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Lions coordinator: Blame coverage breakdown, not Suh, for Colts’ TD

Gunther Cunningham AP

Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has taken some criticism for his play on the Colts’ game winning touchdown in Detroit on Sunday, but Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham says he doesn’t know where that criticism is coming from.

Asked about a story in which an anonymous Lions coach is quoted as saying that Suh got out of position on the play and allowed Colts quarterback Andrew Luck to step up in the pocket and complete his pass, Cunningham said that is not correct. Instead, Cunningham said, it was a coverage breakdown allowing Colts receiver Donnie Avery to get open in the middle of the field that deserves to be blamed.

“One guy fell down and the nickel did a poor job and never saw it,” Cunningham said. “It was a good coverage and we misplayed it, and what a time to misplay something.”

Cunningham’s claim that “it was a good coverage” may be self serving, but from my own look at the tape, I don’t think blaming Suh makes sense. Suh did his best to fight through the double team on the play, while none of his three fellow defensive linemen won their one-on-one battles, and the seven Lions who dropped into coverage left Avery open. (Cunningham wouldn’t name the nickel who did a poor job, but he must have been referring to Jacob Lacey.)

Cunningham also said he wasn’t crazy about hearing anonymous quotes.

“Boy, anonymous gets around, doesn’t he?” Cunningham said. “All I care about is Ndamukong and our football team and everybody’s good. The thing about it is this time of the year, all kinds of things are said and done and we’re trying to win a game and I know where his head is and mine and defensive players. We’ve got a job to do and that’s what we’re going to do.”

A lot of Lions haven’t done their jobs this season. But Suh’s performance against the Colts on Sunday was the least of the Lions’ problems.

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Adrian Peterson has a pulled hamstring

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson takes a drink of water during practice at an NFL football training camp on the campus of Minnesota State University Sunday, July 26, 2015, in Mankato, Minn. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) AP

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has lamented the grind of training camp. Training camp is here for the Vikings, and he’s not yet grinding.

Via Ben Goessling of, coach Mike Zimmer said that Peterson has a pulled hamstring. He got the injury while working out on his own before camp.

But Peterson passed his physical and is practicing. So it’s not a major issue.

“He can do things. He just can’t turn it all the way loose,” Zimmer said. “We’re just being careful.”

The situation gives the team’s other backs extra work, including star-in-the-making Jerick McKinnon.

“It’s good we get to see some of these young backs,” Zimmer said. “But [Peterson will] be out here fairly soon, I think.”

Still, hamstrings heal only with proper rest. There’s an extent to which the muscle can be pushed before it tightens up and delays the healing process. For Peterson, the best move is to give him a break and to allow the rest of the offense to get used to a future that eventually and inevitably will include Peterson not being a member of the team.

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Cowboys wearing helmet sticker to support Dallas police


The Cowboys have opened training camp in Oxnard, but they’re honoring their hometown.

Via Nick Eatman of the team’s official website, the Cowboys have applied to their helmets a sticker that expresses support for the Dallas Police Department. “Arm in Arm” the sticker says on the back of the headgear, with a star in the middle of it.

It’s unclear whether the Cowboys will wear the sticker for preseason or regular-season games. Typically, permission must be obtained from the league for such deviations from the uniform.

Violence committed by and against police could put the NFL in an awkward position this year, with police departments pushing for displays of support and players wanting to express support for groups that are speaking out against situations where police misuse their authority and force. Caught in the middle will be the league office, faced with the potentially impossible task of keeping everyone happy on the kind of hot-button issue that could alienate portions of the fan base, if the right balance isn’t struck.

[Photo credit:]

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Trump, NFL dispute whether league asked debates to be moved

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - JULY 29: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump reacts to the cries of three-month-old Kellen Campbell, of Denver, right, while holding six-month-old Evelyn Keane, of Castel Rock, Colo., after Trump's speech at the Gallogly Event Center on the campus of the University of Colorado on July 29, 2016 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Photo by Joe Mahoney/Getty Images) Getty Images

Politics and football have combined to create a bit of a hot potato.

Two of the three upcoming presidential debates conflict with prime-time NFL games. One of the candidates for the highest office in the land claims that the league has requested a rescheduling of the debates. The NFL has denied it.

In an interview with This Week on ABC, Trump expressed concern about the schedule — and he said the NFL has expressed concern, too.

“Well, I’ll tell you what I don’t like,” Trump said. “It’s against two NFL games. I got a letter from the NFL saying, ‘This is ridiculous. Why are the debates against’ — ’cause the NFL doesn’t wanna go against the debates. ‘Cause the debates are gonna be pretty massive, from what I understand, OK?”

