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Russell Shepard says he “signed” with Eagles during draft

Shepard Getty Images

Every year, at least one player admits that a team engaged in shenanigans near the end of the draft, striking a deal with the player as a free agent before the draft was over.

Last year, it was quarterback Chandler Harnish, who said he had a deal with the Chargers before the Colts took him with the last pick in the process.

This year, it’s LSU receiver Russell Shepard, who claims that he agreed to terms with the Eagles before the draft ended.

I actually took myself off the draft board during the draft,” Shepard told WNXX radio, via LouisianaDaily.com.  “Teams started calling me probably in the middle of the sixth round asking me ‘Is it true that you’ve signed with a team already?’ and I actually got it out of the way before the draft was over, because that was the perfect fit for me.”

The host asked for clarification, and Shepard gave it.

“I signed with them before the draft was over,” Shepard said, explaining that after he fell through round five he decided to focus on the Eagles.  Shepard believes he’ll play receiver, running back, and Wildcat quarterback in Philly’s offense, and that he’ll return kicks and punts and play gunner on the punt team.

Shepard also said that Eagles coach Chip Kelly personally called Shepard at the beginning of the sixth round to explain that the Eagles couldn’t draft him because the team had lost some picks via the trade up to get quarterback Matt Barkley at the top of round four.

If this is all true, Kelly and the Eagles could be losing some more draft picks.

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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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Mangini isn’t sure Kaepernick has regressed, or that he’d be blackballed

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 19:  Head coach Eric Mangini of the Cleveland Browns on the sidelines while playing the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) Getty Images

At a time when the popular narrative regarding 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick starts with the notion that he has regressed a as a player and ends with the question of whether he’ll ever get another chance with another NFL team after refusing to stand for the national anthem, a coach who worked closely with Kaepernick in each of the last three years sees the situation differently.

Former Jets and Browns coach Eric Mangini, initially hired by the 49ers in June 2013 as an offensive consultant charged with helping the team figure out how defenses would try to stop Kaepernick, later served as tight ends coach and then as defensive coordinator with the team. And so Mangini knows Kaepernick as well as anyone, and Mangini has worked with Kaepernick from a variety of perspectives.

He joined Monday’s PFT Live to share his thoughts on Kaepernick’s current situation, and the message was clear: Mangini isn’t ready to say Kaepernick has regressed.

“I really like Colin and I liked being able to spend time with Colin on the offensive side,” Mangini said. “I don’t know if that evaluation [that he has regressed] is completely fair. He was in different systems. The system we had under Jim Harbaugh was different than Jim Tomsula, and now he’s under a different system again. That’s not always the easiest thing for a guy to do is to transition year in and year out to a different system. I’d like to see what he can do in this system before we say he’s regressed. He’s had the one preseason game, gave him some time, gave him some reps. I think there’s a lot of things that he does well and that’ll fit into Chip [Kelly’s] system really well. We’ve only got a very limited look at it though.”

So would Mangini pursue Kaepernick if Mangini were currently coaching a team and needed a quarterback?

“You know, Colin has a unique skill set,” Mangini said. “It would depend on what offense I was running because I would want him to compliment whoever my quarterback was. I don’t know if you can lump it in like that; it would just depend on I think the system. I think in this system [with the 49ers] I think he’s a good fit and I would like to see what he can do and I like Blaine Gabbert a lot. But I’d like to see what he can do is this system because it may be something that ends up being a really smart decision to keep him and to give him the opportunity. With how many reps did he get the other night, 15, 20, whatever it was, it’s hard to I think universally say, ‘Hey this isn’t working at this point.'”

With Kaepernick, a separate question has emerged. Would Kaepernick’s political views and gesture make Kaepernick undesirable?

“I think that anytime you have distractions and I keep bringing this up, Mike, and I know you and I have talked about before, it’s an issue,” Mangini said. “It’s something that you have to consider. When you look at a guy like Tim Tebow and the things that he brought to a team and he had a unique skill set but there were a lot of other things that surrounded him. You have to evaluate it from the perspective of, ‘Does he add enough value to offset some of these other things that are going to come in now that he’s made the decisions that he’s made?’ and you don’t make it in a vacuum. You’ve got to look at the skill set, you’ve got to look at the contribution, you’ve got to look at the opportunity that you have and that he has to make your team better but then you’ve got to weigh that against what else comes with that player and are you willing to deal with those distractions and how much do you think they’re going to affect the group as a whole and the progress of the team as a whole. I don’t know if he’ll be universally blackballed, though.”

