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Sunday Morning NFL Quick-Hits

Every Sunday morning our NFL columnist Anthony Stalter will provide his “quick-hits” from around the league. You can follow him on Twitter @AnthonyStalter.

+ The Miami Dolphins might be on the verge of making a mistake by signing Chad Ochocinco, who reportedly lacked football I.Q. to survive in New England. Said Boston Globe’s Greg Bedard: “The Patriots would literally tell him to run a route a certain way, and a minute later he would run it the other way. It happened all the time.” Ochocinco made six Pro Bowls, led the NFL in receiving yards once (2006), and led the AFC in receiving yards twice (2003, 2005) in Cincinnati because he was allowed to freelance, which is one of the many things that frustrated Carson Palmer. So why would the Dolphins want someone like Ochocinco on their roster when there’s a strong possibility that they’ll start a rookie at quarterback this season? Teams need to put young players in position to succeed, period. It makes no sense to start Ryan Tannehill and then throw Ochocinco into the mix when the idea is not to stunt the rookie’s development. If Tom Brady couldn’t work with Ochocinco, why would anyone believe that Tannehill could?

- Smart move by the Patriots to lock up tight end Rob Gronkowski to a six-year, $54 million extension through 2019. Only $13.17 million is guaranteed, which is quite the bargain for the most dominate tight end in the league. This move also indicates that the Patriots have zero concerns about Gronk’s offseason ankle surgery and neither should anyone else.

+ Jets receiver Santonio Holmes is being made out to look like a baby following his meltdown at the team’s OTAs on Thursday. But keep in mind he had missed voluntary workouts while in Germany on a USO trip, so receivers coach Sanjay Lal could have done a better job easing Holmes back into action. After all, it’s June – not August. There will come a time when Holmes needs to ratchet up his workouts so that he’s prepared for the season but it does the Jets no good for Lal to burn out his receivers or risk injury three months before the season. That said, Holmes could have also acted like a professional. There was no need for him to toss his helmet and make a scene. His unpredictable attitude is one of the reasons why the Steelers felt compelled to trade him despite the fact that he was their Super Bowl MVP in 2009.

- Brandon Weeden has better size, a bigger arm, and has reportedly outperformed Colt McCoy in OTAs this spring. But it still doesn’t benefit Pat Shurmur to name a starter before or during training camp. Teams should strive for competition at all positions, especially at quarterback. Players become awfully content when they’re making a ton of money and know that nobody is breathing down their necks for their starting job. Even if it’s a foregone conclusion that Weeden will be the starter, it behooves Shurmur and the Browns to make him work for it all summer.

+ It’s great to hear that Michael Vick has been the first player in and the last player out during Eagles’ practices this offseason. It also pisses me off thinking about how undedicated he was in Atlanta. Did he want to win? No doubt. But you never read reports about him being the first one to the practice facility in Flowery Branch when he was quarterbacking the Falcons. Part of the blame falls on owner Arthur Blank and former coach Jim Mora, whom allowed Vick to come and go as he pleased. But considering the Falcons paid him franchise money to be the leader of their team, one would think he would have taken more pride in his work instead of continuously trying to get by on his talent alone. It’s a shame when you read that Vick is now finally dedicated to his craft 11 years after he was drafted but then again, it’s better late than never.

- From a defensive standpoint, one team that might be significantly improved this season from 2011 is the Arizona Cardinals. The team looked lost throughout the first half last year trying to learn new defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s defense and as five-time Pro Bowler Adrian Wilson admitted, there were plenty of times where players didn’t even know if they were in the right position. The Cardinals also started a rookie at cornerback in Patrick Peterson, who suffered plenty of growing pains before coming into his own in the final six weeks of the season. One area the Cardinals must improve on is their interception total. They had just one pick in the final six weeks of the season and they went eight games in which they had zero interceptions. Assuming they’re more comfortable in Horton’s defense in year two and they can hang onto the ball when they have opportunities to make a play, Arizona should show marked improvements from 2011. Now only if they had a quarterback on the other side of the ball to lead them to the playoffs…

+ Asante Samuel is already paying dividends in Atlanta. After lining up opposite Matt Ryan four times throughout his career, the Pro Bowl cornerback has been giving instructions to his new teammate on how the quarterback can become more difficult to defend. Samuel has also reportedly brought a ton of energy to the practice field and fellow cornerback Dunta Robinson is thrilled that the presence of his new teammate will allow him to kick inside to the nickel position. Robinson is at his best when he can get his hands on a receiver and be physical at the line of scrimmage. The past two years he struggled in former defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder’s scheme because he was forced to play off the ball. But with Samuel and Mike Nolan now in Atlanta, Robinson will play inside where he thrived early in his career as a member of the Houston Texans.

