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Cordarrelle Patterson’s foot injury “improving every day”

Cordarrelle Patterson AP

Vikings wide receiver Jarius Wright considers teammate Cordarrelle Patterson a “talker,” but Patterson didn’t have much to say on Saturday about the foot injury that’s kept him off the field during the first two days of the team’s training camp.

Patterson hurt the foot last week, although he’s offering up no details about how he injured it or what the exact diagnosis might be. The Vikings aren’t saying much, either, but coach Mike Zimmer is willing to say that he doesn’t expect Patterson, who didn’t take the team’s conditioning test on Thursday, to miss much more time as a result.

“He’s improving every day,” Zimmer said, via the Pioneer Press. “I saw him do some stuff [Saturday]. … I’ll be surprised if it’s long.”

The hope for Patterson this summer is that he can further polish his skills so that the team can make even more use of his ample athletic abilities on offense this season. That makes any injury less than ideal, but a quick return to the field should leave Patterson with plenty of time to refine his skills before the start of the regular season.

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Jags unveil new video boards before crowd of more than 52,000

Boards AP

Jacksonville ain’t Oxnard.

With the Cowboys struggling — and ultimately unable — to get 5,000 fans to show up for training camp in California, the Jaguars lured 52,961 to EverBank Field for the unveiling of video screens even larger than the Close Encounters mother ship that hovers over the surface where Jerry Jones’ team plays.

It wasn’t just about the video boards.  Fulham F.C., the English soccer team owned by Jaguars owner Shad Khan, thumped D.C. United 3-0 in an exhibition match, followed by a free concert from Carrie Underwood.

But the real star of the night was the gigantic new screens, one at each end of the venue and both larger than a football field.  (The picture accompanying this blurb shows an image that filled the prior video screen inside its much larger successor.)

It’s the latest one-up move in an era featuring NFL teams trying to outdo each other in the hopes of enticing fans to choose attendance in person over watching games at home.  Eventually, look for the top of an entire stadium to be capped and wrapped with a 360-degree drive-in theater screen.

Other amenities that wouldn’t be practical in northern climates include the pools that have been installed at EverBank Field, giving fans an experience that definitely would be difficult to duplicate at home.  Especially if they don’t have a pool.

Ultimately, the way to keep a stadium packed is to develop a team that contends for postseason berths on a consistent basis.  Quietly, the Jaguars are working on that project, too.

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Colts sign a running back

Ahmad Bradshaw, Davin Meggett AP

The Colts have added a running back to the roster in the wake of Vick Ballard’s Achilles injury.

The team announced Sunday that they have signed Davin Meggett to their 90-man roster. Meggett is the son of former NFL running back Dave Meggett and spent time on the team’s practice squad in 2012. He didn’t make the team last summer and went on to stints on practice squads in Dallas and Washington without playing in any regular season games.

Meggett is unlikely to climb to the top of the depth chart even with Ballard out of the lineup, but his arrival may signal that the Colts plan to give Chris Rainey or Dan Herron a chance to expand on their limited professional experience behind Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw. There are other veteran options on the open market. For now, though, it seems the Colts will be giving the in-house options the first crack at playing time.

The Colts also announced that linebacker Aaron Morgan is headed to injured reserve. Morgan has played 18 games for the Jaguars and Buccaneers over the last three seasons.

 

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Cowboys not generating much interest at training camp

Jerry AP

The Cowboys may still be America’s Team, but they’re currently not Oxnard’s.

Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has been mentioning the attendance at training camp.  As pointed out in Saturday’s one-liners, only 3,503 total fans showed up in the first two days.

When reporting that number on Twitter, Charean predicted that the Cowboys “should have a big crowd at the kickoff Saturday.”

And only 4,279 showed up.

That’s a total (abacus engaged) of 7,782 fans in three days.  Washington, in contrast, drew more than 11,000 on Saturday alone at training camp in Richmond.

