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James Jones: I don’t need the NFL to protect my head

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The NFL is taking increasing steps to protect receivers from hits to the head, but Packers receiver James Jones says he’d rather do without.

Jones said on NFL Network that if he had the power to change one thing about the league, it would be the elimination of the rule against helmet-to-helmet hits on receivers.

“I think the helmet-to-helmet rule, where defenders have to hit at a certain target, I think they need to eliminate that,” Jones said. “I’d rather get hit in the hlemet and shoulder than have a defender take my knees out.”

Asked if he thinks he needs protection, Jones answered, “That’s what my helmet is for.”

In Jones’s opinion, part of being a good defensive back is the ability to make opposing receivers fear going over the middle. Jones admitted that he feels that fear sometimes, but he said it’s unfair to the players in the secondary to change the rules to eliminate that fear.

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T.Y. Hilton in concussion protocol

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The Colts have 13 days until they open the regular season and they’ll spend part of that time hoping to hear that wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has been cleared to return to action.

Coach Chuck Pagano said on Monday that Hilton is in the league’s concussion protocol after reporting symptoms of the injury following Saturday’s game against the Rams. He was subsequently evaluated by team doctors and will be monitored in the coming days. Hilton had three catches for 44 yards during the game and was probably unlikely to play in this week’s preseason finale even without the head injury.

There’s no way to guess whether Hilton will be cleared in time to face the Bills in Week One, but having two weeks to get it leaves time before the Colts will have to seriously ponder alternatives in the offense.

The concussion brings Hilton’s August to an end on a painful note, although he’ll likely remember it as a happy month thanks to the five-year, $65 million contract extension he signed a couple of weeks ago.

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Junior Galette placed on injured reserve as Washington drops to 75 players

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Robert Griffin III remains on the Redskins roster for now, but 13 other players won’t get to stick around to see how Kirk Cousins does as the team’s new starting quarterback.

The team is down to 75 players on Monday, leaving them with no other moves to make before Tuesday’s deadline to trim the roster to that number. Not all of the moves were outright departures, however.

The Redskins formally ended linebacker Junior Galette’s season by placing him on injured reserve after he tore his Achilles in practice last week. Galette signed with Washington after getting released by the Saints, but they’ll have to look elsewhere for pass rushing help alongside Ryan Kerrigan.

They released defensive back Bryan McCann and tackle Willie Smith and waived tight end Ernst Brun Jr., linebacker Dyshawn Davis, tight end Chase Dixon, cornerback Tajh Hasson, linebacker Alonzo Highsmith, cornerback Drequan Hoskey, wide receiver Tony Jones, kicker Ty Long, tight end Devin Mahina, guard Bryce Quigley and cornerback Trey Wolfe.

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Cousins: Quarterbacking in the NFL, you don’t know what will happen

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Kirk Cousins spent all offseason being told he was competing with Colt McCoy for the No. 2 quarterback job, behind starter Robert Griffin III. Today Cousins learned that wasn’t the case.

So how did Cousins react when coach Jay Gruden told him this morning that he is Washington’s starting quarterback for the 2015 season?

“Welcome to quarterback in the NFL,” Cousins said. “You just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Cousins says Griffin has always treated him well, and he believes the two of them will continue to work well together even though Griffin is now in the awkward position of having been benched for the guy who was supposed to be his backup.

“I can’t say enough about the class act Robert has been from the day I was drafted to now,” Cousins said.

Cousins added that he thinks he has a lot of work to do, and he doesn’t view earning the starting job as an end, but a beginning.

“It doesn’t feel like a finish line by any means, it feels like the work is still ahead of us,” Cousins said. “I go out and try to prove myself every time I’m out there.”

And Cousins will need to keep proving himself. Although Gruden says Cousins is the unquestioned starter, just days ago Gruden was saying that about Griffin. Cousins has to play well to put this quarterback controversy to rest.

