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Browns rookie Duke Johnson debuts, leaves with concussion

Duke Johnson AP

After missing nearly three weeks of camp due to a sore hamstring, Browns rookie running back Duke Johnson was in the starting lineup for his preseason debut Saturday night at Tampa Bay.

After one carry for four yards and one catch for one yard, Johnson’s preseason is over. Johnson took a big hit from Bucs cornerback Mike Jenkins while trying to catch a second-quarter pass from Josh McCown. He jogged off the field and met with team medical staff on the sideline before being taken to the locker room.

Early in the second half, the Browns confirmed that both Johnson and second-year cornerback Pierre Desir had suffered concussions.

Johnson got the start in his first preseason action, but Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West also played on the first series. Neither West nor Crowell has had an especially strong camp, leaving the starting job up for grabs as the Browns shift into regular-season mode. Both West and Crowell carried seven times Saturday night; West got 26 yards and Crowell had 25.

Desir has had a solid preseason and probably played his way into the rotation at cornerback, but the Browns have secondary depth issues due to injury. Struggling 2014 first-round pick Justin Gilbert hasn’t practiced in two weeks due a hip flexor, and nickel cornerback K’Waun Williams also missed Saturday’s game.

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Steelers lose another kicker to injury

Garrett Hartley, Luke McCown AP

The Steelers lost kicker Shaun Suisham to a torn ACL in the Hall of Fame in early August, forcing them to bring in Garrett Hartley to handle the kicking duties.

Hartley was injured in the second quarter of the team’s Saturday, apparently while making a kickoff. The team announced it as a right hamstring injury that will keep him out the rest of the game.

Because he was down, the Steelers were forced to go for it on a fourth and 17 play later in the quarter.

There’s a chance the Steelers would have added another kicker following next weekend’s roster cuts anyway. Now, Hartley’s injury could force them to act sooner — and be forced to continue their search into next weekend.

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Bradford will play Saturday, but Kelly won’t say how much

Mark Sanchez, Sam Bradford AP

Even with the starting quarterback on the other side unlikely to play and last week’s big hit by Terrell Suggs still a topic of discussion, Eagles coach Chip Kelly plans to play Sam Bradford in Saturday night’s preseason game at Green Bay.

Kelly isn’t saying how much Bradford will play, though, and it may depend on the weather. If it rains, Kelly might play it extra careful with his oft-injured new quarterback.

Bradford did not play in the first preseason game. He played 14 plays last week, all in one series, on what was essentially the one-year anniversary of the ACL tear that ended his 2014 season and was his second torn ACL in nine months.

Kelly has said he doesn’t need to exercise caution with Bradford but has said Bradford is making “daily progress” towards getting up to full speed physically and with the Eagles offense.

The Packers, still stinging from last week’s torn ACL that will cost star wide Jordy Nelson the season, are unlikely to play Aaron Rodgers in Saturday’s game. But Bradford is anxious to play more than one series as the Eagles prepare for their Sept. 14 season opener.

“It’s nice to go onto the field multiple times, establish that rhythm, come over, work on that communication with the line, the receivers [and] talk about what we’re seeing on the field, so when it gets to the regular season, that’s not something we’re working through,” Bradford said.

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Pettine: Manziel likely done for preseason

Johnny Manziel AP

The mystery surrounding the elbow and arm soreness plaguing Browns second-year quarterback Johnny Manziel continues to grow with Thursday’s announcement by Browns coach Mike Pettine that Manziel is definitely going to miss Saturday’s preseason game at Tampa Bay and probably won’t be able to play in the Sept. 3 preseason finale at Chicago, either.

Pettine said Wednesday that an MRI on Manziel had shown no structural damage and that he was dealing with “a little bit of soreness.”

A day before announcing Manziel was likely done for the preseason, Pettine said Manziel “could play [if he had to]” in Saturday’s preseason game, but the team saw no reason to risk it. Thursday, Pettine said basically said the same, which adds to the mystery.

Earlier this week, new Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo told reporters Manziel’s injury was a function of his delivery.

Is it just soreness? Or is it something more — and potentially more serious — that’s likely to keep a player trying to rebound from a lost rookie season to miss basically two weeks of practice and two preseason games?

