Daytona International Speedway confirms interest in hosting Jaguars games

NASCAR Cup Series 65th Annual Daytona 500
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Yes, Daytona International Speedway could be a temporary location for games of the National Football League.

Via Dustin Long of NBC Sports’ NASCAR Talk, Daytona president Frank Kelleher confirmed interest in hosting Jaguars games while the team’s stadium in Jacksonville is being renovated.

“Daytona International Speedway is a world-renowned sports and entertainment venue and hosts a full schedule of events each year,” Kelleher said. “As good neighbors in the Florida sports community, DIS will be speaking with the Jacksonville Jaguars to see if we can assist them with their potential upcoming facility needs around our scheduled events.”

It’s not a full-throttled scramble to host the games. The quote has more of a perfunctory feel to it.

Maybe Kelleher is being a bit aloof because he realizes that the NFL always operates from a position of strength, that it’s always looking to force its partners to do bad deals for the sake of doing any deals with Big Shield. If so, it’s a genius move.

You need us more than we need you is an unofficial motto that has made the NFL billions over the years. Maybe Kelleher has simply commenced the process of turning the tables on the NFL, in the event that the NFL decides that it wants to stage Jaguars home games in Daytona.

To get the best deal for Daytona, Kelleher and company need to proceed as if the NFL needs Daytona more than Daytona needs the NFL.

Latavius Murray hoping to bring a championship to Buffalo

NFL: JAN 01 Broncos at Chiefs
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When Bills running back Latavius Murray signed in Buffalo last month, it was a homecoming for a player who grew up two hours away in Onondaga, New York.

“I’m happy to be a part of this great organization, this great fan base” Murray told the Buffalo News. “Happy to be back in New York. I’ll say that again. It means everything to me. As a kid, I grew up just down the road.”

Murray said that this Bills team is built to win, and the Super Bowl is the goal.

“The only goal is to go out here and compete for a championship and do everything I can to make that happen,” Murray said.

The 33-year-old Murray is the oldest running back currently under contract in the NFL, and he was signed in part to be a veteran mentor in the running back room.

“We’ve got a great group of running backs,” Murray said. “We have a great locker room, all in all. It’s been great here to get to know everybody. [We’ve] been getting better, been working out, training [and] been on the field now some. Just growing and learning and continuing to improve, that’s the goal.”

That, and a Super Bowl.

Raheem Morris reunites with family of three-year-old boy he helped save

Los Angeles Rams Training Camp
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Two weekends ago, Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris helped save the life of a three-year-old Wyatt Stanley, who was drowning in a pool at a Las Vegas hotel. On Friday, Good Morning America televised a reunion of Morris and the family.

Morris found an AED while Dr. Andrew Oleksyn, an ER physician who was on the scene, began performing chest compressions.

“I’m sitting down and my kids all scream, I see Wyatt laying poolside and he’s blue,” Morris said in an appearance on Good Morning America. “I just wanted to help, and I could just feel the panic of it all. And I looked to the lifeguard and I said, ‘Where is the AED machine?'”

Morris said that he received training on how to use an AED in the aftermath of Bills safety Damar Hamlin‘s on-field cardiac arrest. Morris applied the device while Oleksyn continued chest compressions.

“When he says, ‘He has a pulse,’ I started clapping,” Morris said.

Oleksyn said he visited the boy in the hospital.

“I got emotional at that point because it’s like not only did you save Wyatt but you saved his family,” Oleksyn said.

Wyatt has been released from the hospital, and he is continuing to recover from the incident.

Doug Pederson excuses most Jaguars veterans from mandatory minicamp, again

Jacksonville Jaguars Offseason Workout
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Last year, new Jaguars coach Doug Pederson scored points with the veterans by giving them a pass for mandatory minicamp. The end result was a berth in the divisional round of the playoffs.

So Pederson is doing it again.

Via Demetrius Harvey of the Florida Times-Union, Pederson has once again excused most of the team’s veterans from the three-day mandatory session. Only first-year players, rookies, and injured veterans will be required to attend.

As noted by Harvey, the Jaguars had nearly perfect attendance in the offseason program. The only exceptions were tight end Evan Engram and linebacker Josh Allen.

Pederson said Monday that Allen “should” be present for the mandatory minicamp. It’s possible that he hasn’t been excused.

Engram won’t be required to attend because he has yet to sign his franchise tender. He’s not under contract with the team.

