Manti Te’o stars against his former team

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Maybe all Saints linebacker Manti Te'o needed was extra motivation. Te’o looked like an All-Pro player in 36 snaps against his former team.

“It looked like Manti might have played for the . . . Chargers before or something,” Cam Jordan said, via Herbie Teope of the New Orleans Time-Picayune. “It’s crazy the way he knew the depth of knowledge in the backfield.”

Te’o admitted last week he was excited to play against his former team, which made him a second-round pick in 2013. He signed a two-year, $5 million deal with the Saints in the offseason, and played like he had something to prove to the Chargers.

Te’o made eight tackles, including seven solos, a sack and a fumble recovery in the Saints’ 13-7 victory.

“There’s that little extra meaning to the game, but I was really happy with myself and how I handled it,” Te’o said. “I think a young guy would come in here anxious and try to do too much.

“I kind of let the game come to me, and when I had an opportunity to make a play for my team, I didn’t step out of my comfort zone. I didn’t try to do too much.”

Trade from Eagles still motivates Byron Maxwell

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The Dolphins are in Philadelphia for a couple of joint practices with the Eagles before they play on Thursday night and that means Dolphins cornerback Byron Maxwell got questions about the trade that sent him from Philadelphia to Miami last year.

Maxwell spent one dismal year with the Eagles after signing a six-year, $63 million deal before he and linebacker Kiko Alonso were traded to Miami in a deal that allowed the Eagles to move up to the eighth overall pick in the draft. They then used that pick to trade up for the chance to draft quarterback Carson Wentz with the second pick, which Maxwell said made it “obvious” why the Eagles made the trade.

The Eagles got the quarterback they wanted and Maxwell got a fresh start with a new team, but that doesn’t mean Maxwell has stopped harboring feelings of payback for being sent away.

“Yeah, I would be lying if I told you I don’t want to do better than the Eagles do,” Maxwell said, via “I do. I want to win more games than them. I want to prove them wrong. … You can call it petty — I don’t know what it is. But that’s just what I do, how I feel. That’s just realistic. I know what it is but I still want to do better than my old team. I don’t think no player wants the team to get rid of you and then they do better, to be honest with you.”

The Dolphins made the playoffs in Maxwell’s first year with the team while the Eagles went 7-9 to finish fourth in the NFC East, so he got what he wanted in 2016 even as the Eagles look forward to a long run with Wentz at the helm of the offense.

Trevor Siemian starts the season as the starter in Denver

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It didn’t quite go down to the wire, but it was close.

An open competition for the starting quarterback job in Denver has ended, at least for now. PFT has confirmed that incumbent starter Trevor Siemian has won the job over 2016 first-rounder Paxton Lynch. Coach Vance Joseph will make the announcement a a press conference scheduled for 3:15 p.m. ET,

Siemian, a seventh-round pick in 2015, held off Lynch despite a belief that new-old offensive coordinator Mike McCoy’s system was more conducive to Lynch.

For Siemian to have won the job, he had to have won it convincingly. The draft capital used to select Lynch, coupled with the apparent belief that he could eventually become a franchise quarterback, would have nudged any close questions in his favor, since playing now will help him get to his ceiling sooner.

But the Broncos also are built to win now, and with several outspoken players on a championship-level defense, it would have been hard to go with Lynch if the players regard Siemian as the better option.

While Siemian didn’t do enough last year to take the Super Bowl 50 champions back to the playoffs, upgrades to the offensive line and arguable improvements to the running game could make it easier. There’s also something to be said for experience; Siemian has it, Lynch doesn’t, and now the third-year player from Northwestern will have a chance to put even more distance between himself and Lynch.

Unless, of course, Siemian stumbles. Then, as with so many other quarterback competitions, the guy who won the job will have eventually won the first chance to lose it.

Jaguars players don’t think QB change would affect them much


The Jaguars went into training camp with Blake Bortles set to be the team’s starting quarterback, but two poor performances in preseason games and some shaky days of practice have opened the door for Chad Henne to take the job.

For those two players, coach Doug Marrone’s ultimate decision is a big one. Other players on the team don’t feel like they have quite as much riding on it, however. Right guard A.J. Cann said the offense will be fine “as long as we get the play and make sure we’re on the same page” and wide receiver Allen Robinson said he’s focused on himself more than he is on the identity of the person throwing him the ball.

“At the end of the day I’ve got a job to do, and that’s each and every day I step out on that field in practice or whatever, I’ve got a job to get done,” Robinson said, via “We’re going to go out there and we’re going to get reps with Blake. Same thing [with Henne]. We’re going to try to make plays for him. Again, he’s our teammate, so it doesn’t change. It doesn’t change the mentality of people at all.”

With Bortles’ contract for next season guaranteed in case of injury, the Jaguars would have to be pretty sure that they’re comfortable going forward with him if they are going to put him on the field this season. Opening up the job to competition at this point in the summer doesn’t send a message of comfort and it doesn’t seem like there will be any ruffled feathers in the locker room if Henne gets the nod.

