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  • Saturday, August 1, 2015
    Browns owner Haslam won't 'blow things up'
    By The Sports Xchange

    Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said he will not "blow things up" if the team has a losing record this season.

    • Haslam, addressing the media at training camp in Berea, Ohio, on Saturday, said win-loss record will not affect the future of coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer.

      "We're not going to blow things up. OK?" Haslam said. "I think we're on the right track, so we're not going to blow things up. I understand why people might ask that after a couple of bumps in the road the first couple of years, but we're not going to do that. I think we're putting in place a good foundation. The first year we were here the draft was not what we wanted.

      "I think the second year was better, and a lot depends on how the two first-rounders do, right? If they turn out to be really good players, we had a tremendous draft last year. If one of them makes it, we had a good draft. If neither of them makes it, it's OK, it's just so-so. But I think this past year we had a really good draft. We added 12 players, two of them might be redshirts and we have 11 picks this coming year. So if you have that many picks and you pick good talent and can coach them over a period of time, we're going to be successful."

      Cleveland went 7-9 last season in Pettine's first year as head coach and Farmer's first year as general manager.

      However, the Browns lost their last five games to fall out of postseason contention.

      "I think we got the right people in place to over a period of time be successful here," Haslam said. "If I had said at this time last year we were going to be 7-9, you all would have said, 'That's pretty good.' The problem is we lost our last five. We get that."

      Pettine faced questions throughout last season for his handling of rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel and the team's quarterback situation.

      The Browns got off to a 7-4 start with veteran Brian Hoyer as their starter, but he threw five interceptions over a two-game stretch in November. That prompted Pettine to turn to Manziel.

      Manziel was shaky in his two starts and completed 18-of-35 passes for 175 yards before being placed on injured reserve after sustaining a hamstring injury in Week 16 against the Carolina Panthers.

      Josh McCown, a 13-year NFL veteran, was brought in and signed a three-year contract with the Browns worth $14 million, with $5.25 million due in 2015.

      Pettine will not declare McCown the starter for the season opener against the New York Jets. He said he wouldn't name his starter until the third preseason game.

      Manziel took steps to clean up his life during the offseason, putting a disastrous rookie season behind him after spending 10 weeks in a rehab center earlier this year.

      "I think we're pleased that Johnny did the things he should do in the offseason," Haslam said. "It was a great improvement over his first year, but anything less would have been totally unacceptable. So he's working hard.

      "But playing pro football, you have to be a pro, particularly playing the position he does. So he's got to work hard every day on and off the field. He's making progress, but he's got a long way to go. But we're obviously pleased with the offseason.

      "He's barely 22 years old. He's still young. So I think over the next couple of years we've got to see if Johnny can be a legitimate quarterback or not. I don't want to put too much pressure on him or our coaches and say it has to happen this year."

  • Saturday, August 1, 2015
    Jets promote Davidson to director of football administration
    By The Sports Xchange

    The New York Jets promoted Jacqueline Davidson to director of football administration on Saturday.

    • Davidson replaces Rod Graves, who recently left the Jets' front office to take a position in the league office as senior vice president of football administration and club services. The appointment makes Davidson one of the highest-ranking women to work in an NFL front office.

      Davidson, in her ninth season with the Jets and in the NFL, serves as the team's lead negotiator of player contracts and manages the team's salary cap and player budget.

      Davidson also ensures the organization's compliance with the NFL collective bargaining agreement and league player personnel rules.

      "Jackie has served as an integral part of our football administration efforts under Rod Graves this offseason," Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan said. "She's bright and talented and she has earned this opportunity."

      Davidson first worked with the NFL in 2004, when she was a legal intern with the NFL Management Council. Prior to joining the Jets, she worked as staff attorney for the U.S. District Court in Alabama.

  • Saturday, August 1, 2015
    Veteran coach Saunders in camp with Bengals
    By The Sports Xchange

    CINCINNATI -- Longtime NFL offensive assistant Al Saunders, who had an unsuccessful two-plus-year stint (17-22) as head coach of the San Diego Chargers from 1986-88, is spending training camp with the Cincinnati Bengals as a senior offensive assistant.

    • Saunders, 68, was receivers coach for the St. Louis Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf" teams in 1999-2000 and since then has coached with the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens and Oakland Raiders. He was an assistant on Don Coryell's staff in San Diego and became head coach in 1986 when Coryell resigned after eight games.

      Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson and Saunders coached together in Baltimore, and when Jackson was the Raiders' head coach in 2011, Saunders was his offensive coordinator. He stayed with the Raiders through last season as a senior offensive assistant, but wasn't brought back when Jack Del Rio was named head coach.

      "He's a guy who I know will give me an honest evaluation, next to our owner and head coach, about how this offense is," Jackson told the team website. "When somebody knows you and what you're trying to accomplish, it always makes it a little bit easier.

      "I'm excited about it. He's got a tremendous football mind and he's a tremendous football coach. Jon Hayes and Ken Zampese; he knows a lot of people here."

      Zampese, the Bengals' quarterbacks coach, was with the Rams during Saunders' tenure there. Hayes, Cincinnati's tight ends coach, played for the Chiefs under Saunders.

      Hayes said, "Al Saunders has forgotten more football than most people know."

      Saunders is a fitness freak, and has always been known as a coach that races down the field in practice to congratulate receivers after big plays. He has run 25 marathons, although those are off his plate now at his age.

      "I still run, but I don't put in the marathon training," he said. "I'm back in the pool now."

      Still, he has made a quick impression on the team's receivers with his energy and knowledge.

      Said wide receiver A.J. Green, "I love him. He's so energetic. He's running down the field giving me the high five every time I catch the ball. He's been around the league a long time. He knows a lot. I was talking to him the whole day. He's real hands-on. Having him and Urb (receivers coach James Urban) in my ear is really going to help me.

      "Al Saunders told me the Hall of Famers always need something to work on. I'm just trying to do better on my releases. If I take five to 10 minutes every day to get better at one little thing this whole year, I'll be fine."

  • Saturday, August 1, 2015
    Broncos WR Williams carted off practice field
    By The Sports Xchange

    Denver Broncos wide receiver Kyle Williams was carted off the practice field Saturday after suffering an apparent right knee injury while returning a punt.

    • Williams, 27, went down awkwardly while attempting to scoop up the football on the team's second day of training camp.

      The 5-foot-10, 186-pound Williams is a six-year veteran out of Arizona State. He has battled knee injuries in the past, suffering a torn ACL in his first game with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013.

  • Saturday, August 1, 2015
    15 minutes one small step for Rams' Gurley
    By The Sports Xchange

    EARTH CITY, Mo. -- When the offseason workouts ended for the St. Louis Rams, running back Todd Gurley had a small goal: Be on the field for the first practice of the team's training camp, which got underway Friday.

    • Consider it goal accomplished, thanks to Gurley's perseverance and the Rams' philosophy that having him on the field even for limited work during individual drills was better than having him watching everything from the sideline, which would have been the case had he been placed on the non-football injury list.

