Vinny Testaverde Stars In New Heisman Trophy Commercial

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Raiders Waiting for Clive Walford to Make Impact

At this point of the summer, the Raiders were hoping that Clive Walford would have established himself as a key part of the offense.

The rookie tight end from Miami, touted by head coach Jack Del Rio as a “complete” tight end – capable of being a strong blocker as well as receiver – was projected by many to eventually win the team’s starting job.

Instead, Walford’s participation in practice and games has been stymied by what has been reported by ESPN as a hamstring strain.

That has left veteran Lee Smith – acquired from Buffalo – and Mychal Rivera as the team’s top two tight ends. Both have received plenty of work and look sharp.

Now, there is just one game remaining in the exhibition season, a Thursday night matchup in Seattle against the Seahawks, and roughly two weeks until Game 1 of the regular season, for Walford to make up for lost time.

Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave recently said that Walford’s missed practice and game time has been “significant.”

When Musgrave was asked if Walford would be ready for that season opener on Sept. 13 vs. the Bengals, he said, “That’s hard to answer.”

But Walford, a third-round draft choice, remains upbeat. This past Friday, he tweeted: “I’m good!!! No worries I’ll be ready.”

In the meantime, Smith – an outstanding blocker -- is now listed as the No. 1 tight end on the depth chart, and Rivera has picked up where he left off last season, catching four passes for 61 yards through three summer games.

The Raiders would love to get Walford into action this week in practice and a game, if he’s healthy. At 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, he was a terrific receiver with the Hurricanes, catching 44 passes his final season. But even when he returned for a couple of practices in mid-August, Walford admitted he wasn’t up to speed, and Del Rio limited his practice time to guard against injury.

But the Raiders are invested in Walford for the long term. So far, this is just considered a minor bump on his long road.

“The bottom line is to have your horses make it to the race,” Del Rio told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group in mid-August about Walford’s status. “I don’t try to win the Kentucky Derby on a donkey. So we’ll try and get our best guys to the finish line. It’s important for them to get the work, but it’s also important to have him healthy.”

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Vince Wilfork's overall-wearing scene in 'Hard Knocks' can't be unseen

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Seantrel Henderson will start at right tackle

Orchard Park, N.Y. — Seantrel Henderson never had a doubt.

Once he was demoted to the third team during minicamp, the Buffalo Bills' offensive tackle knew he had to change something if he was going to take back the starting right tackle job he held down for his entire rookie season. So he went back home to Minnesota before training camp, set up a schedule and stuck with it.

He showed up to camp in shape, passed his conditioning test and quickly overtook Cyrus Kouandjio at right tackle. On Tuesday, Rex Ryan named him the starter at the position for the regular season.

"I just proved I can do this every day," Henderson said. "This is my job now. You know, just coming out of college last year I didn't really know what to expect. Now I am one year in, I know exactly what I got to do now. Now I am just ready to go."

Ryan said all Henderson had to do was decide he wanted the job and prove it with his play. The new coaching staff never questioned Henderson's ability, they just needed to give him a kick in the pants.

The message was received, and Henderson is the final piece of the starting offensive line.

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Jimmy Gaines released by Bills

The Buffalo Bills released linebacker Jimmy Gaines, a Buffalo native and Canisius High School graduate, and also designated offensive tackle Tyson Chandler as waived/injured Tuesday.

The two moves were required to make room on the 75-man roster for center Dalton Freeman and linebacker Kevin Reddick.

Freeman was claimed off waivers from the New York Jets. The 6-foot-5, 291-pound Clemson product played in all 16 games under Ryan last season in New York.

Reddick comes to the Bills off waivers from the Carolina Panthers. The 6-1, 240-pounder has played in 21 career games over two seasons, spending time with New Orleans, Carolina and San Diego. In those games, he’s made 12 special teams tackles. Reddick played in college for North Carolina.

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Travis Benjamin’s offseason a big reason why he’s thrived in preseason

If he gets a few moments before Thursday’s kickoff, Travis Benjaminicon-article-link might drop by to the other side of field to pay Chicago punter Pat O’Donnell a visit.

O’Donnell is among those Benjamin can thank for the way he blazed through August as a standout at wide receiver and on punt returns.

Still recovering from the serious knee injury he suffered to end 2013, Benjamin wasn’t able to field punts during his downtime before the 2014 season. Fully healed and ready to prove himself on a roster that added plenty of new options at wide receiver and punt returner, Benjamin worked with O’Donnell, a fellow University of Miami grad, throughout the months leading into training camp.

As Saturday’s 53-yard punt return for a touchdown showed, whatever Benjamin did to prepare for 2015 was exactly what the Browns wanted.

“That’s much like the Travis of old,” Browns coach Mike Pettine said. “We talked about the knee and how it is going to take that extra time to get back but I think we are seeing the results with it being two years out.”

The results have gone beyond punt returner, a position he fended off the likes of Taylor Gabrielicon-article-link and Shane Wynn to win the job. Benjamin is also the Browns leading receiver in the preseason with seven catches for 55 yards and a touchdown, a direct reflection of what he’s shown not only on the practice field since Day 1 of training camp but also the fields in Coral Gables, Florida.

“My plan was to come back to camp full ready to go and put my best foot forward on the field and come out and have the best possible outcome I could,” Benjamin said.

Benjamin didn’t miss a game last season, but both he and Pettine are quick to admit he wasn’t the same. The fourth-year wide receiver said he was so focused on staying healthy that it led to indecisiveness, especially on punt returns. Benjamin lost his job for a stretch and finished the season with an average of 8.5 yards per return, down from the 11.7 he had in 2013 before the injury.

A peculiar play served as the one when Benjamin knew he was back to 100 percent.

Benjamin was unable to field and return a punt in Cleveland’s preseason opener, so he was hungry to test out the knee -- no matter what. Standing inside the 20-yard line during the first quarter, Benjamin drifted back, and back, and back before he fielded the punt at the 2-yard line -- a no-no in most situations. He made a move, darted to the sidelines and gained 17 yards.

“I actually told (special teams coordinator Chris Tabor) I got to get one,” Benjamin said. “I wouldn't go into the third preseason game knowing I hadn't gotten a return yet. I just wanted to put something on tape. I came to the sidelines and I explained it to Tabes and we were on the same page.”

Benjamin’s rapport with quarterback Josh McCownicon-article-link has been strong since the start of training camp, as the two have connected on a number of passes at practice to go along with the in-game production. He came to training camp better prepared, too, as he added five pounds of muscle, absorbed himself in offensive coordinator John DeFilippo’s playbook and focused on attacking the ball rather than letting it come to him.