The NFL says no such letter was sent.

“While we’d obviously wish the Debate Commission could find another night, we did not send a letter to Mr Trump,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said on Twitter.

The September 26 Monday night game between the Falcons and Saints conflicts with one of the debates. A Sunday night game on October 9 involving the Buccaneers and Panthers conflicts with the other debate.

“I don’t know how the dates were picked,” Trump said. “I don’t know why those particular dates.”

Trump likely assumes that his supporters will be more inclined to opt for football than his opponent’s supporters, based on the broad, general belief that football draws more fans of a conservative mindset than liberal/progressive types. And the NFL likely would prefer not to be competing against the debates.

Unlike the debate that emerged two weeks ago regarding HBO’s Ballers, when executive producer Mark Wahlberg claimed Commissioner Roger Goodell called and tried to kill the show, the NFL allegedly reduced its concerns about the debates to writing and sent them to Trump.

So this one should be easy to prove. Trump simply needs to produce the piece of paper. That should be easy to do, right?

Of course, if Trump does indeed produce the piece of paper, there’s always a chance that someone will express skepticism about its authenticity. Perhaps by saying something like, “He came up with this thing, all of a sudden, miraculously.”

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Rams put Tre Mason on reserve/did not report list

Kendall Langford, Tre Mason AP

The Rams placed running back Tre Mason on the reserve/did not report list Saturday.

Mason was a no-show when the full squad was required to report on Friday for the team’s first camp at the University of California-Irvine.

The team had excused Mason from the offseason program due to personal reasons. Last week, TMZ reported that police were called to Mason’s house for the fifth time in four months.

It’s probably not a surprise to team officials that Mason didn’t show up for camp, but it still has to be concerning given his recent arrests and the additional police visits.

Mason, who turns 23 next week, has been the Rams’ backup running back for the last two seasons. He got limited work last season with the emergence of Todd Gurley, but he’s scored five touchdowns and averaged 3.8 yards per carry on 254 carries over two seasons.

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Texans acknowledge DeAndre Hopkins holdout

HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 13:  Houston Texan player DeAndre Hopkins watches the play during the 2016 Copa America Centenario Group match between Mexico and Venezuela at NRG Stadium on June 13, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins wants a new contract. He hasn’t gotten one, so he has held out.

The Texans, in response, have placed him on the reserve/did not report list. They also have issued a statement regarding the situation.

“We are disappointed DeAndre has elected not to report to training camp with the rest of his teammates,” said G.M. Rick Smith, who received an extension of his own on Friday. “He has expressed his position regarding his contract status, and we have been clear with both he and his representatives of ours. Our focus is on the 2016 season and all of our collective efforts and attention will be centered on that endeavor.”

It’s unclear what the respective positions are. Some have suggested that the Texans have flatly refused to negotiate a new deal for Hopkins, a first-round pick in 2013 who is eligible to have the final two years of his rookie deal torn up and replaced with a new contract.

Hopkins will be subject to $40,000 per day in fines, partial forfeiture of his signing bonus, loss of a $445,000 roster bonus, and eventually the loss of a year of credit to free agency.

The problem isn’t the fourth year toward free agency but the two years left on his contract. He wants the Texans to do for him what they did for J.J. Watt two years ago, tearing up the final two years of the rookie contract and giving him a new one.

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Saturday one-liners

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 13: Quarterback Bryce Petty #9 of the New York Jets warms up before a game against the Cleveland Browns at MetLife Stadium on September 13, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images) Getty Images

Jets QB Bryce Petty thinks he can be the No. 2 quarterback this year.

Here’s a look at the position battles for the Bills.

The Dolphins have added Jason Taylor to the booth for radio broadcasts of preseason games.

Patriots rookie CB Cyrus Jones looks like a good fit at nickel corner.

Ravens rookie WR Chris Moore is one of the early standouts in camp.

Bengals LB Rey Maualuga isn’t talking about how he got the injury that landed him on the NFI list.

The Browns’ first training-camp practice of the year was closed to the media due to lightning.

Steelers TE Ladarius Green, on the PUP list with an ankle injury, declined to provide a timetable as to his potential return.

J..J. Watt and Brock Osweiler are the top merchandise sellers for the Texans.

The Colts’ defense hinges on CB Vontae Davis.

Jaguars DT Malik Jackson was asked to lost weight after OTAs, so he did.

The Titans’ new locker room includes slogans like “Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead.”

