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Matt Cassel: Every indication is that Bills will keep three QBs

Matt Cassel AP

The Bills parted ways with Matt Simms on Friday, leaving them with three quarterbacks on the roster with Saturday’s deadline to set a 53-man roster fast approaching.

We know the plan is for Tyrod Taylor to start Week One, which makes him highly unlikely to wind up on the waiver wire. How EJ Manuel and Matt Cassel fit is less clear and coach Rex Ryan cited “strategic purposes” as the reason he wasn’t willing to discuss the team’s plans for them on Friday.

Cassel was a bit more forthcoming.

“I don’t know if they want to go into depth about what the conversation was about, who’s going to be No. 2 or No. 3,” Cassel said, via ESPN.com. “But every indication was made that we’re probably gonna keep three quarterbacks, and that’s all I can go off of right now.”

Indications don’t mean anything until the moves are submitted to the league, obviously, and the team could decide to move forward with just two quarterbacks or bring in a different player to hold the No. 3 job if someone they like shakes loose from another team. For now, though, Cassel thinks he’ll be spending the next few months in Buffalo along with Manuel and Taylor.

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Patriots cut Ryan Lindley and nine others

Devon Kennard, Ryan Lindley AP

It’s not every year that a team cuts a quarterback that started a playoff game the previous year, but, then, it’s not every year that events conspire to allow a quarterback like Ryan Lindley to start a playoff game.

Lindley was forced into action with the Cardinals late last season and led the offense in their playoff loss to the Panthers before hitting the ranks of the unemployed this offseason. The Patriots signed him last month and he started Thursday’s preseason finale, but there wasn’t much need for him on the 53-man roster now that the team is assured of having Tom Brady in the lineup next week.

Lindley will be joined by running back Tony Creecy, wide receiver Zach D’Orazio, wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, guard Ryan Groy, tackle Caylin Hauptmann, tackle Chris Martin, linebacker James Morris, defensive tackle A.J. Pataiali’i and defensive tackle Casey Walker on the list of former Patriots.

The Patriots signed cornerback Justin Coleman, who was dropped by the Vikings last weekend. The moves leave them with 66 players and 13 moves to go before Saturday’s deadline to set a 53-man roster.

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Jaguars cut 18, including two 2015 draft picks

Jacksonville Jaguars v New York Giants Getty Images

The Jaguars are down to 57 players after saying farewell to 18 members of their roster, including four players drafted by General Manager Dave Caldwell in the seventh round in last three years.

Running back Storm Johnson was a seventh-round pick last year and ran for 86 yards on 29 carries as a rookie, but the arrival of T.J. Yeldon and Bernard Pierce this offseason likely pushed him off the roster. Cornerback Jeremy Harris, a 2013 seventh-rounder, was also axed.

Wide receiver Neal Sterling and tight end Ben Koyack have both been waived after arriving in the final round of the draft this year. Both could be candidates for the practice squad if they don’t catch on somewhere else in the roster shuffling that will go on this weekend.

The Jags also waived quarterback Stephen Morris, which leaves them with Blake Bortles and Chad Henne as the only quarterbacks currently on the roster.

Jacksonville rounded out this wave of cuts by parting ways with defensive tackle Richard Ash, defensive end Camaron Beard, defensive end Cap Capi, wide receiver Kasey Closs, guard Will Corbin, tight end Connor Hamlett, defensive end Ike Igbinosun, wide receiver Erik Lora, guard Chris Reed, cornerback Rashaad Reynolds, linebacker Todd Thomas, cornerback Peyton Thompson and wide receiver Tony Washington.

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Dolphins cut Josh Freeman

Miami Dolphins v Chicago Bears Getty Images

After throwing a pair of interceptions in Thursday night’s preseason game against the Buccaneers, quarterback Josh Freeman vowed to “exhaust every option” available to him before giving up on his hopes of resuming his NFL career.

That didn’t sound like a man who was confident in his chances of making the Dolphins’ 53-man roster and it looks like he’ll have to find his next chance somewhere other than Miami. Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report reports that the Dolphins have released the former Buccaneers first-round pick.

