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Ten Thoughts on the NFL: Chicago Bears and Beyond

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Lester's out. Kev's in. Training camp has started. Let's go.

Rookie Kyle Fuller (#23) is turning some heads at training camp in Bourbonnais.
Rookie Kyle Fuller (#23) is turning some heads at training camp in Bourbonnais.
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

1 -- The hot topic of the weekend was Ray Rice's punishment, which most who do not work directly for the PR arm of the league thought was maybe a bit too lenient.

In case you were under a rock, you'll recall that video came out of Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiancee, now wife, out of an Atlantic City hotel elevator after apparently punching her to be asleep. This prompted some outrage, notably from everyone on the planet, but particularly Keith Olbermann, and also prompted Stephen A. Smith to pop off and say some really dumb stuff, too.

I won't purport to have been there, or to know what exactly happened that night.  I do know that the evidence that came out is pretty damning.  A two-game suspension after visible evidence of domestic violence, in a league where you get four games for possibly taking the wrong supplement, is a serious problem.

The NFL's moving target for fines and suspensions needs to be re-aligned, and they'd be best served bringing in someone from outside the Shield.  I know they want to protect their brands, and having their superstars on the field is a good way to do that.  However, if this happens with a special teamer, they're gone before you can write the story.

2 -- On a lighter note, Mark Sanchez says the fans in Philly are a lot nicer than they are in New York. Which is probably true, because Philadelphia fans presently have no expectation for Sanchez to ever see the field in a real game.  Imagine, though, the first butt-fumble for Sanchez with the Eagle on his helmet.  We're talking about a city whose own press had to admit they suck.

3 -- Kyle Rudolph of the Minnesota Vikings got himself a pay increase over the weekend, signing a five year extension worth up to $40.5 million to stay with the vikings.  A flexible contract, it gives them the Vikings some leeway with his guaranteed money. Rudolph is now one of the top-5 highest paid tight ends in the league, coming off a season that saw him only play in the first eight games. In that short season, he had 30 receptions for 313 yards and 3 TDs.  The Vikings must expect Rudolph to become a consistent safety valve for Cassel, and eventually Bridgewater, but hey, in the NFL a commitment is worth almost nothing.

4 -- Speaking of contracts, Jordy Nelson is stacking that cheddar after his new deal with the Packers. We've all seen enough of him to know that we'd prefer he take it easy now that he got his cash. $39 million over four years for him.  He's go-to for Rodgers, though Rodgers has the ability to go to whomever he feels like.

5 -- One last note about contracts, and sticking in the NFC North, but the Lions are shelving the talks with Ndamukong Suh for the rest of the 2014 season...supposedly. Though both sides have always said they wanted a deal, the team insists they broke off talks.  They could franchise tag him next year, but that'd come with a nearly $26 million cap hit.  Per overthecap.com, the cap numbers for Calvin Johnson and Matt Stafford would mean they'd have nearly a third of their cap wrapped up in those three guys. I think they ultimately re-open talks midway through the season.  However, if Suh sees a significant drop in production for some reason, he can welcome a heck of a lot of money from some other team.

6 -- Clowney could have straight up murdered this guy today, but didn't.

Yeah, it's practice, and yeah, that offensive lineman probably wasn't expecting him to go that hard, but this is the kind of stuff Clowney did in school, too.  If he does that this season, Andrew Luck is probably going to want to get an extra left tackle to play fullback.

7 -- Adrian Peterson probably won't play in the preseason, and that's probably pretty ok. There is nothing that will be gained by having him trot out to take a few meaningless snaps from Cassel or Bridgewater.

8 -- The Jaguars now have the world's largest scoreboards. They will be able to make the world's biggest zeroes, y'all.  How exciting is that?

9 -- Chip Kelly thinks the NFL Draft is the worst part about the NFL.  Y'know, I kind of have to agree with him.  The expectation now is that a first round pick has to contribute, and gets no learning curve. Sure, sometimes you get a Kyle Long, but sometimes you get a Shea McClellin. A particularly honest quote from Kelly:

The NFL has their Rookie Premier and they’re out there getting all these pictures taken and they’re missing practice time to go out to California and they’re treated like gods, and I’m like, I don’t know if he’s going to start. That’s not fair.

It rings true, especially for those later first round picks.  What's the difference, between a 20th pick and a 33rd pick?  A little bit of money, and a whole hell of a lot of expectation.  Let the most talented young players learn the game, and they can extend their careers.

10 -- There is a football game this Sunday (Giants and Bills Hall of Fame game), and there will be football every week after that until February.  Soak that in, ladies and gentlemen, because it's the best time of the year.

11 -- A bonus eleven note, because I never get to do this: Everything I'm hearing about Kyle Fuller at camp sounds great. Getting to go against Marshall and Jeffery as a rookie doesn't sound fun, necessarily, but it seems like there's few better ways to learn.

What've you guys been thinking about the NFL this week?