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Panthers pick up option on Luke Kuechly contract


by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) What was promised by general manager Dave Gettleman is now official - the Panthers have picked up the fifth-year option on the rookie contract of standout linebacker Luke Kuechly, per the team website.

The two-time Pro Bowler has led the NFL in tackles in two of his three seasons and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. He has racked up 473 tackles since 2012, the most in the NFL.


Ravens TE Dennis Pitta hopeful for 2015 return


by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta hopes to take the field in time for the 2015 season, but admits it's too early to determine if that goal can become a reality.

Pitta has undergone surgeries to repair a fractured and dislocated hip in each of the last two years.

"We still have some time to be able to assess where I'm at," Pitta told the Baltimore Sun. "I sure hope that I'll be on the field next year. That's my hope; that's my goal. We'll just see if I can get there."

Pitta has played in just seven games in the last two seasons combined.


Mark Sanchez: Eagles said Tim Tebow was just a camp arm


by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez said he wasn't concerned that the team signed Tim Tebow, because the Eagles told him Tebow was just there to throw in camp.

"We needed another guy to throw while Sam's (Bradford) still recovering. So that's the reason (for the signing), at least as explained to me," Sanchez said, per CSN Philadelphia

The Eagles signed Tebow on Monday. He hasn't played in the NFL since getting cut by the Patriots at the end of training camp prior to the 2013 season. He spent last year as a television analyst for the SEC Network. 

Tebow and Sanchez were teammates on the Jets in 2012. Tebow's presence as a back-up created a quarterback controversy among fans and media that last ed throughout the season. 


Vikings CB Terence Newman has familiarity with Mike Zimmer


by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Vikings cornerback Terence Newman won't have a steep learning curve now that he's with his new team. 

Newman played under Vikings coach Mike Zimmer when he was the defensive coordinator with the Cowboys. Drafted in 2003, Newman learned Zimmer's defense from his rookie season through 2006, before Zimmer left to take the same position with the Falcons. 

“I just know exactly what to expect from him as a coach, as well as everybody else in this locker room,” Newman told the Vikings' website. “You play your best football under him.”

In his career, Newman has recorded 741 tackles and 37 interceptions. Entering his 13th NFL year, Newman has already impressed his teammates with voluntary workouts underway. 

“I met with him and he seemed like a great guy,” cornerback Xavier Rhodes said. “Like he’s going to come in and teach us what we need to know about the technique of the game and about the defense because he’s been in it before, so he’s going to help us out a lot. He’s a big asset to this team and the defense.”


Chiefs pick up option on NT Dontari Poe


by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Chiefs have exercised their fifth-year option on two-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Dontari Poe, per NFL.com. He is set in Kansas City through 2016, when he will earn $6.146 million.

The 350-pound Poe has earned the money. He racked up six sacks and contributed to 46 tackles in 2014.


Lions GM Mayhew OK with James Ihedigbo skipping workouts


by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Safety James Ihedigbo was the lone absence from voluntary workouts this week for the Lions. But general manager Martin Mayhew understands. After all, Ihedigbo's agent has stated that he would not work without a new contract.

"I look forward to talking with James," Mayhew told ESPN. "I understand what he's going through. I've been through that myself as a player, when I felt that a time in my career that I was underpaid and I had to deal with that.

"So I have empathy for him. I understand what he's going through and I look forward to sitting down and talking with him. I have great respect for him as a player, as a man. I've gotten to know him a little bit away from football and I understand how he feels."

Mayhew declined to discuss whether the Liins will rework Ihedigbo's contract.

The 31-year-old Ihedigbo contributed 71 tackles and two sacks with a career-high four interceptions in 2014 despite missing three games at the start of the year with a nerve injury. He earned Pro Bowl alternate status.


Eagles withdraw qualifying offer to RB Chris Polk


by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Running back Chris Polk is now a free agent. 

According to the NFL transaction wire, the Eagles rescinded their $1.6 million tender they offered this past March. The Eagles placed the tender on Polk, previously a restricted free agent, before signing both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews in free agency. 

With Darren Sproles on the roster, it didn't make much sense for Polk to stay with the Eagles. 

In 2014, Polk ran for 172 yards and four touchdowns. 


RB Bobby Rainey signs qualifying offer with Buccaneers


by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Buccaneers have announced that running back Bobby Rainey has signed a one-year qualifying offer the team extended to him before the free agency period. He was a restricted free agent and was given an opportunity to negotiate with other teams.

Rainey will compete for playing time with Tampa Bay. He rushed for 406 yards in 2014, but faded at the end of the season with just two carries in the last six games combined.


Jaguars planning to play 2015 season without Justin Blackmon


by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) As far as the Jaguars are concerned, Justin Blackmon will not be lining up at receiver for them this season. 

