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Big blow for Steelers: Foote, Pouncey likely done for season

Maurkice Pouncey, Antonio Brown AP

The Steelers’ loss to the Titans today was ugly. The injury report was uglier.

After the game, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said doctors believe starting center Maurkice Pouncey suffered a torn ACL and MCL, and that starting linebacker Larry Foote suffered a ruptured bicep.

Although Tomlin said the doctors haven’t determined exactly how long Pouncey and Foote will be out, when asked whether those two injuries are season-ending, Tomlin answered, “I would assume so.”

That’s a huge blow for the Steelers, who will now have to scramble to find replacements for important players on both sides of the ball. On the field and on the injury front, no team had a worse Week One than the Steelers.

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Adrian Peterson misses a pair of practices

Peterson AP

The Vikings don’t plan to use running back Adrian Peterson much, if at all, during the preseason.  For the past two days, they haven’t used him at all during practice.

According to Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Peterson has missed practice the last two days due to an undisclosed personal matter.  He is expected to travel to Kansas City with the Vikings for the team’s third preseason game of 2014.

Peterson hasn’t touched the football during the preseason since 2011, when he had 14 carries for 81 yards during the third preseason game, against the Cowboys.

This year, the Vikings have their first new offense since 2011.  It could take some time for Peterson to get comfortable in the attack, given the absence of preseason reps.

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LeSean McCoy returns to sideline after having right thumb X-rayed

LeSean McCoy AP

Eagles tailback LeSean McCoy left the club’s sideline in the first quarter of Thursday’s exhibition vs. Pittsburgh to get X-rays on his right thumb, the club’s official Twitter feed said.

The club said McCoy’s return was “unknown.” He was not on the field when the Eagles got the ball back late in the first quarter.

Before going inside to get checked out, McCoy showed no ill-effects from a toe injury that’s bothered him, racking up 50 yards on six touches. On his final play before departing, McCoy turned a short reception into a 22-yard TD.

Now, the focus turns to whether he’s suffered a hand injury. Perhaps of note: he was able to palm the ball with his right hand as he celebrated in the endzone right after the touchdown.

UPDATE 8:25 p.m. ET: Here’s some promising news for Eagles fans: Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports McCoy is having his hand taped on the Eagles’ sideline. And according to Jeff Darlington of NFL Media, McCoy still is wearing his pads.

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Le’Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount both see action early for Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

As expected, the Steelers didn’t bench Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount for Thursday’s exhibition at Philadelphia after both were cited for marijuana possession.

In fact, Bell started and Blount played on the Steelers’ first drive. And it was an especially eventful drive for Bell, who rushed three times for 11 yards while dishing out and taking a good deal of punishment. While he showed excellent power finishing out a seven-yard run, he later took a hit to the head/neck area from Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans on a passing play.

Ryans was penalized on the play, and Bell left for one snap, giving way to Blount, who rushed for five yards on his first carry. However, Bell then re-entered the contest. The Steelers’ drive would end in a punt.

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Griffin stands by his “doubters” tweet

Griffin AP

Some folks conjure imaginary friends.  Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III has crafted some imaginary enemies.  On Wednesday, he chastised his unidentified — and possibly non-existent — “doubters” via Twitter.  On Thursday, Griffin dug in even deeper.

“As far as I’m concerned, I said what I needed to say,” Griffin said Thursday, via the Associated Press.  “It is what I believe, and what our household deems necessary to go out every day and be successful.”

Griffin added that he’ll continue to periodically communicate through Twitter, reasoning that his followers follow him for a reason.

“There are 1.1 million people on Twitter that want to hear what [I] have to say,” Griffin said, going scoreboard on his seven-figure collection of Twitter users who receive any and all of his tweets and retweets.  “And it’s not that we tweet all the time, but anytime we tweet something it gets blown up, but it is what it is.”

If Griffin has concocted a narrative that many doubt him in order to provide extra motivation for himself and his teammates, that’s fine.  The perception that he’s thin-skinned, however, will serve as chum in the Internet shark tank, inviting plenty of real doubt, hate, and vitriol to replace the exaggerated and/or fabricated collection of criticism that prompted his tweet.

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Chris Polk out for Eagles on Thursday night; Lance Moore expected to sit for Steelers

Chris Polk AP

The Eagles and Steelers will be several players short on Thursday night in Philadelphia.

Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin (hamstring), wide receiver Josh Huff (shoulder), linebacker Jake Knott (hamstring), tailback Chris Polk (hamstring), wide receiver Brad Smith (hamstring) and center Julian Vandervelde (back) will not play, the club’s website reported.

Polk, a second-year pro from Washington, is in a competition for a roster spot in a crowded RB corps.

