Austin Seferian-Jenkins offers support to Dylan Donahue

Austin Seferian-Jenkins knew the road Dylan Donahue was heading down.

Not the wrong lane of the Lincoln Tunnel specifically, but the greater issue he was dealing with.

The Jaguars tight end and former Jet has tried to help Donahue, after the Jets linebacker checked himself into rehab following a wrong-way crash into a bus.

The most important thing I want to resonate with him is truly finding what’s the underlying issue. Because it’s not necessarily just alcohol. Can he find it? Can he tame it? Nobody’s perfect. It’s not an easy road by any means. But I wanted to make sure that he finds that happiness without a substance. I just really was worried about him. First of all, I just wanted to make sure that he was good as a person and can find himself. Because he’s a really cool dude. He’s a special guy.

Donahue actually had another drunk driving arrest before the tunnel incident, but the Jets stood by the 2017 fifth-rounder, who played in just four games last year before an elbow injury ended his season.

Seferian-Jenkins stood by him too, and that support may make a huge difference.

As noted on Thursday by LawAndCrime.com, attorney Mark Geragos suggested in a Thursday tweet that efforts of the top two members of the executive branch to pressure the NFL to force players to stand for the anthem potentially run afoul of Title 18, Section 227 of the United States Code. A violation of 18 U.S.C. 227 arises if the President and/or the Vice President intended to influence, solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation, an employment decision or employment practice of any private entity and influence[d], or offers or threatens to influence, the official act of another.

A clear example of a prohibited action under 18 U.S.C. 227 would arise if, for example, the President pressures a news outlet to fire a reporter who asks too many tough questions, under threat of revoking access. While more murky as it relates to the NFL, it seems fairly clear that the President and/or the Vice President have pressured (successfully) the NFL to remove the pre-existing right of its players to protest during the national anthem.

It feels too simple to be applicable, but the language is as plain as it can be. And the punishment feels too harsh, with imprisonment of up to 15 years and potential disqualification from holding office.

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Saints place center Gabe Ikard on reserve/retired list

Former New Orleans Saints center Gabe Ikard has decided to retire from football after parts of five seasons spent in the NFL.

Clearly, the dispute regarding the facts of the interactions between the Seahawks and Kaepernick will become an issue in his collusion grievance, which already was due to include depositions of Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and Seahawks G.M. John Schneider. If those interactions happened verbally, the truth will be resolved by an assessment of the accuracy and overall credibility of the witnesses. If those interactions happened via email or text message, it may be a lot easier to decide who’s telling the truth, and who isn’t.

This is a common dynamic in employment litigation. Early on, the business refuses to consider settlement, opting to fight, fight, and fight some more. Then, after realizing following a few rounds (and one or two standing-eight counts) that the fight may not end well, settlement suddenly becomes far more palatable.

For Kaepernick and Geragos, the question possibly becomes whether they’re willing at this point to let the league and its teams off the ropes, or whether they choose to punch them through.

Sept. 9, 1 p.m. Perhaps a surprising inclusion, this game features a few intriguing quarterback subplots. Kirk Cousins signed with Minnesota in March, though it was once believed he would reunite with Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. Instead, Jimmy Garoppolo is in charge after joining the Niners in a trade last October. He impressed in six games, going 5-0 as a starter, but a challenge against a stout Vikes defense should be captivating.

After a surprisingly strong rookie season, Diggs badly struggled in coverage his second year before suffering a season-ending pec injury. He bounced back with a vengeance in 2017, first in his normal nickel role, and also later in the year, when he was asked to move to safety. The hard-hitting defensive back transitioned smoothly to that new role, even recording interceptions in three straight games.

Oft-injured, Robinson has flashed potential over the years when he hasn’t been banged up. He’s started games at three different spots, including an unexpected opportunity at guard last season. Ideally, he’s best suited to back up both tackles. There’s still some untapped potential here and there’s a good chance he sticks with Detroit this season in that swing role.

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Every player is asked the same question by at least one reporter at the NFL Scouting Combine: Who do you compare yourself to in the NFL?

Responses at this year’s combine included LSU’s Derrius Guice seeing Beast Mode in himself, and N.C. State’s Bradley Chubb attempting to fuse two of the league’s best edge rushers into one star.

These things — releasing a player who’s making more money than his performance is worth — indeed happen in pro sports. But what Bryant chalked it up to — him not being one of the Garrett guys, who he said expedited his departure — isn’t as common. Not surprisingly, Jones pleaded ignorance on the latter.

