Thursday morning one-liners


The Bills hope some veteran days off leads to valuable experience for young players.

Dolphins S Reshad Jones looked good in his first practice back.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick isn’t talking about practice fights.

The Jets catch shade even when it isn’t thrown directly at them.

Ravens WR Chris Matthews is trying to be more consistent.

Some are wondering if Bengals CB Adam Jones is slowing down.

For the Browns, little victories matter.

Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster returned to practice.

Texans coach Bill O’Brien isn’t a fan of practice fights either.

Questions about the future of Colts WR Phillip Dorsett linger.

Jaguars DE Calais Campbell missed his third straight practice with a “medical issue.”

Titans WR Eric Decker actually is a coach on the field.

The Broncos are putting a heavy focus on the run game.

Chiefs CB De’Vante Bausby is getting a second chance to impress.

The Chargers removed the last of their San Diego signage.

The Raiders are shuffling their line to make up for the absence of LT Donald Penn.

Cowboys DE Taco Charlton is ready for his first bite of the NFL preseason.

Giants QBs Geno Smith and Josh Johnson are doing their best with limited work.

Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery missed his second straight day of practice.

Washington G Brandon Scherff apparently makes a mean deer fajita.

Bears QB  Mike Glennon’s starting to feel more comfortable.

The Lions activated S Don Carey from the PUP list.

Packers K Mason Crosby is adapting to his new special teams teammates.

The Vikings CBs are ready to be more physical.

Falcons CB Jalen Collins has no problems working with the third defense for now.

Panthers rookie RB Christian McCaffrey is earning some high praise in his first camp.

The Saints think CB Marshon Lattimore will be back soon.

Buccaneers G J.R. Sweezy is bringing a little attitude to the line.

Cardinals rookie WR Chad Williams is ready to contribute.

Rams DT Michael Brockers isn’t going to apologize for a day off during camp.

The 49ers are excited about what they’ve seen so far from LB Reuben Foster.

Seahawks S Earl Thomas is feeling good as he returns to work.

Mike Tomlin confirms James Conner’s shoulder injury is minor

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Steelers coach Mike Tomlin confirmed James Conner’s right shoulder injury is an AC joint sprain that won’t cost the rookie running back much practice time.

“It appears to be minor — days,” Tomlin said, via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.

Conner, a third-round choice, was injured Sunday. Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first reported the Steelers’ good news Tuesday after Conner underwent medical tests.

Conner, as a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor who played for Pitt, didn’t need long to win over Steelers fans. He led the league’s rookies in sales of NFL-approved merchandise following the draft.

With Le’Veon Bell yet to sign his $12.1 million franchise tender and report to camp, Conner joins Fitz Toussaint and Knile Davis in the team’s running backs room.

The Steelers also received positive injury news on cornerback Senquez Golson, who, because of injuries, hasn’t played an NFL down since Pittsburgh drafted him in 2015. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Golson has a hamstring injury.

“Hopefully the days of the surgical things are over,” Golson said, via Fowler. “It’s going to turn out good.”

Sheldon Richardson agrees with OBJ’s salary aspirations


Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson doesn’t particularly care for one of the receivers that players for the other team that plays in MetLife Stadium. Richardson feels differently about the other receiver on that team.

Via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Richardson said Tuesday that Odell Beckham Jr. should indeed be the highest-paid player in football.

“Honestly, I understand why he said that,” Richardson told Mehta. “And honestly, he should be, because the NFL makes a lot of money off of him. . . .

“Why not? You can pretty much throw the ball anywhere in his direction and he’ll go catch it. It all depends on your team, bro. If this guy’s the guy that’s getting it done day in and day out, he should be the highest [paid]. Then you include the entertainment value that he brings to the Giants and football in general. You sell a lot of T-shirts and jerseys off his name, so why not? The dude is a superstar. There’s no doubting that at all.”

There’s also no doubting that Richardson questions the notion that the position a player plays sets his value.

“Why only pay a quarterback $25 million a year?” Richardson said. “Do you know how many ass quarterbacks there are in this league? It’s a lot. Bad quarterbacks. It’s a lot. It’s a lot. So, if there are more bad quarterbacks getting paid, then why not pay great receivers?”

