National Football League
NFL News Wire
  • Wednesday, September 2, 2015
    DeBartolo was gold standard among owners
    By The Sports Xchange

    At a time when the NFL commissioner is in open warfare with the league's highest-profile player, a special committee of the Hall of Fame sent a reminder Wednesday of how the league operates best: as a partnership between management and players.

    • No manager in memory did that better than Eddie DeBartolo, the owner of the San Francisco 49ers during their glory days -- five Super Bowl championships and 10 NFC title game appearances in less than two decades -- and for that, the Hall's contributor selection committee made DeBartolo this year's nominee for Canton as a contributor to the game.

      DeBartolo still has to pass muster with the full selection committee, which, by fortuitous serendipity, will hold its meeting Feb. 6 in San Francisco, a day before Super Bowl 50 is played in the 49ers' stadium.

      This nomination is not just about winning, although that surely was the result of the way DeBartolo dealt with his team. It is about the attitude and the template he established, about how he respected his players as integral partners and not as serfs or chattel.

      Critics say DeBartolo bought his way to the top of the NFL by paying outrageous salaries, but that simplistic explanation -- it's all about money -- conveniently overlooks the fact the 49ers' first Super Bowl championship team was one of the lowest-paid in the league. Also, the players themselves never talked about how well they were paid but how well they were treated -- the flowers on anniversaries, the first-class travel and hotel and facilities, the concern DeBartolo had for them when they got injured.

      How many owners stand at the locker room door and hand out towels as players troop off the field? How many players get the owner's private plane to travel home after being knocked out of a road game and hospitalized like Joe Montana? How many players receive a lifetime annuity from the owner's own pocket after a career-ending injury, like Jeff Fuller?

      Long after players left the 49ers, they kept in touch with DeBartolo, so much so that he is one of seven men who have been chosen at least four times as Hall of Fame presenters. The other six -- Al Davis, Paul Brown, Tom Landry, Don Shula, Marv Levy and Hank Stram -- already are enshrined in Canton.

      What makes DeBartolo unusual in that role, however, is that the last player he presented at Canton, Charles Haley, was run out of San Francisco in the prime of his career because of his erratic behavior. Yet, even after winning three Super Bowl rings with Dallas, he chose DeBartolo to present him at the Hall of Fame last month.

      DeBartolo should sail through the February election. He has endorsements from opponents like Bill Parcells ("Tell me who did more") and Tony Dungy ("Changed the fact of ownership in the NFL"), from rival owners like Dallas' Jerry Jones, New England's Robert Kraft and Denver's Pat Bowlen, all of whom looked to the 49ers for advice when they first got into the league, and even from Washington, where Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the former mayor of San Francisco, credited DeBartolo for making the 49ers a unifying force in the city following the 1979 assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.

      The 49ers may not be a dominant team anymore, but it looks as if they will be giving their fans something to cheer on Super Bowl weekend, anyway.

      Ira Miller is an award-winning sportswriter who has covered the National Football League for more than four decades and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee. He is a national columnist for The Sports Xchange.

  • Wednesday, September 2, 2015
    Report: Rams and Chargers could team up in L.A.
    By The Sports Xchange

    NFL owners reportedly are considering the idea of the Rams and Chargers sharing a stadium in California and also consider the Jacksonville Jaguars the top option to replace the Rams in St. Louis.

    • The thought of the Rams pairing with the Chargers in Inglewood, Calif., is gaining momentum because some NFL owners don’t think the Raiders have the cash to make the move viable, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report reported Wednesday.

      Rams owner Stan Kroenke has been working on a $1.86 billion stadium plan in Inglewood, and Kroenke is willing to consider teaming up with the Chargers, Cole reported.

      But the Chargers apparently are not considering it yet. They have been working on a $1.7 billion stadium plan with the Raiders in Carson, Calif.

      NFL owners are pushing for at least one NFL franchise to be in Los Angeles by 2016, and the NFL is researching potential temporary venues.

      Kroenke's proposed stadium could be completed by 2018. No other project is expected to be done before that, meaning the 2016 and 2017 seasons would be played at another venue, such as Dodger Stadium or the Coliseum. The Rose Bowl has said it will not be an option.

      The cities of San Diego and St. Louis have been working on plans to try to keep their teams. Cole reported that the Jaguars are viewed as a possible replacement for the Rams.

      Meanwhile, the Raiders have rejected a plan by businessman Floyd Kephart, who is trying to redevelop the Oakland Coliseum complex and finance a new stadium, the Bay Area News Group reported.

      NFL owners are expected to meet again in October to discuss the Los Angeles issue.

  • Wednesday, September 2, 2015
    Report: Cardinals RB Chris Johnson will start Thursday
    By The Sports Xchange

    Running back Chris Johnson will start in the Arizona Cardinals' preseason finale on Thursday night, ESPN's Josina Anderson reported Wednesday.

    • Coach Bruce Arians said he wants Johnson to get 10-12 carries against the Denver Broncos. Rookie David Johnson also is expected to see a lot of playing time, with starter Andre Ellington not playing.

      Johnson, 29, had been out since shortly after signing Aug. 17 and missed the Cardinals' last two preseason games, against the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders.

  • Wednesday, September 2, 2015
    NFL notebook: Kraft calls Deflategate 'most overblown story'
    By The Sports Xchange

    New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft calls Deflategate the "most overblown story in recent NFL history."

    • The 74-year-old Kraft mentioned the scandal at Patriots Premiere, the team foundation's annual gala in Foxborough, Mass., on Tuesday night.

      "I spoke on behalf of the team and addressed the organization's position regarding, in my opinion, the most overblown story in recent NFL history," Kraft said.

      Quarterback Tom Brady, at the center of the saga, also was in attendance and spoke publicly for just the second time since the deflated-football controversy arose.

      Brady referenced Deflategate, joking, "Yeah, it's been such an enjoyable offseason."

      ---Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III turned to his faith in commenting for the first time since losing his starting job to Kirk Cousins.

      Griffin, who was benched to a backup role Monday, wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning: "Though we all face obstacles in life, I encourage you to lean on God throughout & remember his promise Jeremiah 29:11."

      During the team's kickoff luncheon Wednesday, Griffin was given the team's military service award for the second straight year. Griffin is the son of two U.S. Army sergeants.

      Griffin pledged that he will "be there" for his teammates.

      "In the military the one thing you have is your word and I gave my word to my teammates and the military that I will be there for them," Griffin said.

      ---Eddie DeBartolo Jr., former owner of the San Francisco 49ers, has been selected as a finalist for the Class of 2016, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced Wednesday.

      It is the fourth time in five years that DeBartolo has been a Hall of Fame finalist. He also was a finalist in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

      DeBartolo's five Super Bowl titles are the most by an owner in NFL history. Under DeBartolo's 23-year ownership (1977-2000), the 49ers won 13 division titles and had 16 straight 10-win seasons.

      ---New Orleans Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis isn't expected to be back in the lineup until at least October after undergoing hip surgery.

      NFL Network first reported Lewis injured his hip. Without their No. 1 cornerback, the Saints will need more from free-agent acquisition Brandon Browner.

      It also means CFL product Delvin Breaux could be a starter Week 1 in a secondary that has been pelted by injuries this summer.

      ---Indianapolis Colts defensive lineman Arthur Jones reportedly will require surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left ankle.

      Jones, 29, was injured against the St. Louis Rams last weekend and received several opinions on the ankle this week, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday.

      Jones signed a five-year, $33 million contract with the Colts last year but played in just nine games due to a high ankle sprain.

      ---A day after he was surprisingly released by the Cleveland Browns, defensive tackle Phil Taylor met with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

      The Steelers are among eight teams interested in the 2011 first-round pick, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported. The Sports Xchange confirmed the visit.

      Taylor, 27, had asked to be released by the Browns after first-round rookie Danny Shelton emerged as the starter at his position.

      ---Former Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson blames general manager Doug Whaley for releasing him following nine years with the team.

      Jackson thanked fans for their support on Tuesday but said Whaley wasn't honest with him. Whaley said Monday he spoke with owner Terry Pegula before making the decision and stressed at a brief press conference about the Jackson transaction that "everyone was on board."

      "He wasn't honest with me the entire time that I've known him," Jackson told the Buffalo News. "I have the utmost respect for the organization. There's only one person in that organization that I haven't gotten honesty from, and that was him."

      ---The Carolina Panthers signed quarterback Derek Anderson to a two-year contract extension.

      Anderson, 32, is now under contract with the Panthers through the 2017 season. Anderson is currently playing on a two-year, $2.6 million contract that he signed in March 2014. He is set to earn a base salary of $1.175 million this year.

      In his 11th NFL season, Anderson joined the Panthers prior to the 2011 season and has served as the team's primary backup quarterback to Cam Newton.

      ---The Chicago Bears acquired tight end Khari Lee in a trade with the Houston Texans for a 2017 sixth-round draft pick.

      The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Lee entered the NFL this season as an undrafted free agent out of Bowie State. Collegiately, Lee played in 40 games, compiling 107 receptions for 1,255 yards and four touchdowns.

      The Bears also waived tight end Blake Annen, who appeared in five games during his 2014 rookie season for Chicago.

      ---Lance Briggs, longtime linebacker for the Bears, said he is ready to call it quits.

      Briggs, 34, is a free agent, but he has decided to join CSN Chicago full time as an analyst for Bears games.

      Briggs was a seven-time Pro Bowl player in 12 seasons in Chicago. But he had played in just 17 games the past two years due to injuries. He finished as the No. 2 tackler in Bears history.

      "I'm really happy with my career and with the way it's gone," Briggs said on the Cubs broadcast. "I'm happy I can walk away healthy."

      ---Veteran NFL linebacker Larry Foote is retiring from playing and will remain as coach of the Arizona Cardinals' inside linebackers.

      Foote, 35, told ESPN on Wednesday that he has opted against playing a 14th season.

      Foote played in 187 games over 13 years for the Pittsburgh Steelers (2002-08 and 2010-13), Detroit Lions (2009) and Arizona (2014).

      ---Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, released by the Cardinals earlier this week, signed with the Oakland Raiders on Wednesday.

      The Raiders waived linebacker Horace Miller to accommodate Alexander on the 75-man roster.

      Alexander, 32, had played the past two years for Arizona. He made 13 tackles and a sack in 16 games last season. The Cardinals cut him Tuesday.

      ---The New England Patriots claimed wide receiver DaVaris Daniels off waivers from the Minnesota Vikings.

      Daniels, 22, was originally signed by Minnesota as a rookie free agent out of Notre Dame on May 6. The 6-foot-1, 201-pounder was released by the Vikings on Sunday.

      Daniels didn't play in 2014 because of an investigation into academic misconduct at Notre Dame. He had 46 catches for 720 yards and seven touchdowns during the 2013 season and had one catch for the Vikings in the preseason.

