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Report: Falcons 'uneasy' about Jones' absence

The Atlanta Falcons are expected to work out any contractual differences with Julio Jones, but the team remains uneasy about his absence from minicamp, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The team announced last week that Jones won't appear at minicamp even though he has three years remaining on his contract. Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said negotiations have been "productive and constructive," but the team remains wary.

"The fact that he's running around with Terrell Owens has the front office uneasy. The fact that he's held out and is kind of bucking the whole brotherhood thing has them a little bit uneasy, too. They'll have to mend some fences, no question about it, once he returns," Ledbetter said Monday on ESPN730AM.

He added he expects a deal to be reached in enough time for Jones to make it to training camp on time and characterizes the current situation as "nothing major." Nonetheless, some damage control is required.

"It's in a bad place right now," Ledbetter said of the relationship between player and team. "The coach was expecting him in here."

Jones signed a five-year, $71.2-million extension in 2015, however, he's currently the eighth-highest paid receiver in terms of annual average salary. He makes $14.2 per season, a figure eclipsed recently by Jarvis Landry and Sammy Watkins.

- With h/t to Bleacher Report

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Author: Michael McClymont
Posted: June 18, 2018, 5:06 pm

Vikings to induct late coach Dennis Green into Ring of Honor

The Minnesota Vikings will induct the late Dennis Green into their Ring of Honor Sept. 23 at halftime versus the Buffalo Bills, the club announced.

Green served as head coach of the Vikings from 1992-01, guiding the team to four division titles and eight playoff appearances.

"Dennis Green’s impact on the Minnesota Vikings, and really the entire NFL, is still felt to this day," Vikings president Mark Wilf said in a statement. "In addition to being widely regarded as one of the NFL's top coaches, Denny was also known as a great mentor and leader by all who had the fortune of being in his presence. We're extremely honored to forever memorialize Denny and his family in the Vikings Ring of Honor and we're looking forward to the induction in September."

Green died July 21, 2016 at the age of 67 due to complications from cardiac arrest. Many of his former players have since spoken about the impact Green had on their lives, including Randy Moss.

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Author: Alex Chippin
Posted: June 18, 2018, 3:05 pm

Top 10 NFL journeymen

theScore's NFL Top 10 is a two-week series in which editors take a look at football's best, worst, and most interesting, highlighting everything from the overpaid to the most versatile and marketable.

Top 10 NFL Series
Journeymen Under 6-feet tall (Jun. 19)
Versatile (Jun. 20) Never scored TD (Jun. 21)
Overpaid (Jun. 22) Ringless vets (Jun. 25)
Born outside U.S. (Jun. 26) Small-school (Jun. 27)
Undrafted (Jun. 28) Marketable (Jun. 29)

The NFL is often defined by its transience, and the nature of the league - with its constantly shifting rosters - rarely allows players to stay with one team for the duration of their careers. For some players, a change of scenery is all they need before truly fulfilling their potential. For others, they can need longer to settle into a groove.

With that in mind, here are the top 10 NFL journeymen. For the purpose of this list, a journeyman must be on at least his fourth team as of June 18.

10. Josh McCown, QB, Jets

Previous teams: Cardinals, Lions, Raiders, Panthers, Bears, Buccaneers, Browns

A truly great season has eluded McCown, which is why he's not ranked higher. The Jets are the eighth team the soon-to-be 39-year-old has suited up for over 15 seasons. His 13 starts in 2017 tied a single-season career best, though he's failed to finish with a better record than the 6-7 McCown led the Arizona Cardinals to in 2004. He's spent his career as either a stop-gap starter for a rebuilding team or a high-end backup for a team without a solidified first stringer. He served as a player-coach to end the 2017 season, opening the door to a potential quick post-career transition into a sideline role.

9. Case Keenum, QB, Broncos

Previous teams: Texans, Rams, Vikings

If it weren't for Keenum's career-best season in 2017, there's a strong chance he wouldn't be in consideration for this list. After bouncing around the league primarily in a backup role, Keenum exploded with the Vikings, completing 67.6 percent of his passes for 3,547 yards, 22 touchdowns, and only seven interceptions, all while steering the team to the NFC Championship Game. Keenum signed a two-year contract worth $36 million with the Broncos in March, and it's now on him to prove 2017 wasn't an anomaly.

8. Benjamin Watson, TE, Saints

Previous teams: Patriots, Browns, Ravens

Watson, a two-time finalist for the Walter Payton NFL Man Of The Year Award, has been valuable for several teams because of not only his on-field play, but also the leadership and quality locker-room presence he provides. The former first-round pick of the Patriots returns to the Saints for his 14th season. He's been extremely reliable and durable, logging at least 12 games every season since his rookie year.

7. Torrey Smith, WR, Panthers

Previous teams: Ravens, 49ers, Eagles

Smith has never been a genuine No. 1 receiver, but he's elite at one skill: drawing pass interference penalties downfield. With an ability to beat defenders off the line and skillfully draw contact on 50-50 balls, Smith has carved out a lane for himself as a dependable second receiver, doing it while playing major roles on two championship-winning teams. Although his production has tailed off in recent years (his last 1,000-plus-yard season was back in 2013), Smith has a chance to reignite his career after being traded to the Panthers in March.

6. Mike Wallace, WR, Eagles

Previous teams: Steelers, Dolphins, Vikings, Ravens

Wallace has had an inconsistent career. The 31-year-old has posted three 1,000-plus-yard campaigns, but he was released by the Minnesota Vikings after a 2015 season with just 473 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He rebounded the next season with the Ravens by recording 1,017 yards on 72 receptions, then his 748 yards on 52 grabs in 2017 was still solid enough to earn a one-year free-agent deal with the Super Bowl champion Eagles.

