It seems like our list of "Hard Knocks" candidates is down to three, and no, the Cleveland Browns aren't on the list. The Browns did not want to be on the HBO reality show that follows a team through training camp, because quarterback Johnny Manziel is returning from a stint in rehab and he doesn't need that kind of spotlight on him. That's fair. But ESPN Cleveland's Tony Grossi seemed to come up with our list of three candidates: Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football is back: Sign up for a league today! ] Grossi pointed out that those three teams were the willing participants, so that apparently isn't the official list of finalists (though, the Houston Chronicle confirmed that the Texans are one of three finalists). So perhaps we could get a surprise pick from one of the other forced candidates , based on the NFL's criteria: Cleveland, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, St. Louis Rams, Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings. Teams are exempt if they have a first-year head coach, have made the playoffs in either of the past two seasons or have appeared on the show in the previous 10 years. But it seems unlikely any of the teams that aren't exempt but haven't volunteered would be picked because the producers want to feature a team that actually wants to be on the show. So let's rank the three teams that appear to be the real candidates: 3. Houston Texans It's a strong field if the Texans are third. We'd get to see Arian Foster's wit, J.J. Watt's mega personality ( "Sno-Caps, perhaps?" ) and the seemingly always irritated ways of coach Bill O'Brien. There would also be a quarterback controversy, Jadeveon Clowney trying to return from knee surgery, DeAndre Hopkins announcing himself to a bigger audience ... a lot to like here. But as a whole, there's just a little more to like with the other two. 2. Buffalo Bills I mean, it's Rex Ryan. Come on, that's enough. Not like anyone wasn't entertained when the Jets were on "Hard Knocks." There's also a quarterback controversy here, LeSean McCoy with a new team, future star Sammy Watkins and a peek inside pass rusher Mario Williams' world. And, again, Rex. It would not be bad. Yet ... 1. Washington Redskins We all want a peek behind this curtain, right? Forget DeSean Jackson, the much-discussed Jay Gruden-Robert Griffin III relationship and Griffin himself. Those are all interesting story lines. But a chance for expanded access to Daniel Snyder's kingdom? This is widely considered the most dysfunctional NFL team, even by many of its own fans. A lot of that comes from Snyder, the owner who seems to have the thinnest skin in the entire league. How would an owner who has spent so much time and effort trying to manipulate the media in Washington (another less complicated way to get positive media coverage: actually winning games) react to NFL Films having so much access? What would we get to see? Would we get an honest look at Snyder? Even if it turns into the Griffin Show, that's still not too bad. Sign us up for Washington on HBO this summer. - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab
We’re still four months away from the season, and the New York Giants are already down an offensive lineman. The team announced Thursday that starting left tackle Will Beatty suffered a torn pectoral muscle while lifting weights on Tuesday. The injury required surgery, which will keep him out of action for “five to six months.” Beatty, entering his seventh season, has played in 82 games and started 63 for the Giants since the team selected him in the second round of the 2009 draft. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football is back: Sign up for a league today! ] The 6-foot-6, 319-pound Beatty hasn’t missed a game for the Giants in three seasons, but now will conservatively miss the first half of the 2015 campaign. Beatty’s injury likely opens up the starting role for first-round pick Ereck Flowers to fill in at a tackle spot. The 6-foot-6, 325-pound Miami product was picked ninth overall, but there’s undoubtedly a steep learning curve that comes with protecting Eli Manning’s blindside. Right tackle Justin Pugh, the team’s first-round pick in 2013, could also potentially slide to the left side. Another option is five-year veteran Marshall Newhouse, a recent free agent signing. Newhouse has past starting experience during his time with the Green Bay Packers, but was signed as a backup. - - - - - - - Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter! Follow @SamDCooper
At the conclusion of the NFL spring owners meetings on Wednesday, commissioner Roger Goodell said Robert Kraft's decision not to appeal the penalties from the Deflategate investigation was the initiative of the New England Patriots' owner alone. "The decision Robert made was his decision," Goodell said. Goodell would not comment on the specifics of quarterback Tom Brady's four-game suspension or his appeal, but he said he looked forward to hearing from Brady.
