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Matthew Stafford, Kevin Smith appear to escape serious injury

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There’s little worse than having your starting quarterback leave with an injury in the preseason, but it looks like the Lions got little more than a temporary scare from Matthew Stafford on Saturday.

The Lions quarterback left the game with an injury to his left hand, but x-rays taken during the contest were negative. Stafford, who wore a wrap on the hand, said afterward that he would have returned if it had been a regular season game.

“Probably what would have happened in a regular season game is right after it happened, I would have up for x-rays,” Stafford said, via Anwar Richardson of MLive.com. “If they would have said they were negative, I would have come back in the game. It feels okay right now. It feels fine, really. It’s scary to look down and see your hand swell up by the second.”

Running back Kevin Smith also seems to have avoided an injury that will keep him out of the lineup for an extended period. The oft-injured running back hurt his ankle early in the second half, but also got good news when x-rays came back negative on Saturday.

“It just gets scary under the pile of those big guys laying on you. It’s just a minor tweak, something I’m pretty sure I can get rid of quick. Just stay in the training room,” Smith said. “More than anything, I was very scared. Just being that I had a high ankle sprain, I know how long it took to get back healthy. It’s not a high ankle sprain, so that’s positive. I’ll get in the treatment room and get back as soon as I can.”

Given the thin ranks at running back early in the season for Detroit, an injury to Smith would have forced the team to look for backfield help before the season starts. They still might do that, but it doesn’t appear they will be quite as desperate as many feared when Smith hobbled off the field in Oakland.

Now the Lions just need to clear up the status of the two cornerbacks who went down against the Raiders to make the whole night a momentary scare instead of a lingering problem.

 

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Marqise Lee held out of practice with knee injury

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Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee had a hard time staying healthy during his rookie season and his second year isn’t getting off to a much better start.

Lee did not take part in the Jaguars’ first OTA session on Tuesday because of a knee injury he suffered during one of the team’s earlier workouts. After watching nagging injuries limit Lee last year, coach Gus Bradley said that the team would take a cautious route with the 2014 second-round pick.

“Marqise banged up his knee a little bit right in the middle of Phase Two,” Bradley said, via the Florida Times-Union. “He’s more day-to-day or week-to-week. I know he wants to get back here, but we’re being smart with him. We’ll see if he makes it back before the minicamp or not.”

In addition to injuries, Jaguars wide receiver coach Jerry Sullivan said recently that the team gave Lee too much too soon as a rookie. The knee injury will ensure that no one’s overloading Lee right now, although there’s not much substitute for the on-field work that Lee needs to do to grow as a player.

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Philip Rivers: It would be awesome to stay with Chargers

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At various points this offseason it seemed like there was a chance that Philip Rivers wouldn’t be with the Chargers for the 2015 season with the years beyond that looking even murkier.

Rivers’s stated desire to let the season (and the final year of his contract) play out without discussing an extension, his apprehensiveness about potentially moving to Los Angeles with the team and trade rumors involving the Titans were the major fuel for that belief, but Rivers remains on the team and his tune about an extension has changed. Rivers reiterated Tuesday that he’s willing to talk about a new deal before the season gets underway and said he wants to remain with the team.

“You put in 11 years here, and we haven’t accomplished the ultimate goal,” Rivers said, via ESPN.com. “There’s been a lot of great memories, and a lot of awesome games, seasons, friendships, training camps and on and on. So that would be awesome [to stay]. Obviously, as players none of can choose how we all want it to work out. But if that’s how it works out, I’d be fired up.”

Rivers didn’t have an update on talks with the team, but things definitely seem to be moving in the direction of extending their working relationship after the more pessimistic outlook from earlier this year.

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Kam Chancellor: Seahawks working harder than ever after Super Bowl loss

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A year ago, the Seattle Seahawks were trying to overcome the hangover of winning the first Super Bowl in franchise history.

This offseason they have to battle the hangover of losing a Super Bowl in epic fashion.

