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Cutler has neck and knee injuries, but Bears not concerned

Jay Cutler AP

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was limited in practice today with neck and knee injuries, but the Bears say he’ll be good to go for Sunday’s game against the Packers.

The neck injury was suffered on a hard hit Sunday against the Vikings, a hit that knocked Cutler out of that game. It wasn’t clear which play caused the knee injury, but Bears coach Lovie Smith said he has no concerns about Cutler’s mobility going into the game against the Packers.

“None at all,” Smith said, via Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times. “Practiced today without any trouble at all. You know, after a hard-fought game like that on the turf you sometimes have some bumps that last a little bit longer. He should be fine.”

In addition to linebacker Brian Urlacher, who has already been ruled out, the Bears held several players out of practice today, including receiver Earl Bennett (concussion), running back Michael Bush (ribs), cornerback Tim Jennings (shoulder) and defensive end Shea McClellin (knee).

The Packers have already ruled out defensive back Charles Woodson, and three players were held out of practice today: Receiver Jordy Nelson (hamstring), running back James Starks (knee) and defensive end C.J. Wilson (knee).

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Houston’s goal for Clowney: August 17

Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien looks over practice during NFL football training camp at the Methodist Training Center on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015, in Houston. (AP Photo/Bob Levey) AP

As the Texans wait for linebacker Jadeveon Clowney to be ready to practice after his rookie season ended in microfracture surgery on his knee, coach Bill O’Brien has a specific date in mind for his return.

“I would say that the goal is to get him back on the field by about August 17th and then go from there,” Bill O’Brien said Sunday, via comments distributed by the team.

So why the 17th? O’Brien didn’t elaborate.

“I don’t know,” O’Brien said. “We’ll see how he is on the 17th.”

O’Brien is nevertheless optimistic that, come the 17th, Clowney will be ready to go.

“Do I feel confident? Yeah, I’m confident,” O’Brien said. “I’m confident that he’ll be back here on that day. Now, again, come out here tomorrow, you never know, he’s working very hard. But as I stand here today, I feel confident about his ability to be back out there doing something on August 17th.”

The real question isn’t when Clowney will return to practice, but how he’ll play when he gets back onto the field in a game. What started as a torn meniscus when Clowney landed awkwardly on the much-criticized NRG Stadium turf in Week One of his rookie year ended with a surgical procedure aimed at creating cartilage to replace cartilage that is no longer there.

Whether that new cartilage will hold up under the stress of the explosiveness Clowney’s legs generate is anyone’s guess. And no one will know how the knee responds to that until it happens.

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Carroll on cutting McDaniel: “This decision sucks”

Carroll

Earlier today, multiple reports (including ours) indicated that the Seahawks cut defensive tackle Tony McDaniel for cap purposes following the signing of quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Bobby Wagner to new contracts. In discussing the move with the media on Sunday, coach Pete Carroll said nothing to dispute that.

“It is a significant loss,” Carroll said, via comments distributed by the team. “Tony [McDaniel] has been a really good core player for us, and we really liked him and what he’s brought to our club. This decision sucks, but you know we had to do something, and so maybe there’s a chance we can get him back someday, I don’t know how that will work. Unfortunately, that’s what had to happen today.”

With McDaniel gone, Carroll mentioned several guys who have an opportunity to step up in his absence.

‘It’s always about opportunity,” Carroll said. “Opportunity knocked for a bunch of guys on this one. Tony’s done a lot of playing for us. So as has always been the case, we’re heralding these guys as they come through this thing, and waiting to see who’s going to rise up, and we’re looking for it. David King has a chance and of course Jordan Hill has a chance to rise up. All of the fellas in there, [Demarcus] Dobbs, and all these guys have done a nice job to position themselves, and here the competition opportunity presents itself.”

For Carroll and the Seahawks, competition has always been the key. As more and more players who have competed at a high level reap the rewards, others who have competed well will be moving on, opening more chances for others to compete.

It’s a delicate balance that becomes no easier to strike when two key players go from making six figures to making eight figures.

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Michael Johnson carted from Bengals practice with knee injury

Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

The Bengals brought defensive end Michael Johnson back to the team this offseason and now they’re waiting to find out what kind of time he’ll miss after exiting Sunday’s practice on a cart.

Johnson went down during team drills in the practice and held his right knee before trainers arrived to evaluate the injury on the field. Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that a cart was brought onto the field and that Johnson “gingerly wobbled” a few yards to it before sitting on the back to be transported for further examination.

It’s a good bet that Johnson will head for an MRI to determine whether he’s torn any ligaments. If he’s torn his ACL, Johnson’s second stint with the Bengals won’t get off the ground this year, but he could be back for the early part of the season (or before) if it’s a sprain or something else less severe.

