As expected, Julio Jones back at practice


Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is back at practice Friday, as Falcons coach Dan Quinn said Jones would be.

So, Jones will be in the starting lineup Sunday when the Falcons visit the Giants. Quinn said Thursday he had “zero” doubts about the availability of Jones, but the Falcons played it safe in a short-week situation and kept Jones out of practice on both Wednesday and Thursday.

The Falcons have listed Jones as having a hamstring injury on their official participation and injury report. Jones told reporters he sat out Wednesday as a precaution and Thursday because the team decided he needed extra rest.

I’ll be ready to go,” Jones said.

Jones had 141 receiving yards and two touchdowns in last Monday night’s win over the Eagles, and the Giants know he’ll be the focal point of the Falcons’ offense again.

McCown not cleared; Manziel will start Sunday

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The Browns announced Friday morning that Johnny Manziel will be their starting quarterback for Sunday’s game vs. the Titans.

Browns coach Mike Pettine said Thursday that veteran starter Josh McCown would probably start if he was cleared by doctors Friday, but before the Browns took the practice field Friday the team released a statement saying that McCown remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol and that Manziel will start.

McCown suffered a concussion while trying to dive into the end zone on the team’s first drive of the season opener. Pettine said Thursday he was “hopeful” McCown would be cleared and that “I don’t see, barring anything unforeseen, a reason why we wouldn’t play him.”

A tweet by Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports Friday indicated that the Browns were surprised that McCown was not cleared.

Manziel missed the final two preseason games with the elbow issues but was pressed into duty last week when McCown was forced out. He threw his first career touchdown pass on his first drive but turned the ball over three times in the second half of what became a 31-10 loss to the Jets.

Manziel started two games last December. Austin Davis, signed last week as the team’s third quarterback, will be the backup Sunday after not being active for last week’s game.

Karlos Dansby, Delanie Walker miss practice again

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Though the pending Browns quarterback decision is the biggest mystery surrounding Sunday’s Browns-Titans game, both teams are dealing with injuries to key veterans at other positions.

Both Browns linebacker Karlos Dansby (foot) and Titans tight end Delanie Walker (hand) missed practice for the second consecutive day Thursday, leaving their status for Sunday at least somewhat in doubt.

Dansby suffered the injury during last week’s game vs. the Jets but finished the game; Browns coach Mike Pettine said he anticipated Dansby being “day to day” leading up to this weekend’s game. Craig Roberston has starting experience and would be Dansby’s likely replacement.

Walker sprained ligaments in his right hand and wrist during last week’s win at Tampa Bay. He told reporters Wednesday he was “getting better” but didn’t sound convinced he’ll be able to play Sunday.

The Titans are carrying five tight ends — plus fullback Jalston Fowler — on their active roster but only Walker and Anthony Fasano caught passes last week.

Browns will likely start McCown if he’s cleared


The Browns practiced again Thursday with Johnny Manziel leading the No. 1 offense, even with the team limiting Manziel’s throws early in practice due to lingering elbow soreness.

Josh McCown, who suffered a concussion while trying to dive into the end zone on the team’s first drive of the season opener, could be cleared to return to practice Friday — and if he is, Browns coach Mike Pettine said Thursday, McCown will probably start Sunday’s game vs. the Titans.

“I don’t see an issue if (McCown) is cleared and practices fully tomorrow,” Pettine said. “I don’t see, barring anything unforeseen, a reason why we wouldn’t play him.”

This is normalcy for the Browns.

Manziel missed the final two preseason games with the elbow issues but was pressed into duty last week when McCown was forced out. He threw his first career touchdown pass on his first drive but turned the ball over three times in the second half of what became a 31-10 loss to the Jets.

Asked if he believed doctors would clear McCown, Pettine said he’s not a doctor but “we’re hopeful.”

The Browns signed Austin Davis last week as their third quarterback but didn’t make him active for last week’s game.

In August, Pettine acknowledged he was pleased with Manziel’s progress but said McCown remained “firmly” the team’s starter. We’ll find out sometime between Friday afternoon and Sunday afternoon if it takes more than a concussion to change that.

Arian Foster gets some practice in


Texans running back Arian Foster was listed by the team as a limited participant in Thursday’s practice.

That marks progress, and though Foster still is almost certainly at least a week from playing in a game, it meshes with Foster telling reporters last week he was “ahead of schedule” after undergoing groin surgery in August following an injury that’s kept him out since early in camp.

Also last week, Texans coach Bill O’Brien told reporters he expected Foster back “sooner rather than later.”

Foster has been attending practices and working out on the side, but Thursday is the first time the team has considered him a participant.

An undrafted free agent turned four-time Pro Bowler, Foster has rushed for more than 1,200 yards in each of the four seasons he’s played in more than eight games. He’s also caught 40 or more passes three times in his career, and his eventual return — especially if it comes well ahead of what was once thought to be a late-October timeline — will boost an offense that’s changing quarterbacks after just one week in search of a spark.

Pierre-Paul using social media to hint he’ll be ready

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As the guessing game regarding the extent of Jason Pierre-Paul’s injury and when — or even if — he’ll return to the Giants continues, Pierre-Paul has taken to Twitter to respond to some of the most recent reports and guesses.

“I can’t think of the last time my index finger got me a sack,” Pierre-Paul wrote Thursday morning on his verified Twitter account.

He added a smiley face, too, to a line the Giants probably don’t find all that funny.

Earlier this week, ESPN reported that the damage to Pierre-Paul’s hand suffered in July fireworks accident is worse than the team was originally led to believe. Pierre-Paul has not signed the franchise tender extended to him by the Giants last spring and has not reported to the team, meaning the Giants save about $871,000 in cash and cap room for every game Pierre-Paul misses with the franchise tag unsigned.

Per multiple reports, the Giants won’t examine the injury again for another five or six weeks, and if the injuries aren’t sufficiently healed by then the team could rescind the tender.

On Wednesday, Pierre-Paul posted on his Instagram account video of a workout during which he’s coming out of a three-point stance while pulling a weighted sled. His right is heavily bandaged in the video, but he’s clearly using social media to try to say that he’s getting ready to play.

Geno Smith out at least another week


There’s no change in the timetable for Geno Smith’s eventual return to action, Jets coach Todd Bowles told reporters Wednesday, which means Smith will be inactive for at least one more game.

Smith is still recovering — and still not practicing — after suffering a broken jaw when he was punched in the locker room by then-teammate and current Bills linebacker IK Enemkpali on Aug. 11. The team said then it expected Smith to miss at least six weeks, so Smith could be nearing a return to action.

He’s just not there yet.

The Jets cut Matt Flynn and Josh Johnson at the end of the preseason, choosing to keep just rookie Bryce Petty behind new starter Ryan Fitzpatrick while Smith recovers. Last week the Jets listed Smith as a non-participant for all three usual days of practice on their injury report.

Whether the Jets going with just two available quarterbacks now is a sign Smith could be close to a return — or if he’ll immediately replace Fitzpatrick when healthy — remains to be seen. The Jets play at Indianapolis Monday night, and the day after that game will mark exactly six weeks since Smith suffered the injury, so there could be a more newsworthy update next week.

The Jets play the Eagles on Sept. 27 and at the Dolphins on Oct. 4 before having a bye week, so if Smith’s recovery remains on schedule the Jets could be afforded extra days to make a decision before their Oct. 18 game at the Redskins. Or, maybe Fitzpatrick will play like he did last week and Smith will remain a spectator even after getting cleared.

Enemkpali was claimed via waivers by the Bills the day after the incident and suspended four games by the NFL last week.

McCown still in concussion protocol, out at least until Friday

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The earliest Browns quarterback Josh McCown could return to practice is Friday, Browns coach Mike Pettine said, so the team will practice Wednesday and Thursday this week with Johnny Manziel preparing to be the starter for Sunday’s game vs. the Titans.

Asked if McCown could still start Sunday after missing essentially two-thirds of the work leading up to the game, Pettine said “we will be prepared either way.”

So, no decision is coming until at least Friday — unless McCown has a setback or eventually isn’t cleared.

Manziel, who started two games last December, threw his first career touchdown pass last week after McCown was injured on the Browns’ first drive but turned the ball over three times in the second half.

Manziel missed two weeks of practice and the team’s final two preseason games with a sore elbow. Pettine said the team would limit his throws in practice to full team work but that he’s not “overly concerned with it.”

Pettine said linebacker Karlos Dansby will miss Wednesday’s practice with a foot injury and is “day to day” as the Browns prepare for their home opener.

Packers lose starting linebacker Barrington for season


Third-year Packers linebacker Sam Barrington could be lost for the season with an ankle injury he apparently aggravated in last weekend’s season opener. Alex Marvez of was first to report that the Packers fear Barrington is done for the season.

The loss of the rangy Barrington, who led the Packers in tackles during last year’s playoffs, leaves a void in the middle of a defense that faces Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch and Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles over the next two weeks.

The Packers allowed the Bears to rush for 189 yards last weekend.

Rookie Jake Ryan is listed as the backup at both inside linebacker spots on the Packers’ depth chart, but Nate Palmer replaced Barrington when he was injured during the second quarter in Chicago. Barrington has been called the “quarterback of the defense” by Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers, so Ryan and Palmer can expect a busy and important week of playing catch-up in practice.

With McCown out, Browns add QB to practice squad


The Browns plan to add quarterback Matt Blanchard to their practice squad, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, as the team points toward starting Johnny Manziel at quarterback in Sunday’s game vs. the Titans.

The Blanchard addition is necessary because starting quarterback Josh McCown suffered a concussion on the Browns’ first drive in the season opener and is in the NFL’s concussion protocol. Though McCown was in the Browns’ building Monday and watching film with the other quarterbacks, Browns coach Mike Pettine said the team will proceed as if Manziel is going to start Sunday while awaiting word on McCown’s status later in the week.

