NFL's accelerator program gives minority coaches optimism that new system works

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Getting lessons on how to manage a crisis and deal with the media will help Houston quarterbacks coach Jerrod Johnson and New York Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka when and if they interview for NFL head coaching jobs.

That's exactly what the NFL 's coach accelerator program is designed to do.

This three-day program coincides with the league's spring meetings, which end Wednesday. Their current teams also are starting the third and final phase of the offseason, which kept the 28 assistant coaches very busy.

“We're ball coaches, so it's kind of funny,” Johnson said Tuesday. “We had a 15-minute break in the sessions, and almost every coach pulled up their iPad, was checking OTAs film and sending notes.”

This is the NFL's fifth accelerator program since 2022 designed to put minority candidates for head coach, general manager and other front office jobs with the people who make hiring decisions — team owners. The previous program was held last December for front office and GM candidates.

This session included a former NFL head coach in Brian Flores, whose lawsuit against the league and three teams currently is working through federal court.

Former Stanford coach David Shaw also is among the 28 coaches attending with this the first session for 19 of them.

Optimism is even higher after four minority coaches were hired this offseason to bring the number of coaches of color for the 2024 season to nine. That's the most in league history. The NFL now has six Black head coaches, including Johnson's boss DeMeco Ryans coming off his first season in Houston.

Johnson thanked the Texans' organization for seeing the value in the program and giving him the time to take part.

“It's something that you can’t put a price tag on it man,” Johnson said. “It’s a great opportunity to grow and meet other coaches and interact with owners and whatnot. So I really appreciate the program.”

The accelerator program is an extension of the Rooney Rule, originally created in 2003. Pittsburgh owner Art Rooney II said they're pleased with the progress.

“We’re not where we want to be, not where we need to be,” Rooney said. "But, I think we are seeing the commitment across the league to making a difference here.”

The NFL also announced Tuesday on the first day of the league's spring meeting a new program called “NFL Source” to expand its commitment to diversity among suppliers.

The program developed over the past three years will standardize how the league and its teams connect with businesses, specifically to create a level playing field for businesses run by women, people of color, veterans, people with disabilities or LGBTQ+ to compete and get contracts.

Atlanta owner Arthur Blank hired one of the four minority coaches this offseason in Raheem Morris.

Blank noted his franchise has been committed for years to expanding opportunities, exceeding a goal using almost 40% minority representatives in building Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

This program will help the NFL and its teams have access to certified suppliers.

"We have to make sure we have the discipline to follow all of that, and we’re anxious to be part of the program going forward,” Blank said.

The NFL also announced the renewal of 10 grants approved recently by the Player-Owner Social Justice Committee as part of the league's Inspire Change social justice initiative.


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Time's up after 3 hours as NFL limits interviews for coaches still busy in playoffs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — NFL owners voted Tuesday to limit interviews with coaches whose clubs remain alive in the playoffs to no more than three hours per team at a time.

Teams wanting to talk to prospective head coaches in person also will have to chat at a spot approved by that coach's current employer. The change approved at the NFL spring meetings came from the challenge of coaches balancing those interviews while trying to do their present job of trying win playoff games.

Jonathan Beane, the NFL's senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer, said coaches reported interviews that lasted six, seven or even eight hours at a time. Some coaches had multiple interviews in a single day before playoff games.

“While this is something that will only affect a certain number of candidates, we do feel that it will make the process so a coach can focus on winning the ball game and preparing their team and themselves, in addition to engaging in an opportunity that could allow them to be a head coach," Beane said.

Eight NFL teams hired new head coaches this offseason.


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Justin Fields is eager to start over in Pittsburgh, even as a backup behind Russell Wilson

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Justin Fields could sense his time in Chicago was up at his exit meeting in January.

While Bears general manager Ryan Poles didn't outright tell Fields the organization was going to look for another quarterback after three uneven seasons with the talented but inconsistent Fields running the offense, Poles didn't have to.

Fields could sense it in Poles' body language.

So when Fields received a call while eating dinner in Italy in mid-March that he was heading to Pittsburgh, the initial reaction wasn't shock, but relief quickly followed by optimism.

Even though the Steelers had just signed Russell Wilson and tabbed him as the starter. Even knowing there was almost no chance Pittsburgh would exercise Fields' fifth-year option. Even facing uncertainty as to what happens beyond 2024.

