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Rodgers insists he and Finley are good, again

Aaron Rodgers, Jermichael Finley AP

Maybe like cheese curds and snowmobiles, the Jermichael FinleyAaron Rodgers-chemistry storyline is the kind of thing that makes sense only if you’re in Wisconsin.

Because from afar, it seems like far more ink is spilled on this particular interpersonal relationship than is warranted.

The latest version of “Finley’s unhappy” came last week, though the interview was harvested before the Packers tight end played a key role in the win at Detroit.

But Rodgers said Tuesday afternoon during his radio show (comments from which were published in the wee hours of Wednesday at that he and Finley had no problems, and that the story didn’t change their relationship.

“Most of the time if something is said, whether it came out wrong or maybe it did come out the way they want it to, I have an open door policy at my locker. Come talk to me, and if you don’t, I’m going to come talk to you probably,” Rodgers said. “In that situation though, it was so far after the fact. Whenever the interview was done, I think it was Thursday before Detroit, we talked on [that] Saturday and had a great conversation. . . . In my opinion, there was nothing in that story that was going to come between our relationship. I didn’t really see the correlation between that story and anything that we had talked about on Saturday. So there was, in my opinion, no reason to talk to him about it.”

In Sunday’s loss to the Giants, Finely dropped a pass, and Rodgers went right back his direction, which he said suggests the level of trust he has.

“With Jermichael, I think it’s been about getting on the same page and spending some time together,” Rodgers said. “And I think the thing I appreciate about him over the last three or four weeks is just how he really has been a good teammate. I think he really has. He cares about his guys; he’s been intentional about spending time with me and wanting to make sure we’re on the same page. And I think it’s helped. I really do think it’s helped.

“I think the best is still in front of him for this season and I think there’s going to be even more opportunities as we go. I really like what I’ve seen from him and I think he’s going to be important to us as we make this stretch run.”

OK, now that they’ve hugged it out, maybe this story will go away.

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Ezekiel Elliott on pot shop visit: I was curious, it was a bad decision

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) rushes against the Seattle Seahawks in the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, in Seattle. The Seahawks beat the Cowboys 27-17. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear) AP

Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott’s visit to a marijuana store in Seattle ahead of last week’s preseason game against the Seahawks drew a rebuke from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones that appears to have made an impression on Elliott.

Jones said “it’s just not good” for Elliott to be at the store and taking pictures with fans even if he didn’t buy or use marijuana during his visit. On Monday, Elliott said that he understands why Jones feels his sightseeing made for bad optics.

“I was curious,” Elliott said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. I wasn’t breaking any laws or anything. It was a bad decision. It was something I shouldn’t have done. But I know now. … You definitely got to think of the perception of things before you actually do certain things. It may not seem like a big deal to you yourself but there is a bigger picture. It’s definitely a learning experience about the scrutiny. You just got to be careful and not give anyone a chance to say anything.”

Visiting stores selling legal products isn’t usually the sort of thing that leads to scrutiny of players from the league or teams, but Ed Werder of ESPN reported that there’s concern about a “pattern of disturbing behavior” around Elliott. If that’s the case, one would hope that domestic violence allegations leveled against Elliott are at the forefront rather than the way he chose to explore Seattle before the game.

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What’s next for Matthews, Peppers, Harrison, Neal?

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 13:  The logo for Al Jazeera America is displayed outside of the cable news channel's offices on January 13, 2016 in New York City. Al Jazeera America, which debuted in August 2013,  announced today that they are shutting down. Employees of the struggling news network known as AJAM were informed of the decision during an all-hands staff meeting on Wednesday afternoon.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Getty Images

The four current players implicated last December in the Al Jazeera documentary regarding PED use (Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, James Harrison, and Mike Neal) have submitted to interviews. So what’s next?

The expectation from the players’ perspective is that all four will be exonerated quickly, in the same way Peyton Manning was. That’s also the way the wind currently is blowing at 345 Park Avenue, where the private message continues to be that this all could have been quickly taken care of in March, if the players had merely agreed to talk.

Will it be quickly taken care of in August? The players, through the NFL Players Association, feared that the NFL secretly had other evidence beyond the claims of former Guyer Institute employee/intern/whatever Charles Sly, or that the league would follow the interviews with a request that the players produce their phones.