5. Dion Lewis, RB, Titans

Previous teams: Eagles, Browns, Colts, Patriots

It's hard to imagine Lewis' career before he took off with the Patriots. The shifty running back became a valuable part of Bill Belichick's offense before signing with the Titans. Lewis is the embodiment of the modern back. The fifth-round pick in 2011 is adept at finding room between the tackles, and he can also serve as a reliable pass-catcher out of the backfield. After signing a four-year contract worth $20 million with Tennessee this summer, Lewis will be expected to play a major role in the offense and star with a larger opportunity.

4. LeGarrette Blount, RB, Lions

Previous teams: Buccaneers, Patriots, Steelers, Eagles

Blount will turn 32 years old late in the 2018 season, and he'll hope to continue a late-career resurgence. An undrafted free-agent signee of the Buccaneers out of Oregon, Blount is a reigning back-to-back Super Bowl champion - first with the Patriots, and then with the Eagles - and has three total rings in his career. The brutal nature of the running back position has prevented him from cashing in on solid performances at a later age. His last three contracts have each been for just one season, with neither topping $2 million per year, according to Over The Cap.

3. Sam Bradford, QB, Cardinals

Previous teams: Rams, Eagles, Vikings

Bradford was selected first overall in 2010, and he's had a non-linear career trajectory. After being named the Offensive Rookie of the Year, Bradford's stint with the Rams was marred by injuries. He joined the Eagles in 2015, logging a strong season before being traded to the Vikings. During the 2016 season, Bradford was efficient, but he suffered a knee injury that limited his 2017 appearances to two games. Then he signed with the Cardinals in the offseason, and although the veteran will be pushed by rookie Josh Rosen, Bradford has every opportunity to revive his career.

2. Brandon Marshall, WR, Seahawks

Previous teams: Broncos, Dolphins, Bears, Jets, Giants

Marshall has as many Pro Bowl honors as he has teams on his resume. The 34-year-old has recorded 1,000-plus receiving yards with four teams, but he's been released by both the Giants and Jets in consecutive offseasons. After having to wait for his new contract deep into free agency, Marshall found an ideal fit with the Seahawks. He'll likely serve as the No. 2 option behind Doug Baldwin and receive plenty of red-zone looks.

1. Aqib Talib, CB, Rams

Previous teams: Buccaneers, Patriots, Broncos

It feels somewhat unnatural to give Talib the journeyman label, as Pro Football Focus' advanced metrics show he's still one of the NFL's premier cornerbacks. But he's bounced around the league a bit, partly due to off-field issues. Talib has established himself as arguably the most physical defensive back at the line of scrimmage, and he has a penchant for ripping balls out of the air with the same fluency as snatching chains (sorry, Michael Crabtree). After being traded to the Rams, Talib will line up alongside Marcus Peters to likely form one of the most dangerous cornerback pairings in the NFL.

Top 10 NFL Series
Journeymen Under 6-feet tall (Jun. 19)
Versatile (Jun. 20) Never scored TD (Jun. 21)
Overpaid (Jun. 22) Ringless vets (Jun. 25)
Born outside U.S. (Jun. 26) Small-school (Jun. 27)
Undrafted (Jun. 28) Marketable (Jun. 29)

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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Author: Arun Srinivasan, Esten McLaren
Posted: June 18, 2018, 12:53 pm

Jameis Winston still under investigation by NFL about groping case

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston remains under investigation from the NFL regarding a November 2017 incident involving a 26-year-old female Uber driver.

The woman told police that Winston had groped her in the car she was driving, but the quarterback denied the allegations and told reporters in April that he wouldn't speculate about the league's process while under investigation.

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby, who said he was in the car with Winston, also released a statement in November claiming that Winston didn't have any contact with the driver. Darby and Winston were teammates at Florida State.

"This remains under review," NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.

Winston was not charged in conjunction with the incident.

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Author: Arun Srinivasan
Posted: June 18, 2018, 12:30 am

Roethlisberger: 'I care about record-breaking Super Bowl wins' more than contract

Count Ben Roethlisberger as disinterested in the league-wide quarterback competition to become the game's highest-paid player.

"I care about record-breaking Super Bowl wins and things like that - that's more important to me," Roethlisberger told ESPN from his football pro camp Sunday in Pittsburgh.

The 36-year-old Pittsburgh Steelers signal-caller enters a 15th season in 2018 with just two years remaining on a contract that will have him carry cap hits of $23.2 million in each year, according to Over the Cap. The deal was originally signed in 2015.

Roethlisberger, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Steelers, ranks 11th among quarterbacks with an average annual value of $21.85 million. Matt Ryan's recently-signed extension with the Atlanta Falcons leads all QBs at $30 million in average value on a five-year pact.

Though Roethlisberger had previously hinted at retirement, he recently reversed course and said he plans to play "three-to-five more years."

He's confident his contract will be able to get worked out at that time.

"I have two years on my contract. I'm not going to be one to sit here and worry about my contract," said Roethlisberger. "That's not my job. My job is to play football. I'll let my representation, the Steelers worry about all that stuff. To me, it's all about going out and playing now. I think there are a lot more, maybe a lot more important people who need to get their deals done now. For me to do it two years out, if it doesn't make sense for the team, I'm not going to sit here and worry about it."

The Steelers rank 29th in available cap space for 2018 at nearly $5.5 million.