      ---The New York Giants re-signed kicker Chris Boswell to handle the kicking duties in the preseason finale.

      Boswell was in training camp with the team before he was waived on Aug. 16.

      Boswell will be the Giants' kicker on Thursday night against the New England Patriots in place of Josh Brown, who suffered a bruised leg two weeks ago when he made a tackle against Jacksonville.

      ---The Atlanta Falcons re-signed offensive lineman Eric Lefeld and waived wide receiver Bernard Reedy.

      The 6-foot-6, 310-pound Lefeld was signed by the Falcons as a college free agent following the 2015 NFL Draft. He was cut Sunday.

      The 5-9, 175-pound Reedy was signed by the Falcons as a college free agent out of Toledo following the 2014 draft. He spent the 2014 season on the Falcons' practice squad.

      ---The Minnesota Vikings placed quarterback Mike Kafka on season-ending injured reserve.

      The Vikings had waived Kafka, who had a hamstring injury, earlier this week as they cut their roster to 75 players.

      Kakfa, 28, was drafted in the fourth round by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010 but has not played in an NFL game since 2011. He has had brief stints with the New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Vikings signed him in April.

      ---Lawrence Phillips, a former first-round NFL running back, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of his cellmate at a California prison.

      Phillips, 40, is suspected of killing 37-year-old Damion Soward at Kern Valley State Prison in Delano, Calif., in April. Officials determined Soward was strangled.

      The Kern County district attorney's office said Phillips faces a first-degree murder charge. He will be arraigned Sept. 15 at Kern County Superior Court in Bakersfield but will not face the death penalty, prosecuting attorney Andrea Bridges told USA Today Sports on Tuesday.

  • Wednesday, September 2, 2015
    DT Taylor visits Steelers
    By The Sports Xchange

    A day after he was surprisingly released by the Cleveland Browns, defensive tackle Phil Taylor met with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Wednesday.

    • The Sports Xchange confirmed Taylor's visit to Pittsburgh. The Steelers are among eight teams interested in the 2011 first-round pick, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported.

      Taylor, 27, asked to be released by the Browns after first-round rookie Danny Shelton emerged as the starter at his position.

      The Browns will owe Taylor $5.48 million because they picked up his fifth-year option last year and he was on the roster when the salary became fully guaranteed in March.

      He has missed 20 games in his four-year career. He had two knee surgeries last season and played in just five games.

      The rehab limited Taylor in the spring and in preseason camp, but he saw his first action in 10 months on Saturday night in a preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

  • Wednesday, September 2, 2015
    Vikings put QB Kafka on IR
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Minnesota Vikings placed quarterback Mike Kafka on season-ending injured reserve Wednesday.

    • The Vikings had waived Kafka, who had a hamstring injury, earlier this week as they cut their roster to 75 players.

      Kakfa, 28, was drafted in the fourth round by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010 but has not played in an NFL game since 2011. He has had brief stints with the New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Vikings signed him in April.

  • Wednesday, September 2, 2015
    Report: Colts DL Jones will have ankle surgery
    By The Sports Xchange

    Indianapolis Colts defensive lineman Arthur Jones reportedly will require surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left ankle.

    • Jones, 29, was injured against the St. Louis Rams last weekend and received several opinions on the ankle this week, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday.

      Jones is expected to be placed on injured reserve, which would mean he is out for at least half the season.

      Jones signed a five-year, $33 million contract with the Colts last year but played in just nine games due to a high ankle sprain.

  • Wednesday, September 2, 2015
    Ex-LB Foote will remain Cardinals assistant
    By The Sports Xchange

    Veteran NFL linebacker Larry Foote is retiring from playing and will remain as coach of the Arizona Cardinals' inside linebackers.

    • Foote, 35, told ESPN on Wednesday that he has opted against playing a 14th season.

      Foote played in 187 games over 13 years for the Pittsburgh Steelers (2002-08 and 2010-13), Detroit Lions (2009) and Arizona (2014).

      He was part of the Steelers' champions in Super Bowl XL and Super Bowl XLIII.

      He finished his career with 788 tackles, 25 sacks, four interceptions, 10 forced fumbles and nine fumble recoveries.

  • Wednesday, September 2, 2015
    LB Alexander signs with Raiders
    By The Sports Xchange

    Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, released by the Arizona Cardinals earlier this week, signed with the Oakland Raiders on Wednesday.

    • The Raiders waived linebacker Horace Miller to accommodate Alexander on the 75-man roster.

      Alexander, 32, had played the past two years for Arizona. He made 13 tackles and a sack in 16 games last season. The Cardinals cut him Tuesday.

      Alexander spent his first six seasons with the Washington Redskins, earning a Pro Bowl berth in 2012 for his special-teams work.

  • Wednesday, September 2, 2015
    Ex-Bears LB Briggs to retire
    By The Sports Xchange

    Lance Briggs, longtime linebacker for the Chicago Bears, said Wednesday that he is ready to call it quits.

    • Briggs, 34, is a free agent, but he has decided to join CSN Chicago full time as an analyst for Bears games.

      "I haven't filed my papers yet, but I'm ready to get behind the camera," Briggs said Wednesday during an appearance on a Cubs broadcast. "Now if somebody called me and said, 'Hey Lance, we'd like you to come play football,' I'm going to say I'm happily retired. If they say, 'Hey Lance, we're going to offer you this,' I'm going to say, 'There's a good chance you've got a new football player.'"