New York Giants starting left tackle Will Beatty is going to be sidelined up to six months after tearing a pectoral muscle, a person with knowledge of the injury told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The source said Beatty was injured lifting weights on Tuesday. Dr. Bradford Parsons, chief of shoulder surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, said the surgery will repair the tear but the player has to regain the flexibility in his shoulder and get strength back in the muscle.
Here's a look back at other teams with ballyhooed offseason acquisitions and the mixed results that were yielded.
IRVING, Texas (AP) -- The Cowboys are bringing back special teams ace Danny McCray after losing Dwayne Harris to the New York Giants in free agency.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Fans often compare Odell Beckham's one-handed grabs to plays only possible in video games. Now they're handing the Giants receiver the cover of football's biggest console franchise.
A year ago, Odell Beckham wasn't a household name. He was the 12th overall pick to the New York Giants in last year's draft, but that didn't make him instantly famous. He was basically what former Louisville receiver DeVante Parker (14th pick to the Miami Dolphins in this year's draft) is now. Known to football fans but not what you'd consider a celebrity.  [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football is back: Sign up for a league today! ] Beckham is clearly a celebrity now. One all-time catch and an amazing rookie season changed everything for him. He's one of the most famous athletes in sports. The latest sign of his fame is that he will be on the cover of EA Sports' "Madden NFL 16" video game, after he beat New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski in a fan vote. He's the youngest athlete to be on the "Madden" cover, another sign of his instant popularity. The joke for years has been how the cover athlete is cursed, after a bad streak of luck for cover subjects like Peyton Hillis and Daunte Culpepper. Hopefully the same poor luck doesn't happen to Beckham, becuase he's one of the NFL's brightest stars after just one season. About the only question for Beckham is what he could possibly do for an encore after such a whirlwind first NFL season. - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab
The timing wasn't great for New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski's media tour for "Madden NFL 16." He and New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham are the two finalists to be on the cover of the video game. And what else could be going on with the NFL in mid-May that would cause some uncomfortable moments during interviews promoting the cover vote? Oh, right. So Gronkowski and Beckham got on the SportsCenter set and, go figure, the anchors wanted to ask about deflate-gate, Tom Brady and the punishments for Brady and the New England Patriots. Gronkowski isn't exactly an orator, and he couldn't flex away the questions live on set. That made for some awkward television with a guy who obviously didn't want to talk about it ( the video is from SportsGrid ):  Now that is some really uncomfortable television. You can see Gronk trying to get out of it, which doesn't work, even when his "it is what it is" attempts. Even more awkward might be when Beckham is asked, because what's he going to say? When a probing question about if he likes the balls more or less inflated ("Whoa these are a lot of questions! I thought we were here for the cover vote," Gronkowski said later in the interview after more questions) Gronk just tried the eject button again. "I have no clue what the difference is," Gronkowski said. Get ready for plenty of this kind of answer by any Patriots – non-answers that are at times cringe-worthy. But the Patriots players aren't going to get into any deep discussion about this. When was the last time any of them did about any sticky subject? That's not the Patriot Way. "Literally I have not a thing to do with what's going on and I just have full support in Tom," Gronkowski said, with a touch of desperation in his voice to change the subject. Gronkowski is incredible on the field and very entertaining off it, but don't expect him to be the team's spokesman in the future when it comes to deflate-gate. - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab
The numbers were flying after Tom Brady and the New England Patriots were hit with a trio of penalties for tampering with the footballs in the AFC championship game. Here are some other figures to follow in the scandal that has been dubbed ''Deflategate'': $880,000 That's how much the Patriots will save - that's right, save - as a result of the punishment handed down by the NFL on Monday. Sure, owner Robert Kraft will have to pay a $1 million fine. Player fines go to charity, but the $1 million from the Patriots will go into the NFL coffers to be distributed on a case-by-case basis.

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