Aaron Rodgers advises Lamar Jackson to slide

AP

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson showed on Thursday night against the Packers that he’s not afraid to run, even in the preseason. But while fans cheer the way Jackson makes plays with his legs, older quarterbacks may cringe when they see a promising young quarterback expose himself to hits.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers embraced Jackson after the game, praised his performance, but then urged him to take better care of himself.

“I love watching you play, man. That was pretty spectacular,” Rodgers said. “Have a great season. Slide a little bit.”

Ravens backup quarterback Robert Griffin III, who never regained his rookie form after a serious knee injury, smiled and nodded as Rodgers gave Jackson that advice. Griffin can tell Jackson just how important it is to take care of himself, even if that means not making quite as many highlight-reel runs.

Jay Gruden unhappy with pass interference replays

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Washington coach Jay Gruden was left scratching his head on Thursday night by two separate instances of the league’s new use of replay review for pass interference penalties.

Gruden was on the wrong side of both pass interference reviews. The first, an offensive pass interference call on Washington receiver Kelvin Harmon, appeared to be a textbook example of why the league decided to allow challenges for pass interference: Just about everyone who saw it thought it was a bad call. But somehow Gruden lost his challenge.

“I need an explanation for that one,” Gruden said. “I don’t know. All I know is I want Kelvin Harmon to do that every time the ball is in the air. That’s why we drafted him because he’s aggressive when the ball in the air. If he can’t do what he did in this game then I don’t know what he can do. I’m going to continue to coach Kelvin Harmon to go up and go get the ball like he did tonight and good things will happen for him. We’ll get the explanation, hopefully.”

The second instance also involved Harmon. This time he made a catch and wasn’t flagged, but Bengals coach Zac Taylor challenged, and the league officiating office ruled that Harmon had committed offensive pass interference. Gruden said he disagreed with that call as well.

Gruden said he wouldn’t do anything differently in the regular season as far as deciding when to challenge a call. But he would like to get a better idea of how the league officiating office is going to rule on pass interference challenges. With the regular season now less than three weeks away, the league needs to get all the kinks worked out.

Lamar Jackson: Defense gave me opportunity to run, I took it

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Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson‘s ability to make plays with his feet was on full display against the Packers on Thursday night.

Jackson stuck to throwing the ball in the team’s preseason opener, but he ran the ball three times against Green Bay. The best of those runs didn’t wind up in the final box score.

It was a 14-yard touchdown sprint that saw Jackson leap over a Packer defender on his way to the end zone, but a penalty on wideout Willie Snead meant the six points came off the board. Hurdling defensive players may not be what teams want to see from quarterbacks in the preseason, but Jackson said “I have to make you miss” if he’s running and the defense left him no choice on that play.

“Basically [it was] what the defense gave me,” Jackson said in his postgame press conference. “They gave me the opportunity to run, squeezing out the edges, gave me the middle lane. I just took advantage.”

Head coach John Harbaugh said after the game that the Ravens aren’t trying to run Jackson in the preseason, but “you can’t hold him back forever” and called watching Jackson slice through the defense “pretty awesome.” A perfect world might have Jackson waiting for Week One to take another jaunt like the touchdown run, but playing him against the Eagles next week means the Ravens have to be open to the possibility of an August encore.

Dwayne Haskins “more settled down” in second preseason game

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Washington rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins had an inauspicious debut last week, but in his second preseason game on Thursday night, he improved.

Haskins went 7-for-14 for 114 yards with a beauty of a touchdown pass and, most importantly, no interceptions after throwing two of them last week. Haskins said he told himself before the game that he needed to avoid picks.

“I’m not going to throw two picks again. That’s what I thought, and I didn’t, so that’s good,” Haskins said. “I was just a little more settled down this week than I was last week. I felt like I was more in my element.”

Haskins said his overall assessment of his performance was that he did what he was supposed to do.

“It was good. Just trying to move the ball down the field, make smart decisions, not put the ball into harm’s way,” Haskins said.

Although Haskins took three sacks and needs to get better at recognizing the pass rush, his overall performance was promising.

John Harbaugh says Tavon Young could be out for year with neck injury

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The Baltimore Ravens may have lost one of their top defenders for all of the upcoming season.

