Robert Griffin III still projected to be ready for regular season

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The Ravens have had to go through most of training camp without their backup quarterback, but they think he’ll be back in time for them to hopefully not need him.

Via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Robert Griffin III was still on schedule to be ready for the regular season.

Griffin suffered a small fracture in his right (throwing) thumb early in training camp, and the hope in late July was that he’d be ready. Apparently, there have been no setbacks in that process.

Griffin emerged as a valuable mentor for Lamar Jackson last year, and having him ready for the regular season will be important. They broke with their tradition of keeping just two quarterbacks last year (when Jackson was a rookie and they wanted another backup to Joe Flacco), and it will be interesting to see how they handle that this year.

Rookie Trace McSorley and Joe Callahan are the other quarterbacks on their roster at the moment.

Report: Dolphins could trade or cut Kenny Stills, Reshad Jones, Kiko Alonso

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Laremy Tunsil may not be going anywhere, but a few other well-known Dolphins players could be on the way out in Miami.

The Miami Herald reports that the Dolphins are open for business in trades, and names safety Reshad Jones, linebacker Kiko Alonso and receiver Kenny Stills as players who could be on the way out.

The question, however, is whether any teams would trade for any of them. Jones has a $13 million base salary, Stills has an $8 million base salary and Alonso has a $6.5 million base salary this season. Would any team really trade for those players, at those prices? If not, they could be at risk of getting cut.

Jones is not expected to be an every-down player despite his huge contract. Stills was called out by coach Brian Flores for not performing up to expectations in training camp. Alonso has reportedly been out-played in training camp by first-year linebacker Sam Eguavoen, who signed with the Dolphins this year after three seasons in the Canadian Football League.

The Dolphins are not expected to compete for a playoff berth this season, and it makes sense that they’d rather prioritize young, up-and-coming players than expensive veterans. Don’t be surprised if some big names are included in the Dolphins’ roster cuts next week.

Freddie Kitchens liked Austin Seibert’s kicking a lot on Friday night

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Friday night wasn’t the best night for the Browns offense, but there were positives in other areas.

One was the work turned in by kicker Austin Seibert. The fifth-round pick was 4-of-4 on field goals a few days after head coach Freddie Kitchens said that the team needed to see Seibert and his competitor Greg Josephget their act right and get the job done.”

“That’s pretty good, huh?” Kitchens said after Friday’s game, via Cleveland.com. “I like that. I like it a lot, that’s what he’s supposed to do.”

As a draft pick, Seibert had the inside track to getting the kicking job in Cleveland and acknowledged things haven’t gone as hoped this summer. He also said that he thinks the rough patches will make him better in the long run.

“There’s been frustrations, rookie coming into camp, a big learning experience as well, but if you don’t go through adversity you’re not going to be a better kicker,” Seibert said.

Joseph didn’t kick at all on Friday and there may not be a final choice until other teams have made their cuts, but Seibert’s chances of opening the season as the Browns’ kicker look better today than they did earlier in the week.

Carli Lloyd “got some inquiries” after making 55-yard field goal

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Chicago Bears, we are looking at you.

U.S. soccer star Carli Lloyd tells SI.com that she “got some inquiries” after banging a 55-yard field goal through skinny uprights after a Ravens-Eagles joint practice earlier this week.

There’s been some interesting chatter about it,” Lloyd said, via NJ.com. “I think anything is possible. It’s been really interesting because for me, I’m just an athlete. I’m a competitor. But for so many other people, I think they’re starting to think, will there ever be a female in the NFL at some point? And I think we’re kind of at that crossroads as far as equality and, you know, just women empowerment, so you’re kind of being in the crosshairs of that.

“I’ve definitely got some inquiries, I’ve definitely got some people talking. Anything’s possible, but right now, I’m strictly a soccer player, and we’ll see what the future holds.”

Lloyd, whose interview with SI.com’s Planet Futbol can be seen here, would need to work on nuances starting toward the ball at the snap, not after the holder has the ball in place. But she already knows a thing or two about anticipating the arrival of a ball before kicking it, so she’d surely figure that out quickly. The leg strength is the thing that can’t be taught, and she’s also shown that she can perform when millions are watching.

So why not give her a tryout? And, if she passes, why not give her a chance to kick in a game that counts? For all the ruckus the NFL made out of the publicity stunt tryout from Lauren Silberman in 2013, Lloyd actually has shown that she has the chops to make something more than a chip shot.

Report: Paul Worrilow retires, day after signing with Ravens

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Paul Worrilow has decided not to join the Ravens after all.