On top of his 55 receiving yards, Benjamin helped the Browns move 35 more in the preseason opener when he induced a pass interference call on a deep ball from McCown. It’s one of the many plays that have contributed to Benjamin’s growing confidence.

“From receiver, from a special teams standpoint, whenever they want No. 11 on the field, I'll put my best foot forward,” Benjamin said. “As long as I keep that edge of getting open and running my routes and getting the right depth and putting speed on film, it will be a great season for me.”

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Andrew Luck: Reggie Wayne is no traitor

Some Indianapolis Colts fans are not happy Reggie Wayne signed with the New England Patriots.

"Anywhere but there!" some bellowed and moaned on social media following his one-year pact with the conference rival.

There has been a lot said locally about the long-time Colt since he made the decision to join Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Indianapolis Star columnist Gregg Doyle even penned a piece titled: "Reggie Wayne - Patriot or traitor?"

When asked Tuesday about the local coverage of Wayne on the Rich Eisen Show, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck dismissed the idea that the receiver is anything close to a traitor.

"There's a lot of things said and written about a lot of people," Luck said. "But Reggie will always be one of the great Colts in my mind and a great, great teammate. You can't control what people write. It doesn't really matter what's fair, I think, and not fair necessarily as a player. But I know Reg is no traitor to me at all."

Of course he's not a traitor. After sitting out nearly all of the offseason after not being re-signed by the Colts after 14 years, the Pats were his first whiff of real interest. What was he to say? "Nah, I can't sign there, it might upset the team that decided it didn't want me?"

Above all, the NFL is a business, even if we as fans sometimes think it more.

As Eisen pointed out, it's just as weird seeing Andre Johnson in a Colts' uniform and Wayne in a Pats', but neither is anything close to a traitor.

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Calais Campbell's appearance on NFL Rank top 100 shows progress, respect

It's been a year of progress for Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell.

First, he made the Pro Bowl in January.

Then he was rated among the top 100 players in the league by ESPN.

Campbell was ranked 78th (81.20) on the list, which was revealed Tuesday, and was the second Cardinal to appear on the list. Cornerback Patrick Peterson was 49th (84.85). Campbell was the seventh defensive end named to the list, but he should've been higher. He's not yet better than Houston's J.J. Watt (No. 1 -- 98.87) or Buffalo's Mario Williams (No. 46 -- 84.93), but Campbell's size and length makes him a better defensive end than New York's Muhammad Wilkerson (No. 50 -- 84.65), Miami's Cameron Wake (No. 51 -- 84.54), Seattle's Michael Bennett (No. 60 -- 83.13) and New York's Sheldon Richardson (No. 61 -- 83.04).

There were 71 total voters, including ESPN analysts, Insiders, reporters, and Stats & Info NFL experts, as well as partner sites including Pro Football Focus and Football Outsiders.

Campbell doesn't play for a team that attracts the limelight like the Jets or the Dolphins, or hasn't had the success of the Seahawks. But he's quietly become a defensive factor that has teams double-teaming and planning against him because he's 6-foot-8 and has the quickness of an outside linebacker.

At No. 49, Peterson appears low but he's the fourth cornerback on the list behind Seattle's Richard Sherman (No. 8 -- 93.31), New York's Darrelle Revis (No. 9 -- 93.24) and Cleveland's Joe Haden (No. 42 -- 85.46). Depending on the day, Peterson could -- and should -- be ranked higher than Haden.

Trimmer, slimmer and intent on proving he's better than his 2014 stats show, Peterson is poised to have a better year than he did last season.

But with a slew of young talent, the Cardinals are also poised to have more names on the list next season.

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Ereck Flowers enjoying a strong preseason as run blocker

The New York Giants were forced to throw rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers right into the action when incumbent starting left tackle Will Beatty tore his pectoral muscle in May. Flowers took over left tackle immediately and hasn't looked back since. 

Flowers is running with the first team offense and often the second team offense as well. This kind of usage gives him more repetitions and it gives the Giants a better look at what he can bring the table. He has worked with both units throughout training camp practices and for most of the preseason action.

Flowers has been a very strong run blocker throughout all three games. He has earned positive grades from Pro Football Focus while paving the way for some big runs off the left end. The Giants have found their most success this preseason running off the left end. According to Pro Football Focus, the Giants have ran the ball for 34 yards on five attempts of the left end -- averaging 6.8 yards per carry. 

It's not all good news for Flowers. Through the first three preseason games, Flowers has struggled a bit in pass protection. In the third preseason game against the Jets, Flowers allowed a sack and a quarterback hit on just 22 pass blocking snaps, per Pro Football Focus. Over the course of the preseason, he has allowed two additional quarterback hits and one hurry.

Flowers will look to improve in pass protection and continue more of the same in the run game. If he can clean up some of his issues and keep Manning upright, he could make a major impact for this offense in 2015.

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Jon Beason optimistic about playing Week 1

When New York Giants linebacker Jon Beason injured his knee earlier in the preseason, he had three weeks to get ready for the season opener. At the time, he claimed he would be good to go for Week 1, but based on his injury history, there was reason to be skeptical. It's beginning to look like Beason will be a full go when the Giants open up their regular season on September 13th.

"He feels better," head coach Tom Coughlin said about Beason's recovery, per True Jersey. "He has a routine now and they've been been a little more aggressive each day with it. He's optimistic."

The Giants desperately need Beason to suit up. With the Cowboys' offensive line on tap, they will need the linebackers to make plays at the second level on a consistent basis throughout the preseason opener.

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Peyton Manning Congratulated Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed After Their Retirements

A two-time Super Bowl champion, Polamalu announced his retirement in April after 12 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In three regular-season games, all while Manning was with the Indianapolis Colts, Polamalu recorded one interception on No. 18, but his Steelers went 1-2. 

Polamalu does hold the edge in the playoffs, as his Steelers beat the Colts in their only meeting in the 2005 AFC Divisional Round. He had an interception overturned in that game. 

Longtime Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed retired a month after Polamalu and was a menace to Manning in the playoffs, recording three interceptions in two games while he was with the Colts. But Manning emerged victorious in both of those affairs.      

Manning had lots of respect for Reed, telling Ryan Mink of that Reed was "the best safety in the league" in a 2012 interview.