As previously explained, Beckham could approach highest-paid status if he commits to playing on a year-to-year basis, with franchise tags in 2019, 2020, and 2021 ultimately putting him north of $30 million per year. That’s why the Giants should consider approaching him right now with an offer that would pay a lot less than what he’d make one year at a time.

It may take even less to get him signed now than $25 million per year in new money. As one league source recently explained it to PFT, Beckham’s $1.8 million salary for 2017 could make him susceptible to reluctantly accepting a contract that makes him the highest-paid receiver in the league.

The Steelers gave Antonio Brown a four-year, $68 million extension earlier this year. If the Giants were to put on the table a four-year extension with new money averaging somewhere between $17 million and $20 million per year and leave it there, Beckham may eventually be inclined to opt for the sure thing, since the sure thing will give him the kind of existence-changing security that he won’t get over the final two years of his rookie contract.

For now, there’s no sign that the two sides are negotiating. Co-owner John Mara has suggested it could happen during the season. And that could be the best time to get Beckham to shift the injury risk to the team and grab a contract that won’t make him the highest-paid player in the league, but that will give him more money than he could ever spend.

Ben Roethlisberger and Martavis Bryant had their conversation

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While discussing wide receiver Martavis Bryant in May, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said he felt the receiver would need to win back the trust of his teammates after being suspended for all of last season and that he wanted to talk to Bryant privately before Bryant returned to the field.

Bryant responded by saying that he wanted to have “a man-to-man” conversation with Roethlisberger as well. On Wednesday, Roethlisberger said the two players have had that conversation and that it was “good” for the two men to sit down together.

Now he wants to have Bryant on the field. Bryant has not been fully reinstated by the league at this point and isn’t able to practice or play for the team until that happens.

“He’s done everything the league has asked,” Roethlisberger said, via “I’m not really sure why they keep holding him out from being out there with the guys. To me that’s the best is for him to be out there with his brothers. I’m not sure what the holdup is but I know he’s doing everything he can to be out there. … Goodness, you’d think he’s paid his dues.”

The Steelers reportedly feel the same way as their quarterback, but, for now, talking is about all he and Bryant can do together.

Steelers getting antsy about Martavis Bryant’s status

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Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant was conditionally reinstated earlier this year. But he still hasn’t satisfied the conditions necessary to trigger his reinstatement for training camp.

As announced by the NFL in April, Bryant will be allowed to participate in training camp practices and preseason games provided that he demonstrates before camp that he has made arrangements to continue drug treatment in Pittsburgh. The fact that he still hasn’t been cleared to participate in training camp practices implies that he has yet to make suitable arrangements to continue drug treatment in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers apparently disagree. In a Tuesday online chat, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote this: “I don’t think some people in the Steelers organization are happy with the NFL for dragging their feet over the delay in reinstating Bryant fully. They believe he’s done everything they’ve asked.”

Bouchette tweeted a similar sentiment on Wednesday: “Ben [Roethlisberger] questions why NFL is taking so long to fully reinstate Steelers WR Martavis Bryant. Says he has done all asked of him.”

It’s not the first time the NFL has delayed making a decision regarding a reinstatement under the substance-abuse policy. With no clear deadlines that require decisions to be made by any specific date, the league can take as much time as it wants, without consequence.

The league also is privy to information that others aren’t. In past cases, apparent delays eventually have become a denial of the petition to be reinstated.

In other words, no news has become bad news in the past for other players. With Bryant, there’s currently no news, which also could eventually become bad news. Until then, the bad news is that he’s getting no work in advance of his potential return to football after missing all of 2016.

Steelers running back James Conner’s shoulder issue a minor one


The Steelers don’t have running backs to spare with Le’Veon Bell still away from camp during his contract negotiation.

And the guy who has gotten a lot of his work might not miss too much more time.

According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, rookie James Connor’s shoulder injury appears to be minor and he could return to practice later this week.