FOX adds Eric Dickerson

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At a time when ESPN is shedding employees, FOX is rounding them up. Specifically, they’re hiring a small army of former NFL players.

The latest arrival, via multiple reports, is Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson. He will serve as an NFL analyst.

Dickerson notoriously took on Rams coach Jeff Fisher last year, badgering and pestering and ultimately possibly influencing to some degree the decision of owner Stan Kroenke to fire Fisher.

It’s the highest-profile media gig for Dickerson since his short stint as a sideline reporter on Monday Night Football. The good news, if there was any, was that Saturday Night Live lampooned his performance.

Eclipse will soon start, which means it mercifully will soon end

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Football coaches don’t care much about the eclipse. Pretty much everyone else does.

Put me down for “don’t care,” which serves only to make the non-stop obsession on cable news and elsewhere more irritating. Which makes me anxious for the eclipse to get here, so that it will finally end.

So the moon will for a swath of the country block out the sun. And you shouldn’t look directly at it, but you must see it.

Maybe my lack of interest is a defense mechanism aimed at protecting me from doing something stupid, like daring the sun to burn my retinas. Regardless, I’m with Alabama coach Nick Saban on this issue. But not many others.

Dolphins may not have Kraig Urbik for start of regular season

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The Dolphins lost their projected left guard Ted Larsen to a torn biceps earlier this summer, which left Kraig Urbik as a likely starter on the offensive line for the start of the regular season.

It looks like the team will have to come up with a Plan C. Coach Adam Gase said Monday, via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, that there is a good chance Urbik won’t be able to play in the season opener and suggested that he will have arthroscopic surgery on his knee.

Urbik appeared in all 16 games for the Dolphins last season and made six starts.

Gase said that Jesse Davis has a “legitimate shot” to get the start when the Dolphins host the Buccaneers on September 10. Davis, who spent time with the Seahawks and Jets before coming to Miami in 2016, has never played in a regular season game.

Darron Lee cleared after personal conduct policy investigation


The Jets finally caught a break on something.

According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Jets linebacker Darron Lee has been cleared after the NFL investigated him for a possible violation of the personal conduct policy.

“Following a review, we concluded there was insufficient evidence to support a finding that there was a violation of the personal conduct policy,” a league spokesman said in a statement.

The Jets had already decided not to punish Lee for an incident in which teammate Leonard Williams reportedly pulled him out of an altercation with his girlfriend.

There were no charges from the incident, but it’s an NFL investigation, so you never really know. Either way, Lee’s now clear to be a part of a team which most people expect to be quite bad, with or without him.

Lions sign a tight end

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The Lions added a tight end to the roster when they signed Andrew Price last week and they added another one on Monday.

The team announced the signing of Scott Orndoff to the 90-man roster. Orndoff signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent earlier this year, which left him with a short trip after playing at the University of Pittsburgh but his local ties couldn’t keep him on the roster.

Orndoff joins eight other tight ends on Detroit’s roster, although injuries have kept several of them out of the lineup recently. Projected starter Eric Ebron is the most notable name in that group and he’s barely worked at all this summer due to a hamstring injury.

The Lions waived/injured defensive tackle Bruce Gaston to make room for Orndoff. Gaston, who signed with the Lions in June, played nine games for the Bears and Packers last season.

Kurt Warner in February: I’d “bang on table” for Anquan Boldin to Hall of Fame

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After former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner made it to the Hall of Fame, we asked him to identify a former teammate for whom he’d bang on the table for a bronze bust.

“It’s like picking your favorite kid you know because I’ve got four guys that I believe all belong in the Hall of Fame when it comes to receivers that I played for: Isaac Bruce, Larry Fitzgerald, Tory Holt, Anquan Boldin, and I believe all of them belong in the Hall of Fame,” Warner said on PFT Live. “I might bang the table for Anquan Boldin because I think of all those guys he gets the least respect for how great he is. It amazes me, we want to keep looking at measurable and how fast guys are as opposed to just one of the greatest football players I ever played with.

“Competed more than anybody I ever played against. Wanted the ball in his hands. Was a difference maker. Everybody tries to get rid of him and he just goes and he’s the No. 1 receiver on that next team. So I believe he’s the one that gets the least amount of respect. So I would love to get on the table for him as well because I believe when you look at his overall numbers and what he’s done it’s incredible, as all those guys are.”

Boldin retires at No. 9 on the all-time reception list, with 1,076. That’s more than Hall of Famers Andre Reed (951), Art Monk (940), Steve Largent (819), James Lofton (764), Michael Irvin (750), Charlie Joiner (750), Charley Taylor (649), Don Maynard (633), Raymond Berry (631), Fred Biletnikoff (589), Lance Alworth (542), John Stallworth (537), Tommy McDonald (495), Don Hutson (488), Paul Warfield (427), Elroy Hirsch (387), and Lynn Swann (336).

Boldin also sits at No. 14 in all-time receiving yards with 13,779, and 23rd in receiving touchdowns with 82.

