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Griffin says injury has made him more careful

Robert Griffin III AP

Some players are injury prone.  Some players aren’t necessarily injury prone, but they’re contact prone.  And the challenge for any skill-position player is to find legitimate ways to avoid or at least minimize contact.

Whether it’s running out of bounds or sliding at the right moment or, as Barry Sanders used to do, knowing instinctively when to go down to the turf, the best way to stay healthy is to limit the number of hits that the body absorbs.

Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III explained on Wednesday that injuring his knee via a hit from Haloti Ngata that looked in real time as if it would destroy it has helped Griffin learn how to play safely.

“The injury has shown me a lot – just from a quarterback perspective,” Griffin told reporters.  “This game is not easy, but [the injury] did show me some things I can do to make the game easier for myself, easier on my body.  Ironically, I’ve done a better job of protecting myself since the injury – sliding, getting down, getting all the possible yards I can and getting out of bounds.  Sometimes, things have to happen like that for you to really, really grasp that.  It’s shown me a lot.  I don’t think I’ve ever rushed for 10 yards a carry in a game and I did that in this past game.”

To work over the long haul, the effort to avoid contact must become second nature.  For Griffin, the sooner that happens the better equipped he’ll be to remain healthy more often than not.

And for now he has a constant reminder to be careful, thanks to the bulky brace that is protecting his right knee.  “Not a lot of people talk about the limp with the brace, but any time you wear a brace like that, it’s to protect you,” Griffin said.  “So, it’s going to cause a natural limp. You’re not going to be able to bend your knee normally. It restricts your flexion and your extension.  It’s just to protect the ligaments in there, so there’ll be a natural limp in there.  At the same time, you can still generate power.”

He’ll generate more if he can shed the brace, something he joked about doing this weekend against the Seahawks.

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Colts may be using more crossing routes in 2016

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) throws against the Baltimore Ravens during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Indianapolis, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/R Brent Smith) AP

The Colts have a new offense to go with a franchise quarterback and a glut of talented receivers. The team’s new offense, designed and run by offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, may be incorporating a heavy dose of one of the primary Madden game crutch plays: Crossing routes.

As explained by Kevin Bowen of the team’s official website, Andrew Luck’s eight-for-eight passing performance in Week Two of the preseason was fueled by taking advantage of speedy receivers running horizontal routes across the formation.

“You’re going to want to get the ball in your best players’ hands with a little space,” Luck said.

With T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, and Phillip Dorsett each having sub-4.4-second speed, these crossing routes could lead to big gains.

“It’s an easy throw for Andrew and we can create the yards for him,” Dorsett said. “I think we should definitely have that more and more in our offense because we got guys that can [make plays]. If we catch a crossing route in man coverage and break a tackle, there’s nothing but room.”

If it works, defenses will adjust, trying to take away the crossing routes. But that will serve only to open up the other avenues of attack, eventually allowing Hilton, Moncrief, and Dorsett to run deep.

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Washington, New England announce Bryan Stork trade

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 16: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws a pass against the Indianapolis Colts during the second quarter of the game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 16, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Center Bryan Stork may still retire, but if he does he’ll do so as a member of a new team.

Washington and New England have announced that Stork, a fourth-round pick in 2014, has been traded from the Patriots. The move came hours after news emerged that Stork would be cut, which apparently sparked trade interest from Washington.

Why trade for a player who was going to be released? With fewer than four seasons in the NFL, Stork would have passed through waivers — and Washington is low on the pecking order due to making it to the playoffs in 2015.

If Stork retires, he’ll owe Washington half of the $477,000 signing bonus he received in 2014. That’s a potential obligation of $238,500, along with $600,000 in lost salary for 2016.

So if he retires, Stork will be out $838,500.

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Kaepernick’s view differs from what Baalke called “a good conversation”

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 22:  Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers attempts a pass against the Seattle Seahawks during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on October 22, 2015 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is back in practice this week and planning to return to preseason game action this weekend.

He’s back on speaking terms with 49ers general manager Trent Baalke, too, but maybe no better than that.

Asked by reporters Wednesday about what Baalke had deemed “a good conversation” between the two last week, Kaepernick offered a bit of a clarification.

We had a conversation,” Kaepernick said.

Pressed further on the matter, Kaepernick said, “We have a business relationship. That’s the point that we’re at.”

