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Jadeveon Clowney’s not 100 percent, but he’s on the field

Jadeveon Clowney AP

No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney has met his first goal in Texans training camp, getting back on the field.

He was out there for Saturday morning’s workout, after coming back from offseason sports hernia surgery.

I feel good,” Clowney said, via Brian Smith of the Houston Chronicle. “Get everybody back out here, back learning (the) playbook. Just look forward to getting back into and mixing. Looking forward to the season.”

Of course, there are varying degrees of “good,” as Clowney hedged when asked if he’d be ready for the full-contact portion of practice Monday. Coach Bill O’Brien said he was working with restrictions.

“I don’t know the percentage but I know I ain’t 100 percent,” Clowney said.

Getting him closer to that point will be important for the Texans, as they’re going to have to be dominant on defense this year to make up for an offense full of question marks.

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DeVante Parker back on practice field, still shooting for opener

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The Dolphins breathed a sign of relief when center Mike Pouncey’s MRI came back negative.

But the news they got on first-round receiver DeVante Parker was a breath of fresh air as well.

According to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, Parker returned to the practice field Monday for the first time since foot surgery in June, making it possible that he plays in the regular season opener.

“I’m pretty anxious to get out there,” Parker said. “But you can’t do anything but be patient and wait until the time is right.”

In June, Parker needed a procedure to replace a screw in his left foot, after standing out through the spring workouts as the Dolphins’ most dynamic downfield target. But he has also missed a lot of time since then, so they know his return won’t be automatic.

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill dealt with a similar injury coming out of college, and needed four months to recover. Parkers now on month three.

“Injuries are tough,” Tannnehill said. “I’ve had a similar injury with my foot. I know what he’s going through and know the process. Excited to see him start moving around a little bit. I threw a few passes to him in pre-game so that’s exciting. That’s progress that I like seeing. You don’t want to push him too early where, we’ve got him back for the first game and then his foot breaks down and we don’t have him for the rest of the year.”

That would be a tough break for a team that has quietly put together a solid preseason — and has done so quietly, without the normal drama that seems to surround them.

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Injuries mounting for Panthers in the preseason

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The Panthers might have walked into the preseason as favorites to win the NFC South again, but that position has been greatly compromised by the injuries which have whacked them throughout the month of August.

Losing star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin for the year was the big one, but they’ve been dealing with a number of other issues which will make it harder to repeat as division champs.

Via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, they’re dealing with a number of injuries new and old.

For one, their receiving corps is having a hard time replacing Benjamin at the moment because they’re seemingly all hurt. Rookie Devin Funchess remains out with a hamstring strain, and was joined on the sidelines by Jerricho Cotchery, who coach Ron Rivera said had “just a tweak” of a groin muscle and was expected to play in the regular season opener.

They’re equally optimistic about defensive end Charles Johnson, who had a trapezius muscle” lock up” on him in practice earlier this week.

“He walked in like Quasimodo,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera joked.

Johnson hasn’t played in the preseason because of a calf strain, and Rivera said he hoped to get him some snaps Thursday at Pittsburgh. The same hope holds for defensive tackle Kawann Short, who hasn’t played in the preseason with back spasms. Meanwhile, defensive tackle Star Lotulelei is still dealing with a persistent foot problem which had him in a boot.

Also (as if they needed any more), it appears versatile defensive back Colin Jones may miss some time with a groin injury. Rivera described it as “much more than a tweak,” and that Jones is going to see a specialist. Jones, one of the fastest players on the roster, plays a number of roles as a nickel corner, safety and special teams player.

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Judge Berman has several options for Brady ruling

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With the official efforts to settle the Tom Brady suspension litigation over (the unofficial efforts, in theory, may continue until a decision is reached and beyond), the question now becomes how Judge Richard M. Berman will rule. That question has several potential answers.

It’s important to remember that no one knows what will happen. People will make predictions, guesses, whatever. Anyone who claims to know precisely what the outcome will be is lying or uninformed.

The goal for the remainder of this post is to make you informed about the options Judge Berman has.

First, he can give the NFL a slam-dunk victory. That would entail upholding the suspension in its entirety, refusing to stay the suspension pending appeal, and forcing Brady and the NFL Players Association to make an immediate effort to persuade the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to grant an injunction allowing Brady to play pending the appeal.

Second, Judge Berman can give Brady a slam-dunk victory. That would entail vacating the suspension and finding that the league lacks the power under any circumstances to suspend Brady either for having knowledge of a scheme to deflate footballs or for obstructing an NFL investigation. He could then remand the case for further proceedings limited to issuing fines to Brady for the infractions. The NFL could seek an emergency appeal to the Second Circuit, but it would be a steep uphill climb to get the suspension implemented for Week One.

