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OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- In stark contrast to Ray Rice's awkward news conference in May, the Baltimore Ravens running back showed Thursday that he finally understood the weight of his actions from the alleged altercation with his then-fiancée in February.

He delivered the correct message, one the NFL failed to do last week with the two-game suspension, by not only apologizing to his wife, Janay Palmer, but also expressing a desire to become an advocate for domestic-violence causes.

Rice was compelling in his contrition, calling it the biggest mistake of his life. He stood in front of the microphone alone, without his wife standing by his side, and took full responsibility for the incident. Perhaps more importantly, Rice actually said the words "domestic violence," which weren't heard in his statement two months ago.

"My actions were inexcusable," Rice said. "That's something I have to live with the rest of my life."

Before anyone pats Rice on the back, this is what he should have said the first time when he broke his silence in May. Instead, Rice nervously fumbled through notes on his phone and apologized to team officials and his sponsors. That debacle of a news conference came across as damage control to his image.

His 17-minute news conference Thursday hit the right tones. He apologized to all women affected by domestic violence. He accepted the blame for losing the respect of fans. Rice came across as genuinely sorry.

"I let my wife down, I let my daughter down, I let my wife's parents down, I let the whole Baltimore community down," Rice said.

Rice's biggest misstep was not talking about what happened in the elevator. He was asked twice about it and declined to answer both times. His stance against domestic violence would have resonated stronger if he had explained his transgressions.

"I'll be honest: Like I said, I own my actions," Rice said. "I just don't want to keep reliving the incident. It doesn't bring any good to me. I'm just trying to move forward from it. I don't condone it. I take full responsibility for my actions. What happened that night is something that I'm going to pay for the rest of my life."

The only way Rice can move forward from this incident and show he's truly sincere is through his actions. It's not by his words. It's not by a hefty donation, which is merely a gesture. It's by proving this will remain a "one-time incident" and by supporting domestic-violence causes.

Thursday represented a small step forward for Rice. But it was an important one.

Rams Camp Report: Day 6

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
9:30
PM ET
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of St. Louis Rams training camp:
  • Thursday night's practice might as well have been the NFL equivalent of homecoming as the Rams had a bunch of familiar faces return to the field, including some coming back from injury who will be key to their success this season. Offensive tackle Jake Long, center Scott Wells and end William Hayes all got at least a few repetitions in team drills after being limited to some individual work to this point in camp. They didn't get a ton of work, but there were at least a few reps in which the Rams had their projected starting offensive line of (from left to right) Long, Greg Robinson, Wells, Rodger Saffold and Joe Barksdale together for the first time in this camp. Long and Wells did not participate in one-on-one pass-rush drills but Hayes did take some reps. Cornerback Trumaine Johnson also got back to work after sitting a few days with a tight hamstring. Offensive lineman Brandon Washington was also back to work. Defensive end Ethan Westbrooks did some work in the pass-rush drills as well after starting camp on the non-football injury list.
  • Linebacker James Laurinaitis limped off the field late in the practice and did not return. Coach Jeff Fisher said Laurinaitis got stepped on during the practice. It didn't appear to be serious. Cornerback Lamarcus Joyner did not practice and had his right leg wrapped as he watched on the sidelines. Others not participating: offensive lineman Barrett Jones, running back Isaiah Pead (hand), safety Christian Bryant, cornerback Jarrid Bryant and defensive end Sammy Brown.
  • On the field, the action picked up where it left off Tuesday with the offense again starting to catch up to the defense now that shoulder pads are on. Quarterback Sam Bradford continued to take some shots down the field and find his connection. Early in team drills, he hit Stedman Bailey in stride about 40 yards downfield for what likely would have been a touchdown. He also continued to connect with Kenny Britt and Brian Quick on some deep balls and hit Tavon Austin on a deep ball while backed up at his 1-yard line. Austin's finest moment actually came on a deep comeback route in which Bradford threw high but Austin elevated and caught the pass out of frame. That's something we haven't seen much of from Austin since his arrival in St. Louis.
  • With shoulder pads on, the one-on-one pass-rush drills got rolling Thursday with some interesting matchups. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald continues to dominate and did what he wanted against center Tim Barnes on a couple of reps. If you felt the Earth shake tonight, don't worry it was just Robinson and tackle Michael Brockers colliding. Robinson did a nice job in a couple of matchups.
  • Also visiting St. Louis this week: an officiating crew which handled Thursday's practice and will spend time on points of emphasis with the team in the next couple of days through Saturday's scrimmage. And Blake Williams, former linebackers coach and son of defensive coordinator Gregg, who stopped in to see his dad and former team at work. He made a similar visit in the spring.
  • The Rams return to the Rams Park practice field Friday at 4:30 p.m. ET, which doubles as the next workout open to the public.