And Kaepernick wasn’t going to be pressed any further than that. He again said he’s done discussing how the team handled his injuries last season and his request for a trade last spring.

“Once again, I’m not getting into all of the specifics, anything like that,” he said. “We’re focusing on football and my focus right now is this game Friday.”

Earlier Wednesday, 49ers coach Chip Kelly said he’s glad to have Kaepernick back working in practice this week but has not yet named a starter for this week’s preseason game.

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Chargers taking page out of familiar playbook

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For Chargers fans, Wednesday’s statement from the team about defensive end Joey Bosa may have seemed like deja vu all over again.

A dozen years ago, the Chargers threatened to take money off the table during the holdout of quarterback Philip Rivers.

“Negotiations have broken down,” Chargers G.M. A.J. Smith said in August 2004. “Prior to the training camp report date, we made an effort to get Philip signed. Also, during the past week, we exchanged ideas and could not come to an agreement. On Friday, we offered a great deal to Philip. We also notified both Philip and his agent, Jimmy Sexton, that the offer will stand until 5 p.m. Sunday evening and if not accepted, the final offer will be pulled off the table. . . . We also informed them that the package we talked about and offered will now only go down in value.”

The Rivers holdout had some of the same perspective-based disagreements that allowed the team to cling to a set of principles premised on paying less, and that allowed the player to cling to a set of principles premised on getting more, with the team locked into the spot at which Rivers was picked and the Rivers camp applying a quarterback premium.

“The offer we made to Philip is not a slot offer at No. 4, but in fact, an offer that exceeds [those of] No. 2 Robert Gallery and No. 3 Larry Fitzgerald,” Smith said. “We believe it’s a great offer. Jimmy Sexton has been informed several times that the Eli Manning-Tom Condon deal with the New York Giants was of no concern to us before, no concern now nor will it be in the future. This is very unfortunate and disappointing but it is what it is.”

The Rivers deal eventually got worked out, and presumably the Bosa deal will, too. Otherwise, he’ll re-enter the draft in 2017 and the Chargers will get nothing for him.

It’s hardly the first holdout in San Diego, but with a stadium vote looming and all hands needed on deck in order to win as many games as possible before November 8, it could be the last holdout in San Diego. But not the last holdout for the Chargers.

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Dorial Green-Beckham will “play with the first group” this week

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 01: Dorial Green-Beckham #17 of the Tennessee Titans warms up before playing against the Houston Texans on November 1, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Eagles didn’t wait long to put wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham into game action, throwing him into the lineup for last week’s game against the Steelers two days after he was acquired in a trade with the Titans.

Green-Beckham will be in the lineup again for this week’s game against the Colts and he’ll be getting a chance to see how he fits with the team’s projected starters. Coach Doug Pederson said Wednesday that the Eagles will “put a little package together” for the wideout while the first team is in the game.

“We put a couple plays in for him this week, expanded his role from a week ago,” Pederson said in comments distributed by the team. “Full week of practice. He’s comfortable with what we’re doing with him. Can’t tell you how many [or] the number of snaps he’ll get, but he’ll definitely play and play with the first group.”

Green-Beckham’s acquisition and quick move into the lineup may not be an indictment of the receivers that have seen time since Jordan Matthews suffered a knee injury, but they aren’t votes of overwhelming support either. Should Green-Beckham do well in the limited package Pederson’s proposing this week, an expanded role in future weeks will likely be coming at the expense of someone who thought his spot on the roster was more secure than it turned out to be.

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Which teams won’t get back to the playoffs in 2016?

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The NFL playoffs have significant turnover  every year, with four, five, or six teams that made it the prior season not getting back. On Thursday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio and NBCSN, we’ll attempt to pick four 2015 playoff teams who won’t be back in 2016.

You can pick, too. The 12 teams appear in the poll below. Pick four of them who won’t be back, and we’ll share the results on tomorrow’s show.

PFT Live gets rolling at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio, with the simulcast on NBCSN starting at 7:00 a.m. ET. Guests include Bengals cornerback Adam Jones and Hall of Fame coach and NBC analyst Tony Dungy.

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Justin Blackmon gets suspended sentence, avoids jail time

Britain 49ers Jaguars Football AP

Suspended Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon received a one-year suspended sentence and probation Wednesday at a sentencing hearing and will avoid jail time as long as he complies with conditions set by an Oklahoma judge.

