Cam Newton on track to play Thursday night

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After quarterback Cam Newton stepped up his work in Monday’s practice, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said that he wanted to see how Newton felt on Tuesday before deciding if the quarterback will play against the Jaguars on Thursday night.

Rivera wanted to make sure there was no soreness or tightness in Newton’s surgically repaired shoulder and it sounds like Newton avoided both. Rivera said on Tuesday, via David Newton of ESPN.com, that Newton is on track to play and that he’s seen signs of the quarterback getting more comfortable after a summer of limited work.

“You could see the timing coming back,” Rivera said.

Given the cautious approach the Panthers have taken with Newton all summer, any game action he sees on Thursday will likely be on the limited side as the team tries to keep him healthy while also making sure he’s not starting from scratch come Week One.

Jerry Jones declines to say whether he supports Roger Goodell contract extension

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Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was reportedly furious at NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell over the Ezekiel Elliott suspension. So does that mean Jones opposes extending Goodell’s contract, as the owners reportedly plan to do?

Jones himself isn’t saying. On 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, Jones said he simply wouldn’t comment on whether he believes he and his fellow owners should keep Goodell in charge.

“That’s obviously an internal, very internal thing and I would not comment about it. And I don’t want that to be interpreted. I just will not comment about it. I’m one of the people that are basically involved in how that is being negotiated. It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment about it,” Jones said.

There have been reports that Jones thinks the owners pay Goodell too much money, and that Jones is not among the six owners involved in negotiating Goodell’s contract extension. But if Jones isn’t satisfied with the job Goodell is doing, it would appear that the majority of his fellow owners disagree with him. And so Jones may think that he shouldn’t speak out publicly, even as privately he’s displeased with the Commissioner.

Maybe OBJ should have held out

AP

One of the first thoughts that rattled around inside my limited brain after Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. went down with an injury that scared everyone (except fans of other teams in the NFC East) was this: That’s why Aaron Donald is holding out.

Picked one spot after Beckham in the first round of the 2014 draft, Donald has decided to take a stand now, even with two years left on his rookie deal. By leveraging a withholding of services into a second contract (if he gets one), the dominant defensive tackle will be shifting the injury risk to the Rams, via a signifiant signing bonus and/or large injury guarantees.

Beckham, who skipped voluntary offseason workouts but reported for training camp, carries the injury risk with a base salary of $1.8 million in 2017 and injury-guaranteed compensation of $8.4 million for 2018. And he saw that injury risk nearly become reality on Monday night.

Some will say Beckham should shut it down until he gets his contract. The rules of the labor deal, however, make it much easier for a player to never show up than to report and then leave.

Even though it’s too late for Beckham to hold out, he could choose to hold in. That’s a term agents use in reference to nagging injuries like hamstrings and headaches that keep a player from being available for practices or games. While Beckham may not be wired to do that (to his credit), mindsets can change after a guy’s football life goes flashing before his eyes.

From the team’s perspective, this could be the ideal time to offer Beckham the Antonio Brown contract, with a moderate bump. Beckham has said he’d like to be the highest-paid player in football, but he may feel differently when he’s staring at an offer far less than top of the league but far more than life changing.

One day after his career almost changed badly, now could be the time for the Giants and Beckham to come together on a reasonable and fair arrangement that protects him against the next time he takes a low hit during a game.

Jarvis Landry on Odell Beckham injury: “This is why I hate preseason”

AP

Giants receiver Odell Beckham appeared to avoid serious injury when he took a hit against the Browns on Monday night, but Beckham’s friend and college teammate wasn’t happy to see him take any injury at all.

Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry, who played alongside Beckham at LSU, wrote on Twitter that he wasn’t pleased with seeing his buddy get hurt in a meaningless exhibition.

“This is why I hate preseason Bulls–t,” Landry wrote on Twitter after Beckham was hurt.