It’s the second time that the Dolphins have released Freeman since initially signing him in April, but they came into the cut to 53 players with three quarterbacks already on the roster and it’s hard to imagine that they would let Freeman go free at this point if they had their hearts set on having him on the team in 2015.

Freeman, who last played in a regular season game with the Vikings in 2013, was 23-of-48 for 332 yards, a touchdown and four interceptions with the Dolphins in the preseason. Those aren’t numbers that would seem to make anyone else’s heart set on having him on their roster, but one can never predict how often the quarterback carousel will spin in a given season.

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49ers release Philip Wheeler, Joe Looney and Craig Dahl

San Francisco 49ers v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

Darnell Dockett isn’t the only veteran that failed to make the cut to 53 players with the 49ers.

The team announced Dockett’s release on Friday afternoon along with five other moves that leave the roster at 69 players. They’ll need to pare that number to 53 by Saturday afternoon.

Guard Joe Looney was released, which leaves the team without any players from their 2012 draft class. He was a fourth-round pick of the 49ers and started four of the 19 games he played for the team over the last three years.

Safety Craig Dahl and linebacker Philip Wheeler are gone as well.  Dahl restructured his contract for the second straight year and played in every game for the team over the last two seasons, but that wasn’t enough for him to hold onto a roster spot. Wheeler signed with the 49ers after being released by the Dolphins in March after playing just two years of a five-year, $26 million deal.

The 49ers also released wide receiver Isaac Blakeney and offensive lineman Patrick Miller.

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LeSean McCoy, Karlos Williams practice with Bills

Rex Ryan AP

Bills running back LeSean McCoy is confident that his injured hamstring will be well enough for him to play in the team’s season opener and he took a step toward realizing that goal on Friday.

McCoy took part in individual drills during Friday’s practice, which is a good sign for his of being well enough to play against the Colts in Week One. Assuming his hamstring responds well to the return to the field, McCoy should move on to team drills at some point next week.

Coach Rex Ryan said that he’s cautiously optimistic about McCoy being ready to go for the opener.

“I’m hoping that he’ll be available to us,” Ryan said, via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com.

The Bills also got running back Karlos Williams back at practice Friday. Like McCoy, Williams, who is recovering after being hospitalized last month with an undisclosed illness, only did individual drills. If McCoy cant go, Williams would join Bryce Brown and Boobie Dixon as options in the backfield a week from Sunday.

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Differing reports about Montee Ball trade talks between Broncos and Cowboys

Montee Ball, Ed Stinson AP

Montee Ball has slid down the Broncos depth chart this offseason and ran as the team’s fourth tailback in their third preseason game, giving some reason to wonder whether the 2013 second-round pick will remain with the team for a third season.

The Broncos would surely prefer to get something in return for Ball rather than just cut him loose to become a free agent and there are reports in Denver that there are discussions afoot to do just that. Vic Lombardi of 104.3 The Fan and Benjamin Allbright of Mile High Sports 1430 AM are both reporting that the Broncos and Cowboys have discussed a trade that would send Ball to Dallas.

No one should be getting a star ready for Ball’s helmet, however. Those reports have been followed by ones from Ian Rapoport of NFL Media and Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram saying that no talks are going on between the two teams regarding Ball.

The Cowboys have maintained confidence in their running backs throughout the offseason and would start the season with Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar as a committee in the backfield if they don’t acquire another player at the position. Ball ran 16 times for 27 yards on Thursday night in his most extensive playing time of the preseason.

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Cardinals cut Matt Shaughnessy, two running backs

Arizona Cardinals v St. Louis Rams Getty Images

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians thought running back Chris Johnson looked “extremely sharp” in his preseason debut for the team on Thursday night and a couple of early cuts out of Arizona make Johnson’s chances of sticking around for more action in the desert look pretty good.

Josina Anderson of ESPN reports that the team has cut running backs Robert Hughes and Paul Lasike. Hughes was talked about as a short yardage option out of the backfield for the Cardinals this season, but he played sparingly in the preseason and the team has opted to roll with other backs. Hughes ran seven times for 11 yards last season and caught eight passes for 140 yards.