Conner was injured Sunday and had his arm in a sling after practice, and was held out Monday and sent to Pittsburgh to be evaluated. Players had Tuesday off.

It appears the hamstring injury that knocked cornerback Senquez Golson out Sunday will last a little longer. He was carted off the field, extending his run of hard luck. The 2015 second-rounder hasn’t played a snap in a regular season game because of injuries.

Steelers kick tires on possible running back depth

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Starter Le’Veon Bell is still holding out, and rookie James Conner has a dinged-up shoulder. As a result, the Steelers are taking a look at their tailback options.

Via multiple reports, the Steelers are working out running back Brandon Radcliff. He played college football at Louisville, and he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Colts. He was waived when the Colts signed Christine Michael.

Knile Davis and Fitzgerald Toussaint currently are the top two options, behind Bell and Conner.

The Steelers are off on Tuesday. Information about Conner’s injury has been hard to track down, perhaps for good reason. If it’s known that he’s going to miss more than a few days, Bell acquires more leverage in his apparent effort to get paid more than $12.1 million for 2017, or to get a promise that the Steelers won’t use the tag on him again in 2018.

Tom Brady returns to the top spot in merchandise sales


The G.O.A.T. has returned to the top of the stack.

After yielding the NFLPA player merchandising title to Cowboys rookies Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott, who finished No. 1 and No. 2 for the year ending February 28, 2017, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has reclaimed the throne for the quarter ending July 31, 2017.

The NFLPA released on Tuesday morning the periodic Top 50 list reflecting comprehensive merchandise sales of all licenses products, from jerseys to T-shirts to bobbleheads to anything and everything.

Here’s the full top 10: (1) Brady; (2) Elliott; (3) Prescott; (4) Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch; (5) Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson; (6) Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant; (7) Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers; (8) Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr.; (9) Steelers receiver Antonio Brown; and (10) Cowboys tight end Jason Witten.

It’s amazing that Brady continues to do so well when it comes to jerseys and other merchandise, given that fans have had 16 years and counting to buy things bearing his name and likeness. At this point, it’s safe to say he’ll continue to be at or near the top of the list for the rest of his career, and maybe for a few years after it ends.

Tuesday morning one-liners


Which Bills helped their stock in the first week of training camp?

The Dolphins are taking it easy with S Reshad Jones.

Said Patriots RB Dion Lewis, “We have a lot of great running backs, and they’re great guys as well. Competition’s great. That’s when you show who you really are.”

Jets CB Morris Claiborne’s work at practice earned a good review.

The Ravens got WR Michael Campanaro back at practice.

Former Bengals RB James Brooks visited the team’s camp on Monday.

S Derrick Kindred isn’t taking a spot in the Browns secondary for granted.

First-round pick T.J. Watt is off to a good start at Steelers camp.

The game has slowed down for Texans LB Bernardrick McKinney.

Some positive notes about Colts WR Donte Moncrief’s work at practice.

Rookie T Cam Robinson is in line for a big role with the Jaguars after Branden Albert’s retirement.

Titans rookie TE Jonnu Smith has set high expectations for himself.

Things went a bit better for the Broncos offense on Monday.

The Chiefs are working to boost their run game.

Said Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. of rookie DT Eddie Vanderdoes, “I think he understands how to get lined up. He understands the blocking schemes. He understands how to get on edges. Things that we drafted him for.”

Chargers wide receivers have been doing a lot of talking to the team’s defensive backs.

Rookie DE Taco Charlton is coming along after a slow start at Cowboys camp.

Blocking is a focus for Giants rookie TE Evan Engram.

An injury scare last summer hasn’t dimmed Eagles TE Zach Ertz’s excitement about doing some hitting in practice.

Redskins veterans are high on rookie DL Jonathan Allen.

Bears LB Leonard Floyd feels he’s improved as a tackler.

WR Kenny Golladay has been doing some extra work with Lions QB Matthew Stafford.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy doesn’t want to compare his defense to other teams.

Vikings CB Terence Newman said he is “chasing this hot babe known as the Lombardi Trophy.”