Landry’s complaint is a common one across the NFL, as players wonder why they’re risking their bodies in games that don’t matter. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is speaking out in favor of reducing the preseason, and he’ll likely have the support of players like Landry in that — at least if the league can find a way to shorten the preseason without doing something else the players oppose, such as lengthening the regular season. That’s a big “if.”

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix honors slain police officers with their names on his shoes

AP

Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix made a statement in support of fallen police officers during Sunday night’s preseason game.

Clinton-Dix wrote the names of four police officers who have died in the line of duty on his shoes. Clinton-Dix said on Twitter that he wanted the families of heroes that he wanted them to know they had his support.

The four officers Clinton-Dix recognized were Matt Baxter and Sam Howard of the Kissimmee, Florida, Police Department, who were shot on Friday, as well as Orlando Police Sgt. Debra Clayton, who was shot in December, and Orange County Sheriff’s Officer Norman Lewis, who was killed when his car crashed in the manhunt for Clayton’s killer. All four are from the area of Florida where Clinton-Dix was raised.

Clinton-Dix was a criminal justice major during his three years playing football at Alabama and is continuing to work on his degree in the offseasons.

Hue Jackson hopes to name a starter on Wednesday

AP

Brock Osweiler has started both preseason games. Whether he or DeShone Kizer will start the third one — and, most importantly, the first one that counts — will be unveiled soon. As in tomorrow.

“I will watch the tape,” Jackson told reporters after Monday night’s game. “There were some things that I felt on the sidelines just being out there watching the game, calling the plays and watching how things happen. Like I told you guys, I hope by Wednesday of this upcoming week we will have a decision of where we are headed, and I think that is what we have to do. . . .

“I kind of want to put this thing to bed by Wednesday. I kind of want to say, ‘Here is where we are going’ because I think this upcoming game, we will play a little longer with the first group because I think it is important to do so and have as many guys that are going to play in the opener playing because this is the dress rehearsal game. I would like to put this thing to bed and just move forward in that direction, and whatever decision we make, we make. We want to make the best one for the Browns.”

Will it be a difficult choice, Coach?

“We will see,” he said with a laugh. “I need to watch the tape and honestly answer that question, but I have an idea in my mind based on what I felt and what I saw from our football team. We will just kind of go from there.”

Jackson provided some clues, but not many, about where he’s heading.

“Brock did some things early, but obviously, the tipped ball,” Jackson said of Osweiler’s interception. “Again, you are getting holding calls and all of the sudden you are playing behind the sticks all of the time. That is not good. We are kind of mixing and matching the offensive line a little bit right now so that is tough. DeShone, there were some things he did really well and there are some things he has to keep improving on. To answer it all, I want to watch the tape before I give you an honest assessment of both those guys.”

Jackson later added that he “saw improvement in a lot of things” from Kizer, before adding that there are “some good things” that Osweiler and Cody Kessler did. (It’s probably isn’t a great sign that Osweiler got lumped in with Kessler.) Jackson also added that none of Kizer’s scrambles were planned runs, and that he needs to learn how to protect himself by sliding.

Despite the day of drama, it sounds like Hue needs to study the tape for confirmation purposes only.

“I think I have seen enough,” Jackson said. “For me, I have seen enough. I have done this long enough in my career and know what it looks like and what it feels like and what it should be. I feel pretty good about it. We will travel in that direction. If I feel like after watching the tape we need to wait a little longer, we will wait a little longer. I just feel like we are at the point where we can move forward and feel good about it.”

Some say the Browns should just go with Kizer. Others think Kizer needs to be kept on the bench for a bit, especially with the Pittsburgh and Baltimore defenses on the docket to start the season. Given the team’s erratic (to say the least) history at the position, the sooner Kizer gets the job we all know he’ll eventually assume, the better.

Odell Beckham Jr. relieved it’s only a sprain

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Odell Beckham Jr. expressed relief to come out of Monday night’s game with only a sprained ankle. It initially looked — and apparently felt — worse than what it was.

That’s a great word,” the Giants receiver said when asked if he was “relieved,” via video from northjersey.com.

