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QB Murray: ‘No limitations’ during pro day

Updated: April 16, 2014, 7:05 PM ET

Associated Press

ATHENS, Ga. — Quarterback Aaron Murray still has some convincing to do after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery in late November.
Even so, Murray believes he alleviated many potential concerns about his health after working out in front of 23 NFL teams at Georgia’s pro day Wednesday.
Murray said he felt “no limitations” despite wearing a brace on his left knee. Murray hopes that some scouts will recommend him as a second-round draft pick after his scripted workout that included 54 passes to several receivers on a windy, chilly morning.
“We did a lot of throws on the run, left and right, to demonstrate my ability to cut off my leg and show everyone that I’m healthy,” he said. “That way these teams don’t have to worry about if they draft me that I’m going to have to sit out or anything like that.”
Murray likewise understands that he could be the ninth quarterback taken and could fall into the fourth or fifth round.
But Murray says that NFL teams are impressed with his resume at Georgia — 52 starts and Southeastern Conference career passing records for yards and touchdowns.
In conversations with former Georgia stars A.J. Green, a Pro Bowl receiver with Cincinnati, and Matthew Stafford, the Detroit Lions’ quarterback, Murray has been reassured that NFL teams value a successful career in the SEC.
“Obviously it’s not the NFL, but it’s the closest thing to it when it comes to college football,” Murray said. “That helps us after playing against these top (opponents) week in and week out, gets us ready for the NFL.”
Green, among a couple hundred onlookers at the Bulldogs’ practice fields, thought his former teammate appeared sharp, particularly given the severity of his injury and how soon he’s returned to the field.
“He’s doing everything you’d hope to see from an NFL quarterback,” Green said. “He’s going to have a lot of success in the league.”
Tight end Arthur Lynch, who ran a variety of routes for Murray, thought his longtime roommate and close friend “was on the money with all of his throws” even though the session included three drops, two balls caught out of bounds and an incompletion.
“For a guy that had surgery four months ago, he showed that he was strong and didn’t lose any athleticism,” said Lynch, a potential mid-round pick. “If anything he probably got stronger.”
Personal quarterback coach Terry Shea, who directed the workout, has been putting Murray through the same drills for a few weeks.
Every standard passing route was on display.
“Deep outs, comebacks, digs, being able to put the ball (in the right spot) on the posts, the corners, downfield balls,” Murray said. “All the throws you need to compete at the next level.”
Murray returned to Athens two weeks ago to practice the script and get ready. Before that, he was training in Pensacola, Fla., at a facility associated with sports orthopedist James Andrews.
“He’s gotten better with a lot of throws, his consistency, getting the ball up, following through, getting it on time, all those things,” said former Georgia teammate Rantavious Wooten, one of his receivers Wednesday. “He came out and did the same thing that he’s been doing for two weeks.”
The workout also held plenty of significance for Lynch, who like Murray was invited to the NFL scouting combine two months ago in Indianapolis.
Lynch hopes that teams will respect that he played a variety of roles — fullback, wide receiver and special teams — in four years with the Bulldogs.
“I’m not the guy who wows you, but I’m definitely that does things consistently and does everything fairly well,” Lynch said. “More and more tight ends are getting drafted than ever in this history of the draft. Whether I go in the seventh round or the second round, these teams know what they’re going to get, and I think I’ll be able to make a long career in the NFL.”
Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press


Pot charge against Chiefs’ Bowe dismissed

Updated: April 16, 2014, 7:50 PM ET

Adam Teicher |

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, who was arrested in November for marijuana possession, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Riverside (Mo.) Municipal Court to lesser charges of littering and defective equipment.
In return for his guilty plea to the littering and defective equipment charges, the marijuana charge was dismissed. Bowe paid $610 in fines and court costs.
According to Riverside police, Bowe was pulled over on Nov. 10 for doing 48 mph in a 35 mph zone. The officer detected the strong odor of marijuana coming from the car. After a subsequent search by a police K-9 dog, marijuana was found in Bowe’s car.
Bowe’s attorney filed a motion last week that evidence from the traffic stop should be suppressed.Covered Chiefs for the past 20 seasons for Kansas City Star
Joined ESPN in 2013


