppers) and Mike (Daniels) and Clay (Matthews) and all those guys, if we did get one of those situations, I think Dom would let the leaders do that. It was just different coaches and different people, how they handle things.

It appears the team didn’t learn all their lessons as they have run afoul of the rules for offseason work again this offseason. Jeff Zrebiec, who recently left the Ravens beat for the Baltimore Sun, reported that the team has been stripped of their final two OTAs this year for an undisclosed infraction. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media confirmed that report a short time later.

Rapoport also reported that team owner Steve Bisciotti has been fined $100,000 and that head coach John Harbaugh has been fined $50,000.

The Ravens were scheduled to wrap up OTAs with practices on Thursday and Friday. They have a three-day mandatory minicamp on tap next week.

The Panthers don’t bother too much with the full exercise. General manager Marty Hurney, back for his first draft in the chair in six years, told me at his pre-draft press conference Tuesday that he doesn’t go around the room and necessarily worry what the Browns are doing at 1 and 4. Carolina, picking at 24, will identify and rank about eight guys they feel good about in that area.

For us [the draft] probably starts at 18 or 19 because then what happens between 18 and 23 is going to affect who’s there, Hurney said. I’d love to compare these teams’ mocks with the ones we in the media put out. Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet? Join The MMQB’s Morning Huddle.

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Richie Incognito back home, training in hopes of playing in 2018

Richie Incognito spent three days in a mental health facility last month after an incident at a Florida gym that involved him throwing weights at another man and telling police that he was being tracked by government agencies.

That’s a result of hours of work, and the Patriots put in that work at this time of year too. Where a lot of staffs get to work in the wee hours and leave around 5 p.m. during OTAs, the New England staff often works late into the night. For 18 years, we’ve heard that that stuff matters. It can’t suddenly be irrelevant now, that New England’s two most important players missed seven weeks of the offseason program. So maybe that subtly costs them somewhere down the line. Four, the stuff about how much funNew England’s program sure is interesting, but also a little much. Consider the sources. Eagles linemen Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson never played in Foxboro.

He had a surgery, kind of an after surgery to correct a little something, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said, via Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR and PFT. Everything went really well, and we’re hoping by camp time he’ll be ready to rip and all that. A little knee thing. He’s had some complications just over time and so it was worth it to go ahead and clean this thing up. It was a really small issue, but it was one that was going to sit him down for 6-8 weeks so we went ahead and did it.

Jordan, 28, has played only five games the past three seasons. Those came last season with the Seahawks when he made 18 tackles and four sacks.

The third overall pick in 2013 played only 26 games with the Dolphins and made three sacks.

He has undergone at least two previous surgeries, and the Dolphins waived him with a failed physical designation last year. He started last season with Seattle on PUP.

You think about how football coaches drill even the most unlikely situations, and you wonder about all that time they spend on it … and then you see what JR Smith did with the ball the other night and you remember why. I’m not saying, to be clear, that an NFL player wouldn’t forget the score during a game. It absolutely could happen. I am saying there are a number of teams that I believe it almost certainly wouldn’t happen to.

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Cameron Meredith is way ahead of schedule in his rehab

Cameron Meredith did not participate in team drills Thursday, but Sean Payton said the Saints receiver is way ahead of schedule in his return from a knee injury that kept him out all of last season.

I made a comment to [Saints’ director of sports medicine] Beau [Lowery] two days ago during the walk-through, Payton said, via Amos Morale III of the Times-Picayune. Just watching him move around and, you guys saw him, he’s way ahead of schedule. And certainly where our doctor our doctors had hoped and even better.

So he’s going to factor in this year. He’s a player that we’ve got a real clear vision for.

Lightning management, we’re told, was unhappy all season with the team’s play in the defensive zone. Hence, the decision to dismiss associate coach Rick Bowness.

But associate/assistant coaches aren’t rogue operatives. They impart and install the head coach’s vision and system. The Rangers’ breakdowns weren’t the fault of Ulf Samuelsson in 2015-16, weren’t the fault of Jeff Beukeboom in 2016-17, and weren’t the fault of Lindy Ruff in 2017-18.

Which is to say, the clock has started on Jon Cooper.

At least they admitted it.

Via Albert Breer of SI.com, there was a clear sense at this week’s owners meetings that the reaction/taunting by Donald Trump at rallies and online (an inevitably on his favorite TV show) was a factor. The league’s new policy requires all players and personnel on the field to stand for the anthem, but it allows players to stay in the locker room if they choose.

Asked if Trump came up in their discussion, Packers president Mark Murphy replied with a laugh: Oh yeah. It was more how [Trump] might react, anticipating that. Also, how the fans will react, how the media will react. That’s what we tried to think through. . . . No matter what we did, [Trump] would probably try to get involved one way or the other—either criticizing us or taking credit for the change.

That seems obvious, and this morning’s appearance on FOX News will doubtless include a victory lap.

One owner said Trump’s name came up three times during the discussion, but not at length.

