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Redskins wideout may have let something slip re: RG3

Robert Griffin III, Pierre Garcon AP

While all the reports on Robert Griffin III seemed positive yesterday, Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon may have let the cat out of the bag regarding his quarterback’s status for this week’s game.

Talking about their meeting with Cleveland, he said on ESPN’s SportsCenter (via CSNWashington.com) “We have a little bit tougher of a task with Kirk starting.”

“We have to play well around Kirk so Kirk doesn’t feel like he has to save the team and help him to be a comfortable as possible,” he continued.

“Kirk” would be Kirk Cousins, the rookie backup, and it’s unclear if Garcon just misspoke or was preparing for something the players are planning on happening.

Coach Mike Shanahan said he didn’t rule Griffin out with a knee sprain, but didn’t rule him in, either.

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Lions, Broyles parting ways

Ryan Broyles AP

The Lions and Ryan Broyles are parting ways, two days after the wide receiver asked for his release in a meeting with general manager Martin Mayhew.

A second-round pick in 2012, Broyles has been slowed by injuries and caught 32 passes in just 21 games. He tore his right ACL last December — it was a left ACL injury late in his college career that probably kept him from being a first-round pick — and his 2013 season was cut short by a ruptured Achilles.

Broyles tweeted a thank you to the organization and to Lions fans early Monday morning. He hadn’t been playing much this preseason and was very much on the outside of a crowded battle for wide receiver jobs behind Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate.

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Monday morning one-liners

Jeremy Hill, Brock Vereen AP

Making the case for all three Bills quarterbacks.

There’s not much depth chart intrigue left for the Dolphins.

A projected 53-man roster for the Patriots.

The Jets pared five wide receivers from the roster on Sunday.

The third preseason game wasn’t a great one for Ravens rookies.

Bengals RB Jeremy Hill lamented not being able to score on three runs inside the three-yard line.

Some good reviews of the Browns defensive line.

Martavis Bryant’s suspension gives WR Sammie Coates an opportunity for playing time with the Steelers.

Texans RB Alfred Blue scored a touchdown in his return to Louisiana.

Rookie DE Henry Anderson showed well for the Colts over the weekend.

DE Chris Smith is getting reps with the Jaguars first team.

The Titans haven’t found much success on throws to WR Justin Hunter this summer.

Broncos RB Montee Ball has slid down the depth chart.

TE Demetrius Harris is back in action for the Chiefs after foot surgery.

Said Raiders S Charles Woodson of LB Khalil Mack, “He’s gone through 16 games. He has some experience now. This guy is only going to get better. He’s only getting his feet wet right now, but he’s going to be a star.”

LB Kyle Emanuel looks set for a role on the Chargers defense in the regular season.

Other than a stye under his left eye, all is going well for Cowboys QB Tony Romo.

Said Giants coach Tom Coughlin, “I think we all have a ways to go. I don’t think any of it is actually where it should be.”

TE Trey Burton is drawing notice for the Eagles.

Troy Aikman compared the Redskins to the Kardashians.

CB Tim Jennings remembered the good times and wished the Bears well after his release.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell won’t say if the team will keep three quarterbacks.

A look at how CB Casey Hayward fits into the Packers secondary.

Penalties were a problem for the Vikings against the Cowboys.

The Falcons offensive line got low marks for their play over the weekend.

Panthers CB Charles Tillman was out of practice because of a concussion.

CB Keenan Lewis was picked on early when the Saints faced the Texans.

Will Gholston has made a nice transition to defensive tackle for the Buccaneers.

RB Chris Johnson wasn’t ready to go for the Cardinals on Sunday.

The Rams haven’t settled their offensive line issues.

Which 49ers players helped themselves against the Broncos?

The Seahawks defense looks like it could be more aggressive this season.

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Colts cut Donald Thomas

Donald Thomas AP

After two regular-season appearances in two seasons, the Colts have decided to move on from veteran guard Donald Thomas.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Colts have released Thomas. He immediately becomes a free agent.