Beckham will undergo more tests on his left ankle Tuesday, but X-rays were negative. He expects to play against the Cowboys, using sarcasm when asked about his injured ankle being healed in time for the season opener.

“I don’t know, man,” Beckham said. “I’m pretty concerned, but I think I’ll be all right. . . . It definitely was a little bit [of sarcasm].”

As Beckham planted his left leg on an 18-yard catch in the second quarter, Browns cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun hit Beckham’s leg. Beckham threw the football, after gingerly rising from the turf, in frustration at the injury or in anger at the hit or both. He wouldn’t say whether he felt the hit was dirty, though it was legal.

“I don’t know,” Beckham said. “It’s just football I guess. Preseason.”

Beckham was cleared of a concussion after undergoing a cognitive evaluation — “I know what today is. I know what happened yesterday. I know who we played last week. So I’m all right.” — but he wouldn’t say whether the ankle injury is a high-ankle sprain.

“I didn’t go to school in anatomy, kinesiology,” he said. “I’m not a doctor. I think they know the answer to that, so when you find out, let me know.”

The way Beckham dropped to his knees in the tunnel, near the Giants’ locker room, had everyone associated with the Giants holding their collective breath. But he returned to the sideline in street clothes, walking normally, allowing even Beckham to breathe easier.

“It feels like a sprained ankle,” Beckham said when asked how it felt after the game. “I don’t know. A rolled ankle. I don’t know. If feels like when you hurt your ankle. That’s kind of what it feels like. It’ll be all right.

Brandon Marshall reportedly having X-ray on shoulder

AP

The Giants apparently have gotten good news regarding receiver Odell Beckham Jr. They now need to sweat out a potential injury to receiver Brandon Marshall.

Via Dan Duggan of NJ.com, the Giants’ radio broadcast has reported that Marshall is having an X-ray on his shoulder.

Marshall, a veteran wideout who has been one of the most productive receivers in football over the past 11 years, joined the Giants earlier this year after being cut by the Jets. His presence makes the team’s receivers, with Beckham and Sterling Shepard, among the best three in the league.

Beckham returns to sideline in street clothes, walking normally

AP

Giants fans apparently can breathe again.

ESPN camera showed receiver Odell Beckham Jr. walking on the sidelines early in the third quarter, with no apparent distress or orthopedic devices.

It’s a surprising development, given that Beckham suffered a leg-flexing low hit that dropped him to his knees in the tunnel on the way to the end zone. By all appearances, he seems fine.

While means the Giants season will avoid being completely derailed. At least for now.

Robert Kraft gives Donald Trump a Super Bowl ring

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Once upon a time, Vladimir Putin decided to walk away with one of Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl rings. Donald Trump didn’t have to be so bold.

Via Tom Curran of CSN New England, Kraft gave Trump a Super Bowl LI ring, commemorating the Patriots victory over the Falcons.

But it wasn’t Kraft’s ring. Instead, it was an extra ring that was presented because the Patriots were the first championship team to visit the White House since Trump became the 45th President of the United States.

Curran’s report clarifies a suggestion from THE MOOCH that Kraft give his own ring to Trump.

Cowboys dodged a bullet when Jerry Jones tried and failed to trade up for Paxton Lynch

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The Broncos have named Trevor Siemian their starting quarterback, and that’s a major indictment of Paxton Lynch: A year after Denver chose Lynch in the first round of the NFL draft, he’s failed to beat out a former seventh-rounder who was already on the roster. Obviously, if the Broncos had known at the time that Lynch was no better than Siemian, they never would have drafted Lynch.

Which serves as a good reminder of just how lucky the Cowboys got during the 2016 NFL draft, when Jerry Jones badly wanted Lynch in Dallas.

Jones said after the first round of the 2016 draft ended that he had been working hard to move up and get Lynch, but before he could get a deal done, the Broncos moved up to the 26th overall pick and took Lynch themselves. Jones even acknowledged that he was willing to overpay to acquire Lynch, and said his son Stephen Jones had to prevent him from selling the farm to get Lynch.

