Posted on: February 24, 2012 11:59 am
Edited on: February 24, 2012 12:21 pm
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Tim Tebow and Fred Durst: BFFs?

Can Tebow help resurrect Fred Durst's career? Let's hope not. (Getty Images)
By Josh Katzowitz

Tim Tebow and Limp Bizkit vocalist singer crooner screamer Fred Durst had dinner together Wednesday night in West Hollywood, according to a report in the New York Post. Now, some of you might be surprised to hear that, considering Durst’s nu-metal band and Tebow’s brand of philosophy and religion probably don’t mesh all that well together.

But if you think about it, OF COURSE they’d be friendly enough to have dinner together. If there’s any way to turn Limp Bizkit from a terrible creation into something that’s, at best, mediocre, it’d be Tebow’s healing touch.

And since Tebow is into performing miracles, it makes perfect sense that he’d try to save Durst’s floundering career.

Besides, if there’s anybody who can convince Durst to never again screw around with classic songs by George Michael, it’s Tim Tebow. If there’s anybody who can stop Durst from writing lyrics like, “I did it all for the nookie, c’mon/The nookie, c’mon/So you can take that cookie/And stick it up your yeah!” it’s Tim Tebow. And if there’s anybody who can demand Durst never (EVER) end up on a sex tape that somehow gets leaked to the public, it’s Tim Tebow.

Or I could be totally wrong about their conversation. In fact, let’s have a little fun*. Give me your best guess on what the two talked about during their dinner date. Be like Tebow, though (and not like Durst), and keep it clean. Otherwise, we’ll treat like you Limp Bizkit and try to forget we ever heard from you.

*In a perfect world, this contest would have a prize of the Limp Bizkit CD of your choice. But I figured that would be more of a deterrent than a prize, so forget it.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 11:29 am
Edited on: February 24, 2012 12:16 pm
 

Elway: Broncos open to 'either' kind of backup QB

John Elway and Denver haven't made a decision about Tebow's potential backup quarterbacks. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- John Elway has a tough task in front of him when it comes to filling out his quarterback depth chart. Logic dictates that the Broncos would like to get backup quarterbacks for Tebow that can run the read-option offense, or at least a version of it.

But Elway said the Broncos haven't made a decision on what kind of backup quarterbacks they'll seek out, and that be believes either a "ordinary" quarterback or "one like Tim" could work in the Broncos offense.

"We're going through that process now," Elway said Friday at the combine. "We kind of have to let it happen. I don't know if we're looking for one like Tim, or your ordinary dropback or somewhere in between. Until we find out the interest out there, it's going to be hard to fill those spots. But I think that when I look at Tim and our offense, we can go with either one, whether it be a guy like Tim or if it's more of a dropback guy. We feel like either one is going to fit."

We'd probably disagree with his assessment here, at least based on what we saw from the Broncos in 2011. Their offense worked well at times, but it's impossibly difficult to ask the rest of Denver's personnel to switch back-and-forth from a read-option-type offense to a "normal" NFL offense.

Additionally, there's are different personnel requirements for each type of offense; obviously everyone "wants talent" and whatnot, but if you're constructing the ideal offensive line for a Tebow-style offense, by nature it's going to be different than the type of line you'd construct for a "normal" offense.

The Broncos could still end up grabbing one of each -- how does a Chad Henne/Russell Wilson combo strike you? -- but it may be harder to effectively fill out and organize the quarterback depth chart than Elway could possibly ever expect.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 11:12 am
 

Tyron Smith, Doug Free to switch sides for Dallas

Dallas coach Jason Garrett said Thursday he would move Smith to left tackle next year. (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

When the Cowboys selected Tyron Smith with the No. 9 pick in the 2011 draft, they certainly didn’t make that move to keep him at right tackle. So, after only a season in that position while Doug Free manned the left side, Dallas coach Jason Garrett said the team has decided to make a change, moving Smith to the left side and returning Free back to the right.

"The versatility that Tyron has coming out is something that we were really attracted to,” Garrard said Thursday at the scouting combine (via the Fort Worth Star Telegram). “He was a right tackle in college. We felt like he had the physical traits to play left tackle and the same thing with Doug Free. We felt like he could play either side."

While Smith was playing well enough to be considered one of the top right tackles in the game last year, according to Pro Football Focus, Free struggled on the left side, allowing 10 sacks and 34 quarterback pressures. The Cowboys also gave Smith a few snaps at left tackle last year, and obviously, he impressed Dallas enough to make the move a permanent one. 

While CBSSports.com’s Andy Benoit pointed out in December that Smith was exploited at times early in the season by “wily defenders,” Benoit also wrote that Smith improved faster than some could have expected.

"We feel like he is ready to make that move now,” Garrett said. “We're just trying to come up with the best combination."