Lasike was an undrafted free agent out of BYU and had two carries and a catch in the preseason.

Anderson also reports that the team is releasing veteran defensive end/outside linebacker Matt Shaughnessy. Shaughnessy missed eight games with a knee injury last season and has made 19 starts for the Cardinals over the last two seasons.

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Texans waive Louis Nix, Kenny Hilliard

Louis Nix AP

The Texans drafted defensive tackle Louis Nix in the third round of the 2014 draft, but their opinion of him has apparently soured over the year-plus he’s spent with the team.

According to multiple reports, the team has waived Nix as they make the necessary alterations to their roster to reach the 53-man limit by Saturday afternoon. Those reports also have the team waiving 2015 seventh-round running back Kenny Hilliard.

Nix could return to the practice squad if he isn’t claimed off waivers, but his time with the Texans will come to an end without ever appearing in a regular season game if this is indeed the end of his run in Houston. Nix was placed on injured reserve with a wrist injury last September, although he returned to start every preseason game this summer while Vince Wilfork got some veteran rest on game days. The Texans drafted Christian Covington this year and he appears set to back up Wilfork.

Hilliard was behind Alfred Blue, Jonathan Grimes and Chris Polk in the competition to replace Arian Foster while Foster recovers from groin surgery. The LSU product would likely be a practice squad candidate if he doesn’t land elsewhere.

There are also multiple reports that the Texans have cut defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick and wide receiver Damaris Johnson.

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Ravens announce five cuts

Tom Nelson AP

The Ravens have announced the first of the moves they’ll have to make over the next two days in order to reach the 53-man limit.

Among the players dropped from the roster was wide receiver Tom Nelson, who was known as safety Tom Nelson during the early days of his NFL career. Nelson played for the Bengals in 2009 and 2010 after making the team as an undrafted free agent and saw action in four games for the Eagles in 2011. That was the last time Nelson played in the league, so making the move to receiver was a big leap to take in order to continue his professional career.

Nelson caught five passes for 57 yards in the preseason. The Ravens also waived wide receiver Daniel Brown, leaving them with seven wideouts on the roster at the moment.

Linebacker Andrew Bose, tackle Blaine Clausell and cornerback Quinton Pointer were also waived as the Ravens dropped to 70 players.

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Falcons trading for Andy Levitre

New York Jets v Tennessee Titans Getty Images

Guard Andy Levitre fell out of favor with the Titans this offseason and was thought to be on the roster bubble with Tennessee dropping to 53 players by Saturday afternoon’s deadline.

The bubble has burst for Levitre with the Titans, but, as someone may well have said at some point, when one bubble bursts another opens.

On Twitter Friday, Levitre tweeted “#RiseUp,” which is a slogan used by the Falcons and PFT has learned, via a league source, that Levitre’s post was in fact a reference to a trade that will send him to Atlanta. The compensation going back to Tennessee is unknown at this time.

Levitre came to Tennessee on a six-year, $46.8 million contract before the 2013 season and played all 32 games for the Titans over the last two seasons, but his performance wasn’t up to the expectations that accompanied Levitre from his successful stint with the Bills. Byron Bell replaced him at left guard this summer, which would have made him an expensive backup for the Titans.

He’ll move into a zone blocking system with Kyle Shanahan running the Falcons offense and should be able to mount at least a challenge for a starting job given the underwhelming current crop of interior linemen in Atlanta.

UPDATE 1:11 p.m. ET: The deal has been announced. The Titans will receive a 2016 sixth-round pick and a conditional 2017 draft choice from the Falcons.

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Jay Ajayi suffered a cracked rib Thursday night

Jay Ajayi AP

Running back Jay Ajayi dropped a bit lower than expected in the draft because of concerns about his knee and now a rib injury may limit his chances of making an impact in his rookie season with the Dolphins.

Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reports that Ajayi, who wound up going in the fifth round, cracked a rib during Thursday night’s preseason finale. The injury came during a good game for Ajayi, who ran nine times for 66 yards and caught two passes for 37 yards against the Buccaneers. It was a step in the right direction for Ajayi, who missed the first two preseason games while dealing with hamstring issues in August.

