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Raiders lose Menelik Watson to ruptured Achilles tendon

Menelik Watson AP

Raiders starting right tackle Menelik Watson suffered a serious injury in Sunday night’s preseason game.

Watson tweeted after the game that he has ruptured his Achilles tendon. That is almost always a season-ending injury.

The Raiders’ second-round pick in 2013, Watson was a project when he was drafted: He grew up in England and had played only two seasons of football in his life. But he started nine games last year and all three preseason games and was projected to be the Week One starter at right tackle this year. Instead he’ll spend the year rehabbing.

“I will be back stronger than ever that’s a promise. Main thing is supporting the team right now,” Watson wrote on Twitter. “To the Raider Nation I love you so much. There is NO I mean NO fanbase like ours. Thank you for all the support.”

Watson was replaced by Austin Howard in the Raiders’ lineup on Sunday night, and Howard is now projected as Oakland’s starting right tackle.

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Khalil Mack stars on good night for Raiders defense

Khalil Mack AP

The third preseason game is often called a dress rehearsal for the regular season.

If that’s true of the Raiders-Cardinals game on Sunday night, Khalil Mack is going to steal the show in 2015. Mack was all but unblockable in the first half of the game, which ended with his second sack of Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer. Mack also stripped the ball from running back David Johnson on a third down, which the Cardinals recovered for a loss before Chandler Catanzaro missed a 54-yard field goal.

Palmer was under pressure from Mack and other Raiders all night and the Cardinals will need better efforts up front from a line that’s in flux thanks to Bobby Massie’s suspension to start the season and Mike Iupati’s knee injury. Palmer was sacked three times and finished 8-of-22 for 103 yards and two interceptions.

While Mack is breaking out on the defensive side of the ball, the Raiders are hoping for the same from first-round pick Amari Cooper. Cooper had four catches for 62 yards and showed very well against Patrick Peterson, but neither he nor any of the other starters could get into the end zone. Derek Carr didn’t convert enough third downs while throwing often — he was 18-of-34 for 213 yards overall — but had the Raiders on a good drive to open the third quarter until he threw a pass that Cardinals cornerback Cariel Brooks picked off for an 81-yard touchdown.

His night ended there, but there was more to like than dislike for the Raiders starters on both sides of the ball Sunday night.

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With next court date coming, no momentum toward Brady settlement

Tom Brady, Kony Ealy AP

On Monday, the NFL and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady return to court for a third — and presumably final — hearing regarding the legality of the four-game suspension imposed in May on Brady. While Judge Richard M. Berman has done his best to try to push the two sides toward a settlement, there’s no indication that any progress has been made.

Then again, there’s no reason to make progress in advance of Monday’s in-court proceedings, where Judge Berman once again will try to twist arms. It’s already a deadline-driven business, and there’s no deadline like appearing in court before a judge who will be issuing a ruling soon, absent an agreement.

The NFL and NFL Players Association have jointly requested that Judge Berman issue a ruling by September 4, six days before the Week One game between the Steelers and Patriots. Judge Berman hasn’t promised a decision by then, possibly hoping that the uncertainty will push the two sides closer together.

A settlement remains possible even if not likely, especially if Judge Berman tells the two sides that there will be no clear winner and no clear loser if they force him to issue a ruling. For example, he could kick the case back for another appeal hearing with a different hearing officer, or he could rule in the NFL’s favor but enter an order allowing Brady to play while the appeal process above Judge Berman plays out.

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Bears release Tim Jennings

Detroit Lions v Chicago Bears Getty Images

The Bears parted ways with one longtime cornerback earlier this offseason when Charles Tillman signed with the Panthers as a free agent.

They said goodbye to another one on Sunday when they released Tim Jennings. Jennings started 74 games for the Bears since signing with the team in 2010 and only missed two games during his five years with the team. Jennings had nine interceptions in 2012 and 16 overall during his time in Chicago.

Jennings, who made two Pro Bowls with the Bears, started the first two preseason games, but was playing in the second half this week after players like Sherrick McManis and Alan Ball had already gotten into the game. Given the ever-present need for corners around the league, Jennings should get at least a look in the near future.

The Cowboys, who lost Orlando Scandrick and employ former Bears assistant Rod Marinelli as their defensive coordinator, could be a possibility. Jennings pleaded guilty to reckless driving this year to resolve a DWI case, but hasn’t received any league discipline at this point.

