2 NFL seasons since agreement, still no HGH tests

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2 NFL seasons since agreement, still no HGH tests

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Baltimore Ravens defensive end Arthur Jones is among those NFL players who want the league and the union to finally agree on a way to do blood testing for human growth hormone.

``I hope guys wouldn't be cheating. That's why you do all this extra work and extra training. Unfortunately, there are probably a few guys, a handful maybe, that are on it. It's unfortunate. It takes away from the sport,'' Jones said.

``It would be fair to do blood testing,'' Jones added. ``Hopefully they figure it out.''

When Jones and the Ravens face the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl on Sunday, two complete seasons will have come and gone without a single HGH test being administered, even though the league and the NFL Players Association paved the way for it in the 10-year collective bargaining agreement they signed in August 2011.

Since then, the sides have haggled over various elements, primarily the union's insistence that it needs more information about the validity of a test that is used by Olympic sports and Major League Baseball. HGH is a banned performance-enhancing drug that is hard to detect and has been linked to health problems such as diabetes, cardiac dysfunction and arthritis.

``If there are guys using (HGH), there definitely needs to be action taken against it, and it needs to be out of (the sport),'' Ravens backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor said. ``I'm pretty sure it'll happen eventually.''

At least two members of Congress want to make it happen sooner, rather than later.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa, a California Republican, and ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland wrote NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith this week to chastise the union for standing in the way of HGH testing and to warn that they might ask players to testify on Capitol Hill.

Smith is scheduled to hold his annual pre-Super Bowl news conference Thursday.

``We have cooperated and been helpful to the committee on all of their requests,'' NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said. ``If this is something they feel strongly about, we will be happy to help them facilitate it.''

Several players from the Super Bowl teams said they would be willing to talk to Congress about the issue, if asked.

``I have nothing to hide. I can't speak for anyone else in football, but I would have no problem going,'' said Kenny Wiggins, a 6-foot-6, 314-pound offensive lineman on San Francisco's practice squad.

But Wiggins added: ``There's a lot more problems in the U.S. they should be worried about than HGH in the NFL.''

That sentiment was echoed by former New York Giants offensive lineman Shaun O'Hara, who now works for the NFL Network.

``Do I think there is an HGH problem in the NFL? I don't think there is. Are there guys who are using it? I'm sure there are. But is it something Congress needs to worry about? No. We have enough educated people on both sides that can fully handle this. And if they can't, then they should be fired,'' said O'Hara, an NFLPA representative as a player. ``I include the union in that, and I include the NFL. There is no reason we would need someone to help us facilitate this process.''

Issa and Cummings apparently disagree.

In December, their committee held a hearing at which medical experts testified that the current HGH test is reliable and that the union's request for a new study is unnecessary. Neither the league nor union was invited to participate in that hearing; at the time, Issa and Cummings said they expected additional hearings.

``We are disappointed with the NFLPA's remarkable recalcitrance, which has prevented meaningful progress on this issue,'' they wrote in their recent letter to Smith. ``We intend to take a more active role to determine whether the position you have taken - that HGH is not a serious concern and that the test for HGH is unreliable - is consistent with the beliefs of rank and file NFL players.''

Atallah questioned that premise.

``To us, there is no distinction between players and the union. ... The reason we had HGH in our CBA is precisely because our players wanted us to start testing for it,'' Atallah said. ``We are not being recalcitrant for recalcitrance sake. We are merely following the direction of our player leadership.''

Wiggins and other players said no one can know for sure how much HGH use there is in the league until there is testing - but that it's important for the union's concerns about the test to be answered.

``The union decides what is best for the players,'' said Ravens nose tackle Ma'ake Kemoeatu, who said he would be willing to go to Capitol Hill.

``I feel like some guys are on HGH,'' said 49ers offensive lineman Anthony Davis, who would rather not speak to Congress. ``I personally don't care if there is testing. It's something they have to live with, knowing they cheated, and if they get (outplayed) while they're on it, it's a hit on their pride.''