      Briggs was a seven-time Pro Bowl player in 12 seasons in Chicago. But he had played in just 17 games the past two years due to injuries. He finished as the No. 2 tackler in Bears history.

      "I'm really happy with my career and with the way it's gone," Briggs said on the Cubs broadcast. "I'm happy I can walk away healthy."

  • Wednesday, September 2, 2015
    Falcons re-sign OL Lefeld, waive WR Reedy
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Atlanta Falcons re-signed offensive lineman Eric Lefeld on Wednesday and waived wide receiver Bernard Reedy.

    • The 6-foot-6, 310-pound Lefeld was signed by the Falcons as a college free agent following the 2015 NFL Draft out of Cincinnati. He was cut Sunday.

      Lefeld was named to the Outland Trophy watch list in 2013 and 2014, and earned first-team All-Big East honors as a sophomore in 2012.

      The 5-9, 175-pound Reedy was signed by the Falcons as a college free agent out of Toledo following the 2014 draft. He spent the 2014 season on the Falcons' practice squad.

  • Wednesday, September 2, 2015
    DeBartolo a Hall of Fame finalist again
    By The Sports Xchange

    Eddie DeBartolo Jr., former owner of the San Francisco 49ers, has been selected as a finalist for the Class of 2016, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced Wednesday.

    • It is the fourth time in five years that DeBartolo has been a Hall of Fame finalist. He also was a finalist in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

      DeBartolo's five Super Bowl titles are the most by an owner in NFL history. Under DeBartolo's 23-year ownership (1977-2000), the 49ers won 13 division titles and had 16 straight 10-win seasons.

      DeBartolo has plenty of experience at Hall of Fame ceremonies, having presented five of the franchise's stars for induction: Fred Dean, Joe Montana, Bill Walsh, Jerry Rice and Charles Haley.

      The four other people who have presented at least five Hall of Famers also are in the Hall of Fame themselves: Al Davis (presented nine), Paul Brown (six), Tom Landry (five) and Don Shula (five).

      DeBartolo will need 80 percent of the vote from the Hall committee to be elected. Voting will take place Feb. 6, the day before Super Bowl 50, in the San Francisco area.

  • Wednesday, September 2, 2015
    Bears acquire TE Lee from Texans
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Chicago Bears acquired tight end Khari Lee in a trade with the Houston Texans on Wednesday for a 2017 sixth-round draft pick.

    • The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Lee entered the NFL this season as an undrafted free agent out of Bowie State. Collegiately, Lee played in 40 games, compiling 107 receptions for 1,255 yards and four touchdowns.

      Lee made five catches for 71 yards in Houston's three preseason games.

      The Bears also waived tight end Blake Annen, who appeared in five games during his 2014 rookie season for Chicago. He had no receptions.

  • Wednesday, September 2, 2015
    Panthers sign QB Anderson to two-year extension
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Carolina Panthers signed quarterback Derek Anderson to a two-year contract extension Wednesday.

    • Anderson, 32, is now under contract with the Panthers through the 2017 season. Anderson is currently playing on a two-year, $2.6 million contract that he signed in March 2014. He is set to earn a base salary of $1.175 million this year.

      "I'm excited about this for my family. To be here with the players, coaches and management we have -- everything is top notch," Anderson said in statement released by the Panthers. "It was a no-brainer for me."

      In his 11th NFL season, Anderson joined the Panthers as a free agent prior to the 2011 season and has served as the team's primary backup quarterback to Cam Newton.

      In 2014, Anderson started two games for an injured Newton, leading the Panthers to victories in those games, both against Tampa Bay. In the two starts, Anderson produced a 99.3 passer rating, completing 49 of 74 passes for 507 yards and three touchdowns. He finished the season with 701 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions on 65-of-97 passing for a 105.2 passer rating.

      "Derek adds stability to the quarterback position as the backup, and we have tremendous confidence in him," head coach Ron Rivera said. "His experience and veteran leadership has been important in the quarterbacks room and with the coaches. We're securing a veteran player who has been a big part of what we're building."

      A Pro Bowl selection in 2007 with the Cleveland Browns when he threw for 3,787 yards and 29 touchdowns, Anderson has played in 59 career NFL games with 43 starts. He has career totals of 9,907 yards and 58 touchdowns with 55 interceptions on 825-of-1,537 passing for a 71.3 passer rating. He has played for Baltimore (2005), Cleveland (2005-09), Arizona (2010) and Carolina.

  • Wednesday, September 2, 2015
    Giants re-sign K Boswell
    By The Sports Xchange

    The New York Giants re-signed kicker Chris Boswell on Wednesday to handle the kicking duties in the preseason finale.

    • Boswell was in training camp with the team before he was waived on Aug. 16.

      Boswell will be the Giants' kicker on Thursday night against the New England Patriots in place of Josh Brown, who suffered a bruised leg two weeks ago when he made a tackle against Jacksonville.

      The Giants had an available spot after on the 75-man roster after trimming their roster to 74 Tuesday. The roster must be cut to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET Saturday.

  • Wednesday, September 2, 2015
    Kraft calls Deflategate 'most overblown story'
    By The Sports Xchange

    New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, addressing a charity function Tuesday night at Gillette Stadium, calls Deflategate the "most overblown story in recent NFL history."

    • The 74-year-old Kraft mentioned the scandal at Patriots Premiere, the team foundation's annual gala in Foxborough, Mass.

      "I spoke on behalf of the team and addressed the organization's position regarding, in my opinion, the most overblown story in recent NFL history," Kraft said.

      Quarterback Tom Brady, at the center of the saga, also was in attendance and spoke publicly for just the second time since the deflated-football controversy arose.

      Brady referenced Deflategate, joking, "Yeah, it's been such an enjoyable offseason."

      After leading the Patriots to the Super Bowl championship in February, Brady spoke May 7 at a Salem (Mass.) State College, his only comments prior to Tuesday night.

      Brady lauded his co-workers Tuesday, saying, "The commitment the players make, and the commitment the coaches make to try to establish such a high level of play year in and year out is something I've really learned from being here. I try to pass those things on to the next generation of great Patriot players, and sometimes they don't listen very well, but you just keep saying it -- just like I tell my kids -- and you have to repeat it over and over and over again and hopefully maybe it sinks in."

      Brady is awaiting word from U.S. District Court Judge Richard M. Berman in New York federal court on the appeal of his four-game suspension by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The NFL ruled that Brady conspired with tampering the footballs used in New England's AFC Championship Game win over the Indianapolis Colts in January.

      On Monday, Berman said "the court anticipates issuing its Decision and Order by the end of the week."

      Brady is expected to appeal any suspension through a court injunction through the second circuit. Brady could argue he would suffer irreparable harm by missing several games.

      Goodell said in his decision to uphold the four-game suspension after hearing Brady's appeal on June 23 that Brady intentionally destroyed a cell phone on or shortly after being asked for access to the device by NFL investigator Ted Wells. Goodell upheld the suspension on July 29, prompting Brady and the NFLPA to file suit in federal court.

      Kraft did not appeal the Patriots' $1 million fine and the loss of a first-round draft pick next year and a fourth-rounder in 2017 as part of the Deflategate penalties.

      Berman had pushed for a settlement in the dispute between Goodell and Brady, saying it would be "rational and logical."

      The NFLPA and Brady had asked the judge to void the suspension. At a court hearing last month, Berman told the NFL there was precedent for judges to toss out penalties issued by arbitrators.

      With the ruling by Goodell, Brady is slated to miss the Patriots' first four regular-season games: the Sept. 10 home opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sept. 20 at the Buffalo Bills and Sept. 27 at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars. After a Week 4 bye, the Patriots visit the Dallas Cowboys on Oct 11. Second-year quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would start in place of Brady.

      Brady would be eligible to return in Week 6 at Indianapolis in a Sunday night game against the team that helped pave the way for the investigation.

      After routing the Colts 45-7 to advance to the Super Bowl, the Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 to win their fourth title.

      Patriots coach Bill Belichick also talked at the charity gala Tuesday night but in his usual coach-speak.

      "There's room for improvement," Belichick said. "For all of us."

  • Wednesday, September 2, 2015
    Saints CB Lewis out 4-6 weeks
    By The Sports Xchange

    New Orleans Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis isn't expected to be back in the lineup until at least October after undergoing hip surgery.

    • NFL Network first reported Lewis injured his hip. Without their No. 1 cornerback, the Saints will need more from free-agent acquisition Brandon Browner.

      It also means CFL product Delvin Breaux could be a starter Week 1 in a secondary that has been pelted by injuries this summer.

      Browner hurt his knee the first week of the preseason. Strong safety Kenny Vaccaro didn't play last week against the Texans because of injury and free safety Jairus Byrd, who missed the final 12 games of 2014, remains on the physically unable to perform list.

  • Wednesday, September 2, 2015
    Ex-NFL RB Phillips charged with killing cellmate
    By The Sports Xchange

    Lawrence Phillips, a former first-round NFL running back, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of his cellmate at a California prison.

    • Phillips, 40, is suspected of killing 37-year-old Damion Soward at Kern Valley State Prison in Delano, Calif., in April. Officials determined Soward was strangled.

      The Kern County district attorney's office said Phillips faces a first-degree murder charge. He will be arraigned Sept 15 at Kern County Superior Court in Bakersfield, but will not face the death penalty, prosecuting attorney Andrea Bridges told USA Today Sports on Tuesday.

      Phillips was a star running back at Nebraska who was drafted sixth overall in 1996 by the St. Louis Rams. He became more known for failed second chances after many legal run-ins at Nebraska and in the NFL.

      Phillips played in just 23 games over four years with the Rams, Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers, never living up to his supposed on-field promise and continuing his destructive off-field behavior, which included several charges of domestic violence.

      Phillips is currently serving a sentence of more than 31 years. He is eligible for release in 2032 for the 2006 conviction of running his car into a group of teenagers and the 2009 conviction for assaulting an ex-girlfriend.

  • Wednesday, September 2, 2015
    Redskins' RG3 keeps faith after benching
    By The Sports Xchange

    Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III turned to his faith in commenting for the first time since losing his starting job to Kirk Cousins.

    • Griffin, who was benched to a backup role Monday, wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning: "Though we all face obstacles in life, I encourage you to lean on God throughout & remember his promise Jeremiah 29:11."

      Griffin often refers to his faith on Twitter.

      After a neurologist reversed course and failed to clear him for last Saturday night's preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens, Griffin tweeted: "Trusting in God even when I don't understand why certain things happen. James 1:2-3 (NLT)."

      During the team's kickoff luncheon on Wednesday, Griffin was given the team's military service award for the second straight year. Griffin is the son of two U.S. Army sergeants.

      "The award means so much to me personally because the military has meant so much to my life," said Griffin, who received a standing ovation from fans and teammates. "I mean your country asks so much of you, they ask you to put your life on the line in times of danger, so I just want to thank you guys and salute you once again for everything you do for this great nation."