While the Cowboys technically shouldn’t care about how many Californians show up to watch an NFL team based in Texas practice, at a certain level, Jerry Jones and company need to be concerned that the camp attendance may be a barometer of overall, sea-to-shining-sea interest in the NFL’s official even-Steven franchise, 8-8 for each of the last three years and .500 on the nose dating back to 1997.

While Charean’s tweets don’t mention attendance in past years, she clearly regards the numbers as alarming — and she notes that, if camp were held in San Antonio, 10,000 would have been there.  The trend bears watching in other national metrics, from TV ratings in prime-time games to jersey and merchandise sales, to attendance when the Cowboys take the show on the road to cities where the home team can’t fill up a stadium without having a truly national team paying a visit.

It could be that America’s Team no longer is.  If it ever really was.

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Chiefs tight end Sean McGrath retires

Sean McGrath AP

Sean McGrath led Chiefs tight ends in receptions last season, but he isn’t going to hold onto that status this season.

McGrath has decided to retire from the NFL after two seasons. McGrath, who had 26 catches last season after playing two games for the Seahawks in 2012, is dealing with some personal issues, according to Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.

“McGrath is gonna retire, that’s what we’ve been told by him,” Reid said, via the Kansas City Star. “I wish him the best. He’s a good kid. It’s a personal decision he made.”

With the 26-year-old hanging up the cleats, the Chiefs will look to Travis Kelce and Anthony Fasano to be their top tight ends in 2014. That was the plan last year as well but injuries led the team to turn to McGrath, an option that won’t be available should injury strike again this season.

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Geno Smith expects to be a top-five quarterback soon

Geno Smith AP

The Jets aren’t willing to name Geno Smith their starting quarterback for the 2014 season, but Smith feels confident that he’ll erase any doubts about his ability to thrive in the NFL in the next couple of years.

Smith was voted the No. 32 quarterback in the 32-team league in a recent poll by ESPN and is expecting to find himself on the other end of the rankings before too long. Smith said that “guys improve all the time” and that he’s putting in the hard work it will take to climb the ladder after a rough rookie season.

“The thing about it is, you have to climb up,” Smith said, via ESPNNewYork.com. “If I’m No. 32, by this time next year or the year after, I expect to be in the top 5.”

There will certainly be those that disagree with Smith’s feeling that he can rise that high, but it’s hard to fault a player for setting that kind of goal for themselves. In the end, it doesn’t much matter where Smith ranks in an ESPN poll as long as he can show significant progress over last season.

He was resilient enough to turn in some of his best performances in the final weeks of the season and there’s more talent around him than there was on an underpowered Jets offense last season. He’ll need to use that extra help to turn those encouraging moments into a higher level of play over the entire season to make any move up the ladder or the Jets might turn to Michael Vick and then look elsewhere before training camp next season.

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Panthers rookie Tyler Gaffney lost for season to knee injury

Tyler Gaffney AP

The Panthers are waiting for running back Jonathan Stewart to return to action after tweaking his hamstring, but he’s not the only injured member of the backfield.

Coach Ron Rivera announced that sixth-round pick Tyler Gaffney will spend his rookie season recovering from a knee injury. Gaffney injured his knee during Friday night’s practice and doctors determined he needs season-ending surgery long before the season even gets underway.

“It’s disappointing because the young man’s a solid football player,” Rivera said, via the Charlotte Observer. “He’s had a history of being a workhorse, and unfortunately in practice [Friday] he got his knee in a bad position and something popped.”

Stewart expects to miss 2-4 weeks while recovering from his latest injury, leaving DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert sat the two main cogs in the running game. 2013 sixth-rounder Kenjon Barner is also on a thinner depth chart than the Panthers had a week ago.

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Texans sign a pair of linebackers

Buffalo Bills v Atlanta Falcons Getty Images

The Texans added some veteran depth at linebacker on Saturday.

John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports that Quentin Groves and Lawrence Sidbury both signed with the team after working out for them at training camp. The moves shore up a thin group at outside linebacker.

