Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski won’t be hanging around for more OTAs

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski were there last week for the mandatory minicamp.

But neither of them are going to volunteer to hang around.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Patriots stars won’t be attending this week’s voluntary OTA sessions, including a team field trip.

That means their next appearance will be when players report for training camp on July 26, with practices to begin the next day.

We started going back and forth on it. There were two major numbers that I couldn’t believe. One was about 80 million people stopped watching sports on the weekend when football goes off the air. That’s one. The second one though that was even more intriguing to me was a minimum of 20 million people stop playing all forms of fantasy sports the day football goes off the air.

The Rockies have allowed a major league record three or more home runs in five consecutive home games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Colorado also has given up 10 or more hits in 11 consecutive games since May 28. That’s the longest in the majors since Seattle’s 11-game streak in August of 2008 and the longest in the National League since the Dodgers had a 12-game streak from Aug. 23-Sept. 5, 2006.

Diamondbacks: OF Steven Souza Jr. (right pectoral strain) took live at-bats against injured starters Robbie Ray (strained right oblique) and Jorge De La Rosa (right Achilles bursitis) on Saturday. Ray threw two innings and De La Rosa one. Both will take Sunday off. … A.J. Pollock (fractured thumb) will have a CT scan next week. … RHP Shelby Miller (Tommy John surgery) will throw 85-90 pitches for Double-A Jackson on Sunday.

There’s zero doubt in his mind: Concussions are to blame.

Lewis offers two more startling takes before leaving. Heck yeah, his boys will play football. Eight-year-old Jazz already has, and Dad half-jokes that he needs to get tagged.

Moments earlier, sipping buttermilk coffee inside his downtown Atlanta office, Lewis pointed to the north, said those kids had options, and then pointed to the south. Those kids did not. Those kids don’t give a s–tabout concussions. Holding out a fist, Lewis then dramatically, sternly listed the reasons one finger at a time.

Hell, where I grew up, you take a lot of risk. You risk your kid going out hanging with the wrong crowd, selling drugs. You risk your kid hanging out with the wrong crowd, getting killed. You risk your kid hanging out with the wrong crowd, joining a gang. So, which one are you going to take? I’ll take football any day out of all of that.

It’s not you you’re worried about, he says. It’s your kids you’re worried about. It’s your family you’re worried about. You not being able to talk. You not being able to move around. … You don’t know when it’s going to hit you. You can manage but there’s only so long you can manage. At the same time, what are you going to do?

He takes a deep breath. A rusting car zips by and honks its horn, and Lewis waves back.

He can sense the sadness creeping in again and stops it.

I can’t live in the fear of ‘Oh, one day…one day….’ You can’t do that, because that day might never come. You might be one of the lucky ones. There might be something that comes out to help cognitive issues. You can’t live in fear.

Mike McCarthy on drafting three WRs: Always looking for bigger targets

The Packers said goodbye to a longtime member of their receiving corps this offseason when they released Jordy Nelson and there will be plenty of new blood vying for a chance to fill his snaps.

Green Bay added former Missouri wideout J’Mon Moore in the fourth round, former South Florida receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the fifth round and ex-Notre Damer Equanimeous St. Brown in the sixth round as they closed out the draft by repopulating the depth chart at wideout. Moore is the shortest of the three rookies at 6’3″ so they bring a different look to a group fronted by the shorter Davante Adams and Randall Cobb.

This year NFL Network’s coverage on Thursday and Friday night was simulcast on FOX, while ESPN’s coverage on Saturday was simulcast on ABC in most markets.

After ratings of NFL games have declined for the last two seasons, the league was looking for something to bolster the viewership of its biggest offseason event, and the addition of network TV partners made a big difference.

But Browns General Manager John Dorsey said Thursday during a radio interview on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland that he had the players graded equally on his board, which led them to make a needs-based pick.

“We’ve totally upgraded the secondary there with unrestricted free agent acquisitions and trades,” Dorsey said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “And then we attacked it also in the draft. I’m very pleased with Denzel Ward, great kid, loves the game of football, wonderful family. Now he’s got the physical features you look for in a shutdown corner.

“I know exactly what they said, and exactly why they said that,” Mayfield said, via quotes distributed by the team. “That is a veteran that has been in the league, a guy that I can sit behind and learn from. When I say those types of things, it is because I am competitive. If I came in with the mindset of just being happy that I got drafted and just to settle for a backup job, that wouldn’t be myself. I am going to come in and compete but also with the hunger to learn from a guy that has been in the league that has seen things that I haven’t seen.”

“Report” of Gronk trade was a joke lacking any actual humor

Every once in a while in this business, the time comes to get a stick and scrape from feces from the bottom of the Foot-Joys. It’s not a pleasant task, but it has to be done, lest the feces get tracked all over the place.

The Bears were wise to keep Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator and retain starting cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller. But at the second level of their base 3-4, they could use a dynamic, versatile playmaker who can thrive inside or outside. Fangio, formerly of San Francisco, can get his Patrick Willis/NaVorro Bowman-type here.

