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Peyton Manning steps up, Philip Rivers screws up as Broncos win

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What a Monday night comeback. What a difference between two halves. And what a difference between two quarterbacks.

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning turned in a sensational second half, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers turned in a lousy second half, and the Broncos won a wild Monday Night Football game, coming back from a 24-0 deficit at halftime to win 35-24.

In the first half it looked like it was going to be a San Diego blowout: Antonio Gates caught two touchdown passes from Rivers, and when Manning had a miscommunication with receiver Matt Willis, Chargers cornerback Quentin Jammer turned it into an 80-yard pick-six. It was all Chargers through the first 30 minutes, and as Manning jogged to the locker room at halftime, he wore a look of frustration on his face.

But the Broncos turned it on in the second half. Manning was on fire, with three touchdown passes, and Rivers couldn’t get anything going. The Broncos’ comeback was aided when defensive end Elvis Dumervil hit Rivers to force a fumble that Broncos defensive back Tony Carter picked up and ran 65 yards for a touchdown, and the Broncos’ comeback was clinched when Rivers threw an interception that Broncos defensive back Chris Harris returned 46 yards for a touchdown.

Stats don’t always tell the whole story, but the stats of the two quarterbacks on Monday night come pretty close: Manning was 24 of 30 for 309 yards with three touchdowns and one interception, while Rivers was 25 of 41 for 242 yards, with two touchdowns, four interceptions and two lost fumbles.

Now the Broncos and Chargers are tied atop the AFC West at 3-3, but the Broncos hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. It hasn’t been an easy first six weeks of the season, but Peyton Manning’s Broncos are the favorites to win the division.

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Buccaneers drop 10, including seventh-rounder Joey Iosefa

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The Buccaneers have made their first moves on the way to 75 players and one of the guys jettisoned was part of their 2015 draft class.

The team has waived seventh-round running back Joey Iosefa. Iosefa played tailback in college at Hawaii, but was moved to fullback with the Buccaneers after he joined the team. He had no carries or receptions in the preseason. Veteran Jorvorskie Lane is now the only fullback on the Tampa roster.

Iosefa is the only member of the seven-man draft class to leave the team thus far.

The Buccaneers also waived running back Dominique Brown, defensive tackle Quayshawne Buckley, offensive lineman Antoine Everett, long-snapper Brandon Hartson, safety Kimario McFadden, punter Karl Schmitz, cornerback Al-Hajj Shabazz, defensive end George Uko and defensive end Jamal Young.

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Tom Coughlin: Victor Cruz won’t practice this week “as far as I know”

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It looks like Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz’s first game action since tearing his patellar tendon last year will come in the regular season.

Cruz has not played yet this preseason as the Giants were bringing him along cautiously early and a calf injury has kept him from the field more recently. That injury left coach Tom Coughlin “concerned” about the wideout last week and it doesn’t sound like that concern has gone away.

Coughlin was asked Sunday if Cruz would return to practice this week and said, via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, “not as far as I know” and that it wouldn’t be the “preferred way” to handle things to have Cruz return to action without any snaps during the preseason.

It might not be the way the Giants drew it up, but there’s not much they can do about it at this point. If Cruz isn’t healthy enough to play in August, the team has no choice but to roll the dice when he eventually gets the green light in the fall. The offense has certainly looked like it could use Cruz on the field, although his limited action of any kind the last month means it will be a mystery what they’ll get when he is finally able to return.

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Brian Hoyer, DeAndre Hopkins look good together in New Orleans

Brian Hoyer, DeAndre Hopkins AP

The Texans have ended their quarterback competition by naming Brian Hoyer as the starter for the first week of the regular season, but coach Bill O’Brien has made it clear that he won’t be afraid to turn to Ryan Mallett if Hoyer can’t find a way to lead a successful offense.

One way Hoyer can keep that from happening is by looking for wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Hoyer did that twice early in Sunday’s game against the Saints and the drive ended with a touchdown for the Texans. Hoyer found DeAndre Hopkins open against Saints corner Keenan Lewis for 29 yards down the sideline on the second play of the game and then went Hopkins’s direction again in the end zone.

Lewis was flagged for pass interference after Hopkins got the best of him again, although that didn’t stop Hopkins from reeling in the ball as he went out of bounds. After a replay, the ruling was that Hopkins didn’t complete the catch process in time and Alfred Blue scored two plays later.