“I thought he ran hard,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said. “He made a guy or two miss, showed toughness inside, and caught the balls that were thrown to him, which is always a good place to start.”

There’s not much chance that the Dolphins are going to cut Ajayi, but his absences early in camp didn’t help him in the competition for playing time with other backup options to Lamar Miller. If the Dolphins want to go with Damien Williams, LaMichael James and/or Mike Gillislee, they could place Ajayi on injured reserve and let this year serve as a redshirt season.

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Report: Eagles trying to trade Najee Goode

Jimmy Garoppolo, Najee Goode AP

There were points this offseason when people wondered whether the Eagles were interested in trading linebacker Mychal Kendricks, but those thoughts went out the window when the Eagles signed Kendricks to a contract extension.

That guaranteed a crowded group at inside linebacker since the Eagles also have DeMeco Ryans, Kiko Alonso and 2015 third-round pick Jordan Hicks on track to make the roster with former Packer Brad Jones and Najee Goode also in the mix. The Eagles are reportedly trying to thin that herd through a trade.

Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Eagles are trying to trade Goode before the Saturday afternoon deadline to cut the roster to 53 players. There’s no word on what they might be looking for in return, but anything more than a pick in the final rounds would be a stretch.

Goode was a fifth-round pick in 2012 and has played 18 games in three years with the team. He missed 15 games last season after tearing his pectoral muscle in the season opener.

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PFT Live: Jeffrey Kessler, Eagles talk with Tim McManus

Jeffrey L. Kessler AP

The NFLPA and Tom Brady scored a big win in federal court over the NFL on Thursday and we’ll have one of the key people involved on the winning side as a guest on PFT Live Friday.

Attorney Jeffrey Kessler fielded the questions from Judge Richard Berman for the NFLPA during oral arguments leading up to Berman’s decision to overturn Brady’s four-game suspension and he’ll join Mike Florio on Friday’s program to discuss the case. They’ll talk about the ruling, the NFL’s appeal and what impact the whole saga may have on future disciplinary actions coming from the league office.

Tim McManus of 97.5 The Fanatic will be on the program to talk about the Eagles with the cut to 53 players looming. They’ll talk about who will make the roster and whether Tim Tebow will be the No. 3 quarterback in Philly this year.

As always, we also want to hear what PFT Planet thinks. Email questions at any time or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk to let us know what’s on your mind.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen to all three hours live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app. You can also watch a simulcast of the first hour by clicking right here.

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T.J. Ward on why he was suspended: My last name’s not Brady

T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib AP

In a statement released after the announcement of a one-game suspension on Thursday, Broncos safety T.J. Ward said that he takes “full responsibility” for the 2014 incident at a Denver strip club that led to the suspension and that he’s “willing to accept the consequences” of his actions.

That doesn’t mean Ward is thrilled about the league’s decision. Through a plea arrangement that called for him to do community service, the misdemeanor assault and disturbing the peace charges against Ward for allegedly throwing a mug at a bartender were dropped and that doesn’t sit right with the safety.

“I feel it’s really unfair,” Ward said, via the Denver Post. “I’m getting punished for being accused of doing something. Not doing something, but being accused. And I’ve got to pay the consequences.”

When Ward was asked why he thinks he was suspended, he invoked the name of the Patriots quarterback whose suspension was thrown out by Judge Richard Berman earlier on Thursday.

“My last name’s not Brady,” Ward said.

There are myriad differences between the two cases and Ward’s not the first player to be suspended without being convicted of a crime, but dropping Tom Brady’s name into the conversation is an easy way to build on the stiff rebuke of the way NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wields his power that Berman issued earlier in the day.

It doesn’t look like this case is headed to federal court, so the Broncos will probably just have to play without Ward for the opening week of the season. It probably won’t be the last time we’re reminded of the eroded confidence in Goodell and the NFL’s disciplinary policies as a result of their handling of the Brady suspension, though.

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