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There are two big issues the supposed fix doesn’t address. One, the Patriots easily could be 0-4 in Super Bowls since Spygate.

“A perfect storm of issues” led to Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler being benched for Super Bowl 52, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday evening.

Butler, who because of illness arrived in Minneapolis a day after the rest of the Patriots, apparently didn’t practice well and, in a final complicating factor, violated a team rule “believed to be related to curfew,” according to the report.

Teams and coaches have always embraced the underdog role. The Eagles and Pederson brought it to a new level, as the team was motivated by the disrespect shown by oddsmakers who had the sixth-seeded Falcons and then the Vikings favored over the top-seeded Eagles.

The dog masks were a cute prop, but they sent a message of how the team and the proud city of Philadelphia felt when they were written off as injuries mounted. Besides Wentz, the Eagles lost All-Pro tackle Jason Peters, middle linebacker (and defensive signal caller) Jordan Hicks, elusive running back Darren Sproles, special teams captain Nick Maragos and kicker Caleb Sturgis.

They lost twice to the Giants, and unless you believe Seattle’s Russell Wilson intentionally tossed an interception at the goal line and Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan threw the game with play-calling, there is no cheat code for those New England victories. Had the Patriots lost those two games, the narrative around Belichick and Brady would be a hell of a lot different.

Two, there is never a good explanation for the entanglements within Goodell’s web. Does Goodell instruct officials not to call penalties on the Patriots? Do Belichick and Brady have knowledge of the situation? Is a ref patting Brady on the shoulder indicative of a league-wide conspiracy that if uncovered would destroy the NFL? If such conspiracy existed, millions would never watch again.bills_028

The Lions are expected to retain offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter

The move is noteworthy considering Detroit will officially hire Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia after New England competes in Super Bowl 52 against the Eagles.

Patricia will replace former head coach Jim Caldwell, who was dismissed on New Year’s Day after four seasons in Detroit.

“I’ve got a good routine that has really worked for me, especially the last 10-12 years. As long as I feel like I’m willing to make the commitment to do those things then I feel like my body will allow me to do that.”

The inevitability that he someday no longer will “feel good week after week, year after year” is not lost in Brady. The perceived robot eventually will reveal himself as a human vulnerable to an aging process. But why should Brady wait for that drift to mediocrity?

49. Robert Nkemdiche, defensive tackle, Cardinals (NR): He smoked synthetic marijuana, fell four stories out of an Atlanta hotel, got kicked off the team at Ole Miss, then threw teammate Laremy Tunsil under the bus at the scouting combine with one of the most (unintentionally) entertaining media sessions you will ever see.

50. Moritz Boehringer, wide receiver, Vikings (NR): A surprise sixth-round pick from Germany, Boehringer, currently on the practice squad, is trying to become the first player ever to make the direct leap to the NFL from European football.

It’s curious, because in Week 3, Watkins had six catches for 106 yards.

“As a player, of course you’re going to be frustrated,” Watkins told reporters in L.A. this week. “I don’t know a player, a wide receiver, that’s not frustrated throughout the game if you’re not getting the ball. Each week, it could change.’’

Burfict haters came into focus when Steelers players accused him of celebrating Le’Veon Bell’s season-ending injury in 2015. From there, Burfict’s beef with Pittsburgh continued, and a personal foul for a hit on Antonio Brown led to a three-game suspension for Burfict heading into 2016. He has developed a reputation because of too many personal fouls, which takes away from his tremendous talent on the field.bills_001

Remember that Dorsey’s first big move for the Chiefs was trading for Alex Smith.

“Whether it was or wasn’t, I can’t be the one to get a tech there in the fourth quarter,” Griffin said. “That put us in a hole and kind of started the whole onslaught, for lack of a better word, of technicals we got throughout the last four or five minutes, whatever it was. So I got to be better. But there’s a reason why there’s so much disparity and so much back and forth and so much tension right now [between players and officials].”

Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell got another technical foul a few minutes later, before Rivers and Woodson were kicked out of the game right before its conclusion.

Cleveland will have the West Coast intact as Hue Jackson adds an offensive coordinator, with former Giants coach Ben McAdoo as the leading candidate. Cousins also has said he would “seriously consider” playing for the Browns, despite their winless 2017 season. At a whopping $110 million under the cap, the Browns have plenty of space. Using some of that to lock up Cousins would still give new GM John Dorsey a ton to spend elsewhere in free agency. The Browns could then also draft the best players available at picks No. 1 and No. 4 in the first round.