The Bears will also be missing safety Ryan Mundy in their secondary this year. Mundy is headed to injured reserve because of a hip injury. They also formally placed wide receiver Kevin White on the PUP list after shin surgery and released running back Daniel Thomas.

Defensive back Malcolm Bronson, tight end Kevin Greene, tackle Cameron Jefferson, wide receiver Jeremy Kelley, cornerback Al Louis-Jean, long snapper Rick Lovato, wide receiver Levi Norwood, defensive end Olsen Pierre, tight end Chris Pantale and wide receiver John Chiles were also cut as the Bears got down to 76 players.

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Cardinals-Raiders airs tonight on NBC

Arizona Cardinals v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

Week Three of the NFL preseason comes to an end tonight in Oakland, where the Cardinals take on the Raiders in an 8:00 p.m. ET kickoff on NBC.

Carson Palmer returns to Oakland to take on one of his former teams, while the Raiders will see if Derek Carr and Amari Cooper can keep their impressive preseason going.

If you can’t watch on TV, you can watch tonight’s coverage on your desktop or laptop at NBC Sports Live Extra, or you can watch it on your mobile device by downloading the NBC Sports Live Extra app.

Halftime of tonight’s game will include Mike Florio, Rodney Harrison and Paul Burmeister doing a mini-version of their NBCSN Pro Football Talk show, with commentary on all the latest news around the NFL.

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Washington says Cousins hasn’t been named the Week One starter

Kirk Cousins AP

During the Sunday broadcast of the preseason game between the Texans and Saints, FOX displayed a large graphic with photos of the three potential Week One quarterbacks in Washington, along with a claim at the bottom of the screen that Kirk Cousins has been named the Week One starter.

It was couched not as a report but as a fact. And it was news to me. It was also news to the team.

The team says it’s not true, deferring to the statements made after Saturday night’s game by coach Jay Gruden. Starter Robert Griffin III, who is cleared to practice but not play after suffering a concussion 10 days ago against the Lions, could still be cleared to play in the regular-season opener.

“I’m not going to announce anything right now,” Gruden said on Saturday night regarding Week One against Miami. “First of all, I need to read these reports. These reports are confusing. We need to sit down and talk to all the players involved, and make our decision as a staff and go from there. This was all put on us in the last minute. We had a great game. Kirk [Cousins] played great. Colt [McCoy] played great. And the offensive line played excellent. Defense got some turnovers. I was happy with the way we played, and the rest of this stuff will sort itself out.”

Gruden is right; there are so many conflicting reports and accounts that everyone is confused about what’s happening. Including whoever made the graphic at FOX.

UPDATE 7:03 p.m. ET: FOX has now fixed the graphic, with the addition of a question mark.

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Report: Football people want RG3 out of Washington, Snyder says no

San Diego Chargers v Washington Redskins Getty Images

Robert Griffin III is reportedly remaining in Washington only because owner Dan Snyder is overruling the football people who want to get rid of the quarterback.

Front office officials and coaches want to move on from Griffin but are meeting resistance from ownership, according to ESPN.

The report says the team has talked about trading Griffin, but there’s been no interest. That’s no surprise: Griffin has a guaranteed salary of $3.3 million this year and would be owed a whopping $16.2 million next year if he suffered a severe injury. There’s no way for any team to justify committing that kind of money to a player who has played as poorly as Griffin over the last two years.

From all indications, coach Jay Gruden — who spent most of the offseason insisting that Griffin would be the starter — has lost any confidence he ever had in Griffin as a quarterback. Both Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy have far outplayed Griffin this preseason. General Manager Scot McCloughan, who was hired this year, has no particular loyalty to Griffin either.

But Snyder has loved Griffin since the team traded up in the 2012 draft to get him, and Snyder apparently isn’t willing to let go. And that’s the only thing keeping Griffin in Washington.

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Report: AC joint sprain for Randall Cobb

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Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb feared a broken collarbone when he was first injured in Saturday’s game against the Eagles, but they were able to rule out an injury of that severity before the night was over.

Cobb went for further tests on Sunday and Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that he has been diagnosed with a “minor” AC joint sprain.

It’s a better outcome than a broken collarbone, certainly, but Cobb probably can’t be assured of playing against the Bears in Week One. Players have missed good chunks of time with similar injuries — Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson hasn’t played at all in the preseason after spraining his AC joint early in training camp — and it will take some time before the Packers will have a clear idea about his status.

If Cobb can’t play, the Packers would start their season without both of their top wideouts since Jordy Nelson is out with a torn ACL. Barring any additions from outside the organization, Davante Adams, Jeff Janis and Ty Montgomery would likely be the top three receivers in their absence.