      Said Gurley, "It was pretty exciting. I'm just glad to be out there, instead of being over there with the trainer, just being with the guys and getting those 15 minutes in."

      The team's decision was fortified when Gurley was impressive in the conditioning test for rookies conducted three days before the first practice.

      Said head coach Jeff Fisher, "Todd did a great job on the conditioning tests. He's not 100 percent; he's not ready to play in a game right now. But our feeling (was) that the decision was based on the importance for him to be able to participate not only in the walk-throughs, but also in the individual stuff.

      "There was no concern whatsoever with respect to his rehab, just because of the work that we did prior to the draft and on everything that he's done thus far. We just felt in fairness to him, it just didn't make sense (to put him on NFI), where the kid's gonna stand there and watch. We want to build him. We want to add individual reps. We want him to be available to practice. We'll just kinda add things as we move forward. Timetable-wise, I don't know. But I'm very, very encouraged as to where he is right now."

      Still, there remains the question of when Gurley will be ready to play. Fisher wouldn't hazard a guess, although he doesn't want to raise hopes too high.

      "I can't say if it's Week 1 or Week 6, but we're hoping that it's somewhere in there," Fisher said. "We're not going to take any chances or any risks or subject him to any danger. But, you can kind of read the tea leaves there. We feel like he's ahead of schedule and he's a tremendous athlete, and this is going to give him a chance to know the offense inside and out. I feel good about what he's doing on a daily basis, rather than just kind of becoming that outcast they typically feel like when they're on (NFI)."

      Gurley suffered a torn ACL in his left knee on Nov. 15 against Auburn, and there were raised eyebrows when the Rams selected him with the 10th overall choice in the draft. But he attacked his rehab, and after OTAs ended June 18, he spent considerable time at the team's facility continuing his rehab and working with trainer Reggie Scott.

      Now, Gurley has to be patient and do what the medical people tell him.

      "It's frustrating because you know you just feel like you can go or you know you just feel like you can do much more than the trainers or the coaches are giving you," he said. "But, they are just trying to protect you and they've been through this, they have years of experience. So, no need to rush it."

      Like Fisher, he won't put a timetable on when he'll be able to play, saying, "All I know is I've got tomorrow. I can't worry about Week 1 right now."

      Of course, even Fisher figures there will come a time when Gurley starts clamoring to do more.

      "Yes," the head coach said with his signature smile. "That'll become a problem eventually, I'm quite sure."

      In the meantime, running backs Tre Mason and Benny Cunningham will see most of the snaps with the first unit, and Mason realizes he will likely carry the load early in the season. Even if Gurley plays sooner rather than later, it's doubtful he will be getting 20 touches a game at first.

      During OTA, Mason admitted to being shocked when he found out the Rams had selected Gurley and wondered if it was a reflection on his play. As a third-round pick last season, he was inactive for the first four games of the season. But when he got the chance to play, Mason rushed for 765 yards in nine starts, while scoring four touchdowns including one explosive 89-yard score.

      As camp opened, Mason is intent on being even better.

      "Just give me the ball; I'm ready to rock," he said. "Whatever opportunities I get here, I have to make the most of them and work to be the best I can be."

      Similar to Gurley, Mason also has the ability to break a big run any time he touches the ball.

      "I feel like I can be a playmaker whenever I get the ball," he said. "You've got to make a play to stop me."

  • Saturday, August 1, 2015
    Jets DT Richardson apologizes ... again
    By The Sports Xchange

    FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- It certainly wasn't the first two days of training camp that New York Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and head coach Todd Bowles envisioned.

    • It began with Richardson claiming he wasn't "a dope fiend" and apologizing to teammates for the four-game suspension he will serve for violating the NFL policy on substance abuse, reportedly for marijuana.

      At that time, in a statement, Richardson said, "I apologize for letting down my family, teammates, this organization and the fans. However, words aren't enough. This is something that can only be addressed by how I handle myself from this point on. I don't want this to take away from what the team is trying to accomplish. While I won't be there at the start of the regular season, I will do whatever I can to support my teammates until I'm able to return to the field."

      Those words were barely out of his mouth when word got out that Richardson had been arrested in suburban St. Louis on July 14, just 12 days after the league announced the suspension, and was charged with multiple traffic violations as well as resisting arrest.

      According to the police incident report, Richardson was clocked in his Bentley driving at 143 mph along Interstate 64 in "what appeared to be a road race." Police tried to pull over Richardson, who sped away, blew through a red light and turned off his lights as he pulled into a driveway that wasn't his.

      At that point, the police finally caught up to Richardson. He was ordered to step out of the car at gunpoint, along with two adult male passengers, because an officer said he saw Richardson reach under his feet. Upon searching the car, police found a loaded semi-automatic handgun underneath the floor mat on the driver's side.

      Police also reported that a 12-year-old boy stepped out of the car and that the vehicle carried with it a strong smell of marijuana. However, Richardson was charged with neither gun possession, since the gun was legally registered to him, marijuana possession, or endangering the welfare of a child because prosecutors believed they didn't have enough evidence to go forward.

      Speaking to reporters when camp opened, Richardson said, "I take full accountability for my actions. I apologized to my teammates and this organization, and I told them they don't have to worry about my name being in the news again."

      He added, "I'm not a dope fiend, man. I can say no. I just chose not to. It was a depressing time in my offseason and that's just that. It's just that simple, bro."

      The next day, he again did a mea culpa after his arrest became public and to the Jets because Richardson hadn't told the team about the incident.

      Richardson said, "It's a legal matter, and it's ongoing, so I can't really say too much about that night. I would just like to apologize again to my teammates. I already had a personal meeting with everybody; coach (Bowles) brought everybody in. I apologize to my family, to the Jets' organization; they're still standing behind me. I'm thankful and grateful for that. It was a wakeup call."

      Bowles hopes so. The first-year head coach didn't mince words in describing how upset he is at the player's poor decision-making.

      Said Bowles, "It was disappointing. If it happens two times in that time span, it's more about Sheldon the man as opposed to Sheldon the player. That's the biggest thing. If you have children you know, when you say things, they're going to disappoint you and you have to come back. Right now I'm just worried about getting him help. He needs the help. I'm not even worried about the football player. Like I said, we can win without him. It would probably be more fun with him, but we're prepared to win without him. The biggest thing is working on getting him better as a person. When things like that happen, (the focus) is not when he's getting back on the field, it's can he get his life together. That's the biggest thing."

      Bowles was direct and to the point when asked about trusting Richardson after the two incidents occurring so close together.

      "You lose a lot of trust," he admitted. "As I said, actions speak louder than words. As a man, you have to own up to what you've done and not only own up to it, but you have to show change through actions. People are not going to believe anything you say in that regard. Just like your children, you're going to be disappointed. Over time, you have to show progress and great progress. You're not just going to take anybody's word for it anymore. He has to face his teammates. He has to face his coaching staff. He has to face his family. From that regard, you have to try to get better as a person."