Seahawks Camp Report: Day 6

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
9:00
PM ET
A daily review of the hot topics coming out of the Seattle Seahawks training camp:
  • One of the biggest surprises in camp so far has to be wide receiver Phil Bates. A long shot to make the team when camp started, Bates' chances are rapidly improving. "He's a tough competitor and we love what he's doing," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Thursday. "He's really been productive and active. He's made a bunch of big plays. This is the culmination of a couple of years of work to get to this spot. Remember, he moved from the quarterback spot [in college] and he has all the moves now as receiver."
  • The Seahawks have been using rookie defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat (6-3, 255) at the strongside linebacker spot the last few days. "He's got the versatility to do it," Carroll said of Jeffcoat. "He's a Leo [rush end] at times and a Sam backer other times. We wanted to see what he can do at linebacker and he's doing well."
  • The NFL officials were in camp Thursday to go over the rules changes for the season and to call the practice session like it was game conditions. They threw a lot of flags. "I asked them to be active and they certainly answered the call," Carroll said of the officials. "It's good to see their interpretations and an important indication that we need some work in those areas." One big change that could affect the Seahawks secondary is the emphasis on defensive holding. Anytime a defensive back grabs a receiver's jersey, even within the first 5 yards, it will be flagged for holding. Last season, some jersey grabs were considered incidental contact.
  • A couple of defensive backs fighting for a roster spot had a good day Thursday. Cornerback Akeem Auguste had a diving interception in the end zone. Rookie Dion Bailey tipped away a Tarvaris Jackson pass attempt on a safety blitz.
  • The Seahawks will practice Friday from 10:15 a.m. PT to 12:15 p.m. The practice is open to the public, but all tickets are sold out. The team has a mock-game scrimmage on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m. PT.

Giants Camp Report: Day 8

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
8:30
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Giants training camp:
  • There seemed to be a lot more practice reps than usual for backup quarterbacks Ryan Nassib and Curtis Painter on Thursday, likely because those are the quarterbacks who'll get the most playing time in Sunday night's preseason opener in Canton, Ohio. Eli Manning was fine and worked with the first team, don't worry. But it seemed as though the guys more likely to play Sunday got on the field a bit more on Thursday.
  • Nassib had some nice throws, including one to running back Kendall Gaskins up the left side with linebacker Devon Kennard in coverage, one that Corey Washington high-pointed on the right sideline and one on which Travis Harvey shook Prince Amukamara in the open field and got clear for a long gain. Painter had a ball tipped in the air and intercepted by Jordan Stanton. And the last play of practice was a Manning pass that Jacquian Williams batted into the air and Jameel McClain intercepted near the goal line.
  • Tight ends continue to be everywhere. There was a play on which Daniel Fells was the receiver lined up wide left and Larry Donnell was in the backfield. Running back Peyton Hillis was the one who ended up with the ball on that play, but it's clear the Giants would like to use the tight end liberally, and in a wide variety of roles, in their new offense. Now they just need to find one they can consider a starter.
  • Wide receiver Rueben Randle, who missed Tuesday's practice with a sore hamstring, was back practicing Thursday and made a nice touchdown catch from Manning in the back of the end zone. He and the tight ends (who are all 6-foot-6 or 6-foot-7) seem to be the primary and logical red zone targets since the rest of the receiving corps lacks height. Another reason they want the tight ends to step up. Fells caught a touchdown pass from Manning in goal-line drills, and Victor Cruz dropped one on the very next play.
  • Before he had to leave practice due to an illness, I thought left tackle Will Beatty was doing a good job dictating the action in his one-on-one matchups with Jason Pierre-Paul. Charles Brown got the bulk of the practice reps at left tackle, though. Beatty isn't likely to play Sunday, but he's done a good job so far in his recovery from a broken leg.
  • The Giants are scheduled to practice from 1:20 pm to 3:30 pm ET Friday and have Saturday off as they travel to Canton for Sunday night's game.