"Shoot, you can kind of go on and on: unbelievable ball skills, unbelievable range, great hands," Manning said. "You can tell what kind of athlete he is because of what he’s done once he’s got the ball in his hands, returning them for touchdowns. Smart player, the list goes on and on."

While Reed was held quiet in their 2012 postseason meeting, his Ravens played spoiler to Manning's Broncos during the quarterback's first year with the team with a 38-35 overtime victory. Later that season, Reed earned his only Super Bowl ring.   

The Broncos signal-caller is no spring chicken himself. The 39-year-old is signed through the 2016 season, according to, as he looks to add to his one Super Bowl ring he won back in 2006. With two of this generation's best safeties out of the picture, his path to the championship could become a bit easier. But it is clearly apparent just how much Manning respected them during their respective careers. 

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Travis Benjamin was put on Earth to tear the tops off defenses

I will never forget the first time I noticed Cleveland Browns receiver Travis Benjamin in an NFL game. The Browns were playing the Baltimore Ravens on a rainy night in 2012, Benjamin's rookie season. This was when the Ravens still had future Hall of Famer Ed Reed patrolling the back end of their defense, and few quarterbacks were willing to push the ball down the field.

Benjamin was soooo friggin fast that you could almost see the surprise on the faces of the Ravens secondary as he ran right by them play after play after play. It got to the point where dudes were lining up 20 yards off him before the snap. But it didn't matter because even with a head start, Benjamin was still dusting their asses. And that includes him running by Reed a few times.

Unfortunately, as has been the case for most of his career, Benjamin's quarterback couldn't get the ball to him with any accuracy, so while he was open damn near all night, he ended up catching just two passes, neither of them for a touchdown or even a big gain.

Whether it was Brandon Weeden in 2012 or Brian Hoyer over the next two years, Benjamin has mostly been quiet in the first three years of his career because his quarterbacks were hot garbage.

I'll admit that Benjamin is not the most, um, courageous receiver you will ever see. He's not about that "going across the middle and extending his arms to catch the ball" life. At the same time, however, who the fuck would want to send a dude with his kind of wheels across the middle a lot anyway? Benjamin is a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. He was put on this earth to chew bubble gum and take the top off of defenses, and I hear he's fresh out of Juicy Fruit.

Now, the Browns have a quarterback who can actually get him the damn ball and shit is about to get real. I know this because their new starter, Josh McCown, was the quarterback for my Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season. If there was one thing McCown did well in 2014 -- and there weren't many things he did well -- it was pushing the ball down the field to the wide receivers. That means for the first time in his career, Benjamin is going to have a guy who can consistently get him the ball when he gets a step or three on his defender.

McCown is also an athletic guy, so I'm betting we see a few instances where the pocket breaks down, McCown avoids the rush and slings it downfield to a waiting Benjamin who already left his guy in the dust. Oh, it's gonna happen. Write it down, take a picture, y'all know the rest.

Finally, Browns fans will get to see what kind of downfield threat Benjamin really is. I don't think he will start over Andrew Hawkins or Brian Hartline, but he won't need to.

Provided he stays healthy, Benjamin will more than double his career high of 18 catches, easily. With McCown pulling the trigger, or even an apparently rejuvenated Johnny Manziel, Benjamin will finally become the deep threat he was drafted to be and opposing defenses had better beware.

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Devin Hester Rips Jay Cutler

Despite the offensive woes the Atlanta Falcons experienced during Saturday’s 13-9 preseason loss at Miami, one positive was the chemistry between Matt Ryan and Devin Hester on two pass plays totaling 21 yards.

Hester, who entered the preseason unsure of his role in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, looked comfortable running his routes while using his elusiveness to gain extra yards after one of the catches. Such cohesion with Ryan has been brewing throughout practice. Several times this preseason, Ryan has pulled Hester aside for extended conversations about why there was miscommunication on a given route. Even during Saturday’s game, Ryan was animated pre-snap in making sure Hester was lined up correctly on a play that resulted in an 8-yard completion from Ryan to Hester.

Hester, who is adjusting to playing all the receiver spots rather than just the slot, recalled one of those practice scenarios with Ryan.

"We did like a down, out and up type deal,’’ Hester explained, "and in the past when we ran the out, if the corner played over the top, he’d back-shoulder it to me. And so I was expecting him to back-shoulder it, and he threw it deep. And he said, 'You were right on that one, but the next time it comes up, if that guy’s playing over the top of you, let’s back-shoulder it.’ Four plays later, that came up, and we back-shouldered it and made a good play on it.

"It’s just little small things that come with practice and timing. You get all your kinks and knots out in practice. That was one of those instances where we did something in previous years. We just had to get back on the same page.’’

The manner in which the dialogue between Ryan and Hester transpired is important to note. Hester realizes he doesn't run every route perfectly. When he does make a mistake, at least he knows Ryan’s approach to correcting the matter won’t be condescending.

Such wasn’t the case during Hester’s time alongside Bears quarterback Jay Cutler in Chicago. The main reason why Hester asked not to play offense during his final year with the Bears was because of his strained relationship with Cutler.

"If we weren’t on the same page, Jay just didn’t say anything to me,’’ Hester said. "He just wouldn’t (throw) to me. That’s just how he was.

"With Matt, if he sees something that he feels needs to be changed, he’ll come to you and say, 'Hey man, what do you think about doing it this way? It will give us a clearer look, and I’ll be able to get the ball to you.’"

Leadership is a quality Ryan displays on a daily basis despite not being overly vocal. Falcons coach Dan Quinn, in his first year, has gotten a better feel for that quality in Ryan this preseason, including observing those exchanges with Hester.

"Matt has that kind of respect because we all see the amount of time that he puts into it, and I think as a teammate, you get a lot of regard and respect for those guys,’’ Quinn said. "Say, 'Look how hard this guy’s going for it in terms of preparation, the energy he brings, the detail that he goes with it.’ I respect those both ways, from the quarterback to the receivers.’’

Hester, the most accomplished kickoff returner in league history, certainly appreciates having Ryan as his quarterback, regardless of how many offensive snaps or targets he gets come game day.

"He’s just an all-around quarterback,’’ Hester said of Ryan. "He goes through his progressions. He makes the right reads. He doesn’t care who’s out there, he just expects guys to make plays. Whoever the defense gives the opportunity to make the play, that’s who he goes with.’’

And the Falcons know Hester is capable of making plays with the ball in his hands.

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Phillip Dorsett returns to practice

As far as Fleener and Dorsett go, it's great to see them back on the field and starting to practice again, as both of them could have significant roles in the offense in 2015.  With Dorsett in particular the Colts were fortunate, as when he was injured in the second preseason game it initially appeared much worse than what it really was.

