Roundup: 'Best receiver' Moss leads O-revival

The 49ers weren't sure what they were getting when they signed 35-year-old Randy Moss out of retirement, but they felt the low-risk investment could pay off in a big way for an offense that was boxed in by its average collection of downfield targets.


Moss, entering his 14th season, has impressed quarterback Alex Smith and coach Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh's evolving offense will be more intricate in his second season with the 49ers – and first with a full offseason for installation and full team workouts before training camp this month – in part because of Moss, free-agent addition Mario Manningham and first-round pick A.J. Jenkins.

How fond is Harbaugh of Moss? He told SiriusXM Radio host Rich Gannon that Moss is the team's "best receiver" entering camp.

Smith's top targets last season, Michael Crabtree (72 receptions) and Vernon Davis (67 catches, team-high six touchdowns) made occasional big plays downfield but combined to average less than 12 yards per reception.

Josh Morgan, who went down with a broken leg after leading the team with a 14.7 yards-per-catch average, left via free agency, opening the spot for Moss.

Manningham is likely to begin the 2012 season in the slot and Jenkins will cross-train at multiple positions with a future as a starter as soon as midseason.

The 49ers aren't trying to build an offensive juggernaut – they outscored opponents 380-229 last season and still plan to win with smashmouth defense and a power running game – but they've found a mix of offensive weapons that should serve a few purposes.

For one, Smith will have more options and can get rid of the ball with greater urgency. His 90.7 passer rating last season was as much a credit to his risk-averse approach (five interceptions, 7.1 yards per pass attempt) as it was an indictment of his milquetoast receiving corps.

Crabtree hasn't lived up to lofty expectations as a top-10 draft pick but Harbaugh said he has great hands, and can be a top receiver in the NFL.

Davis is unmatched as a downfield threat because of his combination of size, agility and explosiveness. He's in the mold of Antonio Gates and, with more options outside, could easily catch 80 passes in Harbaugh's possession-conscious offense.

In addition to Gore, the 49ers are deeper and more versatile in the backfield. Former Giants' bulldozing back Brandon Jacobs and waterbug-quick rookie LaMichael James bolster a backfield that was more than successful, including second-year backup Kendall Hunter.

If Harbaugh is right, and Moss finds the form that he showed in 2009 with the Patriots (13 touchdowns), the 49ers' touted Super Bowl credentials could be much more than offseason conjecture.


Brees set to hold out in New Orleans


New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees will not report to training camp July 24 without a long-term deal with the franchise.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported on "NFL Live" this week that Brees plans to sit out training camp, as the MVP runner-up in 2011 suggested two weeks ago, absent a contract extension before Monday's deadline.

Brees was designated the Saints exclusive franchise player in February and negotiations between the two sides have been tumultuous at times.

Brees faces the Monday deadline – the date for all franchise players to sign extensions or play the 2012 season under the franchise marker – with the alternative being a one-year salary of $16.371 million, the franchise tender for his position.

Brees, as argued by the NFLPA in June, won a grievance the determined he will be owed a 44 percent raise up to $23.785 million if he's again named the Saints' franchise player in 2013.

While Brees is a three-time franchise player, only two of the instances came with the Saints. The other, in 2005, was his final season with the Chargers. Brees would have been owed a 20 percent raise up to about $19.595 million had he lost the grievance.


Packers report record $42.7 million profit


A Super Bowl championship paid off handsomely in the financial ledger for the Green Bay Packers, who reported a record $42.7 million profit for the fiscal year that ended March 31.

The Packers won the Super Bowl after the 2010 season, and they went 15-1 in 2011 before losing to the New York Giants, in the NFC divisional playoff round.

Team president and chief executive officer Mark Murphy credited booming merchandise sales at Lambeau Field as well as online, plus record attendance at the team's Hall of Fame and for Lambeau tours.

"We did set records in terms of local revenue, total revenue was the first time ever over $300 million, and the profit from operation was at an all-time high of $43 million," Murphy said on a conference call.

Even one negative from last year turned out to be a positive for the Packers from a financial standpoint. The 2011 NFL lockout led to reduced operating costs for a chunk of the year.

"It wasn't unusual for departments to be deferring projects, waiting to see the outcome," vice president of finance Paul Baniel said, according to Bloomberg.com. "Some of the decline is just due to the fact that we were in a slower state for those first four months."

The Packers reported a $17.1 million profit in the previous fiscal year. Total revenue for the latest fiscal year was $302 million, after it was $282.6 million the prior year.


Peterson not ‘aggressor' in arrest


Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson wasn't the aggressor and was in fact hit multiple times by arresting officers when he was arrested last weekend, attorney Rusty Hardin told NFL Network.

A police spokesperson said Sunday that Peterson pushed an off-duty police officer working security. Peterson's father, Nelson Peterson, said Monday that police initiated the confrontation and his son left the Bayou Club in Houston with a black eye.

Hardin said in a phone interview with NFL Network that reports that Peterson resisted arrest or pushed police were false.

"He wasn't refusing to leave; he was leaving when he was placed under arrest," Hardin said. "He did have some words with a police officer, but not anything that justifies an arrest, and he certainly never did anything physically toward them."

Peterson's injuries aren't evident in the mug shot released on the court web site. Hardin maintained the position he initially took when releasing a statement after the incident that Peterson was the victim and has the bumps and bruises about his face to prove it.

"He, in fact, was struck at least twice in the face for absolutely no legitimate reason, and when all the evidence is impartially reviewed, it will clearly show Adrian was the victim, not the aggressor," Hardin said.

Peterson proclaimed his own innocence Sunday via Twitter. First, he quoted Winston Churchill: "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. WC."

Shortly after that, he tweeted: "Thank you for waiting for the facts. Truth will surface."

Peterson is recovering from reconstructive knee surgery and hopes to be ready to play in the season opener in September.


Kraft video ‘act of friendship'


A viral video featuring Patriots' owner Robert Kraft reading from a script alongside a bikini-clad woman was nothing more than an act of friendship, Kraft said.

The 71-year-old explained through the Patriots that he was helping aspiring actress Ricki Noel Lander, 32, work through a mock audition for an upcoming film that features Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn.

In the video, Kraft read lines intended for Owen Wilson's character in the unnamed film, including a four-letter expletive. He said the recording was not meant to be released. Kraft has been seen in public with Lander at events in and around Boston.

"I tried to help Ricki prepare an audition tape for an upcoming Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson comedy by reading Wilson's lines," Kraft said in a statement. "I never intended that it would be made public and I regret that it has. I think we can all agree that Owen Wilson has nothing to worry about. I am going to stick to my day job."

According to Forbes, Kraft's net worth is approximately $1.7 billion. Kraft's wife, Myra, died last July.


ESPN locks up coverage team


The NFL is big business, and ESPN isn't planning to miss a single spin of the news cycle.

The network's primary coverage team of John Clayton, Ed Werder, Adam Schefter and draft guru Mel Kiper has been locked up with long-term contracts, ESPN VP and executive producer Mark Gross told Sports Illustrated.

Kiper signed a six-year deal that expires in 2018 and Schefter (2017), Clayton and Werder (2016) have shorter extensions.

Kiper first appeared on ESPN in 1984. Clayton, a senior NFL writer and on-air reporter, was hired in August 1995 after a lengthy career in newspapers.


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