Blackmon had pleaded guilty in April to a DUI charge.

The Dec. 2015 incident marked Blackmon’s second DUI arrest since being drafted in the first round by the Jaguars in 2012 and his third in all. He remains indefinitely suspended by the NFL after his appeal for reinstatement was denied last year.

Through his attorney, Blackmon declined an interview request while leaving the courtroom Wednesday.

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Chargers DL Damion Square suspended four games

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 20:   Melvin Ingram #54 of the San Diego Chargers,  Damion Square #71 of the San Diego Chargers,  Denzel Perryman #52 of the San Diego Chargers tackls running back Lamar Miller #26 of the Miami Dolphins during the second half of a game at Qualcomm Stadium on December 20, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

We don’t know if Joey Bosa will see any time with the Chargers defensive line in the first four games of the season, but Damion Square definitely won’t be on the field.

In a less combative release than the one they sent out regarding their contract negotiations with Bosa, the Chargers announced that Square has been suspended four games by the league for a substance-abuse policy violation. The team expressed it’s disappointment and Square apologized in a statement of his own.

“I sincerely apologize to my teammates, coaches, the entire Chargers organization as well as the fans,” Square said. “I made a mistake and take full responsibility. I look forward to returning in Week 5 and doing whatever I can do to help the team.”

Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Square was suspended after missing a drug test.

Square joined the Chargers as a waiver claim in 2014 and had six tackles in six games for them last season. In addition to Square, the Chargers will also be without Sean Lissemore on their defensive line in the early part of the year after placing him on injured reserve earlier this month.

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Chris Cooley says Bryan Stork’s retiring rather than coming to D.C.

New England Patriots Rookie Minicamp Getty Images

OK, if anyone is near Bryan Stork, send us a picture of him, so we’ll know for sure where he is and what’s going on.

The guy who started a Super Bowl two seasons ago for the Patriots and was reportedly cut this morning, then reportedly traded, may not be going to Washington after all.

According to former Washington tight end Chris Cooley, who still works for Dan Snyder’s radio station, Stork is retiring.

Mike Jones of the Washington Post, who does not work for Snyder, said his source told him that was “possibly” true.

Stork is a good player and would clearly be of benefit to a team if he wanted to play. But he also has a track record of concussions, and that could be a factor here as well.

But at this point, he could abandon snapping for a living and try out to play Major League Baseball and we wouldn’t be surprised.

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James Harrison: I’ll be cleared like Peyton Manning

PITTSBURGH - NOVEMBER 09: Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts scrambles away from James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 9, 2008 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers linebacker James Harrison has agreed to talk to NFL investigators tomorrow about an Al Jazeera documentary alleging he used performance-enhancing drugs, and he expects the same result as the first player who cooperated with the league’s investigation.

“They are going to clear my name and give me the same sendoff they gave Peyton Manning,” Harrison said, via ESPN. “I’m going to be cleared. They are going to give me the same thing, flash, across the bulletin board, NFL, Instagram, Twitter, all that — ‘James Harrison cleared.'”

The Al Jazeera report accused Manning, Harrison, Green Bay’s Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers and free agent Mike Neal of using PEDs. Manning cooperated with the league’s investigation and was cleared. Harrison, Matthews, Peppers and Neal initially refused to cooperate but agreed to speak to investigators when they were told they’d be suspended if they didn’t.

Despite agreeing to cooperate, Harrison referred to the NFL’s interview as a “waste of time.”

“It’s a stupid thing I gotta do to continue doing what it is I want to do and trying to get to where we want to be, and that’s holding a Lombardi [Trophy],” Harrison said.

After being cleared like Manning, Harrison hopes to do at the end of this season what Manning did at the end of last season.

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John Brown out with headache days after returning from concussion

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 27:  Wide receiver John Brown #12 of the Arizona Cardinals on the sidelines during the NFL game against the Green Bay Packers at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 27, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Packers 38-8.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cardinals wide receiver John Brown went into the league’s concussion protocol early in training camp and wound up missing three weeks of work before getting cleared to return to practice last weekend.

Brown’s return to action has hit a snag, however. Coach Bruce Arians said, via Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, that Brown has a headache and won’t practice on Wednesday.