In the NFL, where the supply of quarterbacks never matches the demand, it’s hard to imagine a team that: (1) has a need at the position; and (2) has seen on a first-hand basis the best of what Kaepernick can do automatically scratching him off the list simply because of his position on the national anthem.

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Chiefs willing to trade Aaron Murray, in case anyone’s interested

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff, left, and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Aaron Murray greet each other after the Rams defeated the Chiefs 21-20 in a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang) AP

Teams have to take their rosters from 90 to 75 by this afternoon, and then to 53 this weekend.

So if you’ve got extra stuff you don’t want sitting around the garage, you might as well put it on Craigslist and see if anybody else wants it.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Chiefs are putting out word that quarterback Aaron Murray is available if anyone wants to trade for him. Consider yourself alerted.

The former fifth-round pick from Georgia might have once been a possibility as the in-house replacement for former backup Chase Daniel, but that was before the Chiefs extended Tyler Bray last year and then went out and found Nick Foles to back up Alex Smith.

Of course, it’s unlikely anyone would give anything of value for Murray, but then again, it wasn’t that long ago that some team gave up things of value for Foles. So it can’t hurt asking.

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Jaguars move on from Bjoern Werner

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 22:  Offensive tackle Eric Fisher #72 of the Kansas City Chiefs block outside linebacker Bjoern Werner #92 of the Indianapolis Colts during the game at Arrowhead Stadium on December 22, 2013 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

In early May, we pointed out that former Colts linebacker Bjoern Werner had washed out of the league, cut by the team that had made him a first-round pick and not present on anyone’s 90-man roster. Two days later, the Jaguars signed him.

The Jaguars have now cut him.

Per multiple reports, Werner has been released. Technically, he’ll pass through waivers, because he has fewer that four years of NFL experience.

Early on during his tenure with the Jaguars, Werner was happy to be playing defensive end again. But he didn’t do enough to win one of the spots on the 53-man roster. He actually didn’t make it to the final 75.

The next question is whether someone else will give Werner another chance. It will be an uphill climb, which serves only to underscore the blunder that Colts engaged in by using a first-round pick to get Werner in 2013.

At least they didn’t compound the error by giving up a first-round pick in 2014 for Trent Richardson. Oh wait.

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White House press secretary addresses Kaepernick situation

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 20:  White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest briefs members of the media at the White House June 20, 2016 in Washington, DC. Earnest opened the day's briefing with advice for protection against a growing threat from the Zika virus.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) Getty Images

When I heard on Friday night that 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick opted to take a seat for the national anthem prior to the preseason game against the Packers, I knew it would be a big deal. But it’s become a much bigger deal than I thought it would be.

The gesture, and Kaepernick’s explanation, inevitably ended up on the campaign trail on Monday. But it also made its way to the place where the guy who won the last two presidential elections works and lives.

“I certainly don’t share the views that Mr. Kaepernick expressed after the game,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday, via the Washington Times. “But we surely all acknowledge and even defend his right to express those views.”

Earnest last made news in the NFL with his assessment of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s initial #DeflateGate press conference. “For years it’s been clear that there is no risk that I was going to take Tom Brady’s job as quarterback of the New England Patriots,” Earnest said. “But I can tell you, as of today, it’s pretty clear that there’s no risk of him taking my job either.”

President Obama has yet to address the Kaepernick issue personally, but if the debate continues to grow — and if Kaepernick and others adopt the gesture — it’s inevitable that the Commander-in-Chief will weigh in on the subject.

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Spurrier: When Snyder hired me, I didn’t know he’d be the G.M.

sp/spurrier  photo by John McDonnell/TWP  caption: Redskins' owner Daniel Snyder and new coach Steve Spurrier pose for photos following a press conference on Spurrier's arrival. ORG XMIT: 119221 Getty Images

Steve Spurrier has written a book reflecting on his coaching career, and a big chunk of that book is devoted to his least successful stop, in Washington.

Spurrier, who went 12-20 in 2002-03 in his only stint as an NFL head coach, says that the biggest lesson owner Dan Snyder needed to learn was that he couldn’t be his own General Manager.

“I think he’s doing it the right way now,” Spurrier said of Snyder, via the New York Times. “When I was coaching, he was the general manager and the personnel director. I thought he was going to hire someone else as general manager.”

Spurrier said at the time he took the job that he thought Snyder was going to coax the legendary G.M. Bobby Beathard out of retirement.

“I thought he was going to be my general manager,” Spurrier said of Beathard. “That didn’t work out. After two years, I learned the NFL was not for me. I’m more a college style of coach. It maybe helped me learn that.”

