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More Twitter apologies from Incognito

Incognito Reuters

Dolphins guard Richie Incognito has returned to Twitter with a vengeance.  But he currently is seeking no vengeance; he has been surprisingly contrite.

Overnight, Incognito issued a series of apologies and made other observations about his future.

“I would like to send Jonathan my apologies as well,” Incognito said, several hours after issuing a general apology for acting like a “big baby” in the days after the issuance of the Ted Wells report that found harassment of Jonathan Martin.  “Until someone tells me different you are still my brother.  No hard feelings.”

Wells also got an apology, along with owner Stephen Ross:  “I would like to also apologize to Mr. Ross and Mr. Wells.  Sh-t got cray cray.”

Incognito also made it clear that, despite the content of a deleted tweet from Sunday, he has not fired his agents at Athletes first.  Said Richie, “I love you.  I will never ever FIRE you.  Tu es mi familia.”

Incognito also seems to have dropped his “Free Incognito” slogan, and in so doing it appears he won’t be filing any type of lawsuit in connection with the issuance of the Wells report.

“There are no winners in the courts,” Incognito said.  “Just families left to deal with their decisions and pick up the pieces.  You can’t free something. . . . We are all born free.”

As free as the wind blows, and Incognito still has the ability to blow hot and cold.  In his stream of apologies, he also retweeted a message that reflects the defiance he had demonstrated last week, before making a temporary Twitter exit.

“Keep your head up brother,”  another Twitter account told Incognito.  “There are always 3 sides of a story.  His side.  Your side and the truth. #wussificationofAmerica.”

While a far cry from Incognito’s “truth is going to bury you” rant from last week, his endorsement of the message suggests that he continues to dispute aspects of Jonathan Martin’s account.  Incognito seems to realize that his own version may not be accurate either.  Still, the endorsement of the “wussification of America” mantra suggests that Incognito still believes at some level that this entire exercise has been a load of crap, and that it all comes back to a fundamental lack of mental and physical toughness on the part of Martin.

Still, it’s encouraging that Incognito understands his recent comments were misguided.   Incognito proved during his first year with the Dolphins that he can comply with external expectations if his NFL career is hanging in the balance.  His NFL career is now hanging in the balance.  He seems to realize that, and he seems to be willing to behave.

The challenge for his next team, and surely there will be one, will be to keep him on a one-strike exemption beyond his first year with the team, which the Dolphins didn’t do.  And a lot of people have paid for that one.

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Eagles can’t find a place on the roster for QB G.J. Kinne

New York Jets v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

Quarterback G.J. Kinne had a good preseason for the Eagles, but there simply wasn’t a place to put him on the 53-man roster.

Kinne was among the first players cut in Philadelphia, according to Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com.

With Nick Foles and Michael Vick and Matt Barkley entrenched in front of him, Kinne needed someone to get injured or falter, and no one did.

Kinne posed a 130.7 passer rating in the preseason, although that was compiled against of other guys who are about to become unemployed. They might still sign him to the practice squad, as he has eligibility there.

Offensive lineman Josh Andrews has also been cut, per a tweet from his agent.

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Pat Angerer, Yawin Smallwood out in Atlanta

Pat Angerer, William Powell AP

The Falcons lost Sean Weatherspoon for the season and they said goodbye to two of the inside linebackers vying for playing time in his place on Friday.

Veteran Pat Angerer and 2014 seventh-round pick Yawin Smallwood are among the first players to learn that they won’t be on Atlanta’s 53-man roster this season. Angerer, who had microfracture surgery last year, made the announcement on Twitter.

“Enjoyed my time in ATL, unfortunately it’s come to an end here. First class org and first class people. They gave me a chance when no one would,” Angerer wrote. “I was able to have fun playing football again. Falcon fans, be proud of the men you cheer for. All of them are great hardworking dudes. Worse comes to worse, I’ll end up in Iowa with my kids! And there ain’t no place I’d rather be. It’s a win win.”

Smallwood’s release was reported by various sources and he is the fourth player selected in the 2014 draft to be cut this summer. With Angerer and Smallwood gone, the Falcons have Paul Worrilow, Prince Shembo, Tim Dobbins and Joplu Bartu at inside linebacker.

Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com also reports that fullback Maurice Hagens, running back Josh Vaughn and offensive lineman Pat McQuistan have been dropped as the Falcons make their way to 53 players.

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AFL-CIO joins NFL in supporting blackout rule

MoneyForNothing

During the 2011 lockout, the NFLPA raised eyebrows by currying the favor of unions whose employees make a lot less money than pro athletes.  Three years later, the strange bedfellows routine has gone even farther, with the NFL and the AFL-CIO joining forces on a relatively unpopular political issue.

In a letter dated August 26, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka urges the FCC to keep the sports blackout rule in place.

“The current broadcast rules promote full stadiums, which provide jobs and incomes for the working people we are proud to represent, and they promote free over-the-air television, on which many working people rely,” Trumka writes.  “We have seen all other sports migrate away from the free over-the-air model and are concerned that eliminating the Sports Blackout Rule may make the NFL leave free over-the-air television as well.”

The good news is that Trumka, unlike the NFL, doesn’t blame the situation on “Pay TV lobbyists” or other bogeymen who would force the hard-working men and women of America to pay for the privilege of watching NFL football.  The bad news is that Trumka has decided to perpetuate the disingenuous notion that, if the blackout rule goes away, the NFL will change its broadcasting model to pay-per-view only.

That’ll never happen, for a variety of reasons.  Most importantly, the removal of NFL football from free broadcast TV would spark an outrage from the public even bigger than the Ray Rice backlash, resulting in the immediate drafting of legislation that would strip the league of its broadcast antitrust protection.  In turn, the league would be forced to allow teams to cut their own TV deals, Notre Dame-style.  Some teams would make billions and others would make millions and others may be relegated to local public access.  The ensuing competition for dollars and product exposure would make the maximum audience that comes from a broadcast network very attractive to some teams, possibly sparking a bidding war among multiple franchises for the privilege of being the official team of ABC, FOX, CBS, or NBC.

Trumka’s other argument — that full stadiums generate more money for the people who work there — has some merit.  But people who choose to stay home at watch the games on TV will also be utilizing goods and services that are provided by working men and women, from beer to food to color TVs to emergency plumbing services, thanks to Uncle John and his chimichanga habit.

It’s a coup for the NFL, which previously found support for the position only when hiring people like Lynn Swann to parrot nonsensical talking points.  With the AFL-CIO behind the effort, maybe the league has a chance at preventing or delaying that which seemed inevitable.

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Titans release Marc Mariani on way to 53 players

Marc Mariani AP

The Titans haven’t officially announced any of their cuts yet, but some of the players receiving bad news are sharing the news ahead of the team.

One such player is wide receiver Marc Mariani. Mariani joined the team as a seventh-round pick in 2010 and spent his first two seasons as the team’s top kick and punt returner. He returned two punts and a kickoff for a touchdown over that span, but missed the last two years with a broken leg and a shoulder injury.

“All good things must come to an end,” Mariani said in a text to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. “Hopefully I’ll land somewhere else soon.”

Defensive lineman Marcus Dixon also tweeted that the “Lord has something else in store for me.” Dixon played for the Jets from 2010-2012 and was out of the league last season.

Wyatt reports that the Titans have also released offensive lineman Justin McCray, fullback Colin Mooney, offensive lineman Jeff Adams and defensive lineman Chigbo Anunoby. That leaves them with 16 more moves to make before Saturday’s deadline.

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Former first-rounder Larry English among Bucs’ early cuts

EJ Manuel, Larry English AP

The Buccaneers took a flier on Larry English, but it wasn’t a long one.

According to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, English is one of 12 Bucs cuts to be reported so far.

The former Chargers’ first-round pick was brought in two weeks ago to see if he could push for a defensive end job, but they apparently didn’t see enough to keep him around.

He was taken 16th overall in the 2009 NFL Draft, one spot before the Buccaneers drafted quarterback Josh Freeman. Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

They’ve also parted ways with cornerbacks Anthony GaitorKeith Lewis, Kip Edwards and Marc Anthony; linebackers Nate Askew and Ka’Lial Glaud; fullback Lonnie Pryor, defensive end T.J. Fatinikun and offensive linemen Edawn Coughman, Jeremiah Warren and Andrew Miller.