Groves, who also worked out for the Jets recently, will be playing for his fifth team after previous stints with the Jaguars, Raiders, Cardinals and Browns. He had two sacks in four games with Cleveland last season.

Sidbury was a fourth-round pick in Atlanta in 2009 and spent last year with the Colts after spending four years on the Falcons defense.

Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney are expected to start on the outside for the Texans, who didn’t have any experienced reserves behind them before the signings.

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Calvin Pryor suffers head injury at Jets practice

Calvin Pryor AP

The Jets hope first-round pick Calvin Pryor can become a fixture at safety after years of a revolving door at the position, but he’ll need to recover from a head injury first.

Pryor got hurt during a special teams portion of Saturday’s practice when he was involved in a collision while serving as the personal protector for the punter. Coach Rex Ryan said after the practice that the team didn’t know the severity of the injury.

“You know the new protocol is that if we know there is a concussion, you guys will know about it immediately,” Ryan said, via the Newark Star-Ledger. “So don’t think we’re covering something up. As of right now, we don’t know if it’s a concussion or not. But it was a head injury, and obviously, when those things happen, you’re always going to side on being cautious. So that’s what we’re doing. Whether it’s a concussion or not, I’m not sure. We’ll see how that progresses.”

Pryor tweeted later in the day that he was fine, although the team should still proceed cautiously to be sure that Pryor actually is fine and that they aren’t taking any undue risks with his health when they put him back on the field.

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Jay Gruden warns Brandon Meriweather not to hit high in practice

Meriweather AP

Washington safety Brandon Meriweather was suspended for a game last year for helmet-to-helmet hits. Washington coach Jay Gruden is warning Meriweather that the same offense will get him suspended from practice as well.

“Brandon, he plays a very physical style of football,” Gruden said. “That’s all he knows. But there is a rule now obviously and he’s had to pay the price for it. And he understands the next one is going to be a longer suspension. We talked about that today, actually. I told him he is going to get a two-practice suspension if he doesn’t lower his target.”

Gruden expects Meriweather to be a big part of Washington’s defense, but only if he can remember to avoid helmet-to-helmet hits.

“He’s a good football player,” Gruden said. “He’s tough, he’s physical, he wants to do the right thing but sometimes at that position though and the ball is in the air, he’s trying to knock the ball out and sometimes they unfortunately make contact head-to-head and it’s not intentional. I don’t think he has the intent to injure people. I think he has the intent to get the player down and get the ball out. Sometimes those instances look worse than they are but he does have to really watch his area of target and hopefully we will keep him on the field for 16 weeks because he is much needed in the secondary.”

The NFL doesn’t take kindly to repeat offenders, and if Meriweather hits another opponent high in a game, he’s likely looking at a multiple-game suspension. Gruden is hoping to break Meriweather of the habit permanently.

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Green-Ellis sliding into obscurity in Cincinnati

GreenEllis AP

With the Bengals spending a second-round pick in each of the last two years on tailbacks, a free-agent arrival from 2012 has moved closer to becoming the odd man out.

And with injuries and (in Seattle) a holdout popping up throughout the NFL, don’t be shocked if a market emerges for BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

After gaining 1,094 yards on 278 carries in 2012, the arrival of Giovani Bernard dropped the veteran’s attempts from 278 to 220, with only 754 yards (3.4 per carry).

Now, with the Bengals devoting another second-round pick to former LSU tailback Jeremy Hill, Green-Ellis may not be in position to justify his $2.3 million salary.  Before cutting him, though, the Bengals could try to move him.

Especially if guys like Kendall Hunter keep getting hurt and if Marshawn Lynch’s holdout continues.

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Browns owner says they “expect better” from Johnny Manziel

Cleveland Browns Training Camp Getty Images

Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel admitted he made some rookie mistakes this offseason (while defending his right to party, Beastie Boys style).

But the man who signs the checks that lead to all the money phones said he wants to see his first-round pick straighten up.

“I don’t want to wear this subject out,” Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Johnny said it himself. He made some mistakes. We expect better from him. I’m sure he’ll perform now. We’re anxious to see what he can do on the field, which is what really counts.”