Broncos WR Jordan Taylor generated plenty of attention with a one-handed catch.

As expected, Chiefs S Eric Berry didn’t report for training camp.

The Raiders are mostly healthy as they enter camp.

Dumping C Trevor Robinson saved the Chargers $2.3 million.

The Cowboys aren’t concerned about the allegations made against RB Ezekiel Elliott.

New Giants coach Ben McAdoo continues to be a stickler for punctuality, like his predecessor.

It sounds like Howie Roseman has final say over the Eagles’ roster.

Washington WR Jamison Crowder feels “a lot more confident” this year.

Bears WR Josh Bellamy arrived at camp wearing a Josh Bellamy T-shirt.

The Lions haven’t been cleared to reveal their Color Rush uniforms for 2016.

The Packers are putting an emphasis on punt returns.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer wants to pick his offensive line starters “as soon as possible.”

The Falcons’ new stadium keeps getting more expensive; this time, however, it was only another $9 million.

Panthers owner Jerry Richardson has asked QB Cam Newton to improve his accuracy on shorter throws.

Saints DT Sheldon Rankins is learning how to play “that chess match” with guys who have been in the league.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston and WR Mike Evans are improving their connection on deep balls.

Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson wants more defensive players to assume leadership roles.

The Rams’ move to L.A. apparently will go more smoothly than the Oilers’ move to Tennessee.

Here’s a look at the camp battles for the 49ers.

Once again, offensive line is a question mark for the Seahawks.

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Dolphins add a cornerback, drop Stoneburner

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 15:  Dwayne Harris #17 of the New York Giants makes a catch against   Duron Harmon #30 of the New England Patriots and Rashaan Melvin #24 of the New England Patriots  during their game at MetLife Stadium on November 15, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Dolphins made a roster swap Saturday and also activated cornerback Bobby McCain from the active/physically unable to perform list.

The team signed cornerback Rashaan Melvin, who’s had two prior stints with the Ravens and one with the Patriots and also previously spent some time on the Dolphins practice squad. Melvin has played in 12 career games and made two starts with the Ravens in 2014.

Melvin, 26, was cut by the Patriots in May after signing a futures contract last winter.

To make room for Melvin, tight end Jake Stoneburner was waived.

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Reserve/NFI designation means Ian Williams out for season

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 20:  AJ McCarron #5 of the Cincinnati Bengals is sacked by Ian Williams #93 of the San Francisco 49ers during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on December 20, 2015 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The 49ers placed nose tackle Ian Williams on the reserve/non-football injury list Saturday, a move that created a roster spot for offensive tackle Anthony Davis to be moved from reserve/retired to the active roster.

The reserve/NFI Williams designation means Williams, a run stuffer and productive player when healthy, is out for the season.

Williams agreed a new five-year deal with the 49ers last March, but after Williams did not pass a physical the team redid his contract, and Williams ended up signing a one-year deal.

He started all 16 games at nose tackle last season and has started 26 of 31 career games.

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Manziel, back in the clubs, says he’ll play for the Cowboys

manziel-johnny122814-getty-ftrjpg_1ad7ihh26uqyl1xhpo4dc2tov3 Getty Images

Football has moved on without Johnny Football. But Johnny Football still hasn’t moved on from football.

Capping a month that supposedly began with a vow of sobriety, Johnny Manziel was back in a club on Friday night. As he emerged (and got behind the wheel of a car — which is fine if he wasn’t drinking, anything but fine if he was), Manziel celebrated the return of Josh Gordon with a “YES!” and said the Browns “absolutely” should bring Gordon back.

He’s been a Pro Bowl!” Manziel exclaims to TMZ.

Manziel then said he’s “absolutely” returning to the NFL and that he’ll play for the Cowboys.

That could be news to the Cowboys, who reportedly have zero interest in Manziel unless and until he turns his life around. With still no indication of a clear desire to do what he needs to do to win back the trust of any NFL team, Manziel is going to have to wait for a lot of quarterbacks to get injured before his phone will ever be ringing with a call from Dallas.

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Cardinals add a receiver, drop another

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 30:  Helmets belonging to the Arizona Cardinals sit on the turf before the start of the Cardinals game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on October 30, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cardinals made a wide receiver swap Saturday.

Wide receiver Franky Okafor was added to the team’s 90-man preseason roster and Rico Richardson was released.

Okafor is an undrafted rookie out of Southeastern Oklahoma. Richardson, 25, had previously spent time with the Chiefs, Texans and Titans. He played six games with the Titans over the previous two seasons.

