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Greg Schiano: We’ll win plenty of games playing Buccaneer football

Schiano AP

The Buccaneers are winless through six games this season, but coach Greg Schiano says this is no time to grow concerned about his ability to do the job.

Asked on NFL Network whether he’s concerned he could be fired if the Bucs don’t win their share of games, Schiano gave a succinct answer.

“We’ll win our share, don’t worry,” Schiano said.

The Buccaneers get the Panthers on Thursday, and Carolina is hot right now, having won back-to-back games by double-digit margins. Schiano, however, said he believes that the Bucs will win as long as they play the brand of football he’s been preaching.

“We just need to go out there and play Buccaneer football,” Schiano said. “Take care of the ball, play penalty-free football. When we do that we’re a good football team. We’ll win plenty of games. Hopefully that starts Thursday night.”

Schiano sounded confident, but it’s hard to see why anyone else would be confident in Schiano’s ability to turn things around. The Buccaneers’ schedule doesn’t get any easier, as only three of their remaining opponents (Atlanta, Buffalo and St. Louis) currently have losing records. The Bucs may stay winless for a while.

So whether Schiano thinks he’s going to win his share of games or not, his job security is going to remain in question.

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Jim Irsay suspended six games, fined $500,000

Jim-Irsay-Getty Getty Images

It’s not Friday, and it’s not 5 p.m., but the NFL has tied up the one messy piece of business it had to do before games start this week.

The league announced that Colts owner Jim Irsay had been suspended for the team’s first six games and fined $500,000 after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor account of driving while impaired.

The suspension begins tomorrow at 5 p.m., and Irsay “may not be present at the club’s facility, may not attend any practices or games, may not represent the club at league or league committee meetings or at any other team or league event, and may not conduct media interviews or engage in social media regarding any team or league matters.”

The Twitter ban is going to sting, more than the half-million fine, which is the most allowed under the league’s constitution and by-laws.

The league also noted that “Mr. Irsay will be subject to ongoing treatment, counseling, and testing as determined by medical professionals and the Indiana court.”

Drug testing is a condition of his probation, which he was sentenced to as part of the deal.

“I have stated on numerous occasions that owners, management personnel and coaches must be held to a higher standard than players,” Goodell said in his letter to Irsay. “We discussed this during our meeting and you expressed your support for that view, volunteering that owners should be held to the highest standard.”

There will be no draft choice forfeiture for the Colts, since his conduct had nothing to do with the competitive balance of the league.

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Brian Waters announces his retirement

Waters Getty Images

Brian Waters had a lengthy and impressive career in the NFL.  That career is now officially over.

“After a long and wonderful career I have decided to retire,” Waters said in a statement.  “I want to thank the coaches, players and fans of the three great organizations that I had the pleasure of working for.  First the Dallas Cowboys for giving me my first and last chance of working in the NFL.  I will always be grateful.  Also the New England Patriots for the most successful season in my career.  It was a great ride.  Lastly the Kansas City Chiefs where I had pleasure of enjoying eleven wonderful seasons, which I will never forget.

“I want to thank the many family, friends and my hometown of Waxahachie, Texas for being great supporters. Finally I want to thank my kids for being my greatest motivations. I fought hard daily to make you proud me. If the rest of my life can be half as good as the last 15 years, I will be one of the luckiest people on earth.”

Waters spent 11 seasons with the Chiefs, one with the Patriots, and a final year with the Cowboys.  In 2012, Waters didn’t play.

A six-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, Waters was the 2009 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.  In time, he could gather momentum as a potential candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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Arian Foster feeling “wonderful” heading into Week One

Arian Foster AP

Texans running back Arian Foster must not have gotten too many “mundane questions” during his session with the Houston media on Tuesday because he was more expansive than he was during preseason press availabilities.

Foster said he was happy to see defensive end J.J. Watt get rewarded for being a “hard-working cat” and said that he has something to prove to himself after last season’s back surgery. Foster, who didn’t play in preseason games after injuring his hamstring early in camp, says he feels “wonderful” physically even though he acknowledges that it’s unclear how the missed time this summer will affect him in the regular season.

“I feel like it could go both ways. If you’re a veteran player who understands how the game is played, it can work to your advantage. It can work to your advantage taking hits off in the preseason,” Foster said, via the Houston Chronicle. “On the flip side, it gets you used to the load you’re going to carry in the season. You just have to play the cards you’re dealt.”

Foster was averaging 4.5 yards a pop before he got hurt last season, right in line with his career average and should still be productive as long as he’s healthy enough to be in the lineup. That’s hardly a sure thing, but the Texans offense is counting on it all the same.

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Kevin Vickerson finds a home in Cincinnati

Kevin Vickerson AP

Kevin Vickerson appears to have found a home.

The veteran defensive tackle, who was cut by the Broncos Saturday, has apparently joined the Bengals, per a message he posted to his Instagram account.

The 31-year-old Vickerson lost his job with the Broncos to Marvin Austin, but he started 11 games for them last year.

Frankly, he was one of the most accomplished players released this weekend, which says as much about the waiver wire as it does Vickerson.

In Cincinnati, he’ll back up Geno Atkins and Domata Peko, adding depth to an already good defensive line.

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Charlie Powell, NFL player and heavyweight contender, dies at 82

charliepowell

Charlie Powell, who signed with the 49ers when he was 19 and played seven seasons in the NFL between stints as a pro baseball player and a heavyweight prizefighter, has died at the age of 82.

U-T San Diego reports that Powell died on Monday and had been suffering from dementia for years.

Powell’s list of athletic accomplishments reads like it must be fiction: He was such a good multi-sport athlete in high school that he had contract offers to play baseball with the St. Louis Browns and basketball with the Harlem Globetrotters, he had football scholarship offers from Notre Dame and UCLA, and he was a champion in both the 100-yard dash and the shot put. At first he went the baseball route, but after becoming bored in the minors, he decided to become the NFL’s youngest player.

“I didn’t like baseball as much as I thought I would,” said Powell. “But because I was already a professional, I could sign with an NFL team without going to college.”

That turned out to be a wise move. Powell was so ferocious a pass rusher for the 49ers that he was once, before sacks were officially counted in the NFL, credited with sacking Hall of Fame Lions quarterback Bobby Layne so many times in one game that Powell alone backed the Lions up a total of 67 yards. Powell would play five seasons for the 49ers and two more for the Raiders.

But football wasn’t even Powell’s best sport. That would be boxing. Early in his NFL career Powell boxed in the offseason, and after he retired from football he focused on fighting exclusively, rising to the point where he was once ranked as the No. 4 heavyweight in the world. His notable opponents included the unbeaten Cassius Clay in 1963 and the former champion Floyd Patterson in 1964.

In a 1998 column, Jim Murray wrote that Powell compared favorably to the greatest all-around athletes in American history, noting that “Jim Thorpe and Jackie Robinson never had to tee it up with heavyweight champions of the world. And Michael Jordan couldn’t hit the curveball, either.” There was nothing in sports that Charlie Powell couldn’t do.

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Tom Brady: “When I suck, I’ll retire”

Brady Getty Images

Last week’s abrupt trade of Patriots guard Logan Mankins served as a reminder that there are few, if any, sacred cows in New England.

When it comes to quarterback Tom Brady, there’s a chance the team will want to move on from Brady before Brady wants to move on from the team.  Brady made that crystal clear during his weekly appearance on WEEI in Boston.

“There’s nowhere I’d rather play, I know that,” Brady said, via CSNNE.com.  “I love playing for this team and I love representing this team.  Hopefully I can do that for as long as I can.  When I suck, I’ll retire.  I don’t plan on sucking for a long time.  Hopefully that leads me to be in here, and there’s no place I’d rather be. I love this game and I love working hard at it.

“I’ve had a lot of people over the years tell me the things I couldn’t do, and I think that’s always been great motivation for me to go out there and accomplish things that I think I can do. Hopefully it’s to continue to play at a high level for a really long period of time.”

If/when the people who think he can’t play at a high level are named “Belichick” or “Kraft,” then Brady will have to prove those people wrong by playing for another team.  To do that, Brady would have to be willing to embrace, or at least to tolerate, the media crush that will happen if/when Brady were to sign with another team.

Some who know Brady think he’d be tempted to retire in lieu of playing for another team.  His comments from Tuesday suggest otherwise.

“I like working hard at it,” Brady said.  “I’m going to try to be the best I can be for as long as I can do that.  Hopefully the team values that.  If they don’t, then I’ll probably have a tough day at some point.  That’s what football’s all about.”

Which means that, if/when the Patriots decide to move on from Brady, Brady will be inclined to move on to another team.  The destination will depend on who needs a quarterback at the time — up to and including the 49ers, the team Brady cheered for as a boy and the team that “evaluated” Peyton Manning despite having Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick under contract.

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Bill Belichick: No decision on Rob Gronkowski playing this week

Rob Gronkowski AP

It’s safe to say that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski’s announcement that he’s playing against the Dolphins this week didn’t come with the approval of coach Bill Belichick.

For one thing, Belichick feels the same way about sharing information about his football team as certain celebrities feel about having their intimate photos pulled out of the cloud and shared across the globe. For another, Belichick says that no decision has been made about whether or not Gronkowski will be on the field.

“I’m glad that Rob’s optimistic about this situation,” Belichick said, via CSNNE.com. “We’ll go through the week of practice and take a look at everything, everybody, and see where everybody’s at and try to do what we feel like is best for the team. With all due respect to Rob — I’m glad he feels the way he does — but, in the end, we’ll have to make the decision we feel like is best for the team and we’ll do that as we go through the week.”

Belichick may be telling the truth or, given the previously mentioned distaste for sharing information, he may know exactly what the Patriots plan to do this Sunday. Either way, the Dolphins aren’t likely to get a clear idea of the team’s plans until much closer to kickoff so they’ll have to be prepared for all eventualities.

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More ESPN fantasy owners have Tim Tebow than Chad Henne

Tim Tebow AP

Poor Chad Henne gets no respect.

Not only does everyone want to give his job away to rookie Blake Bortles, but fantasy owners prefer a guy who just lives in Jacksonville to the Jaguars starting quarterback.

ESPN just tweeted out word that more people in their fantasy leagues own Tim Tebow (1.3 percent of teams) than Henne (0.8).

Now granted, people do silly things with fantasy teams all the time, for the sake of being able to play the “he was ahead of his time” card with their buddies.

(Full disclosure, in 2002, Steve Spurrier’s first year with the Redskins, I drafted Danny Wuerffel, Shane Matthews and Patrick Ramsey to cash in on all those points when Spurrier inevitably shuffled quarterbacks like he did at Florida. Yeah, that was stupid.)

Maybe all those people will look like geniuses when Tebow leaps out of his chair on the broadcast set and leads some team to record rushing numbers.

Or maybe, somebody should have kept their buddies from turning too much water into too much wine during the draft.

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Antonio Brown will return punts again this year

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

Antonio Brown plays a big role in the Steelers offense, but that won’t be his only role in the coming season.

Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that the team will use Brown as a punt returner this season as well. There was some thought that the addition of the speedy Dri Archer in the draft would lead to a change in roles for Brown, but Tomlin said that Archer will only be an option for the team alongside Brown.

That announcement naturally leads to thoughts about the injury risk that Brown will take on by expanding his portfolio, but Tomlin said that the team won’t live in fear of injury when it comes to deploying a player they believe can help them.

“He is a Pro Bowl caliber return man, so that’s how you play him,” Tomlin said of Brown, via the team.

There’s no question that Brown has skills with two career punt return touchdowns and a 12.8-yard average on returns last season. He’s also a Pro Bowl caliber receiver, though, and losing that would likely hurt the Steelers much more than going with Archer or others as the full-time punt return options.

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Jim Harbaugh says he won’t keep a player guilty of domestic violence

Jim Harbaugh AP

When 49ers Ray McDonald was arrested for felony domestic violence this weekend, he became the first test case for the league’s new, tougher policy on the matter.

But he’ll also test his own coach’s long-held attitude toward players who put their hands on women.

During his regular appearance on KNBR this morning, Harbaugh made it clear he would not tolerate behavior such that McDonald has been accused of.

“I’ll be very clear,” Harbaugh said, via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. “You ask me how I feel about domestic violence. I can be very clear about that. If someone physically abuses a woman and/or physically or mentally abuses or hurts a child then there’s no understanding, there’s no tolerance for that.”

Asked if he would not allow a player convicted of such charges to remain on his team, he replied: “Yes, we would not. We can be very clear.”

McDonald is continuing to practice with the 49ers, and has maintained his innocence. The 49ers have said they’ll continue to investigate, and Harbaugh said he was also convinced he needed to let the legal process play out.

“There are going to be two principles at play here,” Harbaugh said “And one is, I’ll speak for myself, I’ll speak for the 49ers: We’ll not tolerate domestic violence. The second principle, we’re firm believers in due process. And I ask for your understanding on those two principles.”

Those are not mutually exclusive principles. But it does put Harbaugh in stark contrast to his brother John, who has wrapped his arms around running back Ray Rice, whose shamefully light punishment triggered the increased punishment McDonald could face.

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Jim Irsay sentenced to probation, drug testing in plea deal

Jim Irsay, Edgerrin James AP

Colts owner Jim Irsay pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle under the influence on Tuesday, bring an end to the legal case stemming from his arrest in March.

Irsay faced two misdemeanor charges as a result of the arrest, but the second one was dropped as part of a plea deal that left Irsay sentenced to a year of probation. Mike Wells of ESPN.com reports that Irsay, who was found to be under the influence of oxycodone and hydrocodone, will undergo drug testing as a condition of his probation and that his driver’s license has been suspended for one year.