      As for worrying about Richardson failing another drug test, Bowles said, "I have concerns about him just being a better person. If he fails another drug test, he's going down the wrong road. Those are demons you have to live with and sometimes things spark and make you a better person and there are sometimes you spiral the other way.

      "Again, I'm not worried about him being able to get back on the field. I'm worried about him failing or passing becoming a better man. That's the biggest thing here, him becoming a better person so that he can live the rest of his life; at 24, 25 years old, that's tough. I'm sure we all got away with some things and he's not gotten away with them. It hasn't been smart, it hasn't been clear in the head and clearly he needs some help. You have to try and help someone like that as a person. Like I said before, we're prepared to win without him. It'd be more fun with him, but one person cannot make our team."

      Reacting to Richardson telling his teammates and coaches he wouldn't be in the news again following his suspension, Bowles added, "I guess clearly, he was wrong. Sometimes it's hard for a person that does everything on their own to ask for help. In his mind, obviously, it was denial and clearly he has a problem. That's what we have to try and help him with. It was wrong and you know it was embarrassing for him to say that and then it to happen. I guess the timing of it all wouldn't have been anymore embarrassing had he said something and then it came out. Right now, it is what it is as far as what happened and it's not going to change anything. Nobody condones it and nobody tolerates it. It's up to the guy. Clearly right now, this is not a football issue, it's more of a personal issue."

      Bowles also said it was disappointing that Richardson failed to inform the team about the incident.

      "That's something he has to deal with and obviously it's a problem there and we have to try to help him," Bowles said. "I mean, it surprised me. It's upsetting because it's disappointing that it's back to back. He has to live with that and there's no way around that. You can't defend that. I'm not trying to. I just hope he gets better and understands as a person. I'm more worried about the man than I am the player."

      Will the Jets discipline Richardson on their own? Apparently not. Bowles concluded, "We're going to wait and see how it plays out. Obviously, the league will be involved with that and the Missouri police department will be involved with that. We'll wait to see what our actions are after that."

  • Saturday, August 1, 2015
    Dolphins activate TE Robinson
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Miami Dolphins activated tight end Gerell Robinson from the active/non-football injury list Saturday.

    • Robinson played in two games for the Dolphins last season, but had no receptions.

  • Friday, July 31, 2015
    Jets rookie WR Smith breaks ribs
    By The Sports Xchange

    New York Jets rookie wide receiver Devin Smith was expected to be held overnight in a hospital after breaking ribs during a training camp practice on Friday in Florham Park, N.J.

    • Smith, the Jets' second-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft out of Ohio State, hit the ground hard after catching a deflected pass over cornerback Marcus Williams. The speedy receiver left the field gingerly and later was hospitalized for precautionary purposes.

      Jets coach Todd Bowles said after practice that he wasn't sure what happened to Smith, but the team announced Friday night that Smith suffered broken ribs and was expected to miss most of training camp.

      The Jets are hoping to add the speedy Smith to a receiving corps that includes Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Smith and Jeremy Kerley are in contention for the No. 3 receiver spot.

  • Friday, July 31, 2015
    Wilson signs with Seahawks; Wagner said to be next
    By The Sports Xchange

    RENTON, Wash. -- The Seattle Seahawks could hardly have asked for a better way to open training camp, awaking to the news Friday morning that quarterback Russell Wilson had signed a four-year contract extension.

    • OK, well maybe they would have changed one thing -- the beginning of a holdout by strong safety Kam Chancellor. But the Wilson news overshadowed any pall from Chancellor's absence.

      Seahawks fans had spent the offseason fretting over every seeming twist and turn in the Wilson contract drama, with speculation increasing throughout the summer that he could play the year without a new deal.

      Wilson had set a deadline of the beginning of camp to reach a deal, with his agent Mark Rodgers confirming that Wilson did not want it hanging over his head.

      After a week of talks, the two sides finally came to an agreement, with one of the key breakthroughs coming when the two sides agreed on a four-year extension, beginning in 2016. That will allow Wilson to hit free agency when he's 31.

      The deal will pay Wilson $87.6 million with a $31 million signing bonus -- the most ever awarded by the Seahawks -- and $61.5 million in guarantees overall, the most in the NFL.

      Wilson said news of the deal, which he received Thursday night around 11 p.m., was "exciting."

      "I've always been confident it was going to happen, I never really doubted it was going to happen," he said.

      Seattle coach Pete Carroll sang a similar tune.

      "It was imminent, it was coming the whole time," he said. "We wanted to do it, it was his turn, you know how we've done it, you've watched this. We give guys opportunities and we try to take full advantage of nailing them when we can. It was a long process to get it done but now that it's over, it's good for him, it's good for our club."

      The contract leaves the Seahawks with about $4 million left in cap space for the 2015 season and with one major goal left: a similar extension for middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who, like Wilson, is entering his fourth season.

      Wagner and the Seahawks have been in talks throughout the summer and there had been some thought the two were close to a deal, especially if things fell through with Wilson.

      Carroll said he thinks a deal can still get done quickly.

      "We're on it," he said, adding that anyone who says the Seahawks don't now have room to get something done with Wagner is "not right."

      As for Chancellor, Carroll said he hoped there was something that could be done to bring the team's standout strong safety into camp. It remained unclear what Chancellor wants as he has three years left on his contract, and the Seahawks have been adamant about not redoing contracts with that many years left.

      Carroll said he did not think Chancellor's holdout would be a distraction and said, "We'd love to have him back with us. He has his points. He's got his thoughts, he's a very smart guy. He's thought this out and made it very clear the choice this time."

      What the Seahawks knew for sure is that they will have the services of Wilson through the 2019 season. They had to give him a guarantee that ranks as the biggest in NFL history but also were able to keep the salary to a shade below that of Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, who is making $22 million a season.

      Wilson said he was able to keep the money side separate from the playing side during the talks, but was glad it was now over.

      "I don't think it was personal," he said. "I know it was business. At the end of the day I'm happy to be a Seahawk, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. It's a blessing, a championship type team, and the goal is to win the Super Bowl this year, Super Bowl 50 is on our minds. No matter what, I was going to be focused on the season, I was going to be ready to play no matter what the circumstances."

      --Starting free safety Earl Thomas was one of four players to begin the season on the physically unable to perform list as he continues his rehab from offseason shoulder surgery. Carroll said there was no set timeline on when Thomas will return to practice and said the Seahawks will take a long-term approach to his recovery and exercise patience.

      The other three on PUP are cornerbacks Jeremy Lane (knee/arm) and Tharold Simon (shoulder) and wide receiver Paul Richardson (knee).

  • Friday, July 31, 2015
    Raiders' Carr in passing lane with Crabtree
    By The Sports Xchange

    NAPA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders were just two plays into a non-padded first practice to open training camp Friday, but two arching throws from second-year quarterback Derek Carr to veteran free agent Michael Crabtree served notice that things could be different in 2015.