Hoyer looked sharp in general and finished 7-of-11 for 82 yards while also leading the Texans to a field goal before Ryan Mallett was roused from his slumber to lead the team on their fourth offensive possession of the game.

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Report: Football people want RG3 out of Washington, Snyder says no

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Robert Griffin III is reportedly remaining in Washington only because owner Dan Snyder is overruling the football people who want to depart with the quarterback.

Front office officials and coaches want to move on from Griffin but are meeting resistance from ownership, according to ESPN.

The report says the team has talked about trading Griffin, but there’s been no interest. That’s no surprise: Griffin has a guaranteed salary of $3.3 million this year and would be owed a whopping $16.2 million next year if he suffered a severe injury. There’s no way for any team to justify committing that kind of money to a player who has played as poorly as Griffin over the last two years.

From all indications, coach Jay Gruden — who spent most of the offseason insisting that Griffin would be the starter — has lots any confidence he ever had in Griffin as a quarterback. Both Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy have far outplayed Griffin this preseason. General Manager Scot McCloughan, who was hired this year, has no particular loyalty to Griffin either.

But Snyder has loved Griffin since the team traded up in the 2012 draft to get him, and Snyder apparently isn’t willing to let go. And that’s the only thing keeping Griffin in Washington.

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Report: AC joint sprain for Randall Cobb

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Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb feared a broken collarbone when he was first injured in Saturday’s game against the Eagles, but they were able to rule out an injury of that severity before the night was over.

Cobb went for further tests on Sunday and Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that he has been diagnosed with a “minor” AC joint sprain.

It’s a better outcome than a broken collarbone, certainly, but Cobb probably can’t be assured of playing against the Bears in Week One. Players have missed good chunks of time with similar injuries — Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson hasn’t played at all in the preseason after spraining his AC joint early in training camp — and it will take some time before the Packers will have a clear idea about his status.

If Cobb can’t play, the Packers would start their season without both of their top wideouts since Jordy Nelson is out with a torn ACL. Barring any additions from outside the organization, Davante Adams, Jeff Janis and Ty Montgomery would likely be the top three receivers in their absence.

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Titans shave 10 from their roster

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Plenty of players will be getting bad news in the next few days as teams make their cuts to 75 players.

The Titans delivered that bad news to 10 former members of their club on Sunday.

Offensive lineman Fernando Velasco is the most experienced member of the unlucky group. Velasco signed with the Titans in June for a second tour of duty with the team he started his NFL career with as an undrafted free agent. Velasco spent four years with the team before moving on to Pittsburgh and Carolina the last two years.

The Titans also dropped linebacker Nate Askew, cornerback Will Brown, linebacker Dezmond Johnson, wide receiver Tebucky Jones, wide receiver Deon Long, defensive end Derrick Lott, guard Justin McCray, kicker Mike Meyer and linebacker Chaz Sutton. They’ll need to get down to 75 players by Tuesday.

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Report: Arthur Jones to see ankle specialist after having MRI

Arthur Jones AP

Colts defensive tackle Arthur Jones left Saturday’s game against the Rams in a walking boot after injuring his left ankle early in the contest.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that x-rays on the ankle were negative, but coach Chuck Pagano said that Jones would undergo a full evaluation on Sunday. That evaluation will apparently include a visit to an ankle specialist.

Josina Anderson of ESPN reports that Jones had an MRI on Sunday and that he will now go to see a specialist as he looks for an answer about the severity of his injury.

It’s a familiar situation for the Colts, who played without Jones seven times last season while he was making his way back from a high ankle sprain. He’s a big part of their plans to have a better run defense this season, so another extended absence would be a blow to the Colts up front. Montori Hughes and Zach Kerr saw first-team snaps at defensive tackle after Jones left the game.

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Russell Wilson: We’ll be just fine on offense

Russell Wilson AP

The Seahawks starting offense failed to score a touchdown for the third time in three preseason games on Saturday and they managed just two field goals against the Chargers despite playing into the third quarter.