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Kaepernick went unsigned last season as a free agent, but players across the league continued to protest.

Kneeling during the anthem began during the 2016 preseason when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick became the first to do so as a means of protesting racial injustice and police brutality.

The team sent down Ronald Torreyes to make room for Bird.

Was returned from rehab and reinstated from the 10-day disabled list prior to tonight’s game…was placed on the 10-day disabled list on 3/29 (retroactive to 3/26) recovering from right ankle surgery (missed the Yankees’ rst 47 games of the season)…combined with Single-A Tampa, Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to bat.205/.367/.436 (8-for-39) with 9R, 3HR, 8RBI and10BB in 12 rehab games.

Matthews was pitching in the charity softball game, which also included other Packers players, when a batted ball drilled him directly in the face, knocking him down. He got up and ran off the field, covering his face, and was taken to the emergency room.

Once he is, what will he do?

There continues to be no indication that the Giants and Beckham are closing in on a new contract. Beckham reportedly wants more than $20 million per year. The Giants apparently want to wait before making a commitment, primarily for reasons unrelated to Beckham’s skills and abilities. Beckham arguably should refuse to put himself at any degree of physical risk until he gets what he wants.

And if the Giants are willing to give Beckham what he wants, the Giants possibly should trade him to a team that will.

The good news for Owens is that he won’t have to worry about the Madden curse. Unless he does indeed get another shot to play in the NFL.

Given the current overall quality of the Cowboys’ receiving corps, maybe they could use him.

One former ambassador said then-head of business operations for the Redskins, Dennis Greene, would examine the women before games and choose two to accompany him while he visited suite-holders.

He would look each of us up and down and say, I want that one and that one, and everyone hated when you got selected for that, the former ambassador told the Times. It was humiliating, like we were cattle.

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DeMarcus Ware working with Broncos pass rushers

DeMarcus Ware said earlier this year that he’d like to work as a mentor to pass rushers and one of his former teams is giving him a chance to do that.

Mike Klis of KUSA reports that Ware will spend the final two weeks of the offseason helping the current Broncos edge rushers. Ware had 21.5 sacks for Denver over his final three NFL seasons.

Some of Ware’s charges have already spent time working with him as Von Miller, Shane Ray and Shaq Barrett were all with the Broncos before Ware retired as a player. Fifth overall pick Bradley Chubb did not play with Ware and getting him up to speed as soon as possible is likely to be a focus for the team over the rest of the offseason.

The Red Sox snagged Mookie Betts, plus Jackie Bradley Jr. and Travis Shaw. The Indians: Francisco Lindor, Cody Allen and Jason Kipnis plus Clint Frazier, who helped them get Andrew Miller from the Yankees. The Dodgers: Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger and the emerging Ross Stripling. The Nationals have not done great without a top pick, but they turned three of those high selections into Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon.

Charlton played behind DeMarcus Lawrence, who made 14.5 sacks. Lawrence played 67.1 percent of the defensive snaps, which was the most among Cowboys’ defensive linemen.

Both Lawrence and Charlton expect the 2017 first-round pick to play more — and do more — this season.

I feel like Taco had a pretty good rookie season, Lawrence said. You all take away the light that he was playing behind me so it wasn’t like he could get as many reps as he needed. This year I feel like he’s going to come along and take you all by storm.

Yeah, that’s a good question, Engram said. We definitely have a lot of talent. We’re going to utilize all of it as well. So it’s definitely interesting to think about. But I mean, in practice, we’ve got guys making plays all over the field. So the ball’s going to find the best player. We don’t really care where the ball goes, I just know we have a lot of talent.

Engram made it through 15 games and led the team with 65 receptions and six touchdowns. He was burdened with too heavy a load, asked to make plays down the field as the losses piled up. He sounds as if he will accept fewer catches for a whole lot more winning.

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Drew Brees spends $264,000 on John Wooden jersey to display at Purdue

A few weeks ago an anonymous bidder spent $264,000 to buy a jersey worn by the legendary college basketball coach John Wooden when he played at Purdue in the 1930s. Now that anonymous bidder has come forward: Drew Brees.

Brees, the Saints quarterback who played his college football at Purdue, has announced that the jersey will go on permanent display on Purdue’s campus.

Via BleedingGreenNation.com, Brooks sounded off after practice on Tuesday.

It’s crazy that people haven’t known this, Brooks said. It’s been this way for like a decade. . . . Reggie Wayne did it. He retired. He went there [to the Patriots] for a training camp and retired. Sh-t is not fun there. I was under the same regime in Houston [with O’Brien]. I almost retired. Sh-t was miserable, every day. Every day.

I’ve been working ever since. I feel good. I don’t feel great. Obviously I’ve got a lot of catching up to do and get into some football shape.

The toe injury didn’t seem to be prohibitive to Marshall being able to play. He didn’t miss a single game in 2015 despite the injury and finished the year with 1,502 receiving yards an 14 touchdowns. That also included 100-yard games in five of the last six games the Jets played that season and seven touchdowns over that span as well.