However, strong safety Kam Chancellor said that he believes the members of the team are working harder than ever this offseason as they attempt to become the first team to appear in three straight Super Bowls since the 1990-93 Buffalo Bills.

“I told a lot of people it feels like this offseason everybody is working their hardest,” Chancellor said after the team’s first OTA on Tuesday. “I’ve seen guys out here busting their tails. The whole offseason has just been going fast tempo. Guys are lifting like crazy. It’s just like the mindset is just sharper. It’s just sharpened even more. We know we’re more focused, more driven and just ready for the first game of the year.”

Head coach Pete Carroll agreed with Chancellor’s assessment.

“I feel it too,”he said. “I felt it right since the first days that the guys came back. … We’ve had great work and their attitude has been on it and it’s all we can ask for.”

Despite the MCL tear he suffered in practice the Friday before the Super Bowl, Chancellor is in the best offseason shape of his career. The knee injury did not require surgery and he fully participated in Tuesday’s workouts. Surgeries over the last several offseasons and lingering injuries had limited Chancellor over the past few years.

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Christian Ponder accepting of backup role with Raiders

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While Christian Ponder may be taking first-team reps right now, Ponder has no illusions of his role with the Oakland Raiders.

He’s the backup quarterback to Derek Carr and he’s accepted that role.

“My job, I understand, is the backup and I’m here to help Derek and help this team out,” Ponder said, via the team’s official website. “It is exciting for me to be out there right now taking first-team reps, but I know that this is Derek’s team right now. But I am bringing a competitive nature to it. I know Derek is a very competitive guy, and so is Matt McGloin. Bringing some competition in the room only helps all of us.”

Ponder signed with the Raiders this offseason after spending his first four years with the Minnesota Vikings. He is getting the first-team reps in OTAs due to Derek Carr being sidelined with a finger injury on his throwing hand.

Ponder is learning a new offense and the additional reps should help him pick up the system that much quicker. But Carr had a strong rookie season and established himself as the Raiders’ starter going forward. Carr passed for 3,270 yards with 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions last year.

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Seahawks complete draft class with signings of Frank Clark, Tyler Lockett

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The Seattle Seahawks signed their top two draft picks on Tuesday to finalize their rookie class.

Defensive end Frank Clark and wide receiver Tyler Lockett each signed their contracts after taking part in the first OTA of the offseason Tuesday afternoon. Per league rules, the contracts are four-year deals.

Clark – selected with the No. 63 overall pick in the second round –  has worked at both defensive end spots and inside at defensive tackle during his first few practices with the team.

The Seahawks sent four picks to Washington to move up to No. 69 overall in the third round to grab Lockett. He’s expected to be the team’s kickoff and punt returner in addition to adding to the team’s depth at receiver.

Seattle signed their six other draft picks soon after the draft.

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Mario Williams “ecstatic” about playing for Rex Ryan

Mario Williams AP

Bills pass rusher Mario Williams is excited about the new defense in Buffalo.

Williams said that as he learns new coach Rex Ryan’s scheme, he sees it as a perfect fit for what he does.

“Understanding the defense, I love it,” Williams told the Buffalo News. “It gives everybody ample opportunities to just do different things and just be able to bring different looks, different angles, and attacks, stuff like that. So I’m ecstatic.”

The Bills’ defense was plenty good last year as well, but Williams thinks Ryan has what it takes to make it better.

“Obviously, with the scheme, with Rex, anything’s possible. So I think right now, we’re just doing building blocks. But the sky’s the limit, so I’m pretty sure there will be a lot of changes and things as we progress and become readapted to a hybrid defense,” Williams said.

Ryan always exudes confidence as a coach. His players are taking after him.

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Kaepernick apologizes for insensitivity to Houston flooding

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Earlier today, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made a bizarre remark regarding the flooding in Houston on social media. He has now apologized for it.

