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NFL morning after: What a crazy Sunday

Ravens' Boldin eludes Cowboys' Carr for a first down in the first half of their NFL football game in Baltimore Reuters

Was it even possible to follow all of the action in the NFL this Sunday?

If you were watching the Lions come from behind and beat the Eagles in overtime, did that make you miss the Cowboys’ failed comeback in Baltimore, where Dallas missed a game-winning field goal as time expired? Maybe you were watching the undefeated Falcons need a 55-yard field goal with one second left to beat a surprisingly game Raiders team. But if you were, did you miss the Dolphins improve to 3-3 with a surprisingly stout defense and a surprisingly effective rookie quarterback in Ryan Tannehill? And if you watched the Browns get their first win of the year, how were you supposed to follow along as the Jets blew out the Colts and made a statement that they’re a serious team, not a circus?

And that’s just some of the early-afternoon action. In the late afternoon games, the other New York team made a statement as the Giants pounded the 49ers. But if you were watching that game, you missed an absolutely amazing sequence of events — Russell Wilson throwing the second of his two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to lead the Seahawks over the Patriots, Robert Griffin III running for a 76-yard touchdown to seal the Redskins’ win over the Vikings and Jay Feely missing a 39-yard game-winning field goal, just moments after he had made a 61-yard field goal to force overtime for the Cardinals in a game they’d ultimately lose to the Bills — that all happened almost simultaneously.

This was an amazing Sunday of NFL action, but that’s what we’ve grown accustomed to. Week in and week out, the NFL is the best program on television. The NFL’s drama is more compelling than anything anyone could script. And we’ve still got 11 more regular-season Sundays to go.

Here are my other thoughts on the wild day in the NFL:

What Madden Curse? Lions receiver Calvin Johnson was the cover boy for this year’s Madden video game, but there’s no evidence of any curse. In Sunday’s win over the Eagles, Johnson caught six passes for 135 yards, and he’s now on pace for 1,786 this season — more than 100 yards better than his league-leading total last year. If anyone can kill the Madden Curse, it’s Megatron.

The NFL uniform police are pretty silly. Colts receiver Reggie Wayne wore orange gloves last week because orange is the color used to denote leukemia awareness, and Wayne wanted to honor coach Chuck Pagano, who’s battling leukemia. This week ESPN reported that the NFL told Wayne he couldn’t wear the orange gloves anymore. I realize uniforms are supposed to be, well, uniform, but there’s no reason that during a month when the league is painting everything pink for breast cancer awareness, there’s no reason they couldn’t have allowed Wayne to keep wearing the orange gloves.

Rookie quarterbacks continue to impress. It’s stunning how good these rookie passers are. Seattle’s Russell Wilson had 293 passing yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 133.7 passer rating — the highest passer rating of any quarterback in any game on Sunday afternoon — in a win over New England. Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns as the Browns beat the Bengals. Ryan Tannehill completed 21 of 29 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions as the Dolphins beat the Rams. Robert Griffin III had about as good a running game as you’ll ever see from a quarterback, gaining 138 yards and two touchdowns, as the Redskins beat the Vikings. The Colts’ Andrew Luck was the one rookie quarterback who didn’t lead his team to a win this week, but as we discussed last week, he’s already shown plenty of reasons to believe that he’s going to be an excellent quarterback for many years. There was a time when quarterbacks coming out of college needed some time to adjust to the pro game, but that time has passed. These rookie quarterbacks are ready to play, and play well, right now.

Larry Fitzgerald’s amazing career continues. Fitzgerald’s 93 receiving yards put him at 10,045 yards for his career. At 29 years and 44 days old, Fitzgerald has joined Randy Moss as the only receivers to top 10,000 yards before turning 30. What’s really impressive about Fitzgerald, however, is that he has played most of his career with subpar quarterbacks. Other than a few years with Kurt Warner, Fitzgerald has been stuck with the Josh McCowns, Matt Leinarts, Derek Andersons, Kevin Kolbs and John Skeltons of the world. To put up numbers like Fitzgerald while playing with quarterbacks like that is remarkable. It’s also remarkable that Fitzgerald has remained a perfect teammate who never, ever complains that the Cardinals’ quarterbacks aren’t getting the job done.

The Patriots’ pass defense is a mess. After giving up six passing plays of 20 or more yards in Sunday’s loss to Seattle, the Patriots have now given up 33 such passing plays so far this season — by far the most of any team in the NFL. New England’s secondary just isn’t good enough, and if Bill Belichick can’t get it straightened out, I have a hard time seeing New England winning a playoff game against a good quarterback.