Adding Blanchard Tuesday gives the Browns a chance to get him in the building on the traditional players’ day off and ready to run the scout team in Wednesday’s practice. Based on what Pettine said Monday, McCown will miss at least Wednesday’s practice and possibly more, meaning the Browns will get Manziel ready to start and get Austin Davis, who’s been with the team for just over a week, ready to be the backup.

When McCown got hurt last week against the Jets, Manziel was pressed into duty for the first time since the second preseason game; he missed the final two with a sore elbow. Davis was inactive for the game, meaning the Browns would have had to play wide receiver Brian Hartline at quarterback had Manziel been injured.

Manziel started two games last year. He threw his first career touchdown pass last week on the first drive after replacing McCown.

Blanchard, 26, played collegiately at Div. III power Wisconsin-Whitewater and has spent preseasons with the Packers, Bears and Panthers.

Agent: Woodson suffered dislocated shoulder


Raiders safety Charles Woodson has a dislocated shoulder and will be out for an undetermined period of time, his agent, Carl Poston, told ESPN’s Josina Anderson.

Woodson suffered the injury late in Sunday’s loss to the Bengals and was helped off the field by trainers.

He’s been not only an impact player but an ironman. Woodson, 38, has not missed a game since 2012 and has missed multiple games in a season only once since 2007. Per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Woodson is already campaigning to be allowed to play this week against the Ravens.

The Raiders also lost safety Nate Allen to what the team believes is a serious knee injury, so the Raiders may need to look for outside help at the position.

Stafford wears wrap on arm, says he’ll be “good to go”


Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was wearing a large protective wrap on his right elbow Monday when the team’s locker room was open to reporters, but Stafford said he’ll be “good to go” next Sunday when the Lions play at Minnesota.

Though Stafford participated in the Lions’ limited Monday activities, he declined further comment.

Stafford finished Sunday’s season-opening loss to the Chargers wearing an elbow sleeve but did not start the game wearing one. He put on the sleeve after taking a hit while delivering a pass in the third quarter.

The Lions lost, 33-28, after leading 21-3. Stafford threw for 246 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

McCown in concussion protocol; Manziel will prepare as starter


Josh McCown is in the NFL concussion protocol, meaning the Browns will prepare as if Johnny Manziel will be their starting quarterback in Week Two vs. the Titans.

Browns coach Mike Pettine told reporters Monday he won’t rule McCown out but “even in an ideal situation where Josh would be back later in the week, we have to prepare [otherwise].”

Tuesday is the usual players’ day off, and the Browns will begin on-field preparations for the Titans Wednesday. Pettine said he’ll have a decision to make if McCown is cleared Thursday or Friday but he sounded as if that’s not a certainty, though McCown was at the Browns’ facility Monday morning watching film.

McCown was injured on the first drive of the season opener vs. the Jets while trying to extend the ball over the goal line on a scramble. Manziel played the rest of the way, throwing his first career touchdown pass in the second quarter and then leading a field goal drive, but Manziel turned the ball over three times and the Browns were shut out in the second half.

Manziel started two games last December. The Browns were shut out in the first and he was injured in the second quarter of the second. He’s shown improvement this season but missed the final two preseason games due to a sore elbow, and his first snap against the Jets was his first snap with the No. 1 offense this summer.

DeSean Jackson will miss 3-4 weeks


DeSean Jackson was injured on the first play of the Redskins’ second offensive series Sunday, and it appears will be October before Jackson can return to action.

Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Jackson suffered a strained hamstring that will keep him out of the lineup for 3-4 weeks. He was injured while running a deep route down the sideline, trying to make the kind of play that’s made him one of the NFL’s best deep threats. Jackson led the NFL with 13 catches of 40 yards or more last season.

Jackson seemed to know immediately that he suffered more than just a temporary pain; he threw his helmet in disgust as he returned to the sideline.

Pierre Garcon caught six passes vs. the Dolphins, and Andre Roberts caught three. With Jackson out, Ryan Grant and rookie Jamison Crowder should move up in the rotation.

Dez Bryant breaks bone in foot, likely to have surgery


The Cowboys rallied for an improbable win over the Giants late Sunday night, but the team lost star wide receiver Dez Bryant to a broken bone in his foot in the fourth quarter.

“We want to be careful about making the entire judgment on it but Dez did break a bone,” Cowyboys coach Jason Garrett said in his postgame press conference. “We anticipate him having surgery. The initial diagnosis is he’ll be out 4-6 weeks.”

That 4-6 week target range is also what Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told reporters after the game, and Bryant tweeted that he’ll “be back soon.”

The injury didn’t stop Bryant from leaving the locker room in compression shorts to celebrate with and greet teammates. The video in this tweet contains adult language.

Bryant caught five passes for 48 yards in the Cowboys’ 27-26 win. The Cowboys play at Philadelphia next week.