    • Carr did some good things as a 16-game starter in his rookie season. However, an average of 5.5 yards per pass attempt was the worst among starters in the NFL. In Crabtree, plus first-round draft pick Amari Cooper, the Raiders have undergone an upgrade at wide receiver.

      Twice during the first practice, Crabtree rose above defenders with perfect high-point catches, plays that seemed nonexistent last season.

      "As a receiver, you want to be the quarterback's friend, right?" Crabtree said.

      Drafted 10th overall out of Texas Tech by the cross-bay San Francisco 49ers in 2009, Crabtree has been plagued by injuries. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound veteran is two years removed from his career season, when he caught 85 passes for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns. An Achilles tear cost him much of 2013, and last season Crabtree had more drops than usual and finished with 68 receptions for 698 yards and four touchdowns.

      A multiyear deal in free agency never materialized, so Crabtree signed for one year with the Raiders. Never an easy person to read, Crabtree made every voluntary session with the Raiders and regularly worked out with Carr away from the facility once the quarterback recovered from a reported injury to his right ring finger.

      "He stood out today and made some nice catches," Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said after practice. "Mike's a proven player. I don't think we have to worry much about Mike other than becoming a good teammate, getting in tip-top shape and having a great year."

      Crabtree's ability to snag the ball at its highest point and make difficult plays look easy has Carr excited.

      "You always hear about how people finish friendly to the quarterback," Carr said. "He always finishes friendly ... whatever the route is, for some reason, it's just easy to throw to him ... catching the ball is boring to him, almost."

      --Wide receiver Rod Streater and running back Trent Richardson began camp on the non-football illness list. Del Rio declined to specify the illnesses but said he expected both players back soon.

      --Linebacker Sio Moore (hip) was joined by defensive tackle Stacy McGee and return specialist Trindon Holliday on the regular physically unable to perform list.

      --Rookie tight end Clive Walford, a standout during the offseason program, did not practice for undisclosed reasons.

  • Friday, July 31, 2015
    Clemons' status a mystery as Jaguars open practice
    By The Sports Xchange

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars escaped making any controversial news during the offseason, but it took only one day for things to change once the team reported for training camp.

    • First, veteran defensive end Chris Clemons was the only one of 90 Jaguars players who failed to report on Thursday, the reporting day for all veterans.

      Clemons was a no-show during organized team activities as well, and coach Gus Bradley wasn't pleased that the 12-year veteran wouldn't be in uniform and on the field with his teammates when camp started.

      "This one is a little concerning," Bradley said. "Hopefully we come up with a decision to speed things up a little bit quicker. I don't see this as a situation that's extended."

      Bradley seemed to be accurate in his assessment when Clemons did arrive at the facility Friday morning, the first day of practice. But he wasn't dressed when the team took the field at 10 a.m. to practice in front of nearly 2,000 season-ticket holders. As a result, the Jaguars placed Clemons on the active/non-football injury list. Bradley would not reveal the nature of the injury.

      Nor was the Jaguars' third-year coach able to give a timetable for Clemons' return to the field.

      "I wouldn't put any timetable to it," Bradley said. "He's working out with guys now, with (trainer Scott Trulock) and with (strength and conditioning coach Tom Myslinski), but it's good to see him back here."

      Instead, Bradley called Clemons' status "a challenging situation."

      If the Jaguars' No. 1 draft pick, pass rusher Dante Fowler Jr., had not suffered a torn left ACL during the offseason, Clemons' absence might have been a non-story.

      Fowler was selected in order to take over the Leo defensive end spot and push Clemons into a backup role. But, with Fowler out until the 2016 season, Clemons' value has heightened. Behind Clemons are Andre Branch, whose rookie contract expires after this season, and unproven Chris Smith, who played in just seven games as a rookie a year ago. In fact, Smith projects as the 11th-best defensive lineman for a unit that may include just 10 players.

      Bradley admitted that placing Clemons on the non-football injury list was something that the team had not envisioned doing.

      "This kind of came up at the end here. The injury thing we knew in talking to him over the past couple of days that it could be a strong possibility," the Jaguars' coach said.

      Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said the defensive unit takes a real hit without Clemons in the lineup.

      "We want him here. Obviously he's a huge part of our defense," Posluszny said. "He really makes things go on that defensive line, and he's a big part of our pass rush. He's a great teammate to have around, a veteran presence (with a lot of) leadership. He's been on outstanding defenses before, so we want him here. Whatever we need to do to get him here, we'll try."

      Does it change the dynamic of the defense?

      "If he's not here, yes," Posluszny said. "That changes things for us because that's taking a starter out of the rotation. It's not good. We definitely need him here."

      If there's a silver lining to the situation, it would be that Clemons is a veteran who has played in Bradley's defensive scheme both in Jacksonville and Seattle. So there is little concern about his knowledge of the defensive concepts. Conditioning has never been a concern for Clemons. He has missed just two games in the last eight years and has started all but five games during that span.

      But the Jaguars need Clemons' presence on the field and in the locker room. He's a team leader; and, with so many young players on the team, Clemons' experience and knowledge can be passed along to others. Depending on the nature of the injury, Clemons is needed back on the field as soon as possible.

  • Friday, July 31, 2015
    Giants sign WR Jones
    By The Sports Xchange

    The New York Giants signed wide receiver James Jones to a one-year deal on Friday.

    • Jones, 31, led the Oakland Raiders with a career-best 73 receptions last season, but the Raiders released him in May after signing former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree and drafting Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper with the fourth overall pick.

      Jones had signed a three-year, $10 million deal with the Raiders last year after seven years with the Green Bay Packers.

      Jones led the NFL with 14 touchdown receptions in 2012 and has averaged 48 catches, 620 yards and five scores per year.

      Jones will be reunited with former Packers assistant Ben McAdoo, who is in his second year as the Giants' offensive coordinator.

      "I remember the great year he had, and then last year he caught a number of balls, he led the Oakland team," coach Tom Coughlin said. "He's a veteran receiver, outstanding hands, been in this system, knows the system well, should fit in well, and should compete."

  • Friday, July 31, 2015
    Bears won't baby their linebackers
    By The Sports Xchange

    BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- The hunt for outside linebackers to rotate with Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho left the Chicago Bears' coaching staff sorting through players with problems from the outset of training camp.

    • On one hand, they have Jared Allen, who at 34 years old never played the position. Then there are Willie Young and Lamarr Houston, both returning from surgeries.

      When practices started Thursday, both Houston and Young got surprising clearance to go ahead. It is only eight months since Young tore an Achilles and Houston's ACL tear was at midseason last year.

      The plan was to bring both along a bit slowly but not keep them sidelined. It reminded head coach John Fox of the situation he had last year in Denver.

      "I think we had two guys, Chris Harris and Von Miller a year ago, both ended up having Pro Bowl years that came off of ACLs," he said. "So I think we have a pretty good blueprint on how to do it -- again, knock on wood -- you kind of hold your breath every time they go out there, whether it's a game or practice. It's a physical game.