Bills Camp Report: Day 12

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
8:15
PM ET
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Buffalo Bills training camp:
  • We're in the true "dog days" of camp. Players were in full pads for the eighth consecutive practice, crowds were lighter, and some questions about the Bills' preseason opener Sunday worked their way into coach Doug Marrone's news conference. The only thing missing from the typical training camp fare? Blazing heat. The Bills haven't practiced in hot, sunny conditions in about a week.
  • The Bills continue to get hit by injuries at tight end. Lee Smith missed Thursday's practice with a "lower body" injury and walked onto the field late in the session wearing a sleeve on his right calf. Even with Chris Gragg returning to practice this week, the Bills are still without their top three tight ends. Marrone had no update on when Scott Chandler (groin) might return, while Tony Moeaki (hamstring) isn't expected to practice soon. Barring a late signing, expect to see plenty of Gragg and Dominique Jones in Sunday's game.
  • Offensive line is another trouble spot. After Chris Hairston (back) left Wednesday's practice, the Bills had starting left guard Chris Williams (toe) depart Thursday's practice. No word on his status for Sunday. If Williams and Hairston can't go, the Bills' competition at right guard is thinned out, leaving Kraig Urbik in a better spot. Otherwise, expect plenty of Cyril Richardson, Antoine McClain, and J.J. Unga. rotating through those guard spots.
  • After two weeks of camp, this sounds like a broken record, but the highlight of practice was a Sammy Watkins catch. This time, he streaked down the left sideline to beat top cornerback Stephon Gilmore, catching EJ Manuel's lofted pass in stride for a would-be 98-yard touchdown. The rest of Manuel's performance Thursday was up-and-down. He found Chris Hogan for more big gains across the middle, a building trend this camp, but he also had some problems with pressure on third-down drills. Manuel's worst pass came when cornerback Bobby Felder intercepted an underthrown pass to Marquise Goodwin along the sideline.
  • After going 4-for-5 on touchdowns in the red zone 7-on-7 drill Wednesday, Manuel was less successful Thursday. His only touchdown came on a lofted pass to Robert Woods, with cornerback Corey Graham called for defensive pass interference on the play. Graham stayed on the field when Thad Lewis took over at quarterback and was beaten for another touchdown by T.J. Graham, leading one Bills offensive player to shout, "keep No. 20 on the field." On the next play, linebacker Ty Powell leaped to pick off Lewis in the end zone, quieting the offense down.
  • The Bills will be back on the practice field Friday evening at 6 p.m. ET before heading to Canton for the Hall of Fame game.

Jets Camp Report: Day 8

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
8:00
PM ET
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Jets training camp:
  • The three coordinators met the media for the first time in camp, and the most interesting takeaway came from Marty Mornhinweg, who gushed about the progress of the receiving corps, particularly Stephen Hill and Clyde Gates. Hill? "Outstanding," Mornhinweg said. Gates? "Pretty impressive," he said. Pardon the skepticism, but don't we hear that every year? In Hill's case, he has gone from prospect to suspect. He usually plays well in camp -- Mr. August, anyone? -- and fades away in the regular season. Some of it is a durability issue. Ditto, Gates. Truth be told, there has been no major movement in the wide receiver depth chart, except maybe a small move by Greg Salas. It's Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley, and everybody else, according to coach Rex Ryan. None of the rookies have stood out, but it's early. They get the benefit of the doubt.
  • Once upon a time, the Jets billed themselves as a Ground & Pound offense. Remember those days? On Thursday, they got a chance to do some grounding and pounding, with the first goal-line drill of camp. With the starters on the field, the offense and defense played to a draw -- two touchdown runs from the 2-yard line and two stuffs by the defense. No, the offense didn't use defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who may have been their most effective goal-line back last season. (I say that only half-jokingly.) Chris Ivory scored on an inside handoff and Geno Smith found the end zone on a rollout, outrunning the pursuit. It's important to note the starting guards were Willie Colon and Brian Winters. Among the guards, they're the best drive blockers, giving them an edge over challenger Oday Aboushi. He worked with the second-team offense, which went 0-for-3 at the goal line.
  • Michael Vick didn't get any first-team reps (first time that happened), but he demonstrated plenty of elusiveness when he bolted the interview tent when asked if he believes the coaches have already made a quarterback decision. Now I know how hundreds of defensive players have felt over the years: I couldn't keep him in the pocket.
  • It's that time in training camp: The head coach got the "surprise" question, as in: Have any players surprised you? After thinking for a few seconds, Ryan mentioned rookie defensive lineman Kerry Hyder, an undrafted free agent from Texas Tech. "[He] has popped out of nowhere," Ryan said. "He's a bad-bodied D-lineman, but he makes plays." Hey, not everyone has a body like Muhammad Wilkerson. Ryan is known for taking physical outcasts (too short, too fat, etc.) and molding them into players. Hyder is a project worth monitoring. Two years ago, they hit it big with a no-name from a small school -- Damon Harrison.
  • Moment of the day: Decker made a terrific juggling catch on a long pass from Smith in a seven-on-seven drill. He reached out with one hand, tipped it up in the air and hauled it in, with cornerback Dee Milliner in coverage.
  • Quote of the day: "My feeling is we're much further along, but let's not let that trick us. That doesn't mean we're any better at all" -- Mornhinweg, comparing the offense to last year.
TAMPA, Fla. -- If you're looking for an under-the-radar player with a chance to make Tampa Bay's roster, you might want to consider wide receiver Tommy Streeter. But look quickly because Streeter might not be an unknown for much longer.