We likely won’t know the depth of the locker room dynamic until most of these guys are retired and left only to tell war stories. Bryant isn’t afraid to speak his piece, but there isn’t much more to say than what’s already been said (unless he starts naming names). Instead, we’ll watch to see where he lands, and if/how Dallas (which currently has a trio of Terrance Williams, Allen Hurns and Cole Beasley at receiver) replaces him.

In 2009, Stafford joined a pitiful Lions team that had an aging Daunte Culpepper and Drew Stanton in the quarterback room. It didn’t take long for Stafford to win the opening day gig. The 2018 Browns traded for veteran Tyrod Taylor and signed Stanton — who must love playing for winless teams — this offseason. Taylor could open training camp as the starter if the rookie drafted isn’t ready take the reins out of the gate.

However the situation shakes out, Stafford’s advice to any rookie is to continue the work that made him the top selection.

Some of those guys are going to go to teams all across the board and different, you know, positions as a team, as an organization, as a roster, all of that, Stafford said. I think the biggest thing you can do is just go be yourself. Be yourself, work hard and let the chips fall as they may. If those guys do that, I think they’ll be successful. All those guys are super talented. You watch them play in college football and they do a great job with their teams. Just go out there, and have fun doing it.

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Griffin listens intently and scowls.

The edge isn’t going anywhere, he says. That edge has been building since I was four years old. People start getting their edge when they start getting good at football—at an older age—but I got this when I was young. I’ve been doubted since I was four years old playing football.

It only grows. It never weakens.

He wants everyone to know his twin is an athlete like everyone else, that Griffin has no limitations and is without a doubt the best defensive player in the draft.

The only thing he has to do is be Shaquem Griffin, Shaquill says. If he can be Shaquem Griffin when he gets to the league, he has nothing to worry about.

The first will be familiar to everyone already glued to this feel-good story. Griffin was four years old…in the kitchen…holding a knife…ready to slice off his deformed left hand. Every time he bumped it, it hurt. He couldn’t play ball with his brothers. His mother seized the knife and had a doctor amputate the hand the next day.

What most may not know, though, is what happened when the Griffins got home. Mom instructed Griffin not to muddy up that bandage. He ignored her and played football. Needed to play football. And he was the happiest four-year-old on the planet.

No wonder he describes that second crossroads almost as an incarceration. Those first three years at Central Florida—under head coach George O’Leary—Griffin was stuck on the scout team as his twin flourished. Stuck in Unit 412, Room C. He’s not letting O’Leary off the hook yet, no. He says he pleaded his case for playing countless times to coaches, and they’d say whatever they could to get him out of the room.

Under O’Leary, he felt like a charity case.

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Twitter is convinced Tom Brady is the man who threatened Stormy Daniels over Trump lawsuit

Daniels herself assured The View on air that the sketch was accurate according to her memory — recollections of a man threatening her in front of her then-infant daughter and telling her not to speak of her 2006 encounter with Trump. She made no suggestion, however, that said man was also Tom Brady.

As soon as that sketch made its way to Twitter, well, Twitter’s tweeters did exactly as you’d expect them to do — they hunted for culprits. And one of the most popular ones, by far, had to be Brady, the same New England Patriots quarterback who once said a Trump presidency would be great and whose team once handcrafted a Super Bowl ring for Trump.

It that’s time of year; the misinformation is flowing and I don’t expect the next 20 minutes to be any different, Keim said, opening the interview session that lasted just a tad longer than 20 minutes.

Want to know whom the Cardinals plan to take with the 15th overall pick? Forget it. Want to know if they’re willing to make a splash and trade up to snag one of the top four quarterback prospects? Nice try. Keim and Wilks weren’t about to tip their hand on any front other than to say they’re preparing as hard as ever for this year’s draft, which will be held next Thursday through Saturday, and they hope they nail it.

About the only thing Keim was willing to unveil is that the team’s primary draft board will be set by Friday, when the Cardinals will have their top 120 players ranked in order. He added that the organization has prepared 5,000 reports involving some 200 players and that the club has left no stone unturned from big schools to small schools, and we’ve certainly searched high and low.

Not for nothing, but Carroll responded last month to Sherman’s claims that Carroll’s style was meant more for college, saying that Sherman has been saying stuff his whole career, so this is nothing different. I’ve been through so much of what he has said, I take it all with a grain of salt. He’s just battling. He’s just trying to figure it out.

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AJ McCarron isn’t worrying about Bills’ plans at QB

Listen, I can’t worry about that because it creates mental clutter for myself. So if I create mental clutter for myself, I can’t become the best player, the best teammate that I need to be for this team, McCarron said Tuesday during a break in Buffalo’s offseason workouts.