The Packers aren’t going down without a fight. The Texans entered Sunday looking like the best team in the league. The Packers took it to them on Sunday night in Houston. Coming off a disappointing loss to the Colts last week, the Packers needed to play their best game of the season. And that’s exactly what they did.

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Dolphins trade defensive end Chris McCain to Saints

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 15: Chris McCain #58 of the Miami Dolphins celebrates after a play in which quarterback Sam Bradford #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles was injured (not pictured) in the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on November 15, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) Getty Images

Needing a better pass rush, the Saints are adding depth on the defensive line.

Chris McCain, a defensive end who has spent his first two NFL seasons with the Dolphins, has been traded to New Orleans.

The teams announced that the trade is for an undisclosed draft pick. It is likely a conditional seventh-round pick.

An undrafted free agent who signed with the Dolphins in 2014, McCain has just two sacks in his 18 career games, so there’s no guarantee that he’ll make any difference to the Saints’ defense. But he probably wasn’t even going to make the roster in Miami, and in New Orleans he has a chance.

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Trump weighs in on Kaepernick situation

FILE - In this Aug. 27, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in Des Moines, Iowa. Trump promises on Twitter that he'll make a major speech on illegal immigration on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016, carrying his self-declared "immigration week" into a second. Trump appears unable to make a decision on what his policy on his signature issue ought to be, an odd place for a candidate 10 weeks before Election Day and a dark harbinger of indecision for a potential president. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File) AP

It was only a matter of time until presidential candidate Donald Trump weighed in on the Colin Kaepernick situation. And it was only a matter of time until Trump said exactly what you would expect him to say about Kaepernick.

“Well, I have followed it, and I think it’s personally not a good thing,” Trump told The Dori Monson Show, via Buzzfeed.com. “I think it’s a terrible thing. And, you know, maybe he should find a country that works better for him. Let him try. It won’t happen.”

The argument that Kaepernick’s concerns about the only country in which he ever has lived mean he should leave it easily can be turned around, however, to Trump and anyone else who is convinced that America needs to be made “great again,” which implies a clear belief that it’s currently not. And those people surely would say they have the right to stay here and try to make things better, which is precisely what Kaepernick is trying to do.

On Sunday, Kaepernick criticized both of the major-party presidential candidates, saying that Hillary Clinton has “called black teens or black kids super-predators” and has “deleted emails and done things illegally,” and calling Trump “openly racist.”

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Patriots cut Stork, place Jackson on reserve/PUP

Super Bowl XLIX - New England Patriots v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

The Patriots officially released center Bryan Stork Monday, a few days after trading him and the same day Stork failed a physical with the Redskins that voided that trade.

Stork had contemplated retirement before deciding to report to the Redskins, who keep the seventh-round pick they’d pledged to acquire him in the trade.

The Patriots also officially released veteran defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, a move that had been previously reported, and placed guard Tre’ Jackson on the reserve/physically unable to perform list.

The reserve/PUP designation means Jackson will miss at least the first six games of the regular season.

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Seahawks announce some roster moves

Sealver Siliga, Joe Flacco AP

Every team has to have its roster down to 75 players by Tuesday, and the Seahawks made an initial wave of roster moves Monday en route to getting there.

As previously reported, cornerback Brandon Browner was released. Releasing Browner and placing defensive tackle Sealver Siliga on injured reserve were the most notable moves made by the team Monday.

Siliga had a calf injury early in camp and then aggravated it while warming up for the team’s preseason opener. Siliga started 13 games and played in 25 over the last three seasons for the Patriots.

The Seahawks also waived fullback Kyle Coleman, wide receiver Montario Hunter and defensive end DeAngelo Tyson. Wide receiver Deshon Foxx, who spent some time on the team’s practice squad last season, was waived-injured.

The Seahawks still have to make nine roster moves by Tuesday’s deadline.

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Vikings shopping center John Sullivan

Detroit Lions v Minnesota Vikings Getty Images

It’s apparently time to trade a center. Or at least test the market for potential trades involving centers.

The Vikings are shopping veteran center John Sullivan, PFT has confirmed.

On the same day Bryan Stork’s failed physical restarted the Redskins’ search for help at the position and rumors surfaced that the Seahawks will listen to offers for Patrick Lewis comes news that the Vikings are willing to trade Sullivan.