Head coach John Harbaugh said after Thursday night’s preseason game that cornerback Tavon Young has an injured neck that sideline him for the entire 2019 campaign.

“Tavon has a more serious issue than we thought,” Harbaugh said. “He’s got a neck issue. The doctors can explain it, but it’s a disc issue. That’s a serious injury. He could be out for the remainder of the season. We’ll know soon but it doesn’t look good for Tavon.”

Young was injured in practice last weekend, per Jeff Zrebiec of TheAthletic.om. Harbaugh would also say the injury isn’t career-threatening.

It would be the second full season Young has missed due to injury following a torn ACL in 2017 during OTAs. When he’s played, Young has shown himself to be a capable slot cornerback. He’s appeared in 31 career games with 17 starts for Baltimore. He had 37 tackles, two sacks, an interception and five passes defended last year for the Ravens.

Baltimore signed Young to a three-year contract extension in February.

Cody Kessler in concussion protocol

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The Eagles didn’t add a quarterback to the roster after Nate Sudfeld broke his wrist last week.

They’ll be asked about the possibility of adding another player behind Carson Wentz again this week.

Cody Kessler started Thursday night’s game against the Jaguars, but was pulled by the medical spotter to check for a concussion after taking a hit on the first drive of the game. The Eagles announced during the second half of the game that Kessler is now in the concussion protocol.

Sudfeld had surgery after his injury and is expected to miss six weeks while recovering. That would come right up against the start of the season and could impact the number of quarterbacks the team decides to keep. Kessler’s concussion may lead to a further shuffling of plans as rookie Clayton Thorson is now the only healthy quarterback other than Wentz.

Antonio Brown close to returning to practice

AP

Raiders receiver Antonio Brown warmed up with his teammates Thursday night and looked like Antonio Brown again.

Indeed, Brown is close to practicing again, Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

The Raiders could see him as soon as next week.

Brown last practiced July 30.

Brown’s feet were frostbitten in a cryotherapy chamber while he was on vacation in France before training camp started.

After being cryptic about the injury, the Raiders finally confirmed that Brown had a “serious” injury. He consulted with a specialist, and the Raiders have no long-term concerns, per Gehlken.

Odell Beckham downplays hip injury, lack of reps with Baker Mayfield

AP

Odell Beckham Jr. sat out Thursday’s final joint practice against the Colts with a hip injury, but the Browns star receiver downplayed the injury.

He also appears unconcerned about getting on the same page with Baker Mayfield despite the lack of reps with his new quarterback.

“We talk every day,” Beckham said, via Nate Ulrich of the Beacon Journal. “We talk football. We talk about just the little ins and outs of football. Even when I’m watching him make other throws, I’m still coming to ask him what is it that you’re seeing.

“So it’s not something I’m worried about. It’s two competitive, fiery people. Just the way that he is, I don’t want to let him down. So I’m going to do everything in my power to be exactly where I need to be when I need to be there, and as I’ve seen already, he’s going to deliver that ball.”

Beckham last participated in a team drill Aug. 6, and he is not expected to play in Saturday’s preseason game either.

Beckham strained a hip in 2012 while at LSU and in 2016 with the Giants. He did not miss a game for his injury either time.

Beckham said he would play this week, too, if it was the regular season.

Aaron Rodgers sitting out tonight with back tightness

AP

Aaron Rodgers will miss tonight’s game against the Ravens with back tightness, Wes Hodkiewicz of the team website reports.

Hodkiewiz called it a “precaution” and not a concern long term.

The Packers quarterback did not play in last week’s preseason opener, but head coach Matt LaFleur had planned to play all his offensive starters this week aside from Aaron Jones. Jones has hamstring tightness.

The first-team offense, minus Rodgers and Jones, is expected to play about a quarter.

Backup quarterbacks DeShone Kizer, Tim Boyle and Manny Wilkins all got snaps last week and all could see snaps again this week, especially with Rodgers not playing.

Headline: Philip Rivers is “pulling for” Melvin Gordon

AP

Philip Rivers practically dared us to give him a headline, so here it is.

In his first public comments about Melvin Gordon‘s contract holdout the Chargers quarterback wants to make it clear to everyone else where their relationship stands. Rivers said Gordon already knows.