For now, there’s no indication that the NFL plans to move in that direction. Given that Sly necessarily was discredited by the finding in the Peyton Manning investigation suggests that Sly will be discredited as to the others, too. If not, the investigation and disciplinary process will hover over the start of the 2016 season, if not beyond.

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Belichick declines comment on Kaepernick situation

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick takes questions from members of the media during a news conference before a scheduled NFL football training camp practice, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) AP

Several coaches have chosen to talk about the Colin Kaepernick situation in San Francisco. Patriots coach Bill Belichick has chosen not to.

“We’re really focused on what we do and getting ready for the Giants, improving our football team,” Belichick told reporters on Monday. “We’re not here to talk about political commentary or ideology and all of that.”

And that was that. No follow up, no alternative approach, no tiptoeing-on-eggshells effort to get the Wizard to deviate from his initial position.

Belichick’s father was a renowned scout at the Naval Academy, and Bill was a fixture on the Annapolis campus as a boy. His opinions, if he’d express them, could be intriguing.

On one hand, refusing to stand for the national anthem can be seen as a sign of disrespect to the military, and to the country. On the other hand, it can be viewed as the exercise of one of the basic freedoms for which thousands have died.

For now, no one knows where Belichick lands on that spectrum. Chances are we never will.

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Brett Hundley, Jeff Janis return to practice for Packers, who also cut six guys

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jeff Janis makes a catch during NFL football training camp, Sunday, July 31, 2016, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke) AP

The Packers are blessed with enough offensive options that their backups get more attention than some teams’ starters.

And they got two guys they haven’t seen enough of back on the field Monday.

Via Rob Demovsky of, backup quarterback Brett Hundley and wide receiver Jeff Janis returned to practice today.

Janis has been out since Aug. 10 with a broken hand, and was practicing with a large club-type cast on. While that complicates the life of a person who catches things for a living, Janis would be able to take part in special teams with such an apparatus.

Hundley has only played in one preseason game, but unlike Aaron Rodgers, that wasn’t on purpose. He’s been bothered by an ankle injury throughout camp that has left most of the reps they were planning to give him in the hands of undrafted rookies Joe Callahan and Marquise Williams.

The Packers also announced the first six of their cuts. They released defensive tackle Demetris Anderson, cornerback Randall Jette, wide receiver Jamel Johnson, linebacker Derrick Mathews, punter Peter Mortell and wide receiver Ed Williams.

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Lions cut 10, put one on injured reserve

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 12:  Darrius Heyward-Bey #88 of the Pittsburgh Steelers catches a 29 yard touchdown pass in the second quarter against Crezdon Butler #29 of the Detroit Lions during the game on August 12, 2016 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Getty Images

The cuts have started in Detroit ahead of Tuesday’s deadline to get to 75 players.

The Lions announced that 10 players have been dropped from the roster and that long snapper Jimmy Landes has been placed on injured reserve. That group includes the previously reported release of veteran offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz.

Tight end Matthew Mulligan and cornerback Crezdon Butler joined Schwartz as vested veterans given their release on Monday. Mulligan, a blocking specialist, signed with the team in April while Butler has played 45 games for eight teams since 2010, including eight with the Lions last season.

Placing Landes on injured reserve with a shoulder injury means Don Muhlbach will be handling the team’s snapping for another year.

Kicker Devon Bell, wide receiver Quinshad Davis, guard Chase Farris, defensive end Deonte Gibson, defensive end Louis Palmer, cornerback Rashaad Reynolds and defensive end Quanterus Smith round out the list of former Lions. Detroit now has 78 players on the roster.

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Suh mum on his injured ankle

ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 19:  Ndamukong Suh #93 of the Miami Dolphins watches from the sidelines during a pre-season game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on August 19, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

On Thursday night in Orlando, Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh suffered an ankle injury. On Monday, he had an opportunity to provide an update regarding his condition.

Asked about the severity of the injury, Suh said, “You’ll have to ask coach.”

Asked whether it’s affecting him at all, he provided a two-word version of the same answer: “Ask coach.”

Teams aren’t required to disclose injury information in the preseason, and players never are. For Miami, the first obligation comes in advance of the Week One game at Seattle.

Sometimes, a team’s approach to injury information creates conflict with the players, who would prefer that fans and media would be aware of an excuse for poor performance. Teams prefer to keep the target off the injured area and otherwise to keep the opponent in the dark, as much as possible.

