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Bears place Rachal on reserve/non-football injury list

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The mystery of Chilo Rachal continues to unfold.

He walked out on the Bears after a bad performance on Monday night against the 49ers.  He was placed on the reserve/left squad list.  He then returned to the team.

Now, the Bears have placed him on the reserve/non-football injury list.

Rachal was reportedly distraught over his demotion from the first team, and his emotional state is “very bad.”  Still, that’s not an injury, and the Bears specifically used the term “non-football injury” not “non-football illness.”

Either way, Rachal is done for the year.  He’s also likely done as a Bear.

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Taylor Lewan has to “be smarter” after drawing fine for unnecessary roughness

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Rookie seasons are full of learning experiences and Titans tackle Taylor Lewan had one this week.

He learned that he’ll wind up with less money in his pocket if he isn’t able to avoid unnecessary roughness penalties on the field. Lewan was fined $8,200 for drawing a flag in the second quarter for retaliating to a shove from Saints defensive tackle Akiem Hicks with a shove of his own to Hicks’s facemask.

“It was petty; it was not very mature of me to do,” Lewan said, via the Tennessean. “But it was one of those heat-of-the moment things you have to be smart about.”

Lewan also drew a flag for grabbing Cameron Jordan’s facemask later in the contest, which makes for 30 yards in penalties for a Titans offense that doesn’t need those kinds of obstacles for success. It’s little surprise, then, that Lewan says he needs to “be smarter” moving forward because players that hurt their teams can find playing time hard to come by.

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Drew Brees hopes to shake off some rust, and a goatee

Tennessee Titans v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

Drew Brees will be able to shake off a little rust tomorrow night.

But perhaps more importantly (at least to his wife), he’ll be able to shave the goatee he’s been growing while he was on the sidelines rehabbing a strained left oblique.

I can’t say I grew a real good one,” Brees said, via Evan Woodberry of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “But I said, ‘Until I play, I’m going to grow it out.’ It’s getting shaved off pretty soon.”

And so is the time for him to prepare for the season. Unless they depart from normal protocol, that will give Brees exactly one game to get ready for the year, and he’s only going to play about half that one.

“It is important. That’s why I want to play well,” Brees said. “I want to get out there and feel comfortable. I feel like this week’s been great, just to get back out and feel like I’m throwing the ball like I should. Now it is time to take it to the game field and go through this final dress rehearsal before the [regular] season.”

Brees said he tried to hold himself back at first, not wanting to aggravate the injury. But when the game starts, his instincts will kick in, and it will be harder to slow down.

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Pettine says a package of plays for Manziel is a possibility

johnnymanziel AP

Brian Hoyer beat him out to be the Browns’ starting quarterback, but Johnny Manziel still might take some snaps in Week One against the Steelers.

Browns coach Mike Pettine told Ross Tucker on SiriusXM NFL Radio that a “Manziel package” is “on the table.”

“We could potentially look at a two-quarterback system down the road,” Pettine said.

That may conflict with what Pettine said when he announced Hoyer as the starter this week: Pettine had said that he didn’t want Hoyer to feel like he was on a short leash, and he wanted Hoyer to feel that the starting quarterback job was his to run with. Now Pettine is suggesting that Hoyer may have to take a seat (or line up wide as nothing more than a decoy) while Manziel comes on the field for certain plays.

However, Pettine has said in the past that he likes the idea of making opposing defenses think about the possibility of Manziel coming in and using his mobility to make plays. Pettine knows all too well how that can be tough for a defense: In 2012, when Pettine was defensive coordinator for the Jets, the 49ers used then-backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick in a special package of plays, and Kaepernick ran five times for 50 yards and a touchdown as the 49ers whipped the Jets 34-0.

I’ve seen that give defenses some trouble,” Pettine said. in July. “I think there’s positives and negatives to it. You’re taking your starter off the field. You have his rhythm and continuity to take into account, but at the same time defensively you’re now forcing a team to basically come up with two game plans. I mean, there are pluses and minuses to it.”

The pluses are that Manziel could get some playing experience, and that his athletic ability could help the Browns move the ball on the ground. But the big minus is that Pettine is already saying, just days after anointing Hoyer the starter, that Manziel may take some snaps away from Hoyer.

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Let’s play the “Who gets suspended this Friday?” game


It’s Friday.  And while the NFL privately bristles at the perception that it engineers the release of suspension-related news for the final day of the workweek, recent history warrants keeping an eye out for this week’s latest leak followed by an announcement that someone will be missing some time.

So who ya got?  Will it be Browns receiver Josh Gordon, who faces a one-year suspension under the substance-abuse policy?  Will it be 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith, who faces a multi-game suspension for multiple violations of the substance-abuse policy and the personal-conduct policy?

