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Amendola “almost certain” to miss Thursday’s game

Danny Amendola AP

The Patriots appear to be even shorter on offensive targets than they already were, with reports that wide receiver Danny Amendola isn’t expected to play Thursday against the Jets.

According to the Boston Herald, Amendola wasn’t spotted at the Patriots’ walkthrough, and a source said he was “almost certain” to miss the game.

Amendola aggravated a groin injury Sunday , but came back to finish the game with 10 catches for 104 yards. His durability was a concern when they signed him to replace Wes Welker, as he’s played 16 games once in his career.

They’re also going to be without running back Shane Vereen (broken bone in wrist) and likely tight end Rob Gronkowski as well this week, forcing quarterback Tom Brady to rely on an increasingly young group of wideouts.

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Lions cut Stevan Ridley

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 25:  Patrick Chung #23 of the New England Patriots talks with Stevan Ridley #22 of the New York Jets before a game at Gillette Stadium on October 25, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images) Getty Images

Veteran running back Stevan Ridley is back on the street.

The Lions released Ridley today, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports.

That’s a surprise considering that new Lions G.M. Bob Quinn — who was involved in the decision to draft Ridley in New England in 2011 — gave Ridley $250,000 guaranteed four months ago. But it’s not a surprise if you’ve watched the Lions’ two preseason games: Ridley has been playing with the third stringers, and he has averaged just 3.0 yards a carry. The Lions have two running backs who are clearly ahead of Ridley on the depth chart in Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick, and two more young running backs who probably have more promise than Ridley going forward in Dwayne Washington and Zach Zenner.

Ridley, who played for the Jets last season after four years with the Patriots, now becomes an unrestricted free agent.

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Report: Steelers concerned about Keenan Lewis’ hip injury

Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

On the surface, a Keenan Lewis reunion in Pittsburgh makes sense.

The former Steelers cornerback visited with the team this week after being cut by the Saints, but a deal doesn’t seem imminent.

According to Gery Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steelers “did not like what they saw” in regards to Lewis’ hip injury, which could delay or derail his signing.

Lewis missed 10 games last season and didn’t practice much this offseason with the Saints, and if the hip problem is troubling the team which should know his medical file well, it might not be a good sign for his immediate future.

Other teams are reportedly interested, and it will be worth watching to see if they have the same medical concerns, or whether a positional need could override that.

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Tramon Williams not conceding starting job to Jamar Taylor

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 18: Cornerback Tramon Williams #22 of the Cleveland Browns breaks up a pass intended for wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders #10 of the Denver Broncos during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 18, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Broncos defeated the Browns 26-23 in overtime. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Browns traded for cornerback Jamar Taylor this offseason in hopes that the 2013 second-round pick would find more success in Cleveland than he did in Miami.

They’re giving him a chance to find that success by putting him opposite Joe Haden with the first team for this week’s game against the Buccaneers. That spot was filled last year and in the first two preseason games by veteran Tramon Williams, who said Wednesday that he’s “not going to say [his starting position is] gone.”

Williams said he’s not frustrated about the Browns’ desire to see Taylor play with the first team and that he was told the reason “was not from my play,” which he believes is still strong enough for him to be more than the team’s nickel corner. That’s part of the reason why Williams says he won’t stop fighting to be in the starting lineup come the regular season.

“Over my whole career I’ve been kind of the underdog type of guy, so nothing changes now,” Williams said, via Cleveland.com. “I had to fight. I didn’t have a scholarship coming out of high school and went undrafted in the league, so nothing changes for me. The chip is always there. Sometimes, somebody just has to remind you that it’s still there. But other than that, I’ll do what I have to do, man.”

Teams need to play at least three corners much of the time to match up with opposing passing attacks, so Williams would see plenty of playing time however the team decides to define their role in the defense. Taylor’s play this week could also make the starting question moot, although the Browns would surely prefer having to deal with the playing time headaches that might come with the alternative.

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Bruce Arians on sideline video: “It helps bad coaches”

Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, left, talks with Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio before an NFL preseason football game, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) AP

Not every coach is a fan of having more information at his fingertips.

In fact, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians thinks the latest innovation that’s being tried this preseason is a bit of a crutch.

The Cardinals had sideline video at their disposal for their game against the Raiders, and Arians was not a fan.

It helps bad coaches,” he said, via Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic.

Arians said that in his view, it helps offenses more than defenses, since there are fewer distinct blitzes or defensive plays.

“Defensively, you spend a lot of hours and time on a blitz and a guy can sit there, watch it on tape, show it to his guys and fix it in the first quarter,” Arians said. “That’s not what it’s all about.”

Arians also joked that sideline video would increase scrutiny on officials, as he spotted a holding call during a game and told the nearest official: “This would be your worst nightmare if I had this on the sideline.”

But his main point about the in-game function is one held by other coaches. Panthers coach Ron Rivera said earlier this offseason he thought it diluted the value of preparation through the week. Patriots coach Bill Belichick wasn’t opposed to it after his first look, and it will be interesting to see how the coaches as an industry feel after getting a chance to test-drive it this preseason.

Of course, Microsoft is giving the owners a pile of money so their Surface tablets (which many coaches still hilariously refer to as iPads) can be featured on NFL sidelines. And since owners will occasionally send coaches out to play golf while they vote on rules changes, coaches who are opposed to the idea might have a hard time putting the technological toothpaste back in the tube.

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Todd Bowles: Geno is No. 2 this week, not sure if Bryce Petty plays

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 11: Geno Smith #7 of the New York Jets in action against the Jacksonville Jaguars  during an NFL preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

One of the questions about the Jets’ roster heading into the regular season is how they will handle the quarterback position.

There are four on the roster right now with Ryan Fitzpatrick safe as the starter and Christian Hackenberg on the long-term development program after being drafted in the second round. That’s led to a lot of attention for Geno Smith, Bryce Petty and the No. 2 job behind Fitzpatrick.

Training camp opened with Smith in that spot and he remains there heading into the third preseason game. Coach Todd Bowles said Wednesday that he wants Fitzpatrick and the starters to play at least half the game against the Giants and that Smith will be the second quarterback into the game with no guarantees that Petty will play at all.

“It’s hard to get a gauge on the game,” Bowles said in comments distributed by the team. “He played a lot last week and the week before. We’ve got to get our guys ready to play.”

Petty has had good moments in each of the Jets’ two preseason games, but neither Bowles’ answer nor the way the Jets have handled things this summer suggests that he’s pushed Smith aside for the backup job. It hasn’t been the performance of a player you’d just toss on cutdown day either, however, which may lead to some creativity from the Jets about how to put their 53-man roster together in a little more than a week.

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Thursday morning one-liners

Houston Texans outside linebacker John Simon runs with the ball for a touchdown on a 41-yard fumble recovery during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) AP

Bills DT Jerel Worthy may have found an NFL home after years of bouncing around.

Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph told his players to do their jobs (nobody tell Rob Gronkowski).

Patriots rookie LG Joe Thuney has had an impressive camp.

Jets QB Geno Smith’s still the backup on the depth chart.

The Ravens are still looking for an answer in the return game.

The Bengals are still looking for improvement this week.

Browns CB Tramon Williams admits feeling “some type of way” after demotion.

Steelers first-round CB Artie Burns will not play this week, but promises he’d be ready next week.

Texans LB John Simon was fined $18,000 for his hit on Saints QB Drew Brees.

Colts DE Henry Anderson’s road back from injury has been a long one

Jaguars LT candidate Kelvin Beachum is doing more and more work.

The Titans are still working on their division of labor.

The Broncos were given naming rights to their stadium during Sports Authority’s bankruptcy hearing.

The Chiefs are hearing from some new voices on defense.

Raiders QB Derek Carr is running Bil Musgrave’s offense at a “graduate level.”

Chargers FB Derek Watt is showing that toughness runs in his family.

The brake-pumping for Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is on.

The wait is almost over for Giants WR Victor Cruz.

Veterans G Stefen Wisniewski is looking at this week as an audition for a starting job for the Eagles.

Washington has plenty of options at LB, which could make cuts interesting.

The Bears have a stomach bug rolling through the locker room.

The Lions sayd LB DeAndre Levy looks better than ever.

Packers G.M. Ted Thompson isn’t ready to talk about undrafted rookies yet.

Vikings LT Matt Kalil is still out with a leg injury.

Former Falcons return man Devin Hester wants teams to call his agent.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera and Bill Belichick are of like mind when it comes to third preseason games.

The Saints did a nice thing for two fans during yesterday’s practice.

Injuries are testing the Buccaneers’ offensive line depth.

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald has been through enough training camp to make it a grind.

Rams LB Alec Ogletree is working through his transition to the middle.

49ers QB Colin Kaepernick said he and G.M. Trent Baalke had a “business relationship.”

Seahawks RB Thomas Rawlslooks great” but may not play this week.

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Rob Gronkowski takes issue with Cowboys using “Do Your Job” slogan

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16: Fans hold a sign depicting head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and the words "Get Some" during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

When the Patriots were on their way to winning the Super Bowl in 2014, “Do Your Job” was a familiar refrain from coach Bill Belichick to keep players from focusing on things that fell outside their responsibilities on the field and to the team.

The Patriots took ownership of the phrase by registering three trademarks on it, something Darren Rovell of ESPN reminded his Twitter followers of while posting a picture of the phrase on the wall of the Cowboys’ locker room at their practice facility.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski or someone associated with the Gronk Nation website noticed Rovell’s post and penned a response to something they believe will have them “facing the wrath of Patriots fans.”

“While we all know that the Pats thrashed the Cowboys 30-6 last October and Dallas hasn’t been to the Super Bowl since the 1995 season, so they need all the motivation they can get — but can’t America’s Team come up with their own slogan instead of stealing ours?”

While the phrase has become associated with Belichick, a quick search of the internet shows that it is used quite often in all walks of life and was in regular use long before 2014. From Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph to people upset with their elected officials to anyone who has ever been on the phone with an unhelpful customer service representative, it’s a phrase that’s often used without notice.

The trademarks protect the Patriots’ financial interests in that area, so the Cowboys won’t be selling “Do Your Job” shirts of their own. As for appropriating the slogan, you might as well borrow from teams that won if you’re going to borrow at all but we’d probably hold off on Jason Garrett saying the team is “on to ____” at any point this season.

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DeMarco Murray enjoying Tennessee after disastrous year in Philly

Tennessee Titans running back DeMarco Murray (29) embraces Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Mularkey after Murray ran 71-yards for a touchdown against the San Diego Chargers during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski) AP

DeMarco Murray’s in a better place. And that’s not just geography talking.

The Titans running back said he feels better from a physical standpoint, but that’s just one of the benefits of being traded from Philadelphia to Tennessee.

“I feel great,” Murray said, via Jason Wolf of the Tennesseean. “My body feels great. Mentally, emotionally I feel great and the team looks well.”

There was no reason he shouldn’t have felt that way a year ago. After leading the league in rushing in 2014, he signed a five-year, $40 million deal with the Eagles. But whether he was used up after such a heavy workload in Dallas or not the best fit for Chip Kelly’s offense, it didn’t work out, and the Eagles were as eager to move him on as they were Kelly.

And it sounds like the difference between Kelly and Titans coach Mike Mularkey is also a big part of the reason he’s in a good spot.

“I just think just the work ethic and coaches just doing what they do,” he said, “as far as practice schedule and meetings and things of that nature, just making sure we’re comfortable, making sure we’re all working hard throughout the course of the day.”

He’s clearly happier, and has a chance to be part of a unique backfield. They drafted Alabama’s Derrick Henry in the second round, and Mularkey intends to use both of them extensively. So far this preseason, both have looked good, with Murray gaining 113 yards on 11 carries, and Henry adding 105 yards on 15 carries.

That’s the kind of production that will keep the coaches giving the ball to them, and that apparently makes Murray very happy.

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Chiefs release Mike Williams, Stevie Brown

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mike Williams makes a catch in front of defenders during NFL football practice on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016 at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Mo. (Jessica A. Stewart/The Jefferson City News-Tribune via AP) AP

A pair of veterans hoping to revive their careers in Kansas City got word from the Chiefs that it isn’t going to happen.

The Chiefs announced Wednesday night that they have released wide receiver Mike Williams and safety Stevie Brown.

Williams last played a regular season game in 2014 when he had eight catches for 142 yards and a touchdown for the Bills. That was a second straight down year for Williams, who had caught at least 63 passes in each of his first three seasons with the Buccaneers. Williams caught two passes for 27 yards in the preseason.

Brown also made his last regular season appearance in 2014, when he played in all 16 games for the Giants. Brown wasn’t as effective as he’d been while intercepting eight passes for the Giants in 2012, which likely had something to do with the torn ACL that kept him out for all of the 2013 season and he failed to stick with either the Giants or the Texans last year.

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Lane Johnson planning to sue makers of tainted supplement

Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson walks off the field after NFL football practice at the team's training facility, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) AP

Nutritional supplements are practically unavoidable in an NFL locker room.

But as he waits for his B sample to be tested which could trigger a 10-game suspension for a PED policy violation, Eagles tackle Lane Johnson said he’s done with them.

According to Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com, Johnson said he’s going to avoid the risk of a potential third suspension (which would be two years) by not taking anything. He contends his positive test comes from a supplement which was approved by the league, but was tainted with a banned substance that was not on the label. He’s also planning to file suit against the company which provided the product.

Going after them,” he said. “I have people on it to get it done. . . .

“Seriously, I don’t want to have to go through this again. Unless something changes, the policy, I don’t trust anything. I can’t risk it. If it happens again, I miss two years and I’m just not going to risk that happening. I’m not taking any chances.

“Food and water. That’s all I’m going to put in my system. Food and water. No supplements, no powders, nothing.”

Johnson’s in a bit of a limbo at the moment, waiting for final word on a long-reported first positive test. The Eagles have been working him with the second team in the interim, so they can get their Plan B line together.

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Who’s most likely to not make it back to the playoffs?

84307685 Getty Images

Of the twelve teams that qualified for the 2015 playoffs, some are destined to not make it back. Today’s PFT Live delves into the subject, attempting to identify the teams most likely to not return to the postseason.

The show gets rolling at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio, with the NBCSN simulcast beginning at 7:00 a.m. ET. At 7:15 a.m. ET or thereabouts, Rob “Stats” Guerrera and I will identify our four teams most likely to be home for January.

You can pick yours now, by picking up to four in the poll below. We’ll share the numbers and some of the best observations from the comments throughout the program.

During the program, we’ll be joined by a guy whose team has been to the playoffs five straight years (Bengals cornerback Adam Jones) and a guy who coached plenty of teams to the playoffs (Hall of Famer Tony Dungy).

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Sanchez says his “ruined an opportunity” comment was misinterpreted

Denver Broncos quarterback Mark Sanchez looks on during the team's NFL football practice at the Broncos' headquarters on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) AP

After losing two fumbles in Saturday’s preseason game, Broncos quarterback Mark Sanchez was hard on himself, saying, “It’s difficult playing like crap on two plays and ruining an opportunity.” But Sanchez says he’s still feeling positive.

Asked about those comments on Wednesday, Sanchez said he doesn’t think he ruined his opportunity to become the Broncos’ starting quarterback. Instead, Sanchez just thinks he ruined two opportunities for the Broncos to score in their preseason game against the 49ers.

“I squandered an opportunity that game,” Sanchez said. “It wasn’t like, ‘OK, that’s it, throw in the towel.’ I think a lot of people interpreted it that way, but that’s never been my attitude. I don’t quit. I’ll take this thing down to the wire if that’s what it takes, and that’s what it looks like, so let’s go.”

Sanchez may not have ruined his opportunity to earn the starting quarterback job, but he certainly didn’t help his chances. Trevor Siemian has clearly taken the lead in the quarterback competition and will start the third preseason game. And Sanchez may have even fallen behind rookie Paxton Lynch for the No. 2 job.

The Broncos can save $3.5 million in salary by cutting Sanchez, and they would also save the seventh-round draft pick they traded to the Eagles because the trade is conditional on Sanchez making the team.

If Sanchez doesn’t make the most of his opportunities this week, he could be gone next week.

