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Jones-Drew finds it “hilarious” that people think he’s getting old

mjd AP

Raiders running back Maurice Jones-Drew is 29 years old and coming off a 2013 season in which he had a career-low 3.4 yards a carry and never looked like he was all the way back to full speed after a foot injury cut short his 2012 season. But he insists that he’s not getting old.

In fact, Jones-Drew thinks it’s “hilarious” that some people don’t think he has what it takes to carry the load in the Raiders’ offense.

“I know what I have left,” Jones-Drew told the San Jose Mercury-News. “I know the work I put in this offseason to get to where I need to get to be able to play at a high level. I stopped worrying about what people were saying.”

Jones-Drew is competing with Darren McFadden for the starting job in Oakland. Although McFadden is only 26, he appears to be slowing down just as much as Jones-Drew: McFadden has been plagued by injuries and averaged just 3.3 yards a carry in each of the last two seasons.

The Raiders need one of those running backs to get back to full speed. If both of them are up to speed, Oakland may have one of the better 1-2 punches in the backfield. But given their recent performances, fans can be forgiven if they think the thought of the Raiders having a great offense is hilarious.

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Report: Concerns raised about Ezekiel Elliott’s pattern of behavior

FILE - This Aug. 19, 2016 file photo shows Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott laughing as he talks with teammates on the sideline in the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Miami Dolphins in Arlington, Texas. Elliott appears set for his preseason debut at Seattle after the running back taken fourth overall by the Cowboys missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins, file) AP

Like many people on out-of-town visits to states where marijuana is legal, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott decided to check out a pot store while he was in Seattle for last night’s preseason game. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wasn’t happy about that.

But beyond that, the Cowboys organization is apparently concerned about the way Elliott handles himself off the field. Ed Werder of ESPN reported today that there are concerns about “a pattern of disturbing behavior” from Elliott.

Werder didn’t detail what behavior was involved in that pattern, but far more concerning than entering a legal marijuana store is that there’s an investigation in Columbus, Ohio, into an allegation of domestic violence. The Columbus city attorney’s office said a month ago that there’s an “open investigation” into that allegation. There has been no update to that story since.

Frankly, it feels a little ridiculous to even be talking about visiting a legal marijuana store when there’s also an investigation into a domestic violence allegation. The latter is a serious concern, while the former is something that shouldn’t even be the NFL’s business. After Werder’s report aired on ESPN, his colleague, former NFL running back Merril Hoge, said somebody should sit Elliott down and tell him, “Nobody’s ever played with drugs and won.” But that’s silly. Many people who have smoked marijuana have become Hall of Fame football players and had success in other fields, up to and including becoming president of the United States. (And it’s also worth noting that there’s not even any evidence that Elliott actually used marijuana. He may have simply been curious to see how a legal marijuana store operates.)

The domestic violence allegations against Elliott are, indeed, concerning. The marijuana issue is nothing.

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Tom Brady reportedly playing in tonight’s preseason game

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, left, grasps the hand of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, right, during NFL football training camp, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) AP

Barring another unfortunate scissors incident, it appears we’ll see Tom Brady for the first time this preseason when the Patriots play against the Panthers.

Whether he starts, however, remains to be seen.

According to Tom Curran of, Brady has joined the Patriots in Charlotte with the intention of playing.

Of course, the plan was for Brady to play a week ago, before he cut his thumb with a pair of scissors in pregame. That forced Jimmy Garoppolo to make a quick start, and it’s worth wondering whether Bill Belichick sat Brady on purpose just to see how Garoppolo would react.

Belichick has also maintained that having Garoppolo prepared for starting the first four games of the regular season was his priority, so it will be interesting to see how much Brady actually plays tonight.

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Rueben Randle feels he still has plenty to prove

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 03:   Rueben Randle #82 of the New York Giants catches a pass in the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles during their game at MetLife Stadium on January 3, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Eagles knew wide receiver Rueben Randle well from his time with the Giants, and the team should know Randle much better now that he’s gone through spring and training camp trying to earn a starting role after signing with the Eagles in free agency.

But Randle still feels like he’s not only proving himself as a player. He believes there were knocks on his consistency and work ethic that may have scared away some potential free agent suitors.

“I feel like I get read wrong because I do a lot of things naturally and it doesn’t seem like I’m giving much effort,” Randle said, per ESPN. “If I go out there and make a one-handed catch and make it look effortless, I get praised for it, but if I do all these other things effortlessly, it’s like I’m not giving much effort.

“It’s just kind of one of those things, you just have to go out there and just make some plays and see how it goes from there.”

The Eagles would like Randle to make a bunch of plays. Jordan Matthews, who led the team in every receiving category last season, has been out for the last three weeks and Randle is in a crowded group of wide receivers trying to make an impression. Randle, who caught eight touchdown passes last season for the Giants, has three preseason catches in two brief appearances.