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

Three things to know about Ravens fourth-round pick Chris Moore

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Three things to know about Ravens fourth-round pick Chris Moore

Three things to know about Ravens fourth-round pick (107), wide receiver Chris Moore from the University of Cincinnati:

1. Moore’s college breakout game came against Ohio St in 2014.

Everybody in the Buckeyes’ secondary who played against Moore remembers him. Moore had three catches for 221 yards and three touchdowns, and he also had a 40-yard touchdown nullified by a penalty. On two of those touchdowns, Moore burned highly-touted Ohio St. defensive backs - cornerback Eli Apple, who was drafted No. 10 overall by the Giants, and safety Vonn Bell, who went to the Saints in Round 2.

“When it came time to play against the best talent, I performed,” Moore said.

2. At 6-foot-2, 190 pound, Moore has the frame to be more than just a deep receiver.

“I practice running every route, every single day,” Moore said. “I run all the short routes too, so I’m not just a deep threat.”

3. The biggest knock on Moore is the drops he had in college.

The Ravens coaching staff, particularly wide receiver coach Bobby Engram, will be looking for ways to improve Moore’s concentration and technique.

Fifth-rounder becomes Baltimore's first 2016 draft pick to sign

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Fifth-rounder becomes Baltimore's first 2016 draft pick to sign

The Ravens have signed fifth-round draft pick Matt Judon, CSN has confirmed through an NFL source. Judon became the first of the Ravens’ 11 draft picks to sign, reaching agreement on a four-year, $2.595 million deal.

Judon led all of college football with 20 sacks last season at Grand Valley State, and will likely make the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker in the Ravens’ 3-4 defense. His combination of size (6-foot-3, 275 pounds) and quickness caught the eye of Ravens’ scouts at the combine, and he fit their desire to improve their pass rush in this draft.

“He’s an explosive pass rusher, which is something that was obviously of interest to us,” Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said after the draft. “I should also say that Joe Cullen, who works with our defensive line and rush linebackers, was really, really excited. This was a guy that we thought was an outstanding prospect, and he (Cullen) spent a lot of time with him this spring, and we felt very, very good about his ability to come in and help us right away.”

AFC North: Manziel struggles continue, as does Browns search for franchise QB

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AFC North: Manziel struggles continue, as does Browns search for franchise QB

Watching Johnny Manziel make his court appearance Thursday on domestic violence charges was another reminder of how badly many of the Browns’ quarterback decisions have turned out.

Just two years ago, Manziel was the 22nd overall pick, and the Browns hoped he would be the answer to their quarterback problems. How wrong that looks now, with Manziel out of the NFL, with an uncertain future both on and off the field.

The Browns’ decision to take Manziel in 2014 looks even worse when you consider:

- Two other starting quarterbacks were drafted after Manziel in 2014 – Teddy Bridgewater of the Vikings (No. 32) and Derek Carr of the Raiders (No. 36). 

- Eight first-round picks in the 2014 draft have already made the Pro Bowl – linebackers Anthony Barr (Vikings), Khalil Mack (Raiders), and C. J. Mosley (Ravens); wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (Giants), defensive tackle Aaron Donald (Rams); guard Zach Martin (Cowboys); cornerback Jason Verrett (Chargers), and Bridgewater.

The Browns’ new regime of executive VP Sashi Brown, chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, and coach Hue Jackson could have spent another first-round pick on a quarterback this year. Instead, they signed Robert Griffin III during free agency, traded down out of the No. 2 spot in the draft, acquired some valuable draft picks, and waited until Round 3 to draft quarterback Cody Kessler of USC in the third round.

The Browns aren’t sure Griffin or Kessler will solve their quarterback problems either. But it’s hard to blame them for avoiding spending another first-round pick on a quarterback. Not after seeing how far Manziel has fallen so fast.