At least that's the approach Jacksonville is taking. Blackmon has been indefinitely suspended since Nov. 1 2013 for three violations of the substance-abuse policy under the old CBA.

"Our process hasn't changed," Caldwell said, via ESPN.com. "[We] plan to go without him, but if he emerges, he emerges, and he's going to go in with those top guys and compete with those other guys. Hopefully we're able to get some news, but if not we weren't planning on [having Blackmon]. We're just going to go [without him]."

Before he can re-join the Jaguars, he'll need to file an application for reinstatement, with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell making a decision within a 60-day window. The application letter would include details of the treatment he's received. 

Since being selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Blackmon has only played in 20 games. He has 1,280 yards and six touchdowns in his career. 


Cowboys' Greg Hardy called 'woman beater' by teammate


by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy got into an altercation with teammate Davon Coleman during a voluntary offseason workout, according to a report from Yahoo! Sports

Hardy reportedly questioned Coleman's work ethic during a conditioning drill, which led Coleman to call Hardy a "woman beater."

Hardy was accused of domestic abuse and was found guilty by a North Carolina judge. On the subsequent appeal, prosecutors dropped charges against Hardy and the case was never presented in front of a jury. 

Hardy has been suspended by the NFL for 10 games due to what transpired in that case. According to FOX Sports, the confrontation between Hardy and Coleman remained verbal


Lions and Rob Sims' representation haven't spoken in 3 weeks


by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Lions need a left guard and Rob Sims would be a solid option if the two sides can strike a deal for the veteran to return. 

However, talks have stalled between the Lions' front office and Sims' representation. Speaking to reporters on Friday, Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said it's been nearly a month since he's spoken to Sims' camp. 

"We've had some discussion with Rob," Mayhew said, via MLive.com. "I spoke to his agent probably about three weeks ago and we had an offer out to him. That's kind of where we are right now. We'll have to kind of wait and see what happens."

The Lions could still opt to draft a lineman early to fill the position, too. 

Sims, who entered the NFL in 2006, has been with the Lions for the past five seasons. 


Andre Ellington OK with Cardinals drafting another running back


by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) If the Cardinals decide to draft a running back in one of the higher rounds, running back Andre Ellington would be OK with it. 

Ellington was a three-down back for Arizona last year that got plenty of touches in the running and passing games. But if the Cardinals use a high pick on a running back, that could cut into Ellington's touches. 

That's something that wouldn't bother Ellington. 

“It’s whatever will better our team,” Ellington told the team's website. “That’s most important. No one is going to hate any decisions. I’m sure those guys will make the best decisions to help the team. We’ll accept any guy who comes in.”

Another quality runner could help Ellington, who dealt with numerous injuries a year ago, in the long run. His season ended last December after undergoing hernia surgery. 


Dolphins haven't decided if they'll extend Ryan Tannehill's contract


by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Dolphins executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum said the club has yet to decide if it will extend quarterback Ryan Tannehill, according to the Palm Beach Post

The Dolphins could decide to pick up Tannehill's fifth-year option and wait on an extension. The deadline for doing so is May 3. Doing that would cost the Dolphins $15 million for the 2016 season. 

Previously, NFL.com reported that the Dolphins were hopeful that they could strike a long-term deal with Tannehill before Week 1 of the 2015 season. 

In 2014, Tannehill threw for 4,045 yards with 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.


Dolphins stay mum on Dion Jordan skipping offseason workouts


by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Though the occasion was to talk about the upcoming draft, the Miami media wanted to know how the Dolphins felt about defensive end Dion Jordan missing voluntary workouts. 

The front office's answer? Well, there really wasn't much of one

“This is a pre-draft (news conference),” general manager Dennis Hickey said, via the Palm Beach Post

Executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum also avoided a question on whether Jordan would show up for mandatory workouts. Jordan, who hasn't exactly lived up to his billing of being a third overall selection in the 2013 draft.

In 26 appearances, Jordan has only started one game. 

Jordan did not appear to the team's facility when voluntary workouts began on Monday. Given he has no leverage for a new contract, it's somewhat surprising for Jordan to skip out on workouts — voluntary or not. 


Lions start up negotiations with LB DeAndre Levy


by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Lions general manager Martin Mayhew has announced that his team has begun contract negotiations with outside linebacker DeAndre Levy.

"We've had some dialogue with him," he told MLive.com. "and I think it's ongoing at this point."

Levy is entering the final year of a $9.75 million contract he signed with the team in 2013. He thrived a year ago, contributing to a career-high 117 tackles and adding 2 1/2 sacks.


Report: WR Hakeem Nicks ready to sign with Titans


by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Veteran wide receiver Hakeem Nicks is set to sign with the Titans, per Fox Sports 1, which is further reporting that other teams that had been interested have been told the news.

The 27-year-old Nicks suffered through the least productive season of his career in 2014, snagging 38 passes for 405 yards and four touchdowns with Indianapolis.


