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Packers weighing options with safety Josh Jones

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — If the Green Bay Packers trade or release safety Josh Jones, it won’t be because that’s what the former second-round pick wants. That’s how general manager Brian Gutekunst is playing it.

“I think it’s more about what our team desire is, and right now we’re kind of working through that,” Gutekunst said Tuesday. “But he’s a very talented player. He’s shown that on the field at the times. We’ll go along and see where it goes.”

Jones reported for the start of the Packers’ mandatory minicamp, which opened Tuesday, but did not practice. Gutekunst said he was held out because of a hamstring injury, but it’s possible the Packers don’t want to put Jones on the field because if he were to get hurt, they would have trouble trading him or cutting him.

A source told ESPN last month that Jones wanted the Packers to trade him or let him go, and that’s why he left the team during the middle of the voluntary offseason program.

The Packers could have fined Jones had he not reported for this week’s minicamp. When asked Tuesday where things stand, Jones told ESPN: “I have no idea. All of those conversations are left up to my agent and Brian.”

Added Gutekunst: “Obviously Josh wasn’t here in the voluntary session. He got back yesterday. It was good to see him, get him in the building. Dealing with a little bit of a hamstring. But there’s been constant communication with us and Drew [Rosenhaus], his agent, so we’re kind of going from there.”

Jones, the 61st overall pick in the 2017 draft, has not found a consistent role for the Packers. The safety has been used at times as an inside linebacker in the dime defensive package. He has started 12 games in his two years but didn’t become a starter last season until late in the year.

The Packers opened last season with former undrafted rookie Kentrell Brice and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at safety. Even after Clinton-Dix was traded midway through last season, Jones was bypassed for a starting job when the Packers moved Tramon Williams from cornerback to safety. It wasn’t until after Brice sustained an ankle injury in Week 10 that Jones finally got his first start of the season in Week 11.

Since then, the Packers signed former Chicago Bears safety Adrian Amos to a four-year, $36 million contract in free agency and drafted safety Darnell Savage Jr. at No. 21 overall.

“We’ve been in constant communication,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “I think we’re on the same page in terms of what the expectations are and where [Jones] fits with us. We certainly want him a part of what we’re doing moving forward.

“I think he’s a versatile guy. He can fill a lot of roles, especially in [coordinator Mike] Pettine’s defense where we’re going to play multiple defensive backs and put these guys all over the place. I think he’s a talented young player that I think can help us.”

Jones said he reported for minicamp because it’s mandatory. “I’m also a part of the Green Bay Packers,” he said, “so that’s why I came.”

It’s unclear what role Jones would play if the Packers kept him on the roster this season.

“I’ve been here the past two years, but that’s not up to me,” Jones said.

When asked whether he thinks his best opportunity would be with another team, Jones said: “I don’t know. I really don’t know. I don’t know what the good Lord has planned for me. I don’t know what path he’s going to lead me down. Whether that’s here or there or anywhere, I know that I’m going to thrive.”

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Chiefs’ Bieniemy — Not playcaller, but has input

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ATLANTA — Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy scoffed at the idea that not being a playcaller cost him an opportunity to become a head coach after he interviewed for four head-coaching vacancies.

At this week’s NFL Quarterback Coaching Summit hosted by the NFL and Black College Football Hall of Fame, Bieniemy said he relished the opportunity to interview with the New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins. Only one of the eight teams with new head coaches hired a minority, as the Dolphins selected Brian Flores.

“Here’s my response about the playcalling: coach (Andy) Reid has always done it his way, and that’s how historically he’s done it because he’s Coach Reid,” Bieniemy told ESPN. “He has a beautiful mind, and we all work hand-in-hand together. And he gives me the green light to do a number of things. I have input. I do scripts. I get the install. There are a number of things that I do.”

As Jason Reid of The Undefeated reported in January, Reid said Bieniemy had been “unbelievable” as coordinator, while MVP Patrick Mahomes called Bieniemy a “special coach” and a guy who has helped him a ton.

“Do I talk to the quarterback? Yes,” Bieniemy said. “(Reid) is reciting what he wants me to particularly tell Pat to call. So if people want to make a big deal about that, so be it. The experience that I’ve gotten, understanding how an offensive system works, the organization, how to prepare it, how to get guys going and moving in one direction for one cause, that’s what this is about.”

Although Bieniemy’s focus remains on his current duties with the Chiefs, it seems likely that he’ll receive a head-coaching opportunity based on his strong reputation. The Fritz Pollard Alliance, which oversees compliance with the Rooney Rule requiring teams to interview minority candidates, backed Bieniemy, 49, throughout the interview process.