Source: WR Rice, Seahawks agree to deal

Updated: April 16, 2014, 8:53 PM ET news services

Wide receiver Sidney Rice is returning to the Seattle Seahawks.
The two sides reached agreement on a one-year deal, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Rice took to Twitter Wednesday night to confirm his return to Seattle:

�� Aaayyyyooo 12s.. SEA you in a few.. IM COMIN’ HOME! #Seahawks #12thman #Round2
– Sidney Rice (@sidneyrice) April 16, 2014
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson also took to Twitter Wednesday night to express his excitement:

YESSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!! @sidneyrice
– Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) April 17, 2014
Rice, 27, spent Wednesday in New Jersey visiting with the New York Jets, but decided to return to the team he played for the last three seasons.

Rice caught 15 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns in eight games last season, which ended after Rice tore his ACL against the St. Louis Rams in Week 8.
The Seahawks signed Rice to a five-year, $41 million deal before the 2011 season, but released him on Feb. 28 after three up-and-down seasons.
Rice’s best season in Seattle came in 2012, when he caught 50 passes for 748 yards and seven touchdowns.


Potential No. 1 pick Clowney visits with Lions

The Detroit Lions announced Wednesday they hosted South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney for an official visit at the team’s facilities, perhaps an indication the club’s interest in trading up is indeed real.
The Lions hosted Clowney along with Pittsburgh State receiver John Brown.
Widely regarded as one of the most talented prospects of this year’s class, Clowney is a legitimate to go No. 1 overall to the Houston Texans. That means if the Lions want a realistic shot at landing him, they will have to pull off a trade to move up from No. 10 in order to get into a position to select him.
Clowney (6-5, 266 pounds) ran a 4.53-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine back in February, but is coming off somewhat of a down season in which he generated just three sacks, leading to questions from personnel evaluators about his work ethic and commitment to the game.
As a sophomore, Clowney racked up 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles for lost yardage, both South Carolina records.
If somehow the Lions were able to draft Clowney, he’d be on a defensive line that already features defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley along with defensive end Ezekiel Ansah.Joined ESPN in 2010
Previously covered Jaguars and Redskins
Played college football at West Texas A&M


Officer: Sharper DNA found on 1 Ariz. victim

Updated: April 16, 2014, 5:30 PM ET

Associated Press

PHOENIX — Former NFL All-Pro safety Darren Sharper’s DNA was found in an examination of one of two women who accuse him of drugging and sexually assaulting them at a Tempe apartment, a detective said Wednesday.
Tempe police Detective Kevin Mace said at a bail hearing in Phoenix that Sharper’s DNA was recovered from one of the women’s clothing, but none of his DNA was found during an exam of the other woman.
The detective’s testimony came at a hearing in which Sharper’s lawyers are challenging the evidence used to keep him in jail without bail. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Warren Granville hasn’t yet ruled on the issue and will continue the hearing Thursday afternoon.
The hearing marks the latest development in several ongoing sexual assault investigations involving Sharper in Louisiana, California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada.
Bail in Sharper’s California rape case was set at $1 million, but he was indicted in Arizona last month on charges of sexual assault and administering dangerous drugs and was denied bail. Authorities in California have kept him jailed, and he didn’t attend Wednesday’s hearing.
The indictment alleges Sharper gave the sedative zolpidem to three women and then had “sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact” with two of them without their consent on Nov. 21 after a night of drinking at the apartment and at bars in nearby Scottsdale. One of the women told police she hadn’t had any alcohol that night until Sharper insisted she drink a shot. Another young woman said she had been drugged, then went to bed, locked her door and wasn’t attacked.
Sharper has not yet entered a plea in the Arizona case, although one of his attorneys said Sharper will deny those allegations. He has pleaded not guilty in the California case.
Earlier this month, Granville denied a request from Sharper’s attorneys to set bail, ruling that he didn’t have jurisdiction until the former player was in Arizona. But Sharper’s attorneys said the former player is entitled to a hearing to determine whether Arizona prosecutors have enough evidence on the sexual assault charges to deny him bail.
The Arizona Constitution automatically denies bail to people charged with sexual assault if the proof against them is evident or the presumption of guilt is great.
Mace said two of the three women confronted Sharper the day after the attack.
“He denied the allegations,” the detective said. “He acted like he didn’t remember.”
A police search of the apartment turned up a shot glass with a white residue that turned out to be zolpidem, and California investigators have discovered Sharper had a prescription for that drug, Mace said.
Under questioning from Sharper’s attorney Skip Donau, Mace said the former player had a prior consensual sexual relationship with one of the women, who had invited him to stay at the apartment.
Mace said the woman in question, who was intoxicated on the night of the attack, had no indication on how her clothes got removed after her friends dressed her in shorts and put her to bed. None of Sharper’s DNA was found on her, Mace said.
After Sharper was confronted the next day at the apartment, the woman was supposed to drop off Sharper in Scottsdale but then joined him for brunch with friends, Mace said.
An analysis of that woman’s blood and urine came back negative for the sedative, though she had amphetamine and the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana in her system, Mace said.
Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press