If that’s the extent of the day’s work, then they’d have 10 more moves to make by tomorrow afternoon’s deadline to get to the 53-man limit.

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Jerry Jones has had “good visits” with Dez Bryant, doesn’t know if deal will get done

jerryjonesdezbryant Getty Images

Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant doesn’t want to think about a contract extension once the 2014 season is underway, which leaves the two sides a short amount of time to come to an agreement if it is going to happen before Bryant plays out the final year of his current deal.

There are ongoing talks to see that a deal does get done, including one-on-one meetings between Bryant and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones this week. Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com reports that Bryant is “encouraged by the individual attention” he’s received in what Jones calls a rare situation where he’s met directly with a player.

“We have had good visits,” Jones said. “It’s a little different to be talking directly, for me to be talking directly with the player. I know of two that I’ve spent a lot of time directly talking with in some pretty sensitive areas when you’re talking about money. We all understand what that means. One of them Michael Irvin. He asked me to induct him into the Hall of Fame later and Emmitt Smith, he asked me to induct him into the Hall of Fame later. Troy [Aikman] always had Leigh Steinberg there, but we kind of talked straight in there together. But Dez and I have been visiting for years, ever since he’s been a Cowboy regarding things, and so it is a fairly unique situation that we’ve talked as much as we’ve talked, made it pretty easy and maybe propitious to be able to talk to him about his contract. That’s why we were actually talking there.”

The visits have been good, but Jones said that he doesn’t know if the two sides will make enough progress to get things finalized by the start of the regular season. If they don’t, the franchise tag could be in play for the 2015 season but there doesn’t seem to be much concern that Bryant will be anything but a Cowboy.

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Report: Injured reserve/return a possibility for Geoff Schwartz

New York Giants v New York Jets Getty Images

The Giants got some good news about guard Geoff Schwartz’s dislocated toe this week when it was determined that he wouldn’t need surgery to repair the injury.

The team said the plan was for Schwartz to wear a walking boot for 7-10 days before starting his rehabilitation with the situation being reevaluated on a week-to-week basis beyond that point. According to a report from Kimberly Jones of NFL Media, that plan might be altered a bit.

Jones reports that Schwartz is “likely, but not certain” to be placed on injured reserve with the designation to return as the team sets up its roster for the start of the regular season. Going that route would allow the Giants to play with a full roster while Schwartz recovers, but would mean that Schwartz couldn’t return to the lineup until at least the ninth week of the regular season.

That would take away perhaps the best offensive lineman on a team that needs to do a better job of protecting Eli Manning, so you’d imagine the Giants would want to be sure that Schwartz won’t be healthy in the first two months of the season before going that route. Rookie Weston Richburg has taken over the left guard spot for the Giants since Schwartz’s injury.

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Jerome Simpson suspended three games for substance abuse

Vikings wide receiver Simpson makes a catch in front of Bears cornerback Tillman during the first half of their NFL football game at Soldier Field in Chicago Reuters

The Vikings have one less cut to make to get to the 53-man roster limit, at least for the next three weeks.

The NFL has announced that wide receiver Jerome Simpson will be suspended for the first three games of the season.

Simpson had appealed to the league after getting a DUI in November, and failing to submit to a chemical test.

While it was his first alcohol-related violation, he had previously been suspended three games for violating the substance abuse policy in 2012.

Simpson has slid down the depth chart behind some younger options, and it will be interesting to see whether or how long the Vikings hold onto him.

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Browns deserve scrutiny for mishandling receiver position

Gordon AP

While the NFL’s outdated, illogical, and unfair “War on Drugs” obsession with players smoking marijuana on their own time triggered the suspension of Browns receiver Josh Gordon, the Browns nevertheless mishandled the situation, especially since they’ve known for a long time that they’ve been facing the potential absence of Gordon.

As Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer mentioned on Thursday’s PFT Live, the Browns could have traded Gordon last year for a second-round pick and a player.  But former coach Rob Chudzinski was willing to continue to keep a player who was a mere 15 ng/ml of marijuana metabolites in one of up to 10 tests per month away from a one-year suspension.