Spurrier was one of the all-time great coaches in college football. It was wise of him to realize he wasn’t suited to the NFL. Even if there’s a part of him that wonders if he might have succeeded in the NFL, if only someone other than Snyder had been choosing the players.

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Jason Witten: Tony Romo will bounce back quickly, at a high level

Jason Witten, Tony Romo AP

Few people have had a better view of Tony Romo’s body of work than Cowboys teammate Jason Witten.

And the veteran tight end thinks there’s no doubt the 36-year-old quarterback will return to form this year, after the compression fractures in his back that will keep him out for some portion of the start of the season. Romo has dealt with back injuries before and returned to play well, and that’s part of what makes Witten so confident.

“I’m not a doctor, I’m not here to give him a sales pitch or anything like that, but I do know what he’s about, I know what his mindset is and he’ll get back quickly and play at a high level,” Witten said, via Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Age is just a number from that standpoint. You can’t allow that to get in the way of what you’re goals are and how hard you worked. He’s had a great off-season, he’s built on a lot of those things.

“He had his best season after the back injury in ’13 going into ’14. People are going to bet against him, that’s fine, and I don’t think that’s unfair to do so. But if you know what he’s about, which everybody in this building does, he’s going to be back sooner than probably expected and he’ll play better than anybody thought he would because I know that’s what he’s about.”

Of course, the Cowboys are buoyed by the fact rookie Dak Prescott had such a good preseason, and they deliberately tried to Romo-proof their offense by drafting running back Ezekiel Elliott in the first round.

But losing their leader is still hard for them.

“On the face of this, it really does hurt,” Witten said. “Tony possesses traits that very few have. When he’s not out there, it’s challenging.

“But I don’t think the expectations adjust any. I think the reason for that is we believe in the construction of this team, that it is strong. One of the things we’re trying to do is build on our offensive line, our run game, play-action game, threats down the field, defense, flying around, getting balls out, play field position. I commend coach [Jason] Garrett for that because he does build this structure around that, that it’s not about one individual.”

The hope is that there will be a season left to play for when he returns. The Cowboys were 1-11 without him last year, and since he took over as the starter in 2006, they’re 78-49 with him and 10-23 without him.

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Calvin Johnson heading to the dance floor

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 21:  Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions participates in warmups prior to a game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 21, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Getty Images

Calvin Johnson won’t be competing for victories on the football field this year, but retirement from the gridiron doesn’t mean he’s giving up competing at all.

ABC announced the cast for the forthcoming season of “Dancing With the Stars” on Tuesday and it includes the former Lions wide receiver. He joins Emmitt Smith, Von Miller, Antonio Brown, Hines Ward and other NFLers as contestants on the long-running show.

Johnson will have some competition from the athletic world in Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez and Olympic swimmer/fabulist Ryan Lochte. Vanilla Ice, former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Maureen McCormick, a.k.a. Marcia from “The Brady Bunch,” are some of the others who will be showing off their tango moves this year.

Johnson announced his retirement from the Lions this offseason after nine years with the team.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

Chicago Bears tackle Kyle Long, left, speaks to his brother, New England Patriots defensive end Chris Long, right, at midfield after a preseason NFL football game Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) AP

LB Manny Lawson is expected to play for the Bills on Thursday night.

A look at some of the Dolphins’ toughest roster calls.

DE Chris Long has fared well in his first preseason with the Patriots.

The Jets aren’t showing much concern about the readiness of the offense.

WR Breshad Perriman may play for the Ravens for the first time on Thursday night.

Injuries will make some Bengals roster decisions more difficult.

Browns CB Joe Haden said the lesson of LB Paul Kruger’s departure is that anyone can go if they aren’t making plays.

CB Artie Burns is set to make his delayed debut in the Steelers lineup.

Texans coach Bill O’Brien continues to hint at DE J.J. Watt making his return for Week One.

What will RB Stevan Ridley’s role be with the Colts?

The Jaguars have more work to do on the offensive line.

The Titans’ top spot in the waiver order will come in handy in the coming days.

Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders likes QB Trevor Siemian’s “calm demeanor.”

LB Justin Houston did his rehab work outside at the Chiefs facility on Monday.

Said Raiders coach Jack Del Rio of QB Derek Carr, “He’s super prepared, and the timing on some of the throws and the decision-making — I’m just very pleased with that.”

What’s next for DE Joey Bosa now that he’s signed with the Chargers?

Former Cowboys wide receivers coach Hubbard Alexander died at the age of 77.