Fields remembers watching a hype video while at Ohio State that featured Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. And then all of a sudden, there Fields was on Tuesday, listening to Tomlin give the Steelers — Fields included — a pep talk before the beginning of organized team activities.

“The culture that Coach T has and just the standard that the Steelers have set, this organization has set, I think that was the biggest appeal for me,” Fields said.

The 25-year-old Fields credited Poles for putting him in a situation where he wanted to be, even if that means his name isn't atop the depth chart.

Asked if it bothered him that he wasn't traded to a place where he could start right away, Fields shook his head and said he wasn't “worried about who was here, none of that."

The chance to play for Tomlin and be part of a franchise known for its stability (though that may be changing considering the roster turnover over the past four months), outweighed everything else.

“I’m grateful to be here and grateful to be a part of this team,” he said.

A team that completely revamped its offense after a first-round playoff loss to Buffalo. All three quarterbacks who started games for the Steelers last season — Kenny Pickett, Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph — are gone. So is former offensive coordinator Matt Canada and leading wide receiver Diontae Johnson.

There is a sense of urgency within the organization with the team nearing eight years removed from its most recent postseason victory. Pittsburgh hired former Atlanta Falcons coach Arthur Smith to run the offense and drafted two potential cornerstones in tackle Troy Fautanu and center Zach Frazier.

Fields is eager to learn from Wilson and push him at the same time, while still firmly believing his best football is ahead of him.

“I think I have a lot more room to grow,” he said. "I’m nowhere near my ceiling for sure.”

He will get a chance to try and reach it without having the pressure — at least initially anyway — of being a franchise savior, as he was in Chicago. It's telling that while Wilson did a formal news conference on Tuesday in front of a backdrop next to the practice field, Fields chatted at his locker, as backups do.

It's a role he hasn't been in for a while. He's aware of and understands how things sit at the moment. Just don't confuse maturity with complacency.

“I’m definitely competing,” he said. “I think Russ knows that. We’re competing against each other every day. Him being out there for me helps me get better. (We are) pushing each other so I mean I definitely don’t have the mindset of me just sitting all year.”

Perhaps because he won't. The Steelers haven't had a quarterback start every game during the season since 2018, though Wilson has proven pretty durable, missing only a handful of games during his 12-year career.

When he gets an opportunity is out of Fields' control. For now, there is just a chance to start over. He endured a lot of “ups and downs” with Chicago, though he stressed he has "nothing but love for the city, for the fans and for my old teammates and coaches.”

Those feelings are already taking root in his town. Fields said he's engaged in long conversations with Uber drivers during trips to the airport, and praised his new teammates for helping him feel welcome.

It didn't work out as he wanted in Chicago. A new chapter awaits.

“I’m not the same quarterback as I was last year and I’m not even the same quarterback I even was yesterday,” he said. “So I’m going to continue to get better each and every day.”

NOTES: Steelers DE Cam Heyward did not attend the beginning of OTAs — which are voluntary — for the first time in his 14-year career. Heyward is entering the final season of his contract and is eyeing a new deal. Tomlin said he isn't concerned about Heyward's absence. ... RB Najee Harris, whose fifth-year option was not picked up by the Steelers, did participate. Harris took the field about an hour late while dealing with what Tomlin called a “personal matter.” Harris, who has topped 1,000 yards rushing in each of his first three seasons, declined an interview request afterward.


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The Los Angeles Rams will hold their training camp at Loyola Marymount University this summer

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams will hold their upcoming training camp at Loyola Marymount University.

The Rams announced the location Tuesday. The franchise had held its camps at UC Irvine ever since it returned home to Southern California in 2016.

Loyola Marymount is a private university in the Westchester neighborhood of Los Angeles. The Rams will live in LMU’s residence halls while training in the school's athletic facilities starting in late July.

The Rams had held every training camp under coach Sean McVay in Orange County, which is much farther from the Rams' main training bases. The Rams are expected to move from Thousand Oaks to the location of their new training complex in Woodland Hills later this year.

The team's offseason program is still being held on the campus of California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, its weekday home ever since the Rams returned to LA. The Rams eventually will build a permanent complex in Woodland Hills, but will again be in temporary facilities on the new site until its completion.

Five NFL teams are holding their training camps in Southern California this summer.

The Chargers will set up at their new training complex in El Segundo after seven years at a municipal sports facility in Orange County's Costa Mesa, while the Dallas Cowboys will train at their usual spot in Ventura County.