He backed that up by putting the right support around Smith to make him most effective. The Browns already have several good skill-position players in place with Duke Johnson Jr., Corey Coleman, Josh Gordon and David Njoku. All signs point to it being Cleveland vs. the field for Cousins’ services.

Curry and Thompson combined to shoot 9-of-31 from the field. They finished with 19 and eight points, respectively.

“Shot selection definitely could have been better; KD was open for the dunk, but Klay hits that shot very often,” Green said of the play that would have pulled the Warriors to within one with 2:04 left. “So, I’m not going to look back and say, ‘Ah man we lost.’ … It is what it is. Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve.”

The Warriors coughed up the ball 19 times, translating to 23 points for the Rockets. Durant registered a team-high 26 points to go with seven boards and five assists. Chris Paul had a game-high 33 points along with 11 rebounds and seven assists in 35 minutes of play.

“Overwhelmed” would be a kind word to describe Peterman’s two starts as a fifth-round rookie. But keep in mind he went into the season as more of a developmental project and not with the mindset that he was going to be the No. 1 over Taylor. A full offseason with that mentality, in addition to more help around him, is bound to make Peterman improve.cowboys_095

We want to have a high bar set for screening.

As of the middle of November, the NFL said it had conducted 379 concussion evaluations (including preseason games). The NFL and the NFL Players Association are reviewing the Savage case; the two have a policy in place to jointly investigate these cases and determine if there was a violation. If warranted, discipline can be handed down.

“Those are just the amount of times that people were screened,” Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s Chief Medical Office, said in a briefing Nov. 14. “And to be clear, we want that number to remain high. Our motto to all of our personnel on game day is if you see something, say something. We want anyone who has a concern to point it out, we want to be very aggressive in our screening.”

The Falcons witnessed it to excruciating effect a year ago — another comeback, that time in Super Bowl LI, executed without Gronkowski. It was the Jaguars’ turn this time, after holding an 11-point lead in the second quarter and a 10-point lead as the fourth quarter began. That the penalties were lopsided — just one for the Patriots and six for the Jaguars — or that the Jaguars seemed to lose confidence in Blake Bortles late are part of the conversation in the immediate aftermath of this game, but the common thread of all these years has been Brady covering up for a multitude of Patriots misfortunes.

But, in truth, what Kelly has done in the NFL has been more nuanced and complex. Clearly, you don’t want him in charge of your roster. You don’t want him as your head coach, at least not at this point.

Yet there has been some evidence, which is easy to overlook now, that his offense can work at this level, if he’s given the right players.

It will be interesting to see if Kelly ever is given another NFL chance as an offensive coordinator, if that is indeed what he wants, and what will happen if that ever comes about.

He tiptoed up the sideline then cut across the field, leaving Patriots defenders in his wake, forcing everyone to consider that the Steelers’ inability to contain Rob Gronkowski, who had galloped for consecutive 26-yard receptions on the go-ahead touchdown drive, would wind up being irrelevant. Then came James’ seeming touchdown and Roethlisberger said the team was “extremely ecstatic.” Then, the play was overturned, and the Steelers had to reel their emotions in one last time, to try to figure out what to do.cowboys_060

Bennett said he has remained in touch with Kaepernick on a weekly basis and wants to see Kaepernick signed by an NFL team.

“I’m hoping he has an opportunity to play,” Bennett said. “Obviously I believe that he’s had an impact in the country. You see what he started, taking a knee, and how he’s affected the communities from young children to even older Americans and finding a way to have an impact. I believe that if this conversation is happening with the commissioner and happening with our employers, his job situation should be brought up and it should have some kind of resolution.”

Bennett was among a group of eight Seahawks players in uniform who sat on the bench on the team’s sideline during the anthem Sunday. He said the status of Kaepernick is not the only issue of concern for the players.

Kenny Stills, WR, Dolphins: Stills is still widely available (owned in 44 percent of ESPN leagues) and while he won’t likely duplicate his 180-yard effort in Week 11 (with a touchdown), he has tallied more than 65 yards in four of the past five weeks and has been outperforming DeVante Parker. Stills has been better with Matt Moore at quarterback, and with Moore looking like he will be starting again in Week 12, that bodes well for Stills. Even if the ailing Cutler (see above) manages to start, Stills still warrants consideration if you’re in need of an WR2 or flex play.

