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Drew Brees on bounty ruling: Some things can never be taken back

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Saints quarterback Drew Brees has been steadfast in his support of his suspended teammates, and suspended coach Sean Payton, since NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell cracked down on them in the league’s bounty investigation.

So while Brees is pleased that former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue voided the suspensions of the four players Goodell initially disciplined, that doesn’t mean he’s satisfied. In a statement on Twitter, Brees congratulated the players who had their suspensions vacated, but he added that there are some things that can never be taken back.”

Brees didn’t detail which “things that can never be taken back” he was referring to, but with the Saints on pace for their worst record since Brees arrived in New Orleans, he may be wondering what might have been different if today’s news had come at the start of the season, instead of the end.

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Stevie Brown out in Houston, could return to Giants

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The Giants likely lost another safety for the season late last week when Nat Berhe had calf surgery, but they may be getting some relief in the form of a familiar face in the next few days.

Stevie Brown was released by the Texans on Saturday and Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News reports that the Giants are trying to get Brown in for a physical. Brown spent three years with the Giants from 2012-2014, playing 16 games twice and missing the entire 2013 season with a torn ACL.

Brown’s agent Blake Baratz said he’s working on getting Brown and the Giants together for a meeting while adding that “a number of teams” are in the mix to land Brown’s services.

Brown signed with the Texans this offseason when they offered him more money than the Giants, but it doesn’t appear he was close to making the Houston roster given the timing of his release from the team.

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Sunday morning one-liners

NaVorro Bowman, Jordan Norwood AP

Bills CB Ron Darby had a rough night against the Steelers.

QB Ryan Tannehill was frustrated with the Dolphins offense on Saturday.

The Patriots may be in the market for a fullback after James Develin’s leg injury.

A call from Jets C Nick Mangold helped police stop a string of burglaries in New Jersey.

Asa Jackson may not have nailed down the Ravens return job on Saturday.

Said Bengals WR A.J. Green, “We feel good, but we still have a lot of work to do. Not just a little. We’re the same team that got our butts kicked Monday night in Tampa. We have to keep our head down and keep grinding.”

Browns WR Travis Benjamin showed he still can break off a big punt return.

 

QB Michael Vick was sharp in his Steelers debut.

Texans T Duane Brown’s injury isn’t expected to keep him out Week One.

The Colts are evaluating the ankle injury suffered by DT Arthur Jones.

Jaguars coach Gus Bradley thinks his offensive line has a chip on its shoulder.

The Titans could add another running back to the roster.

LB Danny Trevathan was shaking off rust in his return to game action with the Broncos.

The first round of Chiefs cuts shouldn’t feature any tough decisions.

The Raiders cornerbacks figure to be tested against the Cardinals.

Chargers WR Stevie Johnson had a good half of work on Saturday.

Darren McFadden may be moving up in the competition for playing time at running back for the Cowboys.

The Giants saw DE Robert Ayers hurt his ankle before Saturday’s game with the Jets even started.

Said T Jason Peters of the Eagles’ offense on Saturday, “I think this is the best we’ve looked since [Chip Kelly] got here, in the preseason.”

Redskins LB Jackson Jeffcoat continued a good summer in Saturday’s game.

The Bears defense had a tough time with the Bengals.

WR Ryan Broyles’s time with the Lions may be coming to an end.

Injuries have taken an emotional toll on the Packers.

Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson offered a reminder of his explosiveness in the return game.

The Falcons have offensive line issues to sort out.

Panthers rookie LB Shaq Thompson’s tackling stood out on Friday night.

Players on the Saints roster bubble are running out of chances to impress coaches.

Special teams play was a lowlight for the Buccaneers against the Browns.

Cardinals G.M. Steve Keim’s hometown team won the U.S. little league title on Saturday.

Said Rams QB Nick Foles, ““I felt there was improvement. I expect more from myself and more from this offense.”

49ers LB Navorro Bowman wreaked some havoc in the Broncos backfield.