The Warriors’ rebound after losing in the NBA Finals caught Falcons QB Matt Ryan’s eye.

WR Brenton Bersin has been cut several times, but keeps coming back to the Panthers.

Willie Snead is a big believer in the Saints receiving corps.

The Buccaneers aren’t underestimating S Keith Tandy.

CB Tramon Williams said he wouldn’t have signed with the Cardinals if he didn’t think they could have a winning season.

A healthy CB E.J. Gaines has been productive at Rams practices.

The 49ers are dealing with injuries at safety.

Kendrick Lamar stopped by Seahawks camp.

Where does Matthew Stafford rank among the NFL’s top quarterbacks?


Quarterback Matthew Stafford currently has the Lions over a contractual barrel. Whether he receives another huge contract or goes year-to-year and makes more than $100 million from 2018 through 2020 obscures the question of how good he really is, in comparison to other quarterbacks.

Appearing on Monday’s PFT Live, former NFL quarterback Chris Simms put Stafford at No. 3 in the league behind Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.

The notion of Stafford being that good in relation to the other great quarterbacks seems surprising at first blush. But if he’s not No. 3, who is? Drew Brees, arguably. Maybe Ben Roethlisberger. Matt Ryan possibly. Cam Newton or Russell Wilson? Perhaps. Andrew Luck isn’t healthy, and who knows when he will be.

It’s really not crazy to put Stafford in that category. Yes, he hasn’t won a playoff game. But he’s taken a chronically based Lions team to the postseason three times since 2011, and whether a team thrives isn’t solely determined by quarterback play.

Weigh in below with your thoughts. Ultimately, it’s not going to matter to his next contract, because the Lions won’t be letting him walk until they can find someone as good or better. And whoever is as good or better than Stafford simply isn’t and won’t be available.

James Conner misses practice with shoulder injury


Not backing down from physical confrontation has consequences.

Steelers rookie running back James Conner drew praise from his coach, Mike Tomlin, for Conner’s efforts in his first padded practice. Those efforts resulted, however, in a shoulder injury.

According to NFL Network, Conner missed practice on Monday for evaluation of the shoulder. The Steelers are off on Tuesday.

It’s unclear when Conner will be ready to return, and the precise diagnosis/prognosis is unknown. His absence puts stress on the tailback position, given the lingering holdout by starter Le’Veon Bell.

Hall of Fame week begins with Ezekiel Elliott situation unresolved


It’s becoming increasingly clear that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones not only wants the league to exonerate running back Ezekiel Elliott but also wants it to happen now.

That’s the unmistakable takeaway from Jones saying on Thursday that a decision is “imminent” and on Saturday that “everything’s in place” for a decision to be made. He clearly hope this to get resolved sooner than later, and for good reason.

Apart from the fact that the situation is now officially hovering over the owner’s Hall of Fame induction week, the Cowboys will need to fully plan for Elliott’s absence, and also help him come up with a strategy for staying in shape during his suspension — along with connecting him to a private coach who will be able to serve as an intermediary between Elliott and the team. (In The Quarterback Whisperer, Cardinals coach and former Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians explains that he sent practice scripts and play scripts to non-Steelers employee George Whitfield during quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension, with other directions given to Ben through Whitfield as a time when Arians couldn’t communicate with the quarterback directly.)

If Elliott is going to be suspended, don’t be surprised if the decision is held until early next week. If he’s going to be exonerated, don’t be surprised if the decision is announced this week.

Until the decision comes, look for Jones to keep talking about it, in the hopes of getting the league to implement it.

Monday morning one-liners


S Micah Hyde is serving as a leader in the Bills secondary.

Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green was a guest at Dolphins practice.

Patriots WR Brandin Cooks discussed his touchdown celebration.

The Jets like what they’ve seen from their rookie safeties.

WR Tim White’s play was a highlight of Sunday’s Ravens practice.

Bengals QB Andy Dalton and his son worked with WR John Ross at the end of practice.

The Browns made a change to their offensive line group.

LB Tyler Matakevich is trying to make an impression on the Steelers.

Texans WR Will Fuller has shown signs of improvement.