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Russell Wilson: We’ll be just fine on offense

Russell Wilson AP

The Seahawks starting offense failed to score a touchdown for the third time in three preseason games on Saturday and they managed just two field goals against the Chargers despite playing into the third quarter.

Concern created about those shortcomings have largely centered on the passing attack. Russell Wilson was 7-of-15 for 56 yards against San Diego and missed tight end Jimmy Graham twice on plays that would have helped Seattle in their quest for a touchdown. Coach Pete Carroll said after the game that the team wasn’t sharp enough and “missed throws we normally make.” Wilson didn’t disagree with the coach, but said that he was confident things will be better when the games start counting in the standings.

“Ultimately, we have to finish drives. That’s on me. But we’ll hit ’em,” Wilson said, via the Tacoma News Tribune. “We’ll be just fine. So I’m excited about it. … I definitely think I’m ready. Can’t wait to play. We are definitely moving the ball,” he added. We just need to finish. That’s the most important thing. And we will.”

One thing that should help is a full dose of Marshawn Lynch in the offense. Lynch played for the first time this summer on Saturday, running twice and catching a pass, and the Seahawks offense is at its best when Lynch is bullying his way through defenses. More continuity on the offensive line, which was missing left tackle Russell Okung against the Chargers, should also help as the team tries to find a groove that’s eluded them thus far in the preseason.

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No ligament damage for Leonard Williams

Atlanta Falcons v New York Jets Getty Images

The Jets can breathe a sigh of relief about defensive end Leonard Williams.

The first-round pick was forced from Saturday night’s victory over the Giants with a knee injury. X-rays taken on Saturday night came back negative and there are multiple reports that a subsequent MRI showed no ligament damage.

Williams has been diagnosed with a muscle strain behind his knee and the team does not believe it will be a long-term injury. Williams will have two weeks to recover before the Jets start the regular season with a game against the Browns.

As long as he’s healthy, Williams will be in the starting lineup with Muhammad Wilkerson at defensive end while Sheldon Richardson begins serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Williams has looked up to the task this summer and the Jets defense looked strong across the board while holding the Giants starters to seven points and scoring a touchdown of their own on an Antonio Cromartie interception return.

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Chargers say Frank Clark tried to punch Philip Rivers

Denver Broncos v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers appears to have avoided serious injury when he banged his right hand during Saturday’s game against the Seahawks and that apparently wasn’t his only close call of the night.

Chargers offensive linemen reacted strongly to what they say was an attempt by Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark to punch Rivers after the quarterback was sacked by Jordan Hill in the second quarter. A scrum broke out after the play and Chargers tackle King Dunlap was given a 15-yard penalty for yanking Clark out of the pile.

“That guy was on top of Philip, and that’s our quarterback,” Dunlap said, via U-T San Diego. “I protect the quarterback at all costs.”

Video of the play shows Rivers holding onto Clark’s jersey after the sack and it’s hard to see what else might have gone on to elicit the strong reaction from the Chargers. After the game, Clark was asked about the incident (but not the allegation that he tried to punch Rivers) and said Richard Sherman told him he has to avoid them even if this one didn’t result in a penalty against Seattle.

“Man this game, it’s a lot of emotions is involved,” Clark said, via the Seattle Times. “I’m a real emotional player but there are ways you react and ways you don’t react. You’ve got to be smart in this game. That was something Sherm [Richard Sherman] was telling me afterwards, that whole thing, even though I didn’t get called for anything, just to avoid situations like that.”

The Seahawks drafted Clark in the second round despite a domestic violence arrest that led to his dismissal from the Michigan team last November. The charge was downgraded to disorderly conduct as part of a plea arrangement in April.

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NFL may take a closer look at gloves

Jeremiah Anderson AP

In January, Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice said he used to put stickum on his gloves. Now that the gloves are so good that the stickum is already on them, the NFL may be talking a look at whether the built-in stickiness has gone too far.

“I think it’s time to go back and look at the gloves and see if, with what’s going on here with sports science in the past 10 years, if there isn’t too much of an advantage being gained,” recently-reinstalled Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay told Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times.

It sounds like it’s a look that’s long overdue.

“No one looks at those gloves,” Hall of Fame coach and legendary broadcaster John Madden told Farmer. “I saw them when I was at a meeting in Indy. They passed them around and somebody made the comment that, ‘Pretty soon, these gloves are going to be able to catch a ball without a hand in them.'”

