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Broncos cruise to victory over Raiders

Denver Broncos v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

It’s been a difficult proposition this season for teams to win on the road on Thursday nights. Then again, most of those teams didn’t have to play the Oakland Raiders either.

Denver quarterback Peyton Manning posted the 70th 300-yard game of his career throwing for 310 yards, a touchdown and an interception and Matt Prater kicked four field goals as the Broncos knocked off their division rival 26-13 on Thursday night.

The Raiders played a decent first half and trailed just 13-7 heading into halftime after Darren McFadden scored from six yards out on a touchdown pass from Carson Palmer with 2:06 left in the second quarter.

The porous Raiders defense actually held strong in holding Denver to just a field goal early in the third quarter despite three snaps from inside the Raiders 2-yard line.

Then Oakland fell apart.

Linebacker Von Miller sacked Palmer and forced a fumble that was recovered by Mitch Unrein at the Raiders 2-yard line. Two plays later, Knowshon Moreno scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Broncos a 23-7 lead. The Raiders went three-and-out on the following possession and Prater kicked his fourth field goal of the night, a 33-yard attempt, to give Denver a 26-7 lead.

Palmer connected with Darrius Heyward-Bey for a 56-yard touchdown with just under six minutes to play, but Denarius Moore was ruled out of bounds on the two-point conversion attempt to preserve a 26-13 cushion for the Broncos.

The Broncos then rode Moreno in piecing together a 12-play, 38-yard drive to keep the sticks moving and run out the final five minutes off the clock. In his third start for the injured Willis McGahee, Moreno carried 32 times for 119 yards and a touchdown for the Broncos.

Palmer completed 19 of 30 passes for 273 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. McFadden carried just 11 times for 52 yards for the Raiders in his first game back after missing four games with a high ankle sprain.

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Report: Cardinals, Patrick Peterson close to extension

Patrick Peterson AP

Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson has gone a few rounds with Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman this offseason about which of them is the best cornerback in the NFL and Peterson may soon have a new contract to use as further ammunition for his case.

Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports reports that the Cardinals and Peterson are close to an agreement on a contract extension that would keep Peterson in Arizona for the near future. Per Getlin, there are still some hurdles to cross but there’s a “good chance” something gets done shortly.

It’s unclear if one of the hurdles is structuring the deal so that it puts him above Sherman and Browns cornerback Joe Haden in the league’s pecking order. Sherman signed a four-year deal this year that includes $40 million in guaranteed money while Haden signed his name on a five-year deal that has $45 million in guarantees, although some of those guarantees are against injury only.

Peterson is entering the fourth year of his rookie deal, which is set to pay him more than $2.8 million, and the Cardinals exercised their fifth-year option on the 2011 first-round pick’s pact earlier this offseason.

 

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David Wilson sent to hospital for battery of tests

David Wilson AP

After suffering a “burner” in practice Tuesday, the Giants are going to take no chances with running back David Wilson.

The team announced that Wilson was being taken to the Hospital for Special Surgery for a battery of tests and a complete workup. Wilson had neck surgery this offseason, so it’s an obvious concern.

They don’t know much at this point, but any injury anywhere near his neck is worrisome for the Giants.

We were all praying that it would be not an issue,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said, via Tom Rock of Newsday

Rock also points out, the other name for a burner is “transient neurapraxia,” which doesn’t fit as neatly into the world of fantasy football.

Given what Wilson has gone through already, lending some gravity to the situation isn’t the worst idea.

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Steelers seize on Ben saying, “I want to be here”

Ben AP

The not-so-subtle media tug-of-war continues between the Steelers and quarterback Ben Roerhlisberger regarding his future with the team, which will depend in large part on the size of the dollars the Steelers plan to pay him on his next contract.  If Ben leaves, his legacy in Pittsburgh will be adversely affected — especially if he leaves after repeatedly saying he never wants to leave.

And so it’s no surprise that Roethlisberger saying he doesn’t want to leave Pittsburgh became a headline on the team’s official website.

I want to be here,” Roethlisberger said Monday, after G.M. Kevin Colbert declared that he doesn’t envision a set of circumstances in which Roethlisberger plays for another team.  And Steelers.com pounced.

“That’s always been what I’ve said, too,” Roethlisberger said. “I said it last year when the erroneous NFL Network reports came out.”