The Colts flipped their guards as they look for the right offensive line alignment.

Rookie CB Jalen Myrick’s first week of Jaguars training camp didn’t go as hoped.

The Titans didn’t hold rookie WR Corey Davis back on his first day of practice.

CB Lorenzo Doss is trying to find more playing time for the Broncos.

WR Tyreek Hill is in line for a bigger role with the Chiefs this season.

The Raiders will wear pads for the first time on Monday.

Chargers QB Cardale Jones is looking forward to learning from Philip Rivers.

Cowboys TE Jason Witten got some advice from Jerry Rice.

CB Janoris Jenkins’ anger flared at Giants camp.

Undrafted Eagles rookie CB Randall Goforth tore his ACL.

Tracing how TE E.J. Bibbs made his way to the Redskins.

A look at how some younger Bears players prepared for their second NFL seasons.

Lions G T.J. Lang is feeling the best he’s felt in years.

Packers DL Mike Daniels wants Green Bay’s defense to take a page from the Seahawks.

Vikings QB Sam Bradford and WR Laquon Treadwell are working on their chemistry.

The Falcons got S Ricardo Allen back on the practice field.

Said Panthers RB Fozzy Whittaker of QB Cam Newton, “To me, you wouldn’t have even known that he had surgery in the offseason and that he’s still going through the recovery process.”

Saints coach Sean Payton reminisced about former Saint Rob Ninkovich upon his retirement from the Patriots.

Checking in on the Buccaneers kicker competition.

QB Trevor Knight is trying to show the Cardinals he belongs in the NFL.

A positive review of Rams QB Sean Mannion’s early work at camp.

DL Arik Armstead appears to be taking to his new role on the 49ers defense.

Will this be S Kam Chancellor’s final season with the Seahawks?

Steelers cornerback Senquez Golson carted off, again


In what has become a disappointing trend, Steelers cornerback Senquez Golson was carted off the field Sunday, during the first padded practice of training camp.

According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Golson was carted off the field with what coach Mike Tomlin referred to as a “soft tissue injury” which he said could be related to fatigue or dehydration. Adam Schefter of ESPN said it was a hamstring injury.

Either way, it’s horrible luck for the 2015 second-round pick, who has yet to play in a regular season game because of injuries.

Last year, Golson was lost for the season after suffering a Lisfranc injury on the first day of padded practice. He missed his entire rookie season with a shoulder injury.

Tomlin, showing something well short of compassion, was asked if it was frustrating to see Golson go down early again and replied: “Not for me. I’m sure it is for him. It’s just part of this process, unfortunately.”

He wasn’t the only one hurting, as running back James Conner had what Tomlin called a “shoulder injury of some description,” and Conner had his left arm in a sling after practice. That one could have a bigger impact that most, since Conner was getting the work Le’Veon Bell was getting during his contract-related absence.

Mike Tomlin wants to talk about James Conner, not Le’Veon Bell


Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has a lot of praise for rookie running back James Conner. Whether Tomlin intends it or not, that could put a lot of pressure on holdout running back Le’Veon Bell.

After the first day in pads, Tomlin gushed about Conner to Ike Taylor of NFL Network.

“He’s got a reputation that he doesn’t back down from physical confrontation and I wanted to give him an opportunity to confirm that on Day One,” Tomlin said regarding Conner. “And he did in a lot of ways. He’s a highly competitive guy. He showed some good technical things. Obviously, it’s Day One. He’s got a ways to go. But his mental approach and demeanor is what we desire.”

For as much as Tomlin wanted to talk about Conner, Tomlin didn’t want to talk about Bell.

“We’re not gonna waste a whole lot of time worrying about the guys that aren’t here,” Tomlin said. “I’d be doing guys like James Conner a disservice if I wasted any portions of my day on stuff like that. I’m gonna give my energies to guys like James in here working.”

In theory, Tomlin could become sufficiently impressed by Conner that the Steelers decide to save $12.1 million and rescind Bell’s franchise tender. Conner will have to show a lot more on Day Two and beyond before the Steelers would ever get to that point.