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Michael Bennett expected to practice this week after scary injury

Michael Bennett AP

The Seattle Seahawks had to watch as defensive end Michael Bennett was carted off the field at Reliant Stadium in Houston on Sunday afternoon.

Bennett had been bent backward awkwardly after colliding with Texans’ quarterback Matt Schaub in the pocket with less than a minute to play in the second quarter. Bennett remained face down on the turf for several minutes before being placed on a stretcher and taken to a hospital for evaluation.

Bennett suffered a lower back injury and was released from the hospital in time to return with the team Sunday night. Head coach Pete Carroll said Monday that Bennett felt good Monday and the expectation is for him to be able to practice this week and play against the Indianapolis Colts.

“He went from where he was to he was feeling pretty good today,” Carroll said. “So we’re excited about that for him. He was really scared. They had him in all of the alerts and didn’t know what was going on. But, I just checked him before I came in, he’s going to go this week and we’ll see how much he can work with the thought that he can go this week.”

Bennett has been a solid addition to the Seahawks defensive line. He’s compiled 2.5 sacks in four games and has given Seattle a pass rush presence in the interior of their defensive line.

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Arian Foster out again at Texans camp

Arian Foster AP

Running back Arian Foster’s return to the field at Texans training camp turned out to be a brief one.

Foster practiced on Thursday after sitting out two days with what’s believed to be a hamstring injury, but he was back on the sidelines on Friday. Coach Bill O’Brien didn’t elaborate on the change in status while again saying that he didn’t think the injury was anything serious.

“He’s doing OK,” O’Brien said, via the Houston Chronicle. “It’s kind of a day-to-day thing. It’s nothing serious. I would assume — [but] guess you can’t assume anything — he’d be back pretty soon.”

Once Foster is healthy, he’ll presumably get back to being the best teammate that he can be for a team that will need him to recapture his form after last year’s back injury.

Wide receiver Andre Johnson also missed practice with his own hamstring injury. O’Brien downplayed the severity of that one as well, saying there’s no reason to rush and that Johnson will be back “when he feels ready to be back.”

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Griffin wants to pick Tom Brady’s brain

Griffin AP

Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III will encounter Patriots quarterback Tom Brady next week, when the two teams conduct joint practices in Richmond, Virginia.  The younger quarterback hopes to catch a few pointers from the old man, but Griffin is mature enough to realize it may not be realistic.

“[W]hen they get here, everyone will be focused on what they are focused on,” Grifin said, via CSNWashington.com.  “It’s not buddy-up time.”

Griffin remains hopeful for an opportunity to learn from Brady.

“If I get a chance to sit down and talk to him, I’d love to, just to pick his brain,” Griffin said. “But he’s also still playing quarterback in the NFL.  It’s a competitive position, a competitive sport.  So I don’t expect him to give me any groundbreaking secrets.”

In theory, no NFL player should tell any other non-teammate anything that could help that player, because it possibly could hurt the player who is providing the help.  But as players get older they start thinking about the help they got and thinking of ways to pay it forward.

So maybe Griffin will get lucky if he tries to get some advice from Brady.  If Brady tells him to get lost, Griffin will be in no worse position than he already is.

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Cardinals sign Max Starks

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Getty Images

Max Starks and Bruce Arians are reuniting.

The Cardinals have announced the signing of Starks, a starting offensive tackle on three Steelers Super Bowl teams.

The 32-year-old Starks appeared in two games for St. Louis in 2013. He also had a stint with San Diego. Starks (6-8, 345) started 96 games for Pittsburgh from 2004-2012, playing both right and left tackle. Arians, now the Cardinals’ head coach, was a Steelers assistant for eight of those of those seasons.

It’s possible Starks could compete to be the Cardinals’ swing tackle. He’s also a potential option at right tackle, a position where the club lacks a standout.

In other roster moves Friday, the Cardinals released tackle Cory Brandon and kicker Danny Hrapmann.

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Seahawks place two on injured reserve list

Jesse Williams, Richard Sherman AP

The Seahawks got the good news they were looking for when running back Marshawn Lynch came back, but they also had to deal with some bad.

The team announced that tight end Anthony McCoy and defensive tackle Jesse Williams were placed on injured reserve. They also released wide receiver Randall Carroll and signed linebacker Marcus Dowtin and wide receiver Ronald Johnson.

McCoy tore his Achilles and Williams was carted off with what coach Pete Carroll called a “serious” knee injury.

Dowtin has spent time with the Jets, Eagles, Bills and Giants, while Johnson has spent time with the 49ers and Eagles.

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Roger Goodell defends Ray Rice punishment

Goodell AP

NFL commission Roger Goodell talked to a few reporters Friday at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, his first chance to address the furor over the Ray Rice suspension.

And he said little to pacify those who thought it might be too light.

“Our policy is clear,” Goodell said. “We have a very firm policy that domestic violence is not acceptable in the NFL.”

Goodell said the two-game suspension Rice received for knocking out his wife was consistent with other cases, since Rice is a first-time offender.

That’s not necessarily consistent with previous punishments (such as Ben Roethlisberger’s six-game suspension that became four), but Goodell said he expects reaction.

“When we make decisions, we we always get reactions,” Goodell said. “We understand it, we listen to it and we use it to make ourselves better.”

Goodell took exception to some of the public mockery (such as Jon Stewart’s) which compared Rice’s punishment to heavier punishment for drug offenses, leaning back on the collectively bargained nature of the drug policy.

But as much as he’d like to believe this one is tied up in a neat little bow, it’s clear that this will be an ongoing PR battle for the league.

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Riley Cooper wearing walking boot, but foot injury isn’t serious

Riley Cooper AP

One of the Eagles’ key wide receivers is in a walking boot.

However, it’s not a big deal, according to coach Chip Kelly.

Wideout Riley Cooper is sporting the boot for a minor foot injury, the Eagles’ head coach said Friday, according to the club’s Twitter feed.

According to the club, Kelly indicated Cooper isn’t expected to miss more than a few days.

The 26-year-old Cooper set career-highs in catches (47), yards (835) and touchdowns (eight) in 2013. The Eagles signed him to a new five-year contract in February.

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Cowboys go ahead and print out playoff tickets

Pie-Sky-00

Even though the Cowboys are perpetually 8-8, and even though they haven’t won a playoff game since 2009, they’re aiming high.

According to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com, the Cowboys sent out playoff tickets, including for the NFC Championship Game, in packages sent to season-ticket holders.

The Cowboys haven’t made the NFC title game since 1995, but that’s no deterrent to the always-aiming-high marketing strategy of Jerry Jones’ team.

Either that, or they just hate the Earth, and decided to unnecessarily kill a bunch of trees for tickets that will never be used.

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Brady Quinn hasn’t closed the book on his playing career just yet

Brady Quinn AP

While Brady Quinn has been hired by Fox Sports as a college football and NFL analyst, his playing career may not be over.

Appearing on The Dan Patrick Show Friday, Quinn said he had a workout with an unnamed club on Monday.

“It went well,” Quinn said. “In this particular situation, though, they need something to happen in order for me to possibly be there.”

Quinn said Fox would be “flexible” in allowing him to continue to stay ready for another opportunity to play while also working for the network.

The 29-year-old Quinn had stints with the Seahawks, Jets and Rams in 2013.

UPDATE 11:52 a.m. ET: According to The Dan Patrick Show’s Andrew Perloff, Brady worked out for the Patriots this week.

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PFT Live from Saints camp: Drew Brees, Kenny Vaccaro and more

Drew Brees AP

PFT Live is back at Saints camp from the Greenbrier in West Virginia on Friday and we’ve got a jam-packed show coming your way.

Mike Florio will be speaking with several members of the Saints team during the program, including quarterback Drew Brees. They’ll talk about how the offense is shaping up after the offseason departures of longtime Saints like Lance Moore and Darren Sproles and what he thinks about the team’s chances of making a deep playoff run this season.

Safety Kenny Vaccaro, defensive end Cam Jordan, running back Pierre Thomas and wide receiver Marques Colston will also be dropping by the program as we continue to take a look at the state of the Saints heading into the 2014 season.

We’ll also have all the latest news and information from the rest of the league over the course of a busy hour.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can watch it all live by clicking right here.

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Geno Smith: I’m more confident running with the ball

Geno Smith AP

One of the loudest criticisms of Jets quarterback Geno Smith during his rookie season was that he didn’t make smart enough decisions when he was in the pocket, leading to turnovers or other negative plays that hindered an already weak offense.

In some of those cases, Smith would have been better off tucking the ball away and trying to run for a first down. Smith says he’s better equipped to do that in his second year on the job. In an interview with the Jets’ website, Smith said he knows that doing so could extend drives when receivers aren’t open, avoid turnovers and make life easier on a defense that had to do too much to keep the Jets in games last season.

“I’ve gotten faster. And I’m also more confident with running the ball. A lot of that has to do with just my confidence with my reads, knowing when to put it down to run to get us some extra yards,” Smith said, via CBS New York. “We want to really put emphasis on getting the ball out on time and being sharp and precise with our throws, but if it’s not there, use that extra asset that we have as runners.”

Speaking generally about Michael Vick, Smith called the veteran quarterback a teacher and a mentor and perhaps some of his running skills have rubbed off on his competition for the quarterback job. If Smith is able to make better use of his feet, it won’t help Vick get on the field but it would be a boost for a Jets offense that has to be better this season.

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Senators urge Goodell to reconsider Ray Rice punishment

Unknown Getty Images

Aside from a vocal band of Ravens employees and fans, most of the world thinks Ray Rice got off easy with a two-game suspension for knocking his wife unconscious.

Now, the politicians have joined the chorus.

According to the Huffington Post, a group of U.S. Senators sent a letter to NFL commisioner Roger Goodell asking for a tougher punishment.

Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin (all Democrats, such that it matters) sent letters to Goodell and Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome asking for more scrutiny of domestic violence.