Lions all set with OT Reiff for another year


by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Lions have picked up the fifth-year option of offensive tackle Riley Reiff, general manager Martin Mayhew has announced.

"We anticipate getting that paperwork done sometime soon," Mayhew told MLive.com.

The one-year option will cost the team a bit more than $8 million.

Reiff has started every game but one over the last three seasons.


Chargers RB Oliver working to take game to higher level


by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Chargers running back Branden Oliver is not resting on his laurels after a breakout season in which he contributed 853 yards and four touchdowns on the ground and through the air combined.

"My power, strength, speed and agility am focusing on," he told the team website. "I want to get better at everything. I don't really focus on just one particular thing. I like to be well-rounded and won't limit myself to one area."

Oliver was particularly effective early in the season, rushing for 272 yards and two touchdowns during one three-game stretch. He is seeking greater consistency in 2015.

"(This year) I'm more comfortable and know the offense. Now I can just go out there and ball. I'm gelling with the guys and am more open to them because I know them better. It's really just crazy to be going into my second year already. But I feel real good."


Recovering Lions MLB Tulloch: I could play now if needed


by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Lions middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch has spoken encouragingly about his recovery from knee surgery, claiming he could play currently if necessary.

Tulloch ended his season in embarassing fashion, sustaining the injury celebrating a sack of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Tulloch was mimicking the move used in Rodgers' "Discount Double Check" commercials.

"I feel great," Tulloch told the team website. "...I have a good team of people down in Miami that take care of me. They've gotten me back to a point I can train with the team. I can lift weights and run around. It feels good to be back out there again."

Tulloch contributed to more than 100 tackles in five consecutive seasons before going down in 2014.


Raiders new WR Crabtree talks about criticism with 49ers


by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Wide receiver Michael Crabtree is shedding no tears over his departure from the 49ers, which resulted in a short move to Oakland.

Crabtree signed a one-year, incentive-laden deal for $3.2 million with the Raiders.

His experience in San Francisco was not always positive, especially as it neared its end. He spoke about feeling disrespected, referring himself as a third-down receiver and a fourth option, after an overtime victory over New Orleans. The result was criticism about his attitude.

"That's just talk," Crabtree told ESPN. "I don't worry about talk. Some people say a lot of things, but until you get to know people, then you'll know for yourself. It's just talk. ... I was friends with my teammates."

Crabtree never fulfilled his potential with the Niners after being selected No. 10 overall in 2009. Injuries prevented him from displaying his explosiveness and he finished his six seasons there with 347 receptions for 4,237 yards and 26 touchdowns.


Colts' Vick Ballard said he'll be 100 percent by training camp


by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/23/2015) Colts running back Vick Ballard said he's continued to stay on track with his recovery from a ruptured Achilles, according to Scout.com

Ballard has missed just about all of the previous two seasons due to injuries. He tore his Achilles before the 2014 season and was unable to play. When training camp comes around, it will mark almost a year from when he sustained the injury. 

He said he should be good to go for the start of camp, though.

“Yeah, definitely man,” Ballard said. “Training camp is a long time from now, so truth be told, I probably could participate now, but there’s no rush. Just trying to take my time with it.”

Ballard led the Colts in rushing as a rookie in 2012 with 814 yards and two touchdowns. He only played in one game in 2013 before tearing his ACL in a practice the following week. His Achilles tear came during the 2014 preseason. 


Raiders WR Michael Crabtree trying to prove himself


by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4/23/2015) After struggling to produce the same numbers in 2014 as previous seasons, Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree said he's working to silence his doubters, reports CSNBayArea.com.

"I've got a lot to prove, a lot," Crabtree said. "I don't have anything to lose, but I've got a lot to prove."

Crabtree caught 68 receptions for 698 yards in 2014, and coach Jack Del Rio said he can still be a productive player.

"He brings sure hands, the ability to separate and catch the ball," he said. "He has played in big games and made big catches. He has had significant production through the first six years of his career. He's a good football player."


Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell says his knee is almost completely healed


by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4/23/2015) Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell said his injured knee is almost 100 percent recovered, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

It's been nearly five months since Bell sustained a hyperextended knee in the regular-season finale against the Bengals in late December. Bell finished second in the NFL last season with 1,361 rushing yards.


Report: Titans to pickup option on WR Kendall Wright


by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4/23/2015) The Titans are planning to exercise the fifth-year option on WR Kendall Wright, reports The Tennessean.

By picking up the option, Wright will have his 2016 salary guaranteed. In 2014, Wright caught 57 passes for 715 yards and six touchdowns.


Broncos waive WR Kerry Taylor


by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4/23/2015) The Broncos released wide receiver Kerry Taylor on Thursday, the team announced.

Taylor has 22 receptions for 229 yards during his four-year career.