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Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr missed some time in the first week of OTAs, at a time when he’s also looking for a new contract.

He said Wednesday he was merely getting insurance, though in a manner of speaking that’s kind of the same thing.

I had to protect myself and get an injury insurance policy, Barr said, via Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com. It took like a week to get situated, so I got that, and now I’m good to go.

Barr’s entering the final year of his contract, and there have been talks about a new deal. He offered few details, but his presence suggests things aren’t contentious.

Prominent women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, who’s representing the cheerleaders, alleged the women were paid so little or not paid at all for much of the work they did because of their gender.

Surely (Texans owner Bob) McNair and the Houston Texans can find it in their budget of hundreds of millions of dollars to pay these women a fair wage, not minimum wage, Allred said. I say, stop penny pinching. Pay these women what they deserve and make sure you pay them for every minute that they work.

As long as Jones is in attendance for minicamp and training camp, there should be little reason for the Falcons to worry about him being ready to go in September even if the contract tweak he’s reportedly looking for doesn’t come through by Week One.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver, in his state of the league talk at the NBA Finals on Thursday, was asked about the Twitter controversy raging in Philadelphia. He spoke on the matter.

And didn’t say a heckuva lot. The league is monitoring the situation and hopes for a quick resolution. In other news, famine and disease are bad.

For the league, there is always that balance of speed and doing things in a deliberate and appropriate way. So I have talked to management at the 76ers, and the notion here was let’s find out what’s going on, Silver said. The first thing we have to do here is determine what the actual facts are in this circumstance.

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The last year has featured a great deal of talk about the environment in New England, from the reports of friction between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, to Philadelphia’s Lane Johnson saying that the Patriots live in fear instead of having fun. Former Patriot Nate Solder has offered a more nuanced take.

[McDaniels] told me that if I ever needed to dip out of a meeting because the stress got to be too much, nobody would ask any questions. Coach Belichick told me the same, Solder writes. He said that if I ever needed to miss practice or a meeting, it was totally fine.’Whatever Hudson needs,’ he said. I don’t think I can even put into words how much I appreciated that — both what Bill said and how Josh handled everything. They treated me like a human being instead of a football player or a left tackle.

Solder titled his piece, Thank You, New England.

He cautioned against the drafting of quarterbacks and spoke supportively of the idea that running backs are worth picking early. Here are three dumb things Gettleman said in the press conference exactly a week before the 2018 NFL Draft:

OK… but, yes, they are. Gettleman can believe running backs are still valuable and establishing the run is important, but the fact that teams are spending less at the position is objectively true.

In free agency this offseason, Jerick McKinnon’s four-year, $30 million deal was easily the highest at the position and the only that included more than $10 million in guarantees. Meanwhile, the Vikings dished out a fully guaranteed three-year, $84 million deal to Kirk Cousins.

It’s pretty simple: it’s difficult for running backs to get much on the free agency market, because they’re being — drum roll, please — devalued.

Should it be that way? The stats would tell you yes, but I suppose Gettleman can make the argument that having a top running back is transformative. But it’s certainly not a myth that the position is being valued less.

Representatives for Murphy, Sweeney and Coughlin declined to comment. 

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Eagles receiver Torrey Smith has said he hopes to remain with the team for 2018. But Smith and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, are bracing for the possibility of the Eagles choosing not to continue the relationship.

Rosenhaus explained during a Friday visit to PFT Live that Smith could indeed be released by the Eagles, who hold an option on the next two years of Smith’s contract. Due to pay Smith a $5 million salary in 2018, the Eagles could decide to cut the cord and find a cheaper replacement.

As for outfielder Clint Frazier, the redhead slowly but surely has the Yankees thinking that he’s finally recovering from a concussion that occurred when he crashed into the left-field wall during a Feb. 24 game in Bradenton against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Frazier, who was 1-for-4 playing only the Yankees’ first two spring games, has progressed to the point where he’s hitting baseballs off a tee and off underhand tosses, but there’s still on concrete plan on when he’s been cleared to play.

Frazier for sure will start the season on the disabled list, then he’ll be optioned to Triple-A when he’s healthy.