Gruden has made no secret of his interest in Carr, and this is where the Raiders will be on the surest footing. Gruden’s acumen is in getting the most out of quarterbacks — he brought Rich Gannon to the greatest heights of his career and then won a Super Bowl in a season in which he used Brad Johnson, Rob Johnson and Shaun King as starters. And Gruden has surely paid the closest attention to the evolution of offensive play over the years he has been gone.

Hernandez’s professional career was not a long one. He played 44 NFL games, including the playoffs, in three seasons for the Patriots before he was arrested at age 23. He also played in 40 games in three seasons at the University of Florida, but research has found that football players suffer from CTE regardless of how long they play the game or what level they reach. Recent studies suggest that the accumulation of smaller hits can damage the brain as much — if not more — as the head-rattling collisions that might result in concussions.
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It does that a lot for the Patriots, in large part because they create so much chaos for opponents.

They’re equal in that sense. But a lack of this kind of tenacious leadership from the top is what eliminates 80 percent of teams from being able to compete consistently with Belichick’s Patriots. I know Coughlin coaches harder and demands more out of players than at least three-fourths of coaches in the league. That’s why Coughlin’s teams have enjoyed success vs. Belichick.

The Falcons forget about bleeding the clock and running the ball and the Patriots mount a Super Bowl comeback for the ages. The Steelers get their signals crossed and the Patriots steal a game that had seemed lost more than once.

It was crushing and elating, a frenetic jumble of brilliance and misfires and there is nobody who wouldn’t sign up for more, perhaps a month from now.

“Yes, because that means we made it pretty far,” Roethlisberger said.

Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs is the key to Baltimore upsetting Pittsburgh. The 35-year-old has 10.5 sacks this year and is the team’s highest-ranked pass rusher per the game charters at Pro Football Focus. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, meanwhile, sees his passer rating drop from 102.2 to 49.1 under pressure this season.

Two teams currently locked in a three-way tie for the AFC West, the Chiefs have been a mere shell of the juggernaut we saw during the first few weeks of the season.

During the first six games of the season, the Chiefs were scoring 2.6 points per drive while allowing 1.9. During the last six games that has declined to 1.8 and 2.2, respectively. Kansas City’s red-zone efficiency has also continually declined from the start of the season.

Added Harden, who hit a dagger stepback 3-pointer with 1:10 remaining: “We’re confident. We’re just a confident group, especially with everybody healthy. We get Trevor and Gerald back, and then we’ve got a strong rotation where we’re very versatile. Obviously, [the Warriors are] a championship-caliber team for the past four years or whatnot. That’s what we’re trying to build our way up to.”cowboys_001

The Eagles couldn’t get out of their own way on this fumble, but they scored anyway

On a third-and-goal from the 2-yard line, the Eagles handed the ball off to Corey Clement. He fumbled the handoff from Nick Foles, who would end up recovering the football, and dove into the end zone, which officials called a touchdown:

That feeling helps explain some of the league’s quality. Half of the Big 12’s coaches have led a team to at least one Final Four: Bill Self (Kansas in 2008 and ‘12), Lon Kruger (Oklahoma in ‘16 and Florida in 1994), Bob Huggins (Cincinnati in 1992, West Virginia in 2010), Shaka Smart (VCU in 2011) and Bruce Weber (Illinois in ‘05). Elsewhere in the league, you have the coach with the best winning percentage in Big East history (Jamie Dixon, who came to TCU from Pittsburgh two years ago) and the steady hand atop one of the sport’s most impressive rebuilds ever (Baylor’s Scott Drew). The league’s other three coaches are all rising talent under 45: Beard, Oklahoma State’s Mike Boynton and Iowa State’s Steve Prohm.

If it’s your job to navigate that gauntlet, well, that might not quite be fun. But for those of us observing, there’s nothing better to watch.

If you are wondering what exactly you are reading, this is the Monday Rebound, SI.com’s weekly Monday column on college hoops. It’s a sort of a grab-bag of news and tidbits and opinions largely aimed at catching you up on the weekend’s (and week’s) action and being generally informative. If there’s anything you like or dislike or would want to see more of here, or if you would just like to laugh with me like a five-year-old at this painting, you can find me on Twitter @thedangreene. Thanks for reading.

