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Packers win NFC North on last-minute TD pass

Aaron Rodgers AP

On a last-minute play involving a gamble by the Bears’ defense, the Packers won big — and won the NFC North title in the process.

Aaron Rodgers‘ 48-yard TD pass to Randall Cobb with 38 seconds left gave the Packers a 33-28 victory against the Bears in Chicago on Sunday evening.

The victory sends the Packers to the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season. The Packers will host the 49ers next weekend in the wild-card round.

Meanwhile, the loss ends Chicago’s season at the hands of an old and bitter rival.

On the decisive play, the Bears brought extra pressure on 4th-and-8 at the Chicago 48. Rodgers rolled away from the rush and threw deep for Cobb, who ran through the Bears’ coverage and came wide open. Then, it was just a matter of whether Cobb would catch the ball.

Indeed, he did, and when the Packers intercepted the Bears’ Hail Mary pass on the final play of regulation, Green Bay had secured the NFC North.

In his first game back in the Packers’ lineup after missing seven games with a broken collarbone, Rodgers completed 25-of-39 yards for 318 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Both TD passes were to Cobb, who was activated from injured reserve on Saturday.

The Bears trailed 13-7 at halftime, but their offense was sharp to begin the second half, and Jay Cutler’s five-yard TD pass to Brandon Marshall at the start of the fourth quarter gave Chicago a 28-20 lead.

However, the Packers’ offense, led by Rodgers, would take over in the final period.

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Cardinals drop Jake Coker, 11 others from roster

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 11:  Jake Coker #14 of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks to pass during the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Crimson Tide defeated the Tigers with a score of 45 to 40.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

With the news that cornerback Mike Jenkins suffered a torn ACL in Sunday’s game, the Cardinals lost a potential contributor in the secondary.

They officially ended his season later in the day by placing Jenkins on injured reserve. Eleven other players learned that they won’t be part of the team’s roster as well.

The Cardinals dropped long snapper Danny Dillon, leaving Kam Canaday as the winner of that competition, and they waived/injured quarterback Jake Coker. Coker, who suffered a knee injury, was the quarterback for Alabama when they won the national title last season but was behind Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton and Matt Barkley before his injury.

Arizona also parted ways with guard Jake Bernstein, receiver Amir Carlisle, tight end Gerald Christian, tackle Clay DeBord, defensive tackle Iosia Iosia,  cornerback Asa Jackson, wide receiver Franky Okafor, cornerback Shaun Prater, punter Garrett Swanson and safety Tyrequek Zimmerman. They have two more moves to make to get down to 75 players.

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Raiders announce cuts, trim roster to 75

Oakland Raiders v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

The Raiders announced a bunch of roster moves Monday as the team cut its active roster to 75 players ahead of Tuesday’s deadline to do so.

Waived Monday were safeties Chris Edwards, Chris Hackett and Jimmy Hall; wide receivers Joe Hanley, Max McCaffrey and Nathan Palmer; defensive tackle Leon Orr; kicker Giorgio Tavecchio; tight end Colton Underwood; defensive back Tramain Jacobs; long snapper Andrew East; linebacker Lenny Jones and offensive linemen Terran Vaughn and Ross Burbank.

All but Hall, Palmer and Jacobs are either rookies or first-year players.

The Raiders also placed tight end Gabe Holmes on injured reserve.

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Myke Tavarres won’t be sitting during national anthem after all

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 19: The Philadelphia Eagles announce their new head coach Doug Pederson on January 19, 2016 at the NovaCare Complex in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

Eagles rookie linebacker Myke Tavarres said Monday that he would not be standing during the national anthem when the Eagles play the Jets in their final preseason game on Thursday.

Tavarres said he felt his pride and that he was “definitely going to stand my ground” in the face of any backlash. As it turns out, Tavarres will be standing on the ground during the playing of the national anthem.

Tavarres’ agent Corey Williams said that he advised his client to reverse course on his plan to sit during the national anthem and that Tavarres agreed.

“Myke does not want to be a distraction to the Philadelphia Eagles organization,” Williams said to Tim McManus of “Myke’s goal is and always will be to make the Eagles 53-man roster and help the team win a Super Bowl.”

Eagles coach Doug Pederson released a statement of their own concerning players standing during the anthem.

“We respect the national anthem, its history and our many freedoms as Americans that it celebrates,” Pederson said. “We also respect an individual’s freedom of expression.”

Pederson’s statement suggests that Tavarres wouldn’t have jeopardized his chances of making the team if he had sat during the anthem, although the change in course suggests Tavarres and his agent weren’t quite so sure what the fallout would be.

