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Patriots beat Dolphins to punch for Josh Boyce

Josh Boyce AP

The Dolphins were on the phone, and Josh Boyce’s dream had just come true.

The TCU wide receiver was just told he was going to be the 104th pick in the draft, that he was headed to Miami.

But a few minutes later, he got another call, and with the 102nd pick, the Patriots changed his travel plans.

As soon as I got off the phone the Patriots called me,” Boyce said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “You never know. I’m just glad God gave me the opportunity to get drafted. I can go forward from there.”

And for a guy who has worked with his share of NFL talent, Boyce now gets to catch passes from the best quarterback he’s been around.

Boyce was a high school teammate of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, and played with Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton at TCU.

“It’s great,” Boyce said. “All three of them are great guys, great quarterbacks. I’ve been blessed to play with great quarterbacks my whole career.”

And thanks to Bill Belichick making a quick call, Brady’s pulled off another last-second win over the Dolphins, getting another target for a remade receiving corps.

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Marquise Goodwin leaves practice, enters concussion protocol

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 14:   Marquise Goodwin #88 of the Buffalo Bills runs the ball against the Miami Dolphins during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bills wide receiver Marquise Goodwin is in the NFL’s concussion protocol after leaving Tuesday’s practice.

Goodwin was examined by trainers and later escorted off the field after hitting his head on the ground while trying to make a catch.

The speedy Goodwin is trying to win a role in the Bills’ offense and has been impressive in camp. Two weeks ago, Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman praised Goodwin and said he appears to be “on a mission.”

Goodwin, who just missed qualifying for the Olympics in the long jump, is listed as a second-teamer on the Bills’ unofficial depth chart. He was limited to two games last year by injury and had 17 of his 20 career catches as a rookie in 2013.

Though the Bills expect Sammy Watkins to play in this weeks preseason game, they’re still shorthanded at receiver. Bills Coach Rex Ryan told reporters that Marcus Easley and rookie Kolby Listenbee aren’t close to returning.

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Report: Harrison’s NFL interview set for Thursday

Wild Card Playoffs - Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

The NFL has scheduled Steelers linebacker James Harrison’s meeting with league investigators regarding performance-enhancing drugs allegations made in an Al-Jazeera report for this Thursday, Aug. 25.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the change in date, which meets the initial requirements set forth by the NFL that players named in the report interview by Aug. 25. The league threatened to suspend players who refused to interview.

The NFLPA sent a letter on behalf of Harrison last week in which Harrison agreed to an interview. The initial date for that interview was Aug. 30.

Last week, Harrison told reporters the NFL has no credible evidence against him and proposed that his interview be broadcast live.

Packers players Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers are scheduled to interview Wednesday. Harrison’s interview will take place before the Steelers fly to New Orleans for their Friday night preseason game.

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Karlos Williams visits the Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 12:  Karlos Williams #29 of the Buffalo Bills avoids Demario Davis #56 of the New York Jets to score a third quarter touchdown at MetLife Stadium on November 12, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Free agent running back Karlos Williams didn’t get any takers on waivers, but he is drawing some interest around the league.

Williams visited the Jets today, Sal Capaccio of WGR in Buffalo reports. The Jets are one of five teams that have reached out to show interest in Williams.

At the moment, all of that interest appears to be more of a feeling out process than an immediate contract offer. Williams won’t be able to play for the first four weeks of the season anyway because he’s under suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, and teams will need to be convinced that Williams won’t cause problems off the field before anyone will sign him. There are also concerns about Williams’ weight after he showed up to camp out of shape.

Williams is undeniably a talented player, and he made a number of big plays as a rookie for the Bills last season. If Williams can get in shape and stay out of trouble, he may still make plenty of big plays for some team this season. It could be the Jets, even if they’re not ready to sign him just yet.

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Jeremy Mincey announces retirement

Wild Card Playoffs - Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

Former Cowboys, Broncos and Jaguars defensive end Jeremy Mincey announced his retirement Tuesday.

