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Report: Von Miller suspension “at least” six games

Von Miller AP

Broncos linebacker Von Miller said last week he was “confident” of winning his appeal, but he apparently shouldn’t have been.

According to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, Miller’s suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy will be “at least six games,” though he’s still trying to negotiate it down to four.

If that holds, Miller would miss games against the Ravens, Giants, Raiders, Eagles, Cowboys and Jaguars, and put his team in a significant bind.

They were already struggling to replace the pass-rush lost in the Elvis Dumervil fax-gate, and now have to figure out how to get to the passer without their best player for 37.5 percent of the season.

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Lance Dunbar may miss Cowboys opener with sprained foot

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Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray hasn’t had much luck staying healthy during his first two NFL seasons, making the need for a quality second option in the backfield a fairly important one in Dallas.

Lance Dunbar has shown some signs of being just that in the preseason. He’s run eight times for 45 yards and caught six passes for 83 yards during a preseason that’s been marred only by a fumble at the tail end of a long catch-and-run against the Cardinals on Saturday. Dunbar’s status for the rest of the preseason and the start of the regular season is up in the air now, though.

Dunbar has a sprained left foot and is wearing a protective boot to protect it. Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com reports that Dunbar could be out for three or four weeks, a timetable that puts the first couple of weeks of the season in doubt while also costing Dunbar time to work with the team in a third-down back as they rehearse for the regular season in their third preseason game.

Fifth-round pick Joseph Randle will likely move up to the No. 2 spot on the depth chart with Dunbar out. Randle has not been particularly impressive in the preseason, but it appears he’ll get a chance to make a stronger impression in the next few weeks.

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Gabbert out for preseason, will start regular season

Jacksonville Jaguars v New York Jets Getty Images

The competition is over in Jacksonville.

Jaguars coach Gus Bradley told reporters Monday that Blaine Gabbert would start the regular season opener, officially ending the contest with Chad Henne.

Gabbert’s coming off his best performance in some time in Saturday’s preseason game against the Jets, a 13-of-16 performance that ended with a  thumb injury.

Bradley said it was actually a hairline fracture, which would keep Gabbert out of the next two preseason games, but “it could have been a lot worse.” He won’t need surgery to repair the damage, and should be ready in two weeks.

Realistically, this was the choice the Jaguars had to make all along. While Gabbert’s done little to inspire confidence in two years, he was a first-round pick, and the Jags needed to find out once and for all if he can play. If he can’t, he’ll have the chance to prove that this year, and they can move on.

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Idzik says Santonio “getting close” to return

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Take it with a grain of salt, or a gulp of milk, but it appears Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes might be getting closer to returning to the field.

Jets General Manager John Idzik told WFAN this morning “Hopefully, we’re getting close,” when asked about Holmes, according to Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com.

Holmes was running and cutting during pre-game warmups Saturday, but he hasn’t practiced since his Lisfranc injury early last season.

Idzik said during the interview that Holmes was running on grass, and showing “functional movement.”

Getting him back would be a significant step toward turning the Jets into a functional offense, as well.

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Coughlin on unsportsmanlike conduct penalty: “I was wrong”

Indianapolis Colts v New York Giants Getty Images

Giants coach Tom Coughlin was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct late in the first half of Sunday night’s preseason game, and although Coughlin yelled at referee Ed Hochuli on his way into the locker room at halftime, Coughlin admitted after the game that the penalty was his own fault.

The flag came because Coughlin left the bench area to get the officials’ attention to let them know that he wanted to call a timeout. Coughlin says he knows the officials have been instructed not to allow coaches to run onto the field.

“I’m taking full responsibility for that, I was wrong,” Coughlin said. “I was out on the field too many times. They warned me about that, but in that situation, you’re told by the officials to go ahead and come down if you need to take a timeout when the clock is running out, but that didn’t happen.”

Former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira said that coaches leaving the bench area is a point of emphasis this season, so Coughlin won’t be the last coach to get such a flag. At least Coughlin learned his lesson in the preseason, not the regular season.