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Jim Harbaugh clarifies, still disagrees with Kaepernick’s action

Colin Kaepernick’s first coach, Jim Harbaugh, didn’t hold back when asked today what he thinks of Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem.

“I acknowledge his right to do that, but I don’t respect the motivation or the action,” Harbaugh said today.

With some time to reflect, Harbaugh changed that, to say that he does support the motivation — just not the action.

“I apologize for misspeaking my true sentiments. To clarify, I support Colin’s motivation. It’s his method of action that I take exception to,” Harbaugh wrote on Twitter.

Harbaugh seems to be saying that he thinks Kaepernick’s concerns about police brutality are valid, but Harbaugh doesn’t agree that sitting out the anthem is the right way to express those concerns. That’s been a common response to Kaepernick’s decision, which has quickly become the biggest controversy in the NFL.

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Report: Seahawks to cut Brandon Browner

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 29:   Brandon Browner #39 of the Seattle Seahawks waits on the field during the game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on September 29, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

It appears cornerback Brandon Browner’s second stint with the Seahawks will come to an early end.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the team will release Browner as they pare down their roster this week. He returned to the Seahawks in April after being released by the Saints following a dismal 2015 season in New Orleans.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said during the offseason that the team had a hybrid safety/corner role in mind for Browner this season because Browner “matched up well” with tight ends and slot receivers. That idea didn’t play out as well on the field as it did in Carroll’s mind, however, and Browner was passed by others vying for roles in the Seattle secondary.

Neither Browner’s poor 2015 nor his inability to make the Seahawks this summer bode particularly well for him moving forward, although the constant need for cornerbacks could earn him looks with other teams before and after the regular season gets underway.

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Joey Bosa holdout ends, but could the damage linger for the team?

chargers_jags_d_tunnel_092814_getty_1412019678318_8544694_ver1.0_640_480 Getty Images

With defensive end Joey Bosa finally agreeing to terms with the Chargers, plenty of the people who were pressuring Bosa to cave will be ready to point to his holdout, if he struggles as a rookie. By next year, however, Bosa’s decision to stand firm will be irrelevant to his performance, after he has a full year in the system and the opportunity to participate in all of the offseason program, training camp, and the preseason.

For the Chargers, the stain may not wipe away quite so easily. Like the jersey on the mannequin in Cleveland with the names of all the starting quarterbacks since 1999, Bosa becomes the next name on a list of Chargers holdouts that dates back at least 15 years.

So why is it happening? Former Chargers safety Rodney Harrison addressed the topic earlier in the day on PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio and NBCSN.

“The San Diego Chargers are a bunch of bullies,” Harrison said. “If you look at the way they’ve handled business, why is it the San Diego Chargers out of all the teams have this issue? Because they are a bunch of bullies, and they haven’t treated their star players correctly. You look at junior Seau and what they did to him. Look at how they treated me. Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers held out, Quentin Jammer, LaDainian Tomlinson. I know he came out and he was outspoken about the holdout but — guess what? — he held out, too. So when I look at the San Diego Chargers, I’d say this is why they’re an average organization, because of things like this. How can you draft a guy at the position that you drafted him in and not have him in camp?

“I think the San Diego Chargers are being a bunch of bullies and it just looks bad and reflects bad. If I’m a free agent why the heck would I even think about going to San Diego if I know that this is the way they treat their players?”

It’s fair to wonder who the next holdout will be in San Diego. And it’s also fair to question whether free agents eventually will choose to sign elsewhere, if all other factors are equal. It’s the kind of perception that, if not reversed by the team, could force the Chargers to pay more than other teams will pay in order to get players to join the team — especially if the Chargers are on the verge of not being able to make living in San Diego a selling point.

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Chargers claim a running back, place Chris Watt on reserve PUP

Chris Watt AP

The Chargers have added a running back to the roster a day after Branden Oliver went down with an injured Achilles.

The team announced that they have claimed running back Gus Johnson off of waivers from the Falcons. Johnson split last season between the Cowboys and Falcons practice squads and gives the Chargers more depth behind Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead.

In a move that helped push the team toward a 75-man roster, the Chargers placed center Chris Watt on the regular season version of the PUP list. Watt has been out with a knee injury and will not be able to play or practice in the first six weeks of the season as a result of Monday’s maneuver.

The Chargers also waived wide receiver Torrence Allen, cornerback Greg Ducre, cornerback Mike Lee, defensive tackle Bruce Gaston, linebacker Zack Hodges and center Bruce Johnson. They have 84 players on their roster, leaving nine moves to make by Tuesday’s deadline.

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Browns trade punter Andy Lee to the Panthers

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 15: Andy Lee #8 of the Cleveland Browns punts the ball during the 2nd quarter of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on November 15, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
 (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Browns and Panthers swapped punters Monday.