Everybody has labels for you… I can’t sit there worried about what somebody else thinks about me — a bridge quarterback or not that good of a quarterback — whatever it is, McCarron said. I know I trust in myself. I have self-confidence. I think that’s what makes people successful, and not worry about what my teammates and coaches think. I just go from there. I don’t worry about labels.

Labels aside, McCarron was unable to shake Dalton in Cincinnati. The former Alabama star has a legitimate shot to open the season as Buffalo’s starter — but keeping the job will be an entirely different story.

As the NFL draft nears, the Cleveland Browns are still doing their homework on quarterbacks. The final exam is quickly approaching, but the No. 1 pick remains an unknown to everyone, including coach Hue Jackson. On Tuesday, Jackson dismissed reports that general manager John Dorsey has settled on a quarterback and said the top prospects – Southern California’s Sam Darnold, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and UCLA’s Josh Rosen – remain in contention to be selected by the Browns.

I think they all are (in the mix) today, he said. I think we haven’t settled on that yet. Coming off a 0-16 season, the Browns, who haven’t been able to adequately fix their quarterback problem for years, are being thorough in their evaluation of what is considered a very strong QB class. Jackson and Dorsey have attended pro days and private workouts and the team has hosted the top four quarterbacks, along with 2017 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, at its headquarters in Berea, Ohio. Jackson insists Dorsey hasn’t made up his mind on the top choice.

When I say this I mean it, John Dorsey and his group, they don’t come up for air, Jackson said. This is 24 hours, seven days a week, through the weekend. I’ve worked more on the weekends here than I ever had to be a part of this. That’s what John does. There’s no detail that we’re going to leave unturned. So there’s a lot of time being spent to get this right.

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Stafford: Matt Patricia brings’great energy’ to Lions

Allen Park — The confluence of a new season and a new coach has generated expected optimism and excitement around the Detroit Lions, not just with the fans, but with the players, who began the offseason program with voluntary workouts last week.

Matt Patricia — hired in February as Jim Caldwell’s replacement at the helm — has wasted little time making a good first impression with the team.

Lovullo said first base coach Dave McKay took blame for Saturday night’s base running miscue that cost Deven Marrero a home run. With two on and one out in the fourth inning, Marrero hit what appeared to be a three-run homer off Rich Hill over the left center field wall.

But Alex Avila, who was on first base, went back to the first base to tag up thinking the ball may be caught. In the process, Marrero passed Avila on the base path between first and second. Roberts appealed the play and the after a review, Marrero was ruled out.

It was pretty impressive how Dave… was accountable for the home run baserunning mistake, Lovullo said. He said it was his fault and I know he felt bad about it. I think we were all ball watching at the time.

But he’ll be champing at the bit if he sees Bryant line up against him in an actual game, something that Bryant has stated he’d like to do. Oh, it’d be even better [than in practice], Jones said, smiling. I am sure he is going to find a way to play against us at some point. I don’t think he’s going to lose his dominance anytime soon. He’s still got a lot more years left in him. Jones and Heath had only good things to say about their former teammate. Heath remembered how Bryant played down the stretch in 2014. Heath specifically pointed to the 158-yard, two-touchdown performance Bryant had against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London, and the three-touchdown game at Philadelphia in December that season. The end of that season he was arguably the best receiver in the league at that point, Heath said. He’d always make crazy catches in practice, but we kind of got used to that.

We’d see it so much. As a rookie, I’d be kind of impressed by it and then I was like,’Well, that’s Dez just doing what he does.’ I just have a lot of memories of him doing amazing things on the field. That’s a thing of the past. Monday marked the beginning of a Cowboys era without Dez Bryant. The voluntary, nine-week off-season program is conducted in three phases. Phase One, which started Monday, is two weeks of activities limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation only. It was good to see all the guys again, Heath said.

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Potential No. 1 overall pick Sam Darnold shines at soggy pro day

Given an out, USC quarterback Sam Darnold declined to move up his throwing session at his school’s pro day on Wednesday, choosing instead to throw under a steady rain in front of a throng of NFL decision-makers.

I don’t think it would have been fair to change the schedule with all of the other guys training for the pro day, Darnold said. So I just wanted my guys to be comfortable — my teammates — that was first and foremost.

Darnold said he has a couple visits lined up before the draft in April, but he did not disclose the teams.

Sam is not the kid you speed date; he’s the kid you marry. … People will fall in love the more they get to know him.

Darnold did not throw at the NFL scouting combine in February. However, he said it was important to answer questions about his throwing mechanics at his pro day, and he believes he’s worthy of the No. 1 overall pick.