Asked if Manziel had learned his lesson, Haslam replied: “We’ll see.”

Manziel’s close with Cleveland basketball superstar LeBron James, and Haslam said he hoped Manizel emulated players such as him, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.

“I think the really great athletes make their news on the field, not off the field,” Haslam said. “Hopefully, Johnny can look at guys like LeBron and Brady and Peyton and Jeter and pattern himself after those guys who make their news on the field not off the field.”

Haslam didn’t specify if he spoke one-on-one with Manziel, but said: “I think we’re all on the same page with Johnny.

“We put tremendous emphasis on working with our players both on and off the field.”

Those words should serve as a stern warning to Manziel.

And if he doesn’t change his ways, Haslam may be forced to try to get a rebate on that first-round pick.

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Report: Seahawks bring in three running backs for workouts

Minnesota Vikings v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

The Seahawks, who have just three running backs on their active roster with Marshawn Lynch not reporting for training camp, reportedly put three tailbacks through workouts on Saturday.

According to Aaron Wilson of National Football Post, the Seahawks took a look at William Powell (Kansas State), Orwin Smith (Georgia Tech) and Phillip Tanner (Middle Tennessee State), all of whom have previous NFL exposure.

The 26-year-old Powell played in 12 games for the Cardinals in 2012, rushing for 217 yards on 60 carries in 13 games. Powell (5-9, 207) also caught 19 passes for 132 yards. Powell also had a brief stint with the Eagles in 2013, but the club waived him with an injury not long after claiming him from Arizona.

Smith, 23, was on the Packers’ practice squad for part of the 2013 season, his first NFL campaign. The Packers waived Smith (6-0, 205) in April.

Tanner (5-10, 208) has the most experience of the trio. The 25-year-old tailback appeared in 39 regular season games for Dallas from 2011-2013, rushing 56 times for 149 yards and two TDs and catching 9-93-0. The Cowboys did not offer him a contract in restricted free agency.

In addition to having three tailbacks on their roster, the Seahawks have three fullbacks: Derrick Coleman, Kiero Small and Spencer Ware.

Were the Seahawks to add another back, they would have to make a roster move, as they are at the 90-player limit. Lynch — placed on the reserve/did not report list Saturday, per the NFL’s transactions — doesn’t count against the roster limit.

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Fred Jackson not expected to miss much time with injury

Fred Jackson AP

The Bills’ elder statesman on offense won’t be out long with an injury sustained Friday.

According to the club’s official Twitter feed, Bills coach Doug Marrone indicated Saturday that tailback Fred Jackson’s injury isn’t serious, though the eighth-year pro did get the day off from practice.

Marrone termed the injury a “lower body” ailment, according to a transcript of his remarks Saturday from the club.

“He just got kicked,” Marrone said.

The Bills’ running back depth is a strength, with Jackson, Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon among the options behind C.J. Spiller.

Jackson has exceeded 1,100 combined rushing-receiving yards in four of the last five seasons for Buffalo. Punter Brian Moorman (38) is the only Bills player older than the 33-year-old Jackson.

 

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Dee Milliner: I’m the best cornerback in the NFL

milliner AP

If you think the best cornerback in the NFL is Richard Sherman, Patrick Peterson or Darrelle Revis, Dee Milliner says you’re wrong.

Milliner, the second-year cornerback for the Jets, says he’s the best cornerback in the NFL.

The best corner in the league? Me,” Milliner told Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. “I ain’t gonna say that somebody else is better than me.”

Milliner says he’ll never accept anyone being better than him.

“I’m not going to say somebody that plays the same position is better than me,” Milliner said. “Don’t care if they’ve been in the league 10 years and I’ve been here five months. That’s how it’s going to go. I’m the best. I’m not going to say that another man that plays the same position . . . and say he’s better than me? I can’t do that.”

In his own mind, Milliner is the best cornerback in the NFL. In the mind of everyone else, he’s got a long way to go.

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