      Griffin pledged that he will "be there" for his teammates.

      "In the military the one thing you have is your word and I gave my word to my teammates and the military that I will be there for them," Griffin said.

      On Monday, coach Jay Gruden announced that Cousins won the job as the Redskins' starter.

      "We feel like at this time Kirk Cousins gives us the best chance to win," Gruden said after unseating Griffin, the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year who has struggled since tearing his right ACL and MCL in a January 2013 playoff loss to Seattle. "It's Kirk's team."

      Griffin was scheduled to start last Saturday in Baltimore, but he was scratched the previous day in the wake of a concussion suffered on Aug. 20 against the Detroit Lions. Griffin participated in non-contact drills on Monday but won't play Thursday in the preseason finale against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Cousins is expected to sit out that night, with Colt McCoy playing the entire game.

  • Wednesday, September 2, 2015
    Patriots claim WR Daniels off waivers
    By The Sports Xchange

    The New England Patriots claimed wide receiver DaVaris Daniels off waivers from the Minnesota Vikings.

    • Daniels, 22, was originally signed by Minnesota as a rookie free agent out of Notre Dame on May 6. The 6-foot-1, 201-pounder was released by the Vikings on Sunday.

      Daniels didn't play in 2014 because of an investigation into academic misconduct at Notre Dame. He had 46 catches for 720 yards and seven touchdowns during the 2013 season and had one catch for the Vikings in the preseason.

  • Wednesday, September 2, 2015
    Patriots QB Brady speaks publicly
    By The Sports Xchange

    Tom Brady, speaking publicly for just the second time since the deflated-football controversy arose, cut an upbeat figure at a charity function Tuesday in Foxborough, Mass.

    • Appearing at the annual preseason Patriot Premiere, the New England quarterback referenced Deflate-gate, joking, "Yeah, it's been such an enjoyable offseason."

      Brady is awaiting word from U.S. District Court Judge Richard M. Berman in New York on the appeal of his four-game suspension. The NFL ruled that he conspired with ballboys with tampering with the football used in New England's AFC Championship Game win over the Indianapolis Colts in January.

      After leading the Patriots to the Super Bowl championship in February, Brady spoke May 7 at a Salem (Mass.) State College, his only comments prior to Tuesday.

      Brady lauded his co-workers Tuesday, saying, "The commitment the players make, and the commitment the coaches make to try to establish such a high level of play year in and year out is something I've really learned from being here. I try to pass those things on to the next generation of great Patriot players, and sometimes they don't listen very well, but you just keep saying it -- just like I tell my kids -- and you have to repeat it over and over and over again and hopefully maybe it sinks in."

      Off the topic of football, Brady was asked about his preference for avocado ice cream, and he admitted to being a chocolate-chip cookie eater.

  • Wednesday, September 2, 2015
    Seahawks confident in their offensive line
    By The Sports Xchange

    RENTON, Wash. -- The Seattle Seahawks enter the final week of the preseason having solved -- in their own minds, at least -- one vexing problem: the offensive line.

    • The line was maybe the team's biggest question mark entering training camp and the Seahawks spent the first two weeks rotating a number of players at spots such as center and left guard.

      But after the third game of the preseason and entering the fourth Thursday against Oakland, Seattle coaches say they have settled on a quintet to carry them into the season.

      That fivesome consists of left tackle Russell Okung, left guard Justin Britt, center Drew Nowak, right guard J.R. Sweezy and right tackle Garry Gilliam.

      The Seahawks switched to that grouping after the first preseason game against Denver. The biggest move was that of Britt from starting right tackle to left guard, where the Seahawks needed a replacement for James Carpenter, who left in the offseason as a free agent and signed with the Jets.

      Nowak also became the starting center, moving ahead of Lemuel Jeanpierre, who had entered training camp as the presumed starter.

      "Yeah, I think this is really a good group of guys,'' said Seattle head coach Pete Carroll. "This is what we had hoped would happen, that they would come together and show something. I think we've seen enough signs that the foundation for a really good group is there, it's just going to continue to take time as they just grow together.''

      Nowak takes over for Max Unger, who was dealt to New Orleans as part of the trade that netted Seattle tight end Jimmy Graham, leaving only Sweezy and Okung as players who have ever started a game in the NFL at their current position.

      The Seahawks won't have much wiggle room to break in the line as they open the season at St. Louis against a Rams team that has one of the best front sevens in the NFL.

      The line hasn't looked overly impressive in the preseason, with the Seattle starting offense yet to score a touchdown. In 12 possessions, the starting offense has four field goals, seven punts and a lost fumble (that occurring against Denver when Britt, then at right tackle, was beaten by Von Miller for a sack and fumble caused of Russell Wilson).

      But Seattle offensive line coach Tom Cable said the line has made marked improvement the last two games.

      "I think we're kind of settled in as far as where we're going,'' Cable said. "I think we still need to get a feel for health and where the depth lies and how it all fits together. I feel like if we were playing tomorrow, that group would go out and play.

      "I think if anyone is really confident, it's probably me more than anybody because I see them every day, but I've seen what they've done the last two weeks, and we haven't been like that in weeks two and three in the preseason thus far, so pretty excited."

      The Seahawks have to hope Cable is right as the line has loomed as the one real uncertainty about the team entering the regular season.

      The offensive skill positions project to be as good or better than a year ago with Wilson and tailback Marshawn Lynch in the fold, and the addition of Graham.

