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Wide receivers Michael Floyd, Brandon Tate sign with New Orleans Saints


The New Orleans Saints have signed wide receiver Michael Floyd and wide receiver/kick returner Brandon Tate, sources told ESPN’s Mike Triplett on Tuesday.

Floyd, 28, a former first-round pick whose career was derailed by an arrest for extreme DUI, played for the Minnesota Vikings last season. He was hoping to jump-start his career with his hometown team but had only 10 catches for 78 yards.

Tate, 30, spent the past two seasons with the Buffalo Bills. In 2017, he caught six passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. But the Saints may be more interested in him as a return man. In nine seasons with the New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals and the Bills, He has averaged 9.5 yards on 200 career punt returns and 23.8 yards on 247 kickoff returns with three return touchdowns.

Both signings were first reported by the New Orleans Advocate.

The Saints’ receiver rotation might be hard to crack since they’ve added free agent Cameron Meredith and promising rookie Tre’Quan Smith to returning veterans Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr., Brandon Coleman and Tommylee Lewis, among others.

Meredith has been a healthy participant during training camp after he suffered a major knee injury with the Chicago Bears last summer. And Smith, a third-round draft pick from Central Florida, has been generating the most buzz of any player in Saints camp so far with a series of impressive catches down the field.

However, the Saints did lose young receiver Travin Dural to a broken humerus during Sunday’s practice. And Coleman has not yet participated in training camp because of an unspecified injury. So they could use some depth in the position group — and it certainly wouldn’t hurt them to take a closer look at some experienced veterans.

Tate could be even more valuable to the Saints on special teams. Saints coach Sean Payton and special teams coach Mike Westhoff both expressed concern with the Saints’ crop of kick returners.

“Our return game is kind of like ‘The Bachelor’ right now,” Payton said. “We’ve got about 12 contestants, all with roses. We don’t know who our returner is gonna be. … And if she doesn’t like any of them, we’ll bring in more.”

Payton said running back Alvin Kamara (who returned a kickoff 106 yards for a touchdown late last season) could absolutely be a candidate to return kickoffs this year, despite his major role on offense. But Westhoff said they might consider doing that later in the season instead of the full year.

Floyd has played six seasons in the NFL, racking up 3,859 yards on 256 receptions with 24 touchdowns. He was a first-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2012, 13th overall, coming out of Notre Dame.

On Dec. 12, 2016, Floyd was arrested in Scottsdale, Arizona, when police found him asleep at the wheel of his Cadillac Escalade. He was taken into custody for driving under the influence and released by the Cardinals two days later. The Patriots then claimed Floyd off waivers in December of that season. He played in three games but was inactive for Super Bowl LI. The Vikings signed the St. Paul native to a one-year deal before the 2017 season, taking a chance on the receiver.

Floyd served 24 days in jail in February 2017 after pleading guilty to an extreme DUI and was put on house arrest for a subsequent 96 days. He was suspended for the first four games of the 2017 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He said it was due to drinking kombucha tea.

Information from ESPN’s Mike Triplett was used in this report.



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New England Patriots host Eric Decker for workout


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Managing a run of injuries at wide receiver early in training camp, the New England Patriots hosted free agent Eric Decker on a workout Monday, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates.

It is commonplace for the Patriots to work out players to keep their emergency lists updated, and Decker wasn’t the only receiver the Patriots had in town. They also took a closer look at second-year player Devin Fuller, who was most recently with the Atlanta Falcons.

But while Fuller would be a long shot for a roster spot, the 31-year-old Decker would fall into a different category given his experience and production. Decker enters his ninth NFL season, having caught 54 passes for 563 yards and one touchdown with the Tennessee Titans last season.

He broke into the NFL as a third-round draft choice of the Broncos in 2010, when current Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was Denver’s head coach.

In a June interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Decker agreed with co-host Brady Quinn that the Patriots could be a good fit for him. Decker said in the interview that he had a conversation with the Patriots last season prior to him signing in Tennessee, but as of June, had not talked with New England.