49ers complete purchase of Leeds United

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The 49ers soon will own a different kind of football team.

According to Reuters, the 49ers have reached an agreement to buy full equity in Leeds United.

49ers Enterprises first acquired a stake in the club in 2018. The ownership had increased to 44 percent. The 49ers will now buy the remaining 56 percent from Andre Radrizzani.

Leeds recently was relegated from the Premier League.

Sports Business Journal reported in April that, once the deal happens, 49ers president Paraag Marathe will become the primary owner of Leeds United.

Miles Sanders disappointed in lack of chances in Super Bowl, ready for more in Carolina

Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles
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Miles Sanders played 57 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps last season and set career highs with 1,269 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns. But in the postseason, it was Kenneth Gainwell who got more of the running back snaps.

Sanders played 76 offensive snaps in three games, while Gainwell saw 95.

In the Super Bowl, Sanders had 26 snaps and seven carries for 16 yards. (He did fumble out of bounds on the opening play from scrimmage, which could have played into his playing time.)

Sanders admits it was disappointing to stand and watch as the Eagles lost to the Chiefs.

“Last game of the season? For all of the marbles? Everybody can answer that question,” Sanders said, via Steve Reed of the Associated Press. “If they put themselves in my shoes, would they be happy? I don’t want to make headlines, [but] if it does, I don’t care.”

Sanders signed with the Panthers in free agency, but he said the frustration of not playing more in the Super Bowl wasn’t the reason he left Philadelphia.

“I can get into that another day, maybe,” Sanders said. “Maybe you should ask them why I’m moving here.”

In Carolina, Sanders is expected to become the every-down back. It’s a role Christian McCaffrey had in his time with the Panthers, who traded him to the 49ers last season.

Sanders, who is reunited with running backs coach Duce Staley in Carolina, wasn’t used much in the passing game in Philadelphia the past three seasons. But he caught 50 passes for 509 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie.

“This is going to give me more opportunities to help my team win, and that’s all I’m about,” Sanders said. “I’m a team guy and I want to do whatever I can to help our team win. Making it to the Super Bowl is pretty addicting and if I knew the formula I would do it every year.”

Courtland Sutton studying Michael Thomas’ 2019 season to “figure out ways to get open”

NFL: JAN 08 Chargers at Broncos
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Sean Payton was with the Saints when Michael Thomas set the NFL record for receptions in a single season with 149. Thomas had 1,725 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 2019.

Payton now is with the Broncos, and the team recently provided Courtland Sutton with cutups of Thomas’ 185 targets that season. Sutton is studying one of Payton’s best receivers in New Orleans in one of the best receiving seasons in history.

It’s interesting,” Sutton said, via Aric DiLalla of the team website. “I actually just got — not too long ago, maybe a week or two ago — I just got Michael Thomas’ 2019 targets from his year that he broke the record. [I’m] just diving into it [to] be able to see how he may have run a route that we are learning right now. Figuring out ways to get open.”

Sutton isn’t likely to duplicate Thomas’ 2019 production, but he can add traits from Thomas’ game to his own. Sutton is similar in size to Thomas.

“Obviously he had a really good year that year, so to be able to find ways to implement the things he did well into my game, I feel like we’ll be able to have a lot of success,” Sutton said.

Despite trade rumors, Sutton is back with the Broncos and happy to be back. He has had only one 1,000-yard season, which was his only Pro Bowl appearance. Since catching 72 passes for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns in 2019, Sutton has 125 catches for 1,671 yards and four touchdowns the past three seasons combined.

Payton, though, could be the answer to get Sutton back to the production he had his second season.

J.C. Jackson on Chargers’ practice field doing individual drills

NFL: OCT 23 Seahawks at Chargers
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Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson has taken an important step in his recovery from a torn patellar tendon.

Jackson was on the Chargers’ practice field today, doing individual drills. Video posted by the Chargers showed Jackson appearing comfortable running forward and backward and changing directions.

After signing a five-year, $82.5 million free agent contract last year, Jackson‘s first season with the Chargers came to an early end when he tore the patellar tendon in his knee in Week Seven. The Chargers have said there’s no timeline for his return, but the way he’s moving now would seem to lend optimism to the idea that he could be on the field when the regular season starts in three months.

Jackson had a disappointing first season with the Chargers even before the injury, but the Chargers seem optimistic that he can be the kind of player they thought they were signing, once he gets healthy. And he appears to be getting healthy.

Tony Pollard on hip-drop tackle: It would be hard to take it out of the game

NFL: JAN 22 NFC Divisional Playoffs - Cowboys at 49ers
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In a divisional round playoff game, 49ers defensive back Jimmie Ward caught Tony Pollard from behind and grabbed the Cowboys running back around the waist. Ward meant no harm, but the tackle — nicknamed a “hip-drop tackle” — ended with Ward’s body rolling over Pollard’s left leg.

Pollard fractured his fibula and required surgery to repair ligaments in his ankle.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes injured an ankle on a similar tackle in the postseason, with the injuries to Mahomes and Pollard leading to a closer look at the tackle.

The National Rugby League in Australia banned the tackle because of the injuries it causes. Despite talk about a possible move to do the same in the NFL, neither the Competition Committee nor any team offered a proposal regarding the tackle. The league ultimately decided the tackle is hard to define clearly and enforce consistently.

Pollard understands and agrees with that decision.

“It was an unfortunate tackle,” Pollard said, via Jon Machota of “Any tackle where a guy gets hurt, I seen they were trying to take it out. I feel like it will be hard to do that. I see where the league is going. It’s in the right direction. It’s looking out for the players. I like the idea of it, but I feel like it’ll be hard to actually stamp that and take it out.”

Cowboys release Takk McKinley

Los Angeles Rams v Arizona Cardinals
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Defensive end Takk McKinley will be looking for a new place to play in 2023.

The Cowboys announced that they have released McKinley from their 90-man roster. The move comes a couple of days after the signed defensive end Ben Banogu as a free agent.

McKinley signed onto the Cowboys practice squad last November and did not appear in any regular season games for the team. He did make four appearances for the Rams and recorded one tackle.

The Falcons took McKinley in the first round of the 2017 draft and he had 79 tackles, 17.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery while in Atlanta. He spent the 2021 season with the Browns.

Third-round pick Marte Mapu signs rookie deal with Patriots

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 01 Reese's Senior Bowl Practice
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Patriots third-round pick Marte Mapu has agreed to terms and is signing his rookie deal Friday. His representation, Bryan A Ehrlich and Matt Glose of Generation Sports Group, announced the deal.

The team lists Mapu as a linebacker, but he has played a variety of spots in his short time with the Patriots.

He played linebacker, safety, cornerback, nickel corner and even along the defensive line in his six-year career at Sacramento State.

In 2022, Mapu was the Big Sky defensive player of the year after totaling 76 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions and a sack.

Mapu finished his career with 165 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, seven interceptions and 22 passes defensed.

Kendrick Bourne: I didn’t give Patriots my best effort last season

NFL: MAY 31 New England Patriots OTA
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Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne set career highs with 55 catches and 800 receiving yards during the 2021 season, but he wasn’t able to build on that in 2022.

Bourne joined the rest of the Patriots in an underwhelming offensive performance last season. He caught 35 passes for 434 yards, which was a drop in production that he didn’t blame on the team’s odd approach to the offensive coaching staff or anything other than the work he put into the season.

“I didn’t give the team my best effort,” Bourne said, via the team’s website. “Personally we as players have to be our best so we can give the team the opportunity to win and I feel like I didn’t do that. So I’ve been grinding, trying to get bigger, weighing more, just being a more solid receiver and being able to do more. I don’t really go off stats, I go off how I feel, how I look and I just wasn’t in a good place, now I just want to avoid that. So it was a good learning process, it was good that it happened to me, and it’s always good to learn from hard times, struggling times.”

Bourne said there is a “new year, new me, new us, new everything” with Bill O’Brien now running the offense and the team may be adding a new receiver in DeAndre Hopkins as well. The hope is that it will all pay off in new and better results once the Patriots hit the field in the fall.

Frank Clark leaves Kansas City with no hard feelings

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Chiefs edge rusher Frank Clark knew what was coming before it happened. He took a pay cut to stay in Kansas City in 2022. He wasn’t going to do that again, and the Chiefs weren’t about to pay him a $20.5 million base salary in 2023.