Ellsbury is close to a lock also to be on the 10-day DL when the Yankees open the regular season next Thursday in Toronto unless he can convince them that he’s ready before final cuts, which manager Aaron Boone predicts will occur after Saturday’s split-squad games.

That’s a pretty bold statement from Ryan Flaherty, Allen said Friday. He’s not too far off, but 90’s a tough task. I don’t hope on throwing that. We’ll keep my arm a little under that.

No one questions Allen’s arm strength. They do question his completion percentage.

Allen completed only 56 percent of his passes in 2016 and 56.3 percent in 2017, ending with a career completion percentage of 56.2.

Obviously, I’m going to come out and throw tomorrow and hopefully I get to have a good showing at pro day; I plan on it, Allen said. Hopefully that kind of eliminates some of the questions. But without live bullets and live action coming at you, we’re not going to find that out until game-time situations, whether that be in minicamp or any of those events leading up to the season. But I’m extremely confident in myself, and we’re working on it, and there’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll figure it out.Quinton Flowers willing to switch positions but wants shot to play QB

South Florida quarterback Quinton Flowers will participate in running back and punt return drills. But he wants a chance to be an NFL quarterback.

I just want a shot first at quarterback, Flowers said.

Flowers finished with 42 school records, leading USF to a 21-4 record over his final two seasons. But Flowers measured only 5-10 3/8, considered too short for an NFL quarterback. He heard the same thing in high school.

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The Bears are expected to be in the market for wide receivers when free agency opens next week and they’ll hope to find the kind of success with those choices that they’ve missed from Kevin White.

Asked to identify the areas he’s looking to improve this offseason, Lewis pinpointed three:

I need to improve on leadership,” Lewis said. I was pretty laid back last year, especially when I played. The Michigan State game I wasn’t taking control of the offense like I should have. I still gotta work on my patience. 1, 2, 3 (seconds) I’m out (running). I just gotta work on my patience, stay in the pocket and get the ball off. And also I have to work on my accuracy.”

The latter area may be the biggest hurdle keeping him from winning a wide-open quarterback competition that also includes fifth-year senior Giovanni Rescigno and walk-ons Tom Flacco and Rob Nittolo.

In his most meaningful action of the season, Lewis completed just nine of his 34 passes (34.6 percent) in losses to Indiana and Michigan State to end a 4-8 campaign.

Considering the average completion percentage for the top-10 passers in the Big Ten last season was 60.6 percent, Lewis knows he’ll need to improve on his 36.8-percent accuracy.

To that end, Lewis is punishing himself every time one of his passes is off the mark this spring.

The Steelers are near the bottom of the NFL in available salary cap space, but they’ve made a move that will help.

Steelers receiver Antonio Brown revealed today that he has restructured his contract. Brown posted a video of agent Drew Rosenhaus saying that the restructure will guarantee Brown’s pay this year but push some of the cap hit to future years to give the Steelers more cap space this year.

Brown is the highest-paid receiver in the NFL, and highly paid players often agree to restructure their deals to create more cap space while not actually reducing the amount of money the player receives that year.

The Steelers still don’t have a lot of cap space and aren’t likely to be major players in free agency, but the Brown deal at least gives them some wiggle room to get below the salary cap.

Via ESPN.com, Thomas said at an event on Tuesday night that he’ll announce whether he’ll be continuing his career or retiring by the time free agency begins.

It’s kind of like picking a college, Thomas said. One day you think it’s this school, the next it’s another.

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Teddy Bridgewater is taking much more of a gamble on himself than the Jets are taking on him. The 25-year old quarterback, with plenty to prove, is fine with that.

So, Bridgewater must deal with McCown and the young quarterback stud the Jets take in the draft.

There was never any doubt in my mind that I would ever get to that point again, Bridgewater said. When I first stepped out on that field, for the first time last year, it was a great feeling to just know that everything, all the hard work I put in, all the time and dedication that everyone who was involved in me overcoming what I overcame put in, it was just a great feeling, it was very rewarding to not only myself but to everyone who was involved in everything I went through.

About coming to the Jets, Bridgewater said, I’m very confident in myself, confident in the athletic training staff and the coaching staff here that they can get me back to the player that I once was.