That might have been because the Patriots, at that time, already were stocked at the position, having signed free agent Jordan Matthews, traded for Cordarrelle Patterson, and with Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Kenny Britt, Phillip Dorsett and Malcolm Mitchell, among others, returning.

Yet the Patriots have had some attrition at receiver since that time, with Mitchell (knee) not cleared for practice, Britt sidelined with a hamstring injury suffered in June, and Matthews out with a tweaked hamstring over the past weekend. Furthermore, the club also has to consider life without Edelman for the first four games of the regular season as he serves a suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy.

All of which contributed to the Patriots taking a closer look at Decker, a player they would have strongly considered selecting in the third round of the 2010 draft had Denver not nabbed him three picks before their selection.

In regular-season games with Denver (2010-2013), the New York Jets (2014-2016) and Tennessee (2017), Decker has totaled 439 receptions for 5,816 yards with 53 touchdowns.

“At this point in my career, I want to go somewhere where I can compete for a Super Bowl and be in a good system and be with a quarterback that my skill set would be an addition to the team,” Decker said in June on SiriusXM Radio.

Meanwhile, the Patriots signed former Tennessee Titans center/guard Brian Schwenke on Tuesday. The 27-year-old Schwenke entered the NFL as a fourth-round pick out of California in 2013, and has played in 57 career games (30 starts), all with Tennessee.

The club waived undrafted rookie fullback/tight end Shane Wimann (Northern Illinois) to make room for Schwenke.



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Jalen Ramsey, Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback, ready to face Odell Beckham


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jalen Ramsey may have been at training camp for less than only eight hours, but the Jacksonville Jaguars All-Pro cornerback already is looking forward to the Week 1 matchup with Odell Beckham Jr.



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Seattle Seahawks’ Doug Baldwin, Dion Jordan battling injuries, Pete Carroll says


RENTON, Wash. – Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin is expected to miss “a couple weeks” with a knee injury, coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday.

Baldwin has been sidelined for the past three days of training camp. Carroll didn’t specify the nature of the injury beyond describing it as a sore knee, but he called the situation “a little bit of a problem.”

“We’re gonna give him a couple weeks here before we bring him back out to make sure that we’ve ramped him back up properly,” Carroll said. “He came into camp a little bit off and we just want to make sure that we take care of him. We know exactly what’s going on. He’s doing some special treatments to make sure that we’re taking care of him, and we want to bring him back into shape so we can really get him ready for the long haul.”

Baldwin, 29, has led the Seahawks in receiving in five of his seven years in the NFL. He narrowly missed out on his third straight 1,000-yard season in 2017 but still made his second career Pro Bowl as an injury replacement.

Fellow receiver Brandon Marshall, who’s vying for a spot on Seattle’s roster, also didn’t practice Tuesday for an undisclosed reason.

Carroll also had a somewhat ominous-sounding prognosis on defensive end Dion Jordan, a projected starter who has been on the physically unable to perform list to begin camp. Carroll described Jordan’s injury as a “stress issue” unrelated to the knee surgery he had over the offseason.

“It’s gonna be a while,” Carroll said. “The word is it’s gonna be a while. He’s got a little bit of healing to do, so it’s gonna be a while.”

With Frank Clark, Seattle’s other starting end, still coming back from wrist surgery, Carroll was asked how much shopping the team may need to do in order to reinforce the position.

“I don’t know. We’re always shopping,” Carroll said.

Asked if the Seahawks have had any communication of late with free safety Earl Thomas, who’s holding out, Carroll only said “no.”



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Johnny Manziel to start for Montreal Alouettes on Friday


It’s Johnny Manziel time in the CFL — finally.

Manziel will make his first start Friday night after six games as a backup, Montreal Alouettes coach Mike Sherman told Canadian reporters Tuesday. Manziel will face the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who traded him July 22 for a package that included two first-round draft choices.

