Kyle Shanahan sees similarities with Johnny Manziel and RG3

When Robert Griffin III was a rookie, he thrived in Kyle Shanahan's offense in Washington.

Griffin completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 3,200 yards and 20 touchdowns, throwing just five interceptions. He also ran for 815 yards and seven touchdowns.

Shanahan sees some parallels in his new rookie quarterback, now that he's in Cleveland. Speaking to USA Today, Shanahan said there are a lot of similarities between RG3 and Browns rookie Johnny Manziel.

"They're both talented guys who can make plays with their legs," Shanahan said. "But there comes a time in the NFL when they're going to keep you in the pocket, and you're going to have to have that ability to make the throws with your arm and mind. And Johnny, just like Robert, has that arm talent and intelligence to do that."

That's some lofty praise, even though RG3 did not have the 2013 season he hoped for when he came off an ACL tear.

The Browns have often stated that Brian Hoyer is the starter, though it hasn't been a believable notion. Manziel has the tools to be a starter as a rookie and should be given that chance as a first-round selection.

Follow me on twitter: @JasonHButt

NFL official: Redskins name not a slur

After NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith criticized the Washington Redskins' team name, a league official went on the record to state that the NFL does not believe the nickname is a slur.

Adolpho Birch, the NFL's senior vice president of labor policy and government affairs, phoned into ESPN's Outside the Lines program on Friday to talk about the issue, which has generated a lot of controversy in recent years.

Birch said the league's stance is that the Redskins' name is not meant to offend.

"The team name is the team name as it has been for 80-plus years," he said. "And what we need to do is get beyond sort of understanding this as a point-blank situation and understand it more as a variety of perspectives that all need to be addressed, that all need to be given some weight, so that at the end of it we can come to some understanding that is appropriate and reflects the opinions of all."

When pressed on it, Birch said, "the team name is not a slur."

Redskins owner Dan Snyder has previously said he'll never change the name. Smith recently stated in a separate interview with ESPN, "The name Redskins is offensive to some and is a slur, I'm not sure that this issue boils down to what any particular player has to say — what it boils down to is the united nation and others have raised a legitimate conversation to the NFL about the name of the team that is entirely within their control."

This conversation with Birch and ESPN followed the Redskins hoping to gain public support for their name by asking twitter followers what the name means to them, and to express it to U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.), a strong opponent to the nickname.

The public relations stunt backfired, with a large number of twitter users criticizing the organization.

One of the funnier tweets came from the handle @50_MissionCap, which responded to what the Redskins name means by writing, "Being #1 at racism in a division with Riley Cooper."

Cooper was caught on camera using the N-word at a Kenny Chesney concert almost a year ago.

Follow me on twitter: @JasonHButt

Aaron Hernandez is running out of money for legal team

Aaron Hernandez enjoyed a nice life when he was in the NFL with the Patriots. He signed a $40 million contract, bought a big home in the suburbs and was able to spend his riches on whatever he wanted.

That life has since come to a halt now that he's being tried in two separate murder trials. On top of that, it appears just about all of his money is gone. According to a report from FOX Sports, Hernandez is beginning to have trouble paying his attorneys representing him.

First, there's the murder trial where Hernandez is accused of killing former semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd. And most recently, Hernandez was charged with the double murder of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado.

Hernandez's attorneys Charles Rankin and James Sultan filed documents stating that they may discontinue representing the former NFL tight end. The report states that Hernandez is unable to sell his home due to a restraining order and part of his $12.5 million signing bonus ($3.25 million) is in dispute as a result of his murder charges. As a result, he has no influx of money. 

But if that money comes in, then Hernandez may be able to pay for his top-notch defense team again.

If not, Hernandez may be asking for a public defender.

Follow me on twitter: @JasonHButt

Dolphins owner believes football will return to Los Angeles

It's highly unlikely the Miami Dolphins make a move out to Los Angeles, even though the organization's owner is predicing that the city of angels will once again have an NFL team.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross predicted that Los Angeles will get a team in the not-too-distant future, saying it will happen "certainly in the next five years."