Less than 24 hours after the Ravens announced the signing of Worrilow, a free agent linebacker, he decided to retire, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Worrilow missed the entire 2018 season with a torn ACL and wasn’t able to get on the field this preseason for the Eagles before getting cut. He was no lock to make the Ravens’ roster, and he has apparently decided it’s time to walk away.

The 29-year-old Worrilow started eight games for the Lions in 2017 and played four seasons for the Falcons before that. He signed with Atlanta in 2013 as an undrafted rookie out of Delaware.

Cardinals try to ignore warning sirens over “Air Raid” offense

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Kliff Kingsbury is bringing the “Air Raid” offense to the NFL. Halfway through the preseason, his team is doing its best to ignore the warning sirens.

As explained by Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic, criticism has mounted over the team’s planned attack. The players are insisting that it’s no big deal.

It gets frustrating when there might not be anything open and we go out there and look how we looked last week and people are talking about you,” quarterback Kyler Murray said recently, in reference to an ugly preseason outing against the Raiders, which may or may not have included specific game-planning from Oakland aimed at shutting down the NFL’s next “generational” talent.

“But you’ve got to understand it’s preseason and we’re running like literally six or seven plays,” Murray added. “There’s nothing to be too negative about because we know what’s really going on.”

What’s really going on is that the offense, for now, is keeping it very simple when performing in plain sight of Arizona’s opponents. The real offense supposedly will be unveiled Week One, against the Lions.

“[W]e know what we’re doing as far as what our approach is for the preseason games,” Cardinals passing-game coordinator Tom Clements said, via McManaman. “What we’re trying to tell the players is we’re going to execute plays that they know so they can show and give their best on those plays. They don’t have to worry about it. They recognize we’re not game-planning and we’re just trying to get better and treat it more like a practice game.”

That said, Murray has promised that Saturday’s practice against the Vikings in Minnesota will entail “a couple new wrinkles” from the offense. The real question is whether the Vikings defense will be throwing many extra wrinkles at Murray, including the kind of blitzing that had Murray asking Raiders receiver Antonio Brown after the most recent preseason game, “Why they gotta bring the house on me, bro?

Former NFL player Dick Woodard dies at 93

Kirk Cousins on Twitter

Dick Woodard, an offensive lineman and linebacker who played five seasons of pro football, has died at the age of 93.

Woodard was the great uncle of Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, who confirmed the death on Twitter.

“This morning my Uncle Dick Woodard went to be with the Lord at 93 years old,” Cousins wrote. “He played for the Redskins & Giants and was one of the oldest living NFL players. Played a big role in my love for the game from a very young age. We will miss you Uncle Dick!”

Born in Britt, Iowa, in 1926, Woodard was an All-Big Nine player for the Iowa Hawkeyes, playing alongside his brother Ralph Woodard, who is Cousins’ grandfather. Dick Woodard was selected by the Giants in the 21st round of the 1948 NFL draft.

Woodard spent his first year in pro football playing for the Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Football Conference in 1949. That league folded after that season, and Woodard would then play four more seasons in the NFL.

Report: Dolphins turned down trade offers for Laremy Tunsil

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The Dolphins are telling other teams that offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil isn’t going anywhere.

Teams have called to express interest in trading for Tunsil but the Dolphins turned them down, the Miami Herald reports.

The report also says the Dolphins have privately told Tunsil that he’s not being dangled as trade bait amid social media rumors that the team might trade him.

Miami selected Tunsil with the 13th overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft and he has developed into a good player for them, one who could be a centerpiece of their rebuilding efforts. He’s under contract for a very affordable $2.1 million this year, and then the Dolphins can keep him for the fifth-year option salary of $10.3 million next year.

Given Tunsil’s age and contract status, he’s a valuable piece of the roster and it’s hard to believe the Dolphins would let him get away. Any player can be traded for the right offer, but from all indications the Dolphins aren’t looking to get rid of Tunsil.

Bills’ Josh Allen sees much to improve after third preseason game

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Officially, Bills quarterback Josh Allen did not throw an interception in Friday night’s third preseason game. But he knows he got away with one.

Allen threw a bad pass that was picked off, only to have it wiped out by a roughing the passer penalty, and he said afterward that he needs to get better before the start of the regular season.

“Obviously, I wish I was a little smarter with the football tonight,” he said, via the Buffalo News. “There was one play in particular we got bailed out there, but it’s something that I just can’t do and I know I can’t do that. . . . I understood that we wanted to run the ball and I wanted to take a shot, and I can’t go with that mindset. But I’m glad it happened in the preseason. It was just a little reminder of what I can and can’t do.”

Allen also had a couple of bad passes on which he and his receivers appeared to have a different understanding of where the ball was going.