- All signs point to Chris Johnson having a bounce back year in Tennessee. It’s public knowledge that he showed up to camp out of shape last year following his contract dispute and the lockout. But Dan Pompei of the National Football Post has been told by sources that Johnson has rededicated himself this offseason. Of course, it doesn’t matter how good a shape Johnson is in if his offensive line doesn’t open up holes for him in the running game. Eugene Amano, David Stewart and Leroy Harris all struggled in run blocking last season and Johnson often found himself bottled up. It’s great that he’s committed to offseason workouts but without a better effort from the Titans’ front five, he won’t be rushing for over 2,000 yards again anytime soon.

+ Despite a messy contract situation, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which Matt Forte doesn’t report to training camp. Forte wants a long-term deal from the Bears, who seemingly want to go year to year with their star running back. But at the end of the day Forte is a perfect fit for the Bears’ offense and he’s such a competitor that I don’t see him holding out all season. Plus, he has no leverage. He’s coming off a season-ending knee injury, he’s a running back in a passing league, and the Bears signed Michael Bush earlier this offseason as insurance. For Forte to hold out during one of his prime years doesn’t make sense. Plus, as long as he signs his franchise contract before the July 16 deadline he’ll make $7.7 in guaranteed money. Nobody is going to pass up that kind of cash, no matter how angry they are at their team.

- If the reports out of Seattle are any indication then the Seahawks might be in store for another rocky year at the quarterback position. Despite landing a three-year, $26 million contract, Matt Flynn has yet to distance himself from neither Russell Wilson nor Tarvaris Jackson. Everyone has been cautious when it comes to predicting Flynn’s success in his first year with the Seahawks, which is smart given his lack of experience. But it’s not like the Hawks gave him chump change – they paid him starter’s money. Thus, it’s a little surprising that Flynn has yet to emerge from a pack that also consists of a rookie third-round pick and one of the most underwhelming quarterbacks in the league.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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Santonio Holmes stays with the Jets

New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes (10) celebrates his touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter in the NFL AFC Championship football game in Pittsburgh, January 23, 2011. REUTERS/Dave Denoma (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Santonio Holmes will get $24 million guaranteed under his new deal over five years. This is a good move for the Jets, as Holmes makes Mark Sanchez a better quarterback. Who knows what they’ll do with Braylon Edwards, but he’s an afterthought.

2011 NFL Free Agency Predictions: Where will Nnamdi Asomugha land?

Seattle Seahawks Golden Tate (81) can’t hold on to a Matt Hasselbeck pass as Oakland Raiders Nnamdi Asomugha (21) defends in the second quarter at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California on October 31, 2010. The Raiders defeated the Seahawks 33-3. UPI/Terry Schmitt

With the lockout in the rearview mirror, NFL fans can now put away their “Lawyer Jargon for Dummies” textbooks and start hitting the rumor mill once again.

Since I’m a fun guy who likes to have some fun and enjoys a little fun, I’ve decided to have a little fun by trying to predict where some of the top free agents will land over the next two weeks. Remember, this is all for fun and is not to be taken too seriously. If you’re the asswipe who reads these things and immediately gets in a tizzy because you disagree, then be aware of my one and only rule when it comes to predictions: Don’t criticize me if you don’t have the stones to leave your own predictions in the comments section.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s have some good ol’ fashion family fun! (Have I overused that word yet? Did the joke land? It wasn’t funny in the first place? All right…) Here are 10 free agents and my predictions for where they might land. In the “Hedging my bet with” section, I list an alternative to where I think said free agent may wind up.

Nnamdi Asomugha, CB: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It has been reported that the 2011 NFL salary cap will (roughly) be around $120 million, which leaves the Bucs with (roughly) $60 million to spend in free agency. Of course, that doesn’t mean that cheapo Malcolm Glazer will open his wallet, but we do know that the new CBA comes with a salary cap floor. Thus, teams like the Bucs will have to spend something in free agency. The Bucs have built a solid, young core centered around quarterback Josh Freeman. With Aqib Talib’s legal situation up in the air, they have a definite need at corner and if teams like the Eagles, Cowboys and Jets feel as though Asomugha’s price tag is too steep, maybe the Bucs will step in and shell out big money to land the top free agent on the market. (And if you’re wondering about whether or not Asomugha is a fit for Raheem Morris’ defensive scheme, don’t worry about it because the man is a fit for every defense.)
Hedging my bet with: New York Jets

DeAngelo Williams, RB: Carolina Panthers
The emergence of Mike Goodson and Jonathan Stewart make Williams expendable but the Panthers are still the frontrunners to retain him in my eyes. He says he wants to stay in Carolina and while he’d be a fool to not at least test the market, I think he’ll eventually stay put. The Panthers realize they need a good stable of running backs no matter who starts at quarterback this season, so re-signing Williams is still a priority despite expanding rolls for Goodson and Stewart.
Hedging my bet with: New York Giants.