Johnson had 26.5 sacks in five years with the Bengals, who drafted him in the third round of the 2009 draft. He signed a five-year deal with the Buccaneers last year, but was released a year after his arrival after a disappointing campaign in Tampa.

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Chip Kelly says Mychal Kendricks won’t get traded

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Many of the players who have been rumored to be on their way out of Philadelphia this offseason have eventually found themselves off the roster with cornerback Brandon Boykin the latest to find a new address in a trade with the Steelers on Saturday.

Linebacker Mychal Kendricks’s name came up as a trade candidate at various points in the last few months, but coach Chip Kelly insists that Kendricks won’t be joining the exodus out of Philadelphia.

“Mike Kendricks is not going anywhere. I can tell you that right now. You can write that down in ink, not pencil. Mike’s not going anywhere,” Kelly said, via the Philadelphia Daily News.

Kendricks said that he didn’t spend much time worrying about what might happen, but that he’s “glad to be here” and that thoughts about what will happen after his contract expires at the end of the season will wait until after the season. Kendricks, Kiko Alonso and DeMeco Ryans will be the top inside linebackers in Philly this season and Kendricks says they’re “just rotating” during practices right now.

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Mo Wilkerson leaves practice with hamstring injury

Wilkerson Getty Images

The only sure thing about training camp is that players will be injured. We just don’t know when and whom and what body part and how long they’ll be out.

Today, the when and whom point to Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson. Via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, Wilkerson left practice on Sunday. After practice, coach Todd Bowles said Wilkerson tweaked his hamstring.

Wilkerson, in the option year of a rookie contract signed in 2011, wants a new deal. His leverage has increased in recent weeks with the four-game suspension and then the arrest of Sheldon Richardson.

Wilkerson’s leverage could plummet if his injury is anything other than a short-term problem.

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League: No change in Kensil’s status

NFL Getty Images

For months, Patriots fans have targeted NFL V.P. of game operations Mike Kensil as one of the instigators of #DeflateGate. In recent days, Kensil’s name has resurfaced as one of the “main sources” for ESPN’s false 11-of-12-footballs-at-two-pounds-under-12.5-PSI report.

Today, plenty of readers have passed along a link to the NFL Operations website that lists “the NFL Ops team” — and that doesn’t include Kensil. Listed instead are executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent, senior V.P. of football operations Dave Gardi, V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino, senior director of officiating Al Riveron, and director of football development Matt Birk.

According to the NFL, there has been no change in Kensil’s status.

“He was never on that page in the first place,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy told PFT via email on Sunday.

None of this will keep Patriots fans from continuing to insist that whoever leaked false information to ESPN, whether Kensil or someone else or multiple people, be rooted out and disciplined.

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Stephen Hill diagnosed with torn ACL

Stephen Hill AP

The feeling around the Panthers was that the knee injury suffered by wide receiver Stephen Hill on Saturday was a serious one and those feelings were proven correct on Sunday.

Assistant head coach Steve Wilks, who is filling in for Ron Rivera this weekend while Rivera is attending his brother’s funeral, announced that Hill tore his ACL. The team placed Hill on waivers with the injured designation, which means he’ll be placed on injured reserve for the team if he clears waivers.

“It’s tough anytime you lose a player,” Wilks said, via the team’s website. “We’re just praying that Stephen has a quick recovery, and we’ll move forward.”

Hill was a second-round pick by the Jets in 2012 and caught 45 passes in two years with the team before joining the Panthers practice squad last season. Hill’s issues with drops hastened his exit from the Jets, but the Panthers were hopeful that his size and speed would help them this season.

The Panthers signed undrafted rookie wide receiver Paul Browning.

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Report: Lions trade Mohammed Seisay to Seahawks

Buffalo Bills v Detroit Lions Getty Images

The Seahawks and Lions have reportedly hooked up for a trade that adds a cornerback to the mix in Seattle.

Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times reports that the Seahawks have sent an undisclosed 2016 draft pick to Detroit in exchange for cornerback Mohammed Seisay.

Seisay was an undrafted rookie last season and initially made the Lions practice squad before getting a spot on the 53-man roster in September. He played in 13 games and made five tackles for Detroit. The Lions presumably didn’t feel he had a great chance of making the roster again this year after drafting two corners to go with free agent additions Josh Wilson and Chris Owens.

Seisay will now compete with Will Blackmon, Marcus Burley, Tye Smith and, once healthy, Tharold Simon in a group topped by Richard Sherman and Cary Williams. At 6’2″ and 200 pounds, Seisay has the kind of size the Seahawks have liked at corner in recent years.