While Lewis has slipped to No. 2 on the depth chart in Seattle, the Vikings still list Sullivan as their starter. Sullivan, 31, missed all of last season due to a back injury and the Vikings still have Joe Berger, who started all 16 games last year at center, on their roster.

Sullivan started the first two preseason games but was held out of the third.

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Seahawks are shopping center Patrick Lewis

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With Justin Britt listed as the top center in Seattle and Patrick Lewis, who started the final 10 games of 2015 in that spot a year ago, now No. 2, it appears that Lewis is on the verge of becoming a former Seahawks.

Per a league source, the Seahawks are trying to trade Lewis.

Signed from the Browns’ practice squad in 2014, Lewis supplanted Drew Nowak during the 2015 as the starter. Britt, a second-round pick in 2014, moved to center after playing left guard last year and right tackle as a rookie. Cutting Lewis will allow the Seahawks to avoid his $1.67 million salary, which arose from application of the lowest level restricted free agency tender. Unlike franchise tenders, RFA tenders are not guaranteed when signed.

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Could a pay cut keep Mark Sanchez in Denver?

Denver Broncos quarterback Mark Sanchez, back, looks as as quarterback Trevor Siemian takes part in a drill during the team's NFL football practice at the Broncos' headquarters on Monday, Aug. 29, 2016, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) AP

At a time when the Broncos reportedly are trying to trade quarterback Mark Sanchez in advance of possibly cutting him, Mike Klis of 9news.com is floating a third option that could keep Sanchez in Denver.

If the player agrees to reduce his $4.5 million base salary, maybe he could remain with the Broncos.

It makes sense for the Broncos to explore it, and it makes sense for the Broncos to leak the possibility of it to Klis. Unless another team is willing to take Sanchez at his full salary (which is unlikely), the question becomes whether Sanchez would stay in Denver for whatever another team would pay him.

Still, keeping Sanchez means the Eagles will receive Denver’s seventh-round pick in 2017. So that will be a factor in deciding whether to keep him for less (if he’s inclined to take less) or to let him go.

If the Broncos cut him, they’ll likely need to replace him him with a veteran, ideally one who knows Gary Kubiak’s system. Former Texans quarterback T.J. Yates is available, for example; he could be signed with the express understanding that he’s there not to compete with Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch but to help them.

However it goes, it’s becoming clear that Sanchez won’t be remaining in Denver at $4.5 million in salary. He’ll either be traded, cut, or signed at a reduced rate.

There’s a fourth possibility, in theory. The Broncos could cut him just before the condition triggers for the seventh-round pick, and then they could re-sign him at a reduced rate after Week One.

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Exploring the 49ers’ end game for Kaepernick

0612-colin-kaepernick-getty-4 Getty Images

Even before the football-following world realized that 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick had opted to not stand for the national anthem during each of the three preseason games, a weird vibe existed between player and team. Starting in February (when his agents asked for permission to seek a trade), continuing in March (when he met twice with the Broncos about a trade), and extending into August (when he didn’t practice for more than a week due to a supposedly dead arm), some developed the distinct impression that Kaepernick would never play another regular-season game for the 49ers.

Now that the situation has been complicated by Kaepernick’s refusal to participate in the anthem and his vow to keep sitting, the 49ers are in a much tougher spot. The trade market, if there was one, has likely evaporated, at least for now. Cutting him is complicated by the reality that, with a strong possibility that no one else would sign him, the 49ers would end up stuck with his full $11.9 million salary, with no offset.

Then there’s the question of whether and to what extent the 49ers would absorb a P.R. hit for cutting Kaepernick. The organization has taken great pains to support his right to sit, which easily can be interpreted as an effort to ensure that an eventual move to cut him could be sold as a football-only gesture. Still, plenty of casual fans will be inclined to not accept that explanation, since they remember Kaepernick as a guy who nearly won a Super Bowl but are oblivious to his regression over the past three years.

Letting him play entails the risk of an injury that lingers into 2017, and that keeps the 49ers from avoiding a $14.5 million base salary that becomes fully guaranteed as of April 1. At a minimum, then, there’s a belief that he’ll be kept in bubble wrap, RGIII-style, once the regular season begins.

With the team on the hook either way for the $11.9 million, and in light of the P.R. fallout that could arise from cutting him, the 49ers could choose to keep Kaepernick on the roster and wait for a possible injury to a starter elsewhere. Five years ago, Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell broke a collarbone two days before the trade deadline, opening the door for the Bengals to unload Carson Palmer, who had retired (i.e., quit). If a team that believes it can get the most out of Kaepernick (and/or that has seen first hand the havoc he can wreak) needs a starter, trading for Kaepernick could be the best way out of a bad situation.

