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Report: Cruz won’t play until the regular season starts

Cruz Reuters

The Giants got a major scare from receiver Victor Cruz on Sunday night.  For that reason, don’t expect to see Cruz again this preseason.

Per Art Stapleton of the Bergen Record, Cruz won’t play until the September 8 opener against the Cowboys, on Sunday Night Football.

Technically, Cruz has a heel contusion.  He has been placed in a walking boot for now, and he won’t practice on Tuesday.  While it could have been worse, missing practice is bad enough in the eyes of the man who famously called injuries a “cancer” when hired nine years ago.

“The concern is any player that misses practices is missing the opportunity to experience things and instinctively react to things,” Coughlin told reporters, via Stapleton.  “That’s what you worry about with any player who misses time and misses practices because you don’t get the opportunity through repetition to learn in the multiplicity of things that can happen on any given play.  It’s important for everyone to understand that.  It is about being able to practice, it is about getting as many reps as you can so you become much more aware of the circumstances surrounding each situation.”

The circumstances for Cruz are better than initially feared; even if he doesn’t practice until the week before the game at Dallas, Coughlin should be happy that the so-called cancer of injury didn’t claim the season of one of the best slot receivers in the game.

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Saints release Steve Breaston and Patrick Crayton

Steve Breaston Pic Getty Images

Apparently, all those veteran receivers the Saints brought in recently weren’t in play for the third wideout job.

The Saints released Steve Breaston and Patrick Crayton Monday, ending their short stints with the team.

According to Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Saints also waived five players: Defensive backs A.J. Davis and Dion Turner, linebacker Chase Thomas, wide receiver Jarred Fayson and guard Ricky Henry.

Clearing out those older wideouts is a good sign the team’s growing more comfortable with players such as Nick Toon and Kenny Stills. They’re looking for a dependable third after Joe Morgan was lost for the season to a knee injury, and Toon showed some deep play ability Friday night against the Raiders, and could take advantage.

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Sanchez anticipates a quarterback decision “soon”

Jets Getty Images

Like several other teams, the Jets haven’t named a starting quarterback for Week One.  Unlike other teams without a starting quarterback, the Jets have a large and aggressive local media constantly covering the issue.

On Monday, the two contenders had yet another chance to answer questions about a competition that, in the opinion of the incumbent, may not last much longer.

“I think we’re coming down the stretch here, so I’m sure a decision will be made here soon,” Mark Sanchez said, via quotes distributed by the team.  “Other than that, I don’t know.”

Sanchez does know that, in his opinion, he’s “definitely” had the best training camp of his career.  But he says he’s not bothered by his uncertain status.

“I don’t care,” Sanchez said.  “I really don’t.  I’ve competed my whole life and I’m ready to play.”

The other contender, Geno Smith, remains optimistic that he can win the job despite missing the second preseason game due to a sprained ankle.

“I just have to go out there and execute,” Smith said, “do what I’m told, do what I’m coached to do, go out there [and] run the plays to the best of my ability, make sound reads, be good with my footwork [and] just prove to the coaches and teammates that, hey, I belong here.”

Smith, who said his ankle is feeling much better, said he doesn’t believe that the decision rides on the outcome of the third preseason game.

“No, I don’t think so,” Smith said.  “Not one game.  They’ve been evaluating me since I’ve been here and I don’t think one or two games will be able to tell you exactly where I am because it’s still early in my career.  It’s about learning and I have a lot of learning to do, so every single rep that I get is going to be vital for my success in the future.  [Marty Mornhinweg is] going to evaluate me and he has been doing so already every single day in practice and it’s only going to get better for me because I get to become more comfortable and just get more snaps in the game in live action and that helps out a lot.”

It’s looking like Smith will indeed get a chance to prove in the third preseason game that he should start the regular-season opener.  While he declined to apply a percentage to his health, he said he could play if the game were tomorrow.

Soon enough, we’ll find out if the team’s presumed quarterback of tomorrow ends up being the starter of today.

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Eagles still waiting for Kenny Phillips to show he deserves a job

Phillips AP

It was regarded as a coup of sorts when the Eagles lured safety Kenny Phillips away from the Giants via free agency.  But Phillips may be back with the Giants soon — or one of the other 30 teams.