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Jamaal Charles not sure if he’ll play this week

Chiefs Camp football AP

Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles isn’t sure when he’ll return to the starting lineup after straining his right foot last week.

In fact, he’s not even sure if his foot is bothering him anymore, or if it’s something else.

“Playing in the NFL you get weird injuries,” Charles said, via Adam Teicher of the Kansas City Star. “This is one of the weird injuries I’ve had. It started in my foot and it travelled all the way to the top of my foot and now it’s stuck in the middle of my right leg.

“I’m getting my treatment so I can be right.”

Charles practiced Sunday, and there’s a chance he plays Saturday against the Steelers, depending on how this week goes.

“I told [trainer Rick Burkholder] that I can’t just be waiting and waiting and waiting,” said Charles, who injured his foot in practice last Monday. “I’ve got to get the reps and continue to see how I feel, whether it’s getting better or worse.”

While the temptation to get him back on the field is real, considering all the new parts around him, they need to make sure he’s healed from whatever’s bothering him first.

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Adam Jones’ assault trial continued, no new date set

BenJarvus Green-Ellis AP

Bengals cornerback Adam Jones was supposed to stand trial on assault charges Monday, but the day at the courtroom ended before it started.

Kimball Perry of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the case was continued until a later date. That date is unknown but Perry “bet” that the new date would be after the end of the football season.

Jones was facing charges related to a June incident at a bar in Cincinnati. Jones has been accused of assaulting a 34-year-old woman in an incident that was caught on video. Jones has argued that he was protecting himself from the woman, who appeared to stick something in Jones’ face before he struck her.

Jones could face discipline from the league under the personal conduct policy as a result of the incident, although any league action may wait until the legal system sorts out whether Jones was guilty of anything more than not walking away from a situation that he probably should have before it escalated to the point of criminal charges.

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Packers backup quarterbacks improve in second preseason effort

Harrell Getty Images

Last week, we pointed out that the trio of quarterbacks playing behind Packers starter Aaron Rodgers didn’t look too good in the preseason opener.

This week, it got a little better.

Graham Harrell, last year’s backup, entered the game against the Rams first after Rodgers.  Harrell completed five of 10 passes for 44 yards.

Per ESPNWisconsin.com, the numbers would have been better if tight end D.J. Williams hadn’t dropped a “perfectly placed pass” in the seam.  Harrell also overthrew a screen pass to Jonathan Franklin and failed to spot Williams “streaking wide open” on another play.

“We did some good things,” Harrell said after the game, via ESPNWisconsin.com.  “We moved the ball all three drives, we did some good things, but we’ve got to finish the drives.  I think we improved definitely as a unit and put some points on the board.  We just had some costly mistakes end some drives and that’s the way it goes sometimes.  Overall, I think we improved and did some good things. We just have to work on finishing drives.”

Next up was Vince Young, who completed five of nine passes for 26 yards and a seven-yard run.  Then came B.J. Coleman, who has gone from potential No. 2 to forgotten man.  Coleman led the Packers on a 13-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by a nine-yard touchdown throw to tight end Jake Stoneburner.   For the night, Coleman completed eight of 13 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown.

If someone is going to emerge as the man who would be one injury to Aaron Rodgers away from playing, now is the time for that to happen.

“This is the time that the individual that’s going to be the guy in that particular position or personnel grouping, they need to jump forward,” coach Mike McCarthy.  “It’s time for guys to jump forward.  This is what usually happens in the second preseason week or the third preseason week, and that’s what you look for.”

The Packers are looking for a reliable understudy to Rodgers.  With 51 sacks last year and a left tackle already gone for the year with a torn ACL, it’s important that they find someone who can play the position.

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2011 fourth-round pick Christian Ballard leaves Vikings for personal reasons

Christian Ballard AP

Defensive tackle Christian Ballard had a sack in the team’s preseason opener against the Texans, but was later pulled from the game with a groin injury that’s kept him out of practice over the last week.