Tyler Lockett had another impressive punt return for the Seahawks.

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Tre Mason’s hamstring could leave the Rams thin in backfield

Tre Mason AP

In a general sense, the Rams are deep in the backfield.

But specific to the regular season opener, they might be a little thin.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, running back Tre Mason left last night’s game with a hamstring strain, creating some doubt about his availability.

With rookie Todd Gurley not expected to play in the opener after tearing his ACL last November, that could stretch the depth there.

The Rams still have Isaiah Pead and Benny Cunningham, so there are still some serviceable options. But without the top two, it could certainly change their game plans.

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Tomlin says it “doesn’t look positive” for Hartley in Week One

Garrett Hartley AP

The Steelers lost their second kicker in four preseason games on Saturday night, and it’s now looking like they’ll need another kicker for next Thursday night in Foxboro.

Garrett Hartley injured a right hamstring during the game, and he’ll have an MRI on Sunday.

Coach Mike Tomlin told reporters after the preseason game against the Bills that “it doesn’t look positive” for Hartley being ready for Week One against the Patriots.

That could be positive for Jay Feely, a free agent who matched Hartley field goal for field goal at a Heinz Field Gong Show Kick Off after Shaun Suisham was lost for the season with a torn ACL suffered at the Hall of Fame Game. Per a source with knowledge of the competition, both missed from 53 yards and made everything else.

Fifty-three becomes the operative number, if the Steelers sign Feely or another kicker. If Hartley can’t kick come Week One, will they carry Hartley on the 53-man roster, or move on? Having two kickers would mean keeping one less player at another position, and that may not be something the Steelers want to do.

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Colin Kaepernick: There’s “not any concern” about offense

Colin Kaepernick, Shaquil Barrett, T.J. Ward, Danny Trevathan AP

It took a long time for 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to complete a pass on Saturday.

Kaepernick’s first completion came with less than a minute to play in the second quarter after a half that saw him sacked twice while leading the 49ers to one first down and no points on their first four possessions. Kaepernick followed that first completion with one to Torrey Smith, the first time that’s happened all postseason, and the 49ers kicked a field goal to close the first half.

Kaepernick, who was 2-of-5 for the game, was forced to scramble a couple of times on that drive and ran for big gains after getting flushed from the pocket and was asked after the game if he was concerned about the play of an offensive line that’s still unsettled outside of left tackle Joe Staley and left guard Alex Boone.

“No, there’s not any concern on this team,” Kaepernick said, via the San Francisco Chronicle. “That’s what the preseason’s for — to work those things out and see who we have at different positions. That’s what we’re doing, and we’re working to make sure we’re ready for the regular season.”

Coach Jim Tomsula didn’t share that exact opinion, saying that the offensive line had a “little bit of a struggle” with the Denver defense and, acknowledging that others are concerned about the unit’s play, that they’ll get it “cleared up” this week.

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The apathy phase arrives for many in St. Louis

Nick Foles AP

With notable exceptions, like Joe Buck, it seems that many in St. Louis don’t have strong opinions regarding whether the Rams stay or go.

On Saturday night, in what was both the preseason home opener for the Rams and the most important of the three meaningless exhibition games, the fans showed their current feelings — by not showing up.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted at Twitter that he’s been to every preseason game since the Rams moved from L.A. in 1995, and that Saturday night’s crowd for the game against the Colts was “easily the smallest crowd I’ve seen.” Thomas estimates that 25,000 people were present for the game; he also says that only 37,460 tickets were distributed for the contest.

The local nonchalance comes at a time when politicians are trying to finagle a new stadium for the Rams, presumably in order to avoid being blamed if the Rams return to L.A. If blame is going to come, it may not be from local business leaders; Tim Bryant of the Post-Dispatch reports that plenty of corporate executives declined to comment or failed to respond when asked about their support or lack thereof for the proposed stadium.

