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Quarterback already under focus for Reid in KC

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Quarterback already under focus for Reid in KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Kansas City Chiefs haven't hired a general manager to make crucial personnel decisions. Andy Reid hasn't hired a single assistant coach.

That hardly seemed to matter.

The pressing concern, at least for those who attended Reid's introductory news conference Monday, was what the longtime Philadelphia Eagles coach plans to do at quarterback.

The Chiefs' biggest area of need coincides with the most important position on the field. It's the biggest reason why the Chiefs went 2-14 last season, and why Reid was hired to replace Romeo Crennel and the Chiefs were looking for a new general manager.

``The quarterback position, I'm going to dig in and look at that and we'll build that thing,'' Reid said. ``We'll see how that works out, but I need to spend some time to look at that.''

Reid plans to start by analyzing the quarterbacks on last season's roster - Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn and Ricky Stanzi - though it likely will be discouraging.

Cassel, who has two years left on a six-year, $63 million deal, dealt with a variety of injuries the past couple seasons, including a concussion this year. He was 1-7 as a starter before being benched in favor of Quinn, after throwing six touchdown passes and 12 interceptions.

Quinn fared little better, throwing two touchdown passes and eight interceptions while also going 1-7 as a starter. Stanzi, a former fifth-round pick, was so poor during preseason that he never got on the field even when Cassel and Quinn struggled.

Altogether, the Chiefs' quarterbacks directed an offense that was last in the NFL in scoring at 13.2 points per game, and failed to score an offensive touchdown six games.

``Clearly,'' Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said, ``better quarterback play is a priority in 2013.''

That's one of the reasons that Hunt targeted Reid to be the Chiefs' next coach.

When he inherited the Eagles in 1999, they were coming off a 3-13 season in part because of their own shaky quarterback play. His options at the time were Koy Detmer, Bobby Hoying and Rodney Peete - not a whole lot better than what the Chiefs had to work with this season.

But the Eagles' poor record meant they had the No. 2 pick in that year's draft, and rather than spend it on Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams or fellow running back Edgerrin James, Reid decided that the most important upgrade he could make would be at quarterback.

So he weighed several who were available - Akili Smith, Daunte Culpepper and Cade McNown - before settling on Donovan McNabb, who was perhaps the least-regarded of them all.

McNabb wound up going to six Pro Bowls, led the Eagles to the Super Bowl and is considered one of the greatest quarterbacks in the franchise's history.

The Chiefs don't have the No. 2 pick in the draft, of course.

They'll be picking No. 1.

That doesn't mean that Reid will spend it on a quarterback, like he did that first season in Philadelphia. There is no Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III this year. But there are still a handful of quarterbacks who have shown some talent despite weak arms, inaccuracy and other red flags that come with picking them with the most valuable choice in the draft.

West Virginia's Geno Smith is widely considered the top quarterback available. Southern Cal's Matt Barkley has injury concerns, Arkansas' Tyler Wilson and Syracuse's Ryan Nassib are garnering more attention, and North Carolina State's Mike Glennon has all the right physical tools.

Only Reid knows whether one of them will be his guy.

``You have to make sure you do the right thing and pick the right guy, not necessarily the quarterback,'' Reid said. ``You don't want to force anything at that point. People who do that get in trouble. We'll sit there and we'll evaluate and we'll get it right, wherever we go.''

The Chiefs haven't selected a quarterback in the first round since 1983, when they picked Todd Blackledge with the seventh overall pick. And while players such as Joe Montana and Trent Green had good years for them, they haven't had a true franchise quarterback in decades.

Maybe going all the way back to Hall of Famer Len Dawson in the 1960s and `70s.

``The first thing Andy's going to do is evaluate the talent on this football team and where they need help,'' Dawson said. ``That's the glaring one, because the quarterback is the one handling the ball all the time and he's the one who throws the interceptions and fumbles, and things of that nature. That's a very important part of the puzzle.''

Reid understood that long before the countless questions about quarterback were asked on Monday. He said that he'll pursue every avenue for upgrading the position, from the draft to free agency to making a trade with another team.

Then he looked into the crowd during his introductory news conference and spotted Dawson sitting a few rows back from the stage.

``I need to find the next Len Dawson, doggone it,'' Reid said. ``It might be right here, but it might not. I need to dig in.''

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NFL finds no credible evidence Peyton Manning used HGH

NFL finds no credible evidence Peyton Manning used HGH

The NFL released a statement on Monday in which the league cleared former Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning after a seven-month investigation to determine if the two-time Super Bowl champion was provided with or took performance-enhancing drugs.

The investigation stemmed from an Al-Jazeera America report in December that listed Manning among the professional athletes to receive shipments ofhuman growth hormones.

The five-time NFL MVP vehemently denied the claims and welcomed the league to investigate the matter.