Mincey, who played the last two seasons for the Cowboys, posted a picture on Instagram along with a thank-you letter in which he announced that he’s finished playing.

His contract with the Cowboys expired after last season. Mincey also had elbow surgery in the offseason after an elbow issue slowed him last season.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted that Mincey, 32, had offers from interested teams but opted to retire. Mincey had 26 sacks over nine NFL seasons and six in 2014 with the Cowboys.

A sixth-round pick of the Patriots in 2006, Mincey also spent time with the 49ers before he made his regular season debut with the Jaguars in 2007. He played for the Jaguars until 2013, when he was released and finished the season with the Broncos.

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Steelers keep linebacker Vince Williams with extension

Vince Williams, Ryan Shazier AP

The Steelers announced Tuesday that they’ve signed inside linebacker Vince Williams to a new, three-year contract.

Williams, a sixth-round pick in 2013, has been a valuable inside linebacker and special teamer in all three of his previous seasons. He’s again listed second on the depth chart at one of the team’s two inside linebacker spots as the Steelers prepare for the 2016 season.

Williams has played in 47 games and started 13 in his career. He was very much in the middle of last year’s Steelers-Bengals heated moments that turned into offseason social media chatter that’s stoked the rivalry between the two teams.

Known as a run stopper, Williams also produced two fumble recoveries, a pass breakup and split a sack last season.

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Senquez Golson expects to return to Steelers this year

Senquez Golson AP

The first chapter of cornerback Senquez Golson’s Steelers career was a bust due to a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the entire season.

Chapter two didn’t get off to a better start. Golson has been out since suffering a Lisfranc injury early in training camp, but he said Tuesday that this season will not play out the same way as the last one. The 2015 second-round pick vowed to return to the field in time to make his Steelers debut.

“I’ll definitely be back this year,” Golson said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I’m thinking sometime in November. For sure by the end of November, I’ll be full speed back.”

November is a long time to wait for a player who hasn’t seen much practice time since the Steelers drafted him, but the rule change allowing teams to wait on designating a player to return would seem to leave that door open. It would likely shut quickly if the Steelers need to use that spot for a player who has been more involved in the last two years, however.

In the meantime, the Steelers are visiting with Keenan Lewis about joining a cornerback group with plenty of question marks beyond the ones about Golson’s status for this season.

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Hall of Fame Game lawsuit re-filed in California, dismissed in Ohio

Football fans express their displeasure as it is announced that the preseason NFL football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Indianapolis Colts at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium was cancelled due to unsafe field conditions, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard) AP

The NFL’s decision to embrace L.A. as a location for the Rams also means the NFL will from time to time have to embrace the L.A. civil justice system.

The lawsuit seeking compensation for fans who attended the Hall of Fame Game earlier this month in Canton, Ohio has been voluntarily dismissed without prejudice from federal court in Ohio and re-filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. To support the choice of the L.A. area as the forum, the class representative, Greg Herrick, is a resident of L.A. who purchased a ticket to the Hall of Fame Game and traveled to Ohio for it.

The lawsuit also points out that the NFL has four teams in California “including one within this district” — the Rams.

The allegations aren’t significantly different than the prior version of the lawsuit; the biggest change appears to come from allegations based on statements made by Colts punter Pat McAfee in a podcast the day after the canceled game. It’s likely that revised legal claims eventually will be filed to allege, among other things, fraud in the concealment of the cancellation of the game from the fans who had assembled at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium for it.

The biggest reason for the decision to proceed in federal court in Los Angeles likely comes from the belief that the combination of the judge, the jury pool, and the appeals court will lead to a better outcome for the plaintiffs. For that reason, the NFL and the Hall of Fame likely will fight the choice of venue, attempting to secure a transfer of the case to a more favorable location.

Picking the best forum is a key aspect of good lawyering. The NFL did that last year, when filing the initial lawsuit regarding Tom Brady’s suspension in federal court in Manhattan, before the NFL Players Association could filed a lawsuit attacking the suspension in federal court in Minneapolis.

