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Transcript of Chris Culliver’s comments to the media on January 31

[Editor’s note: This is the full transcript provided by the NFL of 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver’s comments to the media on January 31, when he was questioned about anti-gay comments he made at Super Bowl Media Day.]

(on his experience the last 12 hours) “Just emotional, sensitive, and apologetic. There’s a lot of words I can [use to] describe [it].”

(on his mindset when he made the comments) “[I was] really just not thinking. [It was] something that I thought. Definitely nothing that I felt in my heart.”

(on when he spoke with 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh) “We talked, and that’s between us. I’d say we talked about the whole situation, and learning and growing from it. Like I said, that’s not what I feel in my heart. He understands that and I told him that as well.”

(on whether he would accept a homosexual teammate) “If it is, then it is. Everybody is treated equally in our locker room.”

(on whether he has said anything to his teammates about his comments) “No, my teammates didn’t try and talk about it. We are trying not to have any distractions to the team. We’re trying to win a Super Bowl.”

(on what he can learn from this experience) “Just learn and grow. Like I said, just talk to the media and when people come at me with questions, answer to the best of my knowledge.”

(on whether this has affected his preparation for the game) “No.”

(on whether the NFL is ready for an openly gay player) “I don’t know. If it is, it is upon that person to do whatever he or she feels.”

(on whether he realizes how far reaching this is) “I understand.”

(on whether he knew who he was talking to when he said this) “Yes, a comedian.”

(on whether he knew something was different based on the other questions that he was asked by Artie Lange) “Yeah, he was really disrespectful. Really disrespectful.”

(on whether he was tempted not to answer his questions and walk away) “Yeah. There were just so many people around and so many different questions and things like that.”

(on what he would like people to learn about him after all of this) “I don’t have [any] differences with other sexualities, just like that. Like I said, that’s not what I feel in my heart and I treat everyone equal in any type of way. It’s not how I feel.”

(on whether he was dreading facing the media) “I just wanted to face the situation and let everyone know how I feel in my heart. Just to tell them [that] I’m not that type of guy.”

(on whether he expected so many people to react to his comments) “Yes, because of our state and being in the Super Bowl with all of the other hype that goes around it.”

(on what would he say to the people of San Francisco) “I’m sorry that I offended anyone. They were very ugly comments, and that’s not what I feel in my heart. Hopefully, I can learn and grow from this experience and this situation. I love San Francisco.”

(on whether he realized the seriousness of his comments despite the questions being in a joking format) “It was never in a serious matter. Like I said, it was a matter that I should have took time and thought about it. What I just went through and what I just said, it was nothing that I felt in my heart.”

(on what he learned from this) “I definitely learned to keep my composure and not do any interviews like that. I know that.”

(on whether he talked to his family about this) “I talked to quite a few of my family [members]. Mainly my mom – that’s the closest to my heart. We had some deep conversations and she knows how I feel. Like I said, I love my mom and thank her for all the advice in the world.”

(on what his mom said to him) “Really, she knew I was going to have to come forward, just to be strong, and [with] my statement this morning. That’s what I’m doing.”

(on why he said this despite it being the opposite of what he believes) “You get hung up on so many people coming at you in so many different directions and so many different questions. Like I said, it was just something that was just not what I felt and I just said, kind of like just get of here or something like that. It’s not what I felt, and that is why I’m addressing the situation today and this morning.”

(on whether he understands the outrage his comments caused) “Like I said, I support gay people, gay communities, and different racial [backgrounds]. It was just something I feel apologetic to, and I’m sorry that I made a comment and that hurt anyone – that I made a comment that might affect anyone in the organization, NFL, or anything like that.”

(on what his family members said to him) “Like I said, I just cleared it up with them. We talked about it. They understand me. I have quite a few relatives that are homosexuals. I talked to them about it. Some people contacted me, and I just talked about it with them and moved on. They understand where I was coming from and they heard everything. That’s why they called me directly. They heard from me.”

(on whether he found out over the course of the last few hours that he had gay family members) “I knew that before.”

(on whether comments like his make it more difficult for a teammate to go public that they are gay around him) “I don’t really know how to address that situation. If it was someone in the locker room who was gay, and then [all] 53, 60, or 90 men we have on our team, I’m close to, so I don’t think that would be a problem.”

(on whether he agrees with Ravens S Brendon Ayanbadejo, who has spoken out in the past for gay rights) “I believe that. Anybody has any entitlement to what they want to do and what they want to believe. That’s like saying somebody wants believe in Jesus or somebody wants to believe in a different race. That’s what they want to do and that’s how they were raised, then they have to take that upon themselves. Everybody has different beliefs and different feelings about what they believe in certain situations, and I just take it like that.”

(on whether he thinks his comments were a big deal) “They are a big deal. What I said is just something, like I said, that I’m addressing this morning to not escalate the situation and not bring any distractions to my team, the organization, or the NFL.”

(on how this affected his game preparation) “No, it didn’t take away from anything. The game plan is still the same, and just go forth from there.”

(on whether he thought that the questions were off-putting at any point) “His first question was very disrespectful. I felt a little offended, but there was just so many people around. I couldn’t get away from everybody.”

(on whether he considers the comedian as a member of the media) “No, I just consider him a comedian. Guys like that shouldn’t harass players like us [during the media session]. Hopefully, something will happen but I don’t know.”

(on his conversation with 49ers safety Dashon Goldson) “I’ll just keep that between us. We had conversations, but I’m not trying to approach many guys or talk to many guys because I don’t want that to be a distraction for the team and for an incident like this to cause us to not win the Super Bowl or something like that. That’s what these guys are here for, that’s what I’m here for, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

(on whether he is concerned that he will be known as the guy who does not want a gay teammate) “No because, like I said, I’m approaching this and talking about it with you guys now and explaining how I feel. If anyone has questions about that, that’s why I’m talking about that now.”

(on whether he will have to speak about his comments for many years to come) “I don’t know. Hopefully not.”

(on how accepting he would be to have an openly gay teammate) “Like I said, [I would] be accepting of it. If someone did come out and say that they were gay on a team, then oh well. I’m accepting to it, like all of the guys that I have a relationship with. It’s not a guy that dislikes me or something like that, because I have relationships with everyone on the team. We’re all friends.”

(on what he wants to say to people in his community) “I apologize and I’m sorry. That’s not what I’m feeling in my heart and that’s why I’m addressing the situation now. Like I said, I know I will learn and grow from this situation.”

(on whether any gay or lesbian people that he knows reached out to him) “Yes. Like I said, I talked to one of my relatives and we had a good conversation – that’s why they called me.”

(on how those conversations enlightened him) “They enlightened me because they knew how I felt. They knew that it was taken out of turn. It was something that I had to address and something that I’m apologetic for. That’s not how I feel in my heart and that’s why I’m talking about it now.”

(on whether he feels that a lot of football players agree with his comments) “I don’t know what other people believe in. Like I said, everybody has different beliefs like in Buddhism or God or anything like that. We’re all different races and things like that. Like I said, whatever you support is whatever you support.”

(on whether he knows that he has a gay teammate or not) “No, I don’t know about anything like that. I don’t know.”

(on who the relative he talked to was) “It was just a person that I talked to. I don’t want to share that information.”

(on clarifying any misimpressions that people have about him right now) “[The misconception] is that I don’t like homosexuals and I don’t support the gay community and things like that. Like I said, which I do. I have gay relatives and I talk to them like not on a daily basis but a couple of times [a week]. I do support that.”

(on whether he has thought about reaching out to the gay community) “I’ve talked to a number of people already.”

(on whether he has spoken to any gay organizations) “I did not speak to any gay organizations, no.”

(on the context of the interview) “If you hear the whole interview, it was disrespectful questions at first. If you hear my voice and what I said, I don’t have anything against gay people and I don’t have anything against homosexuals.”

(on how the interviewer was dressed) “Like a regular reporter.”

(on whether he thinks there is a problem with the legitimacy of the media day format) “It does take away from the legitimacy of it. Like I said, it’s overwhelming for a lot of players. Hopefully something can be done about real reporters and not real reporters, but that’s not under my control and there is nothing I can do about that situation.”

(on whether he has experienced pain in the last 24 hours because of this) “It has been really painful for the last 24 hours, yes.”

(on whether his mom was mad at him at first) “No, my mom is always open to anything. She didn’t take a side and she didn’t take anything. I think we had a 38 minute conversation about it. Like I said, we just talked about a lot of things.”

(on whether his mom asked why he said it) “Not necessarily why I said it, but just ways that it was said. She knows how I felt and what I mean because she knows that I know that we have homosexuals in our family.”

(on whether he is aware that the league and teams have taken action about these kinds of things in the past) “I just believe that if you shouldn’t be asking certain types of questions in that atmosphere. If it’s not dealing with football and it’s not dealing with anything like that. When you come at somebody and you start off a conversation with something like he said, hopefully we can have some [difference between] real reporters and not real reporters.”

(on whether he had anxiety about coming down here to talk to the media) “I didn’t sleep that much. I tossed and turned thinking about it. It affected me, yes, and that’s why I’m addressing it today.”

(on whether he can put this behind him ultimately) “Yes. I have [49ers director of public relations] Bob [Lange] and a lot of the PR guys helping me out with the situation and talking with me about it – keeping me level headed, to be on track, and trying to help me out as much as possible.”

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Packers trade Lerentee McCray to Bills on way to 75 players

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07:  Jordan Norwood #11 of the Denver Broncos carries the ball against Ed Dickson #84 of the Carolina Panthers during Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Packers announced a series of roster moves on Tuesday that leaves them with 76 players on the roster.

It appears the final move to get to the 75-man limit has come via a trade. The Bills announced that they have acquired linebacker Lerentee McCray from Green Bay for an undisclosed 2018 draft pick.

McCray signed with the Packers in April after playing 24 games with the Broncos over the last two seasons. The Bills have lost linebackers Reggie Ragland and IK Enemkpali for the season and first-round pick Shaq Lawson is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury.

There’s been no word from the Packers about the trade at this point. The Packers did announce that they released wide receiver Harvey Binford and placed tight end Kennard Backman, running back John Crockett, center Jacob Flores, tight end Mitchell Henry and guard Josh Walker on injured reserve.

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Dave Gettleman: Andy Lee trade something “we needed to do”

This  Jan. 3, 2016 photo shows Cleveland Browns punter Andy Lee (8) kicking against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half of an NFL football game in Cleveland. The Cleveland Browns have traded Lee to Carolina for punter Kasey Redfern and a 2018 fourth-round pick. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane) AP

The Panthers traded for veteran punter Andy Lee on Monday, which made one of the team’s cuts on Tuesday an easy decision.

Veteran punter Mike Scifres has been released after getting hurt last week and setting the wheels in motion for the Lee trade. General Manager Dave Gettleman said Tuesday that the team felt they couldn’t go into the season with rookie Kasey Redfern as their punter and that led him to deal Redfern and a 2018 fourth-round pick for Lee.

“To have a team like this and to go into a season with a rookie punter is really rolling the bones,” Gettleman said. “Through conversations in the office, we decided to take a shot. Andy Lee is a Pro Bowl punter. People talking about checking boxes? Well, that’s a huge box to check. He’s an outstanding holder as well as a great punter, and it was just something we felt we needed to do.”

The Panthers also released defensive end Rakim Cox, safety Trenton Robinson and wide receiver LaRon Byrd on Tuesday and placed cornerback Leonard Johnson on the reserve/non-football injury list. That leaves them with 74 players, which either gives them a roster spot to fill or a head start on the cut to 53 players this weekend.

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Hroniss Grasu, Connor Shaw to IR as Bears go to 75 players

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 13: Hroniss Grasu #55 of the Chicago Bears moves to block against the Miami Dolphins during a preseason game at Soldier Field on August 13, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Dolphins 27-10.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bears have made the final roster moves needed to get the team to the 75-man limit on Tuesday and they are headlined by a pair of expected trips to injured reserve.

The team placed center Hroniss Grasu and quarterback Connor Shaw on I.R. due to injuries they suffered this summer. Grasu tore his ACL early in August, forcing the Bears to turn elsewhere for a starter in the middle of the offensive line after he held down the job down the stretch last season.

Shaw broke his leg against the Chiefs last week on a hit that he called “cheap BS” after the game. Coach John Fox said after the injury that he thinks Shaw has a bright future with the club and he’ll try to fulfill that expectation next year.

The Bears also waived linebacker Jarrett Grace, waived/injured linebacker Lamin Barrow and placed linebacker Roy Robertson-Harris on the reserve/non-football injury list.

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Dion Jordan opening season on non-football injury list

Minnesota Vikings v Miami Dolphins Getty Images

Defensive end Dion Jordan has been cleared to make his return to the practice field by the NFL, but his knee hasn’t allowed that to happen this summer and we’ll be well into the regular season before it can happen.

Jordan has been placed reserve non-football injury list by the Dolphins, which means he won’t be allowed to practice or play for the team for at least the first six weeks of the season. Jordan had knee surgery before being conditionally reinstated from his suspension by the league.

He’ll be joined on that list by linebacker Zach Vigil, who was placed on the NFI list on July 29 because of a back injury. Vigil played in all 16 games last season and had 18 tackles and a blocked punt to show for his efforts.

The two moves leave the Dolphins with 75 players on their active roster ahead of Tuesday’s deadline to get to that number.

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Sean Lee has MRI on knee, Cowboys expect him to play in opener

Seattle Seahawks running back Christine Michael (32) is tackled by Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Sean Lee, left, during the first half of a preseason NFL football game Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) AP

The Cowboys will be without quarterback Tony Romo for the start of the regular season, a state of affairs they’ve grown more familiar with than they’d like over the years.

Painful though it has been for the Cowboys, Romo’s missed time pales in comparison to that of linebacker Sean Lee. Lee has never played all 16 games in a season, which makes his absence from practice since last Thursday’s game against the Seahawks a worrisome trend for a defense that’s already missing pieces they expected to play a major role.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Tuesday, via multiple reports from Dallas, that Lee has been dealing with a knee injury and that he had an MRI Monday to evaluate the extent of the issue. Lee had arthroscopic surgery on his knee during the offseason and missed all of the 2014 season with a torn ACL.

Garrett said the results were positive for the Cowboys and that the team doesn’t believe it will be a long-term injury that costs Lee time in the regular season. History says the knee or some other body part will provide further cause for concern about Lee’s condition this season, but, for now, it looks like he’ll be on the field when the games count.

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ESPN won’t show national anthem before 49ers game

Colin Kaepernick AP

One of the most-discussed moments of Week One of the NFL season will be the national anthem before the Monday night 49ers-Rams game, when Colin Kaepernick is expected to continue his protest and remain seated while other players are standing. But that moment won’t be televised.

ESPN told Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated that it normally does not show the national anthem for the late game of the Week One Monday Night Football doubleheader and won’t show it this year either.

That decision is a mistake. Just because the national anthem isn’t ordinarily shown doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be shown when there are extenuating circumstances, and in this case there are certainly extenuating circumstances. Telling the story of that game will include showing Kaepernick, showing the other players, and covering any reaction Kaepernick gets from the fans, positive or negative.

Kaepernick’s stance has thrust the national anthem into the national news. ESPN should allow viewers to see that news being made.

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Chargers waiving quarterback Zach Mettenberger

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 28: Zach Mettenberger #4 of the San Diego Chargers warms up before the game against the Minnesota Vikings on August 28, 2016 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

When the Titans released quarterback Zach Mettenberger this offseason, there were teams other than the Chargers who wanted him.

Today, the Chargers decided they no longer did.

According to Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chargers have waived Mettenberger as part of their first cuts to 75.

Mettenberger played for Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt in Tennessee, but not particularly well. He was 0-10 as a starter there, though that had as much to do with the Titans as Mettenberger.

The Bengals and Giants each put in waiver claims on Mettenberger in May, and it will be interesting to see if anyone has any interest in him this time around.

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Jaguars to start Kelvin Beachum at tackle, Luke Joeckel at left guard

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 08:   Luke Joeckel #76 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in action against the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on November 8, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jaguars once used the second pick in the 2013 NFL Draft on Luke Joeckel, hoping he’d become their left tackle of the future.

Now, he’s the left guard of the present.

According to Mark Long of the Associated Press, Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said he’s decided to start free agent acquisition Kelvin Beachum at left tackle and Joeckel next to him at left guard in the regular season opener.

Neither of them will play in the preseason finale.

The Jaguars didn’t pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract, which would have cost them $11.9 million. That means Joeckel’s entering a contract year, at a new position.

Issues of expectations and pride aside, it’s also going to be interesting to see if Joeckel is any good at playing guard. There were a few moments Sunday against the Bengals when he looked overwhelmed and/or ended up on the seat of his pants. But he was lined up across from star defensive tackle Geno Atkins, and he does that to people sometimes.

Joeckel was clear this offseason he wanted to win his old job back, but today’s announcement makes it clear he didn’t.

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Kaepernick was right about police vs. cosmetology training

Trains_bearded_addition_985 Getty Images

Of the various things 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s said during a lengthy media availability on Sunday, the one that resonated the most with many (including me) entailed the comparison of legally-required training for those who are supposed to keep us safe to those who are supposed to keep us looking presentable.

“There is police brutality,” Kaepernick said. “People of color have been targeted by police. So that’s a large part of it. And they’re government officials. They’re put in place by the government so that’s something that this country has to change. There’s things we can do to hold them more accountable, make those standards higher.

“You have people that practice law and our lawyers and go to school for eight years, but you can become a cop in six months and don’t have to have the same amount of training as a cosmetologist. That’s insane. Someone that’s holding a curling iron has more education and more training than people that have a gun and are going out on the street to protect us.”

It was an eye-opening claim, one that I had decided on Monday to research: In California, where Kaepernick lives and works, does a cosmetologist have more training than a police officer?

Before I could actually start the project, I received the letter to the 49ers and the NFL from the San Francisco Police Officers Association, and I noticed that the wide-ranging response to Kaepernick’s assertions did not include a challenge to his facts regarding police versus cosmetology training. Which told me that Kaepernick was factually correct; otherwise, the SFPOA would have pointed it out.

Indeed, he was correct. Police officers in California must attend (either before being hired or upon hire) an 888-hour Basic Police Academy, which requires roughly six months to complete. Cosmetologists in California have a 1,600-hour training requirement before they can even take the test required to secure a license.

Regardless of anyone’s opinions regarding the manner in which Kaepernick chose to express his concerns, it’s fair to ask the question of whether the persons on the front lines of law enforcement, making life-and-death decisions regarding themselves and others in the heat of the moment, have sufficient training, education, and overall fitness for this critical job. If they do, great. If they don’t, then improvements are required.

Even though the vast majority of police officers fulfill their obligations professionally, honorably, fairly, and appropriately, some don’t — and the mere fact that they wear the uniform and display the badge doesn’t make them immune from criticism, scrutiny, and ultimately consequences for failing to meet or exceed the standards that apply when deciding whether to protect themselves by using deadly force.

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Free agent defensive tackle Sammie Lee Hill suspended four games

sammiehill AP

Veteran defensive tackle Sammie Lee Hill doesn’t have a team at the moment.

If he finds one soon, he’ll miss a month of action.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Hill has been suspended four games for violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. The suspension is apparently for a missed test as opposed to a failed test.

Of course, since the league hasn’t announced the suspension, someone has again breached the confidentiality of the substance abuse program with the help of one of their employees.

Hill started at nose tackle for the Titans last year, but other than a visit with the Seahawks, there hasn’t been much reported interest in the 29-year-old, who spent his first four seasons with the Lions.

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Saints add Khalif Barnes to offensive line mix

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 22: Khalif Barnes #69 of the Oakland Raiders looks on during the preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings on August 22, 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Raiders 20-12. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Saints haven’t been happy with the play of their offensive line this summer, which is the impetus behind several developments in New Orleans.

The team is giving 2015 first-round pick Andrus Peat a look at left guard after he failed to impress on the other side of the line, leaving Tim Lelito and Senio Kelemete to take their competition to the right side. All three will be in action on Thursday as coach Sean Payton said the team will play their starters for at least some of the first quarter of Thursday’s game against the Ravens.

“We’re going to play a lot of our guys early on in this game, and I think it’s important that those guys get work at those positions,” Payton said, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “So, our plan early in the first quarter is to play our starters and then make a transition at some point. There’ll be a handful of players who we’ll continue to give more snaps to, and [Peat] would be a candidate along with the right guard position. A lot of it will just be dependent on kind of the numbers and where we’re at at the start of the second quarter.”

Should the Saints still find their guards lacking, they could turn to veteran Khalif Barnes. Payton announced Tuesday that Barnes, a 2005 third-round pick by the Jaguars, has signed with the team after spending the last seven years with the Raiders. He has experience as both a guard and a tackle.

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Brandon Tate cut, Andrew Billings to IR as Bengals hit 75 players

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 18: Brandon Tate #19 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs for a first down after making the catch during the first quarter of the preseason game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on August 18, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) Getty Images

Brandon Tate has been the primary kick and punt returner for the Bengals for most of the last five seasons, but he won’t be continuing that streak in 2016.

The Bengals announced Tuesday that they released Tate as they made the cut to 75 players. Tate joined the Bengals on waivers in 2011 and has played in every one of the team’s games over the last five years. He averaged 9.2 yards per punt return, scoring one touchdown, and 24.3 yards per kickoff return while also catching 33 passes.

In addition to cutting Tate, the Bengals placed rookie defensive tackle Andrew Billings on injured reserve. Billings had surgery to repair a torn meniscus this month and will have to make another attempt at winning playing time in 2017.

Defensive tackle Brandon Thompson will start the year on the physically unable to perform list, which leaves him ineligible to play or practice in the first six weeks of the year, and wide receiver Mario Alford was waived/injured to round out the team’s moves.

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Lions put Brandon Pettigrew on reserve/PUP as part of roster moves

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 13: Brandon Pettigrew #87 of the Detroit Lions is helped off the field by trainers after being injured in the second quarter against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on December 13, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Lions got to today’s 75-man roster deadline, by parking a couple of guys who hadn’t practiced yet this season anyway.

Via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, the Lions placed tight end Brandon Pettigrew and wide receiver Corey Fuller on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, which will keep them off the field for at least the first six weeks of the regular season.

Pettigrew tore his ACL last December and isn’t ready to contribute yet. Even with Eric Ebron hopeful for the opener, with Andrew Quarless suspended the first two games of the regular season, the Lions are extremely thin at tight end at the moment.

Fuller is coming off foot surgery. The Lions also released cornerback Brandon McGee, who was signed last week, getting them to the 75-man limit.

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Browns won’t rest starters this week

FILE - In this Aug. 26, 2016, file photo, Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson, right, talks with quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) on the sideline during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa, Fla. Griffin will be Cleveland’s 25th starting quarterback in the last 17 years. During that span, the Browns have had two winnings seasons.(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File) AP

The Browns released linebacker Paul Kruger and traded punter Andy Lee on Monday, continuing the offseason theme of clearing out players acquired under previous regimes ahead of Hue Jackson’s first season as coach.

With veterans leaving the team, the Browns are left with a fairly inexperienced group of players in line for significant playing time during the regular season. That group has had some high points in the first three preseason games but the bright spots have been intermittent, which likely made Jackson’s decision about whether to play his starters in Thursday’s preseason finale a pretty easy one.

“I think we need to play them,” Jackson said, via ESPN.com. “I think we need to get better as a football team.”

Jackson didn’t say how much any of the players will play against the Bears, but it’s hard to argue with his opinion that the team needs as much work as it can get before the start of the regular season.

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Buccaneers down to 75 players

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 13: Donteea Dye #17 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers misses a pass as Brian Dixon #20 of the New Orleans Saints defends during the second half of the game at Raymond James Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) Getty Images

The deadline to get to 75 players falls on Tuesday afternoon, but there won’t be any last minute sweating in Tampa because the Bucs are already there.

The team made a round of cuts over the weekend and announced two more on Tuesday morning to reach the limit. Wide receiver Donteea Dye was waived/injured and offensive lineman Joel Hale was waived.

Dye hurt his hamstring in the team’s game against the Browns last Friday, ending his bid for a second year as a backup receiver and kick return option. Dye had 11 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown in 10 games last year and had one catch for 20 yards in preseason.

His departure leaves the Bucs with 10 receivers, many of whom will be on field this Thursday trying to grab spots on the lower rungs of the depth chart.

Hale signed with the team in July and was trying to convert to the offensive line after playing defensive tackle at Ohio State.

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