But the Seahawks will hope that with the ankle injury behind him and a bothersome toe now cleaned up as well, Marshall will be able to provide a significant boost to their receiving corps. Marshall knows that he has to prove he can still get the job done at 34 years old as well.

I think the sentiment around the league is that I’m done, he said. And I get it, rightfully so. When you get on the other side of 30 (years old) and your production slips and you have a big injury, people just count you out. So it was an interesting process, a humbling process to say the least.

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Bucs LB Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured his ankle in a car accident in Louisiana last week, putting his status for the start of the upcoming season in question.

General manager Jason Licht said that Beckwith had surgery Tuesday to repair his injured ankle, but did not yet know whether his timeline for recovery would extend into training camp or the regular season.

We’re very fortunate that it wasn’t life-threatening, Licht said. He’ll be out of OTAs and in training camp, we’ll have a better idea of how far along he is.

Brooks also said Oregon’s Royce Freeman and San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny would fill that need.

Brooks’ comments echo his sentiments from a year ago, when he told The Detroit News Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah were complementary backs and the Lions needed a crown-jewel type to lead the team’s backfield rotation.

The Lions finished last in the NFL in rushing, both yards per game and yards per carry, in 2017.

Coincidentally or maybe not given how  ugly Bryant’s divorce from the Cowboys is becoming there is a television monitor in the background of the workout with the on-screen words Are the Cowboys a playoff team without Dez Bryant?

Click here to see the video.

Bryant was released for salary cap purposes on April 13 and quickly made it clear that his preference was to sign with another team in the NFC East and exact revenge on the Cowboys twice per year.

The salary-cap flush Redskins seemed like the most logical destination… until Thursday.

The  Giants cut 12-year veteran wide receiver Brandon Marshall, opening up a spot for a veteran in the wide receiver corps and an additional $5.1 million in cap space, possibly in anticipation of adding Bryant. 

I have interest in everybody, Giants general manager Dave Gettleman said when asked about returning Bryant’s interest. We do our film work and you never know.

Marshall, who missed the final 11 games last season with an ankle injury, failed a physical and only counts for $1.1 million in dead cap. Just one day earlier, Marshall posted to his social media account a  message to Bryant that there was no room, but he quickly deleted it.

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Asked Thursday if he feels a need to use the draft’s No. 2 overall pick on a successor for his 37-year-old signal-caller, Gettleman labeled the idea hogwash.

You miss on a quarterback, you’ve really hurt the franchise for five years, Gettleman added. It’s a five-year mistake.

Over the years, we’ve been taught to distrust everything we see and hear during the NFL Draft’s smokescreen season. Gettleman can disarm reporters with the claim that he hasn’t lied since he got caught numerous times as a child, but that doesn’t mean he’s telegraphing his plans.

Gettleman isn’t lying about his team’s draft strategy. With a straight face, he can point out the dire consequences of swinging and missing on a quarterback at the top of the draft.

As a four-decade NFL lifer, though, he knows just as well that the cost to the franchise is equally steep if a running back, offensive lineman or pass rusher goes bust at the top of the draft.

Davis says the team’s rules are overbearing and unreasonable, and that she was unjustly fired from what was once her dream job. She has filed a civil rights complaint, and is speaking out about discriminatory policies in professional cheerleading. Professional cheerleading is a much more exhausting and high-pressure job than many people realize.

Cheerleaders don’t only dance and cheer during games; they also have to make promotional appearances, show up to photo shoots, sell products for the team, and practice for hours and hours each week. They are also expected to meet very specific guidelines regarding their weight, general appearance, and etiquette. To give an idea of the standards professional cheerleaders are held to, here are just a few of the etiquette and appearance standards cheerleaders are expected to meet if they want to keep their jobs. In 2014, the Los Angeles Times published sections  of the 2012 handbook for the Oakland Raiders cheer team, the Raiderettes.

Conventional wisdom had centered on USC quarterback Sam Darnold. In recent weeks, however, Wyoming’s Josh Allen has emerged as a potential alternative.

Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer collects and summarizes the various reports linking the Browns to Allen. The common thread? G.M. John Dorsey’s affinity for rocket-armed throwers. Last year, for example, the Chiefs (under Dorsey) moved from No. 27 to No. 10 to get Patrick Mahomes. And Dorsey spent years in Green Bay with Brett Favre as the resident gunslinger.

With the Giants reportedly interested in Darnold or no quarterback at No. 2, the Browns could try to cajole the Giants to move to No. 1, which then would allow the Browns to get Allen at No. 2. Falling any farther than No. 2 would make it more difficult for the Browns to get Allen.

If the Browns take Allen at No. 1 and the Giants take Darnold at No. 2, the Jets would then likely take Baker Mayfield or Josh Rosen at No. 3, giving the Browns at No. 4 the de facto No. 1 overall non-quarterback.

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