Of course, the Colts don't need either of them back until the September 13 regular season opener in Buffalo, as this Thursday's preseason game is the one in which the starters don't play.  We might have seen Dorsett play in the game if healthy, but since he's recovering from an injury and has his roster spot secured, I would be surprised if he does end up playing in the most meaningless of all the preseason games.  Instead, just let both Dorsett and Fleener continue to work their way back into the flow of things and have them ready for week one.  That's likely what the Colts will do as well.

There's no need to rush either Fleener or Dorsett back with the first regular season game not for nearly two weeks, but it's still nice to hear that they are back at practice today.

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NFL proCane Cuts Begin

#NFL #proCane Cuts: #Jets QB Jake Heaps, #Eagles OL Jared Wheeler, #Chargers DL Luther Robinson, #Bears DL Olsen Pierre, #Dolphins WR LaRon Byrd, #Vikings DB DeMarcus Van Dyke.

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Duke Johnson has concussion

CLEVELAND — Duke Johnson's concussion has aggravated the Browns' headache at running back.

Johnson is following the NFL's protocol on head injuries after the rookie sustained a concussion in the first half of Saturday night's 31-7 win over Tampa Bay. Coach Mike Pettine said Sunday that Johnson, whose exhibition debut ended after he was rocked on a hit by Buccaneers cornerback Mike Jenkins, could be sidelined for some time.

The Browns have major plans this season for Johnson, a versatile third-round pick and Miami's career rushing leader. However, he hasn't been able to stay healthy.

He missed Cleveland's first two preseason games and was limited throughout training camp by a hamstring issue — a condition he said dates to high school.
Johnson only carried the ball once and caught one pass against the Buccaneers, so the Browns still don't know what Johnson can do.

"We have seen what he can do in practice and that is important," Pettine said. "That is why we were so positive and optimistic about it. Football is about availability. He hasn't been available for much of the preseason. While we are hopeful about the potential, at the same time, it is discouraging to not have him out there."

Johnson's injury, and those to veteran Shaun Draughn and Glenn Winston, has left the Browns thin at running back. Second-year backs Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell have not produced as expected and Pettine said the team may consider other options at the position.

One of them could be Ray Rice.

The former Baltimore back, released by the Ravens following his domestic abuse case, is available and waiting for a second chance. Pettine has acknowledged the Browns have discussed the possibility of signing Rice, who played for Cleveland running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery in Baltimore.

Pettine did not mention Rice by name when asked specifically about him Sunday.

"If we do come to the decision that we need to add a back that is not here, we'll look at the list of backs that are available," he said.

Rice is reportedly in excellent shape and excited for an opportunity to play. The Browns have to first consider if he can help them, and also what kind of public backlash they could face in signing a player with his reputation.

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WATCH: Andrew Luck hits Andre Johnson for a Colts touchdown

WATCH: #proCane #Colts WR Andre Johnson score his first TD as a #Colt on a 32-yard pass.

A video posted by procanes (@procanes) on

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WATCH: Travis Benjamin returns punt 53 yards for a touchdown

It didn't take Travis Benjamin long to make an impact on Saturday night in Tampa Bay. The receiver and punt returner took the punt off of Tampa Bay's first possession 53 yards for a score.

Benjamin, who some (admittedly me) thought might be on the bubble this season, has been one of the team's best wide receivers in training camp and the preseason. He had a rocky 2014 season returning punts, but is expecting to get back to his old form this season. This isn't a bad start.

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Reggie Wayne believes he’s ‘doing all right’ adjusting to Patriots

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Imagine sitting by the ocean and unwinding with nothing imminent on the calendar when someone calls with a job offer.

In such a relaxed state, jumping at that opportunity may not be your first thought. Now imagine that job comes with the following description: You’ve got to crack the books right away and you’re going to get hit. A lot. Often by much bigger men.

Those caveats really don’t sweeten the proposition, do they?

That was the scenario facing Reggie Wayne last week. But the receiver didn’t think twice. He happily accepted the Patriots’ employment offer and made his debut in a 17-16 exhibition win over the Carolina Panthers Friday night with just a pair of practices under his belt.

“Hell, you go from chillin’ on the beach and just relaxing [to playing football],’’ said Wayne. “I worked out every day but there’s no way you can simulate football practices in your workouts at home so it was different.’’

Wayne didn’t have any catches and was only targeted once — Tom Brady’s short pass was just a bit off — but the veteran isn’t too concerned with statistics just yet, he was just happy to be back in pads.

“Felt like football,’’ said Wayne, when asked what it was like to return to the game. “I’m still adjusting, still trying to get on the same page with the quarterback, get on the same page with this team, learn this playbook. But just to be out there and hearing all the football terminology, seeing all of the stuff that I have been wanting to see for months, it felt good.’’

Coach Bill Belichick, who has had to shuffle the wide receiver deck more than a few times this summer with so many injuries (Brandon LaFell has yet to practice and Julian Edelman, Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, and Brian Tyms, who is on injured reserve with a foot ailment, all have been nicked up in camp), is happy to have Wayne in the fold and on the field, especially under game conditions.

“I think it’s always different in a game,’’ said the coach. “Game speed, timing, communication, not necessarily verbal but the timing of the communication with the quarterback and the routes and so forth. Practice is good and that certainly helps, but it’s never quite the same as the game. That’s something we can learn from and build on. We’ve obviously got a long way to go but [we’ll] keep working on it.’’

The 36-year-old Wayne, who played his previous 14 seasons with the Colts, collecting 1,070 receptions for 14,345 yards and 82 touchdowns, said he feels like a rookie again and though the Patriots playbook isn’t pleasure reading, he’s jumped right in.

“I’m learning,’’ said Wayne. “I’m doing better than I thought I would. No one likes to go back to school, it’s a process. Hopefully I can continue to grasp everything and continue to do as best as I can. I knew from afar that this playbook wasn’t simple. They’re throwing a lot at me, trying to see what sticks. I’m doing all right, man.’’

Wayne is getting some tutelage from a guy with pretty expansive knowledge on the playbook — Brady.

“He’s just trying to get me to understand the lingo, the way things go around here, it’s totally different [than in Indianapolis],’’ said Wayne. “He’s just trying to get me up to speed with everything.’’

Wayne is very appreciative of the help and support Brady has been able to offer, despite controversy surrounding the quarterback and the imminent decision on his suspension status as a result of Deflategate.