Manziel played in two preseason games for the Tiger-Cats, as well as parts of two games for the Spring League in April. But Friday night’s game will be his most substantial football outing since the Cleveland Browns released him following the 2015 season.



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Vita Vea of Tampa Bay Buccaneers suffers strained calf, will not miss games


TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Buccaneers first-round draft pick Vita Vea officially has a strained left calf and will be out a “couple of weeks,” a source told ESPN on Tuesday.

He is not expected to miss any regular-season games, the source said.

“It was better than we thought,” said coach Dirk Koetter, who initially feared that it was a torn Achilles.

Vea was able to gingerly limp off the practice field Sunday, but he had to be carted to the locker room. The injury happened on a run play during 11-on-11 drills.

“What Vita described when it happened was what you would think if a guy tore his Achilles, which would be year-long injury,” Koetter said. “Thankfully it was not that. It’s a calf injury. He’s going to be out for right now, but it’s not what it could have been. So in that respect, we’re better off than we thought we were.”

Vea was in a walking boot and riding a scooter on the sideline during Tuesday’s practice. He spent the majority of practice off the leg but was able to put some weight on it as he left the practice field.

The 12th overall draft pick in the 2018 NFL draft, Vea is expected to step in and start alongside Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. With him out, the Bucs will rely on Beau Allen, whom they signed as an undrafted free agent out of Philadelphia this offseason.



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Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson wants to show off growth


OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Lamar Jackson will make his preseason debut Thursday, when the Ravens play the Bears in the Hall of Fame Game.

What does the Heisman Trophy winner want to show?

“I’m a quarterback. That’s the first thing I want to show off,” Jackson said. “Just show the growth, from college to my new chapter of life.”

Before being a first-round pick this year, Jackson made it clear that he wouldn’t entertain a position switch. He told teams that he would only play quarterback and not participate in wide receiver drills leading up to the draft.

Jackson won the Heisman Trophy in 2016 with 3,543 passing yards and 30 touchdowns to go with 1,571 rushing yards and 21 more touchdowns. This past season, he threw for 3,660 yards with 27 touchdowns to go with 1,601 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.

With the Ravens, Jackson has been inconsistent, hitting some deep passes while struggling at times on his accuracy. During training camp, the Ravens have used Jackson in two-quarterback plays with Joe Flacco, lining him up at a different position at times.

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said what he wants to see the most out of Jackson is poise.

“You have to run the show, and to see him run the show with confidence and get things right would be the main thing for him,” Harbaugh said. “After that, play football and let’s see what happens.”

It’s unknown when Jackson will get on the field. With Flacco not expected to play Thursday, the Ravens have declined to say whether Jackson or Robert Griffin III will get the start.

Jackson’s adjustment to the NFL has begun before the ball is even snapped. He is calling longer plays in the huddle, which he rarely did at Louisville.

“I stand in the mirror, look at the plays and try to say them to myself to get ready for the next day,” Jackson said.

While this is Jackson’s debut, it also marks the return for Griffin. He will play in his first NFL game in 18 months.

For Griffin, being out of the league for a year gave him an even deeper appreciation for the game.

“It’s like someone taking your girl,” Griffin said. “You thought you missed her before but now you miss her a little bit more.”



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Steve Gleason, Michel Gleason expecting second child


METAIRIE, La. — Former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason hasn’t let his 2011 ALS diagnosis stop him from becoming a renowned champion for those suffering from the disease around the globe.

He and wife Michel aren’t letting it stop their family from growing either.

Steve and Michel confirmed publicly that they are expecting their second child, a daughter, in October, thanks to a successful in vitro fertilization procedure.

Their first child, a son named Rivers, was born shortly after Gleason learned of his diagnosis in 2011.

NOLA.com first confirmed the pregnancy after the Gleasons posted a picture of a pregnant Michel on Instagram. Gleason then replied to a NOLA.com columnist by tweeting, “Busted!”

