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Jeff Backus expected to miss the first game of his career

Jeff Backus, Riley Reiff AP

Lions left tackle Jeff Backus was Detroit’s first draft pick of the Matt Millen era, and unlike most of Millen’s draft picks, Backus has been a valuable player: He started the first game of his rookie year and has started every game since then, for 186 consecutive starts in all.

But that streak is expected to end on Thanksgiving.

Backus hobbled off the field with a hamstring injury in Sunday’s loss to the Packers, and the Lions have described him as doubtful for Thursday’s game against the Texans. So barring Backus surprisingly waking up on Thursday morning and feeling fine, it appears that the consecutive games streak will end at 186.

That streak is the longest among active NFL linemen and the third-longest among active NFL players, behind only Tampa Bay’s Ronde Barber and Washington’s London Fletcher, whose streak is also in jeopardy this week.

Rookie first-round draft pick Riley Reiff will start at left tackle in Backus’s place. Reiff was drafted with the idea that he would succeed Backus as the franchise left tackle of the future, and Backus’s injury means the future in Detroit is now.

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Chiefs announce eight roster cuts

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 16: Detailed view of Kansas City Chiefs helmets on the sidelines before the game against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum on December 16, 2012 in Oakland, California. The Oakland Raiders defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 15-0. Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Chiefs made eight roster cuts Sunday as they move towards Tuesday’s deadline to trim their roster to 75 players.

Waived by the team Sunday were wide receivers Seantavius Jones and Kashif Moore; defensive backs Bryce Cheek and Malcolm Jackson; defensive lineman Niko Davis; linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi and offensive linemen Drew Nowak and Curtis Feigt.

Massaquoi was a fifth-round pick of the Falcons in 2012 and has played in 39 career games. Nowak has prior experience with the Packers and Jaguars, and Jones played in three games for the Saints last season.

Final cuts to the regular season roster size of 53 are due by Sept. 3.

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Bill O’Brien “pleased” with where Brock Osweiler is right now

Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) throws against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith) AP

The Texans are a couple of weeks away from their first regular season game with Brock Osweiler at quarterback and the team is happy with the way things have gone in the preseason.

Assuming he sits on Thursday, Osweiler closed out the exhibition season by going 11-of-13 for 146 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals in a 34-24 victory. One of the incompletions was a drop by rookie wide receiver Will Fuller, who had a good day otherwise with three catches for 67 yards and a touchdown.

Osweiler also had success throwing to Braxton Miller and DeAndre Hopkins before handing the offense over to Tom Savage in a game that left coach Bill O’Brien feeling good about the man the Texans signed to run his offense.

“I thought Brock went in there and managed the offense well,” O’Brien said. “Made some good throws. I was pleased. He’s made a lot of progress. Improved every day. Easy guy to coach. Pleased with where he is right now.”

Osweiler’s done better each week during the preseason and said after the game that his confidence is growing every time out, which is the kind of trajectory you’d expect to see from a player gaining a better understanding of the offense. Should that trend continue, the Texans will like their chances of opening the year with a home win over the Bears.

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Report: 49ers likely to jettison Kaepernick, for football reasons

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

Colin Kaepernick has suddenly become the most controversial player in the NFL because of his refusal to stand for the national anthem. But there may be another issue that could cost him his job in San Francisco: He’s not a very good quarterback.

Jay Glazer said on FOX that the 49ers are deeply concerned with Kaepernick’s decline as a player, which started last season when he struggled before getting benched, then got even worse this offseason when he lost significant muscle mass when he couldn’t work out following multiple surgeries.

“Regardless of politics or not, he has a very, very big uphill battle to make this team,” Glazer said. “I’d be shocked if he’s on the 49ers by the time this season ends. It has nothing to do with political views whatsoever. He lost a ton of weight this offseason, had three surgeries, couldn’t work out, lost that double threat, that size-speed ratio. No political views, he just hasn’t been effective. He’s regressing as a player. I’d be shocked if he’s on this roster by the end of this year. He may not be on it in the next two weeks.”