The Sunday report from FOX’s Jay Glazer, who said he’ll be shocked if Kaepernick is on the team at the end of the season (for football reasons), is being viewed by some as a message from the team that the plan is to squat on Kaepernick for now, hold out hope (slim as it may be) for a trade, and then cut him later in the year, after the controversy dies down, as all controversies inevitably do.

Regardless, it will still be a surprise if he actually suits up and plays for the 49ers in the regular season, which means that it will be a surprise if he ever plays for the team again after Thursday’s preseason finale.

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Kaepernick’s college coach calls his national anthem stance “selfish”

0618-colin-kaepernick-getty-2 Getty Images

At Nevada, coach Chris Ault and quarterback Colin Kaepernick were a great combination. Today they part ways when it comes to Kaepernick’s decision to sit out the national anthem.

Ault wrote in a letter to the Reno Gazette-Journal that he strongly disagrees with the way Kaepernick is expressing his concerns about police brutality.

Kap using an NFL game as his platform to show the importance of his cause was selfish,” Ault said. “Not standing up for an American treasure such as the National Anthem is disrespectful and clearly has shortchanged the essence of his message because the attention of an uneasy America is on him, not the cause he values.”

Ault also said he’s concerned that Kaepernick’s career will suffer.

“You never lead by sitting down – during the national anthem or anywhere – so for me it’s not the message that’s troubling, it’s the platform and the way it was delivered,” Ault wrote. “Kap is too young and talented to get written off and I worry an act like this could have a negative impact on him and his career. He’s a great young man. Guys like him can make a difference, but it’s just a lot easier to make that point when you’re excelling on the field.”

Football coaches tend to be conservative and generally want players focused on nothing more than the game on the field, so it’s not surprising that Ault and former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh don’t agree with Kaepernick’s stance. It’s also a reminder that if Kaepernick gets cut by the 49ers, he may have trouble finding another coach who wants him on his team.

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Cardinals drop Jake Coker, 11 others from roster

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 11:  Jake Coker #14 of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks to pass during the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Crimson Tide defeated the Tigers with a score of 45 to 40.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

With the news that cornerback Mike Jenkins suffered a torn ACL in Sunday’s game, the Cardinals lost a potential contributor in the secondary.

They officially ended his season later in the day by placing Jenkins on injured reserve. Eleven other players learned that they won’t be part of the team’s roster as well.

The Cardinals dropped long snapper Danny Dillon, leaving Kam Canaday as the winner of that competition, and they waived/injured quarterback Jake Coker. Coker, who suffered a knee injury, was the quarterback for Alabama when they won the national title last season but was behind Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton and Matt Barkley before his injury.

Arizona also parted ways with guard Jake Bernstein, receiver Amir Carlisle, tight end Gerald Christian, tackle Clay DeBord, defensive tackle Iosia Iosia,  cornerback Asa Jackson, wide receiver Franky Okafor, cornerback Shaun Prater, punter Garrett Swanson and safety Tyrequek Zimmerman. They have two more moves to make to get down to 75 players.

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Raiders announce cuts, trim roster to 75

Oakland Raiders v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

The Raiders announced a bunch of roster moves Monday as the team cut its active roster to 75 players ahead of Tuesday’s deadline to do so.

Waived Monday were safeties Chris Edwards, Chris Hackett and Jimmy Hall; wide receivers Joe Hanley, Max McCaffrey and Nathan Palmer; defensive tackle Leon Orr; kicker Giorgio Tavecchio; tight end Colton Underwood; defensive back Tramain Jacobs; long snapper Andrew East; linebacker Lenny Jones and offensive linemen Terran Vaughn and Ross Burbank.

All but Hall, Palmer and Jacobs are either rookies or first-year players.

The Raiders also placed tight end Gabe Holmes on injured reserve.

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Myke Tavarres won’t be sitting during national anthem after all

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 19: The Philadelphia Eagles announce their new head coach Doug Pederson on January 19, 2016 at the NovaCare Complex in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

Eagles rookie linebacker Myke Tavarres said Monday that he would not be standing during the national anthem when the Eagles play the Jets in their final preseason game on Thursday.

Tavarres said he felt his pride and that he was “definitely going to stand my ground” in the face of any backlash. As it turns out, Tavarres will be standing on the ground during the playing of the national anthem.