Joe Buck hasn’t declined to comment. He recently launched a Twitter tirade against the circumstances, saying the situation would have been “100 percent better” if Shad Khan had been able to purchase the Rams in lieu of Stan Kroenke, who exercised a right of first refusal to make his minority share a majority interest after the passing of Georgia Frontiere — and after Khan had cobbled together a bid that her estate had accepted.

“Kroenke not only has the chance to cash in on L.A., but punch a great city that at one point he seemed to enjoy,” Buck said via Twitter.

Buck’s theory seems to be that the current level of local apathy wasn’t accidental: “Suck the life out of a team, run it down, raise prices, then say it isn’t supported and leave. Great example for the NFL to celebrate  JOKE!”

Buck has elaborated, with more than 140-character chunks.

We’re about to lose the NFL for a second time,” Buck told Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch. “I don’t know how the story is going to turn out. There are myriad possibilities. It’s been really quiet from St. Louis’ standpoint, but this ball has been rolling for a long time . . . longer than people realize, longer than I initially realized.”

Buck fears that tires eventually will be rolling, too.

“The way this is going, at some point we’re going to wake up and there are going to be moving vans outside Rams Park,” Buck said.

He believes, via Strauss, that the “fix was already in” when Kroenke bought the team; “I would be hard-pressed to believe that this L.A. plan was dreamed up only when St. Louis wasn’t ready to play ball,” Buck said.

But Buck won’t blame the fans for not currently being willing to watch the team play ball.

“I have a tough time with the notion that fans here don’t support the NFL,” he said. “The team has not performed for a long time now.”

On that point, he’s absolutely right. Since the Greatest Show on Turf went to the Super Bowl for a second time (a loss to the Patriots), the Rams have had one winning season — in 2003. From 2004 through 2014, the Rams went 8-8, 6-10, 8-8, 5-11, 2-14, 1-15, 2-14, 7-8-1, 7-9, and 6-10.

Still, there should be greater engagement in 2015, especially since the Rams are perceived to be ready to make a run at the postseason, with a stellar defense, an improving passing game led by new quarterback Nick Foles, and the possibility of a strong running game led by rookie Todd Gurley. But potential can only do so much when the performance hasn’t been there, and it’s even harder for fans to not emotionally detach when it appears that the franchise already views the fan base as fungible.

At a certain point, not giving a crap anymore becomes a mechanism for avoiding the ultimate disappointment of seeing the relationship end. There’s a good chance that’s one of the main reasons why only 25,000 people showed up last night.

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Eagles get Sam Bradford out quickly after perfect passing night

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There’s a good reason the Eagles have kept Sam Bradford in bubble wrap, pulling him after one series and some hard hits against the Ravens, and limiting his work last night against the Packers.

When he’s been on the field, he’s been practically perfect.

Via Reuben Frank of CSN Philadelphia, Bradford has played four series in the preseason, and each ended with an Eagles touchdown. Last night, he was was 10-of-10 passing for 121 yards and three touchdowns, and 13-of-15 for 156 yards for the preseason, without a turnover.

“I’m sure I missed a lot of things tonight, but just continue to work timing and rhythm in the passing game,” Bradford said, being modest. “I felt like it was better than last week, but it’s by no means perfect. We have two weeks before we play Atlanta, and just continue to work with the guys on that chemistry.

“But I think tonight was a big step. I think we played well, but we’re going to look to build on this.”

Mostly, he got out of there healthy, and coach Chip Kelly admitted he didn’t want to push it with his quarterback coming off a pair of torn ACLs.

“Sam played well,” head coach Chip Kelly said. “He really located the football. I thought he played very well. He had the three touchdown drives and we didn’t see a reason to keep him out there any longer.”

Now, it’s a matter of him holding up for 16 games, when he’s going to have to stay out there.

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Randall Cobb thought he broke his collarbone Saturday night

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The Packers didn’t play quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Saturday night and it didn’t take them long to wonder if they should have made the same call with wide receiver Randall Cobb.