Kaepernick’s contract guarantees him an $11.9 million salary this season, and ordinarily a player with an $11.9 million guaranteed salary isn’t going to get cut. But if the 49ers really think Kaepernick has regressed to the point where they’d be better off with Blaine Gabbert starting and Christian Ponder and Jeff Driskel backing Gabbert up, then they can save a little money by cutting Kaepernick and hoping he signs with another team, as they would be able to reduce that $11.9 million by the amount of Kaepernick’s salary with a new team.

So there are football reasons that the 49ers might want to get rid of Kaepernick. At this point, they probably wish they had done so before this weekend’s non-football controversy.

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Rueben Randle, Chris Givens headline first wave of Eagles cuts

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - AUGUST 27: Frankie Williams #46 of the Indianapolis Colts makes a tackle against Rueben Randle #82 of the Philadelphia Eagles in the third quarter of a preseason NFL game at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 27, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Wide receiver Rueben Randle said last week that he feels he gets “read wrong because I do a lot of things naturally and it doesn’t seem like I’m giving much effort.”

He’ll need to prove his effort level somewhere other than Philadelphia. Randle, whose inconsistency and perceived inattention to detail were problems during his years with the Giants, was among the players cut from the Eagles roster on Sunday as they dropped to 73 players.

He wasn’t the only veteran receiver bounced in the cutdown. Chris Givens was also given a pink slip, leaving both veterans out of work months after signing with the Eagles. Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, Dorial Green-Beckham, Nelson Agholor and Paul Turner are among the nine wideouts still on the roster.

The Eagles also parted ways with long snapper John DePalma, cornerback Randall Evans, offensive lineman Andrew Gardner, defensive tackle Mike Martin, safety Nick Perry and cornerback Denzel Rice. Linebacker Joe Walker and defensive end Alex McCalister were both placed on injured reserve.

All teams have to be down to 75 players by Tuesday’s deadline, leaving the Eagles in position to add players while other teams are dropping them in the next couple of days.

 

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Kaepernick: Liberty, freedom and justice are not happening for all

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

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision not to stand during the playing of the national anthem before games this year was the main topic in the 49ers locker room on Sunday as Kaepernick provided further explanation for that decision.

Kaepernick pointed to police brutality against people of color and said people are “not being held accountable” for their actions. He also criticized both of the major party candidates for president — “You have Hillary [Clinton] who’s called black kids, black teens ‘super predators.’ You have [Donald] Trump who’s openly racist” — while speaking for about 20 minutes on Sunday.

“Ultimately it’s to bring awareness and make people realize what’s really going on in this country,” Kaepernick said, via Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News. “There are a lot of things that are going on that are unjust, people aren’t being held accountable for, that’s something that needs to change. That’s something, that, this country stands for liberty, freedom, justice for all. And it’s not happening for all right now. … I’ll continue to sit. I’m continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me this is something that has to change, and when there’s significant change and I feel that that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent and this country is representing people in the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”

Kaepernick also addressed one of the frequent criticisms of his stand by saying that his decision to sit during the anthem is not a sign of disrespect for those that have served the United States in the military.

“I have great respect for our men and women that fought for this country,” Kaepernick said. “I have family, I have friends that have fought for this country. And they fight for freedom. They fight for liberty and justice, for everyone. And that’s not happening. I mean, people are dying in vain because this country is not holding its end of the bargain up as far as giving freedom and justice and liberty to everybody. It’s something that’s not happening. I’ve seen videos, I’ve seen circumstances, where men and women that have been in the military have come back and been treated unjustly by the country they fought for, and have been murdered by the country they fought for. On our land. That’s not right.”

Kaepernick’s meeting with the media came after 49ers players held a meeting that saw Kaepernick address his teammates. Center Daniel Kilgore said he “took offense” to Kaepernick’s actions before Friday’s game, but after listening to his teammate said “I do stand with Kap when he says enough is enough against crime, violence, discrimination and racism.”

