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Chris Givens, Janoris Jenkins inactive for violating team rules

Green Bay Packers v St Louis Rams Getty Images

The Rams were able to select cornerback Janoris Jenkins in the second round because teams weren’t willing to make a first round investment in a player with numerous character red flags from his college career.

Anyone who thought that it was a mistake to take that risk got a little fuel for their argument on Sunday. Shortly after announcing both players would be inactive for Sunday’s game against the 49ers, the team passed along word that both players were deactivated for an unspecified violation of team rules.

Jenkins has started all eight games for the Rams this season, picking off one pass and looking like a player who could develop into a strong player for the Rams down the road despite struggling of late. Givens, a fourth-round pick, has been a big part of the team’s passing game in recent weeks and has caught a pass of 50-plus yards in each of the last five games.

Danny Amendola is active, as expected, so Sam Bradford will at least have one of his favorite targets on the field as the Rams try to pull off a road win in San Francisco.

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Buccaneers claim Garrett Gilkey, sign Jeff Demps to practice squad

Garrett Gilkey AP

The Buccaneers swung a trade for former Patriots guard Logan Mankins, but that isn’t the only new addition to their offensive line.

The team announced that they have claimed Garrett Gilkey off of waivers from the Browns. Gilkey was a seventh-round choice in Cleveland last season and has experience playing guard and tackle. With Mankins set at left guard, he’ll likely go into the mix of options to play at right guard in Tampa at some point this season.

The Bucs also started filling out their practice squad. Running back Jeff Demps is back in the organization after being waived and will try to use his spot on the auxiliary roster to show that he brings more than world class speed to the table.

Also returning to the team after being cut over the weekend are tight end Cameron Brate, quarterback Mike Kafka, linebacker Brandon Magee, defensive tackle Matthew Masifilo and kick returner Solomon Patton. Tampa still has four open spots on the practice squad.

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Report: Ryan Succop could sign with Titans Monday

Ryan Succop AP

The Titans spent the summer pitting Travis Coons and Maikon Bonani against each other in a competition for the kicking job and Coons came out on top when Bonani was released over the weekend.

His prize may be short-lived, however. Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean reports that the team has a strong interest in former Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop and that they could sign him on Monday.

The Titans worked out several veteran kickers last week before Succop was available, so it is hardly a surprise to see that they are thinking about replacing Coons. Succop was 22-of-28 on field goals last season and had 47 touchbacks in 91 kickoffs. He lost out to rookie Cairo Santos in Kansas City, a decision that may have been influenced by Succop’s scheduled salary of $1.95 million against that of an undrafted rookie.

Coons, an undrafted free agent from Washington, hit 2-of-3 field goals during the preseason.

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Orton deal leaves some scratching their heads

Kyle Orton AP

Kyle Orton quit on the Cowboys, forcing the team to eventually cut him and walking away with a full $5 million signing bonus despite putting in only two of five years of work.  Orton then one-upped Brett Favre, waiting until training camp and the preseason ended before going back to work, signing a contract with the Bills.

Some look at the deal that reportedly will pay Orton $5 million this year and scratch their heads.  He has created a perception that he doesn’t really want to play, and that he simply wants to cash large checks.

Despite a league-wide lack of talented quarterbacks, only the Bills took the bait, allowing Orton to breeze in a week before the season opener and giving him high-end backup money that could become low-end starter money, if EJ Manuel gets injured or doesn’t perform.

Looking at the bigger picture in Western New York, it’s not surprising that the Bills would roll the dice.  With a new owner coming and said new owner unlikely to keep the current football operation in place unless the team is playing so well that the fans wouldn’t accept a changing of the guard, the Bills need a break-glass-in-the-event-of-emergency option, in the event EJ doesn’t quickly take it to the proverbial next level.

The players may be skeptical that EJ will be the guy, what with the whole not-a-captain thing.  Which opens the door for the locker room to clamor for Orton, if Manuel regresses.

If/when Orton takes over, look for no one to display consternation or resentment over the fact that Orton swooped in at the last possible minute to get paid, without regard to whether he’s prepared to actually play.  But if he doesn’t play well, it’s fair to question whether Orton’s lack of desire to work from March through August has affected his ability to thrive from September to December.

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Bills name team captains, none of whom are E.J. Manuel

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Votes for team captains can be telling, as they’re a barometer of who leads in the locker room (if you trust the veracity of the count).