The Steelers have announced the following players are not expected to play: wide receiver Lance Moore (undisclosed), tight end Eric Waters (concussion), center/offensive guard Cody Wallace (finger), long-snapper Greg Warren (knee), safety Will Allen (hamstring), running back Tauren Poole (hamstring), fullback Will Johnson (hamstring), wide receiver Shaquille Richardson (knee), linebacker Jordan Zumwalt (undisclosed).

UPDATE 6:51 p.m. ET: According to Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Eagles cornerback Cary Williams will also miss tonight’s game.

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Marrone mad after Bills brawl at practice for second straight day

Marrone Getty Images

Bills coach Doug Marrone said after fights broke out at Wednesday’s that he didn’t want to see that anymore. Apparently his players weren’t listening.

More fights broke out at today’s practice, and Marrone was not pleased. Marrone yelled at players for getting into it, and when defensive end Jerry Hughes said something back to his coach, Marrone went off, spewing profanity at Hughes and asking, “Do you want to play on this team?

Marrone also told Hughes, “If you’ve got a problem with me, you need to come and tell me.” The two talked after practice, and Marrone later said Hughes wasn’t the only one he was disappointed with.

“That’s directed at anyone who doesn’t want to be part of the team,” Marrone said. “I told Jerry that I love the way he practices and I love the way he plays special teams and how he goes about it. And we’ve got to get some other guys who are starters to do that.”

Some coaches believe that fights at training camp can be a good sign of a tough team, but Marrone doesn’t see it that way.

“I’m going to say it again, and I’m not going to answer another question on it: We’re responsible for the integrity of the game,” Marrone said, via ESPN. “Can you figure it out? Figure it out. We’re responsible for the integrity of the game. There is no use for fighting in the game of football. Period. End of discussion. Move on.”

Marrone sounds ready to move on from a fight-filled training camp, which concluded with today’s practice.

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Derek Carr won’t play this week

Derek Carr, George Johnson, Andre Fluellen AP

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr made a quick return to practice after suffering a concussion and rib injury during last weekend’s game against the Lions, but he hasn’t recovered enough for the team to play him against the Packers.

Steve Wyche of NFL Media reports that coach Dennis Allen said that Carr won’t play on Friday night because his bruised ribs are still sore. Allen added that Carr has been cleared after his concussion.

The injury likely eliminates what little chance Carr had of starting for the Raiders when they face the Jets in Week One. Barring an injury of his own, you can put Matt Schaub’s name into the lineup for that game.

His performance there and in the following weeks will determine how long it is before Carr gets his chance to lead the Raiders offense. If Schaub looks anything like he did with the Texans last season, it probably won’t be long.

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Report: Steelers want to sign Cortez Allen to new contract

Cortez Allen AP

The Steelers are reportedly efforting to sign one of their starting defensive backs to a contract extension.

According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the team wants to sign cornerback Cortez Allen to a new deal.

The 25-year-old Allen is in the final year of his contract. He has appeared in 44 games in three seasons with Pittsburgh, notching 121 tackles, defending 23 passes and recording four interceptions.

As a general rule, the Steelers don’t negotiate contracts during the regular season, so if Allen and Pittsburgh are to finalize a deal this year, it will have to be soon. Earlier this week, the club signed offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert to a five-year, $30 million contract.

The Steelers have long had a knack for signing their core players before they hit unrestricted free agency. Allen, who’s entering his prime, could draw quite a bit of interest next offseason, given his age and the demand for his position. But it appears Pittsburgh is working to strike a deal now.

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Le’Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount officially charged with marijuana possession

Le'Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount AP

Steelers running backs Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount are in Philadelphia to play the Eagles on Thursday, but they were in Pittsburgh on Wednesday when police found marijuana in a car the two men were in.

They were arrested and, on Thursday, formally charged with crimes. Ross Township Police detective Brian Kohlhepp informed PFT that Blount and Bell are both charged with marijuana possession, as was Mercedes Dollson, a 21-year-old woman who was also in the car at the time of the stop.

Bell, who was driving, has also been charged with driving under the influence of marijuana.

There’s no word on court dates at this point and the cases should take some time to make their way through the legal system. Until they do, it is unlikely that either player will face league discipline that could threaten their availability for games this season.

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Patriots cut TE D.J. Williams, DL Marcus Forston

D.J. Williams AP

The Patriots have made yet another roster move at the tight end position, announcing the release of D.J. Williams on Thursday.

A fourth-year pro from Arkansas, Williams appeared in two games for New England in the 2013 regular season. He has also played for Jacksonville (2013) and Green Bay (2011-2012).

The Packers selected the 25-year-old Williams in the fifth round in 2011. He reportedly has dealt with a leg injury of late.

The move leaves the Patriots with four tight ends.

The Patriots also announced the release of defensive lineman Marcus Forston, a second-year pro who played in three games for New England a season ago.

The Pats have three open roster spots.

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Ron Rivera wants Cam Newton to run, except he doesn’t

Cam Newton AP

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was able to survive his first game on a rebuilt left ankle, and even ran around a bit.

