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INDIANAPOLIS — Despite the amount of uncertainty rooted in what the Minnesota Vikings will do at quarterback in 2018 and beyond, general manager Rick Spielman said no decisions have been made regarding the team’s plans at the position.

Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford are slated to become unrestricted free agents on March 14. Whether any of the three will be back in a Vikings uniform next season has yet to be determined.

“We’re just right now still in the process of all three quarterbacks,” Spielman said at the scouting combine. “Gives me and us, our organization, an opportunity to sit down face-to-face with all three of the quarterbacks’ representatives. I think we’re in a very unique situation because of the in-depth knowledge we have on all three. Also, the practical game knowledge that we have because all those guys have played for us. There’s been no decisions made, unlike what’s been reported.”

Spielman said he will sit down with the agents and representatives of the three current Vikings quarterbacks soon to get a better feel for how the franchise will decide to move forward as free agency approaches.

“Speaking with the agents — you can speak with them over the phone — but when you get a chance to sit down one-on-one and talk to those, you’ll get a little bit more clarity on the direction you could potentially go.”

According to Spielman, the Vikings also have not decided whether they will use their franchise tag on Keenum before the window closes at 4 p.m. ET on March 6. Franchising Keenum would cost around $23 million on a one-year tender.

Regarding multiple reports that Bridgewater will indeed become a free agent in two weeks, Spielman spoke to the nature of the quarterback’s contract, which he believes will not toll in 2018.

“The one thing I want to make clear on the Teddy Bridgewater contract is that we’ve been in direct contact with the league. The league will make the final decision on the tolling contract. What’s been reported out there — to my knowledge — I don’t think the contract will toll, but the league will finalize that and have an announcement here in the near future.

“Teddy has been such a great teammate, is a great person, has been great for our organization. Any time our organization can reach out and help a player, even though it may not benefit us, we’re always going to try to look out for the best interest of our players.”

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Fortune favors the bold for Bruce Arians, whose risks have Bucs in Super Bowl – Tampa Bay Buccaneers Blog

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TAMPA, Fla. — On fourth-and-4 against the Green Bay Packers in Sunday’s NFC Championship, with 13 seconds left before halftime and looking to pad a 14-10 lead, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians told his punt team to get off the field — they were going for it.

“I was like, ‘We didn’t come here to not take chances to win the game,’” said Arians, whose “no risk it, no biscuit” philosophy — not only on the field but off — is one of the big reasons the Bucs are headed to the Super Bowl this year.

“The coaches told us … all week, ‘We’re gonna be aggressive, we’re gonna go at ’em, we’re gonna take chances with the guys that we’ve got, that’s what we do,” said wide receiver Scotty Miller, who, after a 6-yard catch by Leonard Fournette to convert that fourth down, caught a 39-yard touchdown to extend Tampa Bay’s halftime lead to 11 points.

By contrast, Packers coach Matt LaFleur kicked a field goal after being down 31-23 with 2:09 to go in regulation and never got the ball back.

Added Miller: “It was a risk at the time, but there was only 13 seconds left, so if we didn’t run a play, we’d probably waste six [seconds], and then they’d probably throw a Hail Mary as well, so why not let us do it?”

The 68-year-old Arians, whose health issues led him into retirement after the 2017 season, didn’t come back to football in 2019 to play scared, to hold back or leave things unsaid. He takes risks, makes unpopular decisions and does so with conviction — much of that stemming from the long wait he had to become a first-time NFL head coach at 60.

“For me, there were times when I never thought it would happen,” Arians said Sunday. “I never thought I would get a head-coaching job. After the cancer scare in Arizona, sitting out that year and then coming back — this has been the most rewarding year of coaching in my life.”

He told reporters at the NFL combine last February, if he could have his pick, he wanted quarterback Tom Brady, an audacious statement considering the Bucs’ 7-9 record at the time. Then when he got Brady, he was scrutinized for his candor talking about Brady’s mistakes publicly, which never happened in New England. Yet Arians scoffed at any notion of friction.

When players expressed outrage over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin this summer, Arians challenged them to take their frustrations beyond protesting. If they wanted to move or cancel a practice, he’d support it, but wanted to see a plan, telling them, “Your responsibility is to take action.”

Members of the players’ social justice committee responded by meeting with community leaders. They launched the Buccaneers’ Youth Leadership Program, pairing staff members in all departments with middle school students in East Tampa. They also created a #BucsVote campaign to promote voter registration.

Arians’ unique coaching style has also been about conveying support, which in numerous instances, made a world of a difference for players and his assistants.

When Leftwich’s playcalling was called into question at times, Arians stood by him, not once considering taking back those duties.

