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Patriots roll all over Jets in the first half

Steve Gregory AP

It’s fair to wonder if the 35-3 Patriots lead at halftime of Thursday night’s game with the Jets has more to do with the Patriots playing well or with the Jets doing their best impression of  a ship filled with dynamite getting hit by a flaming comet that’s pierced our atmosphere.

The Patriots turned four Jets giveaways into 28 points and Tom Brady hit Julian Edelman for a 56 yard touchdown pass to make it 35 before the teams headed back to the locker room for the break. All of the points came in the second quarter and 21 of them came in a 52 second span that eliminated all hope for a Jets victory.

 

There have been chants for Tim Tebow at the Meadowlands, as the fans in attendance seem somewhat less amused by Mark Sanchez’s latest flop than those of us who have watched him run into guard Brandon Moore and fumble about 15 times while nibbling at what’s left of the pumpkin pie. Whether because of a rib injury or the coaching staff’s general disdain for his abilities, Tebow hasn’t played on offense yet in this contest.

Brady has hit on 8-of-14 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns and the Patriots might let him hit the Thanksgiving buffet a little earlier than anticipated if the Jets’ field goal with two seconds left in the half doesn’t foreshadow an offensive explosion for the ages in the second half. In other words, someone remind Tommy to leave a little gravy for the rest of the team.

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Connor Shaw says hit that injured him was “cheap BS”

Chicago Bears quarterback Connor Shaw (8) holds his leg after getting hurt on a play during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016, in Chicago. The Chiefs won 23-7. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn) AP

Bears quarterback Connor Shaw suffered a broken leg in Saturday’s preseason game, and he wasn’t happy about the hit that injured him.

Shaw took to Twitter and scolded Chiefs defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches, writing, “Injuries are a part of the game & I understand that. This should’ve been avoided. No need for that type of cheap BS!”

Shortly after tweeting that, Shaw deleted it. He did not explain why.

The hit from Nunez-Roches did come after Shaw had already thrown his pass, and Nunez-Roches seemed to unnecessarily jump into Shaw. Nunez-Roches certainly wasn’t trying to break Shaw’s leg (the hit was high and the injury happened as the two of them fell to the ground), but it was unnecessary.

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At some point, Cowboys may have a decision to make on Tony Romo

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is examined on the sideline after he left the game with an injury during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear) AP

Last year, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo played in only four games. This year, he could miss half the season, or more, with a back injury suffered on Thursday night in Seattle.

At some point, the Cowboys need to ask themselves whether Romo continues to be worth the money he makes, in light of his age, his injury history, and the likelihood of future injuries.

They may decide that Romo is worth it, and he may get the benefit of the doubt that comes from being the best quarterback in franchise history not named Roger Staubach or Troy Aikman. Then again, the Cowboys also may rip the “ROMO” off the back of the jersey make a business decision about a player who, in the last two years, isn’t providing much of a return on his investment.

Via Spotrac.com, Romo is due to make $8.5 million this year, $14 million in 2017, $19.5 million in 2018, and $20.5 million in 2019. Apart from the cash commitments, the cap number becomes a very important consideration.

For now, the total cap hit for cutting Romo still exceeds the current-year cap charge for keeping him. As of next year, however, it flips. In 2017, keeping Romo results in a $24.6 million cap charge, dumping him triggers a total cap charge of $19.6 million, which the Cowboys could spread over two years. In 2018, the gap becomes even more significant, with a $25.2 million hit to keep Romo and only $8.9 million in dead money from cutting him.

Regardless, then, of the number of years Romo intends to continue to play, at some point the Cowboys will need to ask whether they want him to continue to play, and the dollars and cap hits will be a factor in that assessment — especially in 2018. Perhaps the biggest factor will be the team’s alternatives at the position. That makes Dak Prescott’s performance during Romo’s 6-10 week absence even more important.

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Carlos Dunlap has very big goals for 2016

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 6: Carlos Dunlap #96 of the Cincinnati Bengals pumps up the fans that traveled to Cleveland to cheer on the Bengals while playing the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

Last year, Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap had a career-high 13.5 sacks. This year, he’s hoping to match that number — and to add another 9.5 to it.

“I want the NFL sack title,” Dunlap tells Michele Tafoya of NBC’s Sunday Night Football in advance of Sunday night’s nationally-televised preseason game between the Bengals and Jaguars, “and that record from Michael Strahan.”