Though Randle’s focus has been on getting up to speed with a new offense and earning a role in the starting lineup, he’s also playing for the future. He’s just 25 and is on a one-year contract, so he could be back on the free agent market next spring — or play his way into the Eagles’ long-term plans.

The Eagles expect Matthews back for the season opener, and in the meantime Randle and the other receivers are trying to stand out.

“If I didn’t [feel confident], I shouldn’t be here,” Randle said. “We all should feel confident in where we are. We just have to go out and prove ourselves.”

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Tyrann Mathieu, Robert Nkemdiche expected to play Sunday

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 09:  Tyrann Mathieu attends the premiere of "All or Nothing" at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on June 9, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images for Amazon) Getty Images

The Cardinals will have some different faces on the defensive side of the ball in their third preseason game than they had in their first two outings.

During a Friday press conference, coach Bruce Arians said that safety Tyrann Mathieu will play for the first time since tearing his ACL last December. Mathieu said this week that he “wouldn’t say I’m ready to play a full game” and he won’t be out there for anything close to that as Arians said the plan is for Mathieu to play 10 snaps at the most.

That’s also true of defensive lineman Frostee Rucker and cornerback Justin Bethel, who were also on the physically unable to perform list for most of camp.

Defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche is slated to play a bigger role. The first-round pick missed weeks with an ankle injury, but has been practicing and Arians said he’ll see a lot of playing time against the Texans this weekend.

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Stevan Ridley visiting Colts on Friday

FILE - In this June 14, 2016, file photo, Detroit Lions running back Stevan Ridley runs during NFL football practice in Allen Park, Mich. The Lions have cut Ridley. They made the move Thursday, Aug. 25, before practice. Detroit signed Ridley in April, hoping he would bolster its depth in the backfield after the release of Joique Bell. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File) AP

It didn’t take long for running back Stevan Ridley to start lining up job interviews after being released by the Lions on Thursday.

Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reports that Ridley is in Indianapolis for a visit with the Colts on Friday.

The Colts have Frank Gore in the starting lineup and have been looking for a No. 2 back to separate from the pack this offseason. There was some early buzz about undrafted rookie Josh Ferguson, but he’s run for nine yards on 13 carries through two preseason games. Robert Turbin and Jordan Todman are more experienced options already on the roster.

Ridley couldn’t rise above the third team with the Lions this summer and ran for 90 yards on 36 carries for the Jets after returning from a torn ACL last year, so he may not represent a clear upgrade over the players already on hand.

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Peyton Manning to appear on Comedy Central roast of Rob Lowe

KNOXVILLE, TN - JULY 14: Former NFL and University of Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning speaks during a ceremony to celebrate the life of former Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt, on July 14, 2016 at the Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee.. Summitt died June 28 at the age of 64, five years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. (Photo by Mark Humphrey - Pool/Getty Images) Getty Images

Of all the networks on which Peyton Manning could have appeared this fall, Comedy Central would have been low on the list of options.

But that’s what Manning will soon be doing. Via, the retired Colts and Broncos quarterback will participate in the roast of Rob Lowe. The show will be taped on Saturday night in L.A., and it will premiere on Labor Day, September 5.

Four years ago, Lowe “reported” that Manning would be returning, a scoop fueled by wishful thinking that surely was fed to Lowe by Colts owner Jim Irsay.

It’s an odd and eclectic group of comedians and non-comedians, with Ralph Macchio, Ann Coulter, and Jewel among those who will appear. As each attendee takes a turn at the podium, every participant becomes the target of barbs, some of which can be a little (or a lot) raunchy. Which means that, in addition to dishing it out, Manning will be taking it, too.

Manning will surely be good when it comes to dishing it out. He has shown that he possesses great comedic timing, and he’ll obsess over every joke to ensure each one is funny.

Still, it’ll be interesting to see how he deals with taking it — and how aggressively the others will give it to him.

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Report: Tyler Eifert hoping for Week Four return

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 09:  Tyler Eifert #85 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs with the ball in the second half against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Paul Brown Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert started jogging recently for the first time since having ankle surgery in May, which marks one of the first steps toward a return to the field this season.

The gap between jogging and the responsibilities of an NFL tight end leave several more steps for Eifert to take in that journey without much time to take them before the start of the regular season. It makes sense, then, that Week One doesn’t appear to be Eifert’s targeted return date.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Eifert is hopeful that he can play for the first time in Week Four of the regular season when the Bengals host the Dolphins on a Thursday night. He adds that Eifert could “push it” to return the previous week, although it will probably be a couple of weeks before Eifert and the Bengals will know if that’s a realistic possibility.