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Author: Esten McLaren
Posted: June 17, 2018, 10:55 pm

RGIII working as mentor for Lamar Jackson through common experiences

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III may be uniquely qualified to advise Lamar Jackson during his rookie year, a role that he's cherishing this summer.

Griffin entered the league with lofty expectations, which he struggled to meet after his rookie year. Both players won the Heisman Trophy during their decorated collegiate careers, and Griffin is trying to ensure that the former Louisville standout will be prepared for the unique challenge of being the face of a franchise.

"I'm trying to help nurture him as much as I possibly can, so that when he flies away, he is ready to fly away. Because when you watch it fly away, at that point it’s up to that bird," Griffin said to Sports Illustrated's Ben Baskin.

The Ravens traded up to select Jackson with the final pick of the first round, and he's now expected to carry the weight of being the future of the franchise, after Joe Flacco's career nears the latter stages.

Griffin believes he can also advise Jackson on the pressure of starring as a black quarterback, noting that he would've benefited from a similar presence when he began his career with the Washington Redskins.

"I try to take that and look at it in a positive way to try to help Lamar navigate a lot of the things that I had to navigate on my own," Griffin said. "I feel like he really trusts me and believes what I'm telling him and I think that's made him a better player already in a short amount of time.

"Is it different being an African-American quarterback in the NFL? Yes, it's different. But you can't look at it as a burden. You can't look at it as something that is going to hold you back. It's a challenge. You have to accept the challenge and move forward with it. Anytime you are athletic enough at the quarterback position and have similar traits to a wide receiver or running back, it's going to be talked about. You have to eliminate that noise and understand that, because I have that ability, I am going to be even greater."

Many expected Jackson to remain on the sidelines during his rookie year with Flacco established as the incumbent starter. It won't be long before Jackson takes the field, however, and having a mentor like Griffin who shares the commonalities of being a Heisman winner with grand expectations could only stand to put him in the best position possible.

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Author: Arun Srinivasan
Posted: June 17, 2018, 10:11 pm

Bills' Zay Jones will 'have to earn his way' to top of thin receiving corps

The Buffalo Bills don't have a lot of clarity at the wide receiver position entering the 2018 season beyond incumbent No. 1 Kelvin Benjamin.

Zay Jones, a second-round pick out of the 2017 draft, is believed to have the best chance of landing the No. 2 role, but general manager Brandon Beane isn't ready to hand him the opportunity as he comes off a disappointing rookie campaign and offseason knee surgery.

"He's not just going to necessarily go right to the top of the line. He'll have to earn his way," Beane said in an appearance on "One Bills Live" on Friday. "Part of that will just be just getting his feel. He's only played with Nathan Peterman. He has not got to play with Josh Allen or AJ (McCarron) yet. So that bond there will just have to form."

Jones caught just 27 of 74 targets for 316 yards and two touchdowns over 15 games in his rookie season. He added two receptions for 20 yards in the team's one playoff contest.

He battled a torn labrum throughout 2017 and missed offseason workouts after undergoing knee surgery, but Beane expects him to be ready near the start of training camp.

As Peterman, Allen, and McCarron compete for the starting quarterback job, it seems as though Jones will be fighting with veterans Andre Holmes, Jeremy Kerley, and Kaelin Clay for the right to catch passes from the victor.

With h/t to NewYorkUpstate.com

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Author: Esten McLaren
Posted: June 17, 2018, 5:08 pm

Cardinals' Peterson adjusting to new responsibilities in scheme

Although he's been named to seven consecutive Pro Bowls, Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson may have a new learning curve to adjust to this fall.

Peterson is renowned for his ability to single out his opponent's best receiver and neutralize them completely. But under the direction of new head coach Steve Wilks, the veteran cornerback will be moving around a lot more than usual.

"Over the last seven years, everyone who played against me knew exactly what I was going to be in," Peterson said recently, according to the team's official website. "When they come here and play in Arizona, nine times out of 10 we didn’t see what they ran in the previous game plan. It was always a lot of motions and a lot of stacks to get my hands off (the No. 1 wideout). Now they have to play a little bit more honest to where I’m still going to be in a little bit of press, but now my game has evolved into playing off the ball as well."

Wilks impressed upon Peterson that despite reigning as one of the NFL's premier cornerbacks, there's still room for growth.

"The one thing I try to challenge Patrick with each and every day … is that sometimes guys are so gifted that even at 85-to-90 percent, they’re better than the guys around them,” Wilks said. "I used to tell Josh Norman the same thing: You’ve got to learn how to compete against yourself. It’s not about the guys around you. You try to get better each and every day.

"Patrick is trying to position himself long term to one day be in Canton (as a Hall of Famer). To be able to do that, you’ve got to start separating yourself even more. So that’s the challenge I try to give him."

Peterson described himself as an artist at taking away the team's top receiver, but says he's looking forward to the challenge.

"It should be fun," Peterson said. "I'm looking to make a ton of plays this year. I’m looking to start jumping routes now. I’m looking to be a little bit more aggressive off the ball, and be the same as I am when I’m in the receiver’s face."

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Author: Arun Srinivasan
Posted: June 17, 2018, 2:53 am

Fournette gives former LSU teammate Guice vote of confidence

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette immediately entered the league as one of the NFL's most productive running backs during his rookie year. Now, he's predicting a similar future for his former collegiate teammate.

Derrius Guice, who played with Fournette at LSU, is projected to get plenty of carries with the Washington Redskins this fall after they selected him with their second-round pick. Guice rushed for over 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns during each of his final two seasons at LSU, and Fournette envisions a massive rookie season for the 20-year-old.