Then, aware of the looming suspension in May, the Browns opted not to use the fourth overall pick on receiver Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans.  The Browns then used none of their draft picks on a receiver.

And so they’ll move forward with Andrew Hawkins, Miles Austin, and Nate Burleson, barring the acquisition of a veteran who has been cut or who is available via trade.  But even if the Browns bring someone like Santana Moss to Cleveland from Washington, given his familiarity with the offense, it’s always difficult for a receiver to make an impact without the benefit of offseason, training camp, and/or preseason reps with his new team.

In one fell swoop, the Browns went from having one of the best receivers in the NFL to having a revolving door of players who are past their prime or who may never have one.  It puts extra pressure on the running game, on the quarterback, on tight end Jordan Cameron, and on a defense that now needs to serve up great field position and/or to score points via turnovers, if the Browns will have any hope in the AFC North.

General Manager Ray Farmer has defended the decision not to take Watkins or Evans by arguing that no connection exists between having a high-end receiver and winning a Super Bowl.  Which actually makes even more glaring the decision to not trade Gordon when they could have gotten value for him.

Now, the Browns definitely don’t have a high-end receiver.  If Farmer’s theory is correct, maybe that means the Browns will win the Super Bowl this year.

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PFT Live: Raiders talk with Vic Tafur, PFT Planet calls and tweets

Seattle Seahawks v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

The preseason schedule came to an end on Thursday night with few starting players taking part in the action.

The Raiders used the occasion to give rookie quarterback Derek Carr the start and extended playing time and Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle will join Mike Florio on Friday’s edition of PFT Live to discuss Carr’s performance. Carr handled things well, but entered the game behind Matt Schaub on the depth chart so we’ll also get an update on the state of Schaub’s sore elbow while looking ahead to the Raiders season.

We’ll close out the week by taking another set of questions from PFT Planet. Whether you’re thinking about who will make 53-man rosters or looking for predictions about the coming season, let us know on Twitter — @ProFootballTalk — or give 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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Aldon Smith still awaits a decision

Smith Getty Images

With nine days to go until the 49ers open the 2014 regular season, the franchise still hasn’t heard whether linebacker Aldon Smith will be available for Week One.

Smith met with Commissioner Roger Goodell more than three weeks ago, with no decision yet on the number of games he’ll miss for multiple violations of the personal-conduct and substance-abuse policies.

The NFL has developed a habit over the years of resolving suspensions based on offseason developments before the start of the next regular season.  For Smith, who’ll have appeal rights, it becomes more and more difficult to get everything resolved in the next nine days.

Either way, the clock is ticking.  Loudly.  If an initial decision doesn’t come today, Smith may end up being available to play on September 7 against the Cowboys.

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Ryan Mundy considering legal action against Schutt after cut to head

Ryan Mundy, Marcedes Lewis AP

Bears safety Ryan Mundy suffered a cut to his head that required stitches during the team’s preseason game against the Seahawks and he’s considering legal action against the helmet manufacturer as a result.

Mundy was wearing a Schutt helmet when he collided with Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman and says a sharp edge inside the helmet caused a cut that led to 16 stitches. Mundy said he has to “do some diligence about what action” he can take against the company, which he says came to the Bears to fix the issue on other helmets in the wake of Mundy’s injury.

“Their guy came in a few days ago and put a protective pad inside the helmet of the other guys that are wearing Schutt helmets to cover up the edge that was kind of sharp,” Mundy said, via the Chicago Tribune. “I’ve never seen anything like this ever. This can’t happen. It’s not supposed to work out like that at all.”

We’ll leave discussions on legal action to those with law degrees, but something does seem off if a helmet designed to protect its wearer contributes to his injury instead.

Mundy hasn’t worn a helmet since suffering the injury, but is expected back on the field this week wearing a Riddell helmet.

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New policy possibly wouldn’t have applied to Roethlisberer

Roethlisberger Getty Images

That new beefed-up policy regarding domestic violence, sexual assault, and assault and battery generally imposes real and substantial penalties, especially for a second offense.

But plenty of questions remain officially unanswered, including what precisely constitutes an offense.