Or will it be Colts owner Jim Irsay, who was arrested in March for operating a vehicle while under the influence of prescription pain medication?  Will it be “retired” defensive lineman Josh Brent, who hopes to be reinstated after serving time for the DUI-related death of former teammate Jerry Brown?

Then again, it also could be someone on whom we’re not focused.  That’s what happened last week, when Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe received a one-game suspension, arising presumably from last year’s arrest on marijuana possession charges.

So who will it be this week?  While we await an answer, make your pick below.

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Vick says Geno has to win now

Vick AP

Since not long after he joined the Jets in March, quarterback Mike Vick has conceded the Week One starting job to Geno Smith.  Now, Vick has challenged Smith to keep it.

“There wasn’t patience with me,” Vick said, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.  “There wasn’t patience with Brett Favre.  I’ve seen Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco go in there as rookies.  Ben Roethlisberger.  They had to get it done and they got it done.  There’s really no patience, just being honest. . . . We got to win and we got to win now.”

Honesty hasn’t been an issue for Vick.  But this specific slice of honesty underscores the reality that Vick wasn’t brought in to serve as the content-to-hold-a-clipboard mentor to the younger player.  Vick will push Smith to get better, or Vick will push Smith to the bench.

As usual, Vick’s honesty is likely accurate.  With coach Rex Ryan’s contract extension operating as a practical matter as a one-year Band-Aid deal, he’s in the same position he occupied last year.  And Rex probably needs to get to the playoffs this time in order to secure a real extension.  If it appears that Geno, whom the team has propped up recently by pushing the notion that Smith took it upon himself to watch film of the defenses he’ll face this year (which many assumed already was standard operating procedure for starting quarterbacks), can’t get to the next level, Vick will get a chance to return to the level that made him one of the best players in the NFL both with the Falcons and more recently with the Eagles.

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A Jordan Palmer-Jimmy Clausen battle is important, really

Jordan Palmer, Jimmy Clausen AP

On its surface, the Jimmy Clausen-Jordan Palmer battle isn’t the kind of thing to make headlines.

But considering starter Jay Cutler hasn’t finished a season in four years, the Bears know better than anyone that a backup quarterback can determine their playoff future.

According to John Mullin of, Palmer and Clausen have alternated with the twos throughout the preseason, so it’s Palmer’s turn tonight against Seattle.

“I’ve been running this system for the past few weeks and OTA’s so I’m feeling very comfortable,” Palmer said. “It’s all about going through your progressions, getting the ball out of your hands because there’s so many guys who can make plays in this offense.”

If Palmer has an edge it’s familiarity and recent reps, as Clausen was signed late in OTAs and hasn’t thrown a pass in a regular season game since 2010.

“It’s definitely difficult,” Clausen said. “You don’t get a lot of reps with some of the guys. Practice time is limited and we’re not in training camp, but you’ve just got to adjust to that. You’ve just got to see when they’re getting out of their breaks, anticipate it and put the ball there for them.”

“All the guys are different. You’ve just got to keep taking the mental reps, watching what this guy does, that guy does.”

And while it doesn’t seem like the kind of thing you’d want to place your bets on, the collapse of 2011 should be enough to make Bears fans realize tonight’s worth paying attention to.

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Jason Verrett expected to make preseason debut

Jason Verrett AP

The Chargers made cornerback Jason Verrett their first-round pick in May knowing that he’d need time to recover from March shoulder surgery before he’d be ready to hit the field.

Verrett missed spring work, but started practicing in training camp and added more to his plate as his shoulder proved up to the challenge. Now he’s ready to take the next big step in his preparation for his rookie season as Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego reports that Verrett is expected to make his first appearance in a preseason game when the Chargers face the 49ers on Sunday.

His teammate Brandon Flowers is looking forward to seeing what Verrett can do in a game situation.

“He sticks in coverage,” Flowers said. “He’s a playmaker. He has that ‘want to’ in his eyes. I’ve been around a lot of cornerbacks in my days, from old guys to young guys. He wants to be the one to make a play. He’s not going to shy away from it like, ‘I hope the quarterback doesn’t throw my way on third down.’ He wants the quarterback to throw his way on third down. Just having that ‘want to,’ his athleticism, I can’t wait to see him when the lights come on.”

Cornerback was a weak spot for the Chargers last season and they weren’t shy about addressing it this offseason with the additions of Flowers and Verrett. If both live up to expectations, the chance to at least compete for a second straight playoff berth should be within reach in San Diego.

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Montori Hughes on leave from Colts after death of daughter

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Colts defensive tackle Montori Hughes has taken a leave from the team to deal with a family tragedy.