As recently explained by Geoff Mosher of, Phillips faces the possibility of being cut, due in large part to a quad strain that has kept Phillips out of action since August 11.  Though he plans to be back on the field Tuesday, Nate Allen and rookie Earl Wolff have taken over the starting job earmarked for the 2008 first-round pick.

“I’m just hoping to get out there as soon as possible,” Phillips said.

Mosher writes that there’s no guarantee Phillips will even make the final 53-man roster.  And Phillips seems to realize that.

“You have to compete day-to-day, but this is a new team, new coaches.  They want to see what you can do,” Phillips said.  “Being on the sideline doesn’t help the cause.”

Phillips says his quad injury is unrelated to knee problems that have plagued his career.  Regardless of the specific problem, an inability to practice and play could get Phillips cut.  But if he can get and stay healthy, Phillips could be in the starting lineup.

It’s a wide range of outcomes for a guy who, when 100 percent, can cover a wide range of ground in the secondary.

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Ed Dickson returns to practice

Ed Dickson AP

The Ravens are getting healthier.

It looks like they will have cornerback Lardarius Webb and guard Marshal Yanda back in the lineup for this week’s preseason game against the Panthers and now the team has announced that tight end Ed Dickson has returned to practice. Dickson has missed the last couple of weeks with a hamstring injury and he was limited in practice on Monday, but it’s progress toward having him in the lineup once the regular season gets underway.

Should Dickson’s health hold upon his return to the field, the Ravens will have some decisions to make at tight end as they put together their final roster. Coach John Harbaugh said last week that the team was still holding out hope that Dennis Pitta would return at some point during the season and the team has signed Visanthe Shiancoe and Dallas Clark to give them other options at the position in the wake of the injuries to their top two returning tight ends.

That’s not a far better problem to have than replacing both Dickson and Pitta, though, and one that the Ravens will likely be glad to make as a result.

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Vernon Davis: Jenkins has to change approach

A.J. Jenkins AP

Even though the 49ers admitted an expensive mistake by trading former first-rounder A.J. Jenkins to the Chiefs, there are still people in the organization who think the second-year wide receiver can become something.

Tight end Vernon Davis had supported Jenkins before he was given away (in exchange for Chiefs draft bust Jon Baldwin), and said the trade could serve as a wake-up call.

Maybe take his approach toward the game up a notch,” Davis said when asked what Jenkins should do differently in Kansas City, via Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. “I think that be some he can benefit from. Just take his approach up a little bit more. Go above and beyond being a professional. . . .

“Not on the field. Not his game. I’m just talking away from the game. As far as studying habits — I think he had good study habits when he was here. Studying, being a professional, trying to help himself as well as helping other guys, the younger guys that come in. And just owning his position, embracing it and just going to the next level.

“If he really wants it inside his heart, it will work out for him. It will pay dividends.”

Jenkins has a chance now with a team that didn’t overdraft him by many rounds, and that fresh start could benefit him. But if he doesn’t take the second chance for what it is, the Chiefs’ investment isn’t such that they have to keep giving him more opportunities.

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Kubiak still confident Foster will be back on time

Arian Foster AP

The Texans keep expecting running back Arian Foster to come back at a certain time, and he keeps not coming back.

But coach Gary Kubiak said he’s still confident that Foster would be ready for the regular season opener, despite the fact he hasn’t been activated from the PUP list or taken a snap this preseason.

I am, because I watch him work,” Kubiak said, via Brian Smith of the Houston Chronicle. “I’ve been watching him — he’s basically going through practice or has been since we’ve been in camp on his own with [head trainer] Geoff [Kaplan]. And, obviously, there’s been a little setback as we try to get the soreness out of him. But from what I’ve seen, yes, because it’s not like he’s been standing around for the last three weeks.”

Asked if he had a new date for Foster’s return from calf and back issues, and Kubiak said if he did, “I’d give it you.”

“[Monday] was my date and that one didn’t work,” Kubiak said. “So we’ll just have some patience here.”

If the regular season rolls around and Foster is well and able and performs the way he has in the past, there will be no reason for concern. Until then, it seems some of the offseason concerns about his condition might have been a bigger deal than he was willing to admit.