      "But I think we have good blueprint, a way to both earn their confidence -- so much of this game is mental and in developing them and getting them stronger and more confident as we go. The goal date is (the opener) against Green Bay."

      With Houston, the fit seems a bit better.

      "I believe I'm solid at linebacker," he said. "I'm kind of small to be a (4-3) defensive end. ... It's the same thing I was doing in Oakland."

      The Bears tried making Houston into a 4-3 end last year and had almost no success before he tore the ACL celebrating a meaningless sack against New England -- his only sack of the year.

      "I've always been a person who has faced a lot of adversity in my life, so for me it wasn't nothing," Houston said of his injury. "With the Raiders, we were more of a hybrid 3-4.

      "It's similar (in Chicago), but a little different, but pretty similar for the outside linebacker."

      It's Young who has to make the real transition to fit in, regardless of his injury. He came from Detroit and the wide-9 position at end to playing end and finishing with 10.5 sacks last year.

      Now it's a totally foreign concept to him, dropping back sometimes, or rushing from the standing position.

      "I don't know anything about playing linebacker, so obviously I study day in and day out now," Young said. "It's never a day off."

      Young laughed about the comparison of outside linebacker being not entirely different than wide-9 like he played in Detroit.

      "Heck no! No! Not even close," he said. "I might've had two things to worry about at defensive end regardless of how far out I was, keying the ball and getting the strength call from a linebacker.

      "That ain't so much the case now. I've got to give a call, take a call, listen for a call and watch for a call -- and also key the ball."

      Young's goal is to get back to 90 percent strength and "let everything else take care of itself," but he's facing long odds and could even be a cut victim.

      "I'm not worried about all that, man," he said. "I came in as a seventh-round draft pick, and I started from the bottom so ain't nowhere for me to go but up.

      "At this point, I'm not worried about all that stuff."

      Making matters worse for Houston and Young is the fact that unheralded backup end David Bass made a very smooth transition from 4-3 end to 3-4 linebacker and impressed coaches throughout OTAs. It makes for a more crowded field there.

      Allen seemed more confident and physically conditioned to make an impact at a new spot despite his age. Only the pass coverage aspect had him fooled at the outset.

      "Believe it or not, I'm an athlete," he said. "I know I'm a try-hard guy, but believe it or not, I get athletic every now and again."

      Allen said there's a benefit in learning football from a standup position at his age.

      "Being older in my career, it's nice not having to have my hand in the dirt," he said. "Standing up takes a little pressure off the body."

      Meanwhile, the Bears signed undrafted rookie guard Tyler Moore to a three-year contract on Friday.

      Moore played in 19 games and started 14 at Florida in two seasons. He began his college career at Nebraska and played in nine games (four starts) in 2011.

  • Friday, July 31, 2015
    Quinn eager to revive Falcons
    By The Sports Xchange

    FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn held his first practice of the 2015 training camp on Friday while rap music was blaring from the speakers.

    • After two consecutive losing seasons, the franchise fired Mike Smith, the winningest coach in team history. Quinn, who was Seattle's defensive coordinator the past two seasons, was hired as Atlanta's 16th head coach in February.

      He hopes to revive the team, which posted five straight winning seasons under Smith from 2008 to 2012 and reached the NFC Championship Game after the 2012 season.

      "This is not a rebuild in any way," Quinn said. "Everything we are doing is about right now."

      His first meeting with the team was up-tempo.

      "It's about us having the best camp that we can have," Quinn said. "We are leaving all other expectations outside. Our whole message is what are we competing for? That answer is to see how good we can get."

      He was pleased with the first practice.

      "I liked the attitude and the style," Quinn said. "For the players, I couldn't have been more excited to get started."

      Quinn was running around and even got involved with the defensive ends and outside linebackers during pass-rushing drills.

      "For the coaches, we feed a lot off the players too and the energy that they bring is contagious," Quinn said. "I know that we'll play our really best when we are close. The energy has to be there to make that happen."

      There was one penalty and one takeaway by the defense. Defensive back Phillip Adams came up with an interception along the sideline.

      "We have a long way to go, but for the first day in terms of where we want to get to, I was really pleased," Quinn said. "We only had one penalty called and the turnover rate was one takeaway defensively. One turnover for the offense. But for the first day, there was a lot to do. I liked their mindset."

      Quinn had to watch the reps of left tackle Jake Matthews (foot surgery) and center Joe Hawley (knee surgery). Matthews split time with Tyler Polumbus while Hawley practiced, but isn't ready for snaps in 11-on-11.

      "We want to ease them back into terms of a rep count," Quinn said. "They'll go just as hard with the reps they get. They may not go as many."

      Right tackle Ryan Schraeder was eased out of the action with a muscle strain.

      While wide receiver Roddy White has passed the torch to Julio Jones as the team's top receiver, White remains a potent weapon and team leader.

      "We want to be the best team in the league this year," White said. "That's our goal."

      Don't mention the word rebuilding to White.

      "We don't want to say we are rebuilding or we are restarting -- this team has been a good team," White said, "with the core players that have been around here for four or five years now. Our core players are intact. We don't need much to get over the hump."

      The Falcons, who didn't make any big-splash signings in free agency, spread their money around to 16 different free agents from other teams to help retool the roster.

      White believes that with the new additions and the holdovers, the Falcons can forge a turnaround.

      "We have all of the people that we need to be a better football team," White said. "We just have to go out there and execute. Just go out there and find a way to win ballgames."

  • Friday, July 31, 2015
    Bills' celebrated QB battle begins with a whimper
    By The Sports Xchange

    PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- As legendary Buffalo Bills broadcaster Van Miller used to say, "Fasten your seatbelts." The inference was that the ride was about to begin, and you could almost hear the late Miller uttering those words Friday morning when Bills training camp kicked off and thousands of eyes were fixated on the quarterback competition.

    • It has been the talk of the offseason as the Bills addressed the sudden retirement of Kyle Orton by trading for Matt Cassel and signing Tyrod Taylor as a free agent to compete with holdover and 2013 first-round draft pick EJ Manuel.

      So, after months of learning the offense and going through OTAs and minicamp practices, the competition began in earnest at St. John Fisher College on a perfect, sunny morning.

      Not surprisingly, none of the quarterbacks -- including fourth-stringer Matt Simms -- looked sharp. The timing with the receivers is absent, and the strong Buffalo defense appears light years ahead of an offense that is still seeking an identity.

      "However you rank them," Bills coach Rex Ryan said with a laugh when he was asked how the depth chart looks early on. "That's pretty much it. We've got a long way to go. This obviously is just the start of everything, every day you're evaluating, but I'm not ready to say this guy's in this spot or whatever."

      Ryan made it clear throughout the offseason that when the Bills came to training camp, the quarterback job would be wide open -- and may the best man win. To that end, he has adopted offensive coordinator Greg Roman's two-spot system where team drills are going on simultaneously at both ends of the practice field in order to give not only the quarterbacks, but everyone else, more reps. However, it is specifically helpful to the quarterbacks who need all the time they can get.