Coach Chuck Pagano announced on Thursday that Hughes’s three-month old daughter Maveah Alice died last week and that Hughes will be away from the team while dealing with the loss. Pagano said that the little girl had visited practice early in training camp and “she was perfectly fine” before getting ill.

“I can’t imagine. No parent should have to bury a child. We all go through circumstances. This is an extremely, extremely difficult time for Montori and his family. But we’ve got his back and we’ll get through this thing as a family like we get through anything,” Pagano said, via the Indianapolis Star.

We offer our condolences to Hughes and his family as they deal with their loss and hope he can make a successful return to the field when he feels ready to resume his career.

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Nate Burleson: Johnny Manziel’s still the man

Johnny Manziel AP

Johnny Manziel may not have won the starting quarterback job in Cleveland, but at least one member of the team’s receiving corps thinks that the future is still very bright for the first-round pick.

Nate Burleson said that Manziel’s extracurricular activities were not a problem for him because he has seen that Manziel “loves this sport and he wants to be great at it.” Burleson also thinks that a stint as a backup could make Manziel even better down the road.

“Johnny’s still the man. He’s still a really good quarterback. He’s an NFL-quality starting quarterback. … Johnny being the No. 2, as you want to call it, we got arguably the best No. 2 in the NFL,” Burleson said, via the Akron Beacon Journal. “Johnny will be successful in this league. He’ll have his opportunities. Regardless of how many chances he’ll get or waves of opportunities he gets, he’s going to take advantage of them. It’s not a bad thing for him to be the No. 2 [quarterback] Week One. He is a rookie, still has a lot to learn and to do as a professional and as a player when it comes to the playbook. He’s going to be all right. I’m a Johnny Football fan.”

Burleson’s support for Manziel doesn’t come at Brian Hoyer’s expense as he said he felt the team had two “winners” to choose from and praised Hoyer’s command of the offense. That command hasn’t been as evident to many others during the team’s preseason work, something that will have to change if Manziel is going to remain the No. 2 in Cleveland.

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Jeremy Maclin relieved after knee scare last night

Jeremy Maclin AP

When Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin went down in the second quarter last night, it was natural to jump to the conclusion.

With Maclin coming off a torn ACL, and going down without contact and clutching the same knee, even Eagles coach Chip Kelly “thought the worst.”

But moments later, Maclin was back on the field, disaster averted.

If I was fine, I was going to play,” Maclin said, via John Gonzalez of “I got up fine. It wasn’t anything. I was excited to get back out there and play. I think God definitely had my back on that one. When I got up and I was walking, the initial shock kind of went away, and I was pretty good.”

After last year’s injury, Maclin has had to work through some soreness in his legs, but the bigger challenge was the mental one.

“It’s tough,” Maclin said. “You need a strong-minded person to get through stuff like this. I’ve always been in a good place mentally. Initially, when it first happened a year ago, I was emotional. I was upset. I think the thing that kind of helped me in rehab and kept me going was the fact that I was mentally tough. Now I’m excited about going forward.”

The Eagles are excited about getting Maclin on the field with Riley Cooper and Jordan Matthews, and for a moment last night, it appeared that plan was dashed.

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Friday morning one-liners

Alex Henery AP

Bills WR Sammy Watkins ran routes against air in Thursday’s practice.

CB Will Davis has shown more consistency for the Dolphins.

Patriots RB Brandon Bolden thinks competition this summer has made him better.

CB Darrin Walls is expected to start for the Jets on Friday night.

Ravens WR Torrey Smith won the Tim Wheatley Award for his community service work.

RB Jeremy Hill may get work with the Bengals starters this week.

Said Browns T Joe Thomas of RB Ben Tate, “One of the bright spots on offense is how we’ve been able to run the ball with Ben back there and I expect him to have a great season for us.”

Steelers LB Ryan Shazier was “very disappointed” with the team’s play on Thursday night.

WR DeVier Posey did well during the Texans’ practices with the Broncos.

The state of G Jack Mewhort’s knee is an issue for the Colts.

The Jaguars are still waiting to name a starting center and right guard.

Titans QB Charlie Whitehurst probably won’t play this week.

WR Emmanuel Sanders was back at practice for the Broncos.

The Chiefs are one of many teams adjusting their defensive play due to the increased flags for illegal contact and holding.

Young cornerbacks are bidding for roles on the Raiders defense.

The Chargers aren’t worried about the field at Levi’s Stadium.

LB Anthony Hitchens got a turn with the first team at Cowboys practice.

Giants RB Andre Williams balked at those who thought he was talking trash about the Jets this week.

