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NFLPA certified agent who had been indicted for fraud

Former-NFL-agent-Everette-Scott

The NFLPA’s recent effort to shine a light on the deficiencies with doctors who are bought and paid for by teams to treat players, while appropriate, also opens the door for similar scrutiny of the union.

Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports has strolled through that door, reporting that the NFLPA certified in 2012 an agent who at the time was under indictment for fraud.

Everette Scott was convicted last week of defrauding investors of more than $5 million.  Scott, per Getlin, was under indictment at the time the union re-certified agents following the 2011 lockout and NFLPA decertification.

While the quality of the union’s efforts to protect players against unscrupulous agents is an important issue, this looks and feels another example of the peddling of negative information by folks who have an agenda.  Getlin surely didn’t trip over these facts on his own; someone who has an axe to grind with Scott or the NFLPA surely was shopping it in order to stir up trouble.

When the NFLPA shut itself down in 2011 for strategic reasons, the regulation of agents ended.  Then, when the lockout ended and the union returned, all of the agents who had been certified became certified again.  Absent evidence that Scott defrauded players or that Scott at least was actually representing players during the time he was under indictment, does it really matter that the bulk process of flipping the switch back to “on” for hundreds of agents who needed to be recertified missed the fact that one of the agents had in the interim been indicted?

In a perfect world, the union would have spotted the information and refused to recertify Scott.  Without evidence that player interests were actually compromised, the fact that Scott slipped through the cracks was a small price to pay for the leverage that allowed the players to do a better deal than they would have gotten if they had remained unionized in the face of a lockout.

Significant questions linger regarding whether the quality of the deal the players did, especially in light of a salary cap that has been flat for three seasons.  For someone with an axe to grind against the union, that would be a far more relevant subject on which to stir up criticism and concern.  But, of course, that would require something slightly meatier than a superficial game of “gotcha” arising from a connect-the-dots timeline that ignores the broader circumstances.

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Browns want now what they could have gotten for Josh Gordon in 2013

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) celebrates with teammate Andrew Hawkins (16) after catching a 43=yard touchdown pass in front of Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back Brent Grimes (24) during the second quarter of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) AP

The Browns may have “no intent” to trade receiver Josh Gordon, but they reportedly will do so in exchange for a second-round draft pick. That’s precisely what they rejected for him in 2013.

As Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer explained two years ago, the Browns turned down during the 2013 season the chance to deal Gordon for a second-round pick. The team (believed at the time to be the 49ers) essentially would have been giving back to the Browns the second-round pick that they used in the 2012 supplemental draft.

Via Cabot, former Browns CEO Joe Banner and former Browns G.M. Mike Lombardi wanted to do the deal, but others (including coach Rob Chudzinski) wanted to keep Gordon.

It was also believed at the time, as PFT consistently has heard, that owner Jimmy Haslam didn’t want to trade Gordon so soon in time after trading running back Trent Richardson to the Colts. Although getting an extra 2014 first-round pick (which eventually was squandered on Johnny Manziel after a trade up to No. 22) ended up being a great move, Browns fans weren’t thrilled with the perception that the team was tanking by trading Richardson. Trading Gordon so soon after that would have only exacerbated the impression that the Browns were giving up on 2013.

In hindsight, they should have taken the second-round pick for Gordon, who missed 11 games in 2014 due to suspensions and then all of 2015. Although his performance on Friday night could increase Gordon’s trade value, it won’t be easy to get a second-round pick now. The real question becomes whether Gordon will do enough when he debuts as of Week Five to finagle a second-round offer for the Browns before the Tuesday after Week Eight.

There’s a chance the price will go up, and it’s clear that the Browns (despite what they say) would like nothing more than to turn current assets into future draft picks, since they surely realize that it makes more sense to build for a brighter future than to tilt at windmills in the present.

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How will other players react to Kaepernick’s gesture?

gettyimages-460735354 Getty Images

Now that everyone knows: (1) that Colin Kaepernick hasn’t been standing for the national anthem; and (2) that he’s doing it because he refuses to “stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” the next question is how other NFL players will react to the gesture.

Plenty of people are reacting to Kaepernick’s First Amendment right to protest the flag by exercising their First Amendment right to protest him. For now, no teammates or peers have spoken up.

