Adrian Peterson on aging: ‘My end is going to be better than my beginning’

Speaking of that final goal, AP is convinced that the Vikes are a legit Super Bowl contender this season. “We are going to have a good chance to win it this year — win everything,” he said. “Sit back and watch. Sit back and watch. You can be like, ‘I thought you guys were at least a couple of years away.’ Nope. You sit back and watch, this year.”

Minnesota finished last season 11-5, good enough to win the NFC North. They lost to the Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs, though. Apparently, adding Alex Boone in free agency, getting back Phil Loadholt and John Sullivan back from injury, and drafting Laquon Treadwell and Mackensie Alexander (among others) in the draft is enough to make Peterson think his team can get over the hump.

Dallas’ best fit: DE Charles Tapper, Oklahoma, No. 101 overall

With Greg Hardy no longer wanted and young edge rushers Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory facing four-game suspensions to start the season, the worst secret in the NFL prior to the 2016 draft was that the Dallas Cowboys needed help at defensive end.

As such, Ohio State’s Joey Bosa was a frequently projected pick for Dallas with the No. 4 overall pick. When the San Diego Chargers pulled the year’s first big surprise by nabbing him one pick earlier, however, the Cowboys opted to fill other positions of concern first, waiting until their fourth selection of the draft to address arguably the biggest hole on the roster with Tapper.

The 6-foot-3, 271 pound Tapper earned All-Big 12 accolades from conference coaches each of the past three years with First Team honors coming after the 2013 and 2015 seasons. He started 38 of 39 games during that time, recording a total of 136 tackles, 26.5 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks, setting career-highs in each category (50-10-7) as a senior.

While some have criticized Tapper’s production at Oklahoma, it is important to note how the Sooners used him. Oklahoma frequently asked Tapper to take on two blockers to create playmaking opportunities for the Sooners’ speedy linebackers rather than allow him to truly pin back his ears and attack. Assuming veteran defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli sticks with the relatively traditional 4-3 alignment he has used in the past, Tapper will likely be given this freedom off the edge, where his exceptionally long arms (34 3/8 inches) and explosive speed (4.56 in the 40-yard dash) could help him prove more of a disruptive presence in the NFL than he was ever was in college.

Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett agrees.

“You could always count on Jerry Jones f–king things up,” the GM said. “That isn’t happening any longer. That’s a Super Bowl-caliber team now.”

OK, “Super Bowl-caliber” might be a bit much — the team is coming off a 4-12 record — but remember, 12 months ago, the Cowboys had finished 12-4, won the NFC East, and beat the Lions in a playoff game. The difference, of course: Dallas was without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant for much of 2015. But both will be healthy for training camp — and if it stays that way, there’s every reason to think the Cowboys will again be in the mix to win their division.

The GM agrees.

“Health is obviously the key for them,” he said. “If Romo can stay healthy, that’s an 11-win team.”

Meanwhile, Stephen, whose fingerprints are all over rebuilding the Cowboys’ offensive line into the league’s best — and who also kept Jerry from drafting Manziel two years ago — is earning respect from his peers.

“He was seen by a lot of people in football as a trust fund baby masquerading as a football guy,” the GM said. “Now he’s just an excellent football guy.”

Jerry Jones agreed. Here’s what he told the Associated Press in 2015.

Dorsett’s role to expand in Colts’ three-WR offense

Along with the coordinator change, the organization’s recent personnel moves dictate an adjustment. With receiving tight end Coby Fleener out of the picture and 2015 first-round draft pick Dorsett healthy, it behooves Chudzinski to take advantage with a three wide-receiver attack.

Around The NFL’s Making the Leap series had already identified Moncrief’s as the NFL’s most likely breakout candidate at wide receiver. The transition to three wide receivers as the base offense should allow Dorsett the opportunity for a featured role in his own right.

Chudzinki recently noted that Dorsett has the ability to be a “big-time playmaker,” a sentiment that was pervasive among the Colts’ offensive coaches last summer.

Don’t let Andrew Luck’s disappointing, injury-ravaged 2015 season obscure this offense’s potential. With Moncrief and Dorsett playing full-time snaps, Luck is fully capable of returning to the 2014 heights which saw him lead the NFL in touchdowns while finishing third in passing yards.

The Cowboys left Big D for Oxnard, Calif. on Thursday in anticipation for the start of training camp, but one notable player wasn’t with them.

Suspended linebacker Rolando McClain was not on the team’s charter to the Golden State, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday. The Cowboys do not yet have an explanation for his absence.