As it turned out, of course, the Cowboys took Dak Prescott in the fourth round of the draft. Prescott stepped in for the injured Tony Romo last year, led the Cowboys to the best record in the NFC and won the rookie of the year award.

So as Prescott heads into his second season as the established franchise quarterback, and Lynch heads into his second season as Siemian’s backup, the Cowboys can thank their lucky stars that Jones wasn’t able to draft the quarterback he really wanted.

Jets will pick starting quarterback next Monday

AP

The Jets play the Giants in their third preseason game of the summer next Saturday and that will be the final chance for the team’s quarterbacks to make their case for the starting job.

Coach Todd Bowles said that he will make his decision next Monday about which player will be in the lineup when the Jets travel to Buffalo to kick off the 2017 season.

Bowles didn’t give any hints about who will get the nod, but the safe bet is that Josh McCown will get the nod. While Christian Hackenberg didn’t get much help from his teammates while making a start against the Lions over the weekend, he also didn’t do much to suggest that he’s ready to step into the starting role at the beginning of his second season. McCown did not play in that game, but led the Jets to a touchdown on his only drive of the preseason opener.

Given Hackenberg’s status as a second-round pick and the likelihood that the Jets are going to struggle to win games, it’s also a safe bet that he’ll get chances to start at some point over the course of the season even if it is just to confirm that the Jets have to do whatever they can to find a long-term solution at the position come the offseason.

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.

Anquan Boldin: Retirement wasn’t a decision I made all of a sudden

AP

Wide receiver Anquan Boldin announced his retirement on Sunday in a statement saying that he feels “drawn to make the larger fight for human rights a priority” in his life.

Boldin delved deeper into the reasons for his decision during an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio with Ross Tucker and Vic Carucci on Monday. Boldin said that the decision wasn’t influenced by anything that happened with the Bills over his two weeks with the team, including the trade of Sammy Watkins, and that it wasn’t easy to leave what he felt was an “obligation” to the team, but that the events in Charlottesville crystallized something that had been on his mind for a while.

“It wasn’t a decision that I made all of a sudden,” Boldin said. “It was something that I had been dealing with for a couple years. I always felt like football would be my passion, football would get me past a lot of things. When I stepped up to the podium, what I said was honestly true. But just seeing things that transpired over the last week or so, I mean, I think for me, there’s something bigger than football at this point. It’s kind of shocking for me to say that because football has been something that I’ve dedicated my life to. I can remember as a kid wanting to get to the NFL and wanting to be a professional football player. I dedicated my life to that and I never thought anything would take the place of that passion, but for me it has.”

Boldin said he knows these aren’t new issues and that he can’t solve the problems of the country by himself, but he feels “a duty to stand up and make my voice heard and be a voice for those that don’t have a voice.”

Boldin said he feels he can still play, but that he won’t reverse course and return to play because “my passion for the advocacy work that I do outweighs my passion for football.”

Mark Davis picks a winner in the “Fight for L.A.”

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The Chargers and the Rams are fighting for L.A. Raiders owner Mark Davis thinks that’s cute.

“You know, it’s kind of funny,” Davis said, via Vincent Bonsignore of the L.A. Daily News. “They’re talking about the fight for Los Angeles. And Raiders fans have been telling me we already won that fight, And that the Rams and Chargers are fighting for the No. 2 and 3 spots.”

Davis also made it clear that he plans to continue to cater to fans in Rams and Chargers territory.

“A good portion have come from Los Angeles and Southern California,” Davis said. “Without stepping on any toes, we’re going to market ourselves in Los Angeles area. And San Diego. We’re reaching out to Raider Nation in Southern California. It’s strong there.”

The Raiders spent more than a decade in L.A., and they remain very popular there. Soon, they’ll be in Las Vegas, which isn’t that far away. Which means that plenty of Raiders fans will be attending their annual game against the Chargers in L.A. — and that plenty will be present for their once-every-eight-years game against the Rams in L.A.