That's quite a prediction considering it's been nearly two decades since football was last in Los Angeles.

With Ross predicting this, speculation will soon abound. Three top candidates would likely be San Diego, Buffalo and Jacksonville.

Of course, an owner would have to be in dire need of relocating, as well as being able to foster a working relationship with the Los Angeles government. There are a ton of factors that go into something like this happening, making it reasonably tough for a team to actually want to move to L.A. at this time.

Follow me on twitter: @JasonHButt

Redskins promote Alex Santos to director of pro personnel

The Washington Redskins have promoted Alex Santos to pro personnel director.

He replaces Morocco Brown, who joined the Cleveland Browns as vice president of player personnel.

Santos has been a part of the Redskins' personnel department since 2006.

He has worked as a pro scout and advance scout for the past six seasons.

"I appreciate the opportunity this organization has given me," Santos said. "I am honored that I am able to continue to grow within the NFL ranks with the Redskins organization.

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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun

Nick Fairley in better shape this offseason

Detroit Lions veteran defensive tackle Nick Fairley appears to have responded favorably to the team not picking up his fifth-year option.

The Lions want to see more consistency from Fairley.

“I kind of said it’s a good thing, kind of,” Fairley told the Detroit Free-Press. “It kind of will put me into a new contract earlier than guys coming out in my draft. They’re picking up guys’ fifth-year option, that gets me into a new contract. That’s the way I look at it.”

And Fairley, who underwent sleep apnea surgery, has lost weight in his attempt to prove worthy of a new deal.

Fairley is down to 295 pounds, 27 pounds lighter than last year.

Fairley was admitted out of shape last season.

“I eat a lot of Subway and that kind of gets me down to where I want to be,” Fairley said. “When I got away from eating Subway I got to eating back fast food and I got away from it, got back to like McDonald’s and fast food and that kind of put some weight back on me.

“For this year, I’m just going to stick through it throughout the whole year. I’m trying to stay away from fast food and fried stuff and trying to cut out all my soda. I kind of got lazy with it (last) year, I would say.”

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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun

Raiders sign fourth-rounders Justin Ellis, Keith McGill

The Oakland Raiders signed a pair of fourth-round draft picks: defensive tackle Justin Ellis and cornerback Keith McGill.

The Raiders have signed seven of their eight draft picks.

Ellis was an All-Conference USA honorable-mention selection at Louisiana Tech. The 6-foot-2, 334-pounder recorded 102 career tackles with 2 1/2 sacks, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

McGill had 109 career tackles at Utah and Cerritos Junior College with 12 interceptions, 21 pass deflections, two forced fumbles and two blocked kicks.

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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimor Sun

Josh Gordon cited for speeding, passenger cited for possession of marijuana

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon was cited for speeding over in his Mercedes-Benz over the Memorial Day weekend.

And with Gordon already facing a potential season-long suspension for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy, his passenger was cited for possession of marijuana.

Gordon was ticketed for driving 74 mph in a 60 mph zone.

His passenger accepted responsibility for possession of marijuana under 200 grams with the marijuana discovered in a book bag that had the passenger's identification inside.

"We are gathering information regarding the situation," Browns general manager Ray Farmer said in a statement. "We will not have any further comment until the appropriate time."

Gordon's judgment continues to be questionable as he faces a potential serious NFL punishment.

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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun

Second year spotlight: AFC East

In some divisions, the second year breakout players are guys who weren’t drafted in the premium rounds and showed flashes as rookies. In the AFC East, every club has a premium round guy who is ready to play up to his draft status in 2014. Two (E.J. Manuel and Geno Smith) play the most important position in football: quarterback!

E.J. Manuel – Buffalo Bills

There might be more pressure on E.J. Manuel to have a breakout year than any other player in the NFL. Manuel was the only quarterback taken in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. To many, it was a surprise that he went in the first round. The consensus was that he was a solid second round pick.

Manuel showed flashes of good play in 2013 but was held back by injuries. He played in 10 games and completed 180 of 306 passes for 1972 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Though he played on Sunday in those 10 games, he missed valuable practice time with the injuries. A rookie, especially a quarterback, needs as many reps as he can get in practice.

