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Saturday morning one-liners

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It’s still unclear whether Bills DE Chris Kelsay will be able to play on Sunday with a neck injury he suffered in practice on Thursday.

The Dolphins will try to extend to 23 their streak of games without allowing a 100-yard rusher against Tennessee RB Chris Johnson.

Pats LB Jerod Mayo says his team isn’t taking the Bills lightly.  (But was he able to keep a straight face when he said that?)

Jets exec Terry Bradway was so enthralled with QB Russell Wilson before the draft that some in the organization started referring to him as “Russell Bradway.”  (Instead, they ended up with “Woody Tebow.”)

The NFL career of Browns LB Tank Carder has occurred despite serious injuries sustained in an automobile accident at age 13.

The Muscle Hamster’s 251-yard performance against Oakland has gotten the attention of Ravens RB Ray Rice; “Obviously, you look at it and you start to get excited when you see it happening,” Rice said. “Anybody goes over 200 yards, you have to figure there is a problem there.”

Steelers CB Keenan Lewis is helping out a high school in his hometown of New Orleans.

The Bengals will be welcoming LB Keith Rivers back to town on Sunday, and he hopes to prove they made a mistake when sending the former top-ten pick out of town for a fifth-round draft choice.

Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey says his 1-8 teams are consistently beating themselves; “We’re making too many mistakes,” Mularkey said. “We have to overcome ourselves first.  Before we can beat anybody, we have to stop beating ourselves.”  (You know, that one is just too easy.  So I’ll pass.  For a change.)

The Colts’ bandwagon wasn’t empty for long.

When Titans LB Colin McCarthy returns to the place where he played college football on Sunday, he won’t be the guy he was because of his injured ankle.

With Shaun Cody out, Texans NT Earl Mitchell will make his first career start.

The Broncos’ “Wildcat-Wildcat” nickel package is anchored by a pair of former Kentucky linebackersWesley Woodyard and Danny Trevathan.

The Chiefs will know the Steelers offense, given the presence in Pittsburgh of former K.C. coach Todd Haley; the question is whether the Chiefs will know how to stop it.

As the Chargers prepare to face WR Vincent Jackson, QB Philip Rivers wishes him well, sort of; “He was a great teammate, a good buddy of mine and obviously a great player for us,” Rivers said.  “You miss having him here. He’s having a heck of year, and you pull for him every week except this one.”

Sunday’s game in Baltimore will be a homecoming for Raiders WR Darrius Heyward-Bey.

Sunday’s game in Cincinnati will be a homecoming for Giants LB Chase Blackburn.

The Redskins worked out three defensive backs and two linebackers, but signed none of them.

A UFC event could be headed to Cowboys Stadium.  (As part of the undercard, Jimmy Johnson will face Jerry Jones.)

Former Eagles S Brian Dawkins says that, if anyone had called the defense “pretty” when he was there, things would have gotten ugly.

The Bears will try to be the first team to score a rushing touchdown against the Texans this season.

The Vikings are trying to get the ball more to TE Kyle Rudolph.

Packers great Paul Hornung will be selling some of his memorabilia via auction.

CB Stanford Routt visited the Lions on Friday but left without a contract; we’ve reported Thursday night that he’ll visit an unnamed AFC team on Monday.

Falcons RT Tyson Clabo is leading the Pro Bowl campaign for C Todd McClure.

Even though the Buccaneers can’t fill up Raymond James Stadium, the team is planning some major upgrades.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera wants the team to ignore the fact that they’re facing their former coach on Sunday.

The still-lingering bounty brouhaha hasn’t been a distraction for Saints LB Jonathan Vilma.

Seahawks RB Leon Washington isn’t fazed by the fact that he’s facing his former team on Sunday.

49ers coach Jim Harbaugh says he has nothing to do with the creation of the team’s injury report.  (But does he hover over the shoulders and make faces at the folks who do?)