That record from Michael Strahan is 22.5 sacks in a single season, a mark set in 2001. To get there, Dunlap may need to persuade Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco to take a Brett Favre-style dive or two (or more) in Week 17, which Favre did for Strahan to let him set the mark 15 years ago.

Personal goals are fine, but the Bengals collectively are hoping to run their streak of consecutive playoff appearances to six — and to end their streak of consecutive wild-card losses at five. So maybe Dunlap should save a few of those sacks for the postseason.

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Falcons sign Dashon Goldson

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 22:  Dashon Goldson #38 of the Washington Redskins tackles Jonathan Stewart #28 of the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Falcons didn’t wait long after learning rookie safety Keanu Neal will miss 3-4 weeks because of a knee injury that requires surgery to bring veteran Dashon Goldson in for a visit.

Their timeline remained brisk after that meeting as, per multiple reports on Sunday morning, Goldson is signing with the Falcons.

Goldson made 15 starts for the Redskins last season, finishing the year with 110 tackles, an interception he returned for a touchdown and a forced fumble. He was released in March and had a couple of visits over the offseason that didn’t result in a new job.

Goldson, who previously played for the Buccaneers and 49ers, joins a safety group that also includes Ricardo Allen, Kemal Ishmael and Robenson Therezie while Neal is out of action.

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Victor Cruz: It felt like old times

New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz (80) catches a pass before an NFL preseason football game against the New York Jets on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) AP

Highlights were hard to find for the Giants offense against the Jets on Saturday night, but one came on a four-yard gain in the third quarter.

That was Victor Cruz’s first catch since tearing his patellar tendon early in the 2014 season and even a modest gain represents a big step forward for a player who went on to miss all of last season with a calf injury. Cruz then missed the first two games of this summer with a groin injury before finally connecting with Eli Manning for the first time in a long time.

“It felt like old times,” Cruz said, via the New York Post. “I caught the ball in the flat and tried to make something happen, but I got to feel a little bit of contact, which was a great feeling. Just to come out here healthy and be in the position to make some plays and catch the football and just come out and feel healthy and feel good about myself.”

Cruz was targeted one other time on a pass that was nearly intercepted by Jets safety Marcus Gilchrist. Manning was intercepted by Darrelle Revis on a play that saw Odell Beckham pull up to avoid a hit from safety Calvin Pryor. Manning called it the right move to avoid possible injury in a preseason game and blamed himself for leading Beckham into it.

The pick was part of a dismal outing overall for the Giants starters. The Giants failed to move into enemy territory until backups were in the game in the third quarter, leaving several members of the team talking about having work to do heading into the regular season. That Cruz will be part of that work is one positive to take away from Saturday night.

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Dak Prescott declares himself to be the smartest quarterback in the class

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) talks with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) and other players after a preseason NFL football game Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 27-17. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) AP

Seven quarterbacks came off the board before him in April, but that doesn’t keep Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott from putting himself at the top of the stack.

“Knowledge-wise, I think I’m the smartest quarterback that came in this class,” Prescott recently told USA Today. “I would love to go on the board and go head to head with anybody else. That’s how I feel. That’s how confident I am.”

Quarterbacks need to have confidence in themselves. But they also need to be able to back it up, or no one else will have confidence in them.

But Prescott’s confidence may not be misplaced, even though in college his place usually was in shotgun formation.

“The offense we ran at Mississippi State was nothing short of an NFL offense,” Prescott said. “The only thing that was different is that we didn’t go under center. I swear to you, in [pre-draft] visits, every play they showed me, I could name it. We just called it something different. At another team I visited, they ran the exact same stuff we ran.”

Prescott will still have to take some snaps under center in order to run the Dallas offense. He nevertheless has looked great in either spot through three preseason games. Which will only give him more confidence now that he is stepping into the starting job for the foreseeable future.

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Gary Kubiak on Trevor Siemian: I see a guy getting better

Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian (13) thaws as Los Angeles Rams defensive end Eugene Sims (97) pursues during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney) AP

Broncos coach Gary Kubiak came into Saturday’s game with the intention of making his decision on a starting quarterback after his team faced the Rams and nothing’s changed after watching Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch against Los Angeles.

Kubiak said after the game that he’s “got enough going on that I can make a decision,” although he didn’t say how quickly he’d be sharing that decision publicly. Siemian has started the last two games, though, and Kubiak had a lot of nice things to say about the way he played on Saturday, including the way he followed an interception with a touchdown on the next possession.