The Giants expect LB Jonathan Casillas back for the season opener.

Eagles LB Mychal Kendricks is set to play in Thursday’s game.

The Bryan Stork saga came to an end and the Redskins are back where they started at center.

Will the Bears activate LB Pernell McPhee in time for the season?

Lions TE Eric Ebron thought the worst when he hurt his ankle this summer.

P Tim Masthay has held onto his job with the Packers.

The Vikings defense has come together over the course of the preseason.

Falcons rookie S Keanu Neal had knee surgery on Monday.

The Panthers are trying to familiarize themselves with Trevor Siemian ahead of the season opener.

C Max Unger isn’t panicking about an unsettled Saints offensive line.

The battle for the final spots at receiver continues for the Buccaneers.

Mike Jenkins‘ torn ACL leaves the Cardinals short at cornerback.

A look at the depth on the Rams defensive line.

49ers QB Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the national anthem will be fodder for Madden 17.

The Seahawks have made good use of “empty” formations on offense.

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Earl Wolff waived/injured as Jags drop to 78 players

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 11: Earl Wolff #42 of the Jacksonville Jaguars warms up before an NFL preseason game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on August 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

Safety Earl Wolff had a harrowing experience in February when he was carjacked and kidnapped in Arkansas in an incident that left him wondering if he would make it out alive.

Wolff did and returned to trying to make the Jaguars, an effort that came to an end on Monday when the team announced that the former Eagles fifth-round pick was waived with an injury designation. That was one of 12 moves that the Jaguars made to get to 78 players ahead of Tuesday’s deadline to cut to 75 players.

The team also placed offensive lineman Jeff Linkenbach on injured reserve and transferred center Luke Bowanko and rookie defensive end Jonathan Woodard, who tore his Achilles in May, on the regular season PUP list.

The Jaguars also waived cornerback Demetrius McCray, linebacker Joplo Bartu, wide receiver Shaq Evans, kicker Sam Ficken, cornerback Mike Hilton, running back Cameron Marshall, punter Ryan Quigley and wide receiver Jamal Robinson.

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Barkevious Mingo finds “culture shock” between Patriots and Browns

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 12:  Barkevious Mingo #51 of the Cleveland Browns talks with head coach Mike Pettine prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 12, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Browns might be trying to change things, but one of the guys they just jettisoned can notice an immediate difference at his new address.

Outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo, student of the game that he is, can tell some differences after joining the Patriots in trade last week when the Browns gave up on him.

It’s a huge culture shock,” Mingo said, via Adam Kurkjian of the Boston Herald. “I felt like the winning spirit was making its way into Cleveland with those new coaches, but it’s definitely been established here for a long time, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

He’s also in familiar company. Mingo worked out this offseason with new teammate Jamie Collins, and Jabaal Sheard traced the route from Cleveland to a good team before him, which helps.

Mingo said their 2013 season together with the Browns was “gruesome,” which considering a 4-12 record might be kind.

“Jabaal was there my first year, and he carried me along in that long, long year,” he said. “But to have him again is a huge relief. . . .

“It’s very exciting. This team is stacked at every position. They have guys on the outside who can cover. We’ve got interior guys who are holding gaps and linebackers that are hitting those gaps and making big plays. I’m just excited to be a part of it.”

As with Sheard, getting into a stable environment and one — successful — scheme should help. Mingo shouldn’t have to worry about a revolving door of coaches, and they have a track record of turning unproductive players into good ones.

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Kendall Wright hurts hamstring again in return to practice

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 27:  Wide receiver Kendall Wright #13 of the Tennessee Titans is up-ended by Kevin Johnson #30 of the Houston Texans during the first half at Nissan Stadium on December 27, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) Getty Images

Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright returned to practice on Monday for the first time since injuring his hamstring on August 2, but it wasn’t long before he was back on the injured list.

Wright re-injured his hamstring while running a short pass route during what coach Mike Mularkey said was going to be a day of “limited reps” for the wideout. There’s no word on how long Wright will be out this time around, but the receiver says he plans to be back for the season opener.

“It’s not in doubt,” Wright said, via the Tennessean. “I think I’ll be able to play in it. It’s the same thing. Nothing has changed. Same thing, but it doesn’t feel as bad as it did. I think I’ll be able to go Sept. 11.”

Time will tell if Wright is correct and it’s unclear what his role will be when he is healthy enough to play. Rishard Matthews, Tajae Sharpe, Andre Johnson and others have been the receivers during the preseason and Mularkey said the team has “operated pretty well without him” this summer.

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