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Packers rule Greg Jennings out for Week Five

Greg Jennings, Isa Abdul-Quddus AP

It was pretty easy to predict that the Packers were going to try to beat the Colts this weekend without wide receiver Greg Jennings after Jennings aggravated his groin injury against the Saints, but we thought we’d have to wait until Friday for them to make the news official.

It seems that calling replacement referees who played a hand in a call that sent his team to a loss isn’t the only way that Packers coach Mike McCarthy shows that he’s thoughtful, however. McCarthy announced Thursday that Jennings is out of the lineup, which means that the Colts, fantasy football owners, gamblers and others can now plan accordingly.

There wasn’t really any sense to waiting to make the call on Jennings. The fact that McCarthy went public early this week with word that the team was thinking about shutting Jennings down for a week in order for his groin to fully heal was a pretty massive hint about his status for Sunday. Now the team can set its sights on building a game plan that doesn’t include Jennings while Jennings can focus only on getting ready for what should be a pretty entertaining matchup with the Texans in Week Six.

James Jones, Randall Cobb and Donald Driver will fill in alongside Jordy Nelson with Jennings out of the lineup, a group that could prove to be too much for a suspect Colts secondary to stop this Sunday.

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Fred Jackson heading to Seattle, expected to sign with Seahawks

Oakland Raiders v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch are about to be reunited.

Jackson is flying to Seattle today and is expected to sign with the Seahawks, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

In Seattle, Jackson would back up Lynch. That’s a familiar role for Jackson, who also shared a backfield with Lynch in Buffalo. The two were teammates with the Bills from 2007 to 2010.

Jackson is 34 and on the down side of his career, having averaged a career-low 3.7 yards a carry last season. But the Seahawks apparently think he has something left, and he’s about to join one of the best running offenses in the NFL.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

Kansas City Chiefs v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

S Aaron Williams kept Fred Jackson’s jersey on the Bills practice field on the day Jackson was released.

Jamil Douglas may be closing in on a starting guard job with the Dolphins.

DT Dominique Easley is coming off his best performance for the Patriots.

Jets RB Chris Ivory is shooting for a 1,000-yard season.

Ravens LB Zachary Orr comes from a busy football family.

Bengals DL Devon Still feels whole as a player.

Is Fred Jackson a running back option for the Browns?

Steelers LB James Harrison is betting on the league winning the Tom Brady case.

Christian Covington is doing well in the quest for playing time on the Texans defensive line.

The Colts appear to have settled on Khaled Holmes as their starting center.

Jaguars WR Marqise Lee earned a comparison to an albino tiger at the zoo from offensive coordinator Greg Olson.

Some Titans veterans want to play in the fourth preseason game.

Being ready for the season opener is Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders’s goal.

Chiefs TE Travis Kelce left practice early with a leg injury.

Which Raiders helped themselves against the Cardinals?

A look at how the Chargers backfield will split the workload.

CB Byron Jones’s role in the Cowboys defense isn’t clear yet.

The comeback tale of Giants WR Victor Cruz has hit a snag.

The Eagles may settle on a third quarterback Thursday.

Redskins DT Terrance Knighton takes issue with those who compare his team to the Kardashians.

The Bears may still move Kyle Long to right tackle.

How does the Lions trading for a tight end impact Joseph Fauria?

RB Rajion Neal hopes he’s close to making the Packers.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer doesn’t think rookie CB Trae Waynes is about to win a starting job.

T Jake Matthews sat out Falcons practice with a back strain.

Panthers DB Colin Jones’s groin injury is more serious than originally thought.

Five positives for the Saints in their third preseason outing.

Will the Buccaneers keep a fullback?

The Cardinals are waiting on LB Sean Weatherspoon’s return to practice.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher likes the team’s undrafted defensive linemen.

49ers LB Navorro Bowman’s knee is passing its tests.

Drew Nowak looks like the Seahawks’ starting center.

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Bucs save some money, cut punter Michael Koenen

New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Getty Images

The Buccaneers have proven themselves willing to move on from money spent by previous administrations, with the latest coming on special teams.