A week after losing Jordy Nelson for the season with a torn ACL on the first drive of a game, Cobb left Saturday’s game against the Eagles after three plays with an injury that he thought would knock him out for an extended period of time. Cobb said after the game that he thought he broke his collarbone, but tests revealed that the injury wasn’t that serious.

“I just caught the ball and was going down to the ground, and I had a guy land on top of me,” Cobb said, via ESPN.com. “I was just jogging off the field at the end of the series, and I could feel the pain. I didn’t know exactly what it was. It was discomfort, and I let Doc check it out and we went back and got X-rays. It’s not what we think it could’ve been.”

While that was a “silver lining,” Cobb’s not sure about whether he will be well enough to play in Week One against the Bears. There will be more tests on his shoulder on Sunday and their results will give the team a better idea about who Rodgers will be able to throw to when the regular season gets underway.

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Arthur Blank appreciated Julio Jones keeping team first in talks

Julio Jones AP

Julio Jones got paid like the other top receivers in the market, more in fact.

But the fact he said so much less than the others might have been a factor in that.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank said he appreciated the decidedly polite tone Jones kept through the process — including vowing to not hold out — prior to giving him a six-year, $81.426 million deal yesterday.

Agent Jimmy Sexton even told Jones to take his cell phone on the field with him during warmups (Joe Horn approves) because the deal was close to being finished last night.

“I figured out and knew for sure that it was done was when Mr. Blank got here,” Jones said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He came on the field and gave me a big hug. He was like ‘congratulations.’ He said he was very proud of the way I handled this. … by keeping the team first.”

While we heard plenty about the possibilities of no deals and the repercussions thereof before Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas eventually got theirs, Jones made no threats.

“He came to work and worked hard,” Blank said. “It was never an issue. There was never a question. He knew that we’d eventually be able to pull something together that would be acceptable to us and to him. We were able to do that. It’s a credit to him personally. It’s a credit to our organization, guys like Nick Polk, Thomas [Dimitroff] and others who have worked on this deal.”

“From Atlanta’s standpoint, he’s a major anchor for us in our offense going forward.”

Now they just have to hope he stays healthy, and continues to provide the level of play they anticipate, and have paid for, so he’s not just an anchor to their salary cap.

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Jay Gruden: “People want to make it out that we’re incompetent”

Jay Gruden AP

Washington coach Jay Gruden is not ready to name a starter, and he sounds like he’s getting worn down by the criticism about his ongoing quarterback saga.

After Saturday night’s game, in which Kirk Cousins started after Robert Griffin III was denied medical clearance just hours after Gruden claimed he’d already been given medical clearance, Gruden said it’s not fair to the team to suggest that they don’t know what they’re doing.

“We’re all as confused as you are, and people have to understand this has nothing to do with the Redskins. I know people want to make it out that we’re incompetent but we’re not. This has nothing to do with us. It was totally independent doctor, a verbal thing he said with our doctor, and then all of a sudden the written statement was different, the written report was different so we followed proper course and did what we thought was right for Robert,” Gruden said.

Asked if there’s a quarterback controversy on his team, Gruden said there isn’t.

“I’m not going to announce anything. There’s no controversy,” Gruden said. “As far as who’s starting at every position, we’re going to evaluate that as a staff. I’m not going to make any announcements right now, that’s for sure.”

But the mere fact that Gruden won’t announce his starter is why there is, in fact, a quarterback controversy. And the fact that there’s a quarterback controversy after a long offseason in which Gruden insisted there wouldn’t be a quarterback controversy is why the team looks incompetent.

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X-rays negative for Leonard Williams

Leonard Williams AP

Leonard Williams left Saturday night’s preseason game against the New York Giants after suffering a knee injury in the first half.

However, it appears as though the injury isn’t all that serious for the New York Jets’ first-round pick.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, X-rays came back negative on Williams knee. The thought is Williams suffered only a bone bruise but he will still have an MRI on Sunday.