The New Orleans Saints are taking over the Rams' former home at UC Irvine this summer, while the Las Vegas Raiders will train in the Chargers' former training camp home in Costa Mesa.


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The 49ers begin on-field work in offseason with Nick Bosa in town and Brandon Aiyuk missing

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers began their on-field work in the offseason with a surprise participant and a predictable absence.

Star pass rusher Nick Bosa took part in the voluntary portion of the offseason for a change after spending previous seasons working out on his own in Florida, while receiver Brandon Aiyuk remains away from the team as part of a contract dispute.

“It’s something that’s part of the business," coach Kyle Shanahan said Tuesday about Aiyuk's absence. “Anytime it’s part of the business part, you try to respect it. Stay out of as much as possible and look forward to the days when you can just focus on football.”

Bosa skipped last year's voluntary workouts as he sought a new contract, and spent most of the 2021 and 2022 offseasons back home in Florida, after missing the 2021 offseason rehabilitating a knee injury and the 2020 offseason because of the pandemic.

Bosa said Shanahan called him earlier in the offseason to ask him to come to the voluntary practices this year after the Niners added several new linemen in free agency and hired a new coordinator in Nick Sorensen.

“I think it’s just good to get around the new guys,” Bosa said. “We have a lot of new faces this year. Just kind of helping the new guys out. I don’t think there’s really been much of a normal offseason for me in terms of we had COVID, we had my injury and the contract situation. It’s kind of a new year. I want to be around. It’s good to be around.”

Aiyuk is in a similar spot to where Bosa was last year when he was looking for a new contract that finally came following a lengthy holdout that ended just a few days before the start of the regular season.

Aiyuk is set to play on the fifth-year option worth about $14.1 million this season and wants a long-term contract that would pay him significantly more money based on his production so far in his career. Several of the top receivers have contracts in the $25 million a year range.

Aiyuk was a key part of San Francisco’s offense last season as he formed a great connection with quarterback Brock Purdy. Aiyuk had 75 catches and a career-high 1,375 yards last season with seven touchdowns as he earned second-team All-Pro honors.

Aiyuk has 269 catches for 3,931 yards and 25 TDs in four seasons since being drafted 25th overall in 2020, but has taken off since Purdy became quarterback.

“He’s a playmaker,” Purdy said. “I love throwing to him. Love BA as a person. It’s definitely important. But it’s out of my control. For me, I’m showing up every day trying to get better with the new guys and the guys that are here.”

Aiyuk wasn't the only notable absence with All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey, All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams and receiver Jauan Jennings among those not taking part in the practices this week. New defensive tackle Maliek Collins is also not on hand but does plan to join the team after his kids finish their school year.

Williams typically works out on his own in Texas during this portion of the offseason and Jennings can't practice until he signs his restricted free agent tender. Shanahan gave no reason for why McCaffrey did not attend.

Several other key players aren't taking part in on-field work as they recover from injuries or surgeries, including tight end George Kittle, cornerback Charvarius Ward, linebacker Dre Greenlaw, safety Talanoa Hufanga, center Jake Brendel and defensive end Drake Jackson.


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Cincinnati Bengals plan to spend up to $120 million to for improvements to Paycor Stadium

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Cincinnati Bengals plan to spend up to $120 million for upgrades to Paycor Stadium as part of showcasing the team's “support and commitment to a successful future in Cincinnati.”

The work includes improvements to video and audio systems, renovations to suites and club lounges, concession upgrades and other beautification projects, the team said in a release Tuesday. The work will cost $100 million to $120 million.

The construction, which will run through 2026, is a “necessary part of a long-standing plan to keep a successful team in Cincinnati and keep the Bengals competitive across the NFL,” the team said in a statement Tuesday.

“The Bengals are continuing to invest in our future here in Cincinnati,” executive vice president Katie Blackburn said. "We love our fans and can think of no better way to celebrate our 25th season in Paycor Stadium than to announce these major improvements that will make the gameday experience even better.”

Other recent projects have included an indoor practice facility, new locker room, an overhauled training room and other stadium improvements.


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Packers' Jordan Love stays mum on contract talks while focusing on how he can build off his success

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love isn’t letting the unsettled nature of his contract negotiations prevent him from joining his teammates for organized team activities this week.

Love is preparing to enter the final year of his contract after improving his stock exponentially by leading the NFL’s youngest team to the playoffs in his first season as a starter.