Which suggests that pretty much everyone else was blind to the signs of his potential. After all, this was a perfectionist who chucked his helmet if he so much as dropped a pass; a leader who asked his college coaches for every offensive player’s phone number to arrange summer throwing sessions; a receiver with a ring size dwarfing that of most MSU linemen. “Sausage fingers,” says Bryan Schmid, one of Thielen’s college roommates, explaining how in 2017 this D-II gem just became the first Minnesota receiver to make the Pro Bowl in eight years. “That’s how he does it.”

Stefon Diggs was destined for the NFL. At least, that’s what his father, Aron, told Stephanie one Halloween, motioning toward the five-year-old red Power Ranger with an overflowing bag of candy.

Jacksonville, the largest city by area in the continental United States, is spread across several counties. Duval County makes up the majority of Jacksonville. At Jaguars games, the team’s fans have a Duval chant in which they yell “Duuuuvvvallll.” When Blake Bortles was drafted in 2014, he thought fans were booing him when in actuality they were chanting “Duuuvvvalll.” In the 2013 offseason, the fans voted via Twitter to be referred to as Duval. A popular hashtag used by Jaguars supporters is #DTWD, which stands for Duval ‘Til We Die.patriots_429_32ac1d0a96bab27e-180x180

Bill Belichick will not accept ‘bomb cyclone’ as an excuse for being late to practice

Everyone who ventures outside in the Boston area on Thursday is getting punched in the face by a 21-mph winds from the north. There’s snow. And the temperature keeps dropping. It’s a blizzard. Not just any blizzard — a BOMB CYCLONE!

If you live in the area, you better have a damn good reason for going outside in this weather. Like football practice.

On Friday, the Steelers ruled him questionable to play against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, but Mike Tomlin told reporters to expect to see Brown.

Brown was listed as a full participant in practice Wednesday and Thursday, which bodes well for his chances at playing. He was sent home Friday due to an illness, but that shouldn’t factor in to his chances at seeing the field.

“I didn’t want him to get any of the guys who weren’t sick, sick,” Tomlin said, via the Associated Press. “We’ll bring him back in the building (Saturday) and continue with his game readiness. We don’t have a lot of reservations about him from a physical health standpoint. We do need to get him well from an illness standpoint.”

Brown finished the 2017 season with an NFL-best 1,533 receiving yards. He’s also the only receiver who managed to top 100 yards against the Jaguars defense this year when he finished a Week 5 loss with 157 yards on 10 receptions.

Rhodes would be treated in the medical tent, and would come back into the game after being examined:

It seems fair, for instance, if Manning could get a year or two added to the deal if it puts him a little north of $20 million annually. My guess is four years, $80 million might be the floor for Denver or Jacksonville or some surprise team (Manning’s hometown of New Orleans, if Drew Brees walks, for instance). I can’t see Manning staying if he either doesn’t like the 2018 brain trust or, even after two months to let the anger dissipate, is still wounded by this. But as I say, Manning is more thoughtful than vengeful. He probably makes the best family and football decision, wherever that leads.

The more I see the Giants, the more I think Mara should fire McAdoo and Reese and start over with a new front office and coaching staff. The team is stale. Aside from the defensive free-agency home runs hit in 2016 and picking Odell Beckham Jr. in 2014, Reese has had some cold streaks in personnel, and he hasn’t gotten the line right in front of Manning. If Mara lets Reese pick another coach in 2018, what happens if the Giants go 5-11 in ’18 and want to cut ties with ReeseThen the new GM would be stuck with a coach he never picked. A clean break seems smartest. Then Manning can judge his best place for 2018, and the new guys can judge if they want Manning.patriots_088_f0e4bcfcd0a8d385-180x180

The Chiefs turned a Titans muffed punt into 9 yards for the Titans

The Chiefs and Titans had three minutes of football that ended up not meaning a whole lot in the end.

The Chiefs were punting from their own 27-yard line on a fourth-and-2. The Titans were called for running into the kicker, which would have given them a first down. However, they were bailed out after Ukeme Eligwe was called for unnecessary roughness, offsetting the Titans’ penalty.

