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Sunday night wrap-up: Morris becomes a Redskins legend

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Redskins Getty Images

For most of the year, Redskins running back Alfred Morris was the other rookie, if that.

Sunday night, he put his name up with John Riggins, or at least Timmy Smith.

Morris ran 33 times for 200 yards and three touchdowns, in the Redskins 28-18 win over the Cowboys. With their seventh straight win, the Redskins advance to the playoffs as the NFC East champion, and will host the Seahawks next Sunday.

The Cowboys’ season ends with an 8-8 record.

And it ended thanks in large part to the sixth-rounder from Florida Atlantic.

Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was obviously ailing (and threw for only 100 yards), so it was on Morris to carry the load offensively.

He did that, and then some, controlling the game from the inside out, even though the Cowboys knew what was coming. It’s the kind of performance that sets up an old school duel with Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch next week.

But even before the playoffs start, it was the kind of game that made Morris part of a rich history of runners.

Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:

1. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo had thrown three interceptions in his previous eight games.

His three picks Sunday night will continue to define him, such that the definition changed.

It’s a shame, because he had played so well the last month, and been so good in fourth quarters.

But he may never be able to escape the fact that when it’s time for a play to be made, he ends up making it for the other team. Defensive end Jason Hatcher tried to take him off the hook with a ridiculous penalty at a ridiculous time (the first of the night for the Cowboys), but Romo will remain the focus, as he should.

2. Between the evaluation of Mike Shanahan or the budding genius of his son Kyle drawing up plays for the offense, it’s been easy to miss to work done by Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett.

Keep in mind, this is a coach that lost his best pass-rusher in Brian Orakpo along with defensive end Adam Carriker two games into the season.

He’s built the thing around London Fletcher, who has battled injuries all year and wasn’t the fastest to begin with. But Haslett dialed up pressure, and it got home enough to keep the Cowboys off-balance.

It’s not an easy thing he’s done, but the Redskins have responded on that side of the ball. They’re not great, but they’ve been good enough, long enough.

3. That said, the Cowboys were running out of numbers and nametags on defense.

They entered the night with a one-armed DeMarcus Ware, then outside linebacker Anthony Spencer went down with an injury in the third quarter, though he’d come back.

They had put inside linebackers Sean Lee and Bruce Carter on injured reserve previously, and lost nose tackle Jay Ratliff to a groin injury.

That many losses to the front seven finally became more than they could bear.

4. The converse of the Cowboys injury plagued defense is the Redskins offensive line, which has been greater than the sum of its parts all year.

Left tackle Trent Williams has first-round pedigree. But left guard Kory Lichtensteiger, center Will Montgomery, right guard Chris Chester and right tackle Tyler Polumbus are the kind of guys you fill in the blanks with.

For the Redskins, they’re a foundation.

Polumbus missed one game with a concussion, otherwise the group has been intact all season. Rookie Josh LeRibeus replaced Lichtensteiger briefly in the third quarter, but they finished the game the way they’ve played the second half of the season.

Together.

5. DeAngelo Hall gave Dez Bryant the “Back up off me bro” treatment for most of the night.

The Redskins cornerback, who has traditionally been more talk than walk in his career, kept the clamps on the Cowboys star wideout most of the evening.

Bryant finished with four catches for 71 yards before leaving with an injury, but wasn’t a factor, which your best player needs to be in this type of game.

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Browns waive A.J. Stamps with Josh Gordon back on roster

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 23:  Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on November 23, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) Getty Images

Word came from the NFL on Monday that Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon has been conditionally reinstated from the suspension that kept him off the field last season.

Gordon will still be suspended for the first four games of the regular season, but he’s eligible to practice and play with the team during the preseason. That left the Browns in need of a spot on the 90-man roster for Gordon.

They created it by announcing that they have waived defensive back A.J. Stamps. Stamps signed with the team in early May after going undrafted out of Kentucky and will become a free agent if he passes through waivers unclaimed.

The Browns hold their first training camp practice on Friday. Gordon reported to the team’s facility Tuesday to take a physical ahead of what will be his first on-field action with the team in a long time.