I’m so sorry about my insensitive post earlier today,” Kaepernick said. “I didn’t fully understand how many people are struggling in Houston right now and I feel horrible. My prayers are with everyone there.”

It’s good that Kaepernick apologized. It would have been much better if he’d realized not to use the Houston flooding or any other natural disaster as the punchline for the promotion of his vow to be a much better player in 2015.

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911 call: Ray McDonald broke down door, tried to take baby

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The mother of Ray McDonald’s ex-fiancée called 911 early on Monday morning to report that McDonald had acted violently toward her daughter, broke down a door when she locked herself inside to avoid him, and tried to forcibly take their baby.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that an emergency call made at 3:48 a.m. said that the 6-foot-3, 290-pound McDonald “broke down” the door and tried to take the baby.

“She said she received a call from her daughter . . . advising that her boyfriend Ray McDonald was being violent,” a dispatcher said on a call relaying the call from McDonald’s ex-fiancée’s mother. “She tried to lock herself in her bedroom but he broke the door down . . . Ex is trying to leave now with her infant.”

Police showed up to the ex-fiancée’s apartment, but by that point she and the baby were safe, and McDonald had left. Police determined that the woman had been assaulted, and they found McDonald at a San Jose home registered to his former 49ers teammate Justin Smith. McDonald was arrested and has since been released on $15,000 bail. He was released by the Bears hours after his arrest.

McDonald was also arrested and accused of assaulting his ex-fiancée nine months ago, while she was pregnant. He was ultimately not charged in that case after she declined to cooperate with the investigation.

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Browns sign OL Eric Olsen, LB Mike Reilly

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The Browns have added some experienced offensive line depth, signing fourth-year pro Eric Olsen on Tuesday, the club said.

The 26-year-old Olsen has appeared in 23 NFL regular season games, making four starts as an extra blocker with New Orleans in 2012. He was most recently with the Titans, playing five games for Tennessee last season. Olsen (6-4, 306) has also had stints with Denver, Washington and Pittsburgh.

The Browns also announced the signing of rookie linebacker Mike Reilly, who notched 27 sacks over the last three seasons at William and Mary. The 6-foot-3, 261-pound Reilly tried out for the Browns two weekends ago at the club’s rookie minicamp.

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Kaepernick makes weird remark about Houston flooding

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At times, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has come off as sort of a goofball. Some thought that his public persona reflected the influence of former coach Jim Harbaugh, who came off as sort of a goofball more frequently.

Now that Harbaugh is gone, the question is whether Kaepernick will still come off as sort of a goofball at times. Today, the answer is yes.

Via Samer Kalaf of Deadspin, Kaepernick used a photo of the flooding in Houston as the backdrop for this message: “I warned you the #7tormsComing,” with a #Houston hashtag.

Kaepernick then regained his senses and deleted the Instagram version of the message. But he didn’t get rid of the corresponding Twitter entry. And then he added, “No disrespect intended! Prayers up!”

And then Kaepernick applied the foam to the faux pas with a shirtless photo of himself and this kernel of random inspiration: “Just livin! #WhoDoYouLove #IDontGetTired.”

The trio of messages likely makes many 49ers fans long for the days of Kaepernick showing up on Twitter wearing a Dolphins hat. And it possibly makes some 49ers fans long for the days when he won’t be wearing a 49ers helmet.

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Cowboys sign third-round pick Chaz Green

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The Cowboys have finished a contract with their third-round pick, signing Florida offensive tackle Chaz Green on Tuesday. The transaction was announced in the NFL’s personnel notice.

Green (6-5, 300) made 30 starts for Florida from 2011 through 2014, making starts at right and left tackle in his final season. He could serve as a backup on a deep Dallas offensive line that also added former LSU standout offensive tackle La’El Collins after the draft.

Green is the sixth Cowboys draft pick to finalize a contract. Only Connecticut cornerback Byron Jones (Round One) and Minnesota linebacker Damien Wilson (Round Four) are unsigned.