Concern created about those shortcomings have largely centered on the passing attack. Russell Wilson was 7-of-15 for 56 yards against San Diego and missed tight end Jimmy Graham twice on plays that would have helped Seattle in their quest for a touchdown. Coach Pete Carroll said after the game that the team wasn’t sharp enough and “missed throws we normally make.” Wilson didn’t disagree with the coach, but said that he was confident things will be better when the games start counting in the standings.

“Ultimately, we have to finish drives. That’s on me. But we’ll hit ’em,” Wilson said, via the Tacoma News Tribune. “We’ll be just fine. So I’m excited about it. … I definitely think I’m ready. Can’t wait to play. We are definitely moving the ball,” he added. We just need to finish. That’s the most important thing. And we will.”

One thing that should help is a full dose of Marshawn Lynch in the offense. Lynch played for the first time this summer on Saturday, running twice and catching a pass, and the Seahawks offense is at its best when Lynch is bullying his way through defenses. More continuity on the offensive line, which was missing left tackle Russell Okung against the Chargers, should also help as the team tries to find a groove that’s eluded them thus far in the preseason.

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Browns, who talked about Ray Rice, may sign a running back

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If Ray Rice is ever going to get back into the NFL, this may be his best chance.

The Browns, who have admitted to at least talking about the possibility of signing Rice, are now in the market for a running back. Coach Mike Pettine said today that the team might have to add a running back after injuries to Duke Johnson and Shaun Draughn.

Rice played for Browns running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery in Baltimore, and Pettine was also on the Ravens’ staff during Rice’s tenure there. And Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is on the record as saying that Rice deserves another shot.

So the Browns appear to be a team that is willing to deal with the off-field fallout of signing Rice, who became the poster boy for the NFL’s domestic violence problem last year. The next question is whether they think Rice can help them on the field.

Last year the Browns had one of the worst rushing attacks in the NFL, and if anything their running backs look even worse this preseason: The leading rusher, Terrance West, has just 78 yards on 22 carries, and overall the Browns’ running backs are averaging 2.8 yards a carry through three preseason games. So it would seem that Rice — even though he averaged just 3.1 yards a carry in 2013 — could be an improvement.

Which means that if the Browns aren’t willing to sign Rice, that probably means no NFL team is ever going to sign Rice.

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With two kickers still on roster, Jaguars could be looking for trade

Josh Scobee AP

The Jaguars have already made their way to 75 players and they kept two kickers through the first wave of cuts.

Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union thinks that they may be hoping to land a late-round draft pick in a trade for one of them before the cuts to 53 players. The question would be which of the kickers would be able to get them that kind of return.

Josh Scobee has been the kicker in Jacksonville for more than a decade and has made both of his field goal attempts this summer while also reaching the end zone on all five of his kickoffs. Jason Myers has hit on four of the five field goals he’s tried, missing from 58 yards, and put seven of his eight kickoffs into the end zone to earn good reviews for both his leg strength and accuracy.

Scobee is the proven entity, which might make him an appealing target for the Steelers in the wake of Garrett Hartley’s hamstring injury assuming the team is willing to pay the salary — $3.425 million — that comes with that status. Myers is cheaper, but has no regular season experience to entice a team looking for an upgrade at the position.

It may work against the Jaguars that there’s little chance they keep both kickers through the cuts to 53 players since the Steelers or other teams might prefer to hold onto their picks while seeing who winds up on the chopping block.

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Dante Fowler officially on injured reserve as Jags drop to 75 players

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The Jaguars didn’t need to wait until Tuesday’s deadline to set their 75-man roster.

The team made their moves on Saturday, a day after facing the Lions in their third preseason game of the year. One of the moves is something we’ve been anticipating since their rookie minicamp in May.

Defensive end and third overall pick Dante Fowler tore his ACL at the first practice of that minicamp, but has remained on the active roster because any earlier attempts to put him on injured reserve would have required Fowler to go through waivers. The team also placed tackle Josh Wells on injured reserve and waived/injured wide receiver Greg Jenkins.

Quarterback Jeff Tuel, cornerback Tommie Campbell and wide receiver Tandon Doss are probably the best-known names among the 12 players waived by Jacksonville. Linebacker Mister Alexander, defensive end Camaron Beard, offensive lineman Cody Booth, safety Desmond Cooper, defensive tackle Eric Crume, linebacker Khairi Fortt, tight end Connor Hamlett, kicker/punter Kasey Redfern and offensive lineman Jack Rummells were also dropped from the roster.