Tavarres’ agent Corey Williams said that he advised his client to reverse course on his plan to sit during the national anthem and that Tavarres agreed.

“Myke does not want to be a distraction to the Philadelphia Eagles organization,” Williams said to Tim McManus of ESPN.com. “Myke’s goal is and always will be to make the Eagles 53-man roster and help the team win a Super Bowl.”

Eagles coach Doug Pederson released a statement of their own concerning players standing during the anthem.

“We respect the national anthem, its history and our many freedoms as Americans that it celebrates,” Pederson said. “We also respect an individual’s freedom of expression.”

Pederson’s statement suggests that Tavarres wouldn’t have jeopardized his chances of making the team if he had sat during the anthem, although the change in course suggests Tavarres and his agent weren’t quite so sure what the fallout would be.

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Jim Harbaugh clarifies, still disagrees with Kaepernick’s action

Colin Kaepernick’s first coach, Jim Harbaugh, didn’t hold back when asked today what he thinks of Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem.

“I acknowledge his right to do that, but I don’t respect the motivation or the action,” Harbaugh said today.

With some time to reflect, Harbaugh changed that, to say that he does support the motivation — just not the action.

“I apologize for misspeaking my true sentiments. To clarify, I support Colin’s motivation. It’s his method of action that I take exception to,” Harbaugh wrote on Twitter.

Harbaugh seems to be saying that he thinks Kaepernick’s concerns about police brutality are valid, but Harbaugh doesn’t agree that sitting out the anthem is the right way to express those concerns. That’s been a common response to Kaepernick’s decision, which has quickly become the biggest controversy in the NFL.

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Report: Seahawks to cut Brandon Browner

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 29:   Brandon Browner #39 of the Seattle Seahawks waits on the field during the game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on September 29, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

It appears cornerback Brandon Browner’s second stint with the Seahawks will come to an early end.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the team will release Browner as they pare down their roster this week. He returned to the Seahawks in April after being released by the Saints following a dismal 2015 season in New Orleans.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said during the offseason that the team had a hybrid safety/corner role in mind for Browner this season because Browner “matched up well” with tight ends and slot receivers. That idea didn’t play out as well on the field as it did in Carroll’s mind, however, and Browner was passed by others vying for roles in the Seattle secondary.

Neither Browner’s poor 2015 nor his inability to make the Seahawks this summer bode particularly well for him moving forward, although the constant need for cornerbacks could earn him looks with other teams before and after the regular season gets underway.

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Joey Bosa holdout ends, but could the damage linger for the team?

chargers_jags_d_tunnel_092814_getty_1412019678318_8544694_ver1.0_640_480 Getty Images

With defensive end Joey Bosa finally agreeing to terms with the Chargers, plenty of the people who were pressuring Bosa to cave will be ready to point to his holdout, if he struggles as a rookie. By next year, however, Bosa’s decision to stand firm will be irrelevant to his performance, after he has a full year in the system and the opportunity to participate in all of the offseason program, training camp, and the preseason.

For the Chargers, the stain may not wipe away quite so easily. Like the jersey on the mannequin in Cleveland with the names of all the starting quarterbacks since 1999, Bosa becomes the next name on a list of Chargers holdouts that dates back at least 15 years.

So why is it happening? Former Chargers safety Rodney Harrison addressed the topic earlier in the day on PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio and NBCSN.

“The San Diego Chargers are a bunch of bullies,” Harrison said. “If you look at the way they’ve handled business, why is it the San Diego Chargers out of all the teams have this issue? Because they are a bunch of bullies, and they haven’t treated their star players correctly. You look at junior Seau and what they did to him. Look at how they treated me. Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers held out, Quentin Jammer, LaDainian Tomlinson. I know he came out and he was outspoken about the holdout but — guess what? — he held out, too. So when I look at the San Diego Chargers, I’d say this is why they’re an average organization, because of things like this. How can you draft a guy at the position that you drafted him in and not have him in camp?

“I think the San Diego Chargers are being a bunch of bullies and it just looks bad and reflects bad. If I’m a free agent why the heck would I even think about going to San Diego if I know that this is the way they treat their players?”

It’s fair to wonder who the next holdout will be in San Diego. And it’s also fair to question whether free agents eventually will choose to sign elsewhere, if all other factors are equal. It’s the kind of perception that, if not reversed by the team, could force the Chargers to pay more than other teams will pay in order to get players to join the team — especially if the Chargers are on the verge of not being able to make living in San Diego a selling point.

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