Pettine said Thursday the Browns had planned to give Manziel his first reps of the preseason with the starting offense at Tampa Bay. He led one touchdown drive in each of the first two preseason games with the No. 2 offense.

Manziel’s injury all but assures that Josh McCown will be the team’s starting quarterback for the Sept. 13 preseason opener at the Jets. Pettine had been firm that McCown was the No. 1 quarterback, but unless McCown can win a bunch of games the Browns need to see Manziel at some point to get a further evaluation on whether he can end the team’s ongoing quest for a franchise quarterback, and having arm problems makes things even more difficult on Manziel.

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Browns add Devlin with Manziel out

Pat Devlin Getty Images

With Johnny Manziel unable to throw at least for now and Connor Shaw out possibly for the year with a thumb injury, the Browns signed journeyman quarterback Pat Devlin on Thursday after bringing him in for an emergency workout.

The Browns insist they’re just playing it safe with Manziel, but he’s twice been forced out of practice due to a sore elbow and now missing an important evaluation opportunity in Saturday night’s preseason game at Tampa Bay.

Devlin spent three years with the Dolphins, last year with the Vikings and part of the offseason with the Bears. The Browns need him to serve as the team’s third quarterback Saturday at Tampa Bay and possibly to play in next week’s preseason finale at Chicago if Manziel isn’t ready to return.

To make room for Devlin the team waived Ryan Seymour, a backup interior lineman who was recently suspended for the season’s first four games for a violation of the league’s performance enhancing drugs policy. Seymour started three games at center late last season.

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Pryor back for Browns, Manziel still mostly a spectator

Buffalo Bills v Cleveland Browns Getty Images

Terrelle Pryor’s quest to make a successful transition from quarterback to wide receiver and make the Browns roster resumed Wednesday as Pryor was in pads and participating in practice, something he hasn’t done much since early August due to a hamstring issue.

But another player trying to make up for lost time, Johnny Manziel, isn’t throwing. Manziel was taken out of practice Sunday with what the team has called a sore arm and sore elbow, and he was rested Monday before Tuesday’s day off.

The Browns only opened practice to the media for 30 minutes, and in that time Manziel was seen throwing with only his left hand. Thad Lewis took the first snaps with the No. 2 offense.

Manziel has shown improvement after a lost rookie season but hasn’t taken many snaps with the No. 1 offense in practice and has taken none in the two preseason games. If he can’t play in Saturday’s preseason game at Tampa Bay it would be considered a setback because he needs game reps and has led the No. 2 offense on scoring drives in each of the the first two preseason games.

The Browns have three available quarterbacks in camp after Connor Shaw suffered a thumb injury in the preseason opener. Though Pryor would probably the emergency quarterback at this stage, the team has been adamant that he’s in camp to be a receiver.

Pryor needs to play in Saturday’s preseason game to prove to the team’s decision makers he’s making sufficient progress after missing both of the first two preseason games. The Browns probably don’t see Pryor as an immediate contributor, but in a crowded receiver room he figures as a player on the bubble with roster cuts coming next week.

Also back at practice Wednesday was Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden, who hasn’t played in the first two preseason games because he has a tender hamstring — and because the Browns need for him September and beyond, not August. His return is a welcome one, though, because the Browns played last week’s preseason game with eight defensive backs missing due to various injuries. Safety Tashaun Gipson, who led the NFL in interceptions before suffering a knee injury last November, remains sidelined with a calf injury.

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Scandrick out for season with torn ACL

Dallas Cowboys v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

Cornerback Orlando Scandrick was carted off the practice field Tuesday, and Pro Football Talk has confirmed that one of Cowboys’ top defenders is done for the season with a torn ACL.

Mike Garofolo of FOX Sports was first to report it. Tuesday night, Cowboys secondary coach Jerome Henderson told reporters that Scandrick told him he knew he had torn his ACL.

The non-contact injury came after Scandrick had two interceptions in practice.

Scandrick has been with the Cowboys since he was a fifth-round pick in 2008 and signed a contract extension last spring after tying his career-high with two interceptions last season. Scandrick also forced two fumbles and recorded a sack in 2014.