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Could Randy Moss wind up with the Jets next season?

Tennessee Titans receiver Randy Moss watches from the sidelines during warm-ups prior to their NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Miami, Florida November 14, 2010. Moss makes his debut with the Titans after being claimed on waivers. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

There have been a couple of interesting reports surrounding the Jets over the last couple of days, specifically their receiving corps.

On Saturday, Santonio Holmes told ESPN New York’s Rich Cimini that he won’t sign his restricted free agent tender if the 2010 work rules remain in place for 2011. The Jets placed a first-and-third-round restricted free agent tender on Holmes last month, but he says he wants a long-term deal and will sign with the highest bidder if he hits the open market as an unrestricted free agent.

On Tuesday, Greg A. Bedard of the Boston Globe noted that Randy Moss could eventually wind up in a Jets uniform this year.

Randy Moss in a Jets uniform? It could happen. Among several free agents, the Jets have receivers Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards. They have said re-signing Holmes is a priority. Edwards would likely have to agree to a contract with the Jets that might be less than market value. And he might very well balk at that and cash in elsewhere. Enter Moss, another big target. Only one team, the Titans, put in a claim for him when he was released by the Vikings. And considering his performance in Tennessee, most teams aren’t going to waste their time with a 34-year-old receiver with diminishing skills, let alone one who’s known as a problem child. But coach Rex Ryan could be interested. Ryan has enough cachet where he could keep Moss in line, and the Jets would probably enjoy tweaking the Patriots. Ryan spoke highly of Moss last month. “Randy Moss, I’ve said all along, is a great vertical receiver,’’ Ryan said at the owners’ meetings. “And you have to roll coverage. Most teams would have to roll coverage to him. We never did, but we got burned for a touchdown. But he was a weapon. A vertical weapon down the field.’’ Curiously, when Ryan began to speak about Moss, he checked first with team spokesman Bruce Speight to see if it would be tampering.

Even though Moss would probably sign a one-year deal for cheap (assuming he even wants to play for Ryan and the Jets), I don’t see how New York can sign Holmes, Edwards and Moss in one offseason. And why would they want to? This isn’t “Madden” and there’s only one football to go around.

Receiver will be a priority this offseason, but the Jets also need help at defensive end, linebacker and guard, too. Giving Holmes a long-term deal, signing Moss for cheap and allowing Edwards to walk probably makes the most sense (again, assuming that both Moss and the Jets are interested in each other). That would allow the Jets to concentrate on other areas as well.

Heart Pumping Moments: Win a Copy of EA Sports Active 2

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The Scores Report has teamed up with EA Sports to discuss the best Heart Pumping Moments in sports. We thought it would be fun to take a look at the most heart-pumping Super Bowl moments from the 2000s. If you would like to share your most Heart Pumping Moments, leave them in the comments section and we’ll pick five readers to receive a copy of EA Sports Active 2 for the system of your choice! (Check out the rules and requirements at the bottom of this post.)

On to the heart-pumping Super Bowl moments of the 2000s!

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 03:  David Tyree #85 of the New York Giants catches a 32-yard pass from Eli Manning #10 as Rodney Harrison #37 of the New England Patriots attempts to knock it out in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

1. David Tyree’s “helmet catch.”
Is there a better Super Bowl moment in the past decade than David Tyree’s “helmet catch?” Super Bowl XLII will best be remembered as one of the best upsets in the history of the NFL. The Patriots were looking to become only the second team in league history to finish the season undefeated and all that stood in their way was a Giants team that had been inconsistent before making the playoffs. The Giants were heavy underdogs coming into the game, but their pass rush stifled Tom Brady and held the explosive New England offense to only 14 points. Down 14-10 with only 1:15 remaining in the game, the Giants faced a 3rd-and-5 at their own 44. Eli Manning took the snap from shotgun and immediately had defensive linemen Richard Seymour, Jarvis Green and Adalius Thomas in his face. Thomas grabbed Manning by the shoulder while Seymour had the back of his jersey. Somehow Manning escaped the sack, scrambled backwards and then heaved a desperation pass downfield towards Tyree at the 34-yard line. Tyree, who had to adjust his route because of the Patriots’ pressure, caught the ball with both hands but safety Rodney Harrison had swiped his other arm. Amazingly, Tyree was able to secure possession of the ball with one hand by pressing it against the top of his helmet as both players fell to the ground. Given the situation, it was easily the play of the decade. It netted 32 yards and four players later, Manning hit Plaxico Burress for a touchdown to eventually give the Giants a 17-14 victory. Remarkable.

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