According to Rick Stroud and Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, the Buccaneers have released veteran punter Michael Koenen.

Koenen was set to make $3.25 million this year, part of the six-year, $19.5 million deal he signed in 2011. He hasn’t performed to that level either, with net and gross numbers declining sharply in recent years.

The Bucs are replacing him for now with Jake Schum, who was brought back last week for a third stint with the team. He had previously been on their practice squad, and had been in camp with the Jets and Browns.

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That’s so Raiders: Trent Richardson got $600,000 guaranteed

Trent Richardson, Zach Line AP

Trent Richardson has already been released by the Raiders after just a few months in Oakland, and he pocketed $600,000 for his trouble.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who watched him play in Indianapolis that Richardson wasn’t even good enough to make the 75-player cutdown, let alone make the Raiders’ 53-man roster. Richardson averaged just 3.1 yards a carry for the Colts.

But what is surprising is that when the Colts cut Richardson this offseason, the Raiders quickly swooped in and signed Richardson to a contract with a $600,000 guarantee. Given the way Richardson had played for the Colts, you’d think he’d have to settle for a league-minimum salary. But the Raiders thought otherwise.

Richardson is also still owed his $3.184 million salary from the Colts this season, as that salary was fully guaranteed with no offsets as part of his rookie contract as the No. 3 overall pick with the Browns. He’s doing very well for himself.

The Raiders, on the other hand, now have egg on their faces. Oakland hasn’t had a winning record since 2002, and the Raiders are widely regarded as one of the league’s worst franchises. Young players like Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack are giving the Raiders hope, but there’s still a perception that the front office just doesn’t get it. And guaranteeing Richardson $600,000 is the kind of move that makes that perception hard to shake.

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Mike Mitchell: Defense isn’t in panic mode

Keith Butler AP

The need for a better defense in Pittsburgh hasn’t been a secret heading into the 2015 season, but signs of it were tough to find against the Bills last week.

Buffalo may have been running a quarterback competition and playing without some of their top skill position players, but they reeled off several big plays on their way to 43 points and 542 yards. That seems to fulfill the worst fears for a young unit playing for a new defensive coordinator in Keith Butler, but safety Mike Mitchell says that no one is overreacting in Pittsburgh.

“I don’t think we’re in a panic mode,” Mitchell said, via the Beaver County Times. “I don’t think the coaches are in a panic mode.”

Panic before the start of the regular season is never advisable, especially with Butler tweaking the familiar Dick LeBeau scheme with a slew of inexperienced players. The hope has to be that things will come together as the season unfolds and that the team learns from rough days.

It’s a reasonable hope, although the pace can’t be too glacial if the Steelers are going to avoid the possibility of digging themselves a hole they can’t escape from in time to make the playoffs.

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DeVante Parker back on practice field, still shooting for opener

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The Dolphins breathed a sign of relief when center Mike Pouncey’s MRI came back negative.

But the news they got on first-round receiver DeVante Parker was a breath of fresh air as well.

According to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, Parker returned to the practice field Monday for the first time since foot surgery in June, making it possible that he plays in the regular season opener.

“I’m pretty anxious to get out there,” Parker said. “But you can’t do anything but be patient and wait until the time is right.”

In June, Parker needed a procedure to replace a screw in his left foot, after standing out through the spring workouts as the Dolphins’ most dynamic downfield target. But he has also missed a lot of time since then, so they know his return won’t be automatic.

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill dealt with a similar injury coming out of college, and needed four months to recover. Parkers now on month three.

“Injuries are tough,” Tannnehill said. “I’ve had a similar injury with my foot. I know what he’s going through and know the process. Excited to see him start moving around a little bit. I threw a few passes to him in pre-game so that’s exciting. That’s progress that I like seeing. You don’t want to push him too early where, we’ve got him back for the first game and then his foot breaks down and we don’t have him for the rest of the year.”

That would be a tough break for a team that has quietly put together a solid preseason — and has done so quietly, without the normal drama that seems to surround them.