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Dirk Koetter: Sprained ankle limiting Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston AP

After Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston limped off the field in the team’s second preseason game and didn’t return to the game, coach Lovie Smith said the decision to remove him from the game wasn’t made because of an injury.

Winston was limping on the sideline again while getting battered by the Browns pass rush on Saturday. Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said Monday that he is dealing with a sprained ankle that’s limiting him somewhat but isn’t going to keep him out of the lineup.

“A little bit. It’s affecting him a little but he’ll be ready to go,” Koetter said, via “He’ll be full speed by Tennessee. It’s not anything he can’t play on, and shoot, even in practice, [quarterbacks coach] Mike [Bajakian] is trying to slow the drills down on the side field and Jameis won’t come out. So, we’ll get him healthy, but he’s got a sprained ankle. If you’ve ever had one, you have to move around and cut and plant. It can be painful.”

Winston doesn’t seem too concerned about the ankle, calling it, via Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune, the least of his worries as he prepares for the regular season. Left tackle Donovan Smith is also dealing with an ankle injury and the overall state of the offensive line makes it a good bet that Week One will be the next time we see either of them in a game.


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Jay Gruden: “Kirk Cousins will be the starter for 2015”

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After saying for months that Robert Griffin III was his quarterback, Washington coach Jay Gruden reversed course today, saying that Cousins is the starter — and will remain the starter, meaning Griffin has no chance to unseat him.

Kirk Cousins will be the starter for 2015, moving forward,” Gruden said. “It’s Kirk’s team.”

Of course, Gruden has changed his mind about his starting quarterback several times during his year and a half as Washington’s coach, so no one should be surprised if either Griffin or Colt McCoy ends up starting at some point. Gruden insisted that he thinks he has three good quarterbacks.

“Robert’s done some great things, no question. We have total faith in all three of them,” Gruden said. “We just feel like Kirk has earned the right to be the starting quarterback in 2015.”

Amid talk that owner Dan Snyder was pushing for the team to keep Griffin while the football people wanted to move on, Gruden said that starting Cousins is his call, but Snyder has always supported his calls.

“Mr. Snyder has been nothing but supportive of this football team,” Gruden said. “All Mr. Snyder wants to do is win.”

Gruden said the team does not plan to release Griffin, has he has not decided whether Griffin will be the second-string quarterback, or whether McCoy will be second and Griffin third. All he’ll say for sure is that Cousins is the starter, and will remain the starter.

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Ravens waive eight players

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The Ravens waived eight players Monday in anticipation of Tuesday’s NFL deadline for cutting rosters to 75.

Offensive linemen Marcel Jones and Leon Brown, cornerback Tramain Jacobs, punter Justin Manton, long snapper Patrick Scales and wide receivers Aldrick Robinson, Trent Steelman and DeAndre Carter were the players let go.

Robinson is a veteran of 36 NFL games, all with the Redskins. Jones spent time on the Ravens practice squad last season but had struggled this preseason.

All 32 teams close the preseason Thursday and must be at the regular-season roster size of 53 by Saturday.

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Giants bring back veteran safety Stevie Brown

Stevie Brown AP

Some moves make too much sense to not happen quickly.

The Giants announced they have brought back safety Stevie Brown, after he was released by the Texans.

The team’s Twitter account reports that Brown is healthy and ready to hit the ground running, which makes him different from most of their secondary.

The Giants have been hit by injuries at safety throughout the preseason, so being able to add a safety with experience (with their people if not new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s system).

Brown started 11 games for the Giants in 2012 and eight games last year (missing 2013 with a torn ACL), so he lends some immediate credibility to their secondary.

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PFT Live: Rich Tandler, Vic Carucci, PFT Planet calls and tweets

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Robert Griffin III is out, Kirk Cousins is in as the quarterback carousel spins on furiously in Washington.