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Broncos lose Stewart Bradley for several weeks after wrist surgery

Denver Broncos v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

The Broncos are still waiting to hear how long they will be without linebacker Von Miller this season, but their concerns at the position don’t end there.

Mike Klis of the Denver Post reports that Stewart Bradley, who has been playing with the first team at middle linebacker, will miss several weeks after having wrist surgery. It’s not known what injury the surgery was intended to repair, but it will lead to more shuffling at linebacker for the Broncos.

According to Klis, Wesley Woodyard will move from the weak side to the middle while Danny Trevathan will move from his nickel role to the starting lineup in Woodyard’s place. Miller will start on the strong side of the defense when he’s available with Nate Irving and Shaun Phillips on hand to take his place when and if Miller’s suspension officially gets handed down by the league.

Bradley’s loss is obviously not as significant as losing Miller, but it’s part of a growing number of injuries that could hinder the Broncos early in the season. Cornerback Champ Bailey is expected to be out for a while after injuring his foot over the weekend and defensive end Derek Wolfe suffered a scary looking neck injury during the game against the Seahawks, although he was able to travel home with the team on Saturday night.

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Ex-Rams G.M. says all Alex Barron likes about football is getting paid

Alex Barron AP

In 2010, former Rams General Manager Billy Devaney traded away Alex Barron, an offensive tackle who had been a first-round draft pick of the previous regime. Devaney didn’t think much of Barron at the time, and he doesn’t think much of him now.

Discussing Barron today on ESPN, Devaney said that Barron doesn’t care about football and only plays because he wants to get paid.

“He’s got the skill to play. He does not have the heart to play football. He does not like anything about the game except getting paid,” Devaney said of Barron, who is currently the starting left tackle for the Raiders.

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with doing a job just for the money — a whole lot of people reading this are doing so at a job they go to only for the money — but when NFL teams are evaluating players, they usually want players who love football, under the reasonable assumption that a player who loves the game is going to work harder at it than a player who’s just doing it to get paid.

Barron has more than $10 million in his NFL career. So if he’s only playing for the money, at least he made a lot of it.

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Vikings release cornerback Jacob Lacey

Danny Amendola, Jacob Lacey AP

The Vikings announced the release of cornerback Jacob Lacey on Monday.

The 26-year-old Lacey has started at least eight games in each of his first four NFL seasons. He recently had minor knee surgery.

Lacey (5-10, 183)  signed with the Vikings in April. He has recorded 257 tackles, defended 25 passes and hauled in six interceptions in his pro career, which began with Indianapolis in 2009.

Lacey notched 36 tackles and intercepted one pass for Detroit in 11 games in 2012.

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Lions release Mike Thomas

Jaiquawn Jarrett, Mike Thomas AP

The Lions have been looking for consistent receiving threats to match with Calvin Johnson for a while now, but Mike Thomas won’t be the answer to their search.

Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports that Detroit released the veteran wideout. The Lions acquired Thomas in a trade with the Jaguars before the trade deadline last year and he had five catches for 28 yards in nine games with the team.

The decision to cut bait on Thomas doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Reports out of Detroit had Thomas struggling badly early in camp, which started the slide toward Monday’s news.

Thomas was a relatively productive slot target for the Jaguars in 2010, when he caught 66 passes for 820 yards and four touchdowns, but that year looks like an outlier next to his middling production in his other four years as a professional. He’s just 26, so there may be another shot with another team but Thomas will have to rediscover that old level of productivity to significantly increase his time in the NFL.

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Report: Not realistic for Rob Gronkowski to play Week One

New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

The Patriots are getting closer to making a decision on tight end Rob Gronkowski’s roster status for the start of the regular season and a report from Adam Schefter of ESPN adds to the intrigue about that choice.

Schefter quotes a source saying that it is “not realistic” to expect Gronkowski, who is recovering from surgeries on his back and forearm, to play against the Bills in Week One. There’s no word on what his status would be for the following weeks, but he’d have to be considered questionable at best if he’s not healthy enough to join the team on the field against Buffalo.

The Patriots will have to decide whether Gronkowski will remain on the 53-man roster or if they will leave him on the physically unable to perform list into the regular season. Doing so would mean Gronkowski misses at least the first six weeks of practice and games, but it would free up a roster spot for the Patriots to use on a player who is healthy enough to contribute right away.