With the legal case now concluded, the question is whether the NFL will also be issuing a suspension as a result of Irsay’s malfeasance. Adam Schefter of ESPN has reported that a six-to-eight-game suspension is expected with a good chance that the league will act quickly to enact the suspension before the Colts open the season against the Broncos on Sunday night.

Irsay had no comment before leaving the Hamilton County courthouse.

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Devon Still has bigger concerns than being on the practice squad

Devon Still AP

On the surface, the Bengals cutting defensive tackle Devon Still and putting him on the practice squad might appear to be a case of a team trying to salvage an underperforming draft pick.

But there’s far more to Still’s story, and the Bengals’ willingness to stand by him.

According to Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Still’s 4-year-old daughter Leah is battling cancer, and Still admitted he can’t give a game his undivided attention.

“I completely understand where they were coming from,” Still said. “I can’t give football 100 percent right now. In the business aspect they want guys to solely focus on football, which is understandable. We are here to win this city a Super Bowl and right now I am not in a position where I can give football 100 percent of everything I have.”

In a sense, the practice squad is the perfect opportunity for the team to help Still, since he’ll continue to make more than $100,000 if he stays there all year, and he’ll maintain his health insurance at a critical time. But he won’t travel on road trips, so he’ll have the opportunity to spend more time in Philadelphia with his daughter as she begins a fourth round of chemotherapy.

Their loyalty in a profession not known for it is not lost on Still.

“They could have just washed their hands completely of it,” he said. “Say we don’t care what’s going on in his personal life, we just want people who can care 100 percent on football, that’s what they pay us to do. But they thought about my personal issues and allowed me to come back on the practice squad so I still have insurance. They said if I keep working on my physical with my injury and mentally prepared myself to focus on football, then they can move me back up to the roster, so I am not all the way out of the loop. . . .

“The Bengals were loyal to me. I’m not about to up and leave them. Loyalty is something I really need right now because I never know what direction this is going to go with my daughter.”

The Bengals deserve credit for allowing Still the opportunity to deal with a personal crisis, and he hopes to repay them down the line, by playing the kind of football they imagined when they chose him in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

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Kurt Coleman signs with Chiefs

Kurt Coleman AP

Kurt Coleman and Andy Reid are back together again.

Coleman’s agent Blake Baratz announced on Twitter that the safety has signed a contract with the Chiefs for the 2014 season. Coleman was released by the Vikings as Minnesota got down to 53 players over the weekend, but spent the first four years of his career in Philadelphia and played for Reid in three of those seasons.

Coleman made 29 starts while Reid was the Eagles coach, but is ticketed for a backup role in Kansas City. Eric Berry and Husain Abdullah are going to start, but the team was short on experienced depth and Berry’s been bothered by a heel issue throughout the summer.

Kelcie McCray and undrafted rookie Daniel Sorensen are the other safeties currently on the Chiefs roster, although the corresponding roster move to bring Coleman on board could change that. The Chiefs also have five running backs at present, so the move may come from another area.

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Jerry Jones OK with having Orton in Buffalo and Weeden in Dallas

weeden AP

Now that Kyle Orton has returned to football and signed with the Bills, does Cowboys owner and General Manager Jerry Jones have any regrets about releasing Orton from his contract?

Not at all.

Jones said he was expecting Orton to sign with some team at the end of the preseason, and Jones is fine with that because Jones believes the Cowboys have a good backup quarterback in their own right in Brandon Weeden.

It didn’t really surprise me because right at the end, right when we started to camp, Kyle basically came to Dallas and expressed an interest in playing,” Jones said on KRLD-FM, via the Star-Telegram. “But we had decided to go in a different direction. We liked everything Weeden was doing, so it gave us a good chance to take a player that’s got a chance to help us many years into the future. We thought getting Weeden some experience, you could have him where Kyle Orton is pretty quick. That’s not taking anything away from Kyle Orton as much as it is giving Weeden a big plus.”

For now, Jones thinks he made the right move when he let Orton walk and signed Weeden. If Tony Romo goes down, Jones may reconsider.

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PFT Live: Seahawks talk with Curtis Crabtree, PFT Planet calls and tweets

Russell Wilson AP

We’re a little more than 48 hours away from the start of the 2014 season and PFT Live is your spot for everything you need to know about the Packers and Seahawks ahead of the season opener.

We’ll start things off on Tuesday with a visit from Curtis Crabtree of PFT and KJR Radio in Seattle. He’ll give us the latest scoop on what to expect from the Seahawks as they try to pull off the first Super Bowl repeat in many moons. He and Mike Florio will talk about Percy Harvin’s role on the offense, the makeup of the offensive line and much more during the show.

We’re also interested to find out what you want to know about Week One. Florio will answer your questions, so send them in on Twitter — @ProFootballTalk — or by giving a call to 888-237-5269 during the show.

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

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