Ballard, a fourth-round pick in 2011, won’t be returning to practice this week either. Coach Leslie Frazier announced after Sunday’s practice that Ballard has been placed on the active-left squad list after informing the team that he would be taking time away to deal with some personal issues.

“[Ballard] is one of those guys we were counting on to be a part in our rotation,” Frazier said, via 1500ESPN.com. “He did a very good job for us a season ago, we’re hoping he would help us this year as well. Hopefully, things work out for him. But he has some personal things he has to take care of.”

As Frazier intimated, Ballard was expected to make the team this year but Fred Evans and 2012 first-round pick Sharrif Floyd are now positioned to be the top reserves at tackle behind Kevin Williams and Letroy Guion. If Ballard’s absence is a short one, he may be able to hold onto his spot but the odds are probably against it given how close we are to the start of the regular season.

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Ravens could get Webb, Yanda back Thursday

Marshal Yanda AP

The Ravens have lost some key parts to injury this preseason, but they’re about to get a pair of players back on the field after extended absences.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the Ravens could have both cornerback Lardarius Webb and guard Marshal Yanda back in the lineup Thursday night against the Panthers.

“I don’t want to say anything until we get through a couple of more days of practice, but it would be nice to get those guys out there,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said, adding that there was a “good chance,” that would be the case.

Webb tore his ACL last October, and has been practicing on a limited basis. Yanda had offseason rotator cuff surgery.

“I just need the timing of the game, my footwork, my timing of my punch, just stuff like that,” Yanda said. “My shoulder feels good. It’s coming along. I’m a little rusty, but [I’m] going to be. I haven’t had the pads on since February. It’s good though. I’m just working every day just like everybody else.”

Getting Yanda back on the field should lend some stability to a line that needs to be solid, since the Ravens are still looking for answers in the passing game.

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Norv Turner: I’m excited about what Brandon Weeden has been able to do

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Browns coach Rob Chudzinski continues to maintain that the Browns don’t have a starting quarterback, but offensive coordinator Norv Turner is the latest to make it clear that Brandon Weeden is the man for the Cleveland offense.

While Turner said that he thinks Chudzinski was being honest and sticking with the plan put in place this offseason when he said that there was a close competition between Weeden and Jason Campbell, who hasn’t taken snaps with the first team, he spent much more time raving about Weeden’s play so far in the preseason. Turner has seen improved accuracy and footwork from Weeden and says that he doesn’t “see any of the negatives” when watching the quarterback.

“I’m excited about what Brandon’s been able to do,” Turner said at a Sunday press conference. “The thing that we’ve spent a lot of time working on is trying to find out the things that he does best, and combine them with the things our players do best. And a lot of the things that we do on the practice field, it’s not experimental, but there’s a process you go through to get everyone on the same page. Hopefully when we get everyone in the games, we feature all the things that our guys do best. Through the preseason action that Brandon’s had, we’ve been able to do that. And we’ve had a lot of guys playing well. He’s taken advantage of the way they’ve been playing.”

Weeden is 18-of-25 for 229 yards with three TDs and no interceptions in his six series of work so far in the preseason, numbers that will certainly go down come the regular season even if it is looking almost as certain that the Chudzinski/Turner hires have jumpstarted Weeden in the right direction in his second NFL season.

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Eagles are getting closer to making quarterback determination

Kelly Getty Images

The Eagles haven’t said which of their two starting-caliber quarterbacks will start the third preseason game, coming up on Saturday against the Jaguars.  But coach Chip Kelly has said that, on Monday, the coaching staff will determine the rotation for the next game.

With the third preseason game widely considered to be the dress rehearsal for the regular-season opener, the decision as to whether Mike Vick or Nick Foles will start against the Jaguars will go a long way toward letting everyone know whether Vick or Foles will start against the Redskins.

With the signs pointing to Vick gaining separation, Foles nevertheless thinks he still can win the job.