There’s almost two full weeks for the Patriots to make that decision so there’s time for Gronkowski to show enough improvement that the call about the PUP list becomes a moot one. Right now, though, it has to be considered a realistic possibility in New England, perhaps even more realistic than his chances of playing all 16 games this season.

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Darrelle Revis says he took a huge step forward on Monday

Darrelle Revis AP

You can check off another box on Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis‘ checklist for a complete recovery from a torn ACL.

Revis took part in full speed team drills on Monday, lining up across from wide receiver Vincent Jackson in man coverage and letting it all hang out. Revis said after practice that his knee felt great and that he thinks it was a major step toward being in the lineup when the Bucs face his old teammates from the Jets in the first week of the regular season.

“I think this was a huge step today, just getting out there and running, getting the calls, up-tempo type of stuff I was doing,” Revis said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “So it was a huge step for me and it was a huge day for just being out there and moving around and not having any problems, nothing, no soreness after practice or swelling. So it was a huge step for me.”

When discussing Revis’ next step last week, coach Greg Schiano said he didn’t need to see Revis play in any preseason games but he’d listen if Revis lobbied to get on the field before the end of the exhibition schedule. Revis said Monday that his goal was to play all 16 weeks in the regular season and that he was focused on doing whatever he can to avoid setbacks between now and that game against the Jets.

Based on that answer, we’d guess that Revis won’t be playing in August since all the signs for him playing in September look good right now.

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Jaguars release Mohamed Massaquoi, Jason Spitz

Mohamed Massaquoi, Tony Sorrentino AP

As the preseason starts to wind down, more and more notable names will be pared from rosters.

The Jaguars released two players with multiple years of NFL starting experience on Monday, letting go of wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi and offensive lineman Jason Spitz, John Oehser of reported.

Massaquoi, 26, signed with the Jaguars in the spring after four seasons with the Browns. He started 43 games for Cleveland, catching 118 passes for 1,745 yards and seven touchdowns.

The 30-year-old Spitz has 45 career starts, all with the Packers, for whom he played from 2006 through 2010. Spitz appeared in 10 games as a reserve for Jacksonville in 2011. He missed the 2012 season with a foot injury.

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MRI on knee clear for Coby Fleener; Dwayne Allen will return to practice

Coby Fleener AP

The Colts have been dealing with a variety of injury concerns at tight end this summer, but there’s good news on two fronts for them on Monday.

Mike Wells of reports that tight end Dwayne Allen will start taking “monitored reps” at practice for the team this week. Allen recently shed the boot he was wearing to protect his injured foot and this week’s work will be the next step in getting him ready for the start of the regular season. Allen probably won’t play in any preseason games, but that’s a price the Colts will be more than willing to pay if it means he’s in the lineup when the games count.

Wells also reports that Coby Fleener, the other tight end the Colts drafted and made good use of last season, got a positive medical report after an MRI on the knee he injured against the Colts on Sunday night turned up no structural damage. He’s expected to miss a few days, which should also keep him on track to play in the opener.

Given Fleener’s previous concussion, the Colts will surely hope that this is the last round of medical news involving their tight ends for a while. The Colts offense gives Allen and Fleener plenty to do and it will work better for all involved if they’re actually around to do it.

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Bruce Arians: Ryan Williams probably out for third preseason game

Philadelphia Eagles v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

Cardinals running back Ryan Williams is running out of opportunities to show a new coaching staff what he can do before it has to start trimming the roster.

Williams, who has missed most of training camp and both exhibition games with a knee injury, is not expected to play in Saturday’s preseason game vs. San Diego, head coach Bruce Arians said Monday, according to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic.

According to Somers, Arians indicated that Williams needs to return to the field.

If Williams can’t play Saturday, this could set up an “all-in” scenario of sorts for the third-year running back in the final preseason game at Denver on August 29 — assuming he’s still on the roster.  The Cardinals must pare down their roster to 75 players two days before the preseason finale. If Williams is in the mix for a reserve spot, his play in that final preseason game could be key.

A 2011 second-round pick, Williams missed all of his rookie season with a knee injury and most of the 2012 campaign with a shoulder injury.