“Just what I know of Tom, I know that he’ll take care of business, whatever that is,’’ said Wayne, who has a little experience playing with elite quarterbacks after splitting his tenure in Indianapolis with Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. “He’s a professional, man. He knows what to do. Things happen, everybody’s going to have some bumps in the road here and there. I’m just glad that in spite of all that stuff he’s able to pull me to the side and kinda help me out. Whatever the situation is, it is. That’s my teammate and I’m willing to do whatever I can to help.’’

Wayne is wearing No. 15 with the Patriots because a certain fun-loving tight end has his familiar No. 87. He chose the number because “it’s my 15th season and eight plus seven equals 15.’’

After being entrenched with one team for so long, Wayne acknowledged it is a bit surreal to be wearing a different uniform. Especially New England’s red, white, and blue, considering the intense rivalry between the Patriots and Colts. The teams meet again Oct. 18 in Indianapolis, and the possibility exists that it could be Brady’s return if he is ordered to serve his four-game suspension.

“It’s different,’’ said Wayne. “You’ve been somewhere for 14 years so you never think you’ll be anywhere else, but that’s life. Life is when you plan for something else and things happen, you have to adjust. It was weird but once the whistle blows it just becomes football. I’m just thankful for the opportunity to be back out there again.’’

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Ereck Flowers A Stud Vs Jets

LT Ereck Flowers
It's hard to complain about what you've seen from Flowers this preseason. He's a rookie left tackle holding his own, and he did so again on Saturday night against a good Jets defensive line. Mostly, Flowers was matched against Jets outside linebacker Trevor Reilly. He won that matchup, especially up until the final drive. There were two plays in particular on the Giants' long touchdown drive in the second quarter where Flowers stood out with his run blocking. He also showed some feistiness near the goal line on a play where his helmet came off. The one negative came on a when Flowers found himself against Muhammad Wilkerson and was pushed into the backfield. Wilkerson and Reilly split the sack after running a twist that the Giants left side didn't handle well. Still another promising performance from the rookie left tackle. 

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Reggie Wayne describes why he picked jersey No. 15

CHARLOTTE -- Veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne has worn No. 87 throughout his football career, but after signing a one-year contract with the New England Patriots on Tuesday, he talked about how his time in 87 was over. That number, of course, is donned by tight end Rob Gronkowski in New England.

On Friday night, Wayne described why No. 15 is the right fit for him.

“It’s my 15th season and 8 plus 7 equals 15. I’m a little better than you thought I was; see how I put all that together?" Wayne cracked. "That’s the reason for the 15.”
Wayne drew a large crowd of reporters in the locker room after the Patriots' 17-16 victory over the Panthers, a game in which he played 20 snaps and had one ball thrown in his direction (he couldn't bring it in).

He talked about how refreshing it was for him to get back to playing football and "seeing all the stuff I’ve been wanting to see for months.” He said he's doing better than he thought he would in terms of learning the playbook, but still feels there's a long road ahead as he "knew from afar that this playbook wasn’t simple."

Quarterback Tom Brady has been a big help to him.

“I’m just glad that in spite of all that stuff [he's dealing with], he’s able to pull me to the side and help me out; trying to get me to understand the lingo, the way things go around here," Wayne said, adding that it feels like he's a rookie again. "That’s my teammate and I’m willing to do whatever I can to help.

"What I know of Tom, I know that he’ll take care of his business, whatever that is. He’s a professional. He knows what to do. Things happen. Everybody is going to have some bumps in the road here and there, but I’m sure he knows what to do and how to take care of that."

A few other soundbites from Wayne:

Playing 20 snaps after signing on Tuesday. “It’s a little shock to the body -- you go from on the beach chilling to playing football. ... I worked out every day, but there’s no way you can assimilate a football practice in your workouts at home. ... It felt good to be back with teammates, cheering me on, hearing the sounds of the helmets and things.”

Being one of the first players on the field and appreciating the moment. "That’s something I always did. I’m being appreciative. I’m thankful. I’m blessed. I’ve been doing this for 15 years. Those years go fast. You try not to take anything for granted. Anything can be your last play. See some of the faces come in and out of this league, to be able to do it this long, I’m thankful for that. What you saw me doing was a normal routine. It won’t ever change.”

Adjusting to his new surroundings at age 36. "It adds a little spice to your life a little bit. It’s a challenge. Everybody loves a challenge. I accept it. I’m seeing how the brain works at 36 years old. So far so good. I guess you can’t put me in the hospital just yet. I’m all right.”

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Phillip Dorsett has 'inside track' to No. 3 WR job

The Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder reports Colts rookie Phillip Dorsett has the "inside track" to the No. 3 receiver job.

Holder admits this is a position battle that is still playing out. Dorsett is the fastest receiver on the team and gets the edge on Donte Moncrief because he can play inside and outside. Moncrief has size and is equally explosive. While Dorsett has a leg up for the No. 3 job, both players will be highly inconsistent week-to-week performers. They're better best-ball picks.

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Denzel Perryman is playing catch-up

Four months into his Chargers career, Denzel Perryman is a minor mystery.

Sorry to be self-referential, but I've little sense of how Perryman has fared since he arrived in May.

Injuries, both in the spring and the summer, have set back the rookie linebacker and second-round draft pick.

Perryman missed several spring practices due to a hamstring injury.

When he worked in June, hitting wasn't allowed. The Chargers, remember, drafted Perryman as a hammer.

Perryman looked fit when training camp began, having worked out with NFL veterans Frank Gore, Andre Johnson and other University of Miami alums this summer in Miami.

In the camp opener, he made a fine play that many rookies don't make.

He worked 25 snaps in the exhibition opener, Aug. 13.

Again, he reacted well, breaking up a pass for a receiver, but as coach Mike McCoy noted, he also was flagged for a late hit.

The hits have been few. An undisclosed injury sidelined Perryman last week, and the Chargers held him out of the exhibition at Arizona.

So even for McCoy, who with his coaches pores over tape of every practice and the exhibitions, Perryman remains something of a mystery.

Here's McCoy on Thursday, when asked how Perryman has grown since joining the team.

Well, he's learning the system. He's missed too much time up to this point in time, with injuries, unfortunately. That's all part of the game. So it's been more mental for him. The big thing is, that he's got to stay healthy, and really stay into his book, and learn, and get in great football shape, and get going.

He has made all three practices this week and is expected to play Saturday against the Seahawks. The Chargers will play another exhibition Sept. 3, against the 49ers.