As PFF writes, it’s the move that makes the most sense, writing in December, “Regardless of how Dallas’ season ends they will feel reassured in the knowledge that  they’ve found a stud of a tackle for the future in the shape of the youngest player in the league, Tyron Smith … The rookie right tackle has been exceptional all year …  It’s rare to see a tackle come out and play so well, but Smith has been just that good. A move to the left side next year will surely provide him with some new challenges. If he handles the transition in the same manner that he’s handled his move to the NFL coming from Southern California I’ll be betting on him to succeed.”

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 10:09 am
Edited on: February 24, 2012 12:39 pm
 

Dolphins, Chiefs win coin toss, draft order set

Here's a random old pic of a coin toss, since there's no vid or pics of Friday's action. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- The 2012 NFL Draft order is finalized: the Dolphins and Chiefs won coin tosses (against the Panthers and Seahawks, respectively) on Friday morning in Indianapolis to secure the eighth (Miami) and 11th (KC) picks in the draft.

The Panthers will now select ninth in April, and the Seahawks -- losers to the Chiefs -- will select 12th. The coin tosses took place early in the morning, utilizing specially-designed, commemorative coins. There were no media present (or allowed, for that matter), but the teams streamed the flip live on their various websites.

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"It kind of went straight up and it didn’t start flipping until it hit the ground," Chiefs GM Scott Pioli described. "It’s a huge difference because in that one spot in the draft you don’t know who the other team is going to pick. It’s just an earlier opportunity for you to get what you want in the draft."

While the difference between winning and losing the toss is only one pick, it does make a huge difference. If a team like the Panthers was (hypothetically) eying someone like UNC defensive end Quinton Coples, they'd be in a world of hurt with the Dolphins now one spot ahead of them.

"I think it makes a big difference,” Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland said on Thursday. "I’ve never been into a draft where I didn’t feel like if you’re at the 10th pick there are nine players and if you’re the 22nd pick there’s usually 20 players so you’re usually right behind it. So the higher up the board I can get, as long as it’s with the flip of a coin, I’ll take it."

Perhaps the biggest difference in the one draft spot is the value in a potential trade: for every spot that a team moves up, the value of the pick grows exponentially.

Just ask anyone trying to move up to the Rams spot at No. 2 overall.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 9:55 am
 

NFL looking at more changes to the combine

Can you imagine this image with two players running the 40? The NFL can. (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

Although the vision of two scouting combine participants racing down the lanes during the 40-yard run might be fun for the fans to watch and could enliven the atmosphere inside the building, that potential change to the scouting schedule doesn’t necessarily sit well with NFL executives.

As we told you Thursday, the NFL is changing the approach of how scouts time the 40, moving to using fully automated timing (electronic devices will be used for the start and finish), and Friday, the New York Times wrote the league is considering changing the 40’s setup so that two combine participants would race against each other.

The Times also discusses the possibility of players participating in the 225-pound bench press at the same time next to each other, quoting Eric Grubman, the executive vice president of N.F.L. ventures and business operations, as saying, “We would not want to do something that was just good for television, or just good for the fans, if it were at the expense of either the football evaluation or the players’ preparation. It’s a balancing act. The combine works.”

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Not necessarily, according to Texans general manager Rick Smith, who wrote this on his Twitter account Friday morning: “If the NFL is serious about players racing against each other at Combine so long to players working out there. Beyond stupid.”

The changes made likely would begin at the smaller, regional combines before moving to the main one in Indianapolis, but the league also can expect more resistance from team executives.

More from the Times.
While teams often conduct private workouts with players they are most seriously considering drafting -- and certainly with those who will probably be selected highest in the draft -- the combine provides something that football people value. It’s a way to measure players in different tasks -- the 40-yard dash, the broad jump, the vertical leap -- under exactly the same conditions, on exactly the same kind of field. Having players compete head to head would change the conditions for those players, possibly, some speculate, spurring players to run faster if paired with a speedster within their position group.

“I’m old school,” said Trent Baalke, the San Francisco 49ers’ general manager. “Let’s just roll with how we’re doing it.”

Bill Polian, the former Colts executive who now has his own show on Sirius XM Radio, said: “This has grown to a football trade show and I understand that. What we have to do is be careful not to lose the player personnel evaluation purpose of this.”

That’s a concern perhaps because of the league’s decision to allow a group of 250 fans into the combine to watch the proceedings. Combine that with the NFL allowing thousands of fans into Lucas Oil Field this month to watch the Super Bowl Media Day spectacular, and some wonder about the league’s direction.

So, why make these changes at all, even in the face of what could be massive resistance from the people who actually have to evaluate the players? This quote from Grubman might give you the answer.