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Michael Irvin’s contract is up at NFL Network

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 27:  Former NFL player Michael Irvin speaks during the 25th Great Sports Legends Dinner to benefit The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis at The Waldorf=Astoria on September 27, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images for The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis) Getty Images

Unlike ESPN, NFL Network hasn’t undergone significant upheaval among its throng of players-turned-analysts. But one fairly big name with a gold jacket could be going elsewhere.

Via Michael McCarthy of Sporting News, Michael Irvin’s contract at NFLN will expire before the start of the 2016 season.

The timing is a bit odd; it’s far better for these deals to expire before other networks have finalized their lineups for the coming campaign. The fact that the news is trickling out now suggests that Irvin hasn’t gotten the kind of financial offer he wants to stay put. If other networks show interest, NFL Network may up the ante.

Per McCarthy, the league-owned network hopes to keep Irvin around.

If Irvin leaves, there aren’t many other options. NBC, CBS, and FOX presumably don’t have open seats. McCarthy calls ESPN a “natural landing spot,” given that Irvin worked there from 2003 to 2007.

Still, Irvin’s first stint in Bristol was rocky at times. In 2005, ESPN suspended Irvin after he failed to disclose that he had been arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia. Also, former ESPN ombudsman George Solomon criticized remarks from Irvin suggesting that Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo’s speed can be attributed to possible African-American ancestry.

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Dolphins rookie CB Xavien Howard to PUP after knee scope

WACO, TX - OCTOBER 24: Xavien Howard #4 of the Baylor Bears intercepts against the Iowa State Cyclones in the second quarter at McLane Stadium on October 24, 2015 in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) Getty Images

When the Dolphins drafted cornerback Xavien Howard in the second round of this year’s draft, he immediately became a contender for a starting job in the secondary.

His push for that job or another prominent role early in his first season hit a snag heading into camp, however. Howard needed to have arthroscopic surgery on his knee after getting hurt on the final day of Dolphins minicamp and coach Adam Gase said Tuesday that Howard will open camp on the physically unable to perform list while he recovers.

Gase said, via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, that the team expects to have Howard back on the field by the first regular season game at the latest. That timeline may not leave the rookie with enough time to show he’s ready to handle a regular role on defense in the opening weeks.

Tony Lippett will join Byron Maxwell as the first-team corners in practice and should be on track for that job in the regular season as well if the Dolphins stand pat at corner.

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Falcons keeping tabs on Dwight Freeney, O’Brien Schofield

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 27:  Linebacker Dwight Freeney #54 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates after sacking quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers (not pictured) in the third quarter of the NFL game at University of Phoenix Stadium on December 27, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) Getty Images

When the Falcons released Devin Hester on Tuesday, the number of players on their roster dropped to 87.

That leaves them with three spots to fill, something that General Manager Thomas Dimitroff said was not a must before training camp officially opens. If and when the Falcons do make a move, it could be to add a familiar name to the roster.

Dimitroff said on Tuesday that the team is still considering adding defensive end/linebacker Dwight Freeney to the team. Freeney visited with the Falcons as their offseason program was drawing to a close and passed on signing him, but said that it was something they could revisit down the road.

Linebacker O’Brien Schofield is another veteran option. Coach Dan Quinn said they’ve been keeping tabs on Schofield, who had two sacks in 14 appearances with the team last year, and that he’s had a good offseason.

Either player would fit on a defense that hopes to improve on its production in 2015, although it seems clear that Atlanta doesn’t feel they have to make a move right away because both veterans have been hanging around the market the entire offseason.

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Bills, Reggie Bush still talking

Buffalo Bills v Detroit Lions Getty Images

After reports emerged linking running back Reggie Bush to the Bills, Bush tapped the brakes. At some point, however, it looks like he’ll be dialing up Western New York on the GPS.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, talks between Bush and the Bills continue. The Bills view Bush as a potential option at punt returner and as a replacement/clone of LeSean McCoy, if he needs a break or is injured.

The Bills need to be ready for the four-game suspension imposed recently on running back Karlos Williams. The real question is whether Bush fits after Williams returns from his looming exile.