For Perryman, 21, it's a chance to catch up. He's behind.

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Devin Hester could have been a Miami Dolphin

A part of Devin Hester wanted to end his NFL career in familiar territory; in a place where his family and friends could make the short drive down I-95 south or the Florida Turnpike to Sun Life Stadium.

The Riviera Beach, Florida, native and former Miami Hurricane figured a return home would be an option when the Chicago Bears decided not to re-sign him after the 2013 season.

And it was.

"I just wanted to get out of the cold, really," Hester said with a laugh. "At the end of the day, Miami was a team I considered going to. My agent said they contacted us to ask how the process was going. It was tempting, but it didn't work out."

Instead, the most accomplished kick returner in NFL history signed a three-year deal in March 2014 with the Atlanta Falcons worth $3 million per year. And he has no regrets about the decision.

"I'm happy here," Hester said. "I was ready to move on."

Saturday's preseason road matchup (7 p.m. ET) with the Dolphins is sure to spark memories for Hester. He'll walk into the same place -- formerly known as Dolphin Stadium -- where he created the most memorable moment of his illustrious, 10-year career. It's the same place he returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLI against the Colts.

"It was my rookie year, and just being able to come back after you play your last college game in Miami -- you don't expect to come back to the same area," Hester said. "I'm pretty sure a lot of Hurricane fans were at the Super Bowl. And just to go out there at home and run the opening kickoff back, it just didn't hit me. It was too good to be true.

"It really didn't set in on me until after the game when everybody was talking about it and couldn't believe what happened. And then I started thinking about it and said, `Yeah, it was a big play.'"

Hester had just five family members at the Super Bowl. Saturday, he'll have about 20 people coming to see him back at home, including his wife and two sons.
"We're going to treat it like a home game," he said.

Hester purchased a home in Orlando more than two years ago. He never considered living in Miami after he got married.

"Miami was fun, during the single life," Hester said. "When you start having kids, you not only look for what makes you happy but what's going to be better for the kids. And Orlando is a decision we made for our kids.

"My wife's family is still in Miami. My family is in West Palm Beach. It's all still home."

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Reggie Wayne on playbook: They’re throwing a lot at me right now

Wide receiver Reggie Wayne is wrapping up his first week as a member of the Patriots and it’s been full of new things.

Wayne is wearing a new number on a new team after spending 14 years with No. 87 on the back of a Colts jersey and he’s also trying to lear a new offensive playbook with limited time to cram in all the new information before the start of the regular season. The scheme may be new but the experience brings back some old memories.

“Like a rookie,” Wayne said, via the Boston Herald. “They’re throwing a lot at me right now. I’m not getting very much sleep. I feel like a rookie all over again.”

Other veteran wideouts have struggled to pick up the Patriots offense quickly enough to make an impact for the team, so it’s not surprising to hear that Wayne’s working hard to pick everything up. With Brandon LaFell on the PUP list and Julian Edelman out of action for almost all of August, the Patriots may need that work to pay off early in the season.

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Eric Winston glad Jonathan Kraft “coming around” on player discipline

Patriots president Jonathan Kraft said in a recent radio interview that he thinks the league needs to take a look at possible changes to the way player discipline is meted out by the league office.

“There probably needs to be a rethinking so that the league office and the Commissioner aren’t put in a spotlight in a way that detracts from the league’s image and the game, even if the league office is doing the right thing, or the wrong thing, or whatever you think,” Kraft said. “It probably needs to be rethought for the modern era that we’re in and the different things that are coming up that I don’t think people anticipated and how the public wants to see them treated.”

Outside of a retweet of a story about Kraft’s comments from 49ers CEO Jed York, there hasn’t been much comment from ownership around the league about Kraft’s suggestion but NFLPA president Eric Winston liked what Kraft had to say. Winston said he’s “glad they’re coming around” and “starting to see what we’ve been seeing and what we’ve been saying” about the way NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wields his power over player discipline.

“I don’t want to keep pointing fingers at the league office, but that’s really what it is in the sense of running these rogue investigations that are clearly against the CBA,” Winston said, via USA Today. “An ex-commissioner has said so. Federal judges have said so. Arbitrators have said so. A lot of people can say, ‘Oh, well that’s just a partisan union hack.’ But don’t take my word for it. Take their word for it. Take federal judge David Doty recently questioning whether they know what the CBA says, because it’s clear to everybody but them that they’re not following it.”

Winston says he thinks every owner would see that the current system is “detrimental” to the game, something that doesn’t seem to be the case based on sentiments they’ve shared publicly.

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Brett Romberg calls Jonathan Martin 'garbage'

Former Miami Dolphins lineman Jonathan Martin recently retired from the NFL and explained how he experienced bouts of depression and attempted suicide several times throughout his NFL career.

None of that appears to matter to former Miami Hurricane Brett Romberg, who called Martin “a piece of garbage” on 790 The Ticket’s morning show as reported by the Miami New Times.

Romberg, a former center for the Hurricanes and a 10-year NFL veteran, criticized Martin for creating drama in the Miami Dolphins locker room after Martin accused former teammate Richie Incognito of bullying and harassment.

After Martin posted a deep, heartfelt explanation on Twitter about the end of his NFL career and the struggles he encountered, Romberg didn’t seem to buy any of it.
Romberg said on the 790 The Ticket that:

“He is. He’s a piece of garbage. The guy affected so many people’s lives around here. If you really think about it, Jonathan Martin has been sitting at home typing up his monologue or his inner monologue on Facebook. Talking about, ‘Woe is me. I’ve had issues.’”

Romberg went on to say that Martin essentially caused his own problems due to his own mental and health issues.

“You wanna cry about committing suicide and all this other stuff man, just don’t, don’t talk about it anymore,” Romberg said on 790 The Ticket.

You can listen to the full podcast on the link below at about the 8:00 minute mark:

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Reggie Wayne: Tom Brady Helpful In Spite Of Deflategate Distractions

Apparently Reggie Wayne had reasonable expectations for his preseason debut with the New England Patriots, which came just four days after the veteran wideout signed with his new team.

Wayne was targeted twice by quarterback Tom Brady. He caught neither attempt, and the second target, which Brady threw behind him, clanged off his finger tips. Still, Wayne held his head up after the Patriots’ 17-16 preseason win over the Carolina Panthers.

“I’m doing better than I thought I would,” Wayne said, via’s Kevin Duffy.

The Patriots’ offense is considered extremely intricate, and it’s been a stumbling block for many veteran wide receivers who have tried to play under Brady.