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Chuck Pagano: Antonio Cromartie is a perfect fit

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 01:  Antonio Cromartie #31 of the New York Jets warms up prior to playing the Oakland Raiders in their NFL game at O.co Coliseum on November 1, 2015 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cornerback Antonio Cromartie has been part of three teams that have sent the Colts packing from the playoffs over the course of his career, but if he has a hand in ending their season this year it will come while wearing a Colts uniform.

Colts coach Chuck Pagano didn’t seem to have much fear of that happening while discussing the decision to sign Cromartie on Tuesday, however. Pagano called Cromartie a perfect fit for the team’s defense who won’t need much time to catch up on the system because of similarities to systems he played in with the Jets and Chargers.

“Long, athletic, fast,” Pagano said, via the team’s website. “Ball skills, intelligent, smart, knows the game as well as anybody I’ve been around.”

What made Cromartie a particularly good fit for the Colts right now is the fact that he’s healthy. Cornerbacks Vontae Davis, Patrick Robinson, Darius Butler, D’Joun Smith and Jalil Smith are all dealing with injuries of varying magnitudes, leaving a big hole to fill on the back end of the defense.

Cromartie didn’t look capable of filling it for much of last season with the Jets, although he says a groin injury contributed to his struggles and that he feels he can “still play at a high level” now that he’s healthy. If he can, his fit in Indianapolis will be a perfect one on several levels.

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Titans tight end Craig Stevens retires after eight seasons

Jacksonville Jaguars v Tennessee Titans Getty Images

Most of the out-of-the-blue retirements happen before training camp, and involve guys who don’t have a job.

But this one is from a guy who was actually employed.

According to Alex Marvez of the Sporting News, Titans tight end Craig Stevens has decided to call it a career after eight seasons.

A solid blocker throughout his stint in the league, Stevens was part of an aging depth chart for the Titans, with Delanie Walker and Anthony Fasano. He re-signed with Tennessee this offseason on a one-year deal.

He started 11 games last year and had 12 catches. In his career, the former third-rounder caught 60 passes for 724 yards and six touchdowns.

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Josh Norman rips Demaryius Thomas, who gets the last laugh

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07:  Josh Norman #24 of the Carolina Panthers defends a pass intended for Demaryius Thomas #88 of the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Washington cornerback Josh Norman is getting plenty of attention for comments he made in an ESPN Magazine interview. Demaryius Thomas is the latest to notice.

In last year’s Super Bowl, playing for the Panthers, Norman generally got the better of Thomas: Thomas had six passes thrown his way and caught only one, for eight yards. Norman boasted of that in the interview.

“I don’t know what he was out there for,” Norman said. “He was supposed to be an all-world guy, and I shut him down.”

Thomas, of course, was on the winning team, however, and a Norman defensive holding penalty set up the Broncos’ game-clinching touchdown. So when Thomas saw Norman’s comments, he took to Twitter with a picture of his Super Bowl ring.

And with that, Thomas gets the last laugh.

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Teddy Bridgewater throwing again at Vikings practice

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater walks the field following a joint NFL football practice with the Cincinnati Bengals, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) AP

The Vikings opted not to play quarterback Teddy Bridgewater against the Seahawks last Thursday and a report emerged in the following days that Bridgewater was bothered by shoulder soreness leading up to the game.

That wasn’t confirmed by the team, but the fact that Bridgewater didn’t throw in practice on either Saturday or Sunday seemed to offer further evidence that all wasn’t 100 percent with his arm. Tuesday’s practice provided reason to believe things are headed back that way.

Bridgewater threw during team drills, although reports from the team’s session indicated that he was mostly throwing shorter passes during the workout. Shaun Hill, who started in Bridgewater’s place, also returned to action after a day off and a day off from throwing to further return things to normal for the Vikes.

