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Ohio State’s Justin Fields set for 2nd pro day; San Francisco 49ers expected to attend

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Because of a scheduling conflict with another prominent pro day, San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan were unable to attend Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields‘ first pro day on March 30. Now, as Shanahan and Lynch hoped and expected, they will get another chance.

Ohio State is slated to have a second pro day on April 14, providing another opportunity for teams, including the Niners, to see Fields in person, a source told ESPN. The Athletic first reported that Fields, who is in the conversation for the 49ers with the No. 3 overall pick, will be participating in the second pro day.

Shanahan and Lynch did not see Fields’ first pro day because they were in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, watching quarterback Mac Jones and the rest of the Crimson Tide’s group of NFL prospects. That was Jones’ second pro day after participating in one earlier in March.

Although assistant general manager Adam Peters, college scouting director Ethan Waugh and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello represented the Niners in Columbus for Fields’ first pro day, Shanahan indicated there would be a second opportunity for him to see Fields in person and that the details were being worked out.

“Alabama has already had one, this is their second one. And just talking with Fields’ agent and everything, we’ll get another one from him, too,” Shanahan said on March 29. “So we’ll be able to see him, so that kind of made it an easy decision.”

Fields is one of the quarterbacks thought to be under consideration for the 49ers’ pick at No. 3 in this year’s NFL draft, along with the likes of Jones and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance.

At his first pro day, Fields put on an impressive performance, running the 40-yard dash in an unofficial time of 4.44 seconds and delivering accurate strikes on multiple deep throws.

“I think overall, I had a solid day,” Fields told reporters after that first workout. “Of course, as I think everybody knows, my goal in that 40-yard dash was to be at least in the 4.3s, so of course I’m kind of mad about that. But, you know, other than that, I thought I threw pretty well. I thought I just had a few missed throws but that happens. Not everybody is going to be perfect.”

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Chicago Bears see strong attendance at voluntary workouts despite prior objections

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. – The Chicago Bears had approximately 70 players attend Day 1 of Phase 2 of the club’s voluntary offseason program on Monday — and enjoyed near perfect attendance on offense, sources told ESPN.

A layer of uncertainty surrounding the level of player participation in the second phase of the program existed after the Bears were one of many teams to release statements via the NFLPA that stated their objection to any voluntary offseason in-person workouts.

“COVID-19 remains a risk both to our team, our family members and to our fellow NFL players,” the Bears’ statement read. “We also saw the health and safety benefits of a fully virtual offseason, as injuries across the NFL were down last year. Players remain unclear about the protocols and protections, and rules remain inconsistent despite the last minute communication by the NFL. It is for these reasons that the majority of our locker room are choosing to exercise our right and not participate in in-person voluntary workouts in order to stay as safe as possible.”

Nevertheless, Bears general manager Ryan Pace predicted strong player offseason attendance when he addressed the media prior to the NFL draft.

“As we approach that May 17 date, I expect it [player attendance] to be good,” Pace said on his pre-draft videoconference last month. “I think with just the feeling I have with our guys and the excitement of this offseason and the upcoming season, I feel it. I feel it from our leadership. I feel it throughout our team. I can already tell from the guys who are coming in now and just kind of the energy and the momentum that I feel from that group. I expect it to carry right into May 17, when they can be here at Halas.”

On Sunday, the Bears tweaked their offseason schedule and eliminated one week of OTA practices. Head coach Matt Nagy informed reporters at the conclusion of rookie minicamp that the first week of Phase 2 will primarily focus on strength and conditioning, with minor on-field work mixed in.

“I guess percentage-wise you could probably say for simplicity [Monday will be] probably more 75% strength and conditioning and then 25% football,” Nagy said Sunday.

“And of that 25% football, it’s going to be head and class on the grass, walk-through, mental. So when these guys come in we want to see where they’re at physically, offensively running routes, whatever we can do on air which are the rules. But a lot of it for the first week is going to be strength and conditioning and mental, and then we’re going to slowly ramp up into more as we go.”

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Source — New England Patriots set to re-sign quarterback Brian Hoyer

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer is set to re-sign with the New England Patriots, a league source confirmed to ESPN on Monday.

He joins a crowded position headlined by Cam Newton, 2021 first-round draft choice Mac Jones and third-year veteran Jarrett Stidham.

Hoyer, who had taken a free-agent visit with the New York Jets earlier this offseason as a possible backup to No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson, opened last season as the Patriots’ top backup, before slipping to the No. 3 spot behind Stidham after the fourth week.

Hoyer, 35, provides backup quarterback insurance as a potential starting competition unfolds ahead of him. Coach Bill Belichick has declared Newton the top option at this time, while leaving the door open for Jones — and possibly Stidham — to challenge him for the starting role.

“Somebody would have to play better than [Newton] does,” Belichick said on April 29.

The return of Hoyer, who previously played for the team in three different stints (2009-2011, 2017-2018 and 2020), provides the Patriots flexibility and insurance depending on how a starting competition plays out.

In training camp last year, Hoyer had arguably the most consistent performance among Patriots quarterbacks. That helped him initially beat out Stidham, who had been the No. 2 option in 2019.

Hoyer was unexpectedly thrust into a starting role a few days before the Patriots’ Week 4 road game against the Kansas City Chiefs, as a result of Newton testing positive for COVID-19 the night before the team was scheduled to travel.

The Patriots lost 26-10 in a contest that was pushed back one day, with the team traveling on the morning of the game. Hoyer went 15 of 24 for 130 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception, and had a notable breakdown at the end of the first half in taking a sack when the Patriots were out of timeouts, costing them a chance at a field-goal attempt.

He also lost a fumble on a strip-sack, which was his final play before Belichick replaced him with Stidham. From that point, Hoyer served as the Patriots’ third quarterback the rest of the year.

The Boston Globe first reported the Patriots’ intention to re-sign Hoyer.

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Off-the-cuff Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell jokes about bringing pet lion to practice

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If bringing a Super Bowl to Detroit required losing an arm than new Lions head coach Dan Campbell says he would be armless. Although Campbell has yet to coach an actual game in Motown, the first-year sideline leader is already making an early case as one of the most entertaining coaches in the league with his off-the-cuff style.

On Sunday, Campbell made a guest appearance on the “Pardon My Take” podcast on which he shared an idea that he actually presented to Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp about having a pet lion around the team’s practice facility.

“I don’t think we’re going to be able to do it, but I would love to literally just have a pet lion. Just a legit pet lion on a chain, a big ass chain, and he really is my pet,” Campbell said on the podcast. “We just walk around the building, we go out to practice, we’re at seven-on-seven, we’re behind the kicker when he’s kicking. There we are.”

Campbell further imagined that the lion would be “on command.” Campbell joked that if a position group wasn’t performing well, he could have the lion relieve itself in front of the group.

“I mean, think about it,” he said. “That would be outstanding.”

Campbell also made national headlines during his introductory news conference in January, notably with his impromptu answers that included his vision for the team being tough enough to “bite a kneecap off.” The lion reference was just the latest example, although he doubts it’ll ever happen.

“The problem is I don’t know if PETA’s gonna to allow that, though. It’s gonna be hard,” Campbell said. “Believe me though we would take great care of it. It would be fed well, it would be petted, it would be manicured. I might end up losing an arm because of it, but that would be even better because it would validate what, this is a freaking, this a creature now. This is an animal. This thing, this is from the wild.”

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