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Mark Sanchez says talk of Chip Kelly being racist is “getting old”

Kelly Getty Images

The pattern has become predictable. Players who, for whatever reason, don’t fit within the Chip Kelly system point to something other than their failure to fit within the Chip Kelly system when dismissed from it.

It’s easy for some, and a little lazy, to suggest that Kelly makes decisions based in whole or in part on race. But that’s what cornerback Brandon Boykin did after being traded to the Steelers. While Boykin stopped short of echoing the kind of inflammatory remarks previously made by former Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, Boykin told Derrick Gunn of CSN Philly that Kelly is “uncomfortable around grown men of our culture.”

Quarterback Mark Sanchez has sounded off in response to the suggestion that Kelly has any sort of racial bias.

That’s nuts,” Sanchez said, via Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post. “[During stretching today], guys were like, ‘Sanchez, ain’t you Mexican? And Bradford, aren’t you Native-American? And Kiko [Alonso] is Colombian. We’ve got black guys, white guys, Polynesian guys. C’mon, that’s crazy. It’s not even worth talking about. Stop asking the players about it. It’s getting old.”

It may be getting old, but it becomes news whenever a newly old Eagles player dusts off that narrative.

The real narrative is that Chip Kelly is committed to putting together the best team he can, without special treatment for players with big names or big contracts. Everyone is replaceable, regardless of what he has done. And if anyone doesn’t like that, he’ll soon be gone.

Actually, Kelly’s approach gives players a convenient path out of Philly. By not buying in, privately or publicly, Kelly eventually will cut a guy loose, regardless of the precedent it sets. A decade ago, that mindset would have saved the Eagles plenty of stress and strain during an pay-me-trade-me-or-cut-me extended showdown with receiver Terrell Owens.

Kelly ultimately wants guys who want to be there, and who want to do things the way he wants them to be done. While that mentality won’t guarantee a guy special treatment, either, it gives every player a fair chance to make the team and to get onto the field.

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Jerry Reese: We’re going to surprise people defensively

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The Giants defense wasn’t any good last season and hopes for a revival under returning coordinator Steve Spagnuolo took a hit on July 4 when defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was injured in a fireworks accident.

Pierre-Paul has not signed his franchise tender with the team and has opted not to share his current medical condition with the team while he recovers in Florida, a decision that has led to criticism from co-owner John Mara and coach Tom Coughlin in the last week. General Manager Jerry Reese didn’t have anything to say about Pierre-Paul’s approach when asked about the defensive end on Sunday.

“Guys, I’m not gonna say much,” Reese said, via the New York Daily News. “I don’t really have anything to report about that situation, but I am gonna say this: I wish Jason nothing but the best. It’s a traumatic situation that was — it was an accident. There’s plenty of people that have opinions about it, but my heart goes out to him. For a young man to have a traumatic event like that in his life, it’s life-changing for him and I hope and pray for the best for him. That’s what I can say about that. But other than that, I’m not gonna say anything else about what Jason’s situation is except I hope for the best, and hopefully he’s healing mentally and physically, and that he can be back to himself as soon as possible. That’s all I’m gonna say about the Jason situation.”

Damontre Moore and Kerry Wynn were two players that Reese pointed out while discussing how the defense will line up for however long they’ll be without Pierre-Paul and the G.M. added that they would contribute to a better defense than many people are predicting.

“I think we’ll be really good defensively,” Reese said. “I think we’re gonna surprise people.”

Getting to really good defensively looked hard when expecting a healthy Pierre-Paul in the lineup from the start of the season and meeting Reese’s expectations would make Spagnuolo look pretty good in his return to Jersey.

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Steelers dump Michael Egnew

Egnew Getty Images

Even with 90 guys on every roster, the churning continues in the early days of training camp.

For the Steelers, that churning has resulted in the arrival of cornerback Brandon Boykin via trade with Philly, and also the signing of rookie free agent running back Jawon Chisholm. The team announced the arrival of Chisholm on Sunday; he was a participant on a tryout basis in the team’s rookie minicamp.

To make room for Boykin and Chisholm, the Steelers released tight end Michael Egnew and placed rookie running back Ross Scheuerman on the waived/injured list.

A third-round pick of the Dolphins in 2012, Egnew appeared in 16 games for the Dolphins in 2013. Cut in August 2014 by the Dolphins, he bounced from the Lions to the Jaguars before being released from Jacksonville’s practice squad on September 24 and spending the rest of the year out of football.

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Rex Ryan names Richie Incognito starter at left guard

Richie Incognito AP

Richie Incognito was out of the NFL for the entire 2014 season, but he’s on track to be in the starting lineup when the 2015 season gets underway.

Bills coach Rex Ryan said Sunday, via Joe Buscaglia of WKBW, that Incognito is the team’s starter at left guard. Incognito has not played in the NFL since the Dolphins suspended him in November 2013 after allegations of harassment and bullying toward tackle Jonathan Martin that became the subject of the NFL’s first Ted Wells report.

He signed with Buffalo in February and declared himself a changed man. He’s done nothing off the field to draw attention since joining the Bills and earned rave reviews from Ryan during offseason work for his work on the field. Incognito was selected to the Pro Bowl with the Dolphins in 2012 and has 102 NFL starts in his career.

Ryan also announced Cordy Glenn will be the starter at left tackle. With Eric Wood at center, that leaves the Bills down to two unsettled positions on their offensive line.

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NFL supervisor of officials acknowledges “slow leak” possibility

Football

The Ted Wells report should have resulted, in the opinion of PFT and not necessarily anyone else, in a finding that the results of the investigation were inconclusive as to whether the Patriots had tampered with footballs prior to the AFC title game.

Inconclusive, because the NFL had (as former NFL official and supervisor of officials Jim Daopoulos has told PFT) never regarded the inflation of footballs as a science.

Inconclusive, because the NFL had never even checked air pressure in footballs during or after any game in the 95-year history of the league.

Inconclusive, because of the significant gap between the two gauges made available to the officials responsible for setting the air pressure in the footballs used for the AFC Championship Game.

Inconclusive, because the measurements generated by the Patriots footballs (the real ones, not the false ones leaked to ESPN) on one of those gauges — the one the referee specifically recalled using before kickoff to set the air in the Patriots footballs — fell within the range expected by the Ideal Gas Law.

Inconclusive, because one of the gauges showed three of four Colts footballs to be under the 12.5 PSI minimum at halftime, even though they started at 13.0 or 13.1 PSI.

Inconclusive, because a $1,000-an-hour lawyer wasn’t able to parlay troubling Beavis-and-Butthead text messages into a pants-pissing confession from a day-of-game employee who carries around a bag of footballs on Sundays.

And, now, inconclusive, because a current NFL supervisor of officials has acknowledged that some footballs are defective, when it comes to keeping air inside them.

“These are man-made products,” Central Region supervisor of officials Gary Slaughter said during a via to the Steelers, via Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “There is a bladder and a valve. We have all checked them for many years. Sometimes when you check the ball in the locker room right out of the box, there could be a problem. They could have a slow leak, and you wouldn’t even know it at the time.”

The possibility of a slow leak doesn’t exonerate the Patriots. But it’s another reason for concluding based on the information available to Ted Wells that the evidence of cheating prior to the AFC Championship Game is inconclusive.

The sheer volume of the evidence generated by Ted Wells allows for a 243-page decision supporting any outcome Wells wanted to reach. Whatever outcome he wanted to reach, the end result should have been that the evidence is inconclusive.

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Seahawks move on from Tony McDaniel

McDaniel Getty Images

The Seahawks truly can’t keep everybody.

The team has released defensive tackle Tony McDaniel, PFT has confirmed. PFT likewise has confirmed that McDaniel was informed that the team needed to move on for cap reasons after giving new contracts to quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Bobby Wagner.

McDaniel was due to earn a base salary of $2.5 million in 2015, along with a per-game roster bonuses with a full-season total of $500,000. He remains on the books for $625,000, the proration of his signing bonus from 2014.

He arrived in Seattle two years ago, appearing in 32 regular-season games with 29 starts.  He also has started five of six postseason games in the last two years, including Super Bowl XLIX.

McDaniel appeared in every game during his Seattle tenure; he becomes an immediate free agent, able to sign with any team.

And the next question becomes who’s the next to go after so much money has gone to Wilson and Wagner.

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Lions not sure when Joique Bell will be ready to practice

Detroit Lions v Chicago Bears Getty Images

The Lions placed running back Joique Bell on the physically unable to perform list to open training camp after an offseason that saw Bell undergo surgeries on both his knee and Achilles, but they aren’t concerned about Bell falling behind in the offense.

Coach Jim Caldwell said that Bell “understands and knows how to run the ball” in the team’s offensive scheme, which leaves the team “majorly concerned” with getting the back healthy enough to actually run the ball. As of now, though, the team doesn’t have any idea about when that is going to be.

“Like I said, I’m not sure how long it’s going to take,” Caldwell said, via the Detroit Free Press. “I do know one thing, that he’s coming along quickly, and we’ll see what the doctor says. I can’t put an exact timetable on it right now. That’s the tough thing about even talking about medical. Sometimes you don’t know.”

Second-round pick Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick will get the snaps with the first team while Bell, who led the Lions in rushing last season, is out of the lineup and strong work from Abdullah could lead the Lions to tweak their plans in the backfield for the season.

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