The Rams are going at moving to the so-called “fringe area,” but they have trouble moving it much deeper than that.

Cardinals CB/PR Patrick Peterson quietly is in a slump this year.  (The team is in a more conspicuous one.)

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Kaepernick sits during national anthem

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick throws the ball during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Green Bay Packers on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) AP

 

On a night that was supposed to be significant for what 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick did on the field, what he didn’t do while off the field will create even bigger headlines.

During the playing of the national anthem, Kaepernick sat.

The 49ers have confirmed that Kaepernick did not stand for the anthem, and they have issued the following statement.

“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony,” the team said in a statement issued to PFT. “It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose to participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”

It’s unclear why Kaepernick sat. However, Kaepernick retweeted the following message on Thursday, which accompanied images of the American and Confederate flags: “The fact that you really believe that there is difference in these flags means that your [sic] ignoring history.”

At a time when NFL players are criticized for not speaking out on social issues, Kaepernick has provided a very significant and conspicuous gesture. As the team noted, it’s his right to do so. But given that Kaepernick opted to make a stand by sitting during the traditional pregame honoring of the country and its flag — which is so tightly woven into the DNA of the NFL — there surely will be a reaction.

 

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Carlos Hyde suffers concussion against Packers

San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde, left, fights off a tackle by Denver Broncos defensive back Shiloh Keo during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey) AP

At a time when the 49ers don’t know who their starting quarterback will be in 17 days against the Rams, there’s a chance they won’t know who their starting tailback will be, at least for a while.

Via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, Carlos Hyde suffered a concussion on Friday night against the Packers. He has been placed in the concussion protocol, which means that an independent neurologist will have to clear him to practice or to play.

Hyde was effective in the game, rushing four times for 30 yards — including a long of 27. He missed nine games due to injury in 2015.

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Kaepernick thinks he can still win the starting job

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, left, greets Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers at the end of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. Green Bay won 21-10. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) AP

After a lackluster performance on Friday night in his return to the field for the first time since being benched for Blaine Gabbert last year, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick expressed optimism regarding the possibility of reclaiming his job.

“Yeah, I think so,” Kaepernick told reporters regarding whether he thinks he can still be named the Week One starter. “I mean, that’s really up to [coach] Chip [Kelly] and the coaching staff. But in my mind I think I can go out and win it.”

Kaepernick, who completed two of six passes for 14 yards on Friday night, specifically believes he can win it by being “more productive” in the fourth preseason game. Typically, however, the starters don’t play in the fourth preseason game. So if he’s playing on Thursday night, chances are he won’t be the starter — unless Kelly decides to let Gabbert and Kaepernick continue their competition in the final preseason game.

Kaepernick added that he would have liked to have played more on Friday night, even if that meant playing behind the second-string offensive line.

“I just wanna play,” Kaepernick said.

Kelly told reporters that he has not yet set a timetable for picking a starting quarterback. The candidates are Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert, and (theoretically) newcomer Christian Ponder or rookie Jeff Driskel.

Kaepernick is due to earn $11.9 million this year, fully guaranteed. He’ll also earn an extra $125,000 for each game in which he’s on the active, 46-man roster. Which gives the 49ers 125,000 to deactivate him in each and every week that he isn’t the starter.

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Chip Kelly: “There’s never been a conversation about cutting Colin Kaepernick”

San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick, left, and Blaine Gabbert stand on the sideline during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Green Bay Packers on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. Green Bay won 21-10. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) AP

So what will the 49ers do with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, if he doesn’t win the starting job? They can pay him not to play, they can try to trade him, or they can cut him.

As to the last option, coach Chip Kelly told reporters after Friday night’s preseason game against the Packers: “There’s never been a conversation about cutting Colin Kaepernick.”

Technically, the fact that there hasn’t been a conversation doesn’t mean that a conversation isn’t coming. It also doesn’t mean that the move won’t happen without a conversation. Ownership may simply decide to move on, regardless of what Kelly or anyone else thinks.