We’ll be talking about the Redskins’ decision during Monday’s PFT Live when Rich Tandler of CSN Mid-Atlantic joins Mike Florio to sort out everything that’s going on with the team. They’ll talk about why the team made this decision, whether there was any dissension in the organization about which player should start and whether Griffin will remain with the team in a backup role.

Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News will also be on the program to talk about running back Fred Jackson’s departure from the Bills after nine years with the franchise and word that Tyrod Taylor will be the team’s starting quarterback. They’ll discuss the reasons for making both of those moves and what else will happen as the Bills make their way to the start of Rex Ryan’s first season in Buffalo.

As always, we also want to hear what PFT Planet thinks. Email questions at any time or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk to let us know what’s on your mind.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen to all three hours live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app. You can also watch a simulcast of the first hour by clicking right here.

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Bills going with Tyrod Taylor as their starting quarterback

Tyrod Taylor AP

The Bills have made their decision, and it’s one no one would have expected this offseason.

According to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports, the Bills are going with Tyrod Taylor as their starting quarterback for the regular season opener.

They gave EJ Manuel a courtesy start in the preseason, and the prevailing sentiment early in the process was that veteran Matt Cassel might be the safe choice.

But the Bills are going with the guy who gives them a chance to make plays on the ground as well as in the air. It’s a bit of a surprise, but it also underscores how thin the line is there between the contestants.

Taylor has never started an NFL game and only appeared in 14 in four seasons as a backup in Baltimore, with just 35 pass attempts

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Will loser of Brady case appeal?

Roger Goodell AP

For weeks, I’ve been saying that the Tom Brady litigation will end in the near future only with a settlement. And even with Monday’s settlement conference resulting in yet another no-settlement declaration, a settlement remains possible until the moment Judge Richard M. Berman rules on the case.

If/when he rules, the losing party (or both parties, in a lose-lose outcome) will have the automatic right to appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Eventually, a three-judge panel assigned from 22 total judges on the circuit would hear the case and decide it. The losing party at that point could petition for a rehearing before the entire 22-judge Second Circuit. Eventually, the losing party could try to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.

But an appeal will happen only if the losing party chooses to prolong the case. Either side could, in theory, decide to accept Judge Berman’s ruling and move on.

Brady probably would be more inclined to do that, but only because the NFL presumably has no willingness to do anything other than push its position as aggressively as humanly possible. If the league loses before Judge Berman, it will shrug at the predictable findings of a judge the lawyers will privately (or publicly) deride as liberal and activist, and they’ll hope for a more conservative panel at the next level.

There’s also a chance that a settlement could be reached on appeal. But with little or no progress made toward a resolution despite the earnest efforts of Judge Berman, it’s unlikely that the two sides will ever find a middle ground on this one — even if Judge Berman crafts a final outcome that they both dislike, such as a second appeal hearing with former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue presiding and Jeff Pash, John Jastremski, and Jim McNally testifying.

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No settlement in Brady case, Berman likely to rule Tuesday or Wednesday

Tom Brady AP

The settlement talks in the Tom Brady case haven’t led to a resolution, which means the decision on Brady’s four-game suspension will rest with Judge Richard Berman.

“We did not reach a settlement. The parties tried quite hard I think,” Berman said, via Stephen Brown of the New York Daily News. “In some case [a settlement] doesn’t happen. This is one of those cases.”

According to multiple reports from the Manhattan courthouse where the talks were being held, Berman said that his ruling is likely to come on Tuesday or Wednesday. The two sides had asked Berman to rule by September 4, less than a week before the Patriots will kick off their regular season against the Steelers.

Berman’s eventual ruling could uphold the suspension (while potentially allowing Brady to play pending appeal), wipe it out (which the NFL could appeal) or send the whole thing back for another appeal heard by someone other than NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

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Bills release 11 players in addition to Fred Jackson

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Running back Fred Jackson’s release is the headline for the Bills ahead of Tuesday’s deadline to cut rosters to 75 players, but there are plenty of other guys out of work in Buffalo as well.