There is plenty for Bridgewater to overcome as he tries to convince the Jets, or another team, he is eventually worthy of a long-term commitment.

The crazy part about that is it isn’t about proving to the people that counted you out or doubted you, he said. It’s about proving to the people who believed in you, showing them that hey, your prayers, your belief, it all paid off.

My confidence level is going to say I’m the best player, Chubb said Saturday. I feel like I put it on tape in four years. Just putting on tape good film, and I feel like I’m the best player. I’m not going to say one player is better than me. Saquon Barkley put up ridiculous numbers in the past couple of days. Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, just all the quarterbacks you’re hearing about. A lot of great players. I just feel like I’m up there at the top.

Chubb doesn’t care who drafts him, but he has seen the Colts as the early favorite to draft him. Chubb already has met with the Colts informally and has his formal interview with them tonight.

He knows new defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus is switching the Colts back to the 4-3, and Chubb has studied tape of Dwight Freeney.

A lot of people have been saying I’m going to the Colts, but you never know, Chubb said. If that happens, I’ll be happy, of course, to be drafted to such a great city. So I’m just looking forward to it.

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Darrell Brown scored 20 points with eight assists, Elijah Childs added 12 points with 12 rebounds and Bradley pulled away in the second half to defeat Missouri State 72-52 Tuesday night, maintaining a perfect record on its home court this season.

Jayden Hodgson made a 3-pointer to start a 16-2 breakaway run that turned a one-point lead into 17, 47-30, midway through the second half, and Bradley (15-7, 5-4 Missouri Valley Conference) wasn’t challenged again.

Evaluating a schedule months before the season begins is a fool’s errand, obviously: Some of the teams that were good last year are not going to be good this year (see the 2016 Carolina Panthers) while bad teams from 2016 are going to be good. Awful Announcing called it a better schedule — at least in terms of market sizes of the teams involved and the previous success of the teams themselves — but not by a whole lot.

German was 7 of 7 from the field and made all five of his free throws. Lacey James added 15 points for Northern Illinois (10-10, 3-4 Mid-American Conference), which had five players in double-figure scoring and snapped a two-game skid.

Rodrick Caldwell scored 13 points and Demajeo Wiggins had 11 to lead Bowling Green (12-8, 3-4). The Falcons have lost three of their last four games.

A 23-6 run stretched the Huskies’ lead to 62-40 with 9:10 to play. Noah McCarty scored all seven of his points during the spurt, and James added four and capped it with a dunk.

Northern Illinois shot 38 of 62 (61 percent) from the field and made all nine free-throw attempts. The Falcons shot 40 percent from the floor, just 6 of 21 from long range (28.6 percent), and missed 11 free throws.

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Chameka Scott, a starting guard on Baylor’s 2005 NCAA championship team, died Sunday night from cancer, the school announced. She was 33.

For me, as an athlete, my body had been tested physically day in and day out, Scott told ESPN in 2016. So the challenges I had to face with cancer — the weight loss, the surgeries, the recovery — no matter how bad it got, I knew there was a process. You push your body hard, then you build back up. And the discipline to do that is like playing, too.

Mulkey, on coaching Scott, said to ESPN: She did it the right way. She worked her rear end off. She didn’t get off the bench much her freshman year, but she never stopped asking questions about how she could improve. She basically worked her way up the ladder into the starting lineup.

Jermaine Crumpton had 18 points for the Griffins (13-8, 7-1), who have won four straight and are off to their best start in league play in 21 years.

Deyshonee Much led Iona (12-8, 6-2), which had won five straight since an 85-78 loss at Canisius, with 18 points. TK Edogi had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the defending MAAC champs with McGill adding 14 and a season-high 12 assists.

On Wednesday, Keenum glibly took a shot at the improbable nature of Sunday’s NFC championship matchup.

I know this is what all you guys predicted back in the day, was a Foles versus Keenum NFC championship. So, good job to all you guys that predicted that, Keenum said wryly.