“That’s just something that I’ve always done, trying to be here, get the reps in, get the work in with the guys and just start building that chemistry and getting ready for the season,” Love said.

Love, 25, signed a one-year extension last May that included $13.5 million in guaranteed money with another $9 million in incentives. Love’s late-season surge last season figures to earn him an astronomical raise whenever he signs his new deal.

For comparison’s sake, Detroit’s Jared Goff agreed to terms on a four-year, $212 million extension last week after helping the Lions reach the NFC championship game last season.

“I don’t really know what’s going on, but we’ll see,” Love said of his contract talks. “But I’m not going to get into too much contract stuff.”

Love was more interested in discussing how he could help the Packers build on what they accomplished last season. Green Bay coach Matt LaFleur credited Love’s presence for helping assure the Packers had just about everyone participating for this week’s voluntary workouts.

“We’ve had almost 100% the entire offseason, which has been the best that we’ve had since I’ve been here,” LaFleur said. “And I always think when you look around the league, when your quarterback’s there, it just naturally has a way of attracting everybody to come.”

Aaron Rodgers, the four-time MVP quarterback who preceded Love, didn’t participate in OTAs his last two seasons at Green Bay, though he has done them with the New York Jets since getting traded last year. Many other notable Packers veterans also were missing from those voluntary sessions in 2021 and 2022.

Now the Packers have just about everyone around as they try taking the next step after their 2023 season ended with a 24-21 loss at San Francisco in the NFC divisional playoffs.

Love threw 21 touchdown passes with only one interception during a nine-game stretch that culminated with a 48-32 upset of the Dallas Cowboys in a wild-card playoff game, though he did throw two second-half interceptions in the loss to the 49ers. The last one came in the final minute as the Packers attempted to drive for a tying or winning score.

“It’s something that’s always with you,” Love said. “But at the end of the day, that’s what you’ve got to do, is you’ve got to learn from it, be able to watch it, break it down, see what went wrong, learn from it and grow and move on.”

He ended up completing 64.2% of his passes for 4,159 yards with 32 touchdowns and 11 interceptions last season. The only other quarterbacks ever to throw for at least 4,000 yards and 32 touchdowns in their first season making multiple starts were Kurt Warner in 1999 and Patrick Mahomes in 2018.

“You’ve got to be able to go out there and do it again,” Love said. “And obviously there’s a lot of goals we didn’t reach last year and things that we’re striving to do this year, so there’s a lot of goals and expectations and things that we’re focusing on this year. There’s no room to get complacent.”

Love said his offseason focuses included improving his footwork and pocket awareness and doing a better job of throwing on the run. His teammates can’t wait to see the results.

“I think his confidence is even greater,” wide receiver Christian Watson said. “His poise is even greater. He’s leading this football team exactly the way that he should. I’m excited to see how he keeps on growing.”

NOTES: OT Zach Tom and TE Tucker Kraft both have torn pectoral muscles that likely will keep them out until at least the start of training camp. Both said they got hurt while lifting weights. “It happened mid-April, so by end of July, maybe end of August, I should be good,” Tom said. … DE Kingsley Enagbare practiced fully Tuesday after the Packers had feared he tore his anterior cruciate ligament late last season. “He never had surgery, didn’t tear it,” LaFleur said. “We dodged a bullet there.” … LaFleur said the Packers will have one-day joint practice sessions at Denver and at home against the Baltimore Ravens in August.


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Saints open voluntary practice without Marshon Lattimore or Alvin Kamara

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — The absences of cornerback Marshon Lattimore and running back Alvin Kamara from the New Orleans Saints' opening set of voluntary offseason practices had coach Dennis Allen toeing a fine line as he spoke about the two star players.

“Look, I'd always love 100% participation,” Allen said Tuesday. “I'm aware of why everybody that's not here is not here — some of them personal reasons, some of them personal choice.

“When they get here, we're going to welcome them with open arms,” Allen added.

Noting that Lattimore has been the subject of trade speculation “outside our building,” Allen said he recently had a “productive” talk with the club's highest-paid defensive player and — for now — expects him to remain in a Saints uniform this upcoming season.

“I just felt like it was probably time that he and I had a conversation," Allen said. "It was a positive conversation.”

Allen does not, however, expect to see Lattimore at practice before mandatory minicamp opens on June 13.