The “erroneous” reports from NFL Network, partially owned by the Steelers, were attributed to unnamed Steelers sources.  And those leaks may have been calculated to provoke Ben to declare that he doesn’t want to leave Pittsburgh, making it easier for the Steelers to low ball Big Ben and persuade him to accept whatever their best offer is — even if it doesn’t come close to reflecting his market value or making up for the hometown discount he believes he’s already giving the team.

If it all falls apart, the team will blame the player and the player will be the team and more leaks undoubtedly will flow to NFLN and others aimed at ensuring the fans agree with the organization’s position that Ben abandoned Pittsburgh.

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Rueben Randle skips practice with sore hamstring

Rueben Randle AP

The Giants trainers have been busier than they might like in the early part of training camp.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham has been out since last week with a hamstring problem, running back David Wilson’s return from neck surgery was hampered by a burner on Tuesday and wide receiver Rueben Randle didn’t take part in Tuesday’s practice because of a hamstring issue of his own.

“He was sore in the hamstring, so we held him,” Coughlin said, via Dan Graziano of ESPN.com.

Graziano reports that it didn’t sound like something the Giants think is a serious problem, but they need only look to Beckham for an example of how a seemingly minor hamstring injury can turn into something more if it doesn’t get the proper time to heal.

The team is off on Wednesday before getting back to work ahead of Sunday’s Hall of Fame Game against the Bills. There’s no word now on Randle’s status for that contest, but the larger goal of having Randle on the field come the regular season could lead the team to hold off on Randle’s preseason debut a little while longer.

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Cowboys giving Tony Romo a day off, say no setbacks

Tony Romo AP

It’s been so far, so good as Tony Romo comes back from back surgery.

So the Cowboys don’t feel compelled to push it.

According to Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Romo won’t practice today, as the team installs its two-minute offense.

He hasn’t had any setback but the biggest thing that we talked to Tony about and really all of our players about, is honest feedback,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We recognize that you’re a tough player, I saw what you did against the Redskins last year. You just got to tell us how you’re doing, how it’s going and make sure we handle it the right way each and every day.

“There’s an old adage in football, a day off can be really valuable. Two days off can be life changing, so when you get in this kind of a situation, we had yesterday off, got some good work this morning in the walk-through, some mental work of some of the different situations we’re working on. Off this afternoon and hopefully back as it tomorrow.”

Romo didn’t practice last Friday either, as the team handles him with the utmost care. It also gives them a chance to give new backup Brandon Weeden more reps, in case he’s ever needed.

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Seahawks fear another torn Achilles for Anthony McCoy

Anthony+Mccoy+Arizona+Cardinals+v+Seattle+CvKeg9kADkhl Getty Images

Seahawks tight end Anthony McCoy spent all of last season on injured reserve after suffering a torn left Achilles in the offseason. Now the Seahawks fear McCoy has torn his right Achilles.

PFT’s Curtis Crabtree is at Seahawks camp and reports that McCoy collapsed to the ground during full team drills and laid face down on the turf for a few minutes before he was carted off the field. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll confirmed afterward that it appears serious.

“Early indications are he hurt his other Achilles,” Carroll said. “If it is what they think it is, it’s just a real heartbreaker. He worked so hard to get back and all. If it was the same Achilles you might understand it but we think it’s the other one. So we’ll see what happens.”

McCoy played for Carroll at USC and was a sixth-round pick of the Seahawks in 2010. After not seeing much playing time early in his career, McCoy started to come on in 2012, when he caught 18 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns. But now it appears that he’s about to miss his second season in a row.

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Browns happy to see scuffles at practice

Mike Pettine AP

Practice scuffles are a training camp inevitability and we’ve seen them break out at several camps already this summer.

It was the Browns’ turn on Tuesday and their practice featured a big blowup. NFL.com has video of the incident, which seemed to involve a good number of players from both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. After things cooled down, Browns coach Mike Pettine opted against the tried and true coach response of saying that he wants to see his charges show more control over themselves when working among teammates.

“When we talk about the kind of team we want to be, you have to practice that way and that is hard, that’s difficult,” Pettine said. “I can’t tell that lie that we can be a certain way on a practice field and carry it over on the game field. There are going to be times when it does boil over. And you don’t want one side of the ball to get bullied by the other. There has to be some push back….You look at that and it’s the price of doing business.”

Safety Donte Whitner echoed the coach, saying that you want “nasty guys” on both defense and the offensive line as a way of explaining how things boiled over on the field on Tuesday. It’s hard to argue with that assessment or the explanation that players getting ready to play a rough game will sometimes wind up crossing the line during a practice session, but it’s a fine line given the possibility of injuries when things go off the way they did on Tuesday.