“Yeah, just some communication things,” Allen said. “Obviously, I could have delivered a better ball. I wish I did in those situations. But, again, it’s something to learn from. Get on the same page here. It takes a couple of those to understand we’re lacking communication somewhere, so like I said, I’m glad it happened now. We can address it and go on from there.”

Allen got plenty of work in the preseason, more than most starting quarterbacks. And he knows he needed it.

How independent are the “neutral, independent” arbitrators who handle CBA grievances?

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When it comes to the resolution of disputes like the Antonio Brown helmet kerfuffle, the NFL lately has been careful to push to the media the terms “neutral” and “independent” when describing the arbitrator who makes the decision. So how neutral and independent are the arbitrators who resolve so-called “non-injury” grievances?

Review of the relevant provision of the Collective Bargaining Agreements shows that they may, in the grand scheme of things, be neither.

That’s not to say they have a bias for the league. But Article 43, Section 6 of the CBA shows just how vulnerable each member of the arbitration panel maintained by the NFL and NFL Players Association is to losing the assignment.

The CBA requires the establishment of a four-person pool of arbitrators, with one of them assigned (presumably randomly) to handle each non-injury grievance. Every year, in a window that opens on July 10 and closes on July 20, the NFL and the NFLPA have the right to fire any member of the arbitration panel, no questions asked. And if one side exercises that right, the other side has the ability to fire another member of the arbitration panel within the next two days, again no questions asked.

This means that, while each arbitrator has independence over every given grievance, there’s a big-picture dance in which each arbitrator must engage in order to keep the job over the long haul. If/when an arbitrator strings together too many rulings in favor of the NFLPA, the NFL may be inclined to pull the rip cord, and vice-versa. And if the rip cord gets pulled as to one arbitrator who skews too far in the direction of one side, the remaining arbitrator of the four (now three) who is regarded as being the most favorable to the other side ends up on the endangered species list.

Not that these assignments make or break an arbitrator’s annual income. But association with pro football adds value to the arbitrator’s career as an arbitrator, just like it does for a doctor. (“Oh, so-and-so handles arbitrations for the NFL, that must be a good arbitrator!”)

When a grievance is clear-cut and open and shut, issues like this won’t matter. But legal battles present plenty of close questions, with each side having lawyers who are capable of advancing a persuasive interpretation that sets the case up to go either way. And the NFL and NFLPA surely track in exhaustive detail the decisions made by each of the four arbitrators, and the two sides undoubtedly have opinions as to whether a given arbitrator is more or less likely to see close cases their way.

So in order to ensure a long-term assignment as a non-injury grievance arbitrator for the NFL and the NFLPA, the arbitrator needs to have a big-picture reputation for being in the middle. Which means that the arbitrator needs to, over the course of resolving multiple grievances, produce a sufficiently mixed bag of rulings that prevent one side or the other from deciding that the arbitrator needs to go.

Which means that, in any given case (especially in the close ones), the arbitrator’s track record becomes relevant. If the arbitrator has been leaning toward the NFL in recent cases, it may be time for a correction, and vice-versa.

There’s another factor to consider in cases like this. If the arbitrator senses that one side feels very strongly about a given dispute and that the other side doesn’t, the arbitrator may be more inclined to take the path that will be less likely to alienate one of the parties.

Thus, while the arbitrators are neutral and independent in each given case, the broader circumstances — influenced by the annual threat of summarily being fired — makes them less neutral and independent than the labels would suggest.

What that means for Antonio Brown Helmet Grievance 2.0 can’t be determined without knowing which arbitrator was assigned to the case, and without knowing more about that arbitrator’s history of rulings and whether that arbitrator reasonaly should be concerned that the next pro-NFL or pro-NFLPA ruling could be the last one. It also can’t be determined without knowing with certainty whether one side feels far more strongly about the issue than the other side.

Here’s a semi-educated guess: The NFL cares much more about winning the Antonio Brown helmet fight than the NFLPA does. Regardless of how strongly Brown feels about it, Brown can’t fire the arbitrator; the NFLPA can. And if the NFLPA, which works jointly with the NFL to identify helmets that can and can’t be used, quietly believes that Brown should just pick a new helmet and go to work, the arbitrator may sense this, and the arbitrator may be more likely to enter a ruling in favor of the league — no matter how strong Brown’s argument that he should get a one-year grace period to keep wearing a Schutt AiR Advantage may seem to be.

Matt Patricia on injuries: Hindsight is 20-20

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Debate about the best way to handle the exhibition season has increased along with the number of teams that choose to keep key players out of preseason games altogether.

The argument in favor of keeping starters on the bench got some support in Detroit on Friday night. Lions linebacker Jarrad Davis and center Frank Ragnow both suffered leg injuries that left them unable to walk on their own and they required carts to take them to the locker room.