“I wouldn't say that's been uncommon,” Allen said, noting that Lattimore has skipped voluntary practices in previous seasons.

“I know he's working hard. He's getting himself in the best shape that he can get into,” Allen said.

Lattimore was the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2017, when he had five interceptions. During the past two seasons combined, Lattimore has been limited by injuries to 17 games and has two interceptions during that span.

The AP Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2017 was Kamara, who is coming off what — by his standards — was a down season. His 694 yards rushing were a career low and his 466 yards receiving were his second fewest in a season.

But he still accounted for more than 1,100 yards and six touchdowns from scrimmage in 13 games.

Kamara, like Lattimore, has skipped voluntary practices during recent seasons. But now the Saints have a new offensive coordinator in Klint Kubiak. His scheme represents more of a departure from the offense that former coach Sean Payton and former coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. — a Payton protege — ran during Kamara's seven previous NFL seasons.

Allen said Kamara’s absence “can present some challenges” at a time when Kubiak is installing new plays.

But Allen also stressed that the team needs to respect the personal considerations influencing players’ decisions on whether to attend voluntary offseason practices.

“He's been able to train and get himself ready on his own and be prepared and be ready to go when it's time to go,” Allen said. "For me as the coach, I got to trust that that's what he's doing.

“Every year, players go through different phases in their life and then they begin to get other things that pull at them one way or the other,” Allen said. “We have to be understanding of that and yet I do think it's important to have our guys here.”

Veteran running back Jamaal Williams also stayed away and second-year running back Kendre Miller took first-team snaps.

Saints quarterback Derek Carr, a 10-year NFL veteran now in his second season with New Orleans, said he's seen the benefits of team-building and learning the new offense during voluntary practices, but steered clear of judging any teammates who stayed away.

“At quarterback, you're going to be at everything. But there's obviously some guys who get ready other ways,” Carr said. “I feel comfortable with whoever's not here, that they're mentally going to be ready, for sure.”

Another prominent absence was more expected — starting right tackle Ryan Ramczyk, who had an offseason knee procedure and might not play at all this upcoming season. Allen said Ramczyk's status could become clearer by training camp.

In the meantime, Allen spoke of trying to fill as many as three spots on the offensive line. Rookie Taliese Fuaga, an Oregon State right tackle who was the club's first-round draft choice this year, is working at left tackle. Trevor Penning, a 2022 first-round draft choice who started five games at left tackle last season before being benched, is now working at right tackle.

“That's kind of the direction that we're looking at right now,” Allen said. “One of the reasons why you look at potentially putting (Penning) over on the right side is ... it's a totally clean slate. It's a different position. It's a different (offensive) coaching staff. It's a different scheme."


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Yes, Australia is among the countries the NFL is scouting to host future games

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Australia is among the countries the NFL is scouting as potential hosts for regular-season games for the 2025 season and beyond.

Peter O'Reilly, the NFL's head of international affairs, said Tuesday at the league's spring meetings that Australia is among the markets being discussed. The league recently announced an NFL Academy will open in September on the Gold Coast in Australia.

“Australia is among a set, and it’s not a small set of markets, that we’re looking at,” O’Reilly said.

O'Reilly noted Australia has a strong NFL fan base, media partners and that both the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams have global market rights there.

He updated NFL owners on the countries league officials are looking at as potential hosts. The NFL announced in February before the Super Bowl that the 2025 season's international slate of games will feature a game at Real Madrid’s iconic Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

The NFL has been expanding its international presence in recent years with owners voting in December to authorize the league to host eight games internationally each season. The league announced last week the four international games in London and Germany along with all of the 2024 schedule.

Philadelphia opens the season by hosting the Green Bay Packers in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Sept. 6.

Dublin, Ireland, also is among the markets being considered for future NFL games. League officials will be visiting markets this summer as part of the process assessing fan support, stadiums and locations for teams to use leading up to a game.

O'Reilly said those details are only part of what the league considers in picking a host city.

“When you start to talk about Asia, Pacific and Australia, you talk about distance and logistics and the football component of that,” O'Reilly said. "So those factors are real. But our role is to really look at the globe, look at where the fan base is strong and do the diligence, make the evaluations.”


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Left tackle Tristan Wirfs does not join teammates for start of Bucs OTA workouts

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tampa Bay Buccaneers left tackle Tristan Wirfs was a no-show Tuesday for the start of the club’s voluntary organized team activities.