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Injuries mounting for Panthers in the preseason

Miami Dolphins v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

The Panthers might have walked into the preseason as favorites to win the NFC South again, but that position has been greatly compromised by the injuries which have whacked them throughout the month of August.

Losing star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin for the year was the big one, but they’ve been dealing with a number of other issues which will make it harder to repeat as division champs.

Via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, they’re dealing with a number of injuries new and old.

For one, their receiving corps is having a hard time replacing Benjamin at the moment because they’re seemingly all hurt. Rookie Devin Funchess remains out with a hamstring strain, and was joined on the sidelines by Jerricho Cotchery, who coach Ron Rivera said had “just a tweak” of a groin muscle and was expected to play in the regular season opener.

They’re equally optimistic about defensive end Charles Johnson, who had a trapezius muscle” lock up” on him in practice earlier this week.

“He walked in like Quasimodo,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera joked.

Johnson hasn’t played in the preseason because of a calf strain, and Rivera said he hoped to get him some snaps Thursday at Pittsburgh. The same hope holds for defensive tackle Kawann Short, who hasn’t played in the preseason with back spasms. Meanwhile, defensive tackle Star Lotulelei is still dealing with a persistent foot problem which had him in a boot.

Also (as if they needed any more), it appears versatile defensive back Colin Jones may miss some time with a groin injury. Rivera described it as “much more than a tweak,” and that Jones is going to see a specialist. Jones, one of the fastest players on the roster, plays a number of roles as a nickel corner, safety and special teams player.

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Judge Berman has several options for Brady ruling


With the official efforts to settle the Tom Brady suspension litigation over (the unofficial efforts, in theory, may continue until a decision is reached and beyond), the question now becomes how Judge Richard M. Berman will rule. That question has several potential answers.

It’s important to remember that no one knows what will happen. People will make predictions, guesses, whatever. Anyone who claims to know precisely what the outcome will be is lying or uninformed.

The goal for the remainder of this post is to make you informed about the options Judge Berman has.

First, he can give the NFL a slam-dunk victory. That would entail upholding the suspension in its entirety, refusing to stay the suspension pending appeal, and forcing Brady and the NFL Players Association to make an immediate effort to persuade the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to grant an injunction allowing Brady to play pending the appeal.

Second, Judge Berman can give Brady a slam-dunk victory. That would entail vacating the suspension and finding that the league lacks the power under any circumstances to suspend Brady either for having knowledge of a scheme to deflate footballs or for obstructing an NFL investigation. He could then remand the case for further proceedings limited to issuing fines to Brady for the infractions. The NFL could seek an emergency appeal to the Second Circuit, but it would be a steep uphill climb to get the suspension implemented for Week One.

Third, Judge Berman can rule for the NFL but enter an injunction allowing Brady to play pending appeal. This would be a potential mixed-bag outcome that could prompt the two sides to settle, since Brady likely would be available for all of 2015 while the appeals process unfolds in the Second Circuit.

Fourth, Judge Berman can send the case back to the arbitration process, vacating the suspension and requiring the NFL to give Brady a new appeal hearing that remedies procedural flaws by: (1) appointing a new hearing officer due to Commissioner Roger Goodell’s inherent bias and/or involvement in the case; (2) mandating that certain witnesses must be called to testify in order to make the process fair, including NFL general counsel Jeff Pash; and/or (3) requiring the NFL to make investgative information gathered by Ted Wells that was available to the league for the first appeal hearing also available to the NFLPA. Sending the case back for a second appeal hearing also could nudge the two sides toward a settlement.

Fifth, Judge Berman could try to impose a reduced suspension, splitting the penalty into two games for “general awareness” and two for failure to cooperate and enforcing one and scrapping the other. This would be unlikely since the NFL didn’t tie specific games to specific penalties, making it more of an all-or-nothing proposition. Still, it’s possible that Judge Berman will at least try to do it.

There could be other possibilities, but those are the primary potential choices. The selection could go from potential to actual as soon as Tuesday, nine days before the Patriots host the Steelers to start the 2015 season.