Eagles K Alex Henery missed another field goal Thursday night.

Ryan Clark likes what he’s seen from fellow Redskins S Bacarri Rambo.

Jordan Palmer is still trying to be the Bears’ backup quarterback.

Is there a role for RB Mikel Leshoure with the Lions?

The Packers have decisions to make at outside linebacker.

Vikings QB Matt Cassel isn’t worried about the reaction he’ll get from Chiefs fans.

The Falcons want to play at a higher offensive tempo.

Panthers CB Josh Norman has to avoid bad decisions on the field.

QB Drew Brees is ready to “just play ball” for the Saints.

Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith and C Evan Dietrich-Smith have bonded over their love of vintage cars.

WR Walt Powell is looking for a chance to show the Cardinals what he can do.

Rams LB James Laurinaitis has resumed practicing, but might not play this week.

WR Stevie Johnson thinks the 49ers will have a dynamic offense.

Seahawks DE Michael Bennett will have a chance to square off with his brother Martellus this weekend.

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Report: High Bills bid by Sabres owner Terry Pegula

Terry Pegula, Kim Pegula AP

Through all the twists and turns of the sale of the Bills, with all the potential celebrity possibilities, it appears the high bid so far has come from a local.

Via the Buffalo News, Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula turned in the highest of the three bids so far for the team.

According to a report by Forbes, the three non-binding bids all came in under $900 million.

The report said Pegula’s bid of $890 million topped the $820 million bid by the Toronto group faced by Jon Bon Jovi and the $809 million from Donald Trump. (What happened to $1 billion, all cash?)

Those numbers aren’t final, and the Forbes report suggested they’re so low that the league might want to scuttle the sale process and start over. But it does point to what has been reported previously, that Pegula was the front-runner to buy the team.

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Sharrif Floyd drops 30 pounds, feels ready for a big year

sharifffloyd AP

When the Vikings drafted defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd with the 23rd overall pick in last year’s draft, it was widely viewed as a steal. But Floyd had a mediocre rookie year in Minnesota.

This year, Floyd expects to be better, in part because he’s thinner: Floyd, who weighed in at 297 pounds at last year’s Scouting Combine, ballooned up to 330 during his rookie season. Now he’s back down around 300, and he thinks it will make a difference.

I’m feeling a lot better,” Floyd told the Pioneer Press. “It’s much easier on my knees. . . . I feel good and have confidence in my body weight.”

Floyd was a backup last year but will be a starter this year, and he says his improved cardiovascular conditioning will be important.

“I just feel lighter,” Floyd said. “I feel healthier. I feel like I can last a lot longer in the games and stuff like that. I feel great all-around as a player.”

Thats good news in Minnesota, where new coach Mike Zimmer needs Floyd to be a big part of his defense.

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Joe Mays to have surgery on injured wrist

Chiefs Training Camp AP

The Kansas City Chiefs will have to get by without the services of linebacker Joe Mays for the immediate future.

According to Dave Skretta of the Associated Press, Mays is set to have surgery on a wrist injury suffered last week against the Carolina Panthers.

Mays was penciled in as the second starting inside linebacker for Kansas City alongside Derrick Johnson. He is expected to have surgery later this week. Though no timetable is given for Mays’ expected return, the Chiefs will have to move forward without Mays for the time being.

Mays appeared in 14 games, making 13 starts, for the Houston Texans last season. He compiled 67 tackles, a sack and three passes defended on the season. The injury likely means linebackers James Michael-Johnson and Josh Mauga will be called upon to fill the void in the meantime.

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49ers replacing turf at Levi’s Stadium

Denver Broncos v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

After being forced to move practice out of Levi’s Stadium due to poor turf conditions on Wednesday, the San Francisco 49ers have decided to replace the playing surface altogether ahead of Sunday’s preseason game with the San Diego Chargers.

The 49ers cut short a public practice open to fans at their brand new stadium on Wednesday after several players continued to slip on the loose surface.

According to Janie McCauley of the Associated Press, the 49ers are working to re-sod the surface ahead of Sunday’s game.

“The 49ers organization would like to apologize to any fans who were inconvenienced by today’s practice ending early,” the team said Wednesday. “We have determined the appropriate measures necessary to have the field ready for Sunday and look forward to hosting the San Diego Chargers.”

It’s not unusual for stadiums with grass fields to need their field replaced during a season. It is unusual for it to happen after one game in the middle of August.

It appears as those some of the grass at the stadium just didn’t take hold to the ground strongly enough to provide a stable surface. After Sunday’s game against San Diego, the 49ers do not play at home again until Sept. 14. It could give the stadium a couple extra weeks for the new sod to take hold and provide a safe surface for the players.

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