      And the defense also could be as good as it's been, despite the head-scratching holdout of strong safety Kam Chancellor, with coaches saying the front seven could be faster than it has ever been, and cornerback Richard Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas back and healthy to lead the Legion of Boom.

      --The Seahawks got a visit on Tuesday from running back Fred Jackson,who was released the day before by the Buffalo Bills. But he did not immediately sign with the Seahawks waiting to see how Jackson did in his physical and also assessing whether they had the need for Jackson. Seattle grew more interested in Jackson after finding out that backup tailback Robert Turbin had suffered a high ankle sprain in Saturday's game at San Diego. Jackson played alongside Seattle starting tailback Marshawn Lynch in Buffalo for most of the 2007-10 seasons so the Seahawks don't have to worry about how Jackson would be received in the locker room. But Seattle also has seemed set at tailback with Turbin and Christine Michael behind Lynch.

      --Carroll said Turbin suffered "a significant'' ankle sprain, which in Carroll speak means Turbin could be out quite a while. But Carroll didn't say how long Turbin could be sidelined.

      --Free safety Earl Thomas is on track to be ready for the opener against the Rams but will not play against the Oakland Raiders in the final preseason game Thursday. Thomas practiced without restrictions Tuesday. "He's ready to go, so he'll come back next week,'' head coach Pete Carroll said of Thomas, who had surgery in February to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. "He'll have to play without (playing a preseason game), but he's worked so hard, he looks really fast, he's running great and moving well, I think he's going to be ready to go. As ready as we can get him at this point."

      --Strong safety Kam Chancellor remains holding out, with his absence reaching 33 days as of Tuesday. Head coach Pete Carroll said there was nothing new on the Chancellor front Tuesday, saying simply "uh, no''when asked if anything had changed.

  • Tuesday, September 1, 2015
    Raiders believe RT Howard can replace the injured Watson
    By The Sports Xchange

    ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders' run of good luck on the injury front ended with a familiar face in a Week 3 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

    • Menelik Watson, a second-round selection in 2013 and plagued by injuries his first two seasons, was lost to an Achilles tear that will end his season before it had a chance to begin.

      Watson had held off Austin Howard at right tackle and appeared to be cruising into the regular-season opener having won the job, hopefully validating the faith the Raiders had in making him a second-round draft pick.

      While attempting to pass block, Watson went down awkwardly, was helped to the sideline and was visibly upset after talking to the training staff. The Raiders have been tight-lipped regarding injury specifics under head coach Jack Del Rio, but Watson spilled the beans on his Twitter account.

      "Ruptured Achilles tendon. I will be back stronger than ever and that's a promise. Main thing is supporting the team right now," Watson tweeted.

      Del Rio called Watson's injury a "tough break" and said, "He was having a great camp for us. He'll bounce back but it's a big setback."

      Howard, who signed a five-year, $30 million contract with the Raiders in 2013 after playing right tackle with the Jets only to be moved to guard, was put back at right tackle by the new coaching staff.

      After Watson went down, Howard was beaten on a move by Arizona outside rusher Alex Okafor, who leveled quarterback Derek Carr.

      Del Rio expressed confidence in Howard's ability to take over. Other options include veteran Khalif Barnes, who has started at both tackle spots as a Raider and also inside at guard.

      Ideally, the Raiders would like to leave Barnes in that role and have Howard seize the day as a starter.

      "He's a pro," Del Rio said. "I mean, this guy's gotten better I feel throughout camp so he'll be called on for obviously a much bigger role. That might not have been if Menelik stayed healthy. That's part of why you have depth and competition. We'll count on him to play a big role for us."

      Howard looks forward for the chance to play, although he feels bad about the reason for it.

      "You never want to see a fellow teammate go down like that," Howard said. "We hope and pray for a quick recovery for him and just take it one day at a time."

      Howard thinks the time he spent at guard will help him in terms of being an all-around, versatile lineman.

      --Defensive end Khalil Mack erupted on a national stage -- albeit a preseason one -- in the Raiders' loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Mack had two sacks, several pressures and had analyst Cris Collinsworth nearly salivating at the microphone.

      "If I needed a yard, I run anywhere on planet earth other than at Khalil Mack," Collinsworth said.

      Mack, listed as a defensive end instead of at strong-side linebacker this year, isn't putting much stock into where he is announced.

      "We have a special group of guys," Mack said. "We have a solid group. Once we get together, once we put it all on display, it's going to be a special thing. You will see."

      Said free safety Charles Woodson: "Being able to play 16 games as a rookie, I think the game for him is already slowing down. This guy is only going to get better. He's only getting his feet wet right now. He is going to be a star."

      --Running back Trent Richardson will pocket $600,000 in bonus money after being cut by the Raiders in the move to 75 players. Richardson, the former No.3 pick in the NFL draft, also gets more than $3 million from Indianapolis this year.

      Richardson lost weight and came to the Raiders presumably feeling quicker, but the coaching staff never saw the explosion they were hoping for as backs on the depth chart such as Michael Dyer, Roy Helu Jr. and Taiwan Jones moved to the forefront. It didn't help that Jones is a key special teams player and that Richardson didn't fit in that area.

      Although lead back Latavaius Murray struggled against Arizona (a net of one yards on seven carries), Richardson was never able to mount a challenge at a position that was thought to be competitive. It didn't help that Richardson was late getting started in camp because of pneumonia.

      Richardson had 42 yards on 15 preseason carries, averaging 2.8 yards per attempt.