But sometimes, they can also be signs of pending change.

The Bills just announced their six captains for the coming season, none of whom are starting quarterback E.J. Manuel.

Cornerback Corey Graham, running back Fred Jackson, linebacker Brandon Spikes, defensive tackle Kyle Williams, defensive end Mario Williams and center Eric Wood received that honor.

Granted, Wood and Jackson have been around Buffalo much longer than Manuel, and have the kind of qualities you want in a leader.

But last year in Tampa Bay, quarterback Josh Freeman lost his C, and very quickly his starting job then his roster spot. There’s no indication that Manuel’s in that kind of jeopardy, but it might speak to how he’s viewed by his peers.

Assuming the voting is legitimate, of course.

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Mike Tice: Falcons’ O-line “won’t be punked over by anybody”

miketice AP

The toughness of the Falcons’ offensive line has been questioned often in the last year, most notably by owner Arthur Blank, who said he was bothered when none of the Falcons’ offensive linemen reacted to a hit on quarterback Matt Ryan. This year, Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice says his unit’s toughness won’t be in question.

Tice approved of the way his linemen went after defensive players who hit Ryan during the preseason, and he said opposing defenses had better know there will be no free shots at the Falcons’ quarterback this year.

“The one thing they won’t be, they won’t be punked over by anybody,” Tice said of his line, via ESPN. “That’s encouraging.”

The Falcons’ offensive line may be tougher, but it remains to be seen whether the Falcons’ offensive line will be better. The loss of left tackle Sam Baker will force Atlanta to start rookie Jake Matthews at left tackle this season, which means an unproven player is protecting Ryan’s blind side. The Falcons’ offensive line may not “be punked over,” but they still may struggle against good pass rushers.

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Ryan Shazier set to join exclusive club for Steelers

Carolina Panthers v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

No pressure, kid.

It’s not very often a defensive rookie starts the opener for the Steelers, but linebacker Ryan Shazier is about to do just that.

According to Ron Musselman of the Beaver County Times, Shazier will be the first since Kendrell Bell 13 years ago, and he went onto win defensive rookie of the year honors.

Prior to that, the last one was Jack Lambert in 1974, so Shazier realizes the expectations.

It’s been a dream of mine my whole life, to play in the NFL, and then the first game of my career is going to be a start,” Shazier said. “Words will not even be able to describe it. It puts me in nice company.”

Yes it does.

While their defense has been traditionally good, they’ve needed a shot of youth over there for some time. Shazier’s shown the athleticism and instincts needed, and should help immediately.

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Cowboys bringing in new defensive options

Lance Moore, C.J. Spillman AP

The Cowboys defense has been the subject of nothing but pessimistic prognostications, but the team is working to find improvement over the players they kept on the initial 53-man roster.

They’re looking to the NFC West for two additions. According to multiple reports, former 49ers safety C.J. Spillman and former Seahawks linebacker Korey Toomer will be signing with the team.

Spillman is the more experienced of the two players and has played in every game for the 49ers over the last three seasons. The majority of that work has come on special teams, although the Cowboys probably won’t be looking down their noses at anyone who might be able to help the defense. If the 49ers are lax about securing their signals, Spilman could also give the Cowboys an edge come Sunday in the opener for both teams.

Toomer was on waivers, but the Cowboys did not claim him and will instead be signing him directly to the 53-man roster. Injuries have kept the 2012 fifth-round pick from contributing, but his ability has led to plenty of offseason notice and, again, the Cowboys need all the help they can find.

The Cowboys will need to open two roster spots with the move of defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence to injured reserve/return one possibility.

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Chiefs claim Damion Square, sign nine to practice squad

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When you see a player move from the Eagles to the Chiefs, the impulse is to say that Chiefs coach Andy Reid made the move because of some knowledge he gleaned while he was still in Philadelphia.

That’s not the case with defensive lineman Damion Square, however. Square didn’t join the Eagles until Reid was already in Kansas City, so the Chiefs’ decision to claim him off of waivers wasn’t based on insider information.

Square played 10 games for the Eagles as a rookie and made four tackles. His addition gives them six defensive linemen and Square will likely work to earn snaps at end in the coming days. The Chiefs released tight end Richard Gordon to make room for him on the roster.

The Chiefs also announced that linebacker Nico Johnson, center Ben Gottschalk, running back Charcandrick West, guard Ricky Henry, wide receiver Darryl Surgent, wide receiver Fred Williams, fullback Jordan Campbell and defensive end Kona Schwenke have signed to the practice squad. The agent for former Bears linebacker Jerry Franklin said his client has also joined the practice squad in Kansas City, where Franklin will reunite with Chiefs (and former Bears) special teams coach Dave Toub.

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Monday morning one-liners

Andre Holmes, Shareece Wright AP

Five things the Bills want you to know about QB Kyle Orton.

Lamenting the departure of S Jordan Kovacs from the Dolphins.

LB Steve Beauharnais accepted an injury settlement from the Patriots.

Things have broken right for Jets WR David Nelson.

Ravens RB Ray Rice and S Will Hill have to work out on their own for a while.

How long will Bengals QB A.J. McCarron be sidelined by injury?

Browns QB Brian Hoyer will face the Steelers, a team he’s played for, in Week One.

WR Markus Wheaton is looking forward to playing a big role for the Steelers.

How quickly will QB Ryan Mallett be able to help the Texans?

Colts WR Reggie Wayne is preparing to be on the opposite sideline from former teammate Peyton Manning.

The Jags are working to get better on special teams.

The Titans know the benefits of a quick start.

Broncos CB Chris Harris is excited about getting back on the field.

The Chiefs are buying into QB Alex Smith.

It isn’t easy to project the Raiders 53-man roster way in advance.

Chargers CB Shareece Wright feels like he’s matured.

Newcomers will play a big role for the Cowboys this year.

The Giants defense will be tested right out of the gate.

Injuries to others have kicked up the pressure on the healthy Eagles linebackers.

The Redskins didn’t bring RB Lache Seastrunk back to the practice squad.

Bears coach Marc Trestman says he’ll spend more time with the defense this season.

Several players felt the impact of playing the Lions in the preseason.

C Corey Linsley is set for an integral role with the Packers.

Vikings rookie LB Anthony Barr is excited about his regular season debut.

Falcons DT Ra’Shede Hageman has been miked up a lot this summer.

The Panthers went with familiar faces on their practice squad.

WR Brandon Coleman hopes to make a good impression on the Saints in practice.

Breaking down the Buccaneers roster after cutdown day.

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald is working to get back into the flow.

Revisiting 10 questions about the Rams.

49ers players were popular on the waiver wire.

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson spent some time rooting for Wisconsin this weekend.

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Bills’ Eric Wood blames ESPN for lack of interest in Michael Sam

michaelsam AP

Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted in the NFL, was cut by the Rams on Saturday and passed over by all 31 other teams on waivers on Sunday, and so far he hasn’t even been able to land a spot on a practice squad. So are NFL teams avoiding Sam because he’s gay?

According to one NFL player, the answer to that question is yes — but not because teams are homophobic. Bills center Eric Wood says teams are avoiding Sam because they don’t want the ESPN hype that would come with having Sam, the only openly gay player in football, on the team. In response to a question from Ross Tucker about Sam’s lack of practice squad offers, Wood said ESPN is to blame.

Last week ESPN apologized for a report that quoted an unnamed Rams player as saying that Sam hadn’t showered with teammates in training camp. But even aside from that report, Wood’s view is the most sensible explanation for why Sam remains out of work: NFL teams just don’t like seeing one player singled out for any reason other than his play on the field.

Although there were some questions before this year’s draft about whether Sam would be a good fit in any NFL defense, Sam played well enough in the Rams’ scheme during his four preseason games that it’s surprising the Rams haven’t added him to their practice squad. It’s even more surprising that no other team has picked Sam up. It would be nice if some team had the guts to give Sam the chance he deserves, but Wood may be right that Sam is paying the price for teams being scared of distractions.

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Sixth-round pick Matt Hazel among 10 additions to Miami’s practice squad

Matt Hazel AP

The Dolphins’ initial practice squad includes one of their draft picks.

Sixth-round pick Matt Hazel, a wide receiver from Coastal Carolina, was among the 10 signees to the practice squad announced by Miami on Sunday.

The 22-year-old Hazel caught six passes for 87 yards and a touchdown in preseason play for Miami.

The Dolphins’ other practice squad additions are center Sam Brenner, offensive tackle Tony Hills, linebacker David Hinds, quarterback Seth Lobato, tight end Jacob Maxwell, defensive end D’Aundre Reed, cornerback Lowell Rose, defensive tackle Garrison Smith and wide receiver Tommy Streeter. Brenner, Lobato, Reed and Smith were waived by Miami on Saturday, then re-signed to the practice squad after clearing waivers.

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Robert Griffin III gets a statue at his alma mater

rg3statue AP

Robert Griffin III traveled from Washington to Waco this weekend to see himself immortalized at the age of 24.

Griffin was back at the campus of Baylor, the school where he won the Heisman Trophy and where a new football stadium has opened that features a bronze statue of Griffin outside.

“It’s amazing. You don’t dream about that kind of stuff,” Griffin told the Waco Tribune. “There’s a Statue of Liberty and all those other statues, but you don’t ever dream of having a statue honored in your name. That’s a blessing. It comes from God, and I don’t look at it as anyone putting me on a pedestal. I look at it as I know where my blessings come from, and they’re using me in a way to help other people. Not just to say, ‘he’s a great football player.’ I hope they say, ‘he’s a great man’ as well.”

Baylor President Ken Starr talked about Griffin in glowing terms, saying he hopes people will visit Waco to see Griffin’s statue just as they visit Washington to see the Lincoln Memorial and visit New York City to see the Statue of Liberty.

Griffin’s disappointing second season in the NFL has led to many questions about whether he can ever live up to the promise he showed as a rookie. But at Baylor, he’s still an idol.

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Jets add Matt Simms, six others to practice squad

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The Jets have re-signed one of the quarterbacks they waived Saturday to their practice squad.

Matt Simms, who was among the club’s final cuts, is among the first seven players added to the Jets’ practice roster, the team said Sunday.

Another practice squad addition was ex-Rams tailback Daryl Richardson, whom the Jets also waived Saturday.

The Jets’ other practice squad signees were defensive tackle Tevita Finau, defensive lineman Kerry Hyder, safety Rontez Miles, tight end Chris Pantale and offensive tackle Brett Qvale.

The Jets have three more practice squad spots to be filled.

Among the Jets’ cuts who have yet to be added to a practice squad is rookie quarterback Tajh Boyd, who cleared waivers Sunday.

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Chiefs extend Alex Smith

Smith AP

Alex Smith was prepared to pull the plug on contract talks if they ever became a distraction.  It never got to that point.

After an intense and largely secretive day of negotiations, the Chiefs and Smith have worked out a four-year, $68 million extension.

Per a league source, Smith gets $30 million guaranteed at signing.  Another $15 million in injury-only guarantee vests in March 2015.

Smith, who is still only 30 years old, was traded to the Chiefs last year for what ultimately became two second-round picks.  He performed very well in his first season with Kansas City, leading the team to the playoffs and having one of the best days of his career, which has become overlooked via the second-half defensive collapse that blew a 38-10 lead in Indianapolis.

Coupled with his 2014 base salary of $7.5 million, Smith gets $75.5 million over five years, an average of $15.1 million.

The first overall pick in the 2005 draft, Smith was regarded as a borderline bust until Jim Harbaugh arrived as head coach.  A very strong 2011 led to an equally impressive 2012.  But a concussion gave Colin Kaepernick a chance to play, and he played well enough to send Smith to the bench — and ultimately out the door.

Now, Smith has a contract that is much, much (did I say much?) better than the team-friendly deal that Kaepernick signed earlier this year.

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Cowboys bring running back Ryan Williams back to practice squad

Dallas Cowboys v Miami Dolphins Getty Images

As it turns out, Devon Still isn’t the only former second-rounder to make a practice squad this weekend, but at least he’s on the team that drafted him.

Among the seven practice-squaders signed by the Cowboys Sunday was running back Ryan Williams.

Williams was taken by the Cardinals in the second round of the 2011 Draft, 38th overall. He had a solid preseason for the Cowboys, but was released yesterday, as the Cowboys kept just Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle behind starter DeMarco Murray.

The Cowboys also signed wide receiver Tim Benford, defensive end Kenneth Boatright, center Ronald Patrick, safety Micah Pellerin and linebackers Keith Smith and Will Smith.

They also released tackle John Wetzel from the active roster to make room for guard Donald Hawkins, after claiming him off waivers from the Browns.

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