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Playing against the NFC’s best defense on a slick, frozen field, McCarthy didn’t allow his players to challenge the Vikings. Because the Packers were playing with a makeshift offensive line, McCarthy called a variety of short passes to get the ball out of Brett Hundley’s hands quickly. Trying to nickel-and-dime the Vikings speedy defense didn’t work as the Packers were just 4 of 15 on third downs as Hundley consistently threw short of the yard to gain.

Hundley, who was the victim of several drops, finished 17 of 40 for only 130 yards and two interceptions and did scramble for 48 rushing yards. Harrison Smith’s first interception of Hundley squelched a Packers scoring opportunity just before halftime.

He wasn’t the best playmaker for the team and the ball was often stuck in his hands with him trying to make a play for better or worse. With Thomas, there’s still movement. It doesn’t stick. He still cuts hard despite playing in an isolation-heavy offense. He still moves the ball in transition to find the best play.

Yes, it’s a small sample. But five points and one assist in four minutes is pretty good. And +16 is awesome. If he keeps this up maybe James will get some much-needed rest with the postseason just over the horizon.

Darnold remains a top prospect, but what about all those interceptions? Jackson produced video-game like stats, but can he improve on a 57.4 completion percentage? Rosen might be the most talented, but why didn’t he have more success?

How do we solve this? Let’s play our own version of Match Game. You remember that game show hosted by Gene Rayburn? Brian Billick was even a contestant once. Only in this game, we’ll give a few hints to match an NFL franchise with the right first-round quarterback. Let’s have some fun.

However Brady’s struggles have coincided with a revitalized New England ground game, which exceeded 190 yards in three of the past six games (all three were wins). Dion Lewis, the Patriots’ healthiest back at the moment, has been especially good lately. He’s accumulated 366 yards and five TDs from scrimmage in the last three games while also handling kickoffs. But daylight could be harder to find against a Tennessee defense that ranks fourth against the run and did a nice job limiting Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt to 47 total yards in the wild-card round.

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Just a few days ago, the #MeToo movement hit baseball when Betsy Bissen, a freelance photographer, accused Minnesota Twins’ All-Star third basemen Miguel Sano of assaulting her two years prior at a mall in suburban Minneapolis. That story came a few days after a Wall Street Journal report that said Bob Bowman, the former 17-year head of MLB Advanced Media, was forced out following allegations related to workplace misconduct.

Or, as Roethlisberger can attest, as bad as it sounded afterward. The sound bite was just that, a bite, one that in a way played a role in his resurgence. One that ended with his sixth Pro Bowl selection and a very real shot to become the fourth quarterback in NFL history with three Super Bowl titles.

He’s confident in his ability and he’s confident in his receivers, Heyward-Bey said. He knows that we’re going to go out there and try and make plays for him. That’s what a quarterback needs. He has to have confidence in his guys.

CB Artis Burns (hyperextended right knee) did not practice Thursday but is hoping to play Sunday. DE Stephon Tuitt (elbow) also did not practice but plans to play. … LB Ryan Shazier, recovering from spine stabilization surgery, attended practice again in a wheelchair and hung out in the locker room after practice.

If the Titans end up sitting at home for the playoffs, they will curse their loss to the 49ers most, no matter how much of a prodigy Jimmy Garoppolo seems to be. The regret will be greater with the Rams on deck, because the Rams seem in no mood to let anyone deter them from an NFC West title and their best possible playoff seeding as they proved with that beatdown they laid on the Seahawks. Marcus Mariota can’t feel much ease about this after seeing what the Rams did to Russell Wilson.

Logic dictates that the Chargers’ pass rush (Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram have a combined 21.5 sacks) will feast on an inexperienced quarterback like Bryce Petty (second start of the season, sixth of his career). The Jets didn’t seem to miss Muhammad Wilkerson against the Saints, and they might be preparing to not miss him anymore this season. Philip Rivers slipped off track last week against the Chiefs for the first time in a month, but with their postseason lives on the line, he has reason to get back on.

That’s a good team. Nobody wants to play for him. I can see it. No high-fives when they come out of the game. People don’t know why they’re in the game. He’s too young. He’s too young. … He ain’t connecting with them anymore. You can look at every player, he’s not connecting with not one player, he continued.

He complained that Walton didn’t know how to coach Lonzo Ball earlier in the season.

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