Sources: Jets, ex-Titans RB Johnson agree

Updated: April 16, 2014, 5:52 PM ET

Rich Cimini |

After a relatively conservative first month of free agency, the New York Jets made one of the splashiest moves of the offseason, signing former Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson to a two-year deal worth up to $9 million, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
The base value of the deal is $8 million, and includes another $1 million in incentives, according to league sources.
The team took to Twitter on Wednesday to confirm the signing:

We’ve signed @ChrisJohnson28. – Welcome CJ2K to #JetsNation!
– New York Jets (@nyjets) April 16, 2014
“I’ve always been a big fan of the Jets,” Johnson told the team’s official website. “There was some thought into this, but just at the end of the day, I was comfortable here. I just felt like it was the right situation.”
Released April 4, Johnson generated little interest on the open market. He visited with only one team — the Jets — and wrapped that up Tuesday. The team wanted to get him signed before the start of its offseason program next week. No other team was identified as a serious suitor.

“I see this as a team on the rise,” Johnson told the team’s official website. “This is a winning team. They didn’t make the playoffs last year, but I think they were a game out of the playoffs with a rookie quarterback. So I feel like this is a team that can do some good things.”
For years, Johnson was one of the sport’s elite players. He has rushed for at least 1,000 yards in his each of six seasons, including 2,006 yards in 2009. But declining production, coupled with a large salary, led to his ouster.
The Jets were reportedly one of four teams that inquired about trading for Johnson, but they didn’t want to pick up his salary ($8 million) or surrender a draft pick, not when his release was expected.
New York finished sixth in rushing last season and has every running back returning in 2014, yet felt the need to add more speed. Johnson, 28, is one of the fastest backs in the league, although he’s coming off a season in which he averaged a career-low 3.9 yards per carry.
Johnson’s health is a question. He underwent surgery in late January to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee and resumed running only about a month ago. He said after the season that he first hurt his knee in Week 3. He didn’t miss any games and became the fifth player in league history with 1,000 rushing yards in each of his first six seasons. Obviously, the Jets feel confident he will regain his explosiveness.