Others are sure to continue to share their disagreements with Kaepernick’s point of view as they have over the last few days, which is their right just as it is Kaepernick’s to be on the other side of the issue. That’s something worth appreciating about this country wherever you might fall on the spectrum.

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Devon Still facing likely fine for knocking off Carson Palmer’s helmet

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) throws against the Houston Texans during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith) AP

In Sunday’s Cardinals-Texans game, Houston linebacker John Simon made an athletic play on a screen pass, tipping the ball, catching it, and exploding for a long return to the end zone for a score. The more significant moment from a play in an otherwise insignificant preseason game came immediately after the interception.

Texans defensive lineman Devon Still, drafted by the Bengals months after Palmer decided he no longer was playing for the team, applied a helmet-to-helmet hit on Palmer as he lunged to make the tackle of Simon. The hit sent Palmer’s helmet flying.

(A current Bengal would say Palmer simply should have just run his ass back to the sideline.)

Even when a quarterback decides to try to make a tackle after a turnover, he can’t be hit in the head or neck area or with the helmet. The move, which didn’t draw a penalty flag on Still, will likely nevertheless result in a fine being imposed.

Palmer’s sideline demeanor suggested that he chipped a tooth on the play. Coupled with a pair of interceptions in limited work, Palmer’s 2016 isn’t starting much differently than his 2015 ended.

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Devin Smith to reserve/PUP, Jets cut 11 other guys

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 04:  Eric Decker #87 of the New York Jets celebrates with Devin Smith #19 of the New York Jets as he scores their second touchdown during the game against Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium on October 4, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets stashed wide receiver Devin Smith on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, and cut 11 guys to get their roster down to 78 prior to Tuesday’s deadline to get to 75.

Smith wasn’t ready after tearing his ACL last December, but he didn’t look ready before then, either. The 2015 second-rounder only caught nine passes as a rookie.

Smith will miss the first six weeks of the regular season before he can be activated.

The Jets also released linebacker Deion Barnes, tackle Jesse Davis, center Kyle Friend, defensive lineman Shelby Harris, guard Jarvis Harrison, kicker Ross Martin, defensive lineman Helva Matungulu, running back Lache Seastrunk, tight end Jason Vander Laan, wide receiver Kyle Williams and running back Terry Williams.

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Carson Palmer done for day after two picks, hit to head

SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 19:  Quarterback Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals looks from the sidelines during the game with the San Diego Chargers during preseason at Qualcomm Stadium on August 19, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) Getty Images

The good news for the Cardinals starting offense on Sunday is that they found the end zone for the first time in the preseason.

The bad news is that David Johnson’s touchdown run was sandwiched between a pair of Carson Palmer interceptions. Vince Wilfork tipped a ball that wound up in Andre Hal’s hands to end the first Arizona possession of the game and set up a Houston touchdown.

Interception No. 2 came on a great play by Texans linebacker John Simon to tip an attempted screen into the air before corralling it and rumbling 59 yards for a touchdown. That poor outcome was made worse when Palmer was drilled by Texans defensive lineman Devon Still after a futile attempt to stop Simon. The hit to the head left Palmer without a helmet and members of the Texans medical staff were looking at Palmer on the bench after Drew Stanton took over at quarterback on the next possession.

That’s likely the last that we’ll see of Palmer this preseason. If so, he’ll end the exhibition season 12-of-22 for 139 yards with three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. That line doesn’t wipe out memories of the NFC title game as opening night against the Patriots draws closer.

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Rex Ryan suggests that, on his team, it’s mandatory to stand for the anthem

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library Getty Images

Plenty of NFL coaches and players will be asked plenty of questions about the decision of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to not stand for the national anthem. Bills coach Rex Ryan addressed the topic during a press conference on Sunday.

While Ryan chose his words carefully, his message was clear: On his team, guys stand for the anthem.