Coach Mike Zimmer again passed on saying the shoulder was the reason for Bridgewater’s limited activity in recent days, but hinted that something physical was to blame for holding Bridgewater out last week.

“I told you guys when I first got here I would try and be as transparent and honest as I can and I will be,” Zimmer said, via Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “But there are certain things I’m not going to tell you. If he had an issue with his shoulder, I’m going to make sure that I err on the side of caution. If I played him and he got hurt, you guys would be killing me in the press. I’m always going to protect the players. Im going to do what I think is best for the organization. You’re going to have to respect that.”

If Bridgewater plays against the Chargers in the Vikings’ first game at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, it sounds like it’s safe to assume that Zimmer is convinced that all is well with Bridgewater’s arm, legs and so on down the line.

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Joe Flacco will play against Lions on Saturday

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, right, talks with wide receiver Michael Campanaro on the bench during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler) AP

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco avoided the physically unable to perform list to open camp and his surgically-repaired knee hasn’t had any setbacks during practices, which leaves one big box to check on his comeback from a torn ACL.

Flacco hasn’t played in either of the team’s first two preseason games, but said on Tuesday that he will be on the field against the Lions this Saturday. Flacco expects to play the same amount he’d typically play during the team’s third preseason outing,

“It’s not super important to go out and play a game just because I need to play a game. You need to get back out there, you need to get your mind used to getting ready for a game,” Flacco said on Mad Dog Sports Radio with Adam Schein. “And then, yeah, I need to get over that last hurdle, which is going out there and being a live target for guys to hit and see how I react to it.”

Saturday’s game will be Flacco’s first with wide receiver Mike Wallace in the lineup and the Ravens hope that their connection helps fuel better production through the air than they had before and after Flacco got hurt last year.

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HOF Game lawyer: “I know fraud occurred”

Green Bay Packers fans stand around Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium after the preseason NFL football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Indianapolis Colts was cancelled due to unsafe field conditions, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) AP

On Monday, the first tangible suggestion emerged that fraud occurred in connection with the cancellation of the Hall of Fame Game, with quotes from Colts punter Pat McAfee coupled with a statement from lawyer Michael Avenatti making it clear that, eventually, the lawsuit filed two weeks ago will be revised to assert deliberate deceit. The Hall of Fame thereafter called the accusation “totally baseless.” Appearing on Tuesday’s PFT Live, I asked Avenatti why he believes fraud happened.

“Well, I don’t believe fraud occurred, I know fraud occurred,” Avenatti said, “because people are coming out of the woodwork now and providing us with facts and evidence that shows no question that fraud occurred on behalf of the league and the Hall of Fame. The reason why we know that now is because, for instance, Pat McAfee on the morning after the game gave a podcast during which he described exactly what he witnessed in connection with the cancellation of the game. . . . The league and the Hall of Fame informed the players, ninety players to the Packers and ninety players for the Colts, at least an hour and a half before they told the fans that the game was cancelled. Then to make matters worse they told those same individuals not to say anything about it, to tweet about it, et cetera. They clearly tried to cover this up and keep it from the fans in the interest of money.”

The argument the Hall of Fame withheld the information from fans to keep them in the stadium, buying food, drink, programs, and other merchandise that otherwise wouldn’t have been sold.

“The Hall of Fame and the league have yet to provide an answer to the following very basic question. Why did you tell the players, personnel and ESPN that the game was cancelled but you waited an hour and a half, two hours to tell the fans? They don’t have an answer for that question. . . . Someone needs to pose this question again to the Hall of Fame and the NFL and ensure they answer it. Why didn’t you tell the fans at the same time you told ESPN and the players and why did it take you at least an hour and a half to do so? They haven’t answered that question. They don’t want to answer the question because the answer is ugly.”

Avenatti eventually will have a chance to force someone to answer the question, along with an opportunity to review phones and other electronic information for evidence that would provide the answer indirectly.