With the flirtation between Bush and the Bills now an open book, if anyone else wants the No. 2 pick from the 2006 draft, time may be running out.

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Falcons release veteran return man Devin Hester

Devin Hester AP

Earlier this offseason, the Falcons were talking about ways to use return man Devin Hester, suggesting they might “green-light” him to take kickoffs out of the end zone.

But Hester’s Falcons career hit a red light this morning, as the team announced they had released the veteran wide receiver.

The 33-year-old Hester was coming back from toe surgery in January, and only played five games last year. He hadn’t participated in any of the offseason work, and it was unclear what he’d be able to do during training camp.

That injury kept him from showing his old burst, but he’s one of the most dangerous returners in the history of the game, and it’ll be interesting to see if someone wants to give him another chance once he’s well, whenever that might be.

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Sam Bradford “not really” thinking about long-term status with Eagles

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 20:  Quarterback Mark Sanchez #3 of the Philadelphia Eagles replaces quarterback Sam Bradford #7 for one play in the first quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Lincoln Financial Field on December 20, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Eagles coach Doug Pederson reiterated Monday that, barring injury or other unforseen development, the team will start Sam Bradford at quarterback in Week One.

Pederson also said that he can’t say at this point whether rookie Carson Wentz will remain on the inactive list as the No. 3 quarterback for the entire season. Wentz’s arrival caused some issues between Bradford and the team in the spring that have since been worked out and drafting a quarterback second overall means he’ll be the starter at some point.

Bradford said Monday that he’s not spending much time thinking about what that will mean for him.

“Not really,” Bradford said, via Philly.com. “I think at this point, I’m just trying to come out here, get better each day, try to make this team better, try to help this team win games, do my job the best I can, and then whatever happens, happens.”

It’s hard to block out thoughts about what might be coming later this year or in 2017, but Bradford’s future — in Philadelphia or elsewhere — will be in pretty good shape if he can turn in a healthy and productive season because healthy and productive quarterbacks are always in demand around the NFL.

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Corey Wootton announces his retirement after six seasons

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 20: Quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins is sacked by Corey Wootton #99 of the Detroit Lions during a preseason game at FedExField on August 20, 2015 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images) Getty Images

With teams reporting to training camp, the veterans who didn’t get one of the 32 times 90 invitations (that’s 2,880, #math) often start realizing things about their future.

And the latest to retire instead of continuing to pursue football employment is journeyman defensive end Corey Wootton, per his own social media.

Wootton signed with the Lions last year, but didn’t play a down in the regular season after tearing a pectoral muscle in the preseason finale, putting him on IR.

He was originally drafted by Chicago and also spent time with the Vikings, amassing 12.0 sacks in his five years on the field, with 7.0 of them coming in 2012 with the Bears.

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Arthur Jones says he did bad job of checking supplements

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 11:  Arthur Jones #97 of the Indianapolis Colts looks on from the bench against the Denver Broncos during a 2015 AFC Divisional Playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 11, 2015 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL’s PED policy is sufficiently effective to ensnare players who use supplements that contain banned substances. However, the PED policy has yet to catch many (if any) actual cheaters.

Those observations hinge on the honesty of the stream of PED offenders who claim they used a supplement that, unbeknownst to them, included one of the many chemicals and compounds on the long list of forbidden fruits.

Colts defensive tackle Arthur Jones, suspended four games for a PED violation, is the latest cheater-who-isn’t-a-cheater. Via Bob Kravitz of WTHR.com, Jones said, “I did a piss poor job of double checking my supplements to make sure nothing was banned.”

The pun probably wasn’t intended; the “I am not a crook” message surely was. Either no one is deliberately using PEDs or they aren’t getting caught or, when they get caught, they’re claiming that they merely took a substance that they didn’t know included a banned substance.

Maybe Jones is telling the truth. The fact that his truth matches the terms of what so many times is used as an excuse makes it harder for folks to accept that his violation occurred inadvertently.

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Browns will give RGIII four out of five first-team reps

robert-griffin-042116-usnews-getty-ftr_1e6vnixax1djm16lk3vspil4lr Getty Images

Robert Griffin III hasn’t been promised the starting quarterback job in Cleveland, but heading into training camp, it’s his job to lose.