Gleason and his Team Gleason foundation have become renowned for their efforts supporting those with ALS and other neuromuscular disorders, highlighted by the Steve Gleason Act being signed into law in 2015 to make critical technology available to patients through Medicare and Medicaid.

He and Michel shared their powerful story in the documentary film “Gleason” in 2016.





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Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys owner, not taking questions on national anthem


Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is now following through on an NFL guideline not to discuss player protests during the national anthem, according to multiple media outlets.

A Fox4 News Dallas-Fort Worth reporter said Sunday that he was told by Cowboys public relations officials that he couldn’t ask Jones about the anthem issue, leading the interview to be canceled. Other outlets interviewed Jones without asking anthem-related questions.

Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown indicated July 24 that owners had been instructed to say little regarding the national anthem policy. Jones now appears to be falling into line.

But Jones had been outspoken about his desire for players to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner,” saying Wednesday that he expects Cowboys players to have their “toe on the line” during the national anthem. His son, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones, went a step further Thursday, saying players should stand “if they want to be a Dallas Cowboy” and adding that players would face punishment if they chose to stay in the locker room for the anthem.

While Cowboys players, including quarterback Dak Prescott and linebacker Sean Lee, have said they plan to stand for the anthem, Jerry Jones’ comments have drawn reactions from other players around the NFL. On Monday, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman told USA Today Sports that Jones had an “old plantation mentality.” On Friday, Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins called Jones a “bully” for requiring his players to stand.

At the spring owners meetings, the NFL announced a new policy that would require players on the sideline to stand for the anthem. Players who do not want to stand could remain in the locker room. In the past, the policy stated that players should stand, but it was not required.

The new policy has been put on hold while the NFL and NFLPA hold discussions to figure out how to move forward.

Information from ESPN’s Todd Archer and Katherine Terrell was used in this report.



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Inside Jameis Winston’s first week of camp: The ‘elephant in the room’ – Tampa Bay Buccaneers Blog


TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston stood at the center of a large ring of reporters who were firing off a barrage of questions for 10 minutes on Thursday.

“Jameis, given the issues you had at Florida State, can you explain how you keep putting yourself in this position?”

“What do you say to the fans who are disappointed in you and who don’t believe you should be their starting quarterback moving forward?”

“How long has it been since you stopped drinking alcohol?”

“Have you been evaluated for alcohol abuse, or are you in a program right now? Is alcohol a banned substance for you?”

“In November, you put out a statement saying that the driver was mistaken, that this did not happen. Were you being truthful then, or did your memory get better?

Thursday marked the first time Winston faced the media since the NFL suspended him for three games for inappropriately touching a female Uber driver in March 2016 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Moments after the hard questioning, about 200 yards away from the swarm, Winston met with a group of fans, a group that included a child in a wheelchair. Anyone around the team will tell you that those types of moments away from the cameras are a daily occurrence for Winston.

But things haven’t been the norm this season. Winston has gone from the face of the franchise and darling of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” to having some fans refuse to wear his jersey and even refuse to root for the team. One lifelong fan mailed his jersey to One Buc Place, saying he can no longer don Winston’s gear.

Winston’s role with the team is different, too. Coach Dirk Koetter asked him to take a quieter role so that others can speak up as they prepare for the 2018 season to start without him.

“Being a leader starts with being the leader of yourself,” Koetter said. “I think that is one of Jameis’ strengths as a football player. But right now, it is time for Jameis to lead from the rear. Nothing wrong with that.”

Winston spent the Bucs’ first day of practice getting a large portion of reps with the third-team offense, while Ryan Fitzpatrick worked on his chemistry with the starters and Ryan Griffin got work with the second team. As a 2013 Heisman Trophy winner, 2015 first-round draft pick and 2015 Pro Bowler, the demotion of sorts has been new territory for Winston.

In his first seven-on-seven period of camp, instead of scrambling and throwing to tight ends Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard, Winston found Donnie Ernsberger, an undrafted rookie out of Western Michigan, in the flat.