But as much as Panthers coach Ron Rivera holds his breath when Newton takes off, he also knows that that’s who Newton is, and when Newton’s at his best.

“I’m going to yell at him because I want him to get rid of the ball. But if he runs, he runs,” Rivera said, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. “He’s gotta do what he’s gotta do to protect himself. He’s gotta do what he’s gotta do to make plays. So if he runs, then I think it’s a great sign.”

Newton grinned and said he wasn’t much of a slider, but Rivera said his quarterback will need to adapt

“[Hornets owner] Michael Jordan used to go to the hole all the time and dunk,” Rivera said. “But if you ask Michael, he realized that later in his career, he had to develop that jumper. So he went work at it. Cam’s the same way. He needs to develop as a passer.

“In an interesting way, this may have been the best thing that happened to him in terms of his pure quarterbacking development. He’s had to stay in the pocket, he’s had to have good footwork, he’s had to step into his throws. I think this has been a plus for him.”

That and a suspect offensive line will keep Newton on the move this year, and time will tell if he’s ready to.

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Jamaal Charles returns to practice

Jamaal Charles AP

Running back Jamaal Charles missed last Sunday’s preseason game against the Panthers after suffering a foot injury while moving himself out of the dorm that the Chiefs were staying in during training camp and missed the first couple of practices this week as well, but his absence from the field came to an end on Thursday.

The only difference between his return to work and the days before his injury was that Charles was running the plays of the Vikings as a member of the scout team. Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton explained that the team didn’t want to take snaps away from players who would definitely be in the lineup on Saturday night, a group that doesn’t include Charles at the moment.

“It’s just a way for (Charles) to get work and not take away from guys that are definitely playing in this game,” Sutton said, via ESPN.com. “He gives us a good look in there. I’m glad to see him out there, period.”

Running back De’Anthony Thomas also returned to practice on Thursday, but safety Eric Berry and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe remained out and are unlikely to be in the lineup against Minnesota.

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Eric Weems returns to the Falcons

Eric+Weems+Minnesota+Vikings+v+Chicago+Bears+1iFgZQFXrA7l Getty Images

On the next Hard Knocks: A veteran receiver and special teams ace returns, and a youngster gets cut for the fifth time in his NFL career.

Eric Weems, a wide receiver and return man who played for the Falcons from 2007 to 2011, re-signed with Atlanta today. Weems was a Pro Bowl kick returner for the Falcons in 2010 and is also a solid player on kick coverage.

Weems spent the last two seasons with the Bears and wasn’t as much of a contributor, either on offense or special teams, in Chicago as he had been in Atlanta. The Falcons know what they’re getting in Weems, and they like what they’re getting.

To make room for Weems on the 90-man roster, the Falcons waived wide receiver Jabin Sambrano. Although Sambrano has never played in a regular-season game, he has bounced around the league long enough to get cut by the Buccaneers and Jaguars, and get cut by the Colts twice. Now he can add the Falcons to his list.

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Steelers finally will make heavy use of no-huddle, supposedly

Steelers AP

In recent years, the Steelers have been talking about using the no-huddle more frequently.  This year, perhaps they mean it.

In 2013, the Steelers indeed found the gas pedal after an 0-4 start, increasing the use of the no-huddle attack from (per Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) 6.5 percent of the time to 25 percent of the time.

We practice it all the time,” center Maurkice Pouncey said, via Robinson.  “When we’re in the no-huddle, guys are locked in and communicating at a high level. It’s been very, very good for us, and we’ve got to keep building on it.”

“It’s big for us,” receiver Antonio Brown said. “[It's] going to be a key for us this year to get things going fast and catch defenses off-balance and let Ben pick and read his reads, and it gives us the opportunity to play fast.”

In Thursday night’s dress rehearsal against the Eagles (a team that used the no-huddle extensively in 2013), the Steelers have a chance to experiment with the placement of the proverbial pedal to the metal.

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Jimmy Smith, Asa Jackson ruled out for Ravens

Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

The Ravens are going to be light on cornerbacks when they play the Redskins on Saturday.

Coach John Harbaugh said Thursday that neither Jimmy Smith nor Asa Jackson would play, although he said that Smith, who injured his chest against the Cowboys last week, could probably play if it were a regular season contest. He and Jackson, who is battling an ankle injury, join Lardarius Webb on the inactive list.

Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks will get the start for the Ravens with Terrence Brooks handling slot duties with the first team. Harbaugh sees an upside to the situation for the players and the team.

“It’s going to be an opportunity for those guys to go against the best for a long period of time,” Harbaugh said, via ESPN.com. “It’s going to be a good chance to evaluate where we’re at and give those guys an opportunity to prove they can play with the best.”

All three of the injured corners are expected to be healthy in time for the start of the regular season, although they may be a bit rusty if the injuries keep them off the field much longer.

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