“At the end of the day, it’s a business, but I took a pay cut for years at a time,” Clark told Josina Anderson of CBS Sports on her Undefined podcast, via Pete Sweeney of ” I think it was two years in row I had to take a pay cut, which is fine. But going into my third year, I had a pretty great year. . . . I helped my team win another Super Bowl, and I do what I have to do. But then I have big pay coming in next year on my deal, $20-plus million I think, which is high as shit. Obviously, it’s high, man, in this era of football, especially in this era of [salary] cap, too.

“So, we obviously know something has to be worked out. I wasn’t asking for an out-the-ballpark number. I wasn’t asking for $15 million to $20 million. . . . My agent, he basically just gave me the scoop and said [the Chiefs said], ‘We’re trying to get something done with a few other guys on the team,’ and I said, ‘I’m with you. I understand fully.’ And he said, ‘If it comes around in free agency, if we can make something work out later on, let’s stay in contact and we can work something out.’ And I said, ‘All right, I got you.’ And that was basically the gist of the conversation.”

Clark said he never got a reduced offer before the Chiefs cut him March 7 to save $21 million against the cap for 2023. But he leaves for Denver with nothing but positive feelings for the team that traded for him in 2019.

It was time for both sides to move on, Clark said, and he has, signing a deal with the Broncos.

“No, it was never nothing said [about taking a pay cut], because it was more him saying like, ‘Yo, I don’t want to offer you a number that you’re going to feel disrespected if I offer you, to keep it real with you,'” Clark said. “I feel like we both enjoyed the time. I truthfully believe them and agree to that. I enjoyed my time in KC. I enjoyed the relationship that I built with everybody. There’s no hard feelings to anybody in that building.”

In four seasons with the Chiefs, Clark made the Pro Bowl three times and totaled 23.5 sacks and 59 quarterback hits.

Kendrick Bourne on DeAndre Hopkins: Anything that helps us win, I’m with

Arizona Cardinals v New England Patriots
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News that free-agent receiver DeAndre Hopkins is set to visit with the Patriots next week broke on Friday morning.

That was well before some of New England’s players were set to meet with the media after the day’s practice. So, receiver Kendrick Bourne was asked about the club potentially adding the former All-Pro receiver.

“I’m a fan of D-Hop. It would be cool,” Bourne said, via Mike Reiss of ESPN. “I don’t know the gist of what’s going on, but he is a great player. Anything that would help us win, I’m with.”

Bourne finished last season with 35 catches for 434 yards with a touchdown. That ranked fourth on the team’s list.

The Patriots did add JuJu Smith-Schuster in free agency but Hopkins would be another key weapon to put the offense in a better position to be successful, especially considering the club did not have a 1,000-yard receiver last year.

College football players are urged to reject EA’s NIL offer for upcoming video game

In this photo illustration, EA Sports logo of a video game
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Several years ago, EA scrapped its college football video game because it couldn’t do it without potentially infringing on the names, images, and/or likenesses of players. Now that players can be compensated for such things, EA is back in the game — and it’s offering players cash to allow their names, images, and likenesses to be incorporated.

But the offer reportedly works out to roughly $500 per player.

Via, the College Football Players Association is urging college players to refuse the EA offer.

All current players should boycott this deal,” CFBPA vice president Justin Falcinell said. “It is an opt-in deal, and they should not opt into it. It is just a ridiculously low amount of money, given the context and the hype that surrounds this game. When we first heard the number, we’re like, ‘Alright, that sounds low. Let’s go figure out if it is low.’ And started talking to guys, talked to some of my friends, some guys who are still playing in the NFL. ‘So, what are NFL players getting paid for Madden?’ And the numbers we were given were from 2019, it was disclosed that they got, I think, about $17,000. And then a current NFL player told us that he got a check for $28,000 this year for Madden.”

Falcinelli’s advice is clear: “You should not participate in this. It is a simple cash grab to just try to get you for the lowest amount possible.”

EA has hired OneTeam Partners to line up the deals allowing real players to appear in the game. Per, the total pool is $5 million for all players.

Most players will want to be in the game, and EA apparently is banking on that — by not devoting very much of its bank accounts to the effort.

Plenty of fans won’t like it, viewing the money given to the players as a windfall. Plenty of fans will be motivated in their complaints by the desire to play a realistic game.

But what’s $500? It’s no much, especially after taxes. And the reality is that EA will make a ton of money from a resurrected college football video series, especially with the various in-game devices aimed at separating more and more money from the users of the game, beyond the cost of the software.