Speaking of San Francisco, Robert Saleh, its defensive coordinator formerly of Seattle, can get his Earl Thomas-type here for the secondary. Richard Sherman and Akhello Witherspoon will hold down the corners, and Jacquiski Tartt has a bright future at one safety spot. James would allow Sherman to shepherd a sequel to the Legion of Boom for the Seahawks’ biggest rivals.

Teams with new coaches can start their offseason workout programs this week, and the Cardinals and Bears will be the first to report, with Steve Wilks and Matt Nagy getting their teams to work tomorrow after the holiday weekend.

The Lions, Colts, Giants, Raiders, and Titans will begin next Monday, with the remaining 25 teams starting on April 16.

The nine-week offseason program is broken into three phases. The first two weeks (phase one) include strength and conditioning and rehabilitation work only. In phase two, which lasts three weeks, players can work out on the field in individual instruction drills and team practice on a separate basis (i.e. just the offense or just the defense).

When phase three of the program kicks in, teams can hold 10 days of OTA practices. Those can’t include live contact, but can include 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills.

Manziel needs to play well in Canada to get back to the NFL

The plan made sense — take #ComebackSZN to The Spring League, dominate it, get a spot on a 90-man NFL offseason roster, work to get from 90 to 53. The performance in his debut likely wasn’t sufficiently dominant to trigger steps three and four.

Still, to get to the NFL, Manziel will need to show a lot more than what he showed last night. Specifically, he needs to show something more than rolling to the right and waiting for someone to get open. If that’s all he can still do well, NFL defenses will shut it down quickly, and then he’ll be screwed.

CFL defenses will shut it down quickly, too. Which means that it makes sense for Manziel to take advantage of one more chance to get live reps with The Spring League before heading to the CFL. But it’s becoming more and more clear that his effort to get back to the NFL will include an attempt to show dominance in the Canadian league.

That’s why he found the feedback he received from NFL scouts funny.

“A lot of them were surprised that I caught the ball really well,” Bridgewater said. “I thought that was funny, because that’s like my biggest asset, catching. It’s like rebounding — you just go up and get it.”

Bridgewater, a forward who averaged 1.8 points per game over three seasons with the LSU basketball team from 2014 to 2017, worked out with the LSU football prospects at the pro day with hopes he can get a chance to join a professional team.

His hope is to mimic the transition Jimmy Graham and Antonio Gates successfully made from playing basketball in college to playing football in the pros.

Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny are the stack on offense. Both Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov are dangerous on the blue line, with Gostisbehere getting the edge as the quarterback on the power play.

Three and out: Minnesota Vikings’ 2018 NFL draft needs, prospect fits

In the build-up to the 2018 draft, USA TODAY Sports will take a look at each NFL team’s situation and needs.

Minnesota Vikings

1. Expect the offensive line to be addressed early in the draft, perhaps multiple times. The Vikings are giving QB Kirk Cousins $84 million over the next three years, now they need to protect him.

Advice: Minnesota doesn’t need to devote an early pick to this position after investing heavily in Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander. But Wisconsin’s Nick Nelson, Florida’s Duke Dawson and Texas’ Holton Hill will likely still be available in Round 3.

3. Kyle Rudolph is locked in as the Vikings’ top pass-catching tight end. He and WR Stefon Diggs led the team with eight TD catches in 2017, but no one else had more than four. Cousins surely wouldn’t mind another red zone weapon.

Advice: This year’s tight end class seems middling. But mid-round options include Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews, Stanford’s Dalton Schultz, Central Florida’s Jordan Akins and Indiana’s Ian Thomas. Former first rounder Laquon Treadwell has yet to be a factor, so GM Rick Spielman could also consider big-bodied WRs like SMU’s Courtland Sutton or Notre Dame’s Equanimeous St. Brown, both likely to be Day 2 picks.

Barwin moved from linebacker to the defensive line after the Eagles switched to a 4-3 system, and his sack total dropped. The Eagles released Barwin last March even after he offered to take a pay cut, according to multiple reports.

Barwin visited the Cincinnati Bengals after he was released but opted for the familiarity of Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense he played for with the Texans and signed with the Los Angeles Rams last year.

Of all the reasons to be concerned about the Cubs’ offense in the early going, the main concern is probably Anthony Rizzo’s start. Before missing some games with lower back tightness, Rizzo was hitless in his previous three games, going a combined 0-for-15 in the process. No offense is going to score much when its No. 3-hole hitter has a .433 OPS. — Ken Woolums, ESPN Stats & Information

Luck and the organization are taking a cautious stance this offseason after getting burned by their open optimism last year.

If both the Browns and Giants stand pat with their first choices in the NFL draft later this month, this matchup will feature the top two picks in 2018 taking the field together. Might we see two future franchise signal-callers on the same gridiron? The opening week faceoff will certainly lead to myriad one-to-one comparisons between the top two players picked.