"Following a comprehensive seven-month investigation into allegations made in a documentary by Al-Jazeera America, the NFL found no credible evidence that Peyton Manning was provided with or used HGH or other substances prohibited by the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances," the league said in a statement.

"The Mannings were fully cooperative with the investigation and provided both interviews and access to all records sought by the investigators."

The Al-Jazeera America report alleged that Manning was sent shipments of HGH to his house under his wife's name from Charlie Sly, a pharmacist who worked at an anti-aging clinic in Indianapolis in 2011. Sly was Al Jazeera's key source, but then recanted his statements making the report all the more questionable.

Manning retired from the NFL in February following the Broncos' victory in Super Bowl 50 over the Carolina Panthers.

Initiated in January, the investigation was led by the NFL’s security and legal teams with support from expert consultants and other professionals. The investigation involved witness interviews, a review of relevant records and other materials, online research, and laboratory analysis and review.

RELATED: RANKING THE REDSKINS' 53-MAN ROSTER

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Ravens under the microscope: Best case, worst case for QB Joe Flacco

Ravens under the microscope: Best case, worst case for QB Joe Flacco

As we countdown to training camp, Clifton Brown and Bo Smolka will take turns putting 25 key Ravens under the microscope this month.

They’ll speculate on a best-case, worst-case scenario for at least one player every day. They’ll begin with players looking to carve out a role, or a roster spot. This is the final installment, ending with the Ravens’ most important and highest-paid player.

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Joe Flacco, 31-year-old quarterback

Best-case scenario:

Flacco enjoys his best season, becomes a more consistent regular season quarterback, and leads the Ravens to the playoffs.

Why it could happen:

Already a Super Bowl MVP, Flacco is entering what should be the prime of his career.

Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees all had their best statistical seasons at age 30 or older. It’s a great sign that Flacco has recovered well enough from knee surgery to be ready for training camp. Barring any setbacks, the knee shouldn’t be an issue.  It’s also important that Flacco is working with the same coordinator, Marc Trestman, for a second straight season. Trestman and Flacco had growing pains in 2015, but they’re beginning this season with far more familiarity with each other. Meanwhile, the additions of wide receiver Mike Wallace and tight end Ben Watson give Flacco two additional veteran targets.

On paper, Flacco has more weapons than ever, particularly if tight end Dennis Pitta and wide receiver Breshad Perriman are healthy enough to be factors. Flacco’s arm strength, toughness, composure in pressure situations, and ability to make every throw are hard to question.

If rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley and the rest of the offensive line give Flacco time to survey the field, the stage is set for Flacco to have his best season.

Worst-case scenario:

Flacco’s game doesn’t ascend to another level, and as a result, neither does the Ravens’ offense.

Why it could happen:

Stats aren’t everything, but Flacco has never thrown for more than 4,000 yards in a season, has never thrown for 30 touchdown passes in a season, and has never had a quarterback rating higher than 93.6, which he had in 2010.

All of that may have to change for the Ravens to make the playoffs. Flacco has been a phenomenal post-season quarterback, but it remains to be seen if he can eliminate some of his regular season valleys. The Ravens invested more heavily in Flacco during the offseason, rewarding him with a three-year, $66 million contract extension that included a $40 million signing bonus.

To whom much is given, much is expected.  

Meeting higher expectations, while bouncing back from his first major injury, is the challenge facing Flacco.

RELATED: CAN SUGGS STILL BE AN IMPACT PLAYER?

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Will Suggs still be an impact player when he comes off PUP?

Will Suggs still be an impact player when he comes off PUP?

Clifton Brown and Bo Smolka are taking turns putting 25 key Ravens under the microscope leading up to veterans reporting to training camp. They’ll speculate on a best-case, worst-case scenario for at least one player every day, concluding with quarterback Joe Flacco on July 25.

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Terrell Suggs, 33-year-old outside linebacker

Best-case scenario:

Suggs makes a full recovery from Achilles injury and returns as a double-digit sack artist and three-down linebacker.

Why it could happen:

Suggs knows people are wondering how much quality football he has left. It’s dangerous to write off great players too soon. Suggs would love to silence skeptics with a strong season, and if some of the young Ravens pass rushers develop, they won’t have to overwork Suggs. If he stays healthy once he comes off the PUP list, a player with Suggs’ talent and experience can still be a valuable defensive leader.

Worst-case scenario:

The Achilles injury limits what Suggs can do, and he is no longer an impact player.

Why it could happen:

It’s asking a lot of Suggs to remain a cog in the Ravens’ defense, after 106 ½ career sacks, and entering his 14th NFL season. Sooner or later, the NFL road will end for Suggs, just like it ended for his former great defensive teammates like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. It will be interesting to hear Suggs’ thoughts on his career when he meets with the media Wednesday. If 2016 is not Suggs’ last ride, the end of the journey is getting closer.

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