Those numbers compare very favorably to those generated by receiver Calvin Johnson, who retired with 731 receptions, 11,619 receiving yards, and 83 touchdowns.

Boldin also played in two Super Bowls, winning one. In contrast, Johnson played in two wild-card playoff games, winning none.

So, yes, Boldin will merit serious consideration for Canton. Having Kurt Warner bang on the table can’t hurt.

Dante Fowler charged with three misdemeanors due to July incident

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Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler is set to play in his first regular season game of the year on September 10 and he has a court date set for the next day.

Fowler was arrested in July after an incident in an apartment complex parking lot. reports that he was formally charged with three misdemeanors — battery, criminal mischief and petit theft — earlier this month and that an arraignment is scheduled in Clearwater, Florida a day after the Jaguars open the season against the Texans.

Fowler is accused of hitting a man after an exchange of words, stepping on his glasses and then throwing a bag of groceries the man was carrying into a lake.

If convicted on all counts, Fowler could face up to a year in jail and is subject to league discipline. Fowler, who has had other off-field trouble, apologized and is “learning and growing” as a person a short time after he was arrested.

Ravens call off practice to visit Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery

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The Ravens were supposed to have a practice on Monday, but the team will be taking a field trip instead.

The Ravens announced in a statement from coach John Harbaugh that they are taking their players to the Pentagon for a tour and then to Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during a ceremony that will involve wide receiver Keenan Reynolds, who went to the Naval Academy, and safety Otha Foster, who served three years in the Marines. They will also visit the grave of President John F. Kennedy and have lunch at the nearby Fort Myer.

“Football is a meritocracy, and our team has worked hard throughout this offseason and training camp. Our coaches appreciate and respect that effort. The team deserves a day away from the fields and meetings, and an opportunity to spend some time together away from the facility. Our good friend, General Ray Odierno [former head of the Joint Forces Command and Chief of Staff of the Army], stepped up to make this wonderful day happen, and we thank him. This is an amazing experience for all of us. After we tour the Pentagon, we are going to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and they will allow Keenan and Otha to participate in a ceremony. How fortunate and blessed are we to experience a day like this. It’s humbling, and we are so appreciative.”

The team posted a picture from the Pentagon on their Twitter account and we’ll likely hear more about what should be an interesting trip from players when the team is back to work at their facility on Monday.

DeAndre Hopkins, Jadeveon Clowney remain out of practice for Texans

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Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins‘ absence from the practice field continued on Monday.

Hopkins has not practiced since the team’s preseason opener on August 9 due to a hand injury and remained out to kick off the week leading up to the third outing of the summer. The Texans will be in New Orleans to face the Saints on Saturday night and a couple more days on the sideline might be enough to keep him from playing in that game as well.

There hasn’t been any indication that Hopkins’ injury is going to threaten his availability for the regular season, but time missed on the field now could cost him when it comes to developing chemistry with quarterback Tom Savage.

Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney also remained out of practice on Monday. Clowney hasn’t practiced in about a week and did not play against the Patriots on Saturday, but coach Bill O’Brien said, via Sarah Barshop of, that Clowney is not injured.

Andy Reid makes it clear, Alex Smith is his starting quarterback


The Chiefs bumped rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes up to the second string last week, but that’s as far as he’s going.

At least this year.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid attempted to temporarily block out the light emanating from his bright young quarterback, saying there’s not a competition for starting quarterback Alex Smith‘s starting role.

“It’s Alex’s job. That’s what it is. There’s no gray area with that,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said when asked about the chances of Mahomes taking over this year, via Terez Paylor of he Kansas City Star.

Of course, the promotion is probably inevitable, since Smith isn’t getting younger, has two years left on his contract, and the Chiefs traded a future first-rounder to get their hands on Mahomes with the 10th overall pick.

Everybody seems to know this will happen at some point, including Smith and his agent.

So barring an injury, they’re apparently more than content to let Smith conduct a year’s apprenticeship.

De Smith hopes to extend his stay with union, too

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Commissioner Roger Goodell is close to having job security beyond the finalization of the next labor deal. NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith still has a hurdle or two before he can match that.

His third three-year term expires in March 2018. In an interview to be televised by HBO on Tuesday, Bryant Gumbel asked Smith whether he hopes to stay.

“If the players want me to stay and I wanna stay, well, then there’s a mutuality of interest,” Smith said.

“Do you not want to stay?”

“I didn’t say that,” Smith said.

“I’m just asking,” Gumbel added. “On the record, do you want to stay?”

 “I intend to stay next year,” Smith said. “Yeah and I would like to. I think there’s work that needs to be done. At the end of the day, am I always going to be happy with the decision of the players and respect their decision? Absolutely.”

If Smith does another three-year deal next March, his next contract would expire not long after the current labor deal reaches its ending date. Which could make for awkward times for the union, if a collection of candidates who have ideas about how to proceed with an expired CBA try to nudge Smith out just as a potential labor battle is beginning.