“I think first off, it’s an important thing for me,” Ryan said of the national anthem. “I think it’s a way of showing respect for the men and women who have served our country and are currently serving our country and that’s kind of how I look at it. But I have and I understand now that there’s some religious beliefs that don’t necessarily allow that. I had a player, he was really distraught over it, came up and saw me, and I’m like. ‘Hey look, you’ve got to do . . . .'”

Ryan didn’t identify the player who expressed concern or provide a time frame for the incident, and he wasn’t asked to do so.

“Anytime I talk to my team about that, if there’s personal beliefs or whatever that keep you from doing it, I understand,” Ryan said. “But at the same time, you know, you’ve got to look at the gifts that we have, the opportunity that we have to play a great game is through the men and women that serve our country. I think that’s an opportunity right there just to show respect, and I think that’s why when you see our team, every one of us are on that line and that’s kind of our way of giving thanks.”

Making Ryan’s remarks more intriguing than if they came from any other coach is the fact that Ryan previously has made his affinity for Kaepernick as a player clear. Also, Buffalo offensive coordinator Greg Roman served in that role during the best years of Kaepernick’s career. So if/when Kaepernick is available, the Bills are one of the short-list teams that would be obviously interested in him.

If Kaepernick persists in his refusal to stand for the flag, maybe they won’t be.

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Broncos seeing if anyone wants Britton Colquitt after offering pay cut

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 19:  Britton Colquitt #4 of the Denver Broncos celebrates their 26 to 16 win over the New England Patriots during the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 19, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Broncos used a seventh-round pick on a punter, not a high price to pay to find out if a guy can play.

And apparerently, Riley Dixon has punted well enough to convince them to try to move their high-priced incumbent.

According to Mike Klis of KUSA, the Broncos have called around to see if anyone’s interested in trading for veteran punter Britton Colquitt.

Dixon did all the punting and holding in Saturday’s game, and there was nothing about the performance (44.9 yards per punt) to make it obvious he can’t do it. And Colquitt seemed to realize he might have done his last work for the Broncos.

“We’ll see what God has planned,” Colquitt said. “God’s got me this far so I’m putting everything in his hands and we don’t have control over anything, anyway.’’

Of course, God wasn’t the one who decided to sign Colquitt to a contract extension after 2012 that made him the highest-paid punter in the game — that was John Elway. Colquitt took a pay cut last year, and they’ve offered him another this year, from $3.25 million down to $1.6 million.

It’s hard to imagine they’d get much in exchange for someone, or that anyone who traded for Colquitt wouldn’t try to beat the same kind of pay cut out of him.

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Mike Jenkins carted off after non-contact injury

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 03:  Mike Jenkins #24 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defends a pass to  Corey Brown #10 of the Carolina Panthers in the 1st quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cardinals were expected to play safety Tyrann Mathieu against the Texans on Sunday, but the team reversed course and sat Mathieu as he continues to make his way back from a torn ACL.

They also kept cornerback Patrick Peterson on the bench and now they’ve lost another member of the secondary. Cornerback Mike Jenkins, who signed with the team this offseason, went down without any contact while trying to tackle DeAndre Hopkins after a catch in the first quarter of the game.

A cart was sent out to pick up Jenkins, who banged his casted hand on it while being driven off the field with a look on his face that suggested a serious injury.

With Jenkins out, the Cardinals turned to Justin Bethel, who is fresh off the PUP list following foot surgery. The Texans went right at him and Brock Osweiler hit Will Fuller for a 35-yard gain that set up a field goal.

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Chargers confirm Branden Oliver suffered Achilles injury

San Diego Chargers running back Branden Oliver, left, is tackled by Arizona Cardinals defensive back Matthias Farley during the second half of a preseason NFL football game, Friday, Aug. 19, 2016, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy) AP

After Chargers running back Branden Oliver was carted off the field during Sunday’s game against the Vikings, FOX Sports reported on the telecast that Oliver had suffered an injury to his Achilles tendon.