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Marshawn Lynch takes practice reps with Cal in Australia

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 17: Ted Ginn #19 of the Carolina Panthers and Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks meet on the field after a 31-24 Panthers victory at the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 17, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Some thought that retired running back Marshawn Lynch would return to football. He has, technically.

Via ESPN.com, the former Cal running back participated in practice with the Cal football team as it prepares for its season-opening game against Hawaii in Australia.

“He came out to practice [Tuesday], watched practice, actually suited out and took a couple reps as the scout team running back,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes told ESPN.com.

Obviously, Lynch is no longer eligible to play for the Golden Bears. (He’s still eligible to drive a cart around on the field after a big win, however.)

“I told him, ‘If you had one game left, we’d give it to you 50 times,'” Dykes said.

At the NFL level, he has as many games left as he wants.

He has said, adamantly, that he’s done with football. But that doesn’t keep him from changing his mind. And while the Seahawks still hold his rights via the reserve/retired list, if he suddenly were to show up in Seattle and say he’s ready to play, chances are the Seahawks would release him from the reserve/retired list, allowing him to sign anywhere he wants — if he’s released before the trade deadline.

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Todd Gurley involved in scuffle at Rams practice

Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley, right, runs the ball while under pressure from Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Eric Murray during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang) AP

Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher made it abundantly clear during Tuesday night’s episode of “Hard Knocks” that running back Todd Gurley is not to hit the ground during practice.

“So everybody understands defensively that “30” doesn’t need to be f—— hit in the 9-on-7 (drill). Ok?” Fisher said in a coach’s meeting. “I don’t want “30” tackled. We need “30.” So individual groups let your guys know that “30” doesn’t go to the ground in a team period or a 9-on-7. … We need to treat him like the fricking quarterback.”

On Wednesday, Gurley hit the ground during practice as part of a scuffle with teammates.

According to Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com, Gurley ended up on the turf amid heated tempers a few plays after linebacker Alec Ogletree and running back Benny Cunningham got in an altercation.

“It was his choice,” Fisher said of Gurley ending up at the bottom of a scrum. “We all need to be smarter than that. But, that was his choice. It shows you what kind of competitor he is.”

After the second incident with Gurley, Fisher called a halt to practice before starting things anew minutes later.

“The first drill was really good. And then we got into the second period, they got a little testy so we gave them a timeout. Go sit in the corner, go to your room, take a little time out,” Fisher said. “So we cooled off and we got a lot done. You don’t like to see this happen. I’m not concerned about this carrying over to the games. It was a good learning experience for us, they’re competing, 1s against 1s, we had some good work. At this point, we move on. Start to game plan, start focusing for the Broncos.”

Fisher apparently needs to make sure Gurley gets the message as well about not having their star running back end up on the ground in practice.

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Russell Wilson addresses moving his wedding from North Carolina, sort of

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen (97) prepares to sack Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) AP

Word emerged earlier this week that Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson moved his wedding to Ciara out of North Carolina because of controversial House Bill 2, a law that restricts bathroom use to the facilities that correspond with a person’s gender of birth, not the gender he or she identifies with.

On Wednesday, Wilson was asked to address the decision during a routine press conference. He didn’t deny it, but he didn’t elaborate much, either.

“I just believe Jesus loves all people and that’s honestly what I believe,” Wilson told reporters. “I constantly pray for world peace, I pray for peace in the world and I pray for joy, but my focus right now is just on the Cowboys and scoring in the red zone.”

And that was the extent of Wilson’s remarks on the topic. The real question is whether he intended his wedding planner to blurt out the relocation of the ceremony, or whether he would have preferred word of the change to never have emerged, so that he wouldn’t have to address it at all.

Whether Wilson does or doesn’t talk about social issues is his business. He’s hardly unique; when it comes to the small handful of true franchise quarterbacks in the NFL, most have little or nothing to say on controversial topics. Whether that’s because franchise quarterbacks, as team leaders, are more likely to not do anything that may make waves with the coaches or whether franchise quarterbacks are so caught up in their jobs that they don’t have the time or the inclination to worry about anything else, franchise quarterbacks typically remain in their very narrow — but prominent and profitable — lane.

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