ESPN has reported that an offense would arise only upon an adjudication resulting in responsibility being imposed on the player, via a conviction at trial, a guilty plea, a plea of no contest, or admission to a diversionary program.  If accurate, this means that players who aren’t criminally prosecuted will never face scrutiny.

Which means that the new policy may have not applied to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

His first offense was a lawsuit for sexual assault, filed in Nevada.  He never was arrested or charged criminally, and the case eventually was settled without an admission of guilt.  For his second offense, arising from an accusation of sexual assault in Milledgeville, Georgia, Roethlisberger never was arrested, charged, or even sued.

If, as ESPN has reported, the enhanced penalties apply only when a criminal case has been adjudicated, Roethlisberger wouldn’t have been eligible for punishment under the new policy.

That said, the league could have still found a way to impose some sort of discipline on Roethlisberger, especially in light of circumstances that potentially entailed Roethlisberger furnishing alcohol to a minor, a dynamic that the prosecutor specifically acknowledged in announcing that no charges would be filed.

Ultimately, the league will address and any all situations on a case-by-case basis, finding a way to impose discipline if it believes discipline is warranted.  But the strict penalties (especially the minimum one-year ban for a second offense) apply only if there are two adjudications that result in responsibility for domestic violence, sexual assault, assault, or battery.  If a player can avoid such an outcome — either by fighting the charges through to a verdict or by settling all claims with the alleged victim via the transfer of a large bag with a dollar sign on it — the new policy won’t apply.

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Kaepernick gets the night off, unexpectedly

Kaepernick Getty Images

Colin Kaepernick was scheduled to play in the preseason finale, unless he wasn’t.

“Yes, he’ll play,” coach Jim Harbaugh said regarding Kaepernick.  “We’ll go into it like we have these other games.”

While noteworthy because of the starting offense’s struggles this year, the starting quarterback had typically played in the final preseason game under the Harbaugh.

And then came Thursday night.  And Kaepernick didn’t play against the Texans.

“I felt like a short week traveling down to Houston, I just decided to make a battlefield decision and treat it like a bye week going into the first game, rather than play a majority of the starters,” Harbaugh said after the game.

The move puts a little extra pressure on Harbaugh and the starting offense entering Week One, since he opted not to take advantage of one more opportunity to work out the many kinks in the system.  Then again, the 49ers play the Cowboys in nine days, which should go a long way toward working out the offensive kinks.

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Bengals’ Jeremy Hill gets 20 carries in preseason finale

Jeremy Hill AP

One day, Jeremy Hill might earn the night off in the Bengals’ exhibition finale, but on Thursday, the rookie tailback was exceptionally busy, touching the ball on nearly half of Cincinnati’s plays in a 35-7 victory over Indianapolis.

Most importantly, the 21-year-old Hill handled the extra work very well. With the Bengals sitting four running backs, Hill rushed 20 times for 90 yards and caught six passes for 70 yards.

Afterwards, coach Marvin Lewis explained why the second-round pick from LSU got so many reps.

“Well, Jeremy has to understand what it’s like to be an NFL running back. We aren’t five deep,” Lewis said, according to a transcript from the club. “When we get to Sundays and we go down to 46 guys, and if he’s going to be the guy, then he’s going to have to be able to shoulder the load.

“You can get some good conditioning out here tonight. He’s going to learn to run with his pads down and protect the football. They were good snaps for him to learn with tonight.”

The 6-foot-1, 238-pound Hill said he would study the tape to see how he could improve on the performance, and he also indicated all the reps would help his fitness.

“I kind of figured I would be getting a big work load today. It’s part of it. I just have to get myself in better shape,” Hill said, according to the club. “On one of those drives I got a little tired. But for the most part, I got my wind back and started finishing runs. It’s something I can hang my hat on.”

Hill is listed as the Bengals’ third-string tailback behind Giovani Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but Green-Ellis is slated to make $2.3 million in salary this season, per NFLPA records. Hill, the second back selected in the 2014 NFL Draft, figures to have a role in the Cincinnati backfield. And in the preseason finale, the Bengals got a glimpse of what Hill might be able to do if that were a major role.

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