Signed in 2013 as an unrestricted free agent and installed as the starting left guard with a four-year, $14 million deal, Thomas tore a quadriceps muscle in the second game of the regular season. He re-tore it again during training camp in 2014.

The Colts recently had activated Thomas from the Physically Unable to Perform list. He was due to earn a base salary of $3.5 million in 2015.

A sixth-round pick of the Dolphins in 2008, Thomas has played for Miami, Detroit, and New England.

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Chargers start making cuts

Antoine Cason AP

The first cuts from Chargers camp don’t include any surprising names nor does it include many names familiar to those who haven’t spent the summer paying very close attention to the team’s practices.

Quarterback Chase Rettig, wide receiver Titus Davis, linebacker Curtis Grant, cornerback Manny Asprilla, defensive lineman Cameron Botticelli, running back Jahwan Edwards, tackle Forrestal Hickman, tight end David Paulson, tight end Logan Stokes and defensive lineman Luther Robinson were all waived by the team on Sunday while linebacker Brock Hekking was waived/injured. Hekking injured his foot against the Seahawks over the weekend and will revert to injured reserve if he’s unclaimed.

Paulson was a seventh-round pick by the Steelers in 2012 and had 14 catches for Pittsburgh before being released prior to the start of the 2014 season. He spent time on the Chargers practice squad last year.

San Diego needs to make four more cuts by Tuesday’s deadline to get to 75 players and then they’ll need to clear 22 more players off their roster by Saturday.

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Ryan Mallett on missing practice last week: We’re on to today

Ryan Mallett AP

Texans quarterback Ryan Mallett missed practice last Thursday for a reason that coach Bill O’Brien chose not to divulge, but a report in the Houston Chronicle indicated that Mallett overslept.

Mallett spent a day as the third-string quarterback in practice before moving back to the No.2 spot in time for Sunday’s game against the Saints. Mallett was 9-of-17 for 77 yards and a touchdown with another score taken off the board after a review showed tight end Ryan Griffin failed to hold onto a well-thrown ball from Mallett.

After the game, Mallett met the media for the first time since Thursday and showed that he didn’t fall asleep during media training when he played for Bill Belichick with the Patriots.

“It was just something between me and the head coach,” Mallett said, via ESPN.com. “We talked about it, and we’re on to today. … There was nothing to put behind me.”

Nothing Brian Hoyer did Sunday will make the Texans rethink their decision to make him the starting quarterback, leaving Mallett with little to do heading into the regular season other than show up to work on time and wait for a moment when that changes.

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Of the rookie QBs, Marcus Mariota’s having the steadier preseason

Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston AP

Time will tell whether the Buccaneers made the right call going with Jameis Winston over Marcus Mariota, more so than preseason stats or the Sept. 13 regular season opener.

But what the first two picks in this year’s draft have shown thus far is that while they’re both rookies, Mariota’s playing the steadier football of the two.

Via John Glennon of the Tennesseean, Mariota has completed 70.4 percent of his passes, turned it over twice, and has a passer rating of 84.2 compared to Winston’s 49.0 percent, two turnovers and 52.7 passer rating.

Of course, Mariota’s turnovers came on his first two preseason series, and he hasn’t had one since. Winston sandwiched a good game his second time out between two clunkers,

Mariota has led scoring drives on 4-of-10 preseason possessions and been sacked twice, while Winston led the Bucs to four scores in 20 possessions and has taken seven sacks.

While those numbers stand in stark contrast, some context is also demanded. Mariota’s playing with a better line than Winston has access to, and isn’t being asked to do as much on his own. But for the moment, the No, 2 is outplaying the No. 1, which makes the opener a compelling game regardless.

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Raiders lose Menelik Watson to ruptured Achilles tendon

Menelik Watson AP

Raiders starting right tackle Menelik Watson suffered a serious injury in Sunday night’s preseason game.

Watson tweeted after the game that he has ruptured his Achilles tendon. That is almost always a season-ending injury.

The Raiders’ second-round pick in 2013, Watson was a project when he was drafted: He grew up in England and had played only two seasons of football in his life. But he started nine games last year and all three preseason games and was projected to be the Week One starter at right tackle this year. Instead he’ll spend the year rehabbing.

“I will be back stronger than ever that’s a promise. Main thing is supporting the team right now,” Watson wrote on Twitter. “To the Raider Nation I love you so much. There is NO I mean NO fanbase like ours. Thank you for all the support.”

Watson was replaced by Austin Howard in the Raiders’ lineup on Sunday night, and Howard is now projected as Oakland’s starting right tackle.

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Cowboys seem content with their running back committee

Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

It seems almost counterintuitive to the way the Cowboys work.

But after letting league-leading rusher DeMarco Murray go in free agency, and not making a move for any replacement, or trading for a guy like Adrian Peterson, the Cowboys seem determined to go with their running back by committee.

In Saturday’s game against the Vikings, Joseph Randle started and had six carries for 15 yards. Darren McFadden took the second quarter and added four carries for 37 yards. While it may not be Murray, getting 10 for 52 out of the pair of them is a solid start.

I thought they both did a good job,” quarterback Tony Romo said, via Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com. “I thought the looks were a little tougher for Joe early on with the way they played it, then we got to some runs we could attack them with and it opened up some holes. Darren obviously did good on those and made some explosive runs.

“But sometimes the dirty ones are some of the best ones too.”

So as much as it made sense that they might pursue more of a bell-cow back, Jones seemed content going with the duo into the regular season.

“I see how we can line up certainly this coming week but I see how we can line up against the Giants, yes, I do,” Jones said. “You say, ‘Well, couldn’t you see it before?’ Now, I saw the same things before. I expect [Randle] to give us and has the talent to make some of the plays we saw him make tonight. I certainly know [McFadden] can make them and [Lance] Dunbar can do the same. If they’re healthy, I’ll take their skill and what they can bring and go to the game against the Giants and won’t ask for any more.”

Going with that approach is going to put more pressure on Romo and their offensive line this year, but they seem comfortable with that for the time being. But if Randle doesn’t rise to the challenge and McFadden follows his career trajectory, they’re going to wonder why they let such a large part of their offense walk.

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Concussion trailer emerges, 10 days before the launch of the season

Comic-Con International 2015 - Warner Bros. Presentation Getty Images

Last year, an unsavory — and unexpected — piece of film emerged on the first Monday after the launch of the NFL regular season. This year, an expected (but for the league still unsavory) piece of film has emerged on the last Monday before the week in which the NFL regular season returns.

Peter King of TheMMQB.com has debuted the trailer for Concussion, the film starring Will Smith as Bennet Omalu, the man who discovered Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy. In a corresponding interview with writer/director Peter Landesman, King asked if Landesman is trying to drive people away from football.

“I was very focused on this story,” Landesman said. “I don’t feel responsible or connected to the consequences. Storytellers can’t be. Otherwise you get hamstrung by your own conscience. You just have to tell the truth with the most integrity that you can.”

While Landesman may not be trying to drive people away from football, the studio’s decision to make the first trailer of the film exclusively available to a website that attracts football fans shows that the movie will be marketed directly to those whose minds could change about the sport. The risk, of course, is that football fans will be the least inclined to go see the movie, opting to enjoy football without paying attention to the reality that the truth about head trauma could cause the sport eventually to diminish or to disappear.

Neither is likely; as Landesman accurately puts it, football has now simply joined the long list of things that can be hazardous to one’s health — as if no one already knew that football can be hazardous to one’s health.

“It’s the same with smoking, drinking and doing drugs,” Landesman told King. “I like to think in some ways that life is an occupational hazard. Something we do in our life is going to kill us; maybe now, maybe fifty years from now. You have to choose what those things are. We love to drink and be merry and be happy, we know it’s not good for us, but we do it. It’s about making adult choices.”

The makers of Concussion hope that plenty of people will make the choice on Christmas and immediately thereafter to see Concussion. It remains unclear whether the choice of promoting a movie that doesn’t celebrate football to an audience inclined to celebrate football will help achieve that goal.

It is clear that the NFL won’t be thrilled about the film. In May, the league already was planning a response to Concussion at an ownership meeting. The trailer, which makes use of the NFL shield and team logos, will surely prompt even more planning.

In the end, it could be that the NFL simply adopts the Ballers approach to Concussion: Privately, be upset and, publicly, say as little as possible. By the time the postseason begins on January 16, there’s a chance Concussion already will be gone from most American multiplexes.

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Carson Palmer’s off night caused by Raiders, holding ball too long

Carson Palmer AP

While the Raiders might have left last night’s game feeling encouraged by the way their young defense played, the old quarterback on the other side didn’t reach expectations.

Because while Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer had been efficient in his first two starts coming back from last year’s torn ACL, he was sloppy Sunday night, and his coach wasn’t ready to put it all on bad routes or bad protection.

“We’ve got to do a better job of getting the ball out of our hands sometimes,” Bruce Arians said, via Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. “I thought we held it a little bit longer today. Our backs could have helped a couple times to protect [Palmer].

“I thought we were just out of sync. They did a good job of loading up the box and making the run game tough.”

Granted, Khalil Mack and the Raiders were making things difficult on Palmer, who was 8-of-22 passing for 103 yards and two interceptions. He was also sacked three times, but Arians didn’t pin that on the like.

“It was just one guy on one guy most of the time,” Arians said. “Carson’s got to get the ball out of his hands. He can’t be looking for three and four (options) against that rush.”

The way their season ended last year, it’s almost easy to forget the Cards were one of the strongest teams in the NFL at the time of Palmer’s injury. Some hiccups are to be expected in the process (of getting ready for a season in general and coming back from injury in particular), but Palmer nearly created his own problem by raising expectations in his first two outings.

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Khalil Mack stars on good night for Raiders defense

Khalil Mack AP

The third preseason game is often called a dress rehearsal for the regular season.

If that’s true of the Raiders-Cardinals game on Sunday night, Khalil Mack is going to steal the show in 2015. Mack was all but unblockable in the first half of the game, which ended with his second sack of Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer. Mack also stripped the ball from running back David Johnson on a third down, which the Cardinals recovered for a loss before Chandler Catanzaro missed a 54-yard field goal.

Palmer was under pressure from Mack and other Raiders all night and the Cardinals will need better efforts up front from a line that’s in flux thanks to Bobby Massie’s suspension to start the season and Mike Iupati’s knee injury. Palmer was sacked three times and finished 8-of-22 for 103 yards and two interceptions.

While Mack is breaking out on the defensive side of the ball, the Raiders are hoping for the same from first-round pick Amari Cooper. Cooper had four catches for 62 yards and showed very well against Patrick Peterson, but neither he nor any of the other starters could get into the end zone. Derek Carr didn’t convert enough third downs while throwing often — he was 18-of-34 for 213 yards overall — but had the Raiders on a good drive to open the third quarter until he threw a pass that Cardinals cornerback Cariel Brooks picked off for an 81-yard touchdown.

His night ended there, but there was more to like than dislike for the Raiders starters on both sides of the ball Sunday night.

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With next court date coming, no momentum toward Brady settlement

Tom Brady, Kony Ealy AP

On Monday, the NFL and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady return to court for a third — and presumably final — hearing regarding the legality of the four-game suspension imposed in May on Brady. While Judge Richard M. Berman has done his best to try to push the two sides toward a settlement, there’s no indication that any progress has been made.

Then again, there’s no reason to make progress in advance of Monday’s in-court proceedings, where Judge Berman once again will try to twist arms. It’s already a deadline-driven business, and there’s no deadline like appearing in court before a judge who will be issuing a ruling soon, absent an agreement.