“It’s cool for them,” Brate said of younger players getting a chance to work with Winston. “We’ve got a roster cut coming up in about a month. Realistically, some of these guys, it’s gonna be the last stop in the NFL for them. So they can walk away knowing that they caught passes from him. I’m sure that will be a cool story to tell one day.”

Winston is used to throwing to Pro Bowl-caliber receivers in tight windows — not players running the wrong routes as they struggle to learn their first NFL playbooks. At times, it wasn’t pretty.

“The way Jameis is, being the ultimate competitor, I’m sure it’s been hard for him,” Brate said. “But above that, he’s a great teammate.”

Winston has a starter’s mentality, but he understands that his job is to help these player get better.

“I think it accelerates some of the rookies that he’s working with,” safety Keith Tandy said. “They’ve got a higher sense of urgency because they’re working with Jameis Winston.

“[He’s] sitting down and explaining the details and really explaining to them the why: why we want you to line up on the edge of the numbers and not a yard outside the number, like really explaining to guys why. I’ve seen him in the shower talking to guys. I’m like, ‘Let this man shower, man.’ That’s Jameis for you.”

Koetter: ‘We have to deal with it’

But who is Jameis Winston? In November, a BuzzFeed report surfaced with a female Uber driver accusing Winston of grabbing her crotch in March 2016 at a drive-thru of a Mexican restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The Bucs were in the middle of trying to salvage a season that was quickly slipping away. Winston was trying to rehabilitate a shoulder injury. For many teammates, the hard questions about what happened didn’t come until the league handed down the suspension.

“You know, it’s disappointing. It’s disappointing that Jameis put himself in that position and put our team in that position, but at this point, it’s done, and we have to deal with it,” Koetter said.

“It kind of threw me for a little bit,” wide receiver Freddie Martino said. “Everything’s always a surprise, but at the same time, it’s the NFL.”

It didn’t change Martino’s perception of Winston, though.

“I know Jameis. I know the type of person he is,” Martino said. “He’s a stand-up guy. That just lets you know that everyone makes mistakes.”

How did Fitzpatrick, a father of six with three daughters, take the news?

“Everybody has a clean slate when I meet them. I judge people based off what I see,” Fitzpatrick said. “He’s an amazing guy, and that hasn’t changed. I haven’t seen anything different to change that.”

Since he was selected by the Bucs first overall in the 2015 draft, Winston had no reported off-the-field issues in Tampa. Other than his comments to an elementary school class in which, attempting to draw from biblical references, he said women should be “silent, polite and gentle,” he had built an enormous amount of goodwill in the Tampa Bay community.

Fast-forward to the present, though, and Winston’s face is noticeably absent from the player murals outside Raymond James Stadium, where he’d been a fixture the past two seasons. He was also left out of the team’s video promotions that were released prior to training camp.

Brate: ‘Situation that no one wants to be in’

When camp started on Wednesday, Winston was noticeably different. Tight end Alan Cross, whose locker sits two over from Winston’s, could see it. He was quieter. He wasn’t skipping out onto the field, jumping up and down.

“I don’t know if he was trying to do something different or try to be a different type of leader in regards to just actions on the field,” Cross said. “But as days went on, he got back to the same old Jameis, same old leadership, goofing around and jumping around, for sure.”

A big part of that was addressing, as teammates have put it, the “elephant in the room.” Winston faced the team. He apologized for being a distraction and putting his teammates in a position in which they’d be without their starting quarterback for three games.

“I think it was something that had to be done,” Brate said. “I thought he handled it really well. Not easy to do, a situation that no one wants to be in, but he kind of explained what he knew of that night. Guys on the team are gonna be supportive of him just like anyone else on the team. It’s just kind of what we do as a team, we help our brothers out.”