The Bills have dropped 11 other players from the roster, leaving them with 77 players and two more moves to make to reach Tuesday’s limit.

Among the group is cornerback Ross Cockrell, who was a fourth-round pick by the team last year. He had one tackle in seven appearances with the team as a rookie.

The Bills also released defensive end Michael Buchanan, defensive tackle Justin Hamilton, linebacker Andrew Hudson, tackle Terren Jones, cornerback Ellis Lankster, safety Kenny Ladler, safety Wes Miller, guard D.J. Morrell, defensive end Cedric Reed and running back Ricky Seale.

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Broncos send Chris Clark to Texans for 2016 pick

Chris Clark AP

The two teams that have hired Gary Kubiak as a head coach have come together on a trade that will send tackle Chris Clark to Houston.

The Denver Post reports that the Broncos will get a 2016 seventh-round pick in return for Clark. The deal will not be official until Clark passes a physical with the Texans.

Clark has spent the last five years with the Broncos and started most of the 2013 season on the left side after Denver lost Ryan Clady to a foot injury. Clady is out again this year after tearing his ACL, but Ty Sambrailo and Ryan Harris have the starting jobs with 2014 third-rounder Michael Schofield set for swing tackle duties.

Clark gives the Texans some insurance in the event Duane Brown’s hand injury keeps him out into the regular season. The Texans started undrafted rookie Kendall Lamm at left tackle in Sunday’s game against the Saints. Clark also has played on the right side, so he’ll give Houston an experienced option behind Derek Newton as well.

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Kirk Cousins is indeed the Week One starter

Kirk Cousins AP

If the goal for the Washington football organization is to confuse anyone and everyone possible, mission accomplished.

There’s currently one less area of confusion. Per multiple sources, and confirming multiple reports, quarterback Kirk Cousins will start in Week One against Miami.

“He’s the head coach and it’s his call,” one source said. “All are on board with the process and support the coach.”

That’s consistent with our report from last night that there’s no schism between the coaching staff/front office and owner Daniel Snyder. The owner is letting the football people manage the football team, with G.M. Scot McCloughan deciding who is on the roster and coach Jay Gruden deciding who plays and who doesn’t.

Griffin remains cleared to practice but not play. The goal as of last night was to give Griffin until next week to re-take the concussion test, in the hopes that he’ll pass it. Gruden apparently wasn’t comfortable proceeding under the assumption that Griffin will be cleared in time for the game. That approach would have set the stage for another potential Griffin-is-cleared-no-he’s-not episode.

The fact that Cousins is getting the start may not be cause for celebrating and/or fantasy-football squatter’s rights. He showed promise against the Jaguars and Eagles last year before a Thursday night four-pick disaster against the Giants and an eventual benching for Colt McCoy.

Perhaps the goal this year is to throw Cousins to the wolves in Week One and Week Two (Dolphins and Rams) before putting Griffin on the field against the Giants, whose defense isn’t what it used to be.

Also, by then there’s a good chance fans will actually be clamoring for Griffin. Or maybe McCoy. Again.

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Broncos get roster down to 79, cut Zac Dysert and Reggie Walker

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The Broncos cut quarterback Zac Dysert and veteran linebacker Reggie Walker among a flurry of cuts, as they pared their roster to 79 in advance of tomorrow’s deadline.

They also placed tight end Jeff Heuerman, this year’s third-round pick, on injured reserve.

The Broncos waived cornerback Tevrin Brandon, guard Andre Davis, tight end Joe Don Duncan, punter Spencer Lanning, safety Ross Madison, tight end Jake Murphy, running back Jeremy Stewart and linebacker Chase Vaughn.

Walker was signed in March in free agency, but fell behind some younger players. Lanning was claimed off waivers earlier this month but wasn’t going to unseat Britton Colquitt.

Dysert lost the third quarterback job (if the Broncos keep three) to rookie Trevor Siemian.

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