Streeter already is catching the eyes of his teammates and coaches.

"We kind of have a running joke, 'Man, that dude is catching the ball right and left, over and over,'" quarterback Josh McCown said after Thursday's practice. "It's like one of the better camps I've been around for a receiver. He's just got so many dang catches. And he's just doing his job. He's just a humble, hard-working guy that comes out here every day and gets after it. He catches the ball when it's thrown to him and that's all you can ask for as a player."

[+] EnlargeTampa Bay's Tommy Streeter
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsTampa Bay quarterback Josh McCown said Tommy Streeter's performance this summer is "one of the better camps I've been around for a receiver."
Streeter's talent flashed again in Thursday's practice when he made a nice catch when matched up against veteran safety Major Wright.

"He's another guy with good size, good height, good speed and he's been catching the football," coach Lovie Smith said. "You talk to him and he doesn't want a whole lot of complements, he's just 'Hey, I'm just trying to do my job, trying to get better very day,' saying all the right things, just making plays. That's all you have to do as a player. You don't have to worry about, am I going to make the roster, am I going to get enough plays. If you get one play, you do something, you'll continue to get more. We've noticed him. When we initially came to camp he's wasn't one of the guys we were talking a lot about. But he's been pretty steady every day."

Streeter seems to be putting himself in line for a roster spot in a receiving corps in which the only sure things are starters Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans.

A sixth-round draft pick by Baltimore in 2012, Streeter has been unable to make an impact in the NFL so far. But he's not a stranger to the big stage. Streeter played at the University of Miami.

"No, I'm not afraid," Streeter said. "I've been doing this since age 7. I don't see any difference at any level. It all comes down to, at this level, how much goes into the preparation before the dance."

Streeter has been preparing for the dance by paying close attention to Jackson. That's a wise choice because Streeter is the same size (6-foot-5) as Jackson.

"I talk to him every day," Streeter said. "I ask him different questions on how do you run this route based on different leverages and techniques. Basically, what little tricks and crafty moves he has that he uses to get open. I try to incorporate that in my game as well."

Streeter said he already has learned a lot from Jackson.

"His ability to drop his weight and get in and out of his cuts," Streeter said. "He comes downhill and he's aggressive to the ball. That's something I always continuously try to improve on. At the University of Miami, I was always the deep ball guy. When you come here in this offense there's a lot of route running involved. That's something I continuously work on and something I always try to get better at."

Streeter may not have the NFL pedigree, but he came out of one of the nation's top high school programs. That's Miami Northwestern.

"They used to call us the University of Northwestern," Streeter said.

Streeter's high school team also featured two other Buccaneers, linebacker Lavonte David and cornerback Anthony Gaitor. Streeter wore the same jersey (No. 5) as previously worn by Kenbrell Thompkins, who now is with the New England Patriots, and later worn by Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

"My coach, when he gave it to me, he was like 'Son, I'm going to give you No. 5. You might have to do a little history to understand the importance of this number and the guys who wore it before you and what they did,'" Streeter said. "I was kind of nervous, like 'Does the No. 5 jersey glow or something? Is everybody watching me?' But nonetheless, I thrived in that environment."

If Streeter can continue doing what he has been doing in practice, he might be able to thrive with the Buccaneers.

Redskins Camp Report: Day 8

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
7:45
PM ET
RICHMOND, Va. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of the Washington Redskins training camp:
  • They didn’t exactly have dead legs, but they were dealing with a variety of aches and painsm so coach Jay Gruden cut short their morning practice by perhaps 15-20 minutes. Rather than finish the workout, Gruden had the team run the width of the field, down and back, five times. “They were a little wounded out there,” Gruden said. “Everybody this time in camp has a little soreness now. Now it’s how to get the most out of them.” They’ll be back in pads Friday. For what it’s worth, quarterback Robert Griffin III finished first each time.
  • Officials visited the Redskins for the first time this camp, which meant that the defense was highly annoyed for the first time this camp. There’s a big emphasis on calling illegal contact on pass plays and if there was any doubt about it, it was erased in the morning. Officials called a handful of holding or illegal contact penalties that would not have been called in the past. Even the offensive-minded Gruden wasn’t pleased. “We have to communicate the exact rule when they have to let go,” he said. “I know it’s within five yards, but it’s going to be a hairy deal early on. Hopefully it’s not a flag fest.”
  • Receiver Jerry Rice Jr., son of the Hall of Famer, hurt his right shoulder in practice. Though the results weren’t yet known, Gruden called the injury significant. Rice hurt his shoulder on a downfield pass play when he became tangled up with corner Richard Crawford. Rice was a long shot to make the roster or even the practice squad.
  • Receiver Pierre Garcon was nursing a sore hamstring for a third day of practice, though he was able to again go through individual drills. Safety Phillip Thomas and defensive end Doug Worthington also missed practice because of hamstring injuries. Meanwhile, right tackle Tyler Polumbus returned to practice for the afternoon walk-through after missing the past day and a half for personal reasons.
  • Gruden discussed this long ago, but there’s always interest in why he retained defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. Shortly after he was hired, Gruden talked about how the defense did not have enough talent. Also, he wanted another former head coach on his staff. Thursday, Gruden discussed it again. “The big thing with him was just trying to get him a few more horses,” he said, “trying to get him better personnel. I’ve said a lot that it’s sometimes not so much about the plays but about the players and we’re trying to do a better job of getting better players in here to help fit his scheme and what he wants to do. We’ve given them better players that now he can go out and call a lot of different defenses and be effective as opposed to being handcuffed, so to speak, last year or whatever.”
  • The Redskins will practice twice Friday: a full-pads workout at 8:35 a.m. and a walk-through at 4:10 p.m.