"Big things are going to come for Derrius this year," Fournette told Christopher Dabe of The Times-Picayune on Friday. He also said Guice "always had the talent when I was there at LSU. He's a hard worker. He's a great kid."

Although they're no longer teammates and play in opposite conferences, Fournette is going to keep his eyes glued to Guice's rookie campaign.

"Derrius is always going to be Derrius and one of my little brothers," Fournette said. "I'm looking forward to what he can do in the NFL."

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Author: Arun Srinivasan
Posted: June 17, 2018, 1:12 am

Darnold fan shouts J-E-T-S chant at U.S. Open during Uihlein's swing

Sam Darnold is billed as the future of the New York Jets and his mere presence is sending fans into hysterics.

Darnold attended the U.S. Open with Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who was selected four picks after him during the 2018 NFL Draft. An enthusiastic Jets fan spotted the duo together and couldn't contain himself while Peter Uihlein was mid-swing.

"One dude was trying to play an iron ... and someone yelled out, 'J-E-T-S! Jets, Jets, Jets!' right on his backswing ... It was a funny fan moment," Darnold said to Alex Myers of Golf Digest. "(Uihlein) turned around and then just kept walking. He was laser focused and still hit a good shot."

Allen admitted he may have played a starring role in the incident.

"I was right there and pumping up the crowd just trying to get Sam recognized a little more," Allen smirked. "So I had something, maybe, to do with that, but I can't confirm or deny any of those allegations."

Uihlein didn't appear to be perturbed but finished Saturday sitting at +12, tied for 43rd in the tournament.

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Author: Arun Srinivasan
Posted: June 16, 2018, 11:07 pm

Wentz ready for chance to help bring LeBron to Philly

If Carson Wentz's town needs his help to bring in another star athlete, he's ready for the call.

The Philadelphia 76ers are considered one of the top potential landing spots for LeBron James in free agency this offseason. Eagles teammates Wentz and Zach Ertz elected themselves as recruiters for the 76ers during a trip to Game 4 of the NBA Finals, and the star quarterback is prepared to continue that role if it means Philly gets the King.

"Absolutely," Wentz told reporters Wednesday, according to NFL.com's Jason B. Hirschhorn. "I hope (James) is coming. Ertz and I were there the other night and unfortunately, he lost and everything. I didn't really care who won that game. But seeing him live, we decided to make it a recruiting trip."

We’re here for one reason only... #CompleteTheProcess https://t.co/IWLynzUT2b

— Zach Ertz (@ZERTZ_86) June 9, 2018

It's unclear what Wentz and Ertz did to help lure James to the City of Brotherly Love at Game 4, but with the fight for James' signature expected to be fierce, the 76ers will likely welcome any help from the city's reigning sporting heroes.

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Author: Jack Browne
Posted: June 16, 2018, 6:09 pm

Brady: Retirement is 'coming sooner, rather than later'

At nearly 41 years old, Tom Brady can see the end of his NFL journey looming.

In an excerpt from an interview with Oprah Winfrey, set to air Sunday, the New England Patriots star quarterback admitted he's pondering retirement more often as he wants to spend more time with his children.

"I think about it more now than I used to," Brady said, according to Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald. "I think I'm seeing there's definitely an end coming sooner, rather than later."

Brady has made it clear on numerous occasions that he believes he can play into his mid-40s. However, when pressed on what age he's aiming to play until by Oprah, the five-time Super Bowl champion refused to get specific.

"As long as I’m still loving it," Brady said. "As long as I'm loving the training and the preparation and willing to make the commitment. But it's also, I think what I alluded to a lot in the docu-series ("Tom vs. Time"), there's other things happening in my life, too.

"I do have kids that I love, and I don’t want to be a dad that’s not there, driving my kids to their games . . . my kids have brought a great perspective in my life. Kids just want the attention. You better be there. And be available to them."

Related: Brady cites 'personal reasons' for OTA absence

Brady's offseason has been dominated by his absence from the Patriots voluntary workouts, a departure from his usual preparations. The NFL's reigning MVP did report for mandatory minicamp at the start of June, along with Rob Gronkowski, who has also appeared more disconnected from the Patriots since the end of the season.

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Author: Jack Browne
Posted: June 16, 2018, 5:20 pm

Titans' Lewis: Henry and I can be NFL's best RB duo

Mike Mularkey's "exotic smashmouth" brand of football might be dead in Tennessee, but the Titans are still set to rely heavily on their two-headed backfield for the 2018 campaign.

Free-agent signing Dion Lewis has replaced DeMarco Murray as Derrick Henry's running mate, and the former New England Patriot believes he and Henry have the potential to become the NFL's best running back tandem.

"I see him every day, so he's not as big as he was the first day," Lewis joked about Henry, according to ESPN's Cameron Wolfe. "I don't know if I'm growing or he's shrinking."

"We both know we're two good backs. We're pushing each other every day. We feel like we can be two of the best running backs in the league. We feel like we can be the best duo in the league," Lewis added.

Lewis excelled in his first extended stint as an every-down back in 2017, rushing for nearly 900 yards on 180 carries and adding 214 yards through the air. The bruising, 247-pound Henry, meanwhile, is widely expected to take a leap in his development after sitting behind Murray for the first two years of his career.

The Titans' duo has significant competition for the title of the NFL's best running back duo from New Orleans Saints pairing Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram and the Atlanta Falcons' Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, among others. But with the super-athletic Marcus Mariota under center and a new offensive scheme being implemented, the sky is the limit for the talented Tennessee backfield.