“We fully expect to uncover text messages demonstrating [fraud],” Avenatti said. “I will tell you this, and this has not been announced previously, we know for a fact that a text message was sent out to members of the Hall of Fame or individuals assisting the Hall of Fame with VIP guests informing them that the game was cancelled and also expressly telling them not to tell the fans. When we get our hands on that text message the NFL and the Hall of Fame have a serious, serious problem and we expect this to reach all the way to the top. We don’t believe that some middle manager made this decision. Commissioner Goodell and Mr. Baker, the head of the Hall of Fame, are going have a lot of explaining to do in connection with the case.”

The league and the Hall of Fame have done no specific explaining yet. Eventually, they’ll be required to do so within the confines of litigation that wasn’t settled last week.

“Too many people knew about this and too many people were involved with this, and now we’re learning the truth about the timeline and what really happened,” Avenatti said. “This is going to get very, very ugly for the league and the Hall of Fame as time progresses. They should have taken our $450 [per customer] offer. Instead, they decided they want to pay their lawyers millions and this is not going end well I can assure you that.”

It will likely take a while for it to end, given the speed with which civil litigation often moves, or doesn’t move. At some point, though, the truth will come out — whatever it may be.

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Trevor Siemian practicing, but not throwing, on Tuesday

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 20:  Quarterback Trevor Siemian of the Denver Broncos smiles as he walks on the field before a preseason NFL game against the San Francisco 49ers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 20, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

When Broncos coach Gary Kubiak announced on Monday that Trevor Siemian will get the start in the Broncos third preseason game, he also said that it wasn’t clear whether Siemian would be a full participant in Tuesday’s practice.

Siemian banged his shoulder while trying to make a tackle after an interception against the 49ers last weekend, leaving him with some soreness that called his Tuesday status into question. That questioned was answered on Tuesday.

According to multiple reports from the Broncos facility, Siemian ran the offense during running drills before giving way to Mark Sanchez and Paxton Lynch when it came time to put the ball in the air. The fact that Siemian was at practice in any capacity and not getting treatment from the medical staff would seem to suggest a relatively low concern level about his ability to go on Saturday.

Andrew Mason of the team’s website reports that Lynch is getting the “lion’s share” of work with Siemian out of action. Kubiak said both Lynch and Sanchez are slated to get the same amount of playing time as Siemian against the Rams this week, but didn’t say which one would replace Siemian.

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Josh Norman: Panthers wanted it about Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly

Josh Norman AP

Pulling a franchise tag from a player you wanted to keep around on a long-term deal is a pretty extreme move.

But the farther you get from Carolina’s decision to part ways with cornerback Josh Norman this spring, the clearer it becomes that a divorce was probably inevitable.

In the ESPN the Magazine cover story that promises to become a veritable fountain of quotes from the Washington cornerback, Norman made it clear he didn’t feel comfortable in the culture of the Carolina locker room.

“They kind of shunned me,” he said. “They turned down a lot of stuff for me, interviews, sponsorship deals, stuff I didn’t even know about. They wanted it to be about the two main guys, Cam [Newton] and Luke [Kuechly].”

While it’s entirely reasonable that there were times the Panthers wanted Norman to talk less, the idea that they took money out of his pocket (before pulling the $13.95 million tag) is a pretty bold allegation.

He said at one point he was asked to cut down on his trash talk, but he didn’t because “I’m not fake.”

Thus liberated — and paid $75 million over five years by Daniel Snyder — the Pro Bowl corner thinks he can “grow” in Washington.

“…[I]t feels like everybody can say whatever they want,” Norman said. “It’s a free-flowing kind of place. It’s like going from a dictatorship to freedom.”

Of course, Norman’s also free from the kind of talent he had around him in Carolina, the supporting cast that helped him land such a lucrative deal in Washington. And while he certainly grew as a player, the reality remains that he wasn’t in a position to outshine Newton and Kuechly for one significant reason — they’re better players than he is.

The Panthers play at Washington on Dec. 19.

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