Regardless, it’s looking unlikely that Kaepernick will start Week One against the Rams or that, if he does, he’ll hold the job for very long.

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Kaepernick doesn’t do much to stake claim to starting job

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, left, runs with the ball as Green Bay Packers defensive end Datone Jones pursues during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) AP

On multiple occasions in the past, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has bedeviled the Packers. In his first game action of 2016, however, Kaepernick didn’t do much against Green Bay to gain ground on current starter Blaine Gabbert.

Kaepernick completed two of six passes for 14 yards and rushed four times for 18. The only good news for Kaepernick is that Gabbert didn’t look much better. Still, Kaepernick hardly did enough to supplant Gabbert as the starter.

At a time when a strange vibe continues to emanate from the organization and Kaepernick regarding their relationship, some (me) have speculated that Friday night was aimed in part at showcasing Kaepernick in a last-ditch effort to trade him. If, as expected, no one is interested in adding him at this stage of the calendar, the team will have to decide whether to cut him or carry him on the 53-man roster.

If he’s cut, the 49ers could save a portion of his $11.9 million guaranteed salary, since an offset would apply to whatever he makes elsewhere. If they keep him, he’ll get it all.

If he gets it all, at some point they should play him, right? The problem with playing Kaepernick is that, if he emerges from 2016 with an injury, the 49ers may not be able to cut him before next year’s base salary of $14.5 million becomes fully guaranteed on April 1.

There’s a chance, then, that they’ll put him in bubble wrap, RGIII-style, waiting for a starter elsewhere to suffer a season-ending injury but otherwise not letting Kaepernick get on the field for fear of chasing this year’s $11.9 million with another $14.5 million next year.

Regardless of how it all shakes out, the strange vibe lingers, making it hard to imagine Kaepernick ever playing another regular-season game for the team he nearly led to a Super Bowl win four years ago.

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Jay Gruden says Bryan Stork still has a decision to make

Super Bowl XLIX Media Day Fueled by Gatorade Getty Images

First Bryan Stork was supposed to be cut. Then Stork was supposed to be retiring. Then it was announced that Stork had been traded from New England to Washington.

But Stork still hasn’t reported to his new team, and we still haven’t heard from Stork directly whether he plans to play or not. And after tonight’s preseason game, Washington coach Jay Gruden indicated that he isn’t certain whether Stork will play.

Instead, Gruden said Stork will “supposedly” report for work tomorrow but has a “final decision” to make tonight.

So it may still be possible that Stork will decide not to play this season, which would void his trade and give Washington back the draft pick it sent to New England. Stork’s rights would then revert to the Patriots, who could waive him or put him on the reserve/retired list.

From all indications, Washington still thinks Stork will be on its roster. But we don’t know that for sure yet.

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Roberto Aguayo makes all his kicks on Friday night

Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo (19) reacts after kicking a field goal against the Cleveland Browns during the first quarter of an NFL football game Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken) AP

A trying week for Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo ended on a positive note.

Aguayo made all six kicks he tried on Friday night as the Buccaneers turned in a strong showing on both sides of the ball while beating the Browns 30-13 in Tampa. Aguayo made field goals from 48, 21 and 27 yards and made all three of his extra point attempts.

That’s a sharp change from the first two weeks of preseason. Aguayo missed two field goals and an extra point, leading to much scrutiny of a player who the Buccaneers traded up to select in the second round of this year’s draft. Aguayo followed that up with more misses in Tuesday’s practice, which led to hooting and heckling from a home crowd and responses from other members of the NFL’s kicking fraternity.

All that will likely return when and if Aguayo misses a few kicks during the regular season, but, for now, a player who made 88.5 percent of his field goals and all of his extra points in college has put himself back on track.

That’s a good thing for the Bucs on a night full of them. Jameis Winston threw for 259 yards in the first half, Mike Evans had 115 receiving yards on five catches and the defense recorded nine sacks to go with Aguayo’s successful evening.