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Robert Griffin III can’t control his social media, blames the intern

Robert Griffin III AP

Who says deposed Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III doesn’t make quick decisions, or good ones.

Last night, via SB Nation, his official Instagram account liked a post on the social media site which ripped the team, its “sorry ass team owner” and “sorry ass front office,” and included the only-in-Washington hashtag #ImpeachDanSnyder.

Of course, this made a splash, because lord knows anything the man says or does in the wake of being benched will.

But he came around later and “unlike” the photo, with his own post blaming an intern and backing away from responsibility, under a large photo saying “I just wanted to set the record straight.”

“I did not “like” that IG post ridiculing our team,” he wrote. “I have not been social media active consistently for awhile now and am ultra-focused on working to get back on the field and trying to help this team. One of our interns who helps with Instagram liked the post. As soon as I was made aware of it, it was immediately unliked. That is not how I feel and I appreciate your understanding.”

So he doesn’t hate his employer, but he does run and put his name on an operation designed for brand promotion that doesn’t always do things coherently and consistently, and is willing to chunk a lesser-paid individual under the bus if need be.

Come to think of it, that might be why he lost his day job as well.

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Jeff Fisher explains that “younger guys understand” being cut

Benny Cunningham AP

With all team required to drop from 90 to 75 players on Tuesday and then to plunge from 75 to 53 by the weekend, plenty of players will see their NFL dreams end or, at a minimum, be thrown into limbo.

It’s easy to become desensitized to that reality, given that NFL teams are routinely churning rosters, with guys constantly losing spots on on a team that are has a fixed limit on the number of players.

On Monday, Rams coach Jeff Fisher was asked whether players have ever gotten upset with him when getting the news that they’ll be released by the team.

“No, I mean you have obviously . . . what gets hard is when you’re releasing a vested veteran and someone that’s put time in and has contributed to your program,” Fisher told reporters. “The younger guys understand it. They’re appreciative of the opportunity. They got to put a body of work on tape for the rest of the league and that was our commitment to them when we signed a lot of these guys after the draft, was we’re going to let you play in preseason games. And they did and they played well, so they’ll be exposed to the rest of the league [on waivers] tomorrow and we’ll just see what happens.”

For players in the initial wave of cuts who may be claimed on waivers, there will be a limited opportunity to earn a roster spot with another team before the maximum drops to 53. After that, guys who thought they were in the clear could lose jobs after teams grab players who have been cut by other teams.

Even then, there’s always a revolving door at the bottom five or 10 spots on the roster, with players being added to or cut from the active roster to suit the needs that the team has in any given week of game preparation.

The constant hiring and firing of players has been and will continue to be a major part of pro football. In the past, the NFL has expressed an interest in making the process of separating players from employment more humane.

The NFL could start by not broadcasting those moments on Hard Knocks.

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Bruce Arians declares preseason over for Cardinals starters

Carson Palmer AP

The next time the starters will participate in practice for the Arizona Cardinals will be in preparation for the team’s season opener against the New Orleans Saints.

According to Josh Weinfuss of, head coach Bruce Arians said Monday that Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald and the rest of the Cardinals starting units will not play in the preseason finale against the Denver Broncos on Thursday. In fact, the starters won’t even practice.

Instead, the starters will work only on 7-on-7 sessions away from the rest of team as the reserves compete for the final spots on the team’s 53-man roster.

Phillip Sims and Logan Thomas are expected to play quarterback in place of Palmer and backup Drew Stanton.

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Feely’s presence may have been a useful coincidence for Brady, NFLPA

Jay Feely AP

On the surface, free-agent kicker Jay Feely attended Monday’s settlement conference in his capacity as a member of the NFL Players Association’s Executive Committee. At a deeper level, Feely may have served a more important purpose in connection with the interests of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

As noted last month, the NFLPA’s initial court filing challenging the Brady suspension pointed out that the NFL suspended a Jets equipment employee in 2009, after an attempt “to use unapproved equipment to prep the K[icking] Balls” in a game against (you guessed it) the Patriots. The NFL did not investigate or discipline the Jets kicker for “general awareness” or specific involvement in the attempted violation of the rules, even though the Jets kicker was the player most likely to benefit from the behavior and, in turn, the player most likely to be aware of the conduct.