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Antonio Brown: “Not my business” to discuss contract, but “I’ve got enough” money

Antonio Brown AP

Last month, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown’s absence from the start of the Steelers’ voluntary offseason workout program was accompanied by reports that he was thinking about staying away from the team for a while in hopes of landing a new contract.

That turned out to be incorrect as Brown was back a week later after spending time with his newborn, but Brown still fielded questions about his contract as the Steelers started OTAs on Tuesday. Brown said it was “not my business” to talk about his contract and referred questions about his deal to agent Drew Rosenhaus, although he was willing to offer his opinion that all is well for him financially.

“This is a community that I love,” Brown said, via ESPN.com. “My kids go to school here. I want to keep a good reputation. Obviously money’s not important to me. I’ve got enough. The organization has extremely blessed me. I’m ready to play football.”

Brown signed a six-year deal with the Steelers before the 2012 season, which leaves him with three years to go on the pact and little leverage to force the Steelers to address the deal by staying away from practice this offseason.

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Browns waive two players

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The Browns released two players on the first day of organized team practice activities Tuesday, waiving defensive lineman Calvin Barnett and linebacker Keith Pough, the club said.

Barnett (6-2, 317) was on the Browns’ practice squad to begin 2014 before suffering a shoulder injury. An Oklahoma State product, Barnett signed with Cleveland as an undrafted rookie in May 2014.

Pough (6-2, 236) has had stints with the Bills and the Browns since entering the NFL in 2013. He played collegiately at Howard. Pough was waived with an “injured” designation, which means he could revert to injured reserve if he goes unclaimed on Wednesday.

The Browns now have two open roster spots.

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Carson stadium won’t have eternal flame for Al Davis

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As originally designed, the proposed NFL stadium in Carson, California that would be shared by the Chargers and Raiders would have included a permanent flame that honors the late Al Davis. As currently designed, the flame has been extinguished.

Via Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal, current Raiders owner Mark Davis agreed to remove the tribute to the team patriarch, who also was a pariah of sorts in league circles. As Kaplan explains it, “many in the league . . . were not pleased” by the decision to commemorate a man who had a habit of suing his partners.

Kaplan writes that the former 49ers and Browns exec Carmen Policy recently joined the project in part to address “the apparent tone deafness” of Mark Davis to the importance of abandoning the tribute.

Carson and Inglewood currently are competing for the privilege of building an NFL stadium; the Chargers and Raiders would play in Carson, and the Rams (and possibly one other team) would play in Inglewood. While dumping the flame may not be enough to seal the deal in Carson, it apparently would have been harder for the Chargers-Raiders effort to prevail if Mark Davis hadn’t decided to relent.

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Chris Clemons doesn’t take part in first Jaguars OTA

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The Jaguars had one healthy player fail to report for organized team activities last season and they had one player missing again on Tuesday as they kicked off this year’s sessions.

It has been defensive end Chris Clemons both times and the big difference this time around is that Clemons let the Jags know ahead of time that he wouldn’t be there. That didn’t make coach Gus Bradley sound any happier about Clemons’s absence, however.

“We’ve communicated and he continually communicates with [defensive line coach Todd] Wash; obviously we’d like to have everybody here, but we touched base and he knows our feelings,” Bradley said, via the Florida Times-Union. “I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘It’s OK for Chris Clemons [to not attend].’ We want everybody here. And he knows that. It’s a choice he’s made. It’s voluntary. We’ll take advantage of the time getting a look at other guys and see how they’re doing. I have faith in Chris Clemons. He’s never not come back ready to go. But I don’t want to assume that. I would like to see him back here, but we’ll work through it.”

With Dante Fowler already gone for the season, the Jags will certainly need Clemons to be at his best for the coming season. Bradley said that the team is working to get Clemons to change his mind about joining the team by “challenging him on” his feelings about the best way to prepare for the coming season, but added that there’s no word on whether he might be coming around.

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