The only other cornerbacks on the Cowboys roster with real NFL experience are Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. Either Claiborne or 2015 first-round pick Byron Jones will replace him in the starting lineup.

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Report: Vick visiting Pittsburgh following Gradkowski injury

Michael Vick AP

The Steelers are in need of quarterback insurance, and that’s why Michael Vick is scheduled to visit with the team on Tuesday.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported Vick’s visit. The Steelers have to explore options because veteran backup Bruce Gradkowski suffered a left-hand injury in last weekend’s preseason game that will require surgery.

The Steelers play this Saturday, Aug. 29, at Buffalo, then close the preseason Sept. 3. They open the season in 16 days at New England, meaning Gradkowski is facing a tight window for getting back to health.

The Steelers had an extra week of camp and preseason due to playing in the Hall of Fame Game, and that’s allowed third-year quarterback Landry Jones an extended August audition. Jones has been up and down at a time he probably needed to prove to the team that he’s worth keeping.

Vick, 35, went 3-6 as a starter and completed just 54 percent of his passes over the last two seasons with the Eagles and Jets. He played for the Jets on a one-year contract last season and didn’t attract interest in the offseason free agent market.

Gradkowski, 32, was just activated last week from the physically unable to perform list. He’s made one regular-season appearance in two seasons with the Steelers.

The Steelers previously cut Tajh Boyd in anticipation of Gradkowski’s return from the shoulder issue that landed him on PUP. The team lists rookie Tyler Murphy as a quarterback and wide receiver; he played wide receiver during last weekend’s preseason game.

Adding Vick would be a sign the Steelers believe they need a veteran — and not Jones, or Murphy, or anyone else — to play in a pinch should Ben Roethlisberger go down, even for a short period.

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Steelers add familiar name to center mix

Doug Legursky AP

With Maurkice Pouncey headed for ankle surgery, the Steelers are adding a familiar name to the mix at center as they sort through their options.

The team announced early Tuesday it has signed veteran center Doug Legursky. Wide receiver David Nelson was placed on injured-reserve to make room for Legursky.

Legursky, 29, was an undrafted free agent who broke into the league with the Steelers in 2008 and went from the practice squad to starting Super Bowl XLV due to a Pouncey injury. He was with the Bills in 2013 and the Chargers last year, where he started both games in which he appeared.

Cody Wallace, who’s made six starts for the Steelers over the last two years and entered camp as the top backup interior lineman, is the likely starter while Pouncey recovers from a broken ankle suffered in last weekend’s preseason game. Though Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Pouncey is probably going to need surgery, there’s no set plan or timetable for his return.

Nelson suffered a shoulder injury shortly after joining the Steelers earlier this month.

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Winston shows progress, limps out early

Jameis Winston AP

With a makeshift offensive line in front of him and a noticeable limp after taking a shot in the second quarter, Jameis Winston’s Monday night preseason appearance was a short one.

Winston did some good things — more than he did in an uneven first game nine days earlier — and finished 8-of-13 for 90 yards against the Bengals. He ran for a touchdown on the game’s first drive.

The Bucs did not offer an immediate update on any injury to Winston. After Winston was removed, Mike Tirico said on the ESPN broadcast that he was told the plan had been to play Winston the whole first half, but Winston was removed with more than nine minutes left in the second quarter.

At halftime, Bucs coach Lovie Smith told ESPN sideline reporter Lisa Salters that Winston was not injured and it was Smith’s decision to take him out of the game.

Mike Glennon replaced him.

Winston was sacked once, and a sack by Carlos Dunlap late in the first quarter was negated by a penalty on Dunlap for hitting Winston in the head. The Bucs started rookie Donovan Smith at left tackle, rookie Ali Marpet at right guard and journeyman Reid Fragel at right tackle, so Bucs Smith had seen enough of Winston getting hit.

The Bucs play again Saturday night vs. the Browns.

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Evans leaves preseason game with hamstring strain

Mike Evans AP

It’s the summer of the hamstring injury across the NFL, and Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans is the latest to be affected by it.

Evans left Monday night’s preseason game vs. the Bengals with what the team called a hamstring strain. Because it’s the preseason and because the Bucs play again in five nights, even if Evans was OK and cleared to return to a real game he won’t return to this one.