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G.J. Kinne among early Eagles cuts

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The Eagles gave quarterback G.J. Kinne a chance to try to make the team by showing what he could do as a wide receiver this summer, but those efforts didn’t help him survive the first round of cuts in Philadelphia.

Kinne was one of 12 players cut by the Eagles on Sunday as they start making their way to 75 players ahead of Tuesday’s deadline. Kinne has spent time on the Eagles practice squad the last two years, but has never appeared in a regular season game.

Tackle Kevin Graf, who spent time on the team’s active roster last season without seeing game action, was also waived.

Cornerback Marc Anthony, safety Brandan Bishop, center Mike Coccia, defensive end Alfy Hill, wide receiver Mike Johnson, linebacker Dasman McCullum, wide receiver Josh Reese, defensive end Jeremy Towns, tight end Justin Tukes and offensive lineman Jared Wheeler round out the first set of cuts.

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No ligament damage for Leonard Williams

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The Jets can breathe a sigh of relief about defensive end Leonard Williams.

The first-round pick was forced from Saturday night’s victory over the Giants with a knee injury. X-rays taken on Saturday night came back negative and there are multiple reports that a subsequent MRI showed no ligament damage.

Williams has been diagnosed with a muscle strain behind his knee and the team does not believe it will be a long-term injury. Williams will have two weeks to recover before the Jets start the regular season with a game against the Browns.

As long as he’s healthy, Williams will be in the starting lineup with Muhammad Wilkerson at defensive end while Sheldon Richardson begins serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Williams has looked up to the task this summer and the Jets defense looked strong across the board while holding the Giants starters to seven points and scoring a touchdown of their own on an Antonio Cromartie interception return.

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Chargers say Frank Clark tried to punch Philip Rivers

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Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers appears to have avoided serious injury when he banged his right hand during Saturday’s game against the Seahawks and that apparently wasn’t his only close call of the night.

Chargers offensive linemen reacted strongly to what they say was an attempt by Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark to punch Rivers after the quarterback was sacked by Jordan Hill in the second quarter. A scrum broke out after the play and Chargers tackle King Dunlap was given a 15-yard penalty for yanking Clark out of the pile.

“That guy was on top of Philip, and that’s our quarterback,” Dunlap said, via U-T San Diego. “I protect the quarterback at all costs.”

Video of the play shows Rivers holding onto Clark’s jersey after the sack and it’s hard to see what else might have gone on to elicit the strong reaction from the Chargers. After the game, Clark was asked about the incident (but not the allegation that he tried to punch Rivers) and said Richard Sherman told him he has to avoid them even if this one didn’t result in a penalty against Seattle.

“Man this game, it’s a lot of emotions is involved,” Clark said, via the Seattle Times. “I’m a real emotional player but there are ways you react and ways you don’t react. You’ve got to be smart in this game. That was something Sherm [Richard Sherman] was telling me afterwards, that whole thing, even though I didn’t get called for anything, just to avoid situations like that.”

The Seahawks drafted Clark in the second round despite a domestic violence arrest that led to his dismissal from the Michigan team last November. The charge was downgraded to disorderly conduct as part of a plea arrangement in April.

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Eddie Goldman suffered concussion Saturday

Eddie Goldman AP

Rookie Eddie Goldman’s role with the Bears early in the season is set to be a big one with Jeremiah Ratliff earning a three-game suspension from the league as a result of a DUI, but he’ll need to be healthy to get starts on the defensive line.

Right now, Goldman isn’t healthy. He suffered a concussion against the Bengals on Saturday night and will be out of the lineup until he passes through the league’s concussion protocol. Goldman started at nose tackle and helped the team keep Jeremy Hill out of the end zone on three runs inside the three-yard line in the first quarter before Andy Dalton was able to push the ball across on fourth down.

Ratliff started the game at defensive end, but he also left early with an injury to his ankle.

“It’s not broken,” coach John Fox said, via the Chicago Sun-Times. “I don’t know how much we would have played in him in the last preseason game. … He’s going to have a minute to heal.”

Thanks to the suspension, Ratliff has more than a minute to heal while the Bears will find themselves quite thin up front if Goldman isn’t able to make a quick return to the lineup.

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