      "That's something Greg Roman has brought to us," Ryan said. "He did that at Stanford, he did it also with San Francisco. I think it's a great idea. It's not necessarily that you double the reps, but you're getting more reps for your guys. I think it gives us an opportunity to be able to look at all three guys."

      Ryan gave Cassel the first chance with the first string, but that was likely because of seniority. His goal is to give Cassel, Manuel and Taylor equal reps with the first unit, both in practice and the preseason games, to provide the fairest evaluation possible. One thing he won't do is make any preemptive judgments based on one practice, or even many practices.

      "I don't think that's what we're going to do -- 'Hey, look, this guy moved ahead, he had a great throw here, he's going to move ahead,'" Ryan said. "I don't think it's going to be like that, but at the same time, every day's important and I think that's something that we're certainly looking at."

      Beyond the quarterback conundrum, Ryan reveled in his first day at training camp with his new team.

      "I thought it would be tough finding something to top jumping out of a plane, but as a football coach, I think this topped it," said Ryan, who made his much-publicized skydiving debut a couple weeks ago during a regional air show in Niagara Falls.

      "This day was a long time coming, you can't wait to get out here, itching and ready to go, you experience the fans, great weather, on the grass and all that stuff, man, it's tremendous. I'm glad I'm getting paid what I get paid, but when you look at this you'd do it for a heck of a lot less; way, way, way less. My agent wouldn't be happy with it, but I'm telling you it doesn't get much better."

      NOTES: DE Mario Williams was added to the active roster Friday after being on the active/non-football injury list for one day. In 2014, the 30-year-old Williams had 14.5 sacks in his third season with the Bills.

  • Friday, July 31, 2015
    Charge against Bills' Kromer dismissed
    By The Sports Xchange

    Florida prosecutors dismissed a misdemeanor battery charge against Buffalo Bills offensive line coach Aaron Kromer on Friday.

    • Assistant state attorney Bobby Elmore told ESPN that the accusers' parents asked for the charge to be dismissed after they reached an "amicable resolution" with Kromer's attorneys.

      A misdemeanor battery charge against Zachery Kromer, Aaron Kromer's son, also was dismissed.

      Both Kromers had pleaded not guilty on Thursday.

      Kromer was arrested in Walton County, Fla., on July 12 after allegedly punching a boy and threatening to kill his family.

      The Walton County Sheriff's office said Aaron and Zachary Kromer were fishing July 11 when they confronted three boys over beach chairs. Kromer is alleged to have hit one of the boys in the face after throwing a fishing pole into the water. According to the sheriff's report, Kromer then threatened to kill the boy's family if he reported the incident to authorities.

      The Bills placed Kromer on indefinite paid administrative leave on July 14. Assistant offensive line coach Kurt Anderson has been expected to take over Kromer's duties.

      The 48-year-old Kromer is in his first year in Buffalo on coach Rex Ryan's staff after working for two years in Chicago as offensive coordinator. Kromer came under fire last season after admitting he was the source of criticism toward Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.

      Kromer previously coached with the New Orleans Saints (2008-12), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2005-07) and Oakland Raiders (2001-04).

  • Friday, July 31, 2015
    Saints TE Charles suspended for opener
    By The Sports Xchange

    New Orleans tight end Orson Charles has been suspended without pay for the first game of the season for violating the NFL's conduct policy.

    • Charles will be eligible to return after the Saints' opener against the Arizona Cardinals.

      Charles, then a member of the Cincinnati Bengals, was arrested in April 2014 after allegedly pointing a gun at a driver who made an obscene gesture at him. He was sentenced to diversion in February after pleading guilty to wanton endangerment.

      The Bengals released Charles last August and he spent the season on the Saints' practice squad.

  • Friday, July 31, 2015
    NFL notebook: Seahawks QB Wilson signs $87.6M extension
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Seattle Seahawks signed quarterback Russell Wilson to a four-year contract extension Friday, making him the second-highest paid player in the NFL.

    • According to reports, the deal is worth $87.6 million and includes a $31 million signing bonus with $60 million in guarantees.

      Wilson was scheduled to make $1.54 million this season, the fourth and final year of his rookie contract. Wilson took to Twitter to comment on the deal: "Blessed to be w/ this organization for 4 more years! Can't wait to get on field w/ the fellas!"

      The agreement ends an offseason of back-and-forth between both sides.

      The Seahawks' training camp got underway Friday morning, which reportedly was the deadline Wilson gave the team to work out a new deal this year.

      "I didn't think it was personal. I knew it was business. At the end of the day, I'm happy to be a Seahawk," Wilson said Friday. "I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. It's a blessing to be here on a championship-type team and the goal is to win the Super Bowl this year."

      The 26-year-old Wilson has led the Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. The deal will keep Wilson in Seattle though the 2019 season.

      Wilson's new-money average is $21.9 million and he will be the seventh quarterback to make more than $20 million per season. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers tops the list, earning $22 million a year.

      ---Outside linebacker Junior Galette signed a one-year contract with the Washington Redskins after being released by the New Orleans Saints because of off-field problems.

      Galette's agent, lvin Keels, said via Twitter: "Junior is grateful for the second chance he is being afforded by the Redskins and is looking forward to not only producing on the field but also to display the veteran leadership in the locker room. The deal is for the league minimum. This deal isn't about the money. Junior feels that he has a lot to prove both on and off of the field."

      Galette was cut Monday by the Saints following the release of a 2013 video that appears to show a physical altercation on a beach between Galette and a woman that involves a belt.

      Galette was released after posting 22 sacks the past two seasons with the Saints. The parting led to a tirade from Galette that will prompt further character questions from the Redskins.

      The NFL has talked to Galette about his arrest in January for domestic simple battery, and the league is now investigating the 2013 video of the scuffle in South Beach, Fla.

      ---Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland was suspended by the NFL for one game that is related to his citation last summer for marijuana possession.

      Breeland will miss the Redskins' season opener against the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 13. He will be eligible to return to the Redskins' active roster on Sept. 14. He is eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games.

      Breeland, who was a fourth-round pick last year, started 15 games during his rookie season and had 67 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.

      Breeland, 23, was cited for possession of marijuana in August 2014 on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. The incident took place the night before the Redskins left Richmond at the completion of training camp.

      ---The NFL and the players' union asked a U.S. District Court on Friday to expedite a resolution on an appeal by New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady of his four-game "Deflategate" suspension.

      Both sides filed a joint letter proposing a ruling be made by Sept. 4 on Brady's lawsuit seeking to have the suspension rescinded. That date is six days before the Patriots' season opener.

      They also agreed not to pursue a preliminary judgment before the final outcome in the case and to file all paperwork by Aug. 14.

      Jeffrey Kessler, Brady's lead lawyer, said both sides agreed "to a final resolution of this matter prior to the commencement of the 2015 regular season would be in everyone's best interest."

      The union did not request a court order allowing Brady to play before a decision is handed down. Judge Richard M. Berman was assigned the case after a federal judge in Minnesota transferred it to New York.