The NFL and NFL Players Association have jointly requested that Judge Berman issue a ruling by September 4, six days before the Week One game between the Steelers and Patriots. Judge Berman hasn’t promised a decision by then, possibly hoping that the uncertainty will push the two sides closer together.

A settlement remains possible even if not likely, especially if Judge Berman tells the two sides that there will be no clear winner and no clear loser if they force him to issue a ruling. For example, he could kick the case back for another appeal hearing with a different hearing officer, or he could rule in the NFL’s favor but enter an order allowing Brady to play while the appeal process above Judge Berman plays out.

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Menelik Watson leaves with ankle injury

Arizona Cardinals v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

The Raiders have lost a starting offensive lineman in the first quarter of Sunday night’s game with the Cardinals.

Right tackle Menelik Watson injured his ankle and had to be helped back to the locker room shortly after being flagged for holding Alex Okafor on a passing play. The Raiders announced a short time later that he would not return to the game and Michele Tafoya of Sunday Night Football reported from the sideline that Watson was quite emotional while talking to the trainers about his condition.

Austin Howard took over for Watson, who has made 12 starts in two years with the team that made him a second-round pick in 2013. Okafor beat Howard to force a poor pass by Derek Carr later in the game and he’s been an active force for the Cardinals defense in the early portion of the game.

The Raiders defense has also done well, limiting the Cardinals to three first downs on four first quarter possessions. Nate Allen intercepted Carson Palmer early in the game to set up the first of two Sebastian Janikowski field goals.

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Dolphins make 11 cuts on way to 75 players

New York Giants v St. Louis Rams AP

The Dolphins have started clearing out players ahead of Tuesday’s deadline to set a 75-man roster.

None of the names are surprising ones, although the presence of center J.D. Walton on the list is somewhat notable. Walton signed a two-year deal with the Giants in 2014 that guaranteed him $3 million, but the Giants parted ways with Walton after one poor season.

His departure from the Dolphins could signal Mike Pouncey is OK after hurting his knee and it definitely signals that Sam Brenner was the team’s choice as Pouncey’s backup.

Defensive tackle Calvin Barnett, guard Bryant Browning, wide receiver LaRon Byrd, wide receiver Kevin Cone, defensive end Ray Drew, wide receiver Tyler McDonald, defensive end Kendall Montgomery, tight end Gerell Robinson, cornerback Sammy Seamster and safety Phillip Thomas were also dropped from the roster on Sunday.

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Sources say Snyder, football operation are on the same page

Robert Griffin III AP

The team’s recent history and more immediate circumstances have created the impression that dysfunction in D.C. has reached full boil. While the franchise is hardly displaying a high degree of competence on a consistent basis, the situation isn’t quite as bad as it’s currently being portrayed.

Multiple sources tell PFT that, contrary to a Sunday afternoon report from ESPN, no schism exists between owner Daniel Snyder and the people he has hired to run the football operations regarding the status of quarterback Robert Griffin III.

ESPN claims that the coaching staff and front-official officials want to move on from Griffin, but that they are “meeting resistance” from owner Daniel Snyder. Three different sources have told PFT that this simply isn’t true. (One source called it “spaghetti journalism,” with reports being thrown against the wall at a time when a situation that seems to be disintegrating cries out for more and more efforts to advance the story.)

As one source explained it to PFT, everyone in Washington is on the same page regarding the roles and responsibilities. G.M. Scot McCloughan is in charge of the roster, which soon will be at 53, and coach Jay Gruden decides who will play.

Reports of a two-hour meeting between Snyder and McCloughan may have pushed the needle in the direction of a disagreement between McCloughan/Gruden and Snyder, but a source with knowledge of the situation told PFT that the meeting was focused on sorting out exactly what happened with Griffin being cleared to play after suffering a concussion and then not being cleared to play. That discrepancy fueled the latest spike in perceived dysfunction, but it’s not yet gotten to the point where the guy whose primary job is to sign the checks is getting in the way of the people whose primary jobs are to run the football team.

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