Williams was considered by some as the best overall player in the 2015 draft class. With Sheldon Richardson set to miss the start of the season to suspension, Williams will be a pivotal piece in the Jets defensive line rotation.

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After first-half shouting match, Jay Gruden, John Harbaugh shake hands to end game

John Harbaugh AP

Lost in the ejection of Ravens receiver Steve Smith and Washington cornerback Chris Culliver for fighting was the fact that Ravens coach John Harbaugh and Washington coach Jay Gruden exchanged verbal pleasantries in the first half of Saturday’s game.

The exchange appeared to include Harbaugh angrily directing a four-letter, F-driven profanity at Gruden as the two yelled at each other on the field.

By the time the game ended, there was no reprise of the notorious Jim Harbaugh/Jim Schwartz moment from 2011, and neither coach asked the other, “What’s your deal?

The two coaches simply shook hands and moved on, with no further fireworks or F-bombs. Unfortunately, the two teams won’t play each other again this season unless they meet in the Super Bowl.

Yeah, I was giggling as I typed that, and not because of the quality of the team Harbaugh coaches.

Meanwhile, we’d pay a lot of money to see a tag-team match between Jay and Jon Gruden and John and Jim Harbaugh. Hopefully with everyone keeping his shirt on.

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Seahawks starting offense still without a TD drive in preseason

Russell Wilson AP

The Seattle Seahawks acquired Jimmy Graham this offseason with the hopes that he would open up their offensive attack.

But through three preseason games, the Seahawks starting offense has been unable to find the end zone.

Seattle played their starters into the third quarter against the San Diego Chargers on Saturday night. However, Russell Wilson and the offense managed just two field goals and 137 yards of offense in six possessions against the Chargers.

Wilson has led 12 drives for the Seahawks with just four field goals to show for it. They are averaging just 20.5 yards gained per possession.

The only touchdowns Seattle has scored in the preseason have come on a pick-six by Bobby Wagner, two return touchdowns by Tyler Lockett and a touchdown pass from R.J. Archer to running back Thomas Rawls.

The offensive line has been a major reason for the struggles. They haven’t started the same five linemen in any of their three preseason games and Wilson has lacked time to throw. Also, Marshawn Lynch played just three plays so far this preseason. His presence significantly changes Seattle’s offensive dynamic.

Nevertheless, Wilson has not been sharp. He’s completed 17 of 31 passes for just 146 yards in three games and been more inaccurate than normal.

It’s the preseason. It’s not something to get bent out of shape about at this stage. However, in the “dress rehearsal” for the regular season, Seattle’s offense is still searching for production and consistency.

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Philip Rivers bangs throwing hand, says “it’s good”

Philip Rivers, Mike Morgan AP

During the first half of a Week Three preseason game against a blitz-happy Seahawks defense, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers banged his throwing hand.

In the third quarter, Rivers told Tracy Wolfson of CBS that the hand recently used to sign a gigantic contract is fine.

“It’s good,” he said of the right hand, adding that he’d still be playing if it were a regular-season game.

Rivers has a habit of playing through injuries — injuries that sometimes haven’t been disclosed. As former Chargers center Nick Hardwick told PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio earlier this year, Rivers probably has had more injuries that we don’t know about than injuries that we do know about.

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MRI coming on Mike Pouncey’s knee

Minnesota Vikings v Miami Dolphins Getty Images

The aftermath of Saturday night’s preseason game in Miami includes another injury to one of the Pouncey twins.

Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey broke an ankle last week against the Packers; Dolphins center Mike Pouncey emerged from a contest against the Falcons with his left knee in a brace.

Via Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, Pouncey will have an MRI in the morning. However, he says he’s “not too worried about it.”

Here’s a big reason for him to not be worried: In April, the team extended his contract, giving him plenty of financial security in the event of a potentially serious injury. Absent the extension, he would have been in a contract year.

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