Should it look like Eifert will need more time before the cut to 53 players, a stay on the regular season version of the PUP list could be in the cards. He’d be ineligible to play for the first six weeks, but the Bengals would have a roster spot available for a player able to contribute right away.

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Andy Reid: Alex Smith “gets it,” and his arm is strong enough to win a championship

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 20:  Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs looks to pass in the first quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on August 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images) Getty Images

After Andy Reid became the head coach in Kansas City, the first order of business was to find a quarterback. Coincidentally, the 49ers were looking to lose a quarterback.

Win. Win.

As Reid and Alex Smith start their fourth season together with the Chiefs, Reid addressed the question of why Smith doesn’t get more credit beyond the organization for his skills and abilities.

“I think it’s how you start, you know?” Reid said on Friday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio and NBCSN. “Your first impression’s the one that kind of hangs with you for a while. So here he was, a kid that comes in as a first pick and then goes through seven or eight different coordinators and different offenses and different head coaches. Finally, he gets Jim [Harbaugh] in there and he settled down and played pretty good football then he got hurt but he was always trying to overcome those early years. Every year he was learning a new system. That’s tough on a quarterback now, I’ll tell you. So he’s been with us now for four years. He’s in a groove and been playing good football for us and, heck, he can still get better. That’s the great thing about football. We can all get better as the years go on, coaches and players. That’s a great thing.”

So what’s the best thing Smith does?

“He’s highly intelligent and he just gets it,” Reid said. “I’m not telling you he’s got the strongest arm in the league, but he’s got plenty strong enough to win a championship with and he knows how to use it. I’ve got full trust in the guy, he’s been a real pleasure to coach.”

49ers coach Chip Kelly may be wishing that he were coaching Smith right now, which may have happened if the team hadn’t picked Colin Kaepernick over Smith. Some (like PFT Live producer and ardent 49ers fan Rob “Stats” Guerrera) think the 49ers kept the right guy. The rest of the reasonably-minded world knows otherwise.

Then again, I’ve never accused Stats of being reasonably minded.

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Beachum will get some snaps Sunday

Kelvin Beachum, Kendall Reyes AP

Jaguars left tackle Kelvin Beachum is set to make his preseason debut Sunday night when the Jaguars host the Bengals, but Beachum isn’t going to play very much.

Jaguars Coach Gus Bradley told reporters Friday that Beachum will play 15-25 plays and be evaluated after every series. Beachum has been out since last season, when he suffered a torn ACL while playing for the Steelers.

Bradley said Luke Joeckel, who’s been playing at left tackle with Beachum out, will start at left guard and also play left tackle.

Beachum has been practicing at least on a limited basis, but the Jaguars have been cautious. Beachum started at left tackle for the Steelers in 2013-14 and for six games last year before the injury.

The Jaguars initially listed Beachum and Joeckel as co-starters on their unofficial preseason depth chart but have since changed that because Beachum hasn’t yet played.

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Adam Vinatieri to Roberto Aguayo: Call me anytime you want

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 03:  Adam Vinatieri #4 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates after making a field goal against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Buccaneers face the Browns at home on Friday night in a nationally televised game, which means there will be plenty of eyes on Buccaneers rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo whenever he takes the field.

Aguayo has missed two field goals and an extra point in his first two preseason games and was heckled by the crowd at a practice this week when he missed more kicks. Aguayo is consulting with a “mental coach” and former NFL kicker Ryan Longwell in an attempt to right himself and one of the league’s top kickers for the last two decades said Aguayo can come to him as well.

While answering questions about Aguayo’s struggles, Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri recalled being told by then-Patriots coach Bill Parcells that he was on thin ice after missing five field goals in the first four games of his rookie year and said he’s willing to share what he’s learned with the rookie.

“He can give me a call anytime he wants to,” Vinatieri said, via “There’s a brotherhood with the specialists. There’s not many of them and we don’t get any respect, so we have to show a little respect for each other. We have to help each other out if we have the opportunity.”

Vinatieri, who wasn’t drafted, said he things Aguayo will figure out because he wouldn’t have been drafted 59th overall (after the Buccaneers traded up) if he “wasn’t really, really good.” That’s obviously what the Bucs believe, but a little confirmation of it on Friday night would be a welcome development all the same.

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Josh Norman never wants to play for the Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 20:  Josh Norman #24 of the Carolina Panthers reacts during their game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on December 20, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Washington cornerback Josh Norman has built his reputation in part by taking shots at anyone and everyone. In a new interview with Kevin Van Walkenburg of ESPN The Magazine (which actually occurred in May, which is sort of odd in today’s world of instant media), Norman took some shots at the New York Giants.

Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. remains Norman’s most obvious target. Norman spent plenty of time railing against Beckham in the interview.