Third, Judge Berman can rule for the NFL but enter an injunction allowing Brady to play pending appeal. This would be a potential mixed-bag outcome that could prompt the two sides to settle, since Brady likely would be available for all of 2015 while the appeals process unfolds in the Second Circuit.

Fourth, Judge Berman can send the case back to the arbitration process, vacating the suspension and requiring the NFL to give Brady a new appeal hearing that remedies procedural flaws by: (1) appointing a new hearing officer due to Commissioner Roger Goodell’s inherent bias and/or involvement in the case; (2) mandating that certain witnesses must be called to testify in order to make the process fair, including NFL general counsel Jeff Pash; and/or (3) requiring the NFL to make investgative information gathered by Ted Wells that was available to the league for the first appeal hearing also available to the NFLPA. Sending the case back for a second appeal hearing also could nudge the two sides toward a settlement.

Fifth, Judge Berman could try to impose a reduced suspension, splitting the penalty into two games for “general awareness” and two for failure to cooperate and enforcing one and scrapping the other. This would be unlikely since the NFL didn’t tie specific games to specific penalties, making it more of an all-or-nothing proposition. Still, it’s possible that Judge Berman will at least try to do it.

There could be other possibilities, but those are the primary potential choices. The selection could go from potential to actual as soon as Tuesday, nine days before the Patriots host the Steelers to start the 2015 season.

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Robert Griffin III can’t control his social media, blames the intern

Robert Griffin III AP

Who says deposed Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III doesn’t make quick decisions, or good ones.

Last night, via SB Nation, his official Instagram account liked a post on the social media site which ripped the team, its “sorry ass team owner” and “sorry ass front office,” and included the only-in-Washington hashtag #ImpeachDanSnyder.

Of course, this made a splash, because lord knows anything the man says or does in the wake of being benched will.

But he came around later and “unlike” the photo, with his own post blaming an intern and backing away from responsibility, under a large photo saying “I just wanted to set the record straight.”

“I did not “like” that IG post ridiculing our team,” he wrote. “I have not been social media active consistently for awhile now and am ultra-focused on working to get back on the field and trying to help this team. One of our interns who helps with Instagram liked the post. As soon as I was made aware of it, it was immediately unliked. That is not how I feel and I appreciate your understanding.”

So he doesn’t hate his employer, but he does run and put his name on an operation designed for brand promotion that doesn’t always do things coherently and consistently, and is willing to chunk a lesser-paid individual under the bus if need be.

Come to think of it, that might be why he lost his day job as well.

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Jeff Fisher explains that “younger guys understand” being cut

Benny Cunningham AP

With all team required to drop from 90 to 75 players on Tuesday and then to plunge from 75 to 53 by the weekend, plenty of players will see their NFL dreams end or, at a minimum, be thrown into limbo.

It’s easy to become desensitized to that reality, given that NFL teams are routinely churning rosters, with guys constantly losing spots on on a team that are has a fixed limit on the number of players.

On Monday, Rams coach Jeff Fisher was asked whether players have ever gotten upset with him when getting the news that they’ll be released by the team.

“No, I mean you have obviously . . . what gets hard is when you’re releasing a vested veteran and someone that’s put time in and has contributed to your program,” Fisher told reporters. “The younger guys understand it. They’re appreciative of the opportunity. They got to put a body of work on tape for the rest of the league and that was our commitment to them when we signed a lot of these guys after the draft, was we’re going to let you play in preseason games. And they did and they played well, so they’ll be exposed to the rest of the league [on waivers] tomorrow and we’ll just see what happens.”

For players in the initial wave of cuts who may be claimed on waivers, there will be a limited opportunity to earn a roster spot with another team before the maximum drops to 53. After that, guys who thought they were in the clear could lose jobs after teams grab players who have been cut by other teams.

Even then, there’s always a revolving door at the bottom five or 10 spots on the roster, with players being added to or cut from the active roster to suit the needs that the team has in any given week of game preparation.

The constant hiring and firing of players has been and will continue to be a major part of pro football. In the past, the NFL has expressed an interest in making the process of separating players from employment more humane.

The NFL could start by not broadcasting those moments on Hard Knocks.

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Bruce Arians declares preseason over for Cardinals starters

Carson Palmer AP

The next time the starters will participate in practice for the Arizona Cardinals will be in preparation for the team’s season opener against the New Orleans Saints.

According to Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com, head coach Bruce Arians said Monday that Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald and the rest of the Cardinals starting units will not play in the preseason finale against the Denver Broncos on Thursday. In fact, the starters won’t even practice.

Instead, the starters will work only on 7-on-7 sessions away from the rest of team as the reserves compete for the final spots on the team’s 53-man roster.

Phillip Sims and Logan Thomas are expected to play quarterback in place of Palmer and backup Drew Stanton.