Those gloves also may be able to throw the ball without a hand in them.

“You know something’s up when guys like Tom Brady and Kurt Warner and Peyton Manning are wearing gloves to throw a football,” former NFL quarterback and 2002 league MVP Rich Gannon told Farmer. “You’re starting to go, ‘Wait a second here. . . .’ Guys for years dreaded bad weather, cold weather, and they didn’t want to have anything that would take their hands off the football. Now guys are like, ‘These gloves are better than the human skin.'”

And to that many will say, “So what?” With the following of the sport dramatically enhanced by fantasy football, fans want to see passes caught, not dropped. And another Hall of Famer thinks one of the best catches in recent years wouldn’t have been possible without the gloves.

“You have to be careful about the way you analyze that play because you don’t want people calling you a hater or whatever,” Tim Brown told Farmer regarding last season’s three-fingered grab by Odell Beckham Jr. “But you can’t make that play without those kind of gloves. It’s just impossible.”

It will be impossible for the NFL to build on its momentum as the must-see sport if it reverses the advances that have occurred right under the league’s nose.

“I think if they took the gloves completely away from the guys, including the quarterbacks at this point, it would have a major impact on what the game looked like on the field,” former NFL receiver and Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth told Farmer. “And not for the better. . . . Every Sunday we say, ‘Oh, my goodness! Look at that!’ That’s a good thing. It’s an entertainment business. Why not make it as entertaining as possible?”

By paying no attention to the development of gloves, the NFL has allowed the game to become as entertaining as it is. It would make no sense for the NFL to suddenly declare that it has allowed the gloves to go too far.

Nike, the company that pays the NFL a lot of money to make and market the gloves, would probably agree.

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Stevie Brown out in Houston, could return to Giants

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants Getty Images

The Giants likely lost another safety for the season late last week when Nat Berhe had calf surgery, but they may be getting some relief in the form of a familiar face in the next few days.

Stevie Brown was released by the Texans on Saturday and Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News reports that the Giants are trying to get Brown in for a physical. Brown spent three years with the Giants from 2012-2014, playing 16 games twice and missing the entire 2013 season with a torn ACL.

Brown’s agent Blake Baratz said he’s working on getting Brown and the Giants together for a meeting while adding that “a number of teams” are in the mix to land Brown’s services.

Brown signed with the Texans this offseason when they offered him more money than the Giants, but it doesn’t appear he was close to making the Houston roster given the timing of his release from the team.

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Jay Gruden: “People want to make it out that we’re incompetent”

Jay Gruden AP

Washington coach Jay Gruden is not ready to name a starter, and he sounds like he’s getting worn down by the criticism about his ongoing quarterback saga.

After Saturday night’s game, in which Kirk Cousins started after Robert Griffin III was denied medical clearance just hours after Gruden claimed he’d already been given medical clearance, Gruden said it’s not fair to the team to suggest that they don’t know what they’re doing.

“We’re all as confused as you are, and people have to understand this has nothing to do with the Redskins. I know people want to make it out that we’re incompetent but we’re not. This has nothing to do with us. It was totally independent doctor, a verbal thing he said with our doctor, and then all of a sudden the written statement was different, the written report was different so we followed proper course and did what we thought was right for Robert,” Gruden said.

Asked if there’s a quarterback controversy on his team, Gruden said there isn’t.

“I’m not going to announce anything. There’s no controversy,” Gruden said. “As far as who’s starting at every position, we’re going to evaluate that as a staff. I’m not going to make any announcements right now, that’s for sure.”

But the mere fact that Gruden won’t announce his starter is why there is, in fact, a quarterback controversy. And the fact that there’s a quarterback controversy after a long offseason in which Gruden insisted there wouldn’t be a quarterback controversy is why the team looks incompetent.

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Philip Rivers bangs throwing hand, says “it’s good”

Philip Rivers, Mike Morgan AP

During the first half of a Week Three preseason game against a blitz-happy Seahawks defense, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers banged his throwing hand.

In the third quarter, Rivers told Tracy Wolfson of CBS that the hand recently used to sign a gigantic contract is fine.

“It’s good,” he said of the right hand, adding that he’d still be playing if it were a regular-season game.

Rivers has a habit of playing through injuries — injuries that sometimes haven’t been disclosed. As former Chargers center Nick Hardwick told PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio earlier this year, Rivers probably has had more injuries that we don’t know about than injuries that we do know about.

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