“The decision to suspend Mr. Rice for a mere two games sends the inescapable message that the NFL does not take domestic or intimate-partner violence with the seriousness they deserve,” the letter read. “Mr. Rice’s suspension reflects a disturbingly lenient, even cavalier attitude towards violence against women,” the senators continued. “We therefore urge you to take two steps immediately. First, reconsider and revise Mr. Rice’s suspension to more adequately reflect the seriousness of his offense. We are also writing to the Baltimore Ravens to request that they impose additional discipline under their own authority, but it is imperative that the NFL itself makes clear that this conduct is truly unacceptable.”

At some point, Goodell is going to have to stop sending out his lieutenants to explain the unpopular decision, and having lawmakers lending weight to the criticism should reinforce how poorly the league has handled this one.

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Allen Robinson out at least two weeks with hamstring injury

Jaguars Rookie Minicamp Football AP

The hits keep on coming at wide receiver for the Jaguars.

Justin Blackmon is serving a lengthy suspension, Ace Sanders will miss the first four games serving a suspension of his own, Cecil Shorts is out for a while with a hamstring injury, Tandon Doss was forced out of Thursday’s practice with an ankle injury and now Allen Robinson is going to be on the shelf. Hays Carlyon of the Florida Times-Union reports that Robinson also suffered a hamstring injury and that he is expected to miss at least the next two weeks while he recovers.

That leaves a chunk of time before the season starts, but the second-round pick is likely to miss a couple of preseason games and practice sessions vital to his ability to make a quick transition to the NFL. Robinson also battled hamstring woes in the spring, further limiting his exposure to the professional ranks and raising some concern that the problem may linger for more than a couple of weeks.

With all the absences, the Jaguars are down to rookie Marqise Lee, Mike Brown, Kerry Taylor and a slew of undrafted free agents at receiver. Chad Henne’s going to have his work cut out for him in the preseason.

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Steelers extend Shaun Suisham through 2018

Shaun Suisham AP

Shaun Suisham has keen kicking for the Steelers for the last four seasons and it looks like he will be around for several more.

The Steelers announced Friday that they have agreed to a contract extension with Suisham that runs through the 2018 season. Suisham is set to make $1.425 million this season, but no terms of the extension were announced.

Suisham made 30-of-32 field goals for the Steelers last season and has made 95-of-109 over the course of his time with the team. He has also made all of his extra point attempts and limited the opposition to touchbacks on kickoffs just over 45 percent of the time.

Suisham has also played for the Cowboys, 49ers and Redskins, but he’s probably wearing his final uniform if he winds up seeing out the entire extension in Pittsburgh.

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Hall of Fame to consider adding contributor category

b89f98982a1f062926bd1ea126f56d7e AP

Seven new members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame will get their yellow blazers this weekend, but there could be eight members enshrined when the football world converges on Canton again in 2015.

At their board meeting on Friday, the Hall of Fame will consider an amendment that would create a contributors category that would be considered separately from the senior and modern day groups that are currently in place for the voting process. If the amendment is adopted, the maximum number of inductees each year would rise to eight.

There are currently 19 contributors in the Hall, 11 of whom are owners, and Hall of Fame president Dave Baker says that may not be a fair reflection of the contributions that non-players and coaches have made to the game of football.

“Obviously, during the last 30 years there has been more growth in the game than ever before,” Baker said, via the Denver Post. “There are a lot of people who are responsible for that, but unfortunately, what often happens is a contributor gets compared to a modern-day player [on the ballot] and it’s not really a fair comparison. It’s apples and oranges. It’s what happens on the field and what happens around the field that makes that game happen.”

The Hall of Fame voters currently vote on a list of five modern-day candidates and two seniors candidates and it is still to be determined if there would be one contributor up for election each year or if there would be two with the seniors only getting one name in the ring. All candidates need to get 80 percent of the votes from the selection committee to be elected.

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Lovie Smith “pretty pleased” with Da’Quan Bowers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

During the offseason, Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith said that defensive end Da’Quan Bowersneeds to prove” that he’s good enough to have a role on the Tampa defense in the 2014 season.

Bowers had no argument with the coach’s assessment and Smith said Thursday that the early results from training camp have been promising for the 2011 second-round pick. Smith said that he has been “pretty pleased” with what he’s seen from Bowers, particularly his ability to play both inside and outside on the defensive line.

“He could help us quite a bit because, as a general rule, we’ll [dress] three [tackles] and three ends and we’ll want our seventh [lineman] to be able to play both inside and out,” Smith said, via the Tampa Tribune. “And that’s what you have in Da’Quan. He’s right in between — big enough to rush inside on third downs and a good anchor outside on first down. So he gives us some flexibility. And I know he’s been injured a lot, but he hasn’t missed a beat since I’ve been here.”

Bowers will need to stay healthy and keep his motor high if he’s going to continue to earn playing time on Tampa’s defensive line this season, but it certainly seems to be there for the taking if he’s able to tap into the talent that made him such a high pick in the first place.

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