Added Tandy: “I think it’s big [that he] addressed it because then you don’t have guys wondering what’s going on and wondering because we were all sitting back and finding out the same way the media finds out: when stuff gets posted on Twitter or the internet. So when he addressed it, it was like, ‘OK. Appreciate it. We’ve still got your back. We’re still gonna fight for you.’

“I didn’t really have any questions. Just, like, being in this league, I’ve seen a lot of stuff happen. You get surprised every day, but nothing really surprises me. So I was just like, ‘Dang, I don’t want that to happen to anybody on either side.'”

ESPN spoke with several teammates on and off the record. Some made it clear that their support doesn’t mean condoning the type of behavior Winston was accused of and for which the league is punishing him.

“It’s definitely hard. Especially right now, we all know that it’s a sensitive topic right now,” Tandy said.

“That’s my boy, one of my best friends. … Obviously I was hurt by [the suspension],” Mike Evans said. “I don’t know the whole situation, and nobody does but the people [who] were there, so I won’t speak too much on that.”

Cross added: “It’s like when your brother or sister gets in trouble. We all make mistakes in life, regardless of what it is, on and off the field, so you live, you learn, and you just move on in life. … It’s just a dark cloud, over this team, over the franchise, over him and his family.”

Some of Winston’s teammates say he’s capable of and committed to change, and they point to his giving up alcohol as a step in the right direction.

“That goes back to being a man. It takes a lot of guts to admit that,” said Cross, who thinks Winston can help himself by addressing the issue head-on.

“Ray Rice goes around and speaks on what he did and the things that you shouldn’t do and how you should treat people and things like that,” Cross said. “I think if [Winston] might do things like that, if anybody has lost trust or anything, that would be the best thing.”

Wilson: ‘I know he’s gonna be ready’

Many members of the team believe Winston will still be their starting quarterback in Week 4.

“When Jameis gets back, I know he’s gonna be full-throttle,” said wide receiver Bobo Wilson, who is among the players staying late to work with Winston. “I know he’s gonna be ready.”

“If you’re here early enough, most likely he’s the first one here, he’s the first one leaving the hotel, he’s the last one leaving the facility,” Martino said.

Interestingly, though, Koetter wouldn’t commit to a starting quarterback beyond the first three games.

“Week 4 is a long ways away, so let’s worry about Week 4 in Week 4,” Koetter said. “Right now, let’s worry about preseason and getting ready for the Saints.”

Although the team is trying to avoid any on-field distractions, some would argue that comments such as this from Koetter and the fact that Winston has been relegated to working with third-stringers are making Winston and the suspension more of a distraction. Still, Koetter has praised Winston in his new role.

“Jameis is an incredible teammate in what he says to guys one-on-one,” Koetter said. “He’s a motivating guy. He was already doing that. As we sit here right now, we have other leaders on the team … and we need those guys to be a little bit more vocal and be a little bit more out front. We’re going to need those guys to be the out-front guys those first games until things change.”

When Winston has gotten work in with the first team, it has been night-and-day compared to the third unit. In the Bucs’ first practice open to the general public Sunday, he heaved a perfectly thrown, 60-yard bomb to DeSean Jackson, with fans erupting in approval. It was the deep-ball connection they’ve longed for and the reason they have hope that Winston can rebound in 2018, both on and off the field.

The Bucs already picked up the fifth-year option on Winston’s contract, worth $21 million, but the Bucs could theoretically cut him prior to the league year beginning March 13, 2019, with zero financial implications. Then there’s the matter of a new contract, which would be in excess of $100 million, the going rate for starting quarterbacks.

After practice Sunday, Winston was one of the last to leave the field because a large number of fans were waiting to get his autograph. One man was there with his 5-year-old son, who’d made a sign asking Winston for a selfie. Winston happily obliged, fulfilling the little boy’s wishes and signing the sign itself.

Moments later, Winston walked out the side door of the Bucs’ indoor facility and onto the practice field. He went over to where Wilson was standing.

“You ready?” Winston asked.

“Yep!” Wilson said.





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