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Broncos drop to 79 players

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 28:  Strong safety Brandian Ross #29 of the Oakland Raiders looks up after saying a prayer in the end zone before a game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 28, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Broncos are trying to find a way to get quarterback Mark Sanchez off the roster while getting something back in return, but they need to drop to 75 players by Tuesday whether they can trade him or not.

They started the process of getting there on Monday by parting ways with 11 players, leaving them with four more moves to make before the deadline.

Safety Brandian Ross and wide receiver DeVier Posey are the most experienced of the group. Ross has played 45 games with the Raiders, Dolphins and Chargers since the start of the 2012 season while Posey caught 22 passes in 26 games for the Texans after they drafted him in the third round of the 2012 draft.

The other players let go are tight end Manasseh Garner, safety Antonio Glover, defensive lineman Calvin Heurtelou, tackle Cameron Jefferson, nose tackle David Moala, wide receiver Durron Neal, linebacker Darnell Sankey, linebacker Frank Shannon and offensive lineman Mathu Gibson.

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Ravens say Dennis Pitta’s close to returning from broken finger

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 03:  Dennis Pitta #88 of the Baltimore Ravens makes a 9-yard reception in the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers during Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on February 3, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Ravens’ depth at tight end took a major hit when Benjamin Watson was lost for the season with a torn Achilles.

But they’re getting closer to getting some of it back.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters that tight ends Dennis Pitta and Maxx Williams would be back before the regular season opener.

Pitta’s been out since breaking his finger Aug. 1 in a practice fight with a teammate. Of course, that’s just the latest injury Pitta’s trying to come back from, as he’s played three games the last two seasons because of hip problems. Williams has been out with an undisclosed injury.

With Pitta on the shelf and most of their receivers of note recovering from something, it’s been hard for Joe Flacco to build up much of what you’d call timing with his targets in the preseason. But he and Pitta have played together enough that it shouldn’t be a long-term problem.

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Broncos trying to trade Mark Sanchez

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 20:  Quarterback Mark Sanchez of the Denver Broncos smiles 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 is the Week One starter at quarterback for the Broncos and Mark Sanchez could be on his way out of Denver.

PFT has learned, via a league source, that the Broncos are trying to trade the 2009 first-round pick now that they have settled on Siemian as their starter. Rookie Paxton Lynch is the other quarterback on the depth chart and is seen as the ultimate choice to start after Denver selected him in the first round this year.

Should they fail to move Sanchez in a trade, there’s a good chance that the Broncos will release Sanchez before Tuesday’s deadline to get to 75 players. Sanchez has $1 million of his $4.5 million base salary guaranteed, which means the team would save $3.5 million in both money and cap space if they did cut him loose.

If they don’t cut Sanchez before Week One, the entire salary will be guaranteed because Sanchez is a vested veteran and the Broncos will owe the Eagles the seventh-round pick they conditionally agreed to fork over in the trade for Sanchez. The Broncos might also be on the hook for the full $4.5 million if Sanchez were to get injured in Thursday’s preseason finale, so he might not get on the field even if the Broncos haven’t decided his fate before the cut to 75 takes place.

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Cullen Jenkins lands deal after Washington workout

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

Defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins will be remaining in the NFC East.

According to multiple reports, Jenkins, who played for the Giants the last three seasons and was with the Eagles for the two years before that, has agreed to a one-year deal with the Redskins. Reports on Monday morning had Jenkins headed to Washington for a workout with the team.

Jenkins had 26 tackles and three sacks in 16 games and 13 starts for the Giants last season and has been a starter for much of the last decade while with the Giants, Eagles and Packers. He has been a useful pass rusher on the interior of the line for all three teams and has 47.5 sacks since entering the league in 2004.

Jenkins will join a Redskins defensive line group that currently includes Ricky Jean-Francois, Kedric Golston, Chris Baker, Stephen Paea, Kendall Reyes and 2016 fifth-round pick Matt Ioannidis on the top two lines of their depth chart.

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Saints may move Andrus Peat to left guard

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 13:  Offensive tackle Andrus Peat #75 of the New Orleans Saints walks off the field following the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 13, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Cardinals defeated the Saints 31-19. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Andrus Peat made a few starts at left guard during his rookie season and he could be moving back there in his second NFL season as well.

Peat, who was drafted in the first round after playing left tackle at Stanford, has been starting at right guard this summer, but coach Sean Payton isn’t happy with the way the offensive line has been playing in the preseason. That includes Peat, which left Payton to suggest that flipping sides might be part of the solution.