No, that’s not a misprint.

The Browns traded Andy Lee and a 2017 seventh-round pick to the Panthers for punter Kasey Redfern and a 2018 fourth-round pick.

The trade comes three days after Lee appeared to let up during a punt return touchdown by Adam Humphries of the Buccaneers during last Friday’s preseason game. Browns Coach Hue Jackson got in Lee’s face on the sideline after the touchdown and clearly wasn’t happy that Lee hadn’t done more to at least slow Humphries.

Lee, who was acquired by the Browns in a trade with the 49ers prior to the 2015 season, figures to be the final answer in an ongoing punter competition the Panthers have been holding since the spring. He’s been punting in the NFL since 2004 and set Browns franchise records last season with his 46.7-yard gross average and 40.1-yard net average.

Redfern is a first-year player who’s never punted in an NFL game. He’ll get an extended tryout with the Browns at least through this week.

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San Diego visit becomes first test case for the anti-Kaepernick crowd

76615122 Getty Images

49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has the right to not stand during the national anthem. People in the crowd have the right to let him know that they think he’s wrong.

It becomes a potentially more problematic issue when the 49ers are on the road. Their first road game comes in San Diego, on Thursday night.

Although the Chargers aren’t a natural rival of the 49ers, thousands of military personnel live in and around San Diego. For those who see Kaepernick’s gesture as an affront to the military (even though Kaepernick explained on Sunday that he means them no disrespect), Thursday’s game becomes something other than the least meaningful of four meaningless preseason tuneups. It’s an opportunity to show up and let Kaepernick hear loudly from those who disagree with his decision to sit during the anthem.

Remember the goofy, over-the-top commercial that had Kaepernick wearing headphones to tune out Seattle fans who were yelling and screaming and giving him the finger and shouting apparent obscenities and actually urinating on the team bus? It likely won’t come to that in San Diego, but Kaepernick may need those headphones prior to, during, and after the game to drown out all the stuff that he’ll be hearing from those in the crowd who strongly object to the manner in which he is making his point.

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49ers OC “would anticipate” Kaepernick on roster in Week One

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, left, runs with the ball as Green Bay Packers defensive end Datone Jones pursues during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) AP

On Sunday, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported that quarterback Colin Kaepernick “has a very, very big uphill battle to make” the 49ers for reasons outside of his choice not to stand for the playing of the national anthem.

Glazer reported the 49ers believe Kaepernick is “regressing as a player” and he said he would be “shocked” if Kaepernick was on the team through the entire season. On Monday, 49ers offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins was asked about Kaepernick’s chances of making the 53-man roster to start the year.

“I would anticipate that, but it’s not, you know, that’s not where we’re at right now,” Modkins said, via the Sacramento Bee. “We’re getting ready for the Chargers right now and he’ll be there. So I don’t anticipate that not being the case.”

The 49ers haven’t made any announcement about who their starting quarterback will be in Week One and coach Chip Kelly said that the Niners “plan on playing him this week” in San Diego, which could make for an interesting scene given how many current and former members of the armed services are in and around the city.

Kaepernick will be making $11.9 million this year whether he makes the 49ers or not, which gives the 49ers reason to want to keep him around unless they think there’s no way he can help the football team. Given Glazer’s report, it would seem at least some in the organization are ready to make that call but it remains to be seen if the team goes that route or not.

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Eagles LB Myke Tavarres plans to sit during anthem on Thursday

eagles helmet getty Getty Images

Over the last few days, we’ve heard plenty of opinions from current players about 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the playing of the national anthem in protest of the way people of color are treated and now we’ve heard one who says he plans to do the same before the final preseason game of the summer.

Eagles linebacker Myke Tavarres, an undrafted rookie out of the University of the Incarnate Word, told ESPN that he “will be taking a stand — or sitting down — for the fourth game” against the Jets this week. He said that people around the team know his plans and the Eagles had an “open forum” to discuss the issue during a meeting on Monday that reportedly saw Tavarres share his thoughts.

“We’ve got an issue in this country in this day and age, and I feel like somebody needs to step up and we all need to step up,” Tavarres said. “We’ve got that right. There’s just a lot going on that people don’t want to talk about, and I feel like us as athletes, we’re looked at as role models. And I feel like with Colin Kaepernick, he’s doing a great job for standing up in what he believes in, and most people may not like that, but that’s his opinion, he’s entitled to it, and I respect him for doing it.”

Tavarres survived the Eagles’ cut to 74 players, but there’s another big one to go and he says he expects there to be some “backlash” for his decision. Whether that backlash would weigh into the Eagles’ decision or not, Tavarres added that “what’s at stake is my pride” and that outweighs any negative response that might come for his action.