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Feely’s presence may have been a useful coincidence for Brady, NFLPA

Jay Feely AP

On the surface, free-agent kicker Jay Feely attended Monday’s settlement conference in his capacity as a member of the NFL Players Association’s Executive Committee. At a deeper level, Feely may have served a more important purpose in connection with the interests of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

As noted last month, the NFLPA’s initial court filing challenging the Brady suspension pointed out that the NFL suspended a Jets equipment employee in 2009, after an attempt “to use unapproved equipment to prep the K[icking] Balls” in a game against (you guessed it) the Patriots. The NFL did not investigate or discipline the Jets kicker for “general awareness” or specific involvement in the attempted violation of the rules, even though the Jets kicker was the player most likely to benefit from the behavior and, in turn, the player most likely to be aware of the conduct.

Coincidentally, the Jets kicker at the time was Jay Feely.

The incident wasn’t mentioned during Monday’s proceedings in open court. It’s possible that the incident was discussed behind closed doors with Judge Richard M. Berman, given the similarities between the two situations.

In Feely’s case, investigating or disciplining the player wasn’t even considered, even though Feely may have known all about the infraction. (And, if he did, he could have shared his knowledge of the situation directly with Judge Berman.) For Brady, simply being the guy who benefited from an equipment violation made him the focal point of an investigation that, by all appearances, was a prosecution.

It’ll be interesting to see whether Judge Berman mentioned the 2009 incident in his written ruling on the Brady case. On Monday, he happened to have in his chambers the man who occupied the same position as Brady does in the present controversy.

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Sheldon Richardson pleads not guilty

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Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was practicing with his teammates Monday. Through his attorney in Missouri, he pleaded not guilty to resisting arrest and various other charges stemming from his July 14 arrest.

His next hearing is Oct. 5. Richardson is not required to attend.

Richardson is allowed to be with the Jets this week. His four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy starts this weekend, and the 2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year is facing a possible longer ban based on the outcome of the charges he’s facing after police alleged he tried to elude them during a street race.

The police report stated that Richardson was clocked going 143 mph with a 12-year-old relative and a concealed loaded gun in the car. The arresting officer “smelled a very strong odor of burned marijuana emanating from the vehicle and all passengers smelled of burned marijuana.”

Though he’s only facing misdemeanor charges, Richardson is still subject to up to a year in jail if found guilty.

Last week, Richardson told reporters it was “pretty tough” to not know when he’ll play football again and that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell could deliver a stiff penalty under the league’s personal conduct policy.

“It’s a cloud over my head,” Richardson said.

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Report: Brady was open to accepting a one-game suspension on Monday

Tom Brady AP

Nearly two weeks ago, when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady missed work a day before an August 19 court hearing, Brady was willing (as PFT and others have reported) to accept a one-game suspension for not cooperating with the NFL’s #DeflateGate investigation. After the August 19 hearing, during which Judge Richard M. Berman subjected the league’s lawyers to a variety of tough questions, Brady’s camp seemed to retreat.

As of Monday, Brady was once again ready to consider striking a deal.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Brady was open to serving a one-game suspension for failure to cooperate. Like 13 days ago, however, it never got to that point due to the NFL’s insistence on Brady admitting to guilt, knowledge, and/or responsibility in connection with the alleged deflation of footballs.

Via Gary Myers of the New York Daily News, the league was willing to cut the suspension to three games, if Brady were to admit guilt. Previously, PFT was told that the NFL would at least cut the suspension in half, if Brady acknowledged that he was not innocent. Myers also reports that Brady was willing to pay a fine for not cooperating.

The question of what Brady would have done is irrelevant, since the NFL’s position prevented negotiations from ever accelerating.

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The “do you want RGIII?” questions are starting

Todd Bowles AP

Now that Washington may be moving on from quarterback Robert Griffin III, the task of finding a potential new destination begins. And with it comes the inevitable effort to lure another team into a tampering violation.

It started on Monday, when a reporter asked coach Todd Bowles whether the Jets have interest in Griffin.

“He’s on the Redskins and we have our guys right now,” Bowles said. “That’s not my concern.”

That’s all Bowles could have said about the situation. But that won’t stop reporters who either don’t know the rule or want to generate a story line from asking the question.

Bowles, a first-year head coach, is smart enough to know how to handle himself with that topic. It doesn’t hurt that the Jets were fined $100,000 earlier this year for tampering with Darrelle Revis, after owner Woody Johnson failed to realize that loaded questions regarding players under contract with other teams should be avoided.

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Will Washington cut Robert Griffin III?

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With quarterback Robert Griffin III relegated to No. 2 (or possibly No. 3) on the depth chart in D.C., the question becomes whether the team will pay $3.249 million in 2015 to someone other than a starting quarterback.

They just might do that, for several reasons.