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Aaron Rodgers plays two series in his preseason debut/finale

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, right, drops back to throw as San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Eli Harold, left, closes in during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) AP

Aaron Rodgers looked less rusty in his preseason debut than the Packers teammates around him.

But the Packers quarterback didn’t need long to remind us who he was.

Rodgers played a quarter in his preseason debut, and led an impressive touchdown drive during his time in there, hitting Randall Cobb for the score.

On his first drive, Rodgers had to scramble around too much, as the protection wasn’t quite to regular season standards. But he used his feet to buy some time, and made a few positive plays.

The 14-play touchdown drive was a methodical one, a good day’s work for the guy who was held out of the first three preseason contests (including the Hall of Fame Non-Game). He’s probably not going to play much if at all next week in the preseason finale, as should be the case.

Rodgers finished the night 6-of-9 passing for 60 yards and the touchdown.

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Josh Gordon gives Browns a taste of what they were missing

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 07:  Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns carries the ball during the first quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 7, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Friday night’s game against the Buccaneers hasn’t gone well overall for the Browns, but there’s been one big bright spot.

In his first game since Week 16 of the 2014 season, wide receiver Josh Gordon has provided the team with a pair of reminders of why they stuck with him through his suspension and why they reportedly asked for a healthy return from teams inquiring about trading for Gordon.

The first came on the first Browns possession of the game when Gordon beat Buccaneers cornerback Brent Grimes on a double move and reeled in a 44-yard catch from Robert Griffin III on one of the few dropbacks that saw the quarterback get time to throw. Gordon would then give Cleveland its first touchdown of the night in the second quarter when he used his size to beat out Grimes for a slightly underthrown ball from Griffin for a 43-yard touchdown.

They’ll have to wait out four more games to get him on the field in the regular season, but the glimpse of Gordon’s playmaking ability was a tantalizing one on Friday night.

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Bucs beating up Browns in all three phases

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston throws a pass against the Cleveland Browns during the first quarter of an NFL football game Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) AP

The Browns’ night got off to a decent enough start when they forced a field goal on the first Buccaneers possession and then kicked one of their own after a 44-yard pass to Josh Gordon offered a reminder of what the wideout can do when he’s in the lineup.

Things have gone downhill from there. Jameis Winston has two touchdown passes, Adam Humphries returned a punt 73 yards for a touchdown and Robert Griffin III has been sacked four times as Tampa has built a 27-3 second quarter lead at home.

Winston has had plenty of time to throw the ball most of the night and he’s capitalized on big gains to Humphries, Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, including a 34-yard touchdown to Evans in the second quarter. The run game hasn’t been quite as effective, but Winston’s 12-of-18/232-yard line makes up for any sluggishness on the ground.

The defense has kept the Browns in check and the Browns haven’t helped with errors of their own. Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor has an offensive pass interference, tackle Austin Pasztor wiped out a first down with a holding penalty and center Cameron Erving hasn’t looked good in the middle of Cleveland’s line.

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Rough half for starting QBs, but that Tom Brady kid on the bench is OK

New England Patriots' Jimmy Garoppolo (10) is hit by Carolina Panthers' Thomas Davis (58) as he throws a pass during the first half of a preseason NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn) AP

It’s a good thing the Patriots had that Tom Brady kid coming off the bench.

Because otherwise, the starting quarterbacks in Charlotte had a pretty rough night.

Cam Newton threw two interceptions on a listless night for the Panthers offense, and Jimmy Garoppolo made sure people would miss Brady when his four-game suspension was over.

Garoppolo was 5-of-9 for 37 yards passing, doing nothing to inspire confidence with what he had with the starting offense (minus tight end Rob Gronkowski, because it’s the preseason).

Brady came in late in the first quarter and gave the Patriots a brief spark, leading a touchdown drive. But on the whole, he wasn’t great either, 3-of-9 for 76 yards in the first half.