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Michael Bennett officially reports to Seahawks camp

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 20:  Defensive end Michael Bennett #72 (R) of the Seattle Seahawks sports a Darth Vader mask as he is greeted by linebacker Bruce Irvin #51 during introductions prior to the game against the Cleveland Browns at CenturyLink Field on December 20, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Browns 30-13.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett still dislikes his contract. But he likes his team and his teammates enough to set that aside, again.

Last year, he showed up for training camp after skipping the offseason program. This year, he did the same thing.

“I just want to be here and be a good teammate,” Bennett told reporters after practice, via Aaron Levine of Q13 FOX Sports. “Just want to be a Seahawk for the rest of my life.”

It’s unclear whether he’ll spend the current season under the third year of a four-year, $28.5 million deal or a new contract. His agent was due to meet with the Seahawks this week.

Now that Bennett has reported, it’s likely that he’ll stay. As explained earlier in connection with Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins (who contrary to initial reports from ESPN did not “walk out of camp”), the team has much more leverage over a player who shows up and then leaves — including the nuclear option of sending a “five-day letter” that allows the team to shut him down for the entire year if he doesn’t return within (obviously based on the description of the letter) five days.

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Anthony Davis returns to 49ers active roster

San Francisco 49ers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Getty Images

Offensive tackle Anthony Davis has officially been reinstated and placed on the 49ers’ active roster, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported.

Davis sat out last season and had been on the team’s reserve-retired list. Last week, Davis said he’d submitted his letter of reinstatement to the NFL.

A first-round pick in 2010, Davis started all 71 games he played at right tackle before walking away last season. Though there had been speculation that Davis wanted the 49ers to trade or release him, his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said this week that the 49ers and Davis had patched things up and that Davis was anxious to return.

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Eric Fisher gets $28.5 million fully guaranteed by March

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 28:  Julius Peppers #56 of the Green Bay Packers rushes against Eric Fisher #72 of the Kansas City Chiefs at Lambeau Field on September 28, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Chiefs 38-28.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

Three years ago, the Chiefs thought enough of tackle Eric Fisher to make him the first pick in the draft. Now, they think enough of him to give him a four-year, $48 million extension.

Per a source with knowledge of the contract, $22 million is fully guaranteed at signing. By March 2017, $28.5 million will be fully guaranteed. There are another $11.5 million in injury-only guarantees.

The contract compares favorably to the market, which is a positive sign for Fisher given that he has yet to fully become the guy the Chiefs thought he would be. (Apparently, they think he’s close to becoming that guy.)

By way of comparison on a “new money” basis, Saints tackle Terron Amstead and Eagles tackle Lane Johnson got $20.8 million fully guaranteed at signing, and less than $28.5 million by the following March. Their total guarantees were $38 million and $35 million, respectively; Fisher’s is at $40 million.

Currently, the deal makes Fisher the fourth highest-paid tackle in the league. Washington tackle Trent Williams gets $13 million per year, Amstead gets $13 million per year, Cowboys tackle Tyron Smith gets $12.2 million per year.

Behind Fisher are Bills tackle Cordy Glenn at $11.5 million per year, Browns tackle Joe Fisher at $11.5 million per year, Johnson at $11.25 million per year, and Colts tackle Anthony Castonzo at $10.9 million per year.

The extension, added with the balance of his rookie contract, puts Fisher under contract for six years at $63.33 million.

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Ankle to keep Nkemdiche out two weeks

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  (L-R) Robert Nkemdiche of Ole Miss holds up a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #29 overall by the Arizona Cardinalsduring the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cardinals rookie defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche will miss about two weeks with a high ankle sprain, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians told reporters Saturday.

The No. 29 overall pick last April, Nkemdiche has been a spectator since before the start of full training camp. He injured the ankle during a workout with other rookies and quarterbacks earlier this week.

One of the 2016 draft’s most talented and most talked about prospects, Nkemdiche figures to be an immediate contributor for the Cardinals assuming he gets healthy and up to speed.

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Chiefs extend Eric Fisher

Kansas City Chiefs v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

When the Chiefs took Eric Fisher as the first overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, they envisioned him as their franchise left tackle for years to come. They still feel that way.

That’s why the Chiefs have reached an agreement on a four-year contract extension with Fisher, a league source tells PFT.

Before agreeing to this extension, Fisher was slated to earn $3.4 million this year and $11.9 million on his fifth-year option in 2017.

Although it took Fisher some time to make the transition from Central Michigan to the NFL, the Chiefs like the way he has developed. Now, at age 25, he’s slated to play his prime years in Kansas City.

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