“I’m impressed. I think he’s very calm,” Kubiak said, via ESPN.com. “I can tell by the way he handles the team in the huddle, he’s got control of what’s going on. Gets a bad break on the ‘go’ ball and comes right back and goes down the field. I think what I see is a guy getting better.”

Mark Sanchez didn’t play at all on Saturday, something that Kubiak said he spoke to the veteran about on Saturday morning and explained as having “a lot to go on on Mark” while wanting to see the younger quarterbacks. That may have turned out to be the problem for Sanchez as the preseason unfolded as there’s not the same sense that he’ll be getting better at this point in his career that one can get from Siemian and Lynch.

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Anquan Boldin on Kaepernick: Respect his opinion, even if you disagree

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 20: Colin Kaepernick #7 and Anquan Boldin #81 of the San Francisco 49ers react following a failed fourth down conversion in the second half against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game at Heinz Field on September 20, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) Getty Images

Lions receiver Anquan Boldin is one of the NFL’s most respected veteran players and was chosen as the Walter Payton Man of the Year this year. Boldin also played with Colin Kaepernick for three years in San Francisco. So Boldin’s views on Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem may resonate with a lot of his fellow NFL players.

“I think a lot of people get bent out of shape about it,” Boldin said. “Even if you don’t agree with what someone does, you still have to respect their opinion and how they feel about something. You can agree or disagree with it but you still have to respect it. That’s the right that we have as Americans, and that’s the great part about being an American.”

Boldin does stand for the national anthem but thinks Kaepernick has the right to choose not to.

“I respect everybody’s opinion,” Boldin said. “Everybody has one. I’m sure he’s going to get flack for it, what he did, but that’s the great thing about being in America, you have that option.”

Although Kaepernick’s refusal to stand has been a controversial topic, other NFL players seem to be lining up behind Boldin, respecting Kaepernick’s right even if they disagree with his opinion.

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Siemian solid before giving way to Lynch

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 20:  Quarterback Trevor Siemian of the Denver Broncos throws as he warms up before a preseason NFL game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 20, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

Trevor Siemian got his second straight start Saturday night in his bid to win the Broncos’ starting quarterback job.

Siemian led one touchdown drive, one field goal drive and threw an interception. A 43-yard pass from Siemian to Demaryius Thomas set up a field goal that gave the Broncos a 10-9 halftime lead over the Rams.

As expected, rookie first-round pick Paxton Lynch was next and replaced Siemian to start the second half.

Siemian was 10-of-17 passing for 122 yards. His touchdown drive covered 67 yards in seven plays and was capped by a 1-yard pass to tight end Victor Green.

Three straight Siemian completions jumpstarted the touchdown drive, and two C.J. Anderson runs set the Broncos up with a first and goal situation.

Mark Sanchez started the first preseason game, but Siemian — who’s never thrown a pass in a regular season game — has since taken the lead in the camp battle. The Broncos want to bring Lynch along slowly, so as of now it appears Siemian will start when the Broncos host the Panthers to open the season.

On the Broncos’ broadcast, General Manager John Elway said Siemian “got off to a slow start tonight but then had a good second quarter. It’s been a good battle…we’re in a good spot.”

Later, Elway said the team has “seen a lot of positives” from Lynch, who’s “getting better every day. We think the ceiling is really, really high.”

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Report: Mewhort has torn ACL, will miss season

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 21: Calvin Pace #97 of the New York Jets rushes against Jack Mewhort #75 of the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 21, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Colts guard Jack Mewhort suffered a torn ACL during Saturday night’s preseason game vs. the Eagles, NFL Network reported.

Mewhort will miss the entire 2016 season if further examination confirms a torn ACL and the Colts, already thin on the offensive line, will have to scramble to try to replace one of their better players.

A tackle during his Ohio State career, Mewhort has played both guard and tackle in each of his seasons with the Colts. The Colts hoped to end their offensive line shuffle this season and hoped Mewhort would both elevate his game and help rookie center Ryan Kelly.

Instead, they’re now searching for help at both cornerback and on the offensive line with the season opener two weeks away.

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Stork tweets that he’s excited to report to Redskins

Super Bowl XLIX - New England Patriots v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

Bryan Stork is apparently going to officially be new Redskins center Bryan Stork fairly soon.