Newton’s side was even worse. In his first six series, the Panthers had three three-and-outs, two picks and a dropped fourth-down conversion attempt. He was 8-of-20 passing for 62 yards in the first half, a forgettable night for the MVP.

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Terron Armstead, Cam Heyward, Marcus Gilbert all leave early with injuries

New Orleans Saints tackle Terron Armstead (72) shows off his dance moves during the NFL football teams training camp in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Chris Tilley) AP

The Steelers and Saints have both seen some key members of their lineups depart with injuries in the first half of their game at the Superdome.

Saints left tackle Terron Armstead left the game shortly after picking up a holding penalty and went back to the locker room. There’s been no announcement from the team about his status and Tony Hills has been manning the left side of the line since his departure.

The Saints also saw tight end Michael Hoomanawanui carted off with what looked like a left leg injury.

On the Steelers side, defensive end Cam Heyward was carted off with a bag of ice on his right ankle and right tackle Marcus Gilbert has departed with an elbow injury. Safety Shamarko Thomas was also ruled out for the rest of the night after suffering a groin injury.

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Steelers starting offense looks just fine in first preseason action

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) works against the New Orleans Saints during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Butch Dill) AP

The Steelers rested many of their key offensive players in the first two weeks of the preseason, but there’s no sign of rust in Week Three.

The Steelers have scored touchdowns on both of their possessions in the first half and they’ve looked quite good doing it. Ben Roethlisberger used no huddle for most of the opening 15-play, 74-yard march to the end zone and capped the drive by evading the rush and tossing a four-yard score to tight end Jesse James.

The Saints forced the Steelers into a third down quickly on the next Steelers possession, but Antonio Brown beat Saints corner De’Vante Harris for a 57-yard score that extended Pittsburgh’s lead to 14-0.

Roethlisberger is 12-of-17 for 148 yards, Le’Veon Bell has run twice for 15 yards and caught a pass for 13 more and six different players have caught passes already in a performance that should leave the Steelers feeling full of confidence about their offense heading into the regular season.

UPDATE 8:44 p.m. ET: And that’s all the Steelers needed to see from Roethlisberger. Landry Jones is in the game for the third Steelers possession.

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Washington loses Ryan Kerrigan, Keith Marshall to injuries

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 12:  Outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan #91 of the Washington Redskins on the sidelines during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 12, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Redskins 30-20.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Injuries are always a problem in the preseason. But when they come at the same position, teams have to worry.

As such, Washington’s may have to start looking for running backs and pass-rushers.

The team announced that rookie running back Keith Marshall would not return tonight, after suffering a sprained elbow in their preseason game against the Bills.

Coupled with outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan leaving with a groin injury, it’s a rough night for Washington. The team announced that Kerrigan would not return.

Starting running back Matt Jones isn’t going to play again in the preseason because of a shoulder sprain, leaving them short on numbers.

Rookie Robert Kelly’s going to get plenty of work now, and he seems to be doing his part to earn the backup job, and potentially more.

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Buccaneers make a field goal, lose a wideout to injury

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 26:  Kicker Roberto Aguayo #19 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers warms up before the start of an NFL game against the Cleveland Browns on August 26, 2016 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) Getty Images

Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo’s night got off to a good start.

After their opening drive stalled inside Cleveland territory, the Buccaneers sent Aguayo into the game to try a 48-yard field goal that was watched a bit more closely than many other preseason field goal attempts. Aguayo has missed two field goals and an extra point already this offseason, but he nailed the kick to put the Bucs up 3-0 on Friday night.

Jameis Winston moved the team with nice throws to Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans before things slowed down as they neared the red zone.

The news hasn’t been all good for the Bucs thus far, however. Wide receiver/kick returner Donteea Dye is out for the rest of the game after hurting his hamstring, which will provide more opportunities for Kenny Bell and other wideouts trying for spots at the back end of the depth chart.

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