“I knew from afar this playbook wasn’t simple,” Wayne said.

Brady is doing what he can to help his new teammate comprehend the system, including putting in some extra work during practice.

“He’s a professional, man,” Wayne said, via the Providence Journal’s Mark Daniels. “He knows what to do. Things happen. Everybody is going to have some bumps in the road here and there. I’m sure he knows what to do, knows how to take care of that. I’m just glad, in spite of all that stuff, he’s able to pull me to the side and kind of help me out. Whatever the situation is, it is. That’s my teammate and I’m willing to do whatever I can to help.”

It remains to be seen if Wayne can catch on more quickly than the likes of Joey Galloway or Chad Ochocinco, but his first game was expectedly sloppy. The former Indianapolis Colts receiver will need to digest the Patriots’ complex offensive playbook soon, however, if Brandon LaFell — who’s still dealing with a foot injury — can’t get back on the field by Week 1.

The Patriots have just 13 days and one preseason game left before their Week 1 opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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WATCH: D-backs prospect Peter O'Brien crushes HR to dead center

During the course of Friday night's Pacific Coast League encounter between Memphis and host Reno, Diamondbacks outfielder/catcher Peter O'Brien did the following to an oncoming baseball ...

And the people say: "Whoa and golly."

As you can see and as you were informed, O'Brien hit that ball well clear of the batter's eye in deep center field. Yes, Reno is a hitter's haven, but that's a bomb in any context. Some perspective from the team prez ...

Indeed, the word from on high is that O'Brien Trumbo'd the snot out of that ball. That was the 25-year-old's 25th homer of the season and 91st across parts of four minor-league seasons. Don't be surprised if he makes his way to Arizona after the rosters expand.

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Jon Jay goes hitless in rehab debut

Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay went 0 for 3 at the plate during his first rehab game at Triple-A on Saturday. A wrist injury has kept Jay out since late June.

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Raiders OC Musgrave: Clive Walford's absence is 'significant'

We still don't know the exact injury holding back Raiders rookie tight end Clive Walford, but it kept him out of practice again Thursday.

Head coach Jack Del Rio recently insisted not to add any "drama" to his absence, but offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave admitted Thursday that it certainly hasn't been a positive for the Raiders.

"Missing Clive is significant for our team, for him personally," Musgrave said after practice Thursday. "It's given more opportunities to Brian (Leonhardt) and Gabe (Holmes), but the tight end group is doing a nice job for us."

While that's great for Leonhardt and Holmes, it's not exactly what the Raiders had in mind when they took Walford with a third-round pick back in May.

Walford did play in the Raiders' first preseason game and played well, catching two passes for 28 yards. However, according to, he's been available just four days since training camp opened at the end of July. That's a big hurdle to overcome for any player, particularly a rookie trying to learn a new offense and adjust to the NFL.

The expectation was for Walford to be a versatile tight end in Oakland right from the start. With Mychal Rivera established as a pass catcher and Lee Smith brought in as a blocking specialist, Walford was considered an athletic, physical guy who could do a little bit of both at 6-foot-4, 258 pounds.

Instead, it's been primarily Rivera and Smith, with undrafted rookie Holmes and undrafted third-year player Leonhardt receiving extra reps. Although the Raiders would like to have Walford back in the mix, the presence of Rivera and Smith gives the team some stability at an important position while they wait for their rookie to recover.

"They're the glue that holds us together," Musgrave said of the tight ends. "They've got to do it all -- pass protect, run block and catch balls. Both Mychal and Lee, we know we can count on."

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Reggie Wayne Contract Details

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Breaking down the one-year contract signed by veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne with the New England Patriots:

Signing bonus: $450,000

Base salary: $1.1 million

Roster bonus: $750,000 ($46,875 per game on 46-man active roster)

Incentives: $250,000 for 55 receptions or $500,000 for 65 receptions

Maximum value: $2.8 million

Quick-hit thoughts: On Tuesday, Wayne said, "I just want to win, point blank." Thus, financials obviously aren't a top priority for him. But at the same time, they reflect the marketplace for the savvy veteran entering his 15th season, and also how the Patriots view his potential contributions. This isn't a minimum-level deal. The pure guarantee is the $450,000 signing bonus, and if Wayne makes the roster (which is likely), his $1.1 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed. At that point, he'd be guaranteed $1.55 million, with the chance to earn the remaining $1.25 million in per-game roster bonuses and incentives for receptions. For the Patriots, they have salary-cap space to absorb this charge with little impact from a big-picture perspective.

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Frank Gore Not Sure If He Will Play Saturday Night

Frank Gore on what he would say if Chuck Pagano left the decision up to him to play this weekend:

“Then I would go to Andrew Luck and see what he wants.”

Bowen’s Analysis: Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Gore didn’t lean one way or another on whether he will play on Saturday night in St. Louis. Gore received two carries last Saturday, establishing his goal of wanting to get tackled before the real action gets here.

It might actually be a blessing if Gore doesn’t play on Saturday (Gore has 13 total carries in the last four preseasons, so more reps aren’t really needed). Without Gore, that would allow for more first-team snaps to guys like Vick Ballard and Josh Robinson. You know what you are getting out of Gore. You are unsure of what Ballard and Robinson will look like against a first-team defense.

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Reggie Wayne has plenty of incentives

In case there was any doubt, the Patriots paid wide receiver Reggie Wayne with the expectation he will be on the 53-man roster this season.

Wayne’s one-year deal officially was filed with the league, and he can earn $2.55 million if he reaches all incentives. Wayne earned a $450,000 signing bonus to go along with a $1.1 million base salary, plus $750,000 in roster bonuses ($46,875 per game on the 46-man roster) and an additional $250,000 in incentives. Wayne’s cap hit is $2,503,125.

The 14-year veteran has shown nothing but enthusiasm since coming on board, talking about how difficult the playbook is and how he’s going full-tilt to learn it. His first few days with the team have been pretty much a whirlwind.

“Like a rookie,” Wayne said. “They’re throwing a lot at me right now. I’m not getting very much sleep. I feel like a rookie all over again.”

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Frank Gore: Colts' Andrew Luck is 'a football god'

When it comes to falling in love, the stages are smitten, head-over-heels, twitterpated and the honeymoon rapture that highly decorated Colts veterans Frank Gore and Andre Johnson are currently experiencing for Andrew Luck.

After a dozen years in Houston, it took Johnson a mere three months in Indianapolis to decide that Luck is the best QB in the game.