When they do — and, inevitably, they’ll be asked about it, what will they say?

Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, who spoke out last month against prominent NFL players who “are just sitting back, taking the dollars, whether it’s Cam Newton, all these guys. They’re not really on the forefront of trying to change what’s going on.” Although Bennett later walked back his remarks, Bennett may embrace Kaepernick’s gesture, since he’s the first guy who is both “taking the dollars” and taking a stand.

What will others do or say? The fact that Kaepernick currently is on track to be sitting for a lot of regular-season games than the pregame flag ritual will dilute the message. The possibility that the 49ers will decide to move on from Kaepernick based ostensibly on football reasons (which already were pointing to a divorce) will undermine his message even more.

For now, it’s unlikely that other players will stand with Kaepernick by sitting during the national anthem. But until other players chime in — and until more NFL games happen — it’s impossible to know whether Kaepernick’s peers will view the incident as an inspiration or an aberration.

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Kaepernick refuses “to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people”

SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 08:  Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers watches Blaine Gabbert #2 play quarterback during their game against the Atlanta Falcons at Levi's Stadium on November 8, 2015 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

So why didn’t Colin Kaepernick stand during Friday night’s playing of the national anthem? If there was any ambiguity following his Thursday retweet linking the American and Confederate flags, there should be none now.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told Steve Wyche of NFL Media. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

As others have noted (and as PFT was informed when first becoming aware of the issue of Friday), Kaepernick hasn’t stood for the playing of the national anthem at any of his team’s three preseason games. Last night the gesture was noticed because, for the first time this year, he was wearing a uniform bearing his name and number.

“This is not something that I am going to run by anybody,” Kaepernick said. “I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. . . . If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”

Because Kaepernick currently seems to be in the process of having his football taken away for football-related reasons, his decision will create less drama than if he had made it, say, three years ago, when people like Ron Jaworski were providing the ESPN washing machine days of content by declaring that Kaepernick could be one of the best quarterbacks of all time. Currently, he’s a starter who already was in an awkward posture as a member of an organization that seemed to be looking for a way to unload him via trade without hurting its leverage by sharing its true feelings about him.

The broader question becomes whether other players will become inspired by Kaepernick’s gesture and follow suit. It’s one thing for Kaepernick not to stand. It’s quite another if other players who actually will be, you know, playing this year do it.

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How will NFL respond to Kaepernick’s anthem gesture?

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For many people, the letter N-F-L and U-S-A are synonymous. And for good reason. Pro football and America have become fully intertwined, with the league constantly embracing patriotism, the military, and all of the basis tenets and ideals of being an American. Week One typically entails the display of gigantic, full-field flags held up by hundreds of people. The flag decal appears on the back of every helmet.

Heck, The Shield looks like it was cut straight from the cloth of the handiwork of Betsy Ross, with stars on a blue field and letters fashioned by rearranging the red stripes.

And so the same First Amendment right that allows Kaepernick to sit during the national anthem and to retweet a message claiming that there is no difference between the American and Confederate flags empowers anyone and everyone to criticize Kaepernick for his position. It also allows the NFL to say something, if it chooses to.

For now, only the 49ers have spoken, providing a measured statement respecting Kaepernick’s ability to not participate in the pregame ritual of honoring America and the flag to which every school kid pledges allegiance, every day. The NFL hasn’t spoken yet, but surely will.

So the question becomes what will the NFL say? Twenty years ago, the NBA suspended Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf indefinitely for refusing to stand during the playing of the national anthem.

That punishment came from a clause in the NBA rule book requiring players to stand for the anthem. The NFL, per a source with knowledge of the situation, believes there is no similar mandate that applies to its players.

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Cam Newton after rough night for offense: “It’s preseason”

Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton (1) tries to escape the grasp of New England Patriots' Markus Kuhn (94) during the second half of a preseason NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn) AP

Cam Newton took to the podium for his postgame press conference wearing a Sergio Leone-inspired hat, which was good.

It was his play, however, that covered the bad and the ugly.

After a pretty nightmarish night against the Patriots, the reigning MVP summed it up in the two most appropriate word: “It’s preseason.”