After hibernating for the entirety of John Fox’s reign, Chicago fans hope an offensive awakening occurs under new coach Matt Nagy and second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky . Nagy welcomes his mentor, Andy Reid, and former players to Solider Field this preseason. Clearly, Nagy won’t unleash his entire playbook, but the Bears should be far enough along in the process to show signs of life by Week 3. Add the fact that Patrick Mahomes will be slinging it in his regular-season tune-up and you’ve got a surplus of reasons watch. Plus, it’s the third game of the preseason, and as the late, great Dennis Green famously stated about the third game of the preseason:

“I’m not a perfect-feeling athlete right now,” Luck conceded. “… One thing I picked up upon myself is that I’m quite impatient as a person. It has gotten into places — looking back at the rehab — that maybe I shouldn’t have been in, in the first place.

“I don’t want to repeat those missteps. I cannot miss steps. I very, very strongly believe in that. Some things just take time and I’ve learned that. When I do get the urge to do something a little silly, I talk to myself and say it’s not worth it right now.”

This time around, those positive expectations are more guarded.

Sitting down with Around The NFL Podcast at the Annual League Meeting late last month, new coach Frank Reich expressed hope that teams selecting ahead of the Colts draft quarterbacks because of the strong belief that Luck will be ” ready to go ” in Week 1.

“You’re hopeful that he’s going to be there,” Reich added. “You plan that he’s going to be there. All the rehab is checking off all the boxes: Yep, we hit that stage. Stage one, stage two, stage three. It’s all been good. We’ll just have to keep progressing on down that road.”

Packers’ Trevor Davis arrested for making bomb joke

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Trevor Davis was arrested Sunday and charged with making “criminal threats” after joking about a bomb at the Los Angeles International Airport, according to LAX police.

Public information officer Rob Pedregon told ESPN on Monday that Davis was taken into custody and released on his own recognizance pending a May 3 court appearance.

“Yesterday, Trevor Davis checked in at the Hawaiian Airlines ticket counter and was asked the usual questions about whether he was carrying any aerosol cans, knives, weapons or explosives,” Pedregon said. “Davis turned to his female companion and asked if she remembered to pack the explosives. He was then taken into custody and booked.”

“Obviously my stuff is there. I’m not worried about that,” he said. “It’s just smoothing out some delivery issues that I have, better direction to the plate, better timing, my arm’s dragging a little bit so everything’s kind of up in the zone … It’s rhythm, tempo and timing. I’m just a hair off right now.”

Ohtani could return to the lineup. He’s homered in three straight games as a designated hitter. Both teams start 1-0 left-handers, Tyler Skaggs for the Angels and Martin Perez for the Rangers.

Scandrick was signed with Dallas through the 2019 season and is set to earn base salaries of $3 million and $4 million, respectively, but was granted his request to be released by the Cowboys on Saturday.

Scandrick, 31, was selected by the Cowboys in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He recorded 38 total tackles and three defended passes in 11 games last season while also failing to record a single interception for just the second time in his 10-year career.

Drury agreed the time away would be a good thing.

“I don’t want to be out there if I’m playing at 50 percent if it’s something that we can fix and get back out there and get healthy,” Drury said.

Second baseman Tyler Wade also left Friday’s game, exiting in the ninth inning with flu-like symptoms.

Golden Tate contract talks likely to wait until summer

The Detroit Lions have aggressively extended the contracts of a number of key contributors under general manager Bob Quinn, and if the pattern holds, wide receiver Golden Tate could be next on the docket.

Quinn said he hasn’t thought that far ahead, preferring to explore that possibility later in the summer, well into the offseason program, and with the chaos of the draft in the rearview mirror.

I think all those things, in my time here, have happened in the summer, Quinn said. I think our concentration and our focus right now is on the draft. Things that come down the road after that, they’ll come and go and we’ll talk through it.

The biggest difference is Tate’s age. He’ll turn 30 during training camp, which could limit how much the Lions are looking to invest in him, both in terms of contract length and financially.

Regardless, cap space shouldn’t be an issue. The team has approximately $11 million remaining and Quinn intends to enter the season with a healthy buffer, just for reasons such as this.

We always leave a buffer, Quinn said. I’m not getting into specifics about how much. But there’s practice squad salaries, there’s draft picks, there’s injury replacements during the season, there’s possible extensions in training camp.

There’s a myriad of things that we always keep a buffer for, he said. You’re never going to see us go close to the cap this time of year. That’s just not good business. You always have to keep that for contingency plans and for emergency plans during the year.

Maybe that’s good enough for Seattle these days: Dress different, act like the masses. It wasn’t good enough before, though, when the Seahawks nurtured an identity, lived by their own rules and stayed late at the playoff party every year.

Maybe this is Seattle’s new winning formula. It’s been other franchises’ winning formula, to be sure. But the Seahawks had their own formula, and if they had employed a more reliable kicker last season — another common theme they have adopted to their detriment — they might still be winning with it today.

Much of this, of course, is simply the way NFL business is conducted these days. Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and Earl Thomas (if and when he is moved out) were going to face the fate of every player who signs a big deal in his prime. No matter how much they’ve won, how much they’ve redefined their positions and how much they’ve created unique identities, their team was going to want someone younger and cheaper sooner rather than later.