      ---Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith named Jameis Winston as the team's starting quarterback

      Winston, the first overall pick in this year's draft, will work with the first team when the Bucs begin training camp Saturday.

      "Jameis Winston will be our starting quarterback," Smith told reporters Friday. "He'll take first reps tomorrow. We're excited about that."

      Winston got some first-team work during the offseason workouts and third-year pro Mike Glennon often worked with the starters.

      "I would never put a guy in that position if he wasn't ready for that," Smith said of Winston. "A lot has been said about Jameis and mentors. Jameis doesn't need a mentor. Jameis is ready to take the reins and go with it."

      ---The Buccaneers placed wide receiver Louis Murphy on the active/non-football injury list and defensive tackle Akeem Spence on the active/physically unable to perform list.

      Murphy played in 11 games (three starts) last season and had 31 receptions for 380 yards and two touchdowns. He injured his ankle in a mishap that occurred away from team activities.

      Spence played in 16 games in 2014, making 27 tackles and three sacks. He will be held out due to a back ailment.

      ---Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams was added to the active roster after being on the active/non-football injury list for one day.

      Williams was cleared for the team's first practice of training camp on Friday morning at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, N.Y.

      In 2014, the 30-year-old Williams had 14.5 sacks in his third season with the Bills.

      ---The Arizona Cardinals signed cornerback Shaquille Richardson. The 6-foot, 194-pound Richardson was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of the University of Arizona.

  • Friday, July 31, 2015
    League, union, judge push for quick Brady outcome
    By The Sports Xchange

    The NFL and the players' union asked a U.S. District Court on Friday to expedite a resolution on an appeal by New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady of his four-game "Deflategate" suspension while the judge handling the case urged a settlement.

    • Both sides filed a joint letter proposing a ruling be made by Sept. 4 on Brady's lawsuit seeking to have the suspension rescinded. That date is six days before the Patriots' season opener.

      They also agreed not to pursue a preliminary judgment before the final outcome in the case and to file all paperwork by Aug. 14.

      Jeffrey Kessler, Brady's lead lawyer, said both sides agreed "to a final resolution of this matter prior to the commencement of the 2015 regular season would be in everyone's best interest."

      The union did not request a court order allowing Brady to play before a decision is handed down. U.S. District Court Judge Richard M. Berman was assigned the case after a federal judge in Minnesota transferred it to New York. He said he wants to avoid additional litigation that would allow the case to linger during the season.

      In an order filed later in the day, Berman asked the two sides to work together on an agreement and scheduled a meeting for Aug. 12 and one for Aug. 19. If no agreement is reached by then, oral arguments could begin at that point.

      "I request that you all engage in comprehensive, good-faith settlement discussions prior to the conference on August 12," Berman wrote.

      The NFL suspended Brady on May 11 for the first four games of this season after investigators determined that he likely had knowledge of footballs being deflated during the AFC Championship game in January against the Indianapolis Colts.

  • Friday, July 31, 2015
    Cardinals sign CB Richardson
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Arizona Cardinals signed cornerback Shaquille Richardson to a contract Friday.

    • The 6-foot, 194-pound Richardson was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of the University of Arizona. He spent the first part of last season on Pittsburgh's practice squad before being released on Oct. 15. He signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in February but was released on April 21.

      Richardson played in 49 college games (37 starts) in four seasons for the Wildcats, collecting 189 tackles, 10 interceptions and 30 passes defensed.

  • Friday, July 31, 2015
    Bucs name Winston starting quarterback
    By The Sports Xchange

    TAMPA, Fla. -- In something less than shocking news, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith announced Friday that Jameis Winston will be the starting quarterback and take snaps with the first team when practice begins Saturday.

    • "Jameis Winston will be our starting quarterback," Smith said shortly after players reported to training camp Friday. "He'll take first reps tomorrow. We're excited about that."

      They should be excited. Winston was the top pick of the 2015 draft. Still, Smith did his best to make it sound like a difficult decision.

      "A lot of things go into that," he claimed, referring to announcing Winston as the starter. "We've had a lot of evaluation of him. It's where we feel like he is and we brought him here to be our quarterback. We feel like he's ready to take this next step."

      The Bucs refused to hand the job to Winston in the offseason, making him split first-team repetitions with third-year pro Mike Glennon. But after a 2-14 season, there was a reason that Smith and general manager Jason Licht targeted Winston as the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

      Winston was a prodigious talent at Florida State, leading the Seminoles to an undefeated season and national championship while winning the Heisman Trophy as a redshirt freshman two years ago. He lost only one game during his collegiate career.

      However, Winston was one of the most polarizing players in the draft because of his off-field issues in college, including stealing soda at Burger King, participating in a BB gun fight in which Seminoles players shot out more than $4,000 worth of windows, shoplifting crab legs at Publix, getting suspended for a game after standing on a table at the student union and shouting a vulgar phrase, being sued over a sexual assault allegation and countersuing for defamation.

      But so far with the Bucs, Winston minimized doubts about his ability to make the transition to the pro game at 21 years old. He has picked up the offense quickly.

      Smith said he believes Winston is ready for the rigors of being in the spotlight as an NFL quarterback and the scrutiny that comes with it.

      "A lot has been said about Jameis and mentors and things like that," Smith said. "Jameis doesn't need a mentor. Jameis is ready to take the reins and go with it. The mental part, the physical part, and just being a quarterback in the NFL and being able to take all the criticism that goes with that, he's ready for it.

      "I just know how I feel. I feel strongly about this. We feel like we've let Jameis go through the process of the offseason, getting limited reps, working with both groups. We put him in that position but eventually you have to put him in the lead position and let him go."

      Smith said he informed Winston of the decision but had not addressed the team about it Friday.

      "He was excited and ready to go," Smith said. "It's not like it was a total shock to him or anything like that. We brought him here to be our starting quarterback and he is."

      But Smith was quick to say the Bucs can't expect Winston to carry the team as a rookie.

      "A lot will be talked about the quarterback, but how we're perceived and how we do this season will be based on a lot more than just that," Smith said. "Offensively, we have to do some other things a lot better around the quarterback position, mainly running the football. Defensively, we have to start the season the way we finished up playing defense and that's playing a lot better defense than we did early on."

      Rookie quarterbacks, especially those drafted No. 1 overall such as the Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton and the Indianapolis Colts' Andrew Luck, have recently been thrust into starting roles in their first year with surprising success.

      In 2012, Luck went 11-5 and lost in the wild-card playoff. Robert Griffin III, who was picked No. 2 overall that season, led the Washington Redskins to a 10-6 record and NFC East title as a rookie in 2012. Russell Wilson, a third-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks the same year, went 11-5 before losing in the divisional playoffs.

      "They're being put into that role quicker, too," Smith said. "I've seen that from afar. I have had a rookie quarterback -- it's been a while ago but you still remember -- in Kyle Orton. For us, a lot of it was on the coaching staff to know when to give him a certain amount and we did that. What we did is we played great defense with a rookie quarterback, we had a great running game with him and we asked our quarterback to do more and more each week.