  • Tuesday, September 1, 2015
    Report: Jaguars TE Thomas to have surgery on finger
    By The Sports Xchange

    Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas received a second opinion on his injured finger and will undergo surgery on Wednesday to repair it, according to multiple reports.

    • Thomas, a two-time Pro Bowl selection who signed a five-year, $46 million contract with the Jaguars during the offseason as a free agent, could be sidelined for up to a month after the procedure.

      Dr. Richard Gelberman recommended surgery after Thomas traveled to St. Louis for an evaluation. Thomas sustained a stable fractue in his left hand during the opening quarter of the first preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers last month.

      The Jaguars are hopeful that Thomas could return for their Week 4 game against the Indianapolis Colts. The team initially thought Thomas could return for the season opener next week.

      Backup tight end Clay Harbor is expected to see increased playing time until Thomas' injury heals.

  • Tuesday, September 1, 2015
    NFL notebook: Barkley, Tebow compete for spot with Eagles
    By The Sports Xchange

    Matt Barkley and Tim Tebow are competing to be the third quarterback on the Philadelphia Eagles roster, with one more last chance coming in the Eagles' preseason finale on Thursday.

    • Barkley said he was informed he'll get the start Thursday against the Jets and Tebow is expected to play the second half.

      The NFL deadline to reduce rosters is Saturday at 4 p.m. ET and only one of the quarterbacks is expected to survive as the third-string quarterback behind Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez.

      There is a chance the Eagles won't keep either Tebow or Barkley, especially if head coach Chip Kelly sees a better option available as roster reductions are announced.

      --Head coach Mike Pettine said the Cleveland Browns are not sure when quarterback Johnny Manziel will be ready to throw again.

      Manziel is bothered by right elbow soreness, a condition Pettine said was also a challenge for Manziel at Texas A&M.

      Manziel said he consulted with renowned surgeon James Andrews as a reference in his rehabilitation. None of the doctors Manziel spoke to recommended surgery, he said.

      --The Pittsburgh Steelers restructured wide receiver Antonio Brown's contract to give him a pay bump this season, according to reports.

      The Steelers turned money from Brown's 2016 salary into a 2015 signing bonus that gives him a $2 million raise to $8 million. He will make $6.25 million in 2016 and $8.71 million in 2017.

      Brown signed a six-year, $43 million contract with the Steelers before the 2012 season.

      --New York Jets placed tight end Jace Amaro on injured reserve and announced he needed shoulder surgery to repair a torn torn labrum suffered in the preseason opener.

      Initially the injury was considered minor and Amaro said last week that it was improving.

      --Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb is expected to be able to play in the season opener against the Chicago Bears despite suffering a shoulder injury during the team's third preseason game.

      --Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III appeared to like a social media post calling for the "impeachment" of his boss, Daniel Snyder.

      From Griffin's account, the post was liked with a heart and later unliked, when Griffin claimed in his own post that, in fact, a social media intern had made the earlier click of support.

      --Case Keenum made enough of a case during the preseason to win the St. Louis Rams' backup quarterback job behind starter Nick Foles.

      --Running back Fred Jackson visited with Seattle Seahawks officials a day after being released by the Buffalo Bills.

      --The Oakland Raiders officially waived running back Trent Richardson among their moves to reduce their roster to the league-mandated 75 players.

      --Third-string quarterback Connor Shaw was placed on injured reserve by the Cleveland Browns. Shaw has surgery on his right thumb in August.

      --The Kansas City Chiefs placed quarterback Tyler Bray (torn ACL) on the non-football injury list.

      --The New England Patriots acquired return specialist Jalen Saunders from the New Orleans Saints. Saunders was unlikely to make the Saints' roster because of the emergence of Marcus Murphy.

      --The Atlanta Falcons announced that they have reached an injury settlement with guard Peter Konz. He suffered a torn ACL last October and is not completely recovered.

      --Quarterback Mike Kafka was waived/injured by the Minnesota Vikings, who reached the mandated 75-man roster limit with the transaction.

      --The Green Bay Packers officially placed wide receiver Jordy Nelson on injured reserve on Tuesday and made a number of other moves to get down to the 75-player roster limit. Nelson suffered a torn ACL in a preseason game and is out for the season.

      --The Miami Dolphins released running back Demitrius Bronson and punter Brandon Fields, who was a Pro Bowl selection in 2013.

      --The Buffalo Bills were awarded center Dalton Freeman and linebacker Kevin Reddick off waivers.

      --The Carolina Panthers placed second-year wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin on injured reserve.

      The Panthers acquired second-year wide receiver Kevin Norwood from the Seattle Seahawks on Monday to help increase depth.

      --The San Diego Chargers waived wide receiver Torrence Allen, cornerback Chris Davis, safety Gordon Hill and guard Melvin Meggs. Each was waived with an injury designation.

      -- The Arizona waived offensive tackle Rob Crisp. The 6-foot-7, 300-pound Crisp signed with the Cardinals as a rookie free agent on May 5.

      -- With backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen sidelined with a concussion, the Chicago Bears picked up another quarterback. The Bears claimed quarterback Zac Dysert, who was waived by the Denver Broncos on Monday.

      --Super Bowl Media Day has a new name and will be shifted from Tuesday, the typical day off for NFL players, to Monday night for Super Bowl 50 in February.

      The NFL announced Super Bowl Opening Night will take place Monday, Feb. 1, at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif.

      --Tennessee Titans scout C.O. Brocato died after a long battle with cancer.

      The 85-year old Brocato had spent 40 years with the organization as a scout, originally joining the franchise in 1975.