Newton was 13-of-29 passing for 100 yards and two interceptions, missing high when he missed (as he does when he hurries) but it was hardly all on him. The Panthers receivers took their turns dropping catchable balls, tipped balls became interceptions, and there were numerous mistakes that stood out because they had been so polished previously.

“Well, we took our turns making mistakes and any time that happens, you know you’re going to get those kind of results,” Newton said in comments distributed by the team. “There’s no need to panic. It just comes down to having a good week of practice and the truth of the matter is that we played a great team. You know, great players who are coached extremely well and they are very stingy. That’s all it comes down to.

“We will be better from this. I’m glad it happened. I’m not glad we lost but I’m just glad that we had an understanding that we’re not that good yet. We will be better.”

It was bad enough Ron Rivera alluded to the possibility of having starters play in Thursday’s preseason finale, though that might be an extreme reaction to what was simply an off night for the league’s highest-scoring offense. But even when asked about the absence of veteran tight end Greg Olsen Friday night, Newton said the responsibility fell to him.

“We know we’re going to have a great week of practice and it’s just eye-opening,” Newton said. “Like I said, there is no need to panic or press the panic button. But for us, we do need better production from everybody including myself. There were times in the game where I forced certain things where I shouldn’t have and I just have to be more mature and have more understanding of the offensive just to check it down, and let guys do what they do.”

Whether they play in the meaningless fourth preseason game or not, the Panthers have another significant test in two weeks at Denver. And if they want to avoid a repeat of their last meeting with the Broncos, they have a lot of issues to fix.

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Falcons working out veteran safety Dashon Goldson

LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 10: Wide receiver James Jones #89 of the Green Bay Packers is tackled by cornerback Will Blackmon #41 of the Washington Redskins while free safety Dashon Goldson #38 of the Washington Redskins jumps in the second quarter during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at FedExField on January 10, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Falcons might have avoided the worst-case scenario news with safety Keanu Neal’s knee injury.

But they’re making backup plans as well.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Falcons are working out veteran safety Dashon Goldson today.

Goldson was released in March by Washington, and has had a few sniffs here and there. The 31-year-old former 49er and Buccaneers safety may be past his prime, but the Falcons might not be able to afford to be picky at the moment.

Neal’s having knee surgery after being injured Thursday night, and is expected to miss three or four weeks. The rookie from Florida was heading up a pretty thin depth chart at the position anyway, so bringing in reinforcements is reasonable.

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NFL may consider a game in Australia

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors' players Marcus Kemp, left, Steven Lakalaka and Makan Kema-Kaleiwahia, right, take advantage of the sites around Sydney to take photos at the Opera House, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016, ahead of their opening college football game of the season against the California Golden Bears on Saturday. The game, with Cal designated as the home team, will be the first college football game played in Sydney and the first significant American football game played in Australia since 1999. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft) AP

The 2016 college football season kicked off in Australia with Cal facing Hawaii, and the game drew enough interest that the NFL may consider a game Down Under as well.

Hawaii Athletic Director David Matlin told the Sydney Morning Herald that the NFL has been monitoring fan interest.

“Obviously [the NFL] are paying attention to this,” he said. “I think it’s a possibility. I think you have the facilities and the sports enthusiasts, so it’s a real good place for sporting events.”

With 61,247 fans attending the game in Sydney’s ANZ Stadium, the NFL is surely confident that it could sell out a game in Sydney. And the fans in Sydney showed they were willing to spend money at an American football game, with the stadium issuing an apology for not being able to meet the fans’ “unprecedented demand for food and beverage offerings, resulting in unfortunate queues,” a spokesman for ANZ Stadium said.

“We had more than 61,000 people walk into the venue just before lunchtime all wanting to eat and drink,” he said. “This created long queues that took an extended period to service. The specific demand for American-style food products that took longer to prepare – such as the 2-foot hot dogs – added to the challenges.”

The NFL’s primary market for building its fan base overseas is London, which hosts three games a year. This year a game will also be played in Mexico City, future games are planned for China, and Germany and Brazil have both been mentioned as potential hosts for NFL games. So Australia, with its population of only 24 million, is likely a lower priority, especially considering the greater logistical challenges of getting two teams there.

But Australia has shown it can host a football game, and sell a lot of tickets, a lot of beer and a lot of 2-foot hot dogs. The NFL will notice that.

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Kaepernick sits during national anthem

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick throws the ball during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Green Bay Packers on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) AP

On a night that was supposed to be significant for what 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick did on the field, what he didn’t do while off the field will create even bigger headlines.

During the playing of the national anthem, Kaepernick sat.

The 49ers have confirmed that Kaepernick did not stand for the anthem, and they have issued the following statement.

“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony,” the team said in a statement issued to PFT. “It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose to participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”

It’s unclear why Kaepernick sat. However, Kaepernick retweeted the following message on Thursday, which accompanied images of the American and Confederate flags: “The fact that you really believe that there is difference in these flags means that your [sic] ignoring history.”

At a time when NFL players are criticized for not speaking out on social issues, Kaepernick has provided a very significant and conspicuous gesture. As the team noted, it’s his right to do so. But given that Kaepernick opted to make a stand by sitting during the traditional pregame honoring of the country and its flag — which is so tightly woven into the DNA of the NFL — there surely will be a reaction.

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Carlos Hyde suffers concussion against Packers

San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde, left, fights off a tackle by Denver Broncos defensive back Shiloh Keo during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey) AP

At a time when the 49ers don’t know who their starting quarterback will be in 17 days against the Rams, there’s a chance they won’t know who their starting tailback will be, at least for a while.

Via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, Carlos Hyde suffered a concussion on Friday night against the Packers. He has been placed in the concussion protocol, which means that an independent neurologist will have to clear him to practice or to play.

Hyde was effective in the game, rushing four times for 30 yards — including a long of 27. He missed nine games due to injury in 2015.

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Kaepernick thinks he can still win the starting job

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, left, greets Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers at the end of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. Green Bay won 21-10. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) AP

After a lackluster performance on Friday night in his return to the field for the first time since being benched for Blaine Gabbert last year, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick expressed optimism regarding the possibility of reclaiming his job.

“Yeah, I think so,” Kaepernick told reporters regarding whether he thinks he can still be named the Week One starter. “I mean, that’s really up to [coach] Chip [Kelly] and the coaching staff. But in my mind I think I can go out and win it.”

Kaepernick, who completed two of six passes for 14 yards on Friday night, specifically believes he can win it by being “more productive” in the fourth preseason game. Typically, however, the starters don’t play in the fourth preseason game. So if he’s playing on Thursday night, chances are he won’t be the starter — unless Kelly decides to let Gabbert and Kaepernick continue their competition in the final preseason game.

Kaepernick added that he would have liked to have played more on Friday night, even if that meant playing behind the second-string offensive line.

“I just wanna play,” Kaepernick said.

Kelly told reporters that he has not yet set a timetable for picking a starting quarterback. The candidates are Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert, and (theoretically) newcomer Christian Ponder or rookie Jeff Driskel.

Kaepernick is due to earn $11.9 million this year, fully guaranteed. He’ll also earn an extra $125,000 for each game in which he’s on the active, 46-man roster. Which gives the 49ers 125,000 to deactivate him in each and every week that he isn’t the starter.

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Chip Kelly: “There’s never been a conversation about cutting Colin Kaepernick”

San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick, left, and Blaine Gabbert stand on the sideline during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Green Bay Packers on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. Green Bay won 21-10. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) AP

So what will the 49ers do with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, if he doesn’t win the starting job? They can pay him not to play, they can try to trade him, or they can cut him.

As to the last option, coach Chip Kelly told reporters after Friday night’s preseason game against the Packers: “There’s never been a conversation about cutting Colin Kaepernick.”

Technically, the fact that there hasn’t been a conversation doesn’t mean that a conversation isn’t coming. It also doesn’t mean that the move won’t happen without a conversation. Ownership may simply decide to move on, regardless of what Kelly or anyone else thinks.

Regardless, it’s looking unlikely that Kaepernick will start Week One against the Rams or that, if he does, he’ll hold the job for very long.

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Kaepernick doesn’t do much to stake claim to starting job

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, left, runs with the ball as Green Bay Packers defensive end Datone Jones pursues during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) AP

On multiple occasions in the past, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has bedeviled the Packers. In his first game action of 2016, however, Kaepernick didn’t do much against Green Bay to gain ground on current starter Blaine Gabbert.