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Chargers sweeten language of training-camp roster bonuses, signing bonus payout to get deal done

SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 07:  Third overall 2016 NFL draft pick Joey Bosa of the San Diego Chargers throws out the ceremonial first picth prior to the start of the San Diego Padres game against the Atlanta Braves at PETCO Park on June 7, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Chargers and defensive end Joey Bosa finally found a middle ground. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t much. For Bosa and the Chargers, it was everything.

Per a league source with knowledge of the situation, the kicker came from the team’s willingness to apply language that makes it easier for Bosa to earn $6.5 million in guaranteed training-camp roster bonuses. Specifically, he gets the training-camp roster bonuses if he’s on any type of “active” list, including the non-football injury or non-football illness list.

Training-camp roster bonuses have become an alternative to the removal of offset language from a player’s guaranteed money at the top of the draft. Multiple players, however, have language in their contracts that allow the roster bonuses to not be paid if the player is on the NFI list. For example, Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan lost $1.7 million this year because of a knee injury that caused him to land on the non-football injury list. Other players have a similar term in their contracts.

Bosa doesn’t, which ensures he’ll get the training-camp roster bonuses unless he’s on a “reserve” list when the money comes due.

Also, the Chargers altered the payout schedule of the signing bonus in 2016. He still gets 85 percent this year and 15 percent next year, but Bosa gets more of the 85 percent up front. Although the specifics aren’t yet known, Bosa gets a greater percentage of the bonus payout this year than the last four No. 1 overall picks did.

Finally, the Chargers didn’t take a penny off the table, despite last week’s vow to do so.

So the deal is done and Bosa is a Charger and we’ll all soon forget the holdout ever happened. Until the next time a Chargers player holds out and the long list of other Chargers is rattled off, with Bosa’s name as the most recent. Other than, you know, the next guy holding out.

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Bengals make their way to 79 players

Jacksonville Jaguars' Corey Grant (30) runs back a 37-yard kickoff return as he gets past Cincinnati Bengals' Jayson DiManche (51) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Jacksonville, Fla., Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/John Raoux) AP

The Bengals cut 11 players from their 90-man roster on Monday, leaving them four shy of the 75-man limit ahead of Tuesday’s deadline to pare the roster to that number.

The unlucky 11 are wide receiver Michael Bennett, fullback Jeff Luc, defensive lineman Jack Gangwish, cornerback Corey Tindal, safety Floyd Raven, linebacker Darien Harris, quarterback Joe Licata, wide receiver Antwane Grant, kicker Zach Hocker, tight end John Peters, and linebacker Jayson DiManche.

DiManche played 28 games for the team in 2013 and 2014 before being released last September. He returned to the team in January after spending time with the Browns and Chiefs last season. Hocker kicked for the Saints and Rams in 2015, but couldn’t unseat Mike Nugent.

The Bengals could place defensive tackle Andrew Billings, who tore the meniscus in his knee, on injured reserve and move defensive tackle Brandon Thompson to the regular season PUP list as they continue making their way to 75 players.

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Browns-Williams spat ends with the cornerback being released

Indianapolis Colts v Cleveland Browns Getty Images

There was really one resolution to the public spat between the Browns and cornerback K’Waun Williams over Williams’ health and availability, and that came Monday.

The Browns released Williams on Monday afternoon, trimming their roster to 75. Browns Coach Hue Hackson declined comment on the matter.

The Browns had announced a suspension and fine for Williams for a violation of team rules after he didn’t play in the preseason opener. Williams and his agent maintained that Williams wasn’t healthy enough to play and later supplied an outside medical opinion that said Williams needed surgery to clean up bone spurs in his ankle.

Williams will be subject to waivers, though the follow-up medical opinion could mean he’ll remain a free agent until any potentially interested teams know he’s healthy enough to play.

Williams made the Browns as an undrafted rookie in 2014 and played in 13 games — mostly as a nickel cornerback — in each of his first two seasons.

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Mike Jenkins suffered torn ACL, out for the season

Arizona Cardinals defensive back Mike Jenkins (43) is taken off the field by cart after an injury during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) AP

When Cardinals cornerback Mike Jenkins was being carted off after a non-contact fall yesterday, the look on his face made it clear it was serious.

The news today was as bad as it looked.

Via Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, Jenkins suffered a torn ACL and is out for the season.

The Cardinals signed the former Cowboys first-rounder this offseason to lend some stability to a secondary that needed it, and will now have to find someone to start opposite Patrick Peterson.

They already had Tyrann Mathieu coming off his own torn ACL and Justin Bethel was just activated from the PUP list after foot surgery.

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