Chargers coach Mike McCoy confirmed that injury when he met with the media after the game. Oliver is expected to miss the rest of the regular season.

“For a guy who works so hard and does everything the right way… it’s a shame,” McCoy said.

Oliver also missed the final eight games of last season with a toe injury, so it will have been a long time since he’s seen regular season action by the time the 2017 season rolls around.

Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead top the depth chart at running back for the Chargers. There’s little experienced depth behind them, which could lead the Chargers to look for help from someone who shakes loose from another roster.

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Darrel Young among 10 Bears cuts

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 20:  Darrel Young #36 of the Washington Redskins celebrates after scoring a third quarter touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles at FedExField on December 20, 2014 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Fullback Darrel Young’s time with the Bears didn’t last long.

The Bears signed the veteran to their 90-man roster on August 4, but announced Sunday that he is one of the first 10 cuts from the roster ahead of Tuesday’s deadline to drop to 75 players. Young, who played 90 games for the Redskins over the past six seasons, saw action in all three of the Bears’ preseason contests.

Chicago also waived running back Senorise Perry, who played all 16 games for the team in 2014 before missing all of last season with a foot injury. He was behind Jeremy Langford, Ka’Deem Carey, Jacquizz Rodgers and rookie Jordan Howard on the depth chart.

The other players waived on Sunday were wide receivers Kieren Duncan, Derek Keaton and Darrin Peterson; tight end Gannon Sinclair; offensive linemen John Kling and Martin Wallace; defensive lineman Keith Browner and defensive back Joel Ross.

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Jason Garrett on Tony Romo: We’ll take the situation day by day

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 03:  Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys sits on the bench late in the fourth quarter as the Washington Redskins beat the Dallas Cowboys 34-23 at AT&T Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett wasn’t ruling quarterback Tony Romo out of the regular season opener on Saturday and Sunday didn’t find him delivering a different message.

Garrett said that Romo is “going to start getting into rehab” that will include wearing a back brace to support the compression fracture in his back. That injury will reportedly keep Romo out for the next 6-10 weeks, but Garrett said that no one in the organization is setting a date for Romo’s return at this point in the process.

“Yeah, again, like with every player on our team, we’ll take the situation day by day,” Garrett said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Tony has a broken bone in his back. It’s a fracture. We’ve gotten a lot of different timetables for when he can return. We also know he’s played with a broken bone in his back before, so there is no reason for me to stand up here and put a timetable on this. I think a lot of that is people outside of this building have suggested what the timetable is. That’s not the world we live in. We live in the world of day by day, do what you can to get yourself better and we’ll update you as we go.”

Sunday is the first full day of practice for the Cowboys since Romo’s injury and Garrett said his message to the team is to “focus on doing our jobs” because adversity is an unavoidable part of the game. The Cowboys haven’t done a good job facing adversity caused by previous Romo injuries, but the hope this time is that Dak Prescott can keep the offense from falling off track without Romo.

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Jim Irsay says no surgery, 2-4 week absence for Jack Mewhort

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 07: Offensive tackle Jack Mewhort #75 of the Indianapolis Colts against the New York Jets during a preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 7, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

During Saturday’s game against the Eagles, Colts guard Jack Mewhort left with a knee injury and early reports were that he suffered a torn ACL that would end his 2016 season before August was out.

Colts owner Jim Irsay provided a more positive update to Mewhort’s condition on Sunday afternoon, however. Per Irsay, there’s no ACL tear and Mewhort’s return should come before the end of September.

That’s positive news for a Colts offensive line that hasn’t produced much of it in recent seasons and has struggled again this offseason, including a rough time in pass protection against the Eagles that led to an earlier than planned exit for Andrew Luck. Mewhort’s absence will still force some short-term shuffling while they try to fix the overall problems up front before Luck’s next exit comes by something other than coach Chuck Pagano’s choice.

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