Longtime Browns reporter Tony Grossi said this morning on PFT Live that Griffin will get four out of every five reps with the first-string offense at Browns camp. That strongly suggests that coach Hue Jackson is heading into camp with the idea that Griffin is his starter, and will only change his mind if something surprising happens.

“It’s not an open competition with Josh McCown,” Grossi said.

At the moment, the Browns’ depth chart appears to have Griffin on top, McCown second, rookie third-round draft pick Cody Kessler third and Austin Davis fourth. That can change, but it will probably only change if Griffin either gets hurt or plays so poorly that the Browns’ coaches feel like they have no choice but to demote him. The other quarterbacks simply won’t get many opportunities to win the job.

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Tom Telesco: “I guess we’ll see” if Joey Bosa reports to camp

SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 07:  Third overall 2016 NFL draft pick Joey Bosa of the San Diego Chargers throws out the ceremonial first picth prior to the start of the San Diego Padres game against the Atlanta Braves at PETCO Park on June 7, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images) Getty Images

After the Chargers picked defensive end Joey Bosa with the third overall pick of this year’s draft, they said they had their eye on him throughout the entire pre-draft process and knew that he was they guy they would take once it was known quarterbacks would be the first two picks.

That was easy, but getting Bosa under contract hasn’t been quite so smooth a process. Bosa is one of three players from the draft without a deal as his agents and the Chargers squabble over offset language and the timing of when bonus money will be paid to Bosa. Those issues have been obstacles for some time without an agreement, which may explain why General Manager Tom Telesco basically shrugged his shoulders when asked if Bosa would report to camp.

“I don’t know,” Telesco said on The Mighty 1090 in San Diego, via ESPN.com. “I guess we’ll see. I really don’t know if he’ll [show up]. We’re still working on it. Hopefully we’ll get something done, but I don’t know.”

Telesco said that he understood some people were puzzled about the standoff since it is “not really over money,” but said that the Chargers believe in “certain things of consistency and doing things the same way for everyone on the team” when it comes to contracts. In this case, that consistency could keep the third overall pick they were so sure they wanted from practicing when training camp opens in part because the the team’s worried about how much he’ll get paid if he’s a total flop.

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Danny Woodhead feels “great” after offseason injury scare

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 3: Running back Danny Woodhead #39 of the San Diego Chargers is dragged down by free safety Bradley Roby #29 of the Denver Broncos during a game  at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 3, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) Getty Images

Chargers running back Danny Woodhead doesn’t go down easily, and doesn’t usually stay down long.

But when a teammate rolled into his ankle in June, the 31-year-old  was worried it was similar to the season-ending injury he suffered in Buffalo in 2014, so he might have been entitled to milk it for a little extra attention.

“Not everyone knows this, but when I was in Buffalo, it hurt and I couldn’t get up on it, but it wasn’t until 30 seconds to a minute after when I was like, ‘Oh. This is bad,’” Woodhead said, via Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “So [this time] I kind of gave it the 30 seconds to a minute. It wasn’t out of trying to be a jerk or anything, but I was just like, ‘I don’t know if I’m good yet. Let’s see. Let’s wait this out.’ . . .

“It took a couple weeks, but now I’m as healthy as I’ve been in a long time. I feel great going into the season.”

Having Woodhead ready to contribute will be a good sign for the Chargers, after a productive 2015 season. He led the team in catches (81), receiving yards (755) and receiving touchdowns (six), remarkable numbers for a back on the wrong side of 30.

“In my rookie year and second year, I really didn’t play that much,” Woodhead said. “And then with the year I took off because of the ankle, that’s really three years that didn’t give me wear and tear. I really feel like I’m young. I feel like my body is young. . . . I feel like I’m 26. This might have been the best offseason I’ve had.

“If you were to ask me that five years ago, I would’ve said, ‘Yeah, right.’ But I still feel like I can do the same things as I did or better. As long as I can do the same things I was doing in year four, if I’m doing that or better, I don’t think it’s time for me to go for a while.”