Evans, who just turned 22, caught 68 passes for 1,051 yards and 12 touchdowns last year as a rookie. With Jameis Winston now in as the Bucs’ quarterback of the present and future, Evans is one of the Bucs’ most important players and could become one of the league’s top receivers.

Winston and Evans just missed hooking up on a deep ball down the middle in the first quarter Monday. He was targeted twice but did not have a catch.

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Jags rookie Yeldon will get shot to claim starting job

tjyeldon AP

After sitting out the first two preseason games, Jaguars rookie running back T.J. Yeldon is set to play with the first-team offense in the team’s third preseason game vs. the Lions.

Yeldon has been practicing with a splint on his injured pinkie finger and wearing a non-contact jersey since suffering the injury in an Aug. 8 scrimmage. The No. 36 overall pick was atop the team’s initial and unofficial depth chart, and now it sounds like he’ll get a chance to win the starting job for the Sept. 13 season opener.

“I think if there was a situation in a critical time or critical game, he could have played last week,” Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. “This week, we feel better about his opportunities. I see him getting some reps with the ones and twos. Mostly ones, though, I would say.”

Denard Robinson has been getting the bulk of the snaps with the first-team offense. Robinson ran for four touchdowns last season and had a good October as the feature back before missing the end of last season due to injury.

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Bowman active, eager in return to game action

NaVorro Bowman AP

Last week, 49ers linebacker Navorro Bowman said he would return to game action when he was ready.

It looks like Bowman is ready.

After deciding to sit out last week’s preseason opener, Bowman came out in Sunday’s preseason game vs. the Cowboys looking a lot like the player who was all over the field before suffering a gruesome injury 19 months ago.

Bowman started Sunday’s game with back-to-back tackles.

It’s just the preseason, and Bowman doesn’t have the same supporting cast he previously did with the 49ers. But he’s back on the field, back calling the defensive plays and declaring himself ready — with his play, not his words — to work towards a full return.

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Sore arm pushes Manziel out of practice again

Johnny Manziel AP

Johnny Manziel’s push for continued improvement and, eventually, a shot to start for the Browns has been derailed again by a sore arm.

Manziel was held out of the remainder of Sunday’s practice after he came off the field holding his right arm after delivering a deep pass to rookie wide receiver Josh Lenz. After practice, Browns coach Mike Pettine told reporters he does not think Manziel is dealing with a serious issue but would likely hold him out of Monday’s practice.

The Browns don’t practice Tuesday, so giving Manziel Monday off would give him almost 72 hours rest before he practices again. Pettine called it “elbow soreness” when Manziel was limited for two days in the week before the team’s first preseason game.

The third and generally most important preseason game is Aug. 29 at Tampa Bay. Manziel has not played with the starters in the first two preseason games.

Starter Josh McCown led a touchdown drive on his only series in the preseason opener but threw two interceptions in the second; Pettine has said McCown is “firmly” the team’s starter but has praised Manziel’s progress and approach throughout camp.

Connor Shaw is out for an extended period with a thumb issue, so Manziel sitting would leave the Browns with just two quarterbacks, McCown and Thad Lewis, in practice. Maybe the team will explore outside options from a very thin pool of available quarterbacks; Pettine told reporters the team could use quarterbacks coach Kevin O’Connell to throw during practice if necessary.

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Chargers will rest Gordon, others Saturday

Melvin Gordon, J.J. Wilcox AP

It sounds like Chargers rookie running back Melvin Gordon is OK despite missing a day of practice this week with an ankle injury.

It sounds, too, like the Chargers won’t risk anything for a preseason game, specifically their second preseason game Saturday in Arizona.

“We’re going to look at what’s the best interest of some players,” Chargers coach Mike McCoy said Friday. “We’ll hold some guys out that normally would play. But that’s my job and the staff’s job. We’re looking to get all 53 healthy for the opener. That’s the big picture.”

According to Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune, that means the Chargers are likely to sit Gordon, cornerback Jason Verrett, rookie linebacker Denzel Perryman and cornerback Stevie Williams, among others.

Gordon ran six times for 11 yards in the preseason opener. The Chargers, though, drafted him at No. 15 last spring and expect him to be both busy and productive when the regular season begins.

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