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Author: Jack Browne
Posted: June 16, 2018, 4:41 pm

Beckham says he won't hold out of training camp

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said Saturday he won't hold out of training camp even though he's yet to receive the rich contract extension he desires.

"Yes you will," Beckham told SNY's Ralph Vacchiano when asked if he'll be seen at training camp in July. "No holdout," he added.

Reports earlier in the offseason suggested Beckham was prepared to not set foot on the field until his contract was addressed, but his attendance throughout the Giants' offseason program indicated otherwise.

The 25-year-old is heading into the final year of his rookie contract. He's made it known he wishes to be the highest-paid receiver in football - if not the highest-paid player in the entire NFL.

However, Vacchiano reports - citing sources - that there's been no sign of progress in contract talks between Beckham and the Giants.

Beckham has been a limited participant in team workouts during the offseason while continuing rehabilitation on the ankle he fractured early last season. He registered at least 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns in each of his first three campaigns, becoming the fastest player in league history to record 200 career catches and 4,000 career receiving yards along the way.

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Author: Alex Chippin
Posted: June 16, 2018, 4:37 pm

Kellen Winslow Jr. pleads not guilty to rape charges

Former NFL tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. plead not guilty to multiple counts of rape, kidnapping, and other sex crimes Friday at Vista Superior Court in California.

Winslow was arraigned on two charges of kidnapping with intent to commit rape, two counts of forcible rape, single counts of forcible sodomy, forcible oral copulation, indecent exposure, and two counts of residential burglary. He was arrested Thursday afternoon in San Diego.

Prosecutors claim the 34-year-old kidnapped and raped a 59-year-old woman in March, and a 54-year-old woman in May. If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Winslow's attorney, Brian Watkins, was in court Friday but could not be reached for comment. Winslow will return to court on June 25 for a preliminary hearing.

The former tight end spent 10 seasons in the NFL between the Browns, Buccaneers, Patriots, and Jets. He was selected No. 6 overall in the 2004 NFL Draft by Cleveland.

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Author: Mike Alessandrini
Posted: June 16, 2018, 12:42 am

Ravens' Weddle: Bringing in Jackson, Griffin 'lit a fire' under Flacco

The Baltimore Ravens made a number of offseason roster moves on the offensive side of the ball, most notably signing free agent Robert Griffin III and selecting Lamar Jackson 32nd overall in the 2018 draft.

But following those additions at quarterback, longtime Baltimore starter Joe Flacco has impressed his teammates with his desire to prove himself as the top signal-caller in town.

"With drafting Lamar and bringing Griffin in, it's lit a fire under him (Flacco)," Ravens safety Eric Weddle told reporters Friday, according to NFL.com's Herbie Teope. "You can tell and he's shown. He's worked extremely hard. As older players, every year is a prove-it year, and if you don't believe that, you're fooling yourself."

Like it or not, Flacco will spend the 2018 season with Jackson hot on his tail, especially if the offense sputters out of the gate. Baltimore ranked 27th in total offense in 2017, but added Michael Crabtree, John Brown, and Willie Snead at wide receiver, and drafted Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews at tight end.

Flacco, entering his 11th season, has embraced Jackson's arrival, but has also acknowledged that the Ravens selecting a quarterback in the first round "means something."

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Author: Mike Alessandrini
Posted: June 15, 2018, 8:51 pm

Eagles give Super Bowl ring to former secretary fired by Chip Kelly

A longtime Philadelphia Eagles secretary who was eventually fired by former head coach Chip Kelly received a Super Bowl LII ring from the team as a token of appreciation for her years of service.

So my aunt works for the eagles for three decades as the head coach’s secretary.
Chip Kelly fires her.
The Eagles win the super bowl.
I get the below text messages last night.
I’ve never loved and organization more. pic.twitter.com/YaeMrl6TI1

— Brianna (@briannawrist) June 15, 2018

As Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia notes, Brianna's aunt is Carol Wilson, who was listed as the "executive assistant to head coach" in the Eagles' 2012 media guide.

The championship rings, which were unveiled Thursday night, are adorned with 219 diamonds and 17 green sapphires. They also feature the Eagles' 2017 mantra, "We all we got, we all we need," inscribed on the side.

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Author: Caitlyn Holroyd
Posted: June 15, 2018, 8:11 pm

Report: Cowboys' Irving suspended 4 games for violating substance abuse policy

Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving will be suspended four games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, a source told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Irving recorded 22 tackles, seven sacks, and a forced fumble in 12 games during the 2017 season.

This is the second suspension of Irving's career after he served a four-game ban for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy in 2017.

A versatile lineman capable of playing both end and tackle, Irving's absence is a major setback for the Cowboys' defense.

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Author: Arun Srinivasan
Posted: June 15, 2018, 7:38 pm

Browns' Garrett says he isn't beefing with Durant

Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett downplayed the notion of having a beef with Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant following controversial remarks made Thursday.

Garrett said during an interview on 92.3 The Fan that he believes Durant took "the easy way out" by joining the Warriors as a free agent in 2016 when the team was coming off a record 73-9 season. Durant has won consecutive Finals MVP awards since joining the Warriors and plans to re-sign with the team this summer.

Durant received surprise support from Smash Mouth, a band best known for its 1999 hit "All Star" and an appearance on the "Shrek" soundtrack.

Hey Myles Garrett,.....nobody knows who the F you are so nobody gives a F what you would do. And Genius the @warriors didn't win the Championship the season before KD signed. So not sure what "coattails" you're referring to. This your Twitter page Aaaaahole? @MylesLGarrett

— Smash Mouth (@smashmouth) June 14, 2018

The 2017 first overall pick qualified his comments after they gained traction.

I don’t have any beef with anybody , I’m still going to enjoy watching Shrek and listening to the soundtrack 🤷🏾‍♂️ everybody has an opinion

— Jurassic Myles🦖 (@MylesLGarrett) June 15, 2018

It appears Garrett shares the opinion of many basketball fans. Durant, meanwhile, is surely enjoying his summer as a massive new contract possibly lies ahead.

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Author: Arun Srinivasan
Posted: June 15, 2018, 7:32 pm

5 NFL stars worth watching in their returns from injury

The NFL suffered a major blow 2017 with the number of stars who missed much or all of the season due to major injuries. You could find a superstar (or two) at almost every position whose injury directly impacted his team’s place in the standings.

Too many prime-time games lost their luster when backups were thrown into prominent positions, which is probably one reason for the 2018 ratings dip.

Wednesday, we examined the impact Andrew Luck could have on the Colts after he missed the 2017 season to recover from shoulder surgery. The Colts can reclaim their status as an AFC South powerhouse if Luck comes back and is truly himself again.

Here’s a look at five other stars whose comebacks will be worth watching:

QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers

A healthy Rodgers is the difference between Green Bay re-emerging as NFC North champs and legit Super Bowl contenders, or falling into last place in the division, even behind the improved Chicago Bears. The Packers were 4-2 in 2018 and looking formidable until a broken collarbone sidelined the 2014 MVP for seven weeks, a span when Rodgers' team won just three games.

The 34-year-old came back early and labored through a loss to the Carolina Panthers that knocked the Packers out of playoff contention. Then he went on injured reserve as Green Bay dropped its last two games.

Since the start of 2010, the Packers are 77-33 when Rodgers starts and just 6-11-1 when he doesn’t. The Packers, behind a new GM, finally took an aggressive approach to free agency, bringing in Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson to help Rodgers lead Green Bay back to the Super Bowl.

Rodgers took the Packers to the postseason every year from 2009 to 2016, winning the Super Bowl in 2010. But he’s 0-2 since then in conference championship games. The Packers have enough around him to get back to the Super Bowl if he can stay protected and healthy.

WR Odell Beckham Jr., Giants

Beckham wants to be the league’s highest-paid player. He won’t have that chance without converting to quarterback and playing at an All-Pro level. But he does have the chance to reset the wide-receiver market with a bounce-back season after undergoing surgery to repair a broken ankle five games into 2017.

Beckham put up insane numbers his first three seasons, making the Pro Bowl every year while recording 288 receptions for 4,122 yards and 35 touchdowns. He had more receiving yards and just five fewer touchdowns in his first three seasons than Jerry Rice did after three years.

When healthy, there’s no question Beckham is the most dominant receiver in the league. But his behavior also causes fits for Giants coaches and ownership, which is why he hasn’t received an extension yet despite that astronomical production.

The Giants are banking on Beckham to stay levelheaded and put up great numbers in a contract year, all while being part of an outstanding supporting cast for 36-year-old Eli Manning that also includes No. 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley, flashy slot receiver Sterling Shepard, and speedy tight end Evan Engram. The Giants have weapons, and they could be scary good offensively if Beckham is motivated by the payday looming ahead.

DE J.J. Watt, Texans

He once seemed destined to join Reggie White, Lawrence Taylor, and Deacon Jones on the league’s Mount Rushmore of pass-rushers. Now, Watt is fighting to keep his career alive before he turns 30.

Major injuries have sidelined Watt for all but eight games over the past two seasons, and he's recorded just 1.5 sacks during that period as a result. That's a dramatic decline from the force who racked up 69 sacks from 2012 to 2015, leading the NFL twice and producing two 20-plus sack seasons.

Watt broke his leg early in 2017 during what was supposed to be a comeback year after a back injury that required surgery. The Texans have enough firepower to win the AFC South, especially if quarterback Deshaun Watson returns from the ACL injury that prematurely ended his dazzling rookie season.

Watt can combine with defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus to give the Texans a potent front seven. If Watt is anywhere near the 20-sack force we saw earlier in his career, the Texans could easily make a deep postseason run.

QB Carson Wentz, Eagles

It’s been a long time since the NFL has seen a quarterback challenge for MVP in just his second season. Carson Wentz was battling Tom Brady neck-and-neck for the award in 2017 until tearing knee ligaments in Week 14.

Wentz suffered the injury before he threw his 33rd touchdown of the year, setting a new franchise record. Nick Foles then took over and led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl title. Remarkably, Wentz should be ready for the 2018 season opener despite suffering the injury so late in 2017, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

Wentz is already participating in 7-on-7 drills during OTAs and is expected to take first-team reps when training camp begins in July. The Eagles won the Super Bowl without him, but there’s no question they’re more equipped to become the first team since the Patriots in 2004 to repeat as champs if Wentz is leading the huddle.

S Eric Berry, Chiefs

The Chiefs lost Berry during their 2017 season opener when the five-time Pro Bowl safety ruptured his Achilles. Berry went on injured reserve and the Chiefs defense ranked outside the top seven for the first time since 2013, finishing 15th overall and 28th in scoring. That’s how valuable Berry is to Kansas City.

Earl Thomas might be the league’s only safety who can make an argument that he’s better than Berry, a freak of nature who’s already overcome an ACL injury and cancer earlier in this career. It’s not shocking Berry has been practicing with the team during OTAs.

The Chiefs are skilled up front, but they need Berry to return at full strength and play at a Pro Bowl level to help support an offense that could be prolific if second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes takes a huge step forward.

Geoff Mosher is an award-winning sports reporter, radio host, and TV personality with more than 20 years of experience covering all major sports and leagues. He also hosts regularly on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia and co-hosts "The Sports Shop" on Facebook.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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Author: Geoff Mosher
Posted: June 15, 2018, 5:56 pm

Packers GM surprised initially by not having authority over head coach

Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst had major shoes to fill after taking his new role, and initially, he wasn't aware of one important detail.

Gutekunst, who was promoted from director of player personnel to general manager while replacing Ted Thompson, didn't realize he lacked the authority to fire the team's head coach. Packers president Mark Murphy retained that power during the team's restructuring, unbeknownst to Gutekunst, who recently spoke about his transition.

"It was certainly different than what I've been exposed to here in Green Bay," Gutekunst said to PackersNews.com. "I needed some time to kind of process it. I think the thing to me that made it OK with me was the people. The relationships I already had with Mark [Murphy] and Mike McCarthy and Russ Ball. I think that's what made it OK and made it easier for me. But it was certainly something I hadn't seen or been a part of in my professional career."

"It was something I wasn't expecting but I'm pretty happy with where we're at with it now," he added.

It appears Gutekunst has moved on and is looking to get the Packers back to the playoffs after missing the postseason for the first time since 2008.

- with h/t to NFL.com

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Author: Arun Srinivasan
Posted: June 15, 2018, 5:43 pm

Ezekiel Elliott 'all for' heavy workload in 2018

Running back Ezekiel Elliott is ready to carry the Dallas Cowboys' offense in 2018 as he comes off a suspension-shortened 2017 campaign.

"I'm all for it, you know what I mean?" Elliott said as the Cowboys wrapped up minicamp Thursday, according to Drew Davison of the Star-Telegram. "A lot is asked from the running back for the Dallas Cowboys, a lot has been asked for me the past two seasons, and I think I've had some great strides this offseason getting ready to carry that workload this season."

Elliott led the NFL in rushing attempts (322) and yards (1,631) and finished third in rushing touchdowns (15) in his 2016 rookie season. He was on pace to shatter that per-game workload in 2017 before serving a six-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy that appeals and legal challenges ultimately delayed until Weeks 10-15. The suspension followed an NFL investigation into his former girlfriend's reports he'd committed domestic violence against her in 2016.

Running backs coach Gary Brown has told Elliott to be prepared for a lot of work as he enters his third season.

"Come in and be in the best shape of your life. Be ready to get a lot of carries early," Brown said, recounting what he'd told the running back. "It is going to be a situation where defenses are going to try to stop us. They are going to try their best, but they are not going to be able to."

- With h/t to NFL.com

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Author: Esten McLaren
Posted: June 15, 2018, 4:25 pm

Fact or fiction: Breaking down the boldest offseason takes from NFL teams

The slowest parts of the offseason generally tend to consist of team personnel talking excessively positively about the players in attendance at voluntary workouts or minicamp.

The players most prone to this exaggerated praise are typically the newcomers, or younger players in positions for their best seasons to date.

Here, we attempt to decipher some of the loftier commendations as teams conclude early practices, and get set to break until the start of training camps in roughly a month's time.

Fact

Tarik Cohen's "a player you get giddy about" - Bears HC Matt Nagy

New Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy appears to have big plans for sophomore running back Tarik Cohen.

"He's actually the one kid on this team that I knew had a lot of talent, but he comes out here and runs every route the right way, catches most balls and he doesn't make a lot of mistakes … He's a player you get giddy about," Nagy said, according to Adam Hoge of WGN.

Cohen caught 53 of 71 targets for 353 yards and one touchdown while playing just 36.4 percent of offensive snaps in his rookie season. It was the same amount of receptions Kansas City Chiefs lead back Kareem Hunt finished with in 2017 (in 64.9 percent of the snaps) while working under Nagy, then offensive coordinator of the Chiefs.

While Jordan Howard is expected to remain as the Bears' No. 1 option in the backfield, Cohen's diverse skill set and expertise in the passing game will keep him on the field in a big role.

Jay Ajayi will be the workhorse this season - Eagles RBs coach Duce Staley

Running back Jay Ajayi was able to help the Eagles win Super Bowl LII after being acquired at the 2017 trade deadline, but the 25-year-old could be asked to fill a larger role in his first full season with the team.

"Just him being focused, coming in, knowing he's the guy, knowing he's the guy that's going to step up there and just put everything on his back and ride with him," running backs coach Duce Staley said, according to Dave Spadaro and Chris McPherson of PhiladelphiaEagles.com.

The former Miami Dolphins lead back formed a committee with LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement upon his arrival in Philadelphia last season, but with the former now gone, Ajayi seems likely to pick up extra work.

He received at least 14 combined touches in each of his final five games before the Super Bowl and he could be set to absorb the majority of Blount's average of nearly seven carries per game in those same outings.

Veteran Darren Sproles will return from injury to help in the passing game, and Clement earned a significant role with his 100-yard receiving game in the Super Bowl, but Ajayi will lead the way.

49ers could use Jimmie Ward as a backup at every secondary position - HC Kyle Shanahan

The 49ers' quickly rebuilt secondary could be pushing 2014 first-round pick Jimmie Ward back to a bench role after he started 16 of 18 games played over the past two years.

"If Jimmie doesn't earn a starting role, there's also a good chance he's the first backup at every single position: strong safety, free safety, nickel (corner), (outside) corner, because he's capable of being a starter at all of those positions," head coach Kyle Shanahan said, according to Eric Branch of SF Gate.

Ward is currently in competition with Adrian Colbert for the free safety job Colbert assumed following Ward's 2017 injury. Jaquiski Tartt is locked in as the strong safety, with Richard Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon, and K'Waun Williams likely to take the three corner back jobs.

Fiction

Tavon Austin will get 12-24 touches per game - Cowboys VP Stephen Jones

No offseason is complete without the annual Tavon Austin hype and predicted breakout.

The Cowboys acquired the former eighth overall pick of the St. Louis Rams in exchange for a sixth-round pick in late April.

Cowboys Executive Vice President Stephen Jones got right to work in setting expectations for the 28-year-old.

Receipts pic.twitter.com/HaRGcDXApA

— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) May 10, 2018

Austin averaged 4.5 offensive touches per game for 317 total yards from scrimmage (4.4 yards per touch) over a full season with the Rams in 2017. He returned a combined 13 kickoffs and punts in 16 games.

It would be a sub-optimal strategy for the Cowboys to then devote 12-24 touches per game to Austin while he's in an offense with running back Ezekiel Elliott, who compiled 322 carries and 32 receptions in his rookie season and is now coming off a suspension-shortened 2017 campaign.

Factor in the free-agent additions of wide receivers Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson, and the third-round draft selection of Michael Gallup, and the Cowboys would be wise to look elsewhere on offense.

Kenyan Drake "looking to bust out ... can do multiple things" - Dolphins HC Adam Gase

Kenyan Drake composed one half of the tandem that replaced Ajayi following the trade deadline. Damien Williams was allowed to walk in free agency, seemingly clearing the way for Drake, a third-round pick in 2016, entering his third season with the team.

"I think we just have a guy that's really looking to bust out," head coach Adam Gase said in May, according to Jason Lieser of The Daily Dolphin.

"I think we've got a guy that can do multiple things. You could put him in the slot if you wanted to. You can use him in empty, you can use him from the backfield," Gase added.

The Dolphins then chose to sign Frank Gore as a free agent in mid-March, and they used a fourth-round pick on running back Kalen Ballage in April.

While Drake seemed capable of handling that No. 1 role, the Dolphins found the need to add competition in the backfield and now seem intent on using the hot hand.

"The guy that gives us the best chance to win, that gives the Miami Dolphins the best chance to win, that's who's got to be the guy who's out there for us and helping us win football games," running backs coach Eric Studesville said this month, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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Author: Esten McLaren
Posted: June 15, 2018, 2:58 pm

What can't he do? Kuechly playing WR for Panthers' scout team

Few linebackers can do it all quite like perennial All-Pro Luke Kuechly, who is the key cog of the Carolina Panthers' defense.

But as he's limited in practice after undergoing shoulder surgery this spring, Kuechly has found a new way to help: playing wide receiver for the scout team offense during OTAs and minicamp, a role normally filled by depth players.

"I can't do anything in practice right now, so I've got to do that. That's one thing I can do," said Kuechly, according to the Panthers' official site. "Plus, I never played wide receiver, and that's the closest I'm ever going to get to playing wide receiver."

Kuechly also tried his hand at center during Wednesday's sessions. In grade school, the former Defensive Player of the Year played at linebacker, guard, fullback, and running back, but he apparently wasn't much of a rusher.

"But I never got the ball (as a running back)," Kuechly said. "I guess I wasn't very good at it. I don't even play running back on scout team because I'm not good at it."

The five-time Pro Bowler said he intends to keep helping out on offense even when he's medically cleared.

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Author: Jack Browne
Posted: June 15, 2018, 1:34 pm

theScore's 2018 Fantasy Football Draft Kit

With fantasy draft season underway, theScore has the award-winning rankings and expert advice you need to dominate your league. Make sure to check back for updates right up until the regular season kicks off.

2018 Fantasy Rankings

Standard Rankings
QB | RB | WR | TE | DEF | K | Top 200
PPR Rankings
RB | WR | TE | Top 200
Dynasty
Top 300 | Rookies

QB RB WR
1. Rodgers 1. Gurley 1. Brown
2. Wilson 2. Bell 2. Hopkins
3. Watson 3. Elliott 3. Jones
More More More

theScore's Justin Boone is coming off his fifth top-10 finish in FantasyPros' Most Accurate Expert Competition. Follow the links above to see his rankings for every position heading into 2018.

Position Primers

A quick overview on every notable player's fantasy outlook.

Breakouts, Busts, Sleepers

Depth Charts

Updated depth charts reflecting a combination of current rosters and projected fantasy value.

Target or Avoid

Offensive Line Rankings

Breaking down all 32 offensive lines, taking into account past performance, offseason upgrades, overall depth, and the very underrated element of continuity.

Mock Drafts

A glimpse at what your drafts might look like, with insight on each round.

Position Tiers

Auction Values

Values are based on 12-team leagues with a $200 salary cap in a standard scoring format.

QB | RB | WR | TE | DEF | K

Exceeding Expectations

A look at undervalued players heading into the season.

Dynasty Leagues

Give your dynasty teams an edge with our rankings and analysis.

Bye Week Advice

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Author: Justin Boone
Posted: June 8, 2018, 10:59 pm

Real people, real networks - worldwide

World Stream Live is dedicated to delivering incredible live streamed performances of music,sports events and various other streaming media.