“He hasn’t played very well over on that right side, so we’ve got to keep looking and pay close attention to it,” Payton said, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “I was hoping that we were able to put him in one spot. I know what he can do well, and we’ve got to find a way to be at a high enough level inside. And I think we can get that done. … Peat’s played a lot of snaps a year ago. I expect him to be better. Now, it might be more over on the left side. We’ve moved him around enough, and we’ve got to settle in on where we feel like this player’s going to play, whether it’s the right or the left side.”

Tim Lelito and Senio Kelemete have been competing for the left guard job and the disappointing overall results could have the Saints sifting through players cut elsewhere in hopes of finding the right mix up front this year.

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Jordan Matthews practicing, Carson Wentz won’t play this week

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 03:  Jordan Matthews #81 of the Philadelphia Eagles scores a touchdown in the first half against the New York Giants during their game at MetLife Stadium on January 3, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Eagles cut two veteran wide receivers on Sunday, which didn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who had followed the disappointing performances of Rueben Randle and Chris Givens over the summer.

The team might have thought twice about parting ways with both players if they had doubts about Jordan Matthews being ready to return in time for the regular season, but it doesn’t appear things will play out that way. Coach Doug Pederson said Monday that Matthews, who has been sidelined with a knee injury, is ready to practice and will get some reps in 7-on-7 drills during the team’s practice session.

“He’s on track and doing a great job with his recovery and should be ready to go next week,” Pederson said, via

It doesn’t sound like the team plans to play Matthews in the preseason finale and rookie quarterback Carson Wentz will also sit out the game. Pederson said one of Wentz’s injured ribs has healed, but the other is only at 60 percent and Wentz said, via Mike Garafolo of NFL Media, that he is “a no go for this week.”

It may be a while before Wentz gets another chance to play, especially if Sam Bradford and a healthy Matthews form a strong connection in the early part of the season.

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Tirico, Flutie to call a pair of Thursday night games

gettyimages-77584321 Getty Images

The NFL wants NBC’s top team of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth for Thursday Night Football, with a caveat. Due to scheduling conflicts, a pair of the NFL Network-only Thursday night games will be handled by Mike Tirico and Doug Flutie.

NBC made the announcement on Monday, a limited exception to the Thursday night contract that CBS has employed from time to time. For example, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms didn’t work last year’s ketchup-and-mustard game between the Rams and Buccaneers.

Tirico also will host Football Night in America on Sundays from the site of each game, with Bob Costas becoming the stadium-site host of Thursday Night Football.

It all gets starting in 10 days, when the Panthers face the Broncos from Denver to start the 2016 NFL season. Three days later, NBC has the Patriots-Cardinals game to cap the first Sunday of the season.

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Report: Jets have fielded calls about trading Geno Smith, Bryce Petty

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 22: Geno Smith #7 of the New York Jets warms up before playing against the Houston Texans on November 22, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets have four quarterbacks but will almost certainly keep only three on the 53-man roster. The odd man out will be either Geno Smith or Bryce Petty. Obviously, the Jets would prefer to trade one of them than release one.

But would any team give anything up for Smith or Petty? According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the Jets have fielded inquiries from teams with a need at quarterback. Those teams are interested in Smith first, and Petty to a lesser extent.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is entrenched as the Jets’ starter, while Christian Hackenberg’s job is safe as a second-round pick. Petty has played better than Smith in the preseason, which would seem to put Smith’s job in jeopardy.

It’s unlikely that the Jets would get much for Smith in a trade, but some team looking for an experienced backup might be willing to give them a conditional seventh-round pick. That’s better than nothing, and nothing is all the Jets end up with if they cut Smith.

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Lions cutting veteran guard Geoff Schwartz

Odell Beckham Jr. AP

The Lions are clearly going younger on the offensive line, and General Manager Bob Quinn isn’t afraid to cut bait on guys he’s recently signed.

According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, the Lions are cutting veteran guard Geoff Schwartz today.

The former Giants, Chiefs, Vikings and Panthers guard has battled injuries in the past, but he’s healthy now and ought to find work soon.

The Lions just traded for guard Brandon Thomas yesterday, giving them another option inside.

Schwartz was signed by Quinn this offseason, but the first-year Lions G.M. has also traded wide receiver Jeremy Kerley and cut running back Stevan Ridley, both of whom were signed this offseason as well.

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