Both players will undergo further testing to determine the severity of the injuries, but neither looked good and it led to questions for head coach Matt Patricia about having those players in the game after the Lions rested many of their top players through the first two weeks of the preseason.

“I think we can argue either side of the coin on all this,” Patricia said, via the Detroit Free Press. “Hindsight is 20-20. So for us, we try to stick to the plan. We’re looking at reps, we’re looking at numbers, we’re looking at possibilities of when we can get guys out there, when we think they’ve had enough during the course of the week to take a look at it. Guys can get injured during practice, guys can get injured during the game. I mean, it’s football, to some aspects of it. Injuries are part of the game and that’s something that we all have to deal with.”

The Lions lost wide receiver Jermaine Kearse for the year when he broke his leg in the first preseason game. They’ll be hoping for better news on Davis and Ragnow.

Bruce Arians angry at Bucs’ offensive line

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Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians described his offensive line in a very Bruce Arians-like way after Friday night’s preseason game.

Asked how his offensive linemen played in the game against the Browns, Arians was succinct.

“They got their ass kicked one-on-one. Simple,” Arians said.

The Buccaneers’ starting offense struggled mightily, with Jameis Winston completing 9 of 19 passes for 88 yards and getting sacked five times as they were shut out in the first half. The backups played a bit better in the second half, but Arians made clear that he’s unhappy with the way the guys who will be on the field in Week One played.

Those guys won’t play in the final preseason game, and they’ve got a lot of work to do to be ready for the regular-season opener against the 49ers.

Freddie Kitchens frustrated with Browns’ offense

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The Browns’ offense did not look good on Friday night, and coach Freddie Kitchens does not want to hear any excuses.

Kitchens said the absence of several starters does not justify the poor play from the offense in a 13-12 loss.

“Not at all, those guys are coached to execute,’’ Kitchens said, via Cleveland.com. “Those guys are coached to do their job and we didn’t do a very good job of preparing those guys to do their job and they didn’t do a good job of doing their job. The execution wasn’t there and it had been before. Those guys have played in other games and they performed in practice and they’re expected to perform.”

Kitchens didn’t specify anyone in particular he was disappointed with, but he made clear he wants the offense to play better.

“It’s not going to be acceptable and we’ll figure out why it happened – bad technique, bad execution, bad plays, bad play call,’’ said Kitchens. “It could be any damn thing. We’re not going to start placing blame tonight, we’re in this thing together.’’

Baker Mayfield finished with an ugly stat line of 10-for-26 for 72 yards. We’ll next see him Week One against the Titans.

Blaine Gabbert dislocated non-throwing shoulder

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Buccaneers backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert dislocated his left shoulder during Friday’s preseason game against the Browns, coach Bruce Arians announced.

“His shoulder popped out,” Arians said, via video from pewterreport.com. “. . .He was hurting pretty good.”

The Bucs signed Gabbert because of his familiarity in Arians’ offense. He started five games for Arians’ Cardinals in 2017.

Tampa Bay will sign a quarterback to play in Thursday’s final preseason game, Arians said. Starter Jameis Winston won’t play at all, and Ryan Griffin will play only some.

The Bucs don’t want to risk further injury at the position, with Griffin now likely to enter the season as the No. 2 quarterback.

Arians said he was “more than comfortable” with Griffin as the backup if Gabbert is out into the regular season, even though Griffin has never played in a regular-season game.

“With some of the guys he’s playing way, directing them, poise,” Arians said. “He’s moved our team up and down the field just like he did again tonight.”

Griffin went 11-of-17 for 121 yards and a touchdown against the Browns.

The Bucs had three other injuries in their 13-12 win Friday night: Inside linebacker Deone Bucannon left with a knee injury in the second quarter; safety Kentrell Brice left with a shoulder injury; and tight end Antony Auclair left in the first quarter with a calf injury.

Baker Mayfield has a rough night without his playmakers

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Baker Mayfield didn’t have his best weapons on the field as Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, David Njoku and Nick Chubb were among those sitting out the third preseason game Friday night.

But Browns coach Freddie Kitchens didn’t want to hear any excuses during his halftime interview with WEWS.

“Offensively, we’re not making any plays,” Kitchens said. “The balls are there to be made, and we’re not making any so that’s what usually happens when you can’t protect and you don’t make any plays.”

Mayfield played the entire first half, getting seven possessions and 32 snaps. The Browns gained 75 yards, had five first downs and kicked three field goals.

Mayfield finished his night 10-for-26 for 72 yards. His final pass of the preseason was intercepted as he got hit by Carl Nassib and threw high, allowing Jordan Whitehead to pick it.