An All-Pro at right tackle two years ago, Wirfs made a smooth transition to left tackle last season and is scheduled to earn $18.24 million this fall under the fifth-year option of the rookie contract he signed as the 13th overall pick in the 2020 draft.

Coach Todd Bowles, who watched Tuesday’s OTA workout from a golf cart as he recovers from left knee replacement surgery, did not directly answer a question about whether Wirfs’ absence was related to the status of talks aimed at a contract extension.

“I’m aware that it’s voluntary and me and Tristan had a conversation, we’ve had plenty of conversations,” Bowles said. “He’s been here all offseason, so I’m comfortable with that.”

The Bucs have had a busy offseason, focusing on retaining the core of a roster that’s won three straight NFC South championships and made four consecutive playoff appearances.

In addition to re-signing quarterback Baker Mayfield, franchise career receiving leader Mike Evans and long-time defensive standout Lavonte David in March, general manager Jason Licht last week made All-Pro safety Antoine Winfield Jr. the highest-paid defensive back (four years, $84 million) in NFL history.

Licht reiterated this week that the Bucs remain committed to rewarding Wirfs, a Pro Bowl selection in his first season as a left tackle, with a long-term extension.

“It was a big puzzle this year of how to fit it all in,” Licht said Monday during a news conference to announce Winfield’s new contract. “Hopefully we can finish this off.”

Winfield was a second-round draft pick in 2020, when he and Wirfs became immediate starters and helped Tampa Bay win the Super Bowl as rookies.

The 25-year-old safety is excited about the prospect of Wirfs becoming the next key component of the team to land a new deal.

“I texted Tristan the other day like: ‘It’s coming bro, I already know it.’ It’s been amazing to play with him,” Winfield said.

“Coming out of the same class, I feel like once we got in here, you know, we’ve both worked extremely hard. We both just wanted to come in here and just do great things,” Winfield added. “So far to this point, I feel like we’ve both had great careers and I hope that continues down the line as we continue to grow and lead this team.”


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Receiver Tank Dell practices with Texans less than a month after being wounded in shooting

Receiver Tank Dell participated in an offseason workout with the Houston Texans on Tuesday, less than a month after he was wounded in a shootout at a Florida restaurant.

The team said that Dell, who is entering his second season, sustained a “minor wound” in the April 27th shooting, which also injured nine others.

On Tuesday, Dell didn’t appear to be limited as the team held its first voluntary offseason workout that was open to reporters. The team did some 7-on-7 work during the practice and Dell grabbed a pass from C.J. Stroud during that portion of the workout.

“I’m happy for Tank to get back out there,” coach DeMeco Ryans said. “Obviously, we know he went through a very tragic situation. We’re just happy that he’s here, happy that he’s back out doing what he loves doing, and that’s playing football. So, it’s fun to see him running around and being the same player he’s been before, just making plays and being a dynamic player for us. So, everyone is excited to see Tank back.”

Dell did not speak to reporters Tuesday.

Dell was drafted in the third round in 2023 after a standout career at the University of Houston. He had 709 yards receiving and set a franchise rookie record with seven touchdown receptions last season before breaking his left fibula in December.


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Bills linebacker Matt Milano still at least a month away from being cleared to practice, coach says

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Bills linebacker Matt Milano isn’t expected to be cleared to resume practicing until the team’s three-day mandatory minicamp next month at the earliest, coach Sean McDermott said on Tuesday.

McDermott added Milano has spent much of the past month working out in Buffalo, and the eighth-year player remains on track in his recovery after sustaining a severe injury to his right leg in Week 5 of last season. Milano was spotted watching practice from the sideline during Buffalo’s second day of voluntary spring sessions.

“It’s probably going to be more closer to training camp until we see him out there, maybe some drill work before that, maybe not,” McDermott said of the 2022 All-Pro player, and a fixture in the middle of the Bills defense since his rookie season in 2017. “It’ll just be how he continues to progress at this point.”

Milano, one of the team’s most dependable tacklers, required surgery after breaking his leg and sustaining other damage during a 25-20 loss to Jacksonville in a game played at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Oct. 8.

McDermott said starting right tackle Spencer Brown is being eased back in after having offseason shoulder surgery.

The Bills have three more weeks of voluntary sessions before opening mandatory camp in mid-June. The team is then off until opening training camp in suburban Rochester, New York, on July 24.


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