Vikings Camp Report: Day 6

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
7:40
PM ET
MANKATO, Minn. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Minnesota Vikings training camp:
  • For the first time in Vikings training camp, we've seen an interception in full-team drills. Actually, there were two of them on Thursday, both coming off rookie Teddy Bridgewater. First, Audie Cole made what might have been the play of the day, jumping in front of a pass to the flat and picking it off with what would have been a clear lane to the end zone. Then, Derek Cox snatched away a short pass intended for Adam Thielen in a 2-minute drill. Matt Cassel was nearly picked off, as well, when Xavier Rhodes made a nice play to drive on a sideline throw intended for Jerome Simpson. He got his hands on the pass, but couldn't bring down the interception.
  • Captain Munnerlyn returned to team drills on Thursday, and got some work in the Vikings' base defense opposite Xavier Rhodes. The Vikings will need to see if Munnerlyn can play in their base defense, as opposed to only the nickel package, but they were treating him like a member of their top base defense on Thursday. Cornerback Josh Robinson had also returned from a minor hamstring injury that caused him to leave early on Wednesday. Tight end AC Leonard, who left Wednesday's practice with a headache, did not return on Thursday.
  • Adrian Peterson got most of the day off, with Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon getting most of the first-team work at running back. Asiata, to me, looks quicker through the holes than he was last year, when he averaged 3.8 yards on 44 carries. He could get some carries in relief of Peterson this year, and he's big enough to be a forceful downhill runner if he can do a better job of getting through the line with some speed this season.
  • Cordarrelle Patterson got his first work of camp on kick returns, after sitting out the first four practices with a minor foot injury. The Vikings have worked a number of other return men in his place -- Marcus Sherels, Thielen, Jarius Wright and McKinnon among them -- as they try to figure out who can take over if Patterson has a bigger role in the offense. But once he got back in his familiar position on Thursday, Patterson gave a brief reminder of what made him an All-Pro return man last year: He hit a hole on the left side of the Vikings' wall and surged down the sideline for a nice return.
  • Referee Carl Cheffers and his crew were in town for their first day of work with the Vikings on Thursday. They met with the media to outline rule changes this season and were scheduled to meet with the Vikings on Thursday night before doing some more work with the team on the practice field the rest of the week. In his presentation to the media, Cheffers spent a good deal of time covering the NFL's 2014 officiating points of emphasis: Cracking down on illegal hands to the face and taking a stricter view of contact between cornerbacks and receivers. He also covered the league's new replay policy, which will involved NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino in reviews. Officials will now be able to talk to the league office in New York, as well as other members of the officiating crew, via a "Janet Jackson headset," as Cheffers called it. Referees will still wear stadium microphones on their lapels, and both microphones will need battery packs. Of course, they'll carry a flag and a bean bag, and -- as everyone does in 2014 -- they'll carry a pager.

