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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 Jaguars.com 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 ESPN.com 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 ESPNNewYork.com.

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 ESPNBoston.com.

“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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Carl Nicks out indefinitely with infected blister on toe

Carl Nicks AP

Earlier this summer, Buccaneers guard Carl Nicks said that the toe injury that cost him the second half of last season was one that he would have to deal with his whole life.

The implication was that Nicks and the Bucs would have to manage his workload as a result of the injury in order to keep Nicks on the field, but they’ll need to get him back on the field first. Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano announced at his press conference Monday that Nicks is out indefinitely as a result of an blister on his toes that got infected. Nicks is currently being treated by doctors, but the only sense that Schiano offered in terms of a timeframe was that playing in Week One is a realistic possibility.

While it’s not the same injury that kept Nicks out last season, it’s hardly a positive development for a player who already has enough on his plate when it comes to foot injuries.

One of the biggest reasons to expect a better offensive performance for the Bucs this season was that they would have Nicks and Davin Joseph back as their starting guards after both missed major amounts of time last season. Joseph has started ramping up his workload after the torn patellar tendon that sidelined him all last season, but Nicks’ toe issue is one that’s making it hard to count on him for 16 games this season.

 

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Saints cut Seneca Wallace

Seneca Wallace AP

A lousy preseason game has led the Saints to decide they no longer need the services of backup quarterback Seneca Wallace.

Wallace, who threw an interception and lost a fumble during his brief appearance in last week’s preseason game against the Raiders, has been released, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

The 33-year-old Wallace was an excellent college player at Iowa State but has never done much as an NFL quarterback. It’s entirely possible that the game against the Raiders will turn out to be the last time he wears an NFL uniform.

The Saints now have veteran Luke McCown and undrafted rookie Ryan Griffin on the depth chart behind Drew Brees.

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Chiefs, 49ers swap disappointing draft picks

A.J. Jenkins AP

The Chiefs were tired of waiting on Jon Baldwin, and the 49ers were tired of waiting on A.J. Jenkins.

So naturally, they traded their problems for one another.

The Chiefs announced the deal of former first-round wide receivers, with the 49ers getting the 26th overall pick in the 2011 Draft for the 30th overall pick in the 2012 Draft.

It was becoming clear that the 49ers were souring on Jenkins of late (he had one catch in the preseason, and fumbled it), and both teams are banking on the fresh start being worth something.

Baldwin was also in the doghouse for his inability to catch the football, which remains one of the prerequisites for his job.

While the new Chiefs administration didn’t draft Baldwin, giving up on Jenkins is a painful admission for the 49ers, and a reminder that in the NFL, smart guys miss too.

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Six-game suspension suggests multiple violations for Von Miller

Von Miller AP

On the Von Miller suspension front, the news is even worse than expected for the Denver Broncos, as Miller appears to be facing a six-game suspension, rather than the four-game suspension that was reported last month.

The news also suggests that Miller and the league are engaged in a negotiation to find some middle ground between the ordinary substance-abuse suspensions of four games (for a first suspension) or a full year (for a second suspension). If the NFL intends to suspend Miller for more than four games, then the NFL must be contending that Miller did something more than just the violation that triggered the initial reports of a four-game suspension.

Previous reports indicated that Miller was in the process of appealing the ordinary four-game suspension, but according to Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen of ESPN, Miller is actually probably going to be suspended for at least six games.

So why would the previously reported four-game suspension now be bumped up to six games? One possibility is that there has been some other violation since word leaked out last month about Miller facing a four-game suspension.

Another possibility is that Miller’s violations were an attempt to cheat the league’s drug-testing system. For instance, Miller’s former teammate D.J. Williams was suspended six games last year after the league said he twice provided a substance other than human urine for his drug tests, then was seen attempting to pour something from a bottle hidden in his waist band into his urine sample. A report surfaced in late July that Miller had never actually tested positive for anything, but as Williams found out, you can be suspended for six games without testing positive for anything if the league thinks you tried to cheat the system.

Word surfaced last week that Miller had been arrested, but it seems highly unlikely that the suspension has anything to do with that: Miller’s arrest was for a failure to appear in court on a traffic violation, and that’s not the type of thing that gets players suspended for a first offense of the personal-conduct policy.

The NFL and Miller have been mum about what Miller actually did to violate the league’s substance-abuse policy. But it appears that the NFL is accusing Miller of going beyond the ordinary substance-abuse violations that typically trigger a four-game suspension.

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Andy Reid on Jon Baldwin: You have to catch the football

Jon Baldwin AP

Over his first two seasons with the Chiefs, wide receiver Jon Baldwin has failed to live up to the potential that made him a first-round pick for the team in 2011.

Baldwin has caught just 41 passes over his first two seasons and hopes that he would turn things around with a new coaching staff haven’t amounted to much at this point. Baldwin still looks the part of a pro receiver, but he hasn’t shown any more of an ability to turn his athletic ability into productive plays for the Chiefs offense. Baldwin had a terrible drop against the 49ers last week and coach Andy Reid made it clear that Baldwin has to stop doing that.

“We gave him the opportunity this week and you have to catch the football,” Reid said, via Bill Williamson of ESPN.com. “That’s how it works, and he knows that and I know that. When we give you an opportunity, you have to make sure you take advantage of the opportunity. … He needs to keep playing, and [when] given the opportunity, he needs to take advantage of it.”

There’s nothing particularly scathing about that assessment. It’s just an honest description of what wide receivers have to do if they want to continue working in the NFL, as is offensive coordinator Doug Pederson’s lament that “you don’t know what you will get out of” Baldwin when you throw the ball to him.

Kansas City doesn’t have so much talent at wide receiver that writing off Baldwin would be no big deal. The team would really benefit if he could step up his game, but the rope won’t be endless for a player who hasn’t shown much at all to this point in his career.

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