Coincidentally, the Jets kicker at the time was Jay Feely.

The incident wasn’t mentioned during Monday’s proceedings in open court. It’s possible that the incident was discussed behind closed doors with Judge Richard M. Berman, given the similarities between the two situations.

In Feely’s case, investigating or disciplining the player wasn’t even considered, even though Feely may have known all about the infraction. (And, if he did, he could have shared his knowledge of the situation directly with Judge Berman.) For Brady, simply being the guy who benefited from an equipment violation made him the focal point of an investigation that, by all appearances, was a prosecution.

It’ll be interesting to see whether Judge Berman mentioned the 2009 incident in his written ruling on the Brady case. On Monday, he happened to have in his chambers the man who occupied the same position as Brady does in the present controversy.

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Sheldon Richardson pleads not guilty

New England Patriots v New York Jets Getty Images

Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was practicing with his teammates Monday. Through his attorney in Missouri, he pleaded not guilty to resisting arrest and various other charges stemming from his July 14 arrest.

His next hearing is Oct. 5. Richardson is not required to attend.

Richardson is allowed to be with the Jets this week. His four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy starts this weekend, and the 2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year is facing a possible longer ban based on the outcome of the charges he’s facing after police alleged he tried to elude them during a street race.

The police report stated that Richardson was clocked going 143 mph with a 12-year-old relative and a concealed loaded gun in the car. The arresting officer “smelled a very strong odor of burned marijuana emanating from the vehicle and all passengers smelled of burned marijuana.”

Though he’s only facing misdemeanor charges, Richardson is still subject to up to a year in jail if found guilty.

Last week, Richardson told reporters it was “pretty tough” to not know when he’ll play football again and that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell could deliver a stiff penalty under the league’s personal conduct policy.

“It’s a cloud over my head,” Richardson said.

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Report: Brady was open to accepting a one-game suspension on Monday

Tom Brady AP

Nearly two weeks ago, when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady missed work a day before an August 19 court hearing, Brady was willing (as PFT and others have reported) to accept a one-game suspension for not cooperating with the NFL’s #DeflateGate investigation. After the August 19 hearing, during which Judge Richard M. Berman subjected the league’s lawyers to a variety of tough questions, Brady’s camp seemed to retreat.

As of Monday, Brady was once again ready to consider striking a deal.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Brady was open to serving a one-game suspension for failure to cooperate. Like 13 days ago, however, it never got to that point due to the NFL’s insistence on Brady admitting to guilt, knowledge, and/or responsibility in connection with the alleged deflation of footballs.

Via Gary Myers of the New York Daily News, the league was willing to cut the suspension to three games, if Brady were to admit guilt. Previously, PFT was told that the NFL would at least cut the suspension in half, if Brady acknowledged that he was not innocent. Myers also reports that Brady was willing to pay a fine for not cooperating.

The question of what Brady would have done is irrelevant, since the NFL’s position prevented negotiations from ever accelerating.

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The “do you want RGIII?” questions are starting

Todd Bowles AP

Now that Washington may be moving on from quarterback Robert Griffin III, the task of finding a potential new destination begins. And with it comes the inevitable effort to lure another team into a tampering violation.

It started on Monday, when a reporter asked coach Todd Bowles whether the Jets have interest in Griffin.

“He’s on the Redskins and we have our guys right now,” Bowles said. “That’s not my concern.”

That’s all Bowles could have said about the situation. But that won’t stop reporters who either don’t know the rule or want to generate a story line from asking the question.

Bowles, a first-year head coach, is smart enough to know how to handle himself with that topic. It doesn’t hurt that the Jets were fined $100,000 earlier this year for tampering with Darrelle Revis, after owner Woody Johnson failed to realize that loaded questions regarding players under contract with other teams should be avoided.

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