Lions Camp Report: Day 4

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
7:30
PM ET
ALLEN PARK, Mich. – A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Detroit Lions training camp:
  • Referees were at practice Thursday and seemed to throw several flags throughout the session. Lions coach Jim Caldwell said the officials will be around for a few days to help the players become aware of new rules. The specific area of emphasis, Caldwell explained, is pulling of the jerseys. “It’s really going to affect everybody, you know,” Caldwell said. “It used to be if you grabbed a jersey and you restricted a player, if they saw the shoulders turn a little bit or maybe his stride changed, they would throw the flag. “But now, it’s any tug of the jersey, regardless of what it does to you and the quarterback can be looking over there and the foul can occur behind him and they still are going to throw the flag. So there’s a huge emphasis on that. Those are some of the things we have to make certain we get accustomed to.”
  • Red zone was a focus of Thursday’s practice. On both fields, there was a significant period dedicated to work 20 yards from the end zone and in. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was fairly sharp during this period, highlighted by a leaping touchdown catch by receiver Kris Durham in coverage. It was a catch with a high degree of difficulty by Durham, who was rotating in on the same field along with the majority of the players who have been running with the first team.
  • Speaking of the offense, this was the sharpest the offense has looked throughout the first four days. There were still some throwaways and dump-downs, but Stafford had a pretty good day, completing a large majority of his passes throughout the practice session. Eric Ebron, whose drops have been chronicled here the past three days, had a very nice catch at one point as the ball was headed out of bounds. That is the positive part of why the team drafted him in May.
  • Rookie Kyle Van Noy appears to be starting to make an impact. The linebacker worked with the first-team defense during portions of Thursday’s practice and is starting to push to replace Ashlee Palmer at the SAM spot. After the draft, general manager Martin Mayhew indicated they believed Van Noy would be a starter pretty quickly. Tahir Whitehead also caught Caldwell’s attention, and while he isn’t a starter, the head coach said the third-year pro out of Temple continually shows up well on film. He won’t supplant Stephen Tulloch, but that, plus his special-teams ability, should put him in a good spot.

The Lions return to practice Friday at 3:30 p.m. for a practice open to the public.

Saints Camp Report: Day 6

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
7:30
PM ET
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New Orleans Saints training camp:
  • The intensity cranked up Thursday as a few fights nearly broke out during practice. The biggest skirmish was between running back Khiry Robinson and linebacker Curtis Lofton that actually had to be broken up by quarterback Drew Brees. The two briefly wrestled and went to the ground, with Lofton getting a hold of Robinson's hair before Brees stepped in. Some offensive and defensive linemen also got into a few shoving matches, including one with defensive end Cameron Jordan and offensive tackle Tavon Rooks. “He was wearing a white jersey … and got in the way,” Jordan deadpanned. “Today we just decided to set that tone early on. Even in walk-through it got a little rowdy with the defensive line going through bags. It was just one of those days that (players) should have their mind right, and if they didn't have their mind right, they got their mind right.”
  • Cornerback Patrick Robinson continued his outstanding performance in camp. He made a diving interception against Brees when he cut in front of intended receiver Andy Tanner -- believed to be Brees' first pick in team drills so far in training camp. Robinson also had an aggressive pass break-up in team drills. My two biggest question marks this year were Robinson's health and his confidence level. Both look great, and his athleticism has never been questioned. So he indeed has a shot to push veteran Champ Bailey for the No. 2 cornerback job.
  • Stop me if you've heard this before, but receivers Brandin Cooks and Nick Toon also looked great during practice. Both have looked terrific throughout camp. Cooks made a series of nice catches -- including a diving snag of an overthrown ball by quarterback Logan Kilgore at the end of practice. Toon's highlight was a deep catch from Brees behind Bailey and safety Kenny Vaccaro. Although Toon did have one drop Thursday (a rare miscue this camp), coach Sean Payton singled him out after practice unsolicited, saying he's having a “fantastic camp.”
  • The same three guys remained out with injuries (Ben Grubbs, Kenny Stills and John Jenkins). Payton still declined to get into any specifics on Grubbs' injury but said he should be back within a day or two. “We are just resting him. He's working through a few things.” Bailey was not in attendance during the Saints' afternoon walk-through, but it's unclear if that was injury-related. He didn't appear to get hurt during practice. No update was available since Payton only talks after the morning practice.
  • The Saints have another normal schedule Friday, with an 8:50 a.m. ET practice followed by a 4:30 p.m. walk-through. They will hold a scrimmage Saturday at 8:50 a.m. before taking a day off on Sunday.