I’m going to keep working,” Foles said, via Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer.  “My mindset stays the same.  My work ethic stays the same.  My ultimate goal, always, is to play.  Not going to change anything.”
Foles said the quarterbacks split the reps in Sunday’s closed practice session.  On Saturday, the bulk of the first-team reps went to Vick.
And while it appears that Kelly is considering the possibility of using both guys interchangeably this season, a source with knowledge of Kelly’s approach at Oregon explains that the head coach is doing the same thing he did in 2010 and 2012 while at Eugene.
Both years, the competition continued until the week before the first game.  Then, when Kelly named a starter, he stuck with the guy all year.
In this case, there’s a chance Kelly wouldn’t have a choice to stick with Vick, if/when Vick gets injured.  (Again.)  But if history repeats itself in Philly, either Vick or Foles will enter Week One as the clear-cut No. 1, without having to look over his shoulder.
Unless, of course, he plays poorly enough to prompt Kelly to consider making a change.
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Bills release Rian Lindell

Rian LIndell AP

When the Dolphins cut kicker Dan Carpenter last week, we pointed out that teams don’t tend to use draft choices on kickers if they aren’t going to give them a roster spot come the regular season.

It’s second verse same as the first in Buffalo on Monday with the Bills joining their AFC East rivals by moving on from a veteran kicker to hand the job to a rookie. The Bills announced that they have released longtime kicker Rian Lindell, clearing the way for sixth-round pick Dustin Hopkins to take over the job.

Lindell spent the last 10 years doing the placekicking for the Bills, making him the longest-tenured player on the roster this summer right up until the point that the guillotine fell on Monday morning. Lindell made just over 83 percent of his field goals over that period of time and held off a challenge from another draft pick, John Potter, last season before finally getting replaced by a younger model this year.

Lindell’s name will likely pop up on the same lists as Carpenter’s when teams look to make a change at kicker in the weeks and months to come.

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David Baas sprained his MCL and Justin Tuck strained his hamstring

Justin Tuck AP

The good news for Giants defensive end Justin Tuck is that he looked active during his first preseason action of the summer after missing the opener because of back problems.

The bad news is that he ended the night with another injury added to his collection. Tuck strained his hamstring during the loss to the Colts, which means he’s back in the familiar position of waiting for news from doctors about the severity of the injury and his availability for practice this week. Coach Tom Coughlin deemed it a “slight” strain after the game, but said the team would know more on Monday.

Tuck wasn’t the only oft-injured Giant to land back in the trainer’s room on Sunday night. Center David Baas left the game with a knee injury and multiple reports are calling it a sprained MCL. Coughlin offered no timeline or prognosis for Baas, who had several different surgeries during the offseason, after the game, but sprained MCLs typically require a  few weeks before they’re fully recovered.

A third frequent visitor to the Giants medical staff was able to make it through the game unscathed. Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks clicked well with Eli Manning in his own preseason debut while steering clear of any pulls, strains, sprains or other calamities that would put his ability to continue doing so at risk.

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Bradshaw blown away by video tribute from Giants

Bradshaw Getty Images

On Sunday night, Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw returned to MetLife Stadium for a preseason game against the only NFL team for which he’s ever played.  And while Bradshaw still hasn’t suited up for the Colts due to a foot injury, his former team made it a memorable night.

The Giants put together a video tribute to Bradshaw, who was a big part of a pair of Super Bowl-winning teams.  The video was played on the big board at the stadium.

“Oh man, that was awesome,” Bradshaw said after the game, via quotes distributed by the Colts.  “My heart just dropped when that happened.  It was just heartbreaking, man.  Six years being here and to come and see that, it’s heartbreaking.”

Bradshaw had no idea it was coming.

“I didn’t know,” Bradshaw said.  “It was surprising.  It was awesome.”

The return to his former home stadium otherwise wasn’t awesome.

“[V]ery weird,” Bradshaw said of the experience.  “Like I said, six years, my whole NFL career has been here.  To come from the opposite locker room, it’s something I never thought would come.”

Under the current scheduling formula, Bradshaw will get to do it again during the 2014 regular season.  That’s when the Colts are next due to visit MetLife Stadium for a game against the Giants.

Unless, of course, the Colts end up playing the Giants in Super Bowl XLVIII.

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