There’s also a question about Johnson’s role. He was a workhorse with Tennessee, averaging 290 carries per season, but he likely will have to accept a reduced role as part of a committee approach. The Jets’ other veteran backs are Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory, who rushed for a team-high 833 yards. Ivory’s power game should pair nicely with Johnson.
“I think I’m going to fit in pretty well,” Johnson told the team’s official website. “Just talking to (offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg) and to (coach) Rex (Ryan), who’s a guy that likes to run the ball, I think I’m going to fit in very well. We talked about all those things, catching out of the backfield, getting the ball to me in space.”
Johnson’s pass-catching ability is another reason the Jets signed him. He’s not a prolific receiver, but he averages 45 receptions per season. With 42 catches last season, he was one shy of the Jets’ team leader, wide receiver Jeremy Kerley. Johnson had as many receiving touchdowns as any player on the Jets.
Johnson became the Jets’ third high-profile addition on offense, joining quarterback Michael Vick and wide receiver Eric Decker.
Once known as CJ2K, Johnson brings star power to the position, the first true breakaway back of the Ryan era. Ryan coached Thomas Jones and LaDainian Tomlinson, both accomplished runners, but they weren’t home run threats.

Some will argue that Johnson no longer has that dimension, as he managed only five runs of at least 20 yards last season.
There has been a dramatic decline in all aspects of his game since 2011, when he signed a four-year, $53.5 million contract extension.
Shaky offensive-line play, a change in offensive coordinators and the knee injury contributed to Johnson’s downturn, but scouts also have noticed that he’s not as elusive as he once was. He doesn’t force as many missed tackles as he did in his vintage seasons. In 2009, the year he dominated the league, he had 22 runs of at least 20 yards.

Longtime Jets beat writer for New York Daily News
Syracuse University graduate


Yates: Imagining the Jets’ 2014 offense

What New York could look like with Vick, Johnson and Decker in the fold

Updated: April 16, 2014, 6:22 PM ET

Field Yates | ESPN Insider


The New York Jets’ offense had a lot of room to improve coming off of a forgettable 2013 season, but with the most recent addition of running back Chris Johnson, who will sign a two-year deal with the team according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, the group is suddenly rounding into form.

A major question remains as to who will win the starting quarterback job, as Michael Vick was signed to a one-year deal that at least gives him the chance to unseat Geno Smith. While the offense won’t be dramatically different from a schematic standpoint with Smith or Vick under center, the two have varying skill sets.
Nothing has been established, but for the sake of this piece, let’s examine the possibility of what the Jets’ offense could look like in 2014 if Vick winds up under center.
To read Field Yates’ full article on what the Jets’ offense could look like in 2014, including his take on whether they’ll have another firepower to make the playoffs, you must be an ESPN Insider.

Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston’s Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.


Edwards: Top 5 corners in 2014 draft

This year’s class has talent but lacks a complete player at difficult position

Updated: April 16, 2014, 11:02 AM ET

Herm Edwards | ESPN Insider

I’ve written about it several times in this space and I’ll say it again: It isn’t easy to be a cornerback in today’s NFL. Offenses are designed more than ever to take advantage of matchups, and if there is a weak spot in a defense, an offensive coordinator will find it and keep going back to the well until the defense can stop it.
For a rookie cornerback, this presents issues because a lot of the time he will be identified as that weak spot by default. D-coordinators will try to give help as much as possible, but for blitzes to be executed there have to be one-on-one matchups on the outside — and as a high pick, they’re expected to play early on. They have to play with their eyes, their feet and their hands — and they have to be a willing tackled to succeed. And receivers are bigger, stronger and faster than they are in college.
A rookie corner will get beat no matter how talented he is, but his success will be largely influenced by how he responds to that failure. Mental toughness, recovery speed, change-of-direction ability, an understanding of how offenses attack and ball skills are all vital to success.
This year’s class of cornerbacks doesn’t have the same buzz as last year’s crop, but there are still some good players available. However, there isn’t a guy who is a complete corner. Some of the top guys have several of the traits you look for, but no one possesses the complete package like a Patrick Peterson.
Here are my top five cornerbacks in the 2014 class.

To find out whom Herm Edwards ranks as the top cornerbacks in the upcoming NFL draft, sign up for Insider today.

Joined ESPN in 2009
Spent eight years as NFL coach, 10 as a player
Appears regularly on “SportsCenter,” “NFL Live”


Source: QB Freeman, Giants agree to deal

Updated: April 16, 2014, 2:07 PM ET

By Adam Caplan | ESPN

Quarterback Josh Freeman and the New York Giants have agreed to a one-year contract, according to a league source.