6b. Looking at the free-agent class of edge rushers, my goodness, send your ideas for exciting new inventions to Demarcus Lawrence, because he is about to come into an obscene amount of money. (Demarcus, if you’re reading this, my invention idea is a Christmas tree that decorates itself—no more gashing your hands on razor-sharp pine needles, no more concussing yourself with falling ornaments, no more shelling out thousands of dollars to “Big Christmas Tree.”

And also it has an alarm clock in it.) If Lawrence doesn’t reach the market, teams in need of edge rushing help are looking at rolling the dice on Ziggy Ansah, the most talented edge on the market but a guy who hasn’t produced consistently since 2015. Or go get a 30-year-old Adrian Clayborn, and hope that Chaz Green is willing to tour the NFL as his weekly opponent, Washington Generals-style.

The second pass at least came with a defensive holding penalty on Mills that set up the Falcons with a first down that led to a touchdown.

Jones is a lot to handle for defensive backs, and even if he isn’t making an impact so far statistically, he’s saved the Falcons from some big mistakes so far.

As a parent raising a budding athlete in the suburbs of D.C., Aron cut a familiar sporting figure—“like a boxer’s father,” Stephanie says. If they drove by a park, Dad might pull over and have Stefon run cones or bleachers. If the boy dropped a pass in a game, Aron would have him sleep cradling a football. “When my mom was home,” says Stefon, “[my dad] would ask me before bed, ‘Did you do your homework?’ But [if it was just] me and him, it was, ‘Did you do your pushups and situps?’ ” Two hundred apiece.

Andy Reid — or at least someone on his staff — should have instructed the Chiefs’ defense before the play that if the Titans converted a first down, they should’ve let them score. KC was down just a single point, 22-21, so if the Titans tacked on a touchdown, the Chiefs would have gotten the ball back still down just one score with a timeout and nearly two minutes on the clock — plenty of time to march down the field with a shot to send the game to overtime.patriots_013_88452582c1c23a0c-180x180

Packers GM Ted Thompson transitioning to new front office role, team will hire replacement

After 13 seasons as general manager of the Green Bay Packers, Ted Thompson is transitioning to a new role in the organization, leaving the team in search of a new man for the job.

Thompson will be the Packers’ senior advisor to football operations, the Packers announced Tuesday.

If the Packers choose to promote from within, there are several potential candidates, including director of football operations Eliot Wolf, CEO Mark Murphy, vice president Russ Ball, director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst, or senior personnel executive Alonzo Highsmith.
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At around 10 p.m., gold grill still in his mouth, he heads to Chicken & Watermelon, a counter-service wings dive. “I’m finna take you to the hood,” he announces, saying that’s where the best food is. Not to mention the daquiri shack next door, where the drinks are strong and the DJ is spinning Juvenile. “I gotta get some food in me before I do some crazy s— tonight,” Kamara says, before ordering 100 BBQ and lemon pepper wings and several colorful daiquiris for the group. He daps up the group of men standing in a circle outside the front door, smoking cigarettes and passing blunts. “Your real n—- points out the roof right now,” one man says to the Saints player just hanging in the hood with the real New Orleanians. As he leaves, there’s a loud bang somewhere in the distance. “That one was a gunshot,” Kamara notes.

At 11 p.m., Kamara is shirtless in his kitchen, drinking Cupcake white wine straight out of the bottle. His mom calls. “I’m bout to get f—ed up,” he tells her. “Bout to get turnt.” He opens a drawer and pulls out a stack of $1 bills. “Left over from the strip club,” he says, being unapologetically Alvin Kamara, the best rookie in the NFL, organic, authentic, distinctly himself.

They warned that Saints rookie safety Marcus Williams, who inexplicably missed on the Diggs tackle, will unfortunately go down with playoff goats like Bill Buckner of the Red Sox.

Trailing 24-23 with the ball on their own 39 yard line, and 10 seconds left with no timeouts, the Vikings needed a miracle — and they got it with:

Keenum steps into it. Pass is caught. Diggs. Sideline. Touchdown. Unbelievable. Vikings win it, screamed Joe Buck.

A stunned Troy Aikman could only ask: What the hell was Williams thinking?

[Williams] comes in, he’s got [Diggs] dialed; all he’s got to do is make a play.

Rapoport also reported, citing unidentified sources, that the Titans are preparing to go after Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels if they part ways with Mularkey.