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Colts sign a pair, including running back Phillip Tanner

Minnesota Vikings v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

The Colts added a pair of free agents today, as they continue to look for depth in the wake of losing running back Vick Ballard to a torn Achilles.

The team announced they had signed linebacker Jonathon Sharpe and running back Phillip Tanner.

Tanner spent the last three years with the Cowboys, mostly as a special teamer. He has 56 carries for 149 yards and two touchdowns in his career.

Sharpe is an undrafted rookie who came through the super regional combine setup after two years at North Greenville University. He also played Wofford College before transferring.

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David Wilson suffers burner in Giants practice

David Wilson AP

The Giants took their time clearing running back David Wilson for a return to the lineup after last year’s neck injury and surgery, but that didn’t make take it any longer before there was a reminder of why there was so much uncertainty about Wilson’s future.

Wilson left Giants practice early on Tuesday and Giants coach Tom Coughlin said, via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, that he left the session because he suffered a burner. Burners, sometimes called stingers, are nerve injuries to the neck that can cause muscle weakness and pain down an arm.

They don’t tend to be long-lasting injuries, but Wilson’s history with his neck makes it something of a setback in his return to action that the Giants are likely to take seriously in the coming days. Coughlin didn’t offer any timeline for Wilson’s return, which leaves his availability for the Hall of Fame Game, at the very least, in doubt.

Rashad Jennings, Peyton Hillis, fourth-round pick Andre Williams and Michael Cox round out a Giants running back group that could find itself back to hoping Wilson can contribute this season rather than expecting it.

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The Ravens are just trolling you at this point

erniemccracken

It is no longer fair to accuse the Ravens of being tone-deaf when it comes to their presentation of suspended wife-beater Ray Rice.

Because that would presume they’re not doing it on purpose.

The Ravens continue to make a martyr out of the guy who dragged his unconscious wife out of an elevator, posting a story and a video of last night’s practice, when he was given a standing ovation by Ravens fans.

They even found an apparent woman, Debbie Lindling of Baltimore, to voice her support in the story.

“I’m wearing his jersey because he is still a good man,” she said. “I’m happy to support Ray Rice, just like he has always supported our community.”

“I have on number 27 to show the fans, and the world, that I am supportive of Ray Rice,” added Jerra Byrd of Randallstown, Md, who we think would probably be female as well. “He has been forgiven by his wife. He is moving on with his life. He didn’t ask for the two-game suspension.”

Yes, at this point they’re going over the top with the unpopular opinion, putting on the black hat and happily playing the role of heel.

They’ve become the Big Ern McCracken of the NFL, and they don’t care if you have a uterus or otherwise don’t like it.

Now, if you’ll bring them another Tanqueray and Tab, and if you don’t mind, wash that perfume off before you come back to their table.

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Lyle Sendlein to miss three weeks with calf injury

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

Cardinals center Lyle Sendlein started all 16 games last season after tearing his MCL in 2012, but he’s going to miss some time in training camp.

The good news for the Cardinals is that Sendlein’s absence from the practice field isn’t another torn knee ligament. The bad news is that he’s being bothered by a calf injury that will keep him out of the lineup for three weeks.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians made the announcement about Sendlein’s injury on Tuesday and said that Ted Larsen, who started 31 games in Tampa over the last four years, would step into the starting lineup while Sendlein recovers. Sendlein’s experienced enough that he should be okay to pick up where he left off, even if it means missing multiple preseason games although creating harmony on the offensive line should be a focus for the Cardinals after adding left tackle Jared Veldheer and getting left guard Jonathan Cooper back from last year’s broken leg.

Sendlein has started the last 91 games he’s played for the Cardinals, who signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2007.

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PFT on NBCSN looks at Bills, Cowboys, more

Romo AP

Tuesday’s edition of Pro Football Talk on NBCSN continues to take a tour through NFL training camps, with a closer look at a couple of teams that squared off in a couple of consecutive Super Bowls.

The Bills and the Cowboys get the deep-dive treatment during the one-hour show, co-hosted by Russ Thaler and featuring Kevin Gilbride, Brian Westbrook, and Ross Tucker in the stuio.  We’ll also look at the news of the day, do the whiparound thing, and more.

And since the Cowboys are one of the two teams and given that owner Jerry Jones claims none of the key figures (including him) are in danger this year, we’ll ask PFT Planet to decide which seat is hotter between the quarterback and the coach.