      "As I look at what Russell Wilson did ... at first he was asked to do a lot less than what he was a little bit later in the season. But that does not mean if we have 60 plays, we're going to run the ball 55 times. No. We expect our quarterback to function."

      But Smith cautioned that Winston has a lot of improvement to make during the preseason. The Bucs host the Tennessee Titans in the regular-season opener on Sept. 13. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, who was picked one spot behind Winston, has been named the Titans' starter.

      "We're not game-ready. We're not Tennessee-ready by any means at a lot of positions," Smith said. "But (Winston) needs to move into that role right now and we all feel good about him going there."

  • Friday, July 31, 2015
    Redskins sign OLB Galette to one-year deal
    By The Sports Xchange

    Outside linebacker Junior Galette signed a one-year contract with the Washington Redskins on Friday after being released by the New Orleans Saints because of off-field problems.

    • Galette's agent, lvin Keels, said via Twitter on Friday:

      "Junior Galette will sign a 1 year deal with the Washington Redskins today. Junior is grateful for the second chance he is being afforded by the Redskins and is looking forward to not only producing on the field but also to display the veteran leadership in the locker room.

      "The deal is for the league minimum. This deal isn't about the money. Junior feels that he has a lot to prove both on and off of the field."

      Galette was cut Monday by the Saints following the release of a 2013 video that appears to show a physical altercation on a beach between Galette and a woman that involves a belt.

      Galette was released after posting 22 sacks the past two seasons with the Saints. The parting led to a tirade from Galette that will prompt further character questions from the Redskins.

      The NFL has talked to Galette about his arrest in January for domestic simple battery, and the league is now investigating the 2013 video of the scuffle in South Beach, Fla.

      ''Obviously, he's had some issues in the past," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said Thursday before the first practice of training camp. "But we like to draw our own conclusions about every individual that we bring into this building. And we'll go from there. It's very early right now. I haven't had a chance to talk to him at all. So until I do, I won't draw any conclusions on what's happened to him in the past.''

      The 6-foot-2, 258-pound Galette originally entered the NFL as a college free agent with the Saints in April 2010. He spent five seasons with the Saints, appearing in 64 regular-season games with 30 starts. For his career, Galette has recorded 122 tackles, including 34 tackles for loss and 31.5 sacks. He has registered five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

      The 27-year-old Galette, who had 10 sacks in 2013 and collected a career-high 12 last season, will cost the Saints $5.45 million in salary-cap space in 2015 and force the team to count $12 million in dead money next season after team officials grew tired of his off-field behavior and sent him packing.

      The Redskins are trying to find an effective pass rusher opposite outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan.

      The team also waived linebacker Ja'Gared Davis from its non-football injury list. Davis spent time on Washington's practice squad last season.

  • Friday, July 31, 2015
    Redskins CB Breeland suspended one game
    By The Sports Xchange

    Washington Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland was suspended by the NFL for one game that is related to his citation last summer for marijuana possession.

    • Breeland "has been suspended without pay for the first game of the 2015 regular season for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse," the league said in a statement Friday.

      Breeland will miss the Redskins' season opener against the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 13. He will be eligible to return to the Redskins' active roster on Sept. 14. He is eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games.

      Breeland, who was a fourth-round pick last year, started 15 games during his rookie season and had 67 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.

      Breeland, 23, was cited for possession of marijuana in August 2014 on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. The incident took place the night before the Redskins left Richmond at the completion of training camp.

  • Friday, July 31, 2015
    Bills DE Williams cleared for practice
    By The Sports Xchange

    Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams was added to the active roster Friday after being on the active/non-football injury list for one day.

    • Williams was cleared for the team's first practice of training camp on Friday morning at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, N.Y.

      In 2014, the 30-year-old Williams had 14.5 sacks in his third season with the Bills.

  • Friday, July 31, 2015
    Seahawks QB Wilson signs four-year, $87.6M extension
    By The Sports Xchange

    RENTON, Wash. -- The Seattle Seahawks signed quarterback Russell Wilson to a four-year contract extension Friday, making him the second-highest paid player in the NFL.

    • According to reports, the deal is worth $87.6 million and includes a $31 million signing bonus with $60 million in guarantees.

      Wilson was scheduled to make $1.54 million this season, the fourth and final year of his rookie contract. Peter King of TheMMQB.com first reported the news before the team announced the signing later Friday.

      Wilson took to Twitter to comment on the deal.

      "Blessed to be w/ this organization for 4 more years! Can't wait to get on field w/ the fellas! @Seahawks #ChampionshipMindset," Wilson tweeted.

      The agreement ends an offseason of back-and-forth between both sides.

      The Seahawks' training camp got underway Friday morning, which reportedly was the deadline Wilson gave the team to work out a new deal this year.

      "I didn't think it was personal. I knew it was business. At the end of the day, I'm happy to be a Seahawk," Wilson said Friday. "I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. It's a blessing to be here on a championship-type team and the goal is to win the Super Bowl this year.

      "My focus the whole time has pretty much been on getting ready for the season. You know, I've been excited about that, just to play football again. Ultimately, no matter how much I make, down the road or in the past, or whatever, it's always been about the game and trying to get ready."

      The 26-year-old Wilson has led the Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. The deal will keep Wilson in Seattle though the 2019 season.

      Wilson's new-money average is $21.9 million and he will be the seventh quarterback to make more than $20 million per season. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers tops the list, earning $22 million a year.

      "It was imminent. It was coming the whole time," Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said Friday. "You know, we wanted to do it. It was his turn. It was a long process to get it done, but now that it's over, it's great."

      Wilson is coming off another strong season in which he completed 63.1 percent of his passes for 3,475 yards with 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also rushed for 849 yards and six touchdowns.

      Wilson was the Seahawks' third-round draft choice (75th overall) in the 2012 NFL Draft and has started all 48 games played, already owning more than 15 franchise records. A Pro Bowler in each of his first three seasons, Wilson has completed 794 of 1,252 attempts (63.4 percent) for 9,950 yards, with 72 touchdowns and 26 interceptions for a 98.6 passer rating. In the postseason, he has started all eight games, completing 123 of 202 passes (60.9 percent) for 1,820 yards, with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions for a 97.8 passer rating.

      Wilson's 36 wins (42 including postseason) are the most in NFL history in a quarterback's first three seasons and he became the third-youngest quarterback in NFL history to win the Super Bowl, leading the Seahawks to a 43-8 win over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, completing 18 of 25 passes for 206 yards, two touchdowns and a 123.1 passer rating.

      The Seahawks still have several contract situations to resolve, and remain in negotiations with middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal. Defensive lineman Michael Bennett and strong safety Kam Chancellor are also reportedly unhappy with their current contracts, but still have multiple years remaining on their deals. The Seahawks traditionally only renegotiate with players entering the final year of their contracts, although they broke from that stance with running back Marshawn Lynch last offseason.