Steelers Camp Report: Day 5

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
7:30
PM ET
LATROBE, Pa. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp:
  • The Steelers safeties were active and feisty during the practice in which the offenses worked on the no-huddle attack for the first time at training camp. Shamarko Thomas knocked over Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey when the latter tried to block on a wide-receiver screen. Thomas also delivered several hard hits on running plays even when the Steelers weren’t tackling. Jordan Dangerfield, meanwhile, continued to draw attention to himself in a good way. Dangerfield, who spent last training camp and preseason with the Bills, intercepted a pass during a 3-on-3 tackling drill and twice brought down running back Miguel Maysonet with jarring tackles.
  • Maysonet, who signed a futures contract with the Steelers last January, has to be sore after getting extensive work -- and absorbing his share of shots -- with Le'Veon Bell limited because of hamstring stiffness and LeGarrette Blount not practicing. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he held Blount out of drills so younger backs like Maysonet could get more work. “I want to give those guys opportunities. They’re taking advantage of it.”
  • The Steelers are a little beat up at tight end. Eric Waters, who signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent, hurt his lower back and left the practice fields on a cart. Rob Blanchflower, a seventh-round pick in May, watched practice with his left foot in a boot after sustaining a high-ankle sprain on Wednesday. Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey left practice Thursday with an undisclosed injury Tomlin said. Heyward-Bey appeared to take a knee to the helmet during a passing drill and he was noticeably wobbly after eventually getting up with the help of trainers.
  • Assistant equipment manager Pat Noone had one of the hazards of the job run into him. Noone, who stands in as the quarterback when the linemen go mano a mano during a pass rushing drill, got swallowed up by Stephon Tuitt after the rookie defensive end couldn’t stop while chasing Noone. The hit left Noone with a cut on his knee but didn’t stop him from laughing it off. Tuitt, meanwhile, is drawing attention for the strong start he is off to, the misstep in the pass-rushing drill notwithstanding. “He’s doing well,” Tomlin said. “He’s highly conditioned, he’s chasing the ball. He’s developing the skill associated with the position. He’s got a ways to go, they all do. But I like his attitude and approach to it.”
  • Offensive tackle Mike Adams has struggled during the first week of camp. Adams, who got bowled over by rookie nose tackle Daniel McCullers on Wednesday, allowed rookie outside linebacker Howard Jones to run right past him in a pass rushing drill. Adams has been alternating practices when it comes to playing left and right tackle, and the third-year man needs to pick up his play.
SAN DIEGO -- Middle linebacker Manti Te'o hauled in an interception in the flat during team drills Wednesday and was inches from making a similar play Thursday.

[+] EnlargeManti Te'o
Tony Avelar/AP PhotoManti Te'o's play improved in the second half of his rookie season, and he's working on carrying over that comfort level.
Known for taking the ball away from the offense during his time at Notre Dame, Te'o is getting back to that mindset during the San Diego Chargers' first week of training camp.

Teammate Eric Weddle said those two plays are prime examples of impact plays that Te'o did not have the experience to make in his rookie season, and the reason more is expected from him in 2014.

"Those two plays he would have never done last year, just because he didn't know any better, for one,” Weddle said. "Two, he's letting his instincts take over and his feel of the game. He understands what his role is, and it's awesome to watch.”

Te'o said the learning experience and reps gained his rookie season helped him play faster during training camp. He also said he's fully healthy after offseason surgery to fix a fractured foot that slowed him down his rookie season.

And finally, Te'o worked on sculpting his body and leaning down his 6-1 frame to 235 from 240 pounds, the weight he played at during a standout final season at Notre Dame. Te'o said during his rookie season he hovered around 245 pounds.

"It goes back to my senior year in college,” Te'o said. "When I was leaner, I was able to make sure that reaction time when my mind told my body to move was less. And so my body being in good shape, I'm able to react and move when I want to. So when my eyes see something and I want to break on it, I'm able to do that.”

Weddle has noticed the difference.

"He's light years ahead of last year,” the veteran safety said. "Obviously, it's hard to come in as a rookie and play the way you expect to play. You're thinking so much and you're trying to adjust. It's a different animal. The NFL is no joke.

"You live and learn, and you learn from the good times and the bad times. But with Manti it's never about his work ethic. It's never about him being coachable. It's just about him feeling comfortable.”

Te'o missed most of exhibition play and the first three regular-season games of his rookie season with what was initially reported as a sprained foot. Te'o returned against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4 and was immediately placed in the starting lineup.

He showed rust in the first four games, but his overall play improved the second half of the season. Te'o was fifth on the team last year with 61 combined tackles but finished without a sack, interception or forced fumble in his rookie season.

Te'o led Notre Dame with 113 tackles and seven interceptions his final college season, finishing runner-up to Johnny Manziel in voting for the 2012 Heisman Trophy.

San Diego coach Mike McCoy believes that Te'o can become that type of playmaker again with consistent work at the NFL level.

"He did a nice job last year, but there were times when he played a little slow -- and he'd tell you that from watching the film after the season was over,” McCoy said. "Now he understands the scheme a lot better than he did last year, because he's played. He's definitely playing faster this year, which is what you would expect.”

Te'o says that comfort and experience should lead to a better production in his second season.

"It's all about knowing where I got to be and why I got to be there,” Te'o said. "Knowing how the offense is trying to attack us as a defense, and knowing the different places I got to be at. It's definitely good.”
Now that Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice has answered questions from reporters, there are ones that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell still needs to answer. Goodell is scheduled to meet with reporters this weekend in Canton, Ohio, during Hall of Fame festivities.