When running back Ronald Jones had a costly fumble at the New York Giants, and then again at Carolina, Arians didn’t scold him on the sideline, or bench him. Recognizing Jones was “in the tank,” Arians pulled him aside and said, “‘Let it go. The team’s going to need you today, so you got to get back out there.'” Jones ripped off a 98-yard touchdown in the second half.

Arians welcomed wide receiver Antonio Brown, who served an eight-game suspension this season due to multiple violations of the NFL’s personal conduct policy, after the coach had said just a few months earlier that he “wasn’t a fit.” Brown was accused by two women of sexual misconduct.

But Arians didn’t just tolerate him — he went to bat for him, knowing the criticism that would come given Arians’ advocacy for women and his desire to give second chances.

Fournette was another player who came to Tampa looking to start over.

“I tell A.B. every day at practice, ‘Just thank God for second chances,'” said Fournette, whom Arians had to sell on being a backup in Tampa, after he was used to having entire offenses run through him in Jacksonville.

“We had our personal talks,” Fournette said. “And he asked me through the duration of the season, ‘What do I see myself [as] or what do I want to be?’ Because I was upset plenty of times after the games because I wasn’t getting the ball or anything. He just sat down and had a real talk with me.”

Arians held Fournette out an extra week in Week 6 – against Green Bay — because he was concerned the running back’s ankle wasn’t 100%. He told Fournette, “We’re gonna need you for the long run.”

At first Fournette was angry, but gained respect for Arians for making the decision. He realized Arians was trying to protect him. And he thought he and Jones made a great one-two punch.

Lo and behold, when Jones suffered a quad injury and became a late scratch just before the Bucs’ wild-card game at Washington, Fournette gashed his way for 93 yards, with 39 receiving yards.

That’s how “Playoff Lenny” was born. His 313 yards from scrimmage have been the most of any player this postseason. He’s fresher than he’s felt in years and believes Arians has helped prolong his career. Which is why he jumped at the chance to answer Arians’ call on fourth down.

Fournette told him, “Let’s just keep fighting.”

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Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, Jamal Adams, Derrick Henry playing virtual Pro Bowl using Madden NFL 21

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Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, Jamal Adams and Derrick Henry will be among the real-life participants controlling the AFC and NFC in the virtual Pro Bowl using Madden NFL 21 on Sunday.

Watson, Henry, Snoop Dogg and Keyshawn Johnson will represent the AFC. Murray, Adams, Bubba Wallace and Marshawn Lynch will represent the NFC.

Each player will play for one five-minute quarter — exact head-to-head matchups have not been determined — while playing from his home using the official AFC and NFC Pro Bowl rosters.

The Pro Bowl will be hosted by Charissa Thompson and Michael Strahan at 5 p.m. ET and will be streamed on the EA Madden NFL Twitch channel and the NFL’s YouTube, Twitter and Facebook platforms.

“We’ll be taking the Pro Bowl to the virtual world of Madden this weekend and I can’t wait to do it big with football fans in my favorite game,” Snoop Dogg said in a media release explaining the particulars of the game. “I’m a Madden NFL star. So Kyler and Marshawn better watch out, my team is comin’ in to win that championship title for the AFC.”

Streamers Ninja, FaZe Swagg, AustinShow and AMP will also have watch parties on their streaming channels during the Madden Pro Bowl game.

It is part of a day of celebration of the Pro Bowl honorees in place of an actual game, which the NFL called off because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the game, ESPN and ABC will have a Pro Bowl celebration at 3 p.m., including interviews with players and highlights from the NFL Pro Bowl Verzuz from earlier in the week.

NFL Network will air the virtual Pro Bowl game at 8 p.m. Sunday and 12:30 a.m. Monday.

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Source — Philadelphia Eagles expected to hire Los Angeles Chargers’ Shane Steichen as OC

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Former Los Angeles Chargers offensive coordinator Shane Steichen is arriving Monday in Philadelphia, where he is expected to become the Eagles‘ new offensive coordinator, a source tells ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Steichen will work under first-year Eagles coach Nick Sirianni, who was hired last week to replace Doug Pederson after spending three years as the Colts’ offensive coordinator.

Under Steichen, the Chargers offense in 2020 was ninth in the NFL in yards per game and sixth in passing yards per game with rookie quarterback Justin Herbert starting the final 15 games of the season.

Steichen will be charged with improving an Eagles offense that finished 28th in passing yards per game and has a muddled quarterback situation with both Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts.

The 35-year-old Steichen took over as the Chargers’ offensive coordinator on an interim basis in 2019 before being elevated to the full-time position ahead of this season.

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