First, $3.249 million isn’t a crazy number for a veteran backup quarterback. Matt Schaub will get $3 million this year in Baltimore. Matthew Hasselbeck will receive $3 million in Indy. Chase Daniel will make $3.75 million this year from the Chiefs, along with a $1 million bonus allocation from 2013.

Second, Washington has a ridiculously low total commitment to quarterbacks. Kirk Cousins is making $660,000 this year, and Colt McCoy (who received a $150,000 signing bonus) will make a base salary of $850,000, along with $31.250 for each game he’s on the active roster. It’s a payout of $1.375 million. So that’s a total of $5.284 million for three quarterbacks.

Third, Washington may still need Griffin to play at some point this year. Cousins, after a promising couple of games in 2014 after Robert Griffin III dislocated his ankle, played poorly on a Thursday night against the Giants. Eventually, Cousins landed on the bench.

McCoy wasn’t much better, while suggests that eventually Griffin’s number will be called. Assuming he’s cleared to play.

Besides, Washington owes Griffin his $3.249 million whether he’s on the roster or not, and regardless of whether another team (like maybe the Eagles) signs him. So why not pay him and keep him?

Playing him still entails a significant risk. If he suffers an injury that keeps him from playing in 2016, Washington will be on the hook for $16.1 million in 2016, due to the decision to pick up his fifth-year option.

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Lawyers are bracing for Tuesday ruling from Judge Berman

Richard M. Berman AP

During 18 years of practicing law, I once showed up for a court-ordered mediation session in a case where the two sides were very far apart in their settlement positions. Scheduled to last three hours, the meeting began with the mediator asking the two sides to state their current positions. Fifteen minutes later, the mediator said, “Well, we can either sit here and look at each other for the next two hours and forty-five minutes, or we can go do something useful with our time.”

That’s basically what happened in a Manhattan federal court today during the third and final attempt to try to settle the litigation arising from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension. And for good reason; the NFL continues to refuse to even discuss a reduced suspension until Brady makes some sort of an admission regarding knowledge of whatever the equipment guys were or weren’t doing.

So now the two sides will play the waiting game. And they won’t have to wait long. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the lawyers currently expect a decision from Judge Richard M. Berman on Tuesday.

Whenever it comes, a decision could take several different forms. Later tonight, I’ll make a list of all the potential outcomes. Which guarantees that it will be an outcome that I didn’t anticipate.

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Raiders waive Kenbrell Thompkins

Kenbrell Thompkins, Tyrann Mathieu AP

Two years ago, receiver Kenbrell Thompkins became a pleasant surprise from the Patriots, catching 32 passes for 466 yards in 12 games as an undrafted rookie.

Last year, the Patriots decided to move on from Thompkins after only two appearances. He landed with the Raiders, and he finished the year with 12 appearances and six starts.

This year, there will be no starts with the Raiders; per a league source, Thompkins has been waived.

He’ll now be available on waivers to any interested team. If he clears waivers, he’ll become a free agent.

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Raiders cut Trent Richardson

Trent Richardson AP

One of the biggest draft busts in recent memory may have reached the end of the line.

Trent Richardson, the running back selected third overall in the 2012 draft, has been released by the Raiders, according to ESPN.

Richardson had a disappointing rookie season with the Browns after going third overall, and was then traded to the Colts for a first-round pick. A complete disaster in Indianapolis, Richardson was cut this offseason. The Raiders picked him up, but he did not impress in the preseason.

Realistically, it’s hard to see any other team giving Richardson a chance after he was such a dismal failure in all three of his stops. At age 25, this once-promising running back has probably played his last snap in the NFL.

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If Cousins can’t cut his interceptions, Gruden can’t stick with him

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Washington coach Jay Gruden insists that Kirk Cousins is his quarterback for the 2015 season. Don’t be surprised if Gruden changes his mind.

Gruden has already changed his mind before: He changed his mind about Robert Griffin III when he proclaimed Cousins the starter today, and Gruden changed his mind about Cousins last year when he benched Cousins for Colt McCoy. So we know Gruden isn’t a man to stick to his guns at the quarterback position.

And we also know that Cousins is a quarterback who gives his coaches ample reason to bench him. In his three-year NFL career, Cousins has thrown 19 interceptions out of 407 passes. That’s a terrible rate of 4.7 percent of all of his passes being intercepted — nearly double the league-wide rate of 2.5 percent of passes being intercepted. According to ESPN, Cousins is the only quarterback in the NFL to average more than one turnover for every 30 snaps over the last two years.

For all the criticism Griffin receives, he doesn’t throw interceptions anywhere near as often as Cousins. Griffin has thrown interceptions on just 2.2 percent of his passes in his NFL career, meaning Cousins gets picked off more than twice as often as Griffin.

That’s an area where Cousins simply has to improve. If not, Gruden is going to change his mind again.

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