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Jets still expect Mike Goodson to report

Mike Goodson AP

The Jets haven’t said much about running back Mike Goodson since placing him on the reserve-did not report list at the start of training camp which led plenty of people to assume that Goodson wouldn’t wind up playing for the Jets at all.

General Manager John Idzik said otherwise during an appearance on WFAN in New York on Monday. Idzik was asked if he thought Goodson, who is facing gun and drug charges from a May arrest and whose reasons for no-showing at camp have gone undocumented thus far, would join the team this season.

“Yes, I would expect him,” Idzik said, via Rich Cimini of

Idzik offered no timeframe or other information about when Goodson might make his long awaited return to the Jets, who have Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell currently occupying the top two spots on the depth chart. Joe McKnight’s summer has been a total disaster, however, and that could explain why the team’s leaving the light on for Goodson despite his self-imposed exile from the team during training camp.

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Belichick says Tebow is “definitely” improving

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New England Patriots Getty Images

If you watched Friday night’s Patriots game from your couch, you had more passing yards than Tim Tebow.

But Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he’s still seeing progress from his third-stringer, who was 1-of-7 for minus-1 yards passing against the Buccaneers.

Oh yeah, definitely,” Belichick replied to a question about whether Tebow was moving in the right direction, via Mike Reiss of

“I think if you look at the entire week last week, it would look different than the game did,” Belichick added. “In some cases, the game looked better for some players, and in some cases the game didn’t look as good as some other things during the week. So we’ll just have to take all that into consideration.”

Belichick stressed that Tebow can be viewed differently because he’s a different kind of quarterback. He’s not a polished dropback passer (or even a good one), but there are apparently things there they think are worth investing time in.

“I think the passing game is still the passing game,” Belichick said. “But all players have different skill sets. Some guys do some things better than others. You have to look at the total package and what they’re able to do in all areas of the game. I think we see a lot of good quarterbacks in the NFL, they aren’t all maybe the best passers but their ability to run and pass, and make plays however they make them, . . . makes them a high-level player.

“I don’t think there is one specific style you have to have, or don’t have to have. In the end, it’s about production and being able to do enough things to be successful.”

Whether they’re interested in spending the time to create that kind of environment for Tebow remains to be seen. But it’s obvious to even a non-expert that expecting him to run the same kind of offense as Tom Brady (or even Ryan Mallett) is a waste of effort for everyone involved.

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Stevie Johnson says he’s playing this week

Stevie Johnson AP

Quarterback E.J. Manuel’s knee surgery means that the Bills may have to roll with Kevin Kolb as their starting quarterback come the first week of the regular season, but whoever they wind up starting will surely benefit from having wide receiver Stevie Johnson in the lineup.

Johnson has been sidelined by a hamstring injury for much of camp and he’s missed the first two preseason games, but his condition has improved enough that he said Monday that he will be in the lineup for Saturday’s game against the Redskins.

“I’ll be out there,” Johnson said, via Chris Brown of the Bills website. “I’ll be out there we’ll see how I feel game speed when everything changes a little bit. The twitches are a little bit faster. I’ll be out there to see how it is and then we’ll be rolling after that.”

Johnson isn’t totally healed. He said that he still feels the hamstring on “almost every play,” but that it isn’t standing in the way of ramping things up this week in order to get back on the field. Assuming things don’t get any worse in the process, it seems like it is all systems go for the start of the regular season for Buffalo’s top receiver.

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Titans activate Delanie Walker from PUP list

Delanie Walker AP

When tight end Delanie Walker signed with the Titans as a free agent, the team talked about the big plans they had for him in their offense this season.

They haven’t had much of a chance to implement those plans as Walker has been dealing with a knee problem that required him to undergo a scope shortly before the start of training camp. That led to a spot on the PUP list and a frustrating summer of watching practice for Walker.

Monday brought an end to the status quo. The Titans announced that Walker has been activated for PUP, which means he can start practicing and playing in preseason games. It’s unclear if Walker will be able to play in either of the two exhibitions left on Tennessee’s schedule after spending so much time on the shelf, but the fact that it is a possibility is a step in the right direction for both team and player.

Walker had 21 catches for 344 yards and three touchdowns as a complement for Vernon Davis with the 49ers last season.

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