“When you make it interesting, people want to see it,” Grubman said. “When you let them in, it gets bigger. When it gets bigger, other people want to be there. It goes from football media, who are attracted to it because it’s such a pure event, to popular media, to sponsors because fans are watching.”

And sponsors, of course, equal more money for a league that’s always looking to make more of it.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 8:51 am
Edited on: February 24, 2012 9:36 am
 

Where does the Routt signing leave Brandon Carr?

It seems unlikely that Carr will return to Kansas City in 2012. (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

Just because the Chiefs made the first big signing of the offseason by inking former Raiders cornerback Stanford Routt to a three-year, $19.6 million deal, that doesn’t mean Kansas City wants to lose one of its best defenders.

In fact, general manager Scott Pioli said he’s still talking to the agent of Brandon Carr in an effort to keep him in Kansas City and keep him off the free agent market.

“We’re going to continue to talk to Brandon and his agent,” Pioli said Thursday, via the Kansas City Star. “If we can come to a deal that makes sense for both sides, then hopefully we’ll be able to keep him here.”

That, however, won’t be easy, considering the Chiefs also extended Brandon Flowers’ contract last fall, meaning they’ll pay him nearly $10 million a year for the next five seasons.

So, why pay Routt and Flowers and not pay Carr? Probably because Carr is going to get paid like one of the top cornerbacks in the game and probably because the team is already paying Flowers top cornerback money. CBSSports.com’s Pete Prisco ranked Carr as the No. 2 free agent in the league this offseason, writing, “How often do good man-cover players in their primes hit the market? This kid is about to get paid. He is this high because he plays a premium position well.”

Pioli, though, feels confident about Routt, despite the fact he was penalized a league-high 17 times last season (although, to be fair, Routt is certainly an above-average defensive back whose stats aren’t dissimilar from Carr’s numbers).

“He’s been a starting NFL corner, a good corner, a productive player,” Pioli said. “We’ve had to face him the last three years so we’ve seen him play a lot.”

Meanwhile, Pioli has been insisting that the Routt signing has no impact on the team’s negotiations with Carr (though that’s pretty hard to believe).

“This signing doesn't eliminate the feelings that we have for Brandon and how we want to have him here,” Pioli said earlier this week, via Arrowhead Pride. “He knows that. He wants to be here. We want him here. If both sides find a deal that makes sense for one another, we'd love to have Brandon back."

Chances are the signing of Routt makes that rather unlikely.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 1:45 am
 

2012 NFL Combine Day 1: Winners and losers

Whatever you say, Mr. Ryan. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Forgive us for not primarily focusing on draft-related players in this edition of knee-jerk judgments. But on the first day of the NFL combine, there were relatively few players of note to talk to; none of the interior linemen made appearances with the media, there were some lonely kickers and punters present, and not all of the tight ends showed up.

Most of the media sessions were spent chatting up various general manages and coaches, every single one of whom was asked about Peyton Manning and/or Andrew Luck. Or their own quarterback.

Winners

Andrew Luck: Luck isn't even in Indianapolis yet (that we know of) and he's already getting swooned over, as Mike Freeman wrote earlier on Thursday. The only flaw that people can find is his arm strength, and even that's a stretch. More good news is that his former coach, Jim Harbaugh, thinks he'll handle the pressure of all the expectations surrounding him just fine. Don't expect the hypemobile to drop speed between now and late April.

St. Louis Rams
: On Thursday night, we told a St. Louis radio station that Jeff Fisher would be sitting back and smoking a cigar by the time Robert Griffin III finished running his 40-yard dash. That's because Fisher and the Rams will be holding an auction for Griffin, the clear-cut, second-best (if second ...) quarterback in the draft. Everyone in Indy's glowing about the kid and he hasn't arrived yet either. And everyone interested should get involved. If the Browns, Dolphins and Redskins don't get involved, they're doing themselves a disservice, because RG3 is going to good in the NFL. Make the move, pay the picks and reap the benefits. Fisher's willing to do just that.

Green Bay Packers: There seems to be a lot of speculation about teams wanting Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn around Indy right now. (The Browns, Dolphins and Seahawks could all be interested parties.) Now that Green Bay's locked up Jermichael Finley for two more years, they can, if they want, apply the franchise tag to Flynn and then trade him for the best offer they get from one of the interested teams. As long as they get more than whatever the compensatory pick would be, they win in this deal.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Shortly after Kevin Colbert stated that he wanted wide receiver Mike Wallace to retire as a Steeler, Pittsburgh managed to restructure Ben Roethlisberger's contract. Making Ben more expensive in the future might not help in the future, but it means right now the Steelers can keep Mike Wallace. The No. 1 wideout in Pittsburgh's gotten flak as the heat's cranked up on the possibility of him leaving, but the fact remains that he's the team's best wideout. Antonio Brown is a stud -- the only guy who we know that loves Brown more than we do is fantasy expert Dave Richard -- and he'll keep improving. But Brown doesn't become team MVP without Wallace keeping top cornerbacks away from his side of the field.

LaRon Landry: Holy muscles, Batman. Did he hijack Ryan Braun's FedEx package or something? We kid, we kid. (But no, seriously: we're joking.) On the first day of young football playing fellas flexing their muscles for the public, Landry stole the show with his ripped Twitter pics.

Losers

Jonathan Martin: Forgive us for not loving everyone out of Stanford, or for not giving Martin credit for having confidence. But the athletic offensive tackle won't be participating in most of the drills at the combine, because of food poisoning. (We asked him what he ate, and he didn't remember, but said it was in Arizona. Fear not, consumers of spicy shrimp cocktails.) Martin also repeatedly said he's the best tackle available in the draft, and said "without a doubt" he's better than Matt Kalil. Competition is fun, and confidence is good, but we're not sure why he's talking a big game if he's not participating in the drills.

Mark Sanchez: As Clark Judge noted, "Sanchez should be worried." That's because Rex Ryan came out and made no bold guarantees (a staple of the combine for Ryan) regarding the job security of his starting quarterback. It's OK for Rex to downplay the interest the Jets could have in Peyton Manning; Manning's not a free agent yet, and there are roughly 25 NFL teams that will at least discuss what Manning could do to their franchise. But the lack of guarantees for Sanchez during a tumultuous offseason should be concerning for the Jets current starting quarterback.

Kevin Kolb: Like Sanchez, Kolb didn't exactly get ringing endorsements from the guys who cut his checks. Ken Whisenhunt and Rod Graves didn't explicitly say they'd think about dumping Kolb (due a roster bonus on March 17) if Manning became available, but they sure didn't slam the door on the idea. 

Tight Ends: This is the new position that's redefining the NFL, right? Well, um, here's the problem (as also noted by CBSSports.com's own Pete Prisco): where were these guys during their big combine day? Rob Gronkowski was the story during the Super Bowl, and for a week after. Jimmy Graham shattered records. Vernon Davis was the guy who made Alex Smith great. And Orson Charles, the third-rated tight end by NFLDraftScout.com, said he's happy to sit and learn behind someone like Tony Gonzalez?Love the attitude. Love it, and Gonzo's the man. But if you're a coming into college and someone tries to steer you away from playing tight end in college, don't listen to them. Or listen to them and stop playing basketball?

Stevie Johnson: We've thought he'd get the franchise tag from Buffalo at minimum. But in listening to Bills head coach Chan Gailey, that's just not happening. Or it might; but Gailey's description of Johnson was quintessential "we're sorry to lose Stevie." He said he wouldn't miss Stevie until Stevie was gone and then cited the "business" of the game. Those aren't the words of a coach who's pumped to be celebrating a new contract for his franchise wideout.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 12:02 am
 

Aqib Talib will get another chance with Bucs

TalibBy Josh Katzowitz

After a nasty offseason following the 2010 season -- an offseason in which he was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and was indicted on that charge before blaming his mother -- the Buccaneers welcomed Aqib Talib back to the team for 2011.

Considering Talib hasn’t shown the ability to stay out of trouble during his career, it was a surprise that he wasn’t suspended for the alleged incident that occurred in Garland, Tx. It wasn’t, however, surprising that Talib played well for the Buccaneers, because, simply put, he’s a talented cornerback -- probably one of the 10-best in the league.

And most likely because of that talent, new Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano has decided Talib will start with a clean slate.

"I had a great meeting with him and we just kind of talked about life for a little bit,'' Schiano said, via the Tampa Bay Times. "I know there’s been some things in the past. But at the end of the day, the legal stuff that’s going on right now, hopefully that will get resolved. He tells me it will.

"Then from there, we’re just going to go. Every guy on this football team will know our expectations. There won’t be any, ‘Well, I thoughts.’ I think most of the time, frustration comes out as the result of unfulfilled expectations, my frustration and theirs. So if you make the expectations clear, then discipline really isn’t discipline, it’s a choice. You knew if you did this, everything is cool and if you don’t, there’s going to be consequences. That, to me, is not that complicated. But you have to make sure you’re very, very clear on what it is your expectations are.”

Talib is lucky to be in this position, considering former Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris basically talked general manager Mark Dominik out of releasing Talib before last season began.

But with a new regime, Talib will get yet another chance. Of course, he still has to worry about the actual trial, which is set to begin in March. Talib told Schiano that he’s confident he’ll get a positive outcome from the trial.

For now, Schiano apparently is inclined to believe him. And inclined to believe that the risk of employing Talib will be less than the reward that could come.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com