“I know Melvin knows I’m pulling for him,” Rivers said, via Eric Williams of ESPN. “And in saying that, that means you want what’s best for him. You want him to feel great. You him to be at peace with how it all ends, and hopefully it’s right here.

“He knows that. I doubt anything I said will make PFT headlines, but I think those that know me will know that’s what I meant all along.”

Rivers’ comments three weeks ago about the backs behind Gordon were intended as a compliment to Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome, not as a dig at Gordon. But every NFL team has a next-man-up mentality. If a player isn’t in the lineup, for whatever reason, the game doesn’t stop.

Rivers has talked to Gordon and hopes the star running back returns for the start of the season, but the Chargers also have to prepare for Gordon’s absence.

“If he’s not here, we’ve got to go, and I think that’s what I was saying three weeks ago,” Rivers said. “We do have good players here at that position, and so we’ve got to go.

“Are we better with Melvin? Heck yeah, we are. So hopefully we have him, in addition to these other guys, and then it will be one of the saltiest running back groups around. Again, I’m in no place to speak for the organization, but I know no player is in a panic right now. We want to support him. We wish he was here, but we know it’s Aug. [15], and everything is OK at this point.”

Colin Kaepernick thanks Eric Reid, who has been criticizing the NFL/Jay-Z deal

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Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has yet to comment publicly on the wide-ranging deal struck by the NFL and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, or on comments from Jay-Z that try to turn the page on Kaepernick’s protest-induced unemployment. But former teammate Eric Reid has spoken out on these issues, and Kaepernick approves.

“You never turned your back on me or the people, even when the nfl tried to silence your voice & the movement,” Kaepernick said in a tweet directed to Reid. “You’ve never flinched or wavered. I love you Brother! Let’s get it!”

Reid has pointed out the flaw in Jay-Z’s suggestion that he can either help “millions and millions of people, or . . . get stuck on Colin not having a job.” As Reid observes, it’s not an either/or proposition; millions can be helped and the wrong done to Kaepernick can be undone.

Jay-Z also said, “I think we’ve moved past kneeling.” Reid had a pointed reply to that.

In responses, Reid retweeted thisL “Jay-Z NEVER took a knee. The fact that he has the audacity to to say that, ‘I think that we’ve moved past kneeling,’ is ridiculous. He sacrificed NOTHING. In truth, he is actually capitalizing off of Kaepernick’s loss.”

The context makes it clear that Kaepernick is expressing appreciation for Reid’s public opposition to the NFL/Jay-Z deal. And if there was any doubt, Jemele Hill of The Atlantic reports that Jay-Z and Kaepernick spoke about the looming deal on Monday, and that “[i]t was not a good conversation.”

How could it have been a good conversation? Jay-Z is trying to separate the specific injustice done to Kaepernick from the broader injustice about which Kaepernick was protesting, ignoring the sacrifice Kaepernick made — the sacrifice he shouldn’t have had to make — in the name of whatever the broader goals and objectives are for Jay-Z.

I’m not doing this deal until Colin Kaepernick is on an NFL roster. That’s all Jay-Z had to say.

He’ll now end up having to say plenty more than he likely expected to have to say about a deal that was soft-launched on Tuesday through the selective release of quotes to specific media outlets and formally announced on Wednesday in a setting that looked kind of like an Old Navy commercial.

The official announcement came on the three-year anniversary of the first time Kaepernick protested during the anthem. That tone-deaf bit of timing fits well with the broader lack of #selfawareness regarding the disconnect between an arrangement that promotes the movement while ignoring the man who sparked it.

Police cameras show Cardinals COO slurring, stumbling during DUI arrest

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Cardinals Chief Operating Officer Ron Minegar was slurring his speech, contradicting himself about how much he’d had to drink and struggling to walk in a straight line during a field sobriety test as he was arrested for driving under the influence.

Video of the arrest released by police show Minegar was asked after he was pulled over how much he’d had to drink. Minegar slurred his words as he said, “Three, four drinks.”

But later during the arrest, Minegar denied saying that.

“I didn’t tell you that at all,” he said. “I had two drinks.”

When officers asked Minegar to walk in a straight line, he began to do so but then stumbled and said, “I can’t do it.”

Minegar refused to take a breathalyzer.