Stork tweeted Saturday night that he’s anxious to get the next chapter of his career started.

“I will forever have nothing but great memories at [the Patriots],” Stork tweeted. “Looking forward to making more [with the Redskins].”

The Patriots traded Stork to the Redskins this week. Stork had contemplated retirement, according to reports, and Redskins Coach Jay Gruden told reporters that Stork still had to make “a final decision.”

Stork started 11 games for the Patriots as a rookie in 2014 and six last season. He’s battled concussion issues, but the Redskins see him as a solid insurance policy after their longtime center, Kory Lichtensteiger, was limited to five games last season.

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Offenses sharp in Titans-Raiders game

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 20:  Marcus Mariota #8 of the Tennessee Titans stands under center during the first half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 20, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

Preseason results don’t mean much and are usually quickly forgotten. In Oakland Saturday night, it’s fair to say the offenses beat the defenses.

The Titans got the ball first and scored immediately. A 60-yard pass from Marcus Mariota to rookie Tajae Sharpe set up a short touchdown run by DeMarco Murray. The Raiders came right back and scored on a 6-yard pass from Derek Carr to rookie DeAndre Washington.

Sharpe has been really good throughout camp and has probably won a spot in the opening day starting lineup.

Carr threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper later in the first half, and Derrick Henry ran for another Titans touchdown. The Titans led 20-14 at halftime when Mariota was removed from the game. He was 9-of-16 for 170 yards and looked sharp commanding an offense that mixed in some option plays and plenty of rollout passes.

Veteran Andre Johnson caught three passes for 65 yards for the Titans. Cooper had three catches for 52 yards including the 29-yard touchdown.

Carr threw one pass in the second half before being removed from the game. He finished 12-of-18 for 169 yards.

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David Harris suffers shoulder injury

Denver Broncos v New York Jets Getty Images

Veteran Jets linebacker David Harris suffered a shoulder injury and has been declared out of Saturday night’s Jets-Giants preseason game.

Harris suffered the injury late in the first half. He probably wasn’t going to return to Saturday night’s game anyway, but he’s a key player in the Jets’ defense and the Jets hope he won’t miss any real time.

Harris, 32, is entering his 10th NFL season. He hasn’t missed a start since 2008.

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Mewhort leaves game with knee injury

Wild Card Playoffs - Cincinnati Bengals v Indianapolis Colts Getty Images

Colts guard Jack Mewhort suffered a knee injury in the second quarter of Saturday night’s preseason game vs. the Eagles. Mewhort is one of the Colts’ best offensive linemen, and if Mewhort suffered a significant injury it would be a significant blow to the Colts.

The Colts just don’t have much depth across their offensive line, a unit that struggled again vs. the Eagles. At halftime, Colts coach Chuck Pagano said his linemen had “to man up and block their guys.”

The team announced only that Mewhort would not return to Saturday’s game. Earlier in the game the Colts lost cornerback Darius Butler to an ankle injury, a further blow to another already thin position group.

A second-round pick in 2014, Mewhort has played both guard and tackle in each of his previous two NFL seasons.

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Forte gets involved quickly in Jets debut

New York Giants' Olivier Vernon (54) tackles New York Jets' Matt Forte (22) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) AP

The Jets were patient with running back Matt Forte over the last several weeks. But when Forte made his preseason debut in Saturday night’s game vs. the Giants, the Jets kept Forte busy.

Forte got five touches on the game’s first drive, three by run and two on receptions from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Jets lined up Forte in the backfield and also as a slot receiver to both sides in different personnel groupings.

He played 11 of 20 snaps in the first quarter and touched the ball on eight of those 11. He ended up carrying 10 times for 28 yards and catching two passes for nine yards before being taken out of the game in the second quarter.

Forte, 30, figures to be the team’s starting running back and a key contributor. He only missed eight games in eight seasons with the Bears, but the Jets know he has some mileage and obviously want to keep him fresh and on the field. A hamstring injury suffered just before camp sidelined Forte, and he’s been eased back into practices over the last two weeks.

Veteran wide receiver Brandon Marshall was held out of the game, so the Jets still have not played with their whole complement of offensive weapons this preseason.

The Jets led 7-0 at halftime with the only score coming on a Fitzpatrick touchdown pass to Eric Decker. The Giants managed just 47 yards of offense in the first half.

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