At least he’s ready to go from the start of the season, which is a huge relief after his June scare.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

Divisional Playoffs - Dallas Cowboys v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

Will the Bills defense be better this season?

Assessing potential improvements in the Dolphins secondary.

Where will Shea McClellin fit into the Patriots defense?

The Jets will have a players leadership council this season.

CB Jimmy Smith playing well is important to the Ravens defense.

Previewing the players heading into their second years with the Bengals.

Rookie WR Corey Coleman was motivated by criticism from Browns coach Hue Jackson.

An optimistic prediction for the Steelers offense despite players missing with suspensions.

Cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Kevin Johnson avoided the Texans PUP list.

A few under-the-radar Colts training camp storylines.

The Jaguars added K Sam Ficken to the roster.

Titans fans will be able to get QB Marcus Mariota’s autograph at training camp.

Rookie defensive backs will have to catch on quickly to get playing time with the Broncos.

Which Chiefs can boost their offensive production?

The Raiders are set with outside cornerbacks and holding a competition for slot duties.

The Chargers are looking for a big step forward from RB Melvin Gordon.

Cowboys WR Cole Beasley learned from Randy Moss in joint workouts.

Ben McAdoo’s style is geared toward younger members of the Giants roster.

CB Nolan Carroll was among the rehabbing veterans on the field for the Eagles Monday.

Will the Redskins look outside the organization for pass rush help?

The development of recent first-round picks will be important for the Bears this season.

Previewing the biggest position battles for the Lions.

The Packers need some inside linebackers to step up this year.

The Vikings offensive line changed again on Monday with tackle Phil Loadholt’s retirement.

Have the Falcons improved their pass rush?

Tracing Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin’s path back from a torn ACL.

The Saints don’t expect T Terron Armstead to have an extended stay on the PUP list.

In search of buzz about the Buccaneers.

DT Darnell Dockett returned to the Cardinals to say goodbye to the NFL.

QB Jared Goff isn’t the only Rams rookie trying to get noticed at training camp.

Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner are excited to renew their college partnership with the 49ers.

Will coach Pete Carroll get an extension from the Seahawks soon?

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Police visit Tre Mason’s home five times in four months

SANTA CLARA, CA - JANUARY 03:  Tre Mason #27 of the St. Louis Rams rushes with the ball against Jimmie Ward #25 of the San Francisco 49ers during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

In early March, Rams running back Tre Mason had a bizarre incident with police, resulting in his arrest on various charges. He then failed to appear in court, before eventually doing so.

Since then, police reportedly have been called to his house on five different occasions. According to TMZ, the most recent incident happened on Saturday.

Per the report, Mason’s family is concerned about his mental health. During one of the police visits, he agreed to check into a facility. He apparently didn’t.

Mason has not yet been accused of assaulting family members. On one occasion, a family member told police that Mason hadn’t slept in days, and that the family member was concerned if Mason left the house “he will get hurt.”

Mason didn’t participate in OTAs this year, excused from the voluntary sessions for “personal reasons.” The next question for the Rams is whether Mason, a third-round pick in 2014, will be welcomed to training camp — and whether he’ll even show up for it.

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Pederson continues to commit to Bradford as Week 1 starter

bradford-sam082315-getty-ftrjpg_6qwfldz8wmio1w7qdzj8hpebh Getty Images

Eagles coach Doug Pederson remains committed to Sam Bradford as his starting quarterback.

“I’ve said all along that Sam’s the guy,’’ Pederson said after Bradford, Chase Daniel and Carson Wentz completed their first training camp practice on Monday.

Pederson said he doesn’t see anything happening in the preseason that would change his quarterback depth chart.

“You’ve got to get through four games and a lot of preseason. But going into September 11, Sam’s the guy. I’ll stick with that. Chase is our No. 2, and Carson is our No. 3,” Pederson said.

The Eagles, more than any other team, poured resources into the quarterback position this offseason: They signed Bradford to a two-year, $35 million contract, signed Daniel to a three-year, $21 million contract and traded up to the second overall pick to draft Wentz. With all those resources going into the position, they’d better have a good starting quarterback. Pederson thinks they have one in Bradford.

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