An officer asked Minegar if he works for the Cardinals and he confirmed he does, as their COO. The Cardinals called Minegar’s actions “inexcusable,” and nothing in the video contradicts that conclusion.

NFLPA publishes “Work Stoppage Guide” for players

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It could be posturing. It could be pragmatism. Either way, the NFL Players Association has prepared a digital pamphlet that advises players on how to handle a looming work stoppage.

The “Work Stoppage Guide,” a copy of which PFT has obtained, includes specific advice on how to being saving money, in the event that the plug gets pulled after the 2020 season. The guide includes an “ABC” approach — adjust, budget, cut — that recommends cooking at home instead of eating out, cancelling unused subscriptions, adopting a weekly “no spending day,” reviewing investments, implementing a “friends and family policy” regarding money given to those who commonly ask for some of it, avoiding the co-signing of loans, making arrangements for child support and/or alimony to allow temporarily reduced payments during a work stoppage, renting unoccupied homes or bedrooms to offset mortgage expenses, saving at least half of each game check, making any essential home repairs now, renting instead of buying a home, delaying the purchasing of any cars until after the CBA is signed, selling any car that hasn’t been driven in six months, reducing clothing purchases, selling clothes that haven’t been worn in over a year, getting a line of credit in place now for use if necessary during a work stoppage, and more.

Elsewhere in the “Work Stoppage Guide” appears an update on the status of the labor deal and the negotiations, and it seems to imply that the “work stoppage” would come in the form of a lockout, not a strike. Although the signs and signals of a lockout have not been as clear under the current labor deal as they were under the last one, the NFLPA has been bracing for the possibility that one or more of the areas in which the NFL hopes to improve its standing (like stadium credits) could result in ownership preventing the players from working until they cave on that issue.

That’s the most important distinction to remember as this process proceeds. Ownership’s nuclear option is to shut down the operation until labor gives in. Labor’s nuclear option is to walk out the door. In 1987, the players walked out during the regular season, with the goal of putting maximum pressure on ownership. When the strike collapsed a few weeks later, it became regarded as a given that a strike isn’t sustainable for NFL players.

While the NFLPA could at some point begin setting the table for a strike, for now they’re advising players to save under the vague notion that owners will eventually lock them out. Either way, the players need to be able to match the willingness of owners to get by without football revenue, and the “Work Stoppage Guide” is part of the effort by the players to get themselves ready — and/or to convince the owners that they will be.

Odell Beckham Jr. dealing with hip injury, expected back “pretty soon”

AP

Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. did not participate in team drills Wednesday because of a hip injury. Coach Freddie Kitchens, though, indicated the injury isn’t serious.

“He’s got a little bit of something going on but we expect him back pretty soon,’’ Kitchens said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Six times in 15 practices the Browns have held out Beckham for all or most of the 11-on-11 periods, according to Cabot. He did not play in the preseason opener.

Beckham skipped most of the voluntary offseason work after being traded from the Giants to the Browns.

The Browns, though, are unconcerned about Beckham getting up to speed and on the same page with Baker Mayfield.

“I think he’ll be ready to go mentally,’’ Kitchens said. “He’s ready to go mentally. We’ve got to wait and get him ready to go physically, but he’ll be there.”

Colts to make decision on Luck’s status for Week 1 after third preseason game

AP

It is looking more and more like Jacoby Brissett will start the season opener for the Colts.

Andrew Luck remains out, isn’t expected to play in the preseason, still has his left ankle wrapped . . . and the regular season is quickly approaching.

Colts coach Frank Reich said Wednesday he wants to make a call on Luck’s status for Week One by the end of the third preseason game. That’s 10 days from now if you’re keeping track at home.

“I think with that, ideally, the more time you have, the better,” Reich said, via Mike Wells of ESPN. “But by the end of the third preseason game, you have to know something. You have to be able to make a call and move from there in whether we’re full speed with Andrew after that third preseason game or if at that point we’re going with Jacoby. We’ll make that decision with that when the time comes.”

Luck has dealt with a calf strain since the offseason program. He also has a high-ankle injury, General Manager Chris Ballard revealed Tuesday.

Brissett played for Luck in 2017 when Luck missed the year with a shoulder injury. The Colts went 4-11 with Brissett as their starter.

Brissett has much to gain as he becomes a free agent in 2020.