Tune in at 5:30 p.m. ET for the results.

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Aaron Rodgers: NFL, Packers better off with Jermichael Finley playing

Aaron Rodgers, Jermichael Finley AP

Jermichael Finley’s football future remains cloudy, but the man who used to throw him passes hopes he’ll be back in Green Bay.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers assumed the starting role in 2008, the same year that Finley joined the team, and Finley has 223 receptions for 2,785 yards and 20 touchdowns for Green Bay since then. Rodgers has spoken to Finley, who is reportedly weighing a decision to return against trying to cash in a $10 million insurance policy after last year’s serious neck injury, and says that the tight end looks great while adding that the Packers (and the entire NFL) would be a better with Finley back on the field.

“This league is better with Jermichael in it and this team is better with him in it,” Rodgers said, via FOXSports.com. “I have had a couple of conversations with him; he looks incredible. If you follow him on Twitter, he looks pretty amazing, and he’s worked his tail off. For him, it’s a matter of getting cleared.”

Packers coach Mike McCarthy has also said that he’d like to see Finley back with the team throughout the offseason, but things have been in a holding pattern and there’s no sign that a change in the situation is imminent. Until that comes, the discussions about Finley’s impact on the league, the Packers and anything else having to do with football will remain hypotheticals.

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Gordon’s appeal focuses on disparity between “A” and “B” bottle tests

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With the Josh Gordon appeal hearing set for Friday and with Gordon hiring (as Adam Schefter reported last night) the same lawyer who helped Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman avoid a four-game suspension for violation of the PED policy in 2012, Gordon presumably has a case that holds more water than the average bong.

Gordon possibly does, especially if the same spirit of lenience that helped Ray Rice receive a suspension of only two games for knocking out his fiancée applies in any way to Gordon.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Gordon landed in Stage III of the program last year as part of a negotiated two-game suspension for the use of cough syrup that contained codeine.  Once in Stage III, a player never leaves.  And he must pass up to 10 drug tests per month.

According to the source, Gordon has passed at least 70 drug tests.  One test barely generated a positive.  And but for the 50-50 luck of the draw, it would have been a negative.

Urine samples routinely are split into two bottles, the “A” bottle and the “B” bottle.  If the “A” bottle generates a positive result, the “B” bottle is tested.  Amazingly, the “B” bottle doesn’t have to independently show a violation.  Instead, the substance abuse policy states that the “‘B’ bottle Test need only show that the substance, revealed in the ‘A’ bottle Test, is evident to the ‘limits of detection’ to confirm the results of the ‘A’ bottle Test.”

In English, close counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and “B” bottles.

For Gordon, the “A” bottle showed a concentration of 16 ng/ml, only one nanogram per milliliter above the limits of 15.  The “B” bottle showed a concentration of 13.6 ng/ml — less than the threshold.

But because the “A” bottle was labeled “A” and not “B” and because the “B” bottle was labeled “B” and not “A”, the end result is a positive and a minimum one-year banishment from the NFL.  Flip the bottles when it’s time to apply the labels, and Gordon isn’t facing a suspension.

Setting aside (for now) my lingering concerns about the NFL policing the use of marijuana by players, the Draconian provisions of a program that subjects a player to up to 10 tests per month and will remove a Stage III player from the workforce for at least a full year if he failed a single test over the balance of his career, and the NFL’s apparent unwillingness to subject Colts owner Jim Irsay to this same testing protocol and standard, Josh Gordon will be treated extremely unfairly if the policy is strictly applied to him as it is written.

All because the bottle that tested at 16 ng/ml was labeled with an “A and the bottle that tested at 13.6 ng/ml was labeled with a “B”.

The NFL clearly got it wrong with Ray Rice.  The NFL has a chance to get it right with Josh Gordon.

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Brandin Cooks showing screen game, stealing the show

Saints Camp Football AP

The Saints gambled in March when they traded running back Darren Sproles to the Eagles for a draft pick.

But they might have ultimately won, as they found a guy with the same kind of ability to turn small plays into big ones.

According to Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, rookie wide receiver Brandin Cooks has been the star of camp so far, making it clear the Saints are going to build the plan with him in mind.

During Tuesday’s practice, Cooks took a quick bubble screen the distance, and the video of him pulling away from the Saints defense is frankly alarming.

The ability to run more complicated routes will be needed, but the pure speed he showed on the simplest one makes it clear he’s going to be a weapon for Drew Brees soon.

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