Kaepernick completed two of six passes for 14 yards and rushed four times for 18. The only good news for Kaepernick is that Gabbert didn’t look much better. Still, Kaepernick hardly did enough to supplant Gabbert as the starter.

At a time when a strange vibe continues to emanate from the organization and Kaepernick regarding their relationship, some (me) have speculated that Friday night was aimed in part at showcasing Kaepernick in a last-ditch effort to trade him. If, as expected, no one is interested in adding him at this stage of the calendar, the team will have to decide whether to cut him or carry him on the 53-man roster.

If he’s cut, the 49ers could save a portion of his $11.9 million guaranteed salary, since an offset would apply to whatever he makes elsewhere. If they keep him, he’ll get it all.

If he gets it all, at some point they should play him, right? The problem with playing Kaepernick is that, if he emerges from 2016 with an injury, the 49ers may not be able to cut him before next year’s base salary of $14.5 million becomes fully guaranteed on April 1.

There’s a chance, then, that they’ll put him in bubble wrap, RGIII-style, waiting for a starter elsewhere to suffer a season-ending injury but otherwise not letting Kaepernick get on the field for fear of chasing this year’s $11.9 million with another $14.5 million next year.

Regardless of how it all shakes out, the strange vibe lingers, making it hard to imagine Kaepernick ever playing another regular-season game for the team he nearly led to a Super Bowl win four years ago.

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Jay Gruden says Bryan Stork still has a decision to make

Super Bowl XLIX Media Day Fueled by Gatorade Getty Images

First Bryan Stork was supposed to be cut. Then Stork was supposed to be retiring. Then it was announced that Stork had been traded from New England to Washington.

But Stork still hasn’t reported to his new team, and we still haven’t heard from Stork directly whether he plans to play or not. And after tonight’s preseason game, Washington coach Jay Gruden indicated that he isn’t certain whether Stork will play.

Instead, Gruden said Stork will “supposedly” report for work tomorrow but has a “final decision” to make tonight.

From all indications, Washington still thinks Stork will be on its roster. But we don’t know that for sure yet.

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Roberto Aguayo makes all his kicks on Friday night

Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo (19) reacts after kicking a field goal against the Cleveland Browns during the first quarter of an NFL football game Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken) AP

A trying week for Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo ended on a positive note.

Aguayo made all six kicks he tried on Friday night as the Buccaneers turned in a strong showing on both sides of the ball while beating the Browns 30-13 in Tampa. Aguayo made field goals from 48, 21 and 27 yards and made all three of his extra point attempts.

That’s a sharp change from the first two weeks of preseason. Aguayo missed two field goals and an extra point, leading to much scrutiny of a player who the Buccaneers traded up to select in the second round of this year’s draft. Aguayo followed that up with more misses in Tuesday’s practice, which led to hooting and heckling from a home crowd and responses from other members of the NFL’s kicking fraternity.

All that will likely return when and if Aguayo misses a few kicks during the regular season, but, for now, a player who made 88.5 percent of his field goals and all of his extra points in college has put himself back on track.

That’s a good thing for the Bucs on a night full of them. Jameis Winston threw for 259 yards in the first half, Mike Evans had 115 receiving yards on five catches and the defense recorded nine sacks to go with Aguayo’s successful evening.

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Aaron Rodgers plays two series in his preseason debut/finale

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, right, drops back to throw as San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Eli Harold, left, closes in during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) AP

Aaron Rodgers looked less rusty in his preseason debut than the Packers teammates around him.

But the Packers quarterback didn’t need long to remind us who he was.

Rodgers played a quarter in his preseason debut, and led an impressive touchdown drive during his time in there, hitting Randall Cobb for the score.

On his first drive, Rodgers had to scramble around too much, as the protection wasn’t quite to regular season standards. But he used his feet to buy some time, and made a few positive plays.

The 14-play touchdown drive was a methodical one, a good day’s work for the guy who was held out of the first three preseason contests (including the Hall of Fame Non-Game). He’s probably not going to play much if at all next week in the preseason finale, as should be the case.

Rodgers finished the night 6-of-9 passing for 60 yards and the touchdown.

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