“People from around the league were coming up to me afterward and saying, ‘He does that crap all the time,'” Norman said regarding the aftermath of last December’s brawl with Beckham at MetLife Stadium. “He lost so much respect from people for that little tantrum. I’ve already got a couple people telling me, ‘OK, I’ve got a hit out on him.’ It’s going to be rough for him this year. And he brought it on himself.”

Norman didn’t address, and apparently wasn’t asked about, whether he directed gay slurs at Beckham before the game. Panthers players allegedly harassed Beckham with that kind of talk, sparking Beckham’s temper during the game. (An NFL investigation on the matter found no proof of gay slurs.)

For Norman, his hard feelings toward the Giants extend far beyond Beckham. Norman explained in the interview that, when he was entering the draft four years ago, the Giants asked him tough questions about a reputation for freelancing at Coastal Carolina.

Norman said the Giants were “trying to get me to admit that I wouldn’t listen to coaching” and “[t]hat I was a dirtbag.” The interrogation continued until Norman snapped.

“They kept asking me the same question, wanting me to admit to something I didn’t do,” Norman said. “I ended up breaking down in the room.”

Crying, Norman called his agent and said he never wants to play for the Giants. For the foreseeable future, he’ll be playing against the Giants. Twice per year. And his quotes about Beckham and the team should be dusted off before every encounter.

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Andrew Luck: I’ll try to stop making tackles by eliminating interceptions

Colts-Andrew-Luck-Mike-Ehrmann-Getty-Images Getty Images

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has been told to stop making tackles after he broke his throwing hand trying to make a stop after an interception last season. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck thinks he has a better way to protect himself: Not throw interceptions in the first place.

Asked today about Bengals cornerback Adam Jones saying on PFT Live that Dalton should “run his ass back to the sideline” if he throws a pick, Luck said he hasn’t been given the same advice.

“No, they have not told me to stop making tackles, they’ve just told me to stop throwing interceptions,” Luck said on The Dan Patrick Show. “I’ve always thought if I didn’t give effort to try and right a wrong that I’d be severely disappointed in myself. I was taught how to tackle properly at a young age by my coaches.”

Luck is bound to throw at least a few interceptions over the course of a season, however, and given how important his health is to the success of the franchise, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for him to shy away from contact.

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Eric Berry expected to report to Chiefs in coming days

Kansas City Chiefs v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

During a Friday visit to PFT Live, Chiefs coach Andy Reid said that he’s confident safety Eric Berry will “be able to get himself back before the first game and be ready to go.”

Berry has not been part of the Chiefs’ work in either the spring or the summer after getting the franchise tag early in the offseason and failing to reach an agreement on a long-term deal with the team before the July 15 deadline. Berry can still make the full $10.806 million he’s due under the franchise tender by reporting in time for Week One.

According to multiple reports, that’s just what Berry will do. The safety is expected to report to the team in the coming days so he can sign his tender and spend some time on the field with the team before they open the season against the Chargers on September 11.

Berry is one of two key Chiefs defenders who have missed all the team’s work since the end of the 2015 season. Linebacker Justin Houston remains out after having surgery to repair his ACL and looks like a candidate to open the year on the physically unable to perform list, which would leave him ineligible to play for the first six weeks of the year.

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Report: Browns were asking for a second-rounder plus for Josh Gordon


Browns vice president Sashi Brown, while telling reporters the team was serious about winning now, said they weren’t looking to trade wide receiver Josh Gordon.

While that’s technically true (at the moment), that doesn’t mean there weren’t attempts.

According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, the Browns had multiple conversations with teams, and their price was “a second-round pick and then some.”

That’s a high price, even for a guy who will be a restricted free agent after the season (meaning anyone who trades for him will control his rights for two seasons rather than one).

But it’s also not inconceivable that someone wouldn’t bite, as desperate teams make bad trades all the time.

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Josh Brown was cited for violating protective order two months after arrest

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 21:  Kicker Josh Brown #3 of the New York Giants looks on after an extra point against the Minnesota Vikings during a game at MetLife Stadium on October 21, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Josh Brown, the Giants kicker whose one-game suspension has raised questions about how the NFL handles domestic violence cases, was cited last year for violating a protective order.

Brown was cited for violating the protective order on July 14, 2015, ESPN reports. Brown had been arrested on a domestic violence charge two months earlier.

According to the report, the protective order Brown’s ex-wife obtained required Brown not to come within 500 feet of her house. But she called police and said she saw Brown driving by her house.

It is unclear whether the NFL or the Giants knew about the violation of the protective order. The Giants have acknowledged that they knew about Brown’s domestic violence arrest when it happened but allowed him to play all last year anyway, and that arrest didn’t stop them from signing him to a two-year, $4 million contract this year.

Brown’s ex-wife told police he physically abused her more than 20 times. Despite that, Brown was only arrested once and charges were dropped just days after that arrest.

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