Manuel has the full off season and OTA period to improve his game and develop a chemistry with new receivers Sammy Watkins and Mike Williams. This is important, because with new ownership coming in within the next six months, a lot of jobs and careers can be tied to his success.

Geno Smith – New York Jets

Like Manuel, there is a lot of pressure on Geno Smith to succeed. He was the second quarterback taken in the 2013 NFL Draft, and while he played in all 16 games, his play was inconsistent at best. For the year, Smith completed 247 of 443 passes for 3,046 yards, 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. To put it mildly, his touchdown to interception ratio was horrible!

Smith also has the full off season to work on his game and improve. The Jets brought in Michael Vick to provide competition, but the job belongs to Smith unless he falters.

It was thought that the Jets would draft a wide receiver in the premium rounds, but they waited until the fourth round before they selected Jalen Saunders a lightning fast slot receiver from Oklahoma and Shaq Evans a big “X” receiver from UCLA. The Jets did select Jace Amaro, a talented “move” tight end, in the second round. Amaro can create mismatch problems for the defense.

In free agency, the Jets signed Eric Decker, the former Broncos' receiver, who has size and talent. Another interesting signing was Jacoby Ford from the Raiders. While Ford has been injury prone, he is also very fast and talented. The Jets have upgraded the talent around Smith. Now it’s up to Smith to play to his enormous potential.

Dion Jordan – Miami Dolphins

When you are the third pick in the first round of any draft, you are expected to come in and make an instant contribution. Such was not the case with Dion Jordan last year in Miami. While he was supposed to be a pass rusher, he finished the season with 22 total tackles and just 2.0 sacks.

In fairness, Jordan was dealing with a shoulder injury in 2013 that prevented him from getting to full strength. Knowing he was a disappointment, Jordan began his off season workouts shortly after the 2013 season ended. He has become a dedicated weightlifter and is now up to over 260 pounds.

Jordan has rare athleticism for a defensive end and with his traits. The Dolphins should be able to use him in different ways to put pressure on the offense. With added strength and size and at full health, there is no reason Jordan can’t reach his potential and be a double digit sack guy in 2014.

Aaron Dobson – New England Patriots

The Patriots had a makeover at the receiver position in 2013. It was hoped that second round pick Aaron Dobson from Marshall would make an immediate contribution. Dobson did show flashes and finished the season with 37 receptions for 519 yards and four touchdowns. He also added two catches in the playoffs.

Dobson was bothered by a foot injury in 2013. It was thought that rest in the early off season would take care of the problem. When he still was having problems in early March, Dobson elected to have it surgically repaired. Rehab from the surgery will prevent Dobson from participating in OTA’s but he will be full go for training camp.

A healthy Aaron Dobson has the potential to be Tom Brady’s number two receiver in his second year, with a 65 to 70 catch season and 10 touchdowns.

Follo Greg on Twitter @greggabe

Jim Harbaugh predicts breakout year for Colin Kaepernick

San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh predicts a huge season for quarterback Colin Kaepernick,

Kaepernick has already quarterbacked the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance.

Now, Harbaugh anticipates even more from Kaepernick.

"I really expect that real breakout year for Colin," Harbaugh said. "He just has the look and feel that he's going to break out, more so than he already has. I'm really excited about everything about his game right now.

Athletically, he looks bionic. We all remember the 'Six Million-Dollar Man.' That's what he looks like to me. He's very gifted and he always has been."

The 2011 second-round draft pick from Nevada, Kaepernick has ledt the 49ers to consecutive NFC championship games.

Kaepernick passes for 3,197 yards and 21 touchdowns last season, rushing for 524 yards and four touchdowns.

"I feel like we have a lot of firepower in our corner," Harbaugh said. "I feel like we have a lot of ammunition in our camp. I was just thinking about it the other day, 'It doesn't get better than this.'"

What about a new deal for Kaepernick?

"I'm letting my agents handle all of that," Kaepernick said "I'm out here trying to get better with my teammates. I'm playing football regardless."

Follow me on Twitter: @RavensInsider

Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun