April 2014

Greg Gabriel reviews who panned out and who didn't.
Soon, the NFL will have to pick a team for its popular "Hard Knocks" show, and this year's decision is way more interesting than years past. This is the first year the NFL will pick a team that qualifies under its formula to do the show if no team volunteers.  That means it's a great chance for the league to get a marquee team on the annual HBO program, which has had a lot of trouble getting anyone to step up in recent years. Most teams don't want a television crew following it around in training camp. The speculation over who would be featured on "Hard Knocks" got a spark when Tomm Looney , a radio host on Fox Sports Radio, said the three final candidates have been selected, and they are the Bears, Giants and Steelers. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, in a message to Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman, said that's "totally inaccurate." Even if the report isn't accurate, there will be a team selected for "Hard Knocks," and the Bears, Giants and Steelers qualify under the NFL's new formula to be selected for the show, whether those teams like it or not. Awful Announcing reminded us of that formula , put in place because the league was having very little luck finding any candidate, much less a good one. Franchises are exempt if they have appeared on the show in the last 10 years, have a new head coach or made the playoffs at least once in the last two seasons. As Awful Announcing pointed out, that leaves eight teams up for the show (unless the NFL gets and chooses a volunteer): Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers and St. Louis Rams. And no offense to the Cardinals, Bills, Jaguars, Raiders or Rams, but the NFL is making a big mistake if one of the three teams Looney mentioned as a final candidate doesn't appear on the show. The show needs interesting teams. The Bengals were on for the second time since 2009, mostly because nobody else wants to do it. The Jets in 2010 were a good choice. The show wasn't produced in 2011, mainly because of the labor strife, and the Dolphins were an average choice in 2012. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said there was a lot of talk about the show at the league meetings in March, and he wasn't sure if the "Hard Knocks" team would be a volunteer or someone fulfilling the obligation but the decision would come "pretty soon." Assuming nobody steps forward (though, if it helps, we'd start a collection if it would entice the Broncos, Patriots, Seahawks or 49ers to volunteer), let's look at the three top candidates: Bears: There are a lot of good personalities on this team, and quarterback Jay Cutler too. Coach Marc Tresteman seems fascinating, Jared Allen and Martellus Bennett seem made for the show, and this is one of the NFL's premier franchises in a huge market. The Bears are also a playoff contender. The problem? Former Bears general manager Jerry Angelo has been aggressive in letting everyone know the team does not want to do it. Jerry Angelo on Bears being on Hard Knocks: “There is a better chance of seeing the Bears get cheerleaders. That is not going to happen." — David Kaplan (@thekapman) April 9, 2014 Bears GM Phil Emery also expressed opposition to the show , telling fans in a chat on the team's website last fall that he didn't want the Bears to be part of it, the Sun-Times said. The league doesn't really like to be pushed around, so it might not be the best idea to keep challenging Goodell and Co. on this. The show wouldn't be as good without full cooperation though, so we'll see. But, the Bears would be a good choice.
Versatile defensive lineman drawing praise
The Seattle Seahawks and Earl Thomas agreed to a four-year contract extension, making him the highest-paid safety in the NFL, multiple media outlets reported Monday. The extension is worth $40 million, including $27.725 million guaranteed, according to the NFL Network. Thomas, who has made three Pro Bowls in his first four seasons, would have been an unrestricted free agent following the season. Thomas will now be under contract through the 2018 season.
ASHBURN, Va. -- Time for a roll call and status update on the new and somewhat improved Washington Redskins. Looking at the squad's comings, goings and remainings, there was an active offseason, with strong safety Reed Doughty as the only remaining unsigned starter. --Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher (Dallas).
However, in the case of the New York Giants, who last year finished 7-9, the returning players from that team understand that changes had to be made if the club is to get back on track. So far, the Giants have added 15 new faces to their roster, nine on an offense that finished 28th in the NFL last year, and six to a defense that finished eighth overall. "Usually there's a lot of change when you don't do well," said linebacker Jon Beason. Out are cornerbacks Terrell Thomas, Corey Webster and Aaron Ross, and safety Ryan Mundy.
Linebacker meets with NFC East club
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The New York Giants have signed quarterback Rusty Smith, who played the last four seasons with the Tennessee Titans.
Quarterback sidelined for four weeks
Safety visited Giants

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