McClain was suspended 10 games in June for violating the NFL’s policy against substances of abuse. He was also suspended four games for violating the same policy to start the 2015 season.

The Vikings have built their organization the right way. Their general manager Rick Spielman has been with the team since 2006. Over the last two years, he’s helped transform the roster to fit coach Mike Zimmer’s feisty personality. They are cresting as a budding NFC superpower just in time to move into their new stadium.

Seahawks extend Pete Carroll through 2019

The NFL’s oldest head coach at age 64, Carroll began negotiating with the Seahawks back in February. He was entering the final season of a three-year deal signed after leading Seattle to the Super Bowl XLVIII title.

Carroll’s new contract should serve to silence speculation that he might be prepared to walk away after the 2016 season, handing over the reins to assistant head coach/offensive line Tom Cable.

@Seahawks Thrilled to announce we have reached an extension with Super Bowl winning coach @PeteCarroll ! #GoHawks

Paul Allen (@PaulGAllen) July 27, 2016
After mixed results with the New York Jets and New England Patriots in the 1990s, Carroll reached a football epiphany as the architect of the USC Trojans dynasty last decade. Having reinvented himself as one of the NFL’s most philosophically open and psychologically agile figure, he has rivaled Bill Belichick as the league’s best coach over the past half-decade.

Under the tenure of Carroll and Schneider, the Seahawks have been a bold, unconventional organization, assembling a deep roster by capitalizing on cost-effective young talent. By end of the 2015 season, Seattle became the first team to top Football Outsiders’ DVOA metrics for four consecutive seasons, comprising the most successful era in franchise history.

Overseeing an annual superpower and nascent northwest dynasty, Carroll has earned the right to walk away from the Seahawks on his own terms.

New head coach Ben McAdoo worked with a similarly versatile slot receiver and returner in Green Bay in Randall Cobb.

With the Giants (like many teams) expected to play out of a three-receiver set much of the time in 2016, Shepard could be in line for significant playing time should Cruz struggle to come back from the torn patellar tendon and calf surgeries which prematurely ended his last two seasons.

Thanks to Aaron Rodgers, the mystery of Peyton Manning’s ‘Omaha’ call has finally been solved.

For years, football fans everywhere have tried to solve the riddle of the ‘Omaha’ call, only to come up empty. The frustration has finally come to an end though because Rodgers spilled the beans during a recent appearance on the HBO show Any Given Wednesday.

J.J. Watt undergoes surgery to repair herniated disc

The Houston Texans’ most valuable asset is in danger of missing the entirety of training camp.

NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo, however, expressed a slightly more pessimistic timeline. Per a source informed of Watt’s prognosis, Garafolo reported that the recovery could take up to 10 weeks, which means the defensive star would miss regular-season games.

The Houston Chronicle was the first to report the news.

Although Watt has yet to miss a game in his five-year career, he’s now racing against the clock to get his body in football shape for the season opener. After playing through a broken hand and severe groin injury last year, he underwent sports hernia surgery earlier this offseason.

With Brock Osweiler, Lamar Miller and rookie speedsters Will Fuller and Braxton Miller adding playmaking ability to a punchless offense, Texans have been a trendy pick to capture the AFC South crown and perhaps even make a run at the Super Bowl.

For that dream scenario to have a chance of playing out, they will need the game’s most dominant defensive force at full strength.

“The NFL’s investigation concluded that Hardy violated the Personal Conduct Policy by using physical force against Nicole Holder in at least four instances,” the NFL said in April of 2015.

Hardy spent nearly all of the 2014 season in Carolina on the Commissioner’s Exempt List until pending criminal charges against Hardy were adjudicated.

The Jaguars have spent the 2016 offseason loading up on defensive talent and becoming a trendy pick for the playoffs. Adding a lightning rod like Hardy, one the least popular players of the last decade, would only put the spotlight more on the team.

A few friends who know a thing or two about a rivalry with Pittsburgh will be at Saturday’s #OrangeOut. Will you?
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) May 10, 2016

“Cincinnati and Pittsburgh is probably one of the nastiest rivalries in football,” Peko told the soccer team’s website. “Whenever we play Pittsburgh, everyone wants us to beat them. That’s how I feel when it comes to soccer. Hopefully we can get this big win.”

Of course, Cincinnati’s soccer team will be hoping that their game doesn’t end like the Bengals’ game in January did, because that would involve two players pulling a Burfict and Jones and getting red carded at the worst possible time to cost their team a win.

The game in Cincinnati starts at 4 p.m. ET.

Julian Edelman reportedly has second foot surgery, likely out until camp

National Football League