The Cardinals were off on Tuesday and Brown took part in Monday’s practice while wearing a non-contact jersey to let his teammates know not to hit him during the workout.

Per Somers, the Cardinals “seem confident” Brown will be ready to go for the start of the regular season but concussions don’t always follow a straight line and a return to the concussion protocol could make that an iffy proposition given how long the symptoms have lingered this month.

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is also out of practice on Wednesday while he continues to manage the MCL issue that kept him from playing in the team’s second preseason game.

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Rob Gronkowski returns to practice field for Patriots

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 13:  Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots waits near the bench during their game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

The good news is, the Patriots kept the scissors away from Rob Gronkowski. Actually, that’s probably a good idea year-round.

According to Phil Perry of CSNNE.com, the Patriots tight end returned to the practice field today. Jon Bon Jovi was apparently there too, but the Patriots are much happier Gronkowski will be there for them.

Gronkowski has been off since pulling up in an Aug. 15 practice and walking away with trainers. No word was given as to the reason for his absence.

Considering he’s practically never involved in the preseason anyway, his absence for the last week hadn’t yet reached the point of panic.

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Report: Bryan Stork traded to Washington rather than released

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots prepares to take a snap from Bryan Stork #66 of the New England Patriots in the first quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

On Wednesday morning, multiple reports from New England had the Patriots cutting center Bryan Stork from their 90-man roster.

That appears to have been premature or a well-timed leak to generate some trade interest because Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Stork has been traded to the Redskins for a conditional draft choice. There’s no word on the draft pick or the conditions.

Kory Lichtensteiger is at the top of the depth chart at center for the Redskins and has gotten the start in each of the team’s two preseason games to this point. They have Spencer Long listed as their backup center, but Long is also the starter at left guard while the team waits to see if Shawn Lauvao can be healthy enough to regain the job.

Stork, a 2014 fourth-round pick, has made 17 starts at center for the Patriots over the last two seasons.

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On Wednesday, Buccaneers open practice features no kicks from Roberto Aguayo

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On Tuesday, Buccaneers rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo was heckled and jeered by his team’s own fans while he kicked at a public practice. On Wednesday, there were no heckles or jeers because Aguayo didn’t kick during the open practice.

This development invites suspicion that the Buccaneers tried to hide Aguayo from those who may heckle and jeer him. According to JoeBucsFan.com, the team privately has denied any such suggestion.’

Besides, with the next two preseason games at home (including Friday night against the Browns), it’s not as if the Bucs could hide Aguayo for very long.

The second-round draft pick has missed three total kicks in two preseason games, and he struggled at times in practice on Tuesday.

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Chargers vow to reduce Joey Bosa offer

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  (L-R) Joey Bosa of Ohio State holds up a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #3 overall by the San Diego Chargers during the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) Getty Images

In a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon regarding unsigned defensive end Joey Bosa, the Chargers said that they will restructure (i.e., reduce) the financial package that previously had been on the table for the No. 3 overall pick in the draft.

The reduction is occurring because, per the team, “Joey will be unable to contribute for the full 16 game season without the adequate time on the practice field, in the classroom, and in preseason games.”

The Chargers contend that an effort was made to resolve the impasse on Tuesday night.

“We gave Joey’s representatives our best offer last night, which was rejected today,” the team said.  “The offer that we extended was for Joey to contribute during all 16 games and beyond.  Joey’s ability to contribute for an entire rookie season has now been jeopardized by the valuable time he has missed with his coaches and his teammates. Since Joey will not report at this time, his ability to produce not just early in the season, but throughout the entire season, has been negatively impacted.”

The rest of the statement presents the team’s characterization of its offer, which undoubtedly conflicts with Bosa’s interpretation of it. The overriding problem continues to be that the Chargers do not want to deviate from what it regards as team precedent, and Bosa does not want to deviate from what he regards as precedent for the No. 3 overall pick in the draft.

The two primary sticking points had related to whether the guaranteed money will include offset language, and whether a large piece of the signing bonus will be deferred until March 2017. (There’s also a disagreement on the language and amount of training-camp roster bonuses, which are now common in top-10 rookie deals including offset language.) However, there never had been a dispute over the total dollars.

Based on the team’s statement, there now is. Which will make it even harder to get a deal done.

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