Here are five questions for Goodell regarding the controversial, two-game suspension for Rice:

Rice
Rice
Goodell
Goodell
Why has the NFL been so lenient on domestic violence cases? Goodell said in 2012 that he was going to take a tougher stance on domestic violence. But Rice's suspension is shorter than the ones given to those who repeatedly use marijuana. Of course, suspensions for violating the substance abuse policy are collectively bargained. Still, the NFL would have sent a stronger message with a harsher suspension of Rice. Maybe it's time to structure suspensions for violations under the personal conduct policy, too.

Was there anything on the tape that impacted your decision? It's assumed that Goodell has seen the video on the elevator where the alleged altercation between Rice and his then-fiancee took place. If so, he needs to explain how the contents on that tape factored into Rice's punishment. One reason why the NFL is losing in the court of public opinion is because people saw Rice dragging out Janay Palmer from the elevator. Rice refused to talk about what happened that night, so that remains the biggest question remaining in this incident.

How much did the meeting with Rice and Janay Palmer influence you? There have been reports that Rice's wife asked Goodell for leniency, which Rice denied during his news conference. This has drawn criticism because victims shouldn't be put in a situation where they defend their attacker. Some contend that the NFL needs to hold their players accountable for their actions, regardless of what others say on their behalf.

Do you fear the league will lose female fans as a result? The biggest growth potential for the league's fan base has been women. NFL says women make up about 45 percent of its fan base, Nielsen reported 35 percent of viewers of regular-season games last season were women. The NFL says sales of women's apparel have tripled in the past four years. The backlash on how the league views violence against women could hit the NFL in its wallet.

What do you say to critics who argue that you gave Rice two games to pave the way for a lenient punishment of Colts owner Jim Irsay? Goodell was put in a major predicament when Irsay was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated and with a controlled substance in his body. The punishment for Irsay will be measured by the discipline that he's given to players. Would Goodell give Rice a lighter suspension so the punishment for Irsay would appear fair?
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The question came about 26 minutes into NFL referee Ed Hochuli’s presentation in the Lambeau Field media auditorium on the rule changes and points of emphasis for 2014.

It was posed to perhaps the most recognizable member of the football officiating fraternity like this: "Sometimes you're a little wordy, at times, with your explanations…"

To which Hochuli good-naturedly cut in and said: "This is a kind of a wordy question. Could you get to the point?"

[+] EnlargeRef
AP Photo/Brian BlancoVeteran NFL official Ed Hochuli was in Green Bay on Thursday to go over the points of emphasis the league will be monitoring this season.
Among the laughter, one of the members of his officiating crew chimed in.

"We ask [Hochuli] the same thing," he said.

It then took the famously long-winded, well-muscled referee one minute, 25 seconds -- and 294 words -- to explain.

Not all of that will translate to this format, but the gist is this: In 1993, Hochuli, barely a year into his career as a head referee, was working the Thanksgiving game in Dallas between the Cowboys and Dolphins, known better as the Leon Lett game. The Cowboys would have won the game after a blocked field goal had Lett not tried to recover the loose ball in the snow, which allowed the Dolphins to regain possession and attempt the field goal again.

The play and the ruling that followed was confusing and required a lengthy explanation that unbeknownst to anyone at the time was the beginning of a career's worth of Hochuli's long-lasting clarifications. YouTube is filled with them.

"Believe it or not, I don't want to be as wordy as I am," Hochuli said. "My goal is to tell the announcers what's going on. If I can get them the information, they can then go on and explain from there. But I also find that people misunderstand what we did and why we did it. So if we don’t give an explanation a lot of times, people will make the wrong assumption. So if I can give some explanation, I get people headed down the right path.

"I know that sometimes there's more words than there needs [to be]. Sometimes I'll start talking and I'll think to myself, 'How am I going to end this one?' I've explained that and I kind of need to explain this, and it goes on and on and on."

Hochuli attributed some of that to his background as a lawyer.

For more than a half hour on Thursday, Hochuli explained the rules changes and points of emphasis that NFL officials will monitor this season. He and part of his crew are in town for three days to work Green Bay Packers' practices.

Perhaps the most notable point of emphasis this season will be on the stricter enforcement of defensive holding and illegal contact against receivers.

And the flags were flying throughout the practice.

"We started practice today and I think we [flagged] 10 out of the first 10 plays on the DB-receiver drill," Hochuli said. "Players will get it. The players adjust. They understand the rule changes, and they adjust."

That does not mean they will happy about it.

Throughout practice, defensive backs and defensive position coaches questioned members of Hochuli's crew about several calls.

"I didn't get a chance to talk to them, but I might have yelled a few things at them," Packers safety Micah Hyde said with a laugh. "It's tough. It's tough on the defense. I'm hoping it's not as touchy as it was today."

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