“John Wooten and the Fritz Pollard Alliance, I thought they did a hell of a job; they gave me an opportunity,” Bieniemy said. “Obviously, Coach Reid has given me an opportunity. And I think my interviewing process went about as good as it could go.

“Also, it gave me the experience moving forward knowing that, ‘You know what, this is my first go-around. Second go-around, if I’m blessed and fortunate to be placed in that situation, I’ll be that much better.’ But as far as a head-coaching position is concerned, right now we’re focused on the season. Obviously, we want to go out and do some things that’s going to help us to continue to have success. Then if somebody wants to give me a chance, I’ll be willing, ready, and waiting for that opportunity.”

Marvin Lewis and Hue Jackson, two former black NFL head coaches, both expressed support for Bieniemy.

“In my mind, there’s no question that Eric Bieniemy deserves an opportunity to be head coach in the National Football League,” Lewis said. “I’m a very, very close friend of Andy Reid’s and for the last three years, he’s talked to me about Eric’s ability and attributes and what he has added to their offense. That’s why he elevated him to the coordinator role. Andy has recommended a number of coaches to me over the years, and he’s never been wrong.”

“Yes, Eric Bieniemy does deserve a head-coaching job,” Jackson said. “There’s no question about it. I think he’s one of the brightest, young offensive minds in the NFL. Everyone says who is the next up-and-coming guy, and he’s been that. He’s worthy of that. I mean, watch how the quarterback played in Kansas City. I just know when they talk about offense, they talk about Eric.”

Working on the offensive side of the ball should work in Bieniemy’s favor, with most teams seemingly looking for the next bright offensive mind. Bieniemy is one of two black offensive coordinators, along with Byron Leftwich of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“I’ve been an offensive coach my whole entire life,” Bieniemy said. “People think just because you coach running backs you don’t understand the pass game. Well, when you’ve played the position, and you’re involved in coaching the position, you’ve got to make sure guys understand the entire game plan, meaning you’re very much involved in the pass game. You have to understand protections. You have to understand route concepts. You have to understand how defenses are structured going against you.

“Do we need more [minority] coaches on the offensive side of the ball? Yes. How do we go about doing that? We have to make sure there’s a plan for guys of helping guys get into that quarterback room and into quality-control positions so those guys can add that knowledge and learn how to deal with the quarterbacks, learn the language and speak it.”

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Ramsey now avoids dissing QBs — ‘I’m growing’

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Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey made headlines last year when he criticized several opposing quarterbacks in a published interview. He’s not going down that road again this year though.

Asked by ESPN Adam Schefter on his podcast if he wanted to evaluate the quarterbacks he will face in the 2019 season, Ramsey passed and only wanted to talk about Nick Foles, who signed a four-year contract this offseason to become the Jaguars’ new starting quarterback.

“You want to do this again, huh? I’m not going to do this again but, we do play some good quarterbacks this year, of course, but probably the quarterback I’m most excited for is Nick Foles,” Ramsey told Schefter. “I don’t have to play against him, of course. He is my teammate. He is a great teammate, the few interactions we’ve had has been great. Great man, great player as well. He has nothing to prove to anybody. He’s a Super Bowl champion, Super Bowl MVP. So, I hope he comes out here and he plays free and knows he has the support of everybody.”

In a 2018 interview with GQ magazine, Ramsey caused a stir by belittling several quarterbacks, including calling the Atlanta FalconsMatt Ryan “overrated” and the Buffalo BillsJosh Allen “trash.”

But Ramsey said he’s grown since last year.

“I’m growing man, it’s Year 4 for me. It’s a different me. A lot of people think they know me, they don’t really know me. But hey, that’s OK,” he said.

Ramsey, the No. 5 overall pick in 2016, has made two Pro Bowls and was named a first-team All-Pro once in his first three seasons. He has nine interceptions and 44 pass breakups and hasn’t missed a start.

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Judge OKs $24M settlement over Rams’ PSLs

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ST. LOUIS — A federal judge has approved a settlement calling for the NFL’s Rams to pay up to $24 million to personal seat license holders in St. Louis.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh Jr. approved the settlement Monday.

Several St. Louis PSL holders filed a class-action lawsuit after the team moved to Los Angeles in January 2016. Thousands of fans in St. Louis had purchased PSLs that were good for 30 seasons, which was the length of the lease at the domed stadium where the Rams played in St. Louis. Rams owner Stan Kroenke took the team to California after 21 seasons.

The lawsuit calls for PSL holders to get 30 percent of the original purchase price, a refund for the nine unused years of the seat license fee, plus damages.

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