I feel like I’m definitely capable of going No. 1, Darnold said. What the Browns are doing right now is really good. They’ve got a lot of good pieces right now. I think going there and being able to lead the way I lead and play the way I play, I think it would be a good situation.

The team also agreed to a three-year deal to keep linebacker Brock Coyle, who started 10 games last season before undergoing offseason shoulder surgery.

General manager John Lynch said McKinnon and Richburg were both high on the team’s priority list in free agency and he was glad to be able to lock both of them up as soon as the new league year started.

We see Weston as one of the top young interior offensive linemen in the NFL,Lynch said. His athleticism, intelligence and attitude are a perfect fit for our scheme. Jerick has proven to be an extremely versatile football player whose speed, elusiveness and tackle-breaking ability make him a very difficult matchup for defenses. We can’t wait to get them on the field with their teammates and coaches later this spring.

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NFL recommends simplifying language as to what defines a catch

The NFL has announced the final portions of a proposal to revise its controversial catch rule, one that would most notably eliminate the requirement to maintain control of the ball throughout the process of going to the ground.

We know the league is trying to avoid more controversial catch calls. But how can they do it? Here’s what the competition committee is likely to propose, its potential flaws and more.

The NFL has considered making similar changes in the past but decided against it because, former officiating chief Dean Blandino told ESPN, it would likely swap one set of controversies for another.

The Bills are suddenly now within striking distance to leapfrog the Jets in the draft.

If Cousins spurns the Jets, Maccagnan better be prepared to trade up with the Colts to secure the third pick. That would leave him with, at worst, the third Quarterback of the Future on his board.

He should also inquire about the first-overall pick to draft Sam Darnold (Browns GM John Dorsey also holds the fourth pick).

Dave Gettleman and the Giants own the second pick. Just imagine what he’d be asking should Maccagnan be forced to inquire about moving up. In that scenario, it would be called begging.

The Jets know from nightmares. It is up to Maccagnan to make sure this isn’t another one.

The 49ers started free agency Wednesday by getting some needed help for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, agreeing to a four-year contract with versatile running back Jerick McKinnon and a five-year deal with interior offensive lineman Weston Richburg just after the start of the new league year.

The two deals fill holes on the roster with McKinnon expected to replace departing starter Carlos Hyde and Richburg able to step in immediately as the starter either at center or guard.

McKinnon had his most productive season last year, when he ran for a career-high 570 yards while setting personal bests with 51 catches for 421 yards.

McKinnon replaces Carlos Hyde, who is leaving as a free agent for Cleveland. McKinnon has more speed and is a better receiving threat than Hyde and should fit well into coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

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Clay Helton: No issues with Sam Darnold’s competitive fire

Former USC quarterback Sam Darnold chose not to throw at the Scouting Combine. NFL Network chose to criticize Darnold for his decision, suggesting that he’s not a true competitor because he was unwilling to compete in something that, frankly, isn’t even a competition.

Darnold’s coach at USC takes issue with that characterization.

In my 24 years of experience all in college I have never been around a man that is more competitive than Sam Darnold, Helton told PFT Live. He loves to compete and loves to be able to show what he can do. When the timing is right he will.

Don’t be fooled by James Daniels’ positional designation. Pat Elflein is the Vikings’ starting center. But the offense needs help at both guard spots, as Nick Easton is still available in free agency and Joe Berger is pondering retirement, per Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press.

Daniels began his collegiate career by playing guard and offensive tackle before making the switch to center as a sophomore. The 6’3, 306-pound lineman is an outstanding athlete, and he excels with his reach blocks, getting to the second level and working in space. He shouldn’t have any problem moving back to guard, either.

James is a hell of a developmental prospect, if you will, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said, per Land of 10’s Scott Dochterman. In my mind, he could go and play guard for anybody next year, just about anybody in the league.

They’d have become unrestricted free agents on March 14 had the team not picked up the extra years.

Dotson’s been one of the steadiest players on their roster, lending a physical presence to their offensive line. But he’s coming off a knee injury which cost him the final five games of the year. Conte’s a regular starter, and Robinson’s a core special teamer.

The full guarantee at signing is $3 million, and only $3 million. Another $4 million should be earned in 2018, if he passes the preseason physical. After that, it’s up to the 49ers as to whether the deal continues into 2019.

The full base value of the deal is $21.15 million, with another $18 million tied to per-game roster bonuses, annual 90-percent playing-time incentives, an annual Pro Bowl incentive, and an annual All-Pro incentive.

To get the full $39.15 million, Sherman will need to play all 48 regular-season games over the next three years, be on the field for at least 90 percent of the snaps, make it to the Pro Bowl every year, and qualify for the All-Pro team every year.

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