Freeman worked out for the Giants on Tuesday. He also recently visited the Chicago Bears.
Freeman will compete for the No. 2 job on the Giants with Curtis Painter and Ryan Nassib.
Eli Manning underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle Thursday but expects to be able to run again in about six weeks, the team previously announced. His 151 consecutive starts rate as the longest active streak in the NFL following the retirement of Washington’s London Fletcher, and it is the third-longest by a quarterback in league history.
Freeman was cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in October. He was signed by the Minnesota Vikings and started just one game — losing to the Giants on “Monday Night Football.”
Freeman, 26, a first-round pick of the Buccaneers in 2009, started 56 games for the team. He enjoyed his best season in 2010, when he started 16 games and threw for 3,451 yards and 25 touchdowns with six interceptions. 
He has struggled since, throwing 43 interceptions over the past four seasons.
Adam Caplan is an ESPN NFL Insider.


Peyton ready to move on from Super Bowl

Updated: April 16, 2014, 2:15 PM ET

Jeff Legwold |

DENVER — Just over two months ago, people were asking Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning if he was going to retire after Super Bowl XLVIII.
And Wednesday, in what were his first significant comments in Denver since the 43-8 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Manning not only re-affirmed his desire to get back to the NFL’s title game but also his eagerness to get back to work when the Broncos begin their offseason program on Monday.

“Absolutely, that’s what I want to do,” Manning said. “That’s what the Denver Broncos want to do. I’m glad to be a part of a team where that’s what they want to do. I want to try to do my best to do my part. Keep myself in good shape and get on the same page with my receivers.
“I feel that I have a responsibility to the team to be on top of my game, and that’s what I think about every day when I go over there to work and lift weights and throw with my receivers — doing my job to help the Denver Broncos. That’s what I’ve tried to do since I’ve been here and that’s what I’ll keep doing until I stop playing.”
Manning made his remarks just before an early morning appearance as the keynote speaker at a Boy Scouts of America Sports Breakfast at the Pepsi Center.
Despite speculation early in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl that he was poised to retire after the game, especially after Manning had said he could see the “light at the end of the tunnel” of his playing career, Manning has consistently spoken of his plan to return for the 2014 season.
He was formally cleared to play after an exam on his surgically repaired neck in early March and he recently returned from workouts at Duke University with Broncos receivers including recent free-agent signee Emmanuel Sanders as well as tight end Julius Thomas.
Manning also has had time to reflect on the lopsided loss to the Seahawks that brought a startling end to a record-setting season.

“I don’t really have a word for it,” Manning said. “Obviously it was disappointing. We will use that to fuel us this offseason and hopefully it will make us better. The front office has addressed some offseason needs via free agency, and of course the draft is coming up. It’s up to the players to put in the hard work in the weight room, in the film room and on the practice field to try and be a better team this year.”
Manning was also asked if he had viewed the Super Bowl and offered that he had looked at the video only on a football level.
“I have not watched it on TV,” Manning said. “I’ve seen game film. I don’t often watch a lot of TV copies of games we didn’t win. I never saw a lot of good value in that.
“You study it. You study the game just like you do any game — a win or a loss. What went well, what didn’t go well. You try to be better for it and that’s what you have to do.”
He also said he was a fan of the team’s work in free agency, a spending spree that came as a result of a favorable salary cap position despite the team going 13-3 the past two seasons. The Broncos signed Sanders, DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward.
“I’ve communicated with them all,” Manning said. ” … I had a chance to throw with Sanders down there in North Carolina and I’m excited about playing with him. I know Eli [Manning] told me he was glad DeMarcus Ware was leaving his division. He can no longer hit him and I’m glad he’s on my team. Talib has been a tough player to play against so I’m glad he’s on our team, as well as T.J. Ward.” Covered Broncos for nine years for Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News
Previously covered Steelers, Bills and Titans
Member of Pro Football Hall of Fame Boardof Selectors since 1999