Earlier this month, Gore told NFL Media's Nate Burleson that Luck is a "different breed" who "runs the huddle" like no other quarterback he had seen in a decade with the 49ers.

Now Gore is convinced that Luck is a gridiron deity.

"He runs meetings like a coach. Basically, I'm playing with a coordinator on the field," Gore told The Jim Rome Show on Wednesday. "He's a football god. He sees everything. He sees the big picture of everything. ... He lets me know when [there's] something I don't see. He's just different. How he's in the huddle, off the field, in the meetings, he runs it. He runs the show, even in the off-season, he ran it. One day he had running backs, the next day he has receivers. He's just different. He's a football God."

High praise indeed, but it's not just limited to Luck's teammates.

Back in May, offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton pointed out that Luck's perspective and understanding is already at the level of an NFL coach after just three years in the league.

"It's well documented that he's a smart guy," Hamilton explained, "but now I think his overall football acumen, or should I say football aptitude, is at a point where his feedback and/or his suggestions, I really take heed of the advice that he gives."

We've lauded Luck's incredible pocket movement as the "eighth wonder of the world." In addition to ideal size and athleticism, his arm talent and willingness to make tough throws rank with Aaron Rodgers as the best in the league.

For all of those obvious physical gifts, though, it's Luck's football aptitude and leadership that have led Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin, former Giants coach Jim Fassel and NFL Media analyst Charley Casserly to predict that the Colts' quarterback will end up joining the pantheon of all-time greats.

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Orlando Franklin is too banged up to make Chargers practice

The Chargers line is beginning to take its regular-season form -- and that's not a good thing.

Free-agent pickup Orlando Franklin is just the latest brusied-up Bolts blocker. 

Head coach Mike McCoy is in a preseason pickle. If he tells Franklin to tough it out at left guard, McCoy risks further injury. If he sits Franklin, the first-team offensive line loses valuable snaps together.

Bet on McCoy going with the latter plan. While cohesion sure helps, Franklin and his line-mates can find time to gel when the snaps actually count.

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Greg Olsen is the X-factor in Panthers' passing game

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen lined up wide left on the first play of team drills on Monday. He moved into the slot on the right side on the next. He lined up tight to the line of scrimmage a few plays later.

Much has been made of the Panthers losing wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin for the season with a torn ACL.

A bigger loss would be Olsen.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, receivers and tight ends made up 87 percent of Carolina’s total targets last season. That was the third-highest rate in the NFL even though the Panthers had only six games where individual receivers and tight ends were targeted 10 times in a game in 2014.

But if you take the tight ends out of the equation, specifically Olsen, the ranking falls to 17th.

In other words, Olsen is the most valuable piece of the Carolina passing game.

That was magnified in Saturday night’s 31-30 preseason win over Miami. Newton completed four passes, with three going to Olsen for 27 yards.

“Every time he lines up, the defense has to know where he is," offensive coordinator Mike Shula said. “If they account for him with one guy, then we’ve got to take advantage of that. If they account for him with two guys, obviously that’s going to give other guys opportunities."

Since 2011, when Newton was the top pick of the draft, Olsen has been targeted 415 times. That’s the third-most of any tight end behind Jimmy Graham (548) and Jason Witten (457).

Olsen has led Carolina in receptions the past two seasons, including a career-high 84 catches for 1,008 yards last season.

He’s averaged 67 catches and 801 yards a year since 2011, and needs 54 catches and 696 yards to pass Wesley Walls for the most by a tight end in Carolina history. Walls had 324 catches for 3,902 yards from 1996-2002.

So as valuable as Benjamin was to Newton and the offense, Olsen is more valuable.

Does that mean Olsen is in store to break more of his personal records? Not necessarily.

“Sometimes it’s a double-edged sword," Olsen said. “Having talented guys on the outside makes life easy sometimes. Of course, they get their targets, but they make life easier."

Newton tried to spread the ball around early against Miami. Corey Brown was targeted three times deep. He dropped one.

Newton connected with Ted Ginn Jr. for a 15-yard pickup on the third series.

But the offense didn’t take off until Newton went to Olsen three times on five plays.

Still, Olsen reminds that others have to step up for him or anybody to be effective just like Benjamin did last season.

“You can’t go in with just the one-man trying to focus [mentality]," he said.

Whether that means more two tight-end sets with Olsen and Ed Dickson or the emergence of rookie Devin Funchess remains to be seen.

All Olsen knows is that the Panthers have to spread the ball around.

“You’ve got a big guy like Kelvin back there, he can do a lot of things one-one-one being so big and physical and just going for the ball," Olsen said. “It’s hard to replace guys like that, but I feel confident in a lot of the guys we have at that position."

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Antrel Rolle on preseason: 'I don't take any game lackadaisically'

Chicago Bears safety Antrel Rolle is in his 12th NFL season, and yet the 32-year-old veteran's not the least bit jaded by the preseason.

"I pretty much go in and I attack it the same way," Rolle said, per Kevin Fishbain of Chicago Football. "Whenever I’m on the field, I come to play. I don’t take any game lackadaisically. I come in and I play every opponent as if it’s the eighth game of the season. It doesn’t matter who it is or who the opponent is or what the magnitude of the game. I always come to play whenever I touch the green."

Rolle was signed in free agency this offseason, partially because of the intensity that shines through in his play. Another factor that makes him an alluring acquisition is his Super Bowl experience. Rolle knows what it takes to hoist the Lombardi Trophy from his time with the New York Giants (2010-2014); he also knows what it feels like to lose on the game's biggest stage from his time with the Arizona Cardinals (2005-2009).

Still adjusting to his third NFL franchise, Rolle is starting to feel a level of comfort with the Bears.

"I feel fairly comfortable. Obviously, you’re always working toward that extreme comfort zone, I don’t think that comes until you win the Super Bowl," Rolle said, via Chicago Football. "Right now, we’re gelling, we’re working together and more importantly, we’re finding ways to get W’s."

The Bears are rebuilding their defense under new coordinator Vic Fangio, and they're counting on Rolle to help smooth the transition with his veteran leadership.

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Santana Moss 'Paying for It Now' on Investment Loss

NFL free agent Santana Moss testified Wednesday that he didn't examine his own financial affairs until after more than $1.4 million in unauthorized transfers were made from a bank account in his name.

The Miami native is one of six current and former professional football players suing BB&T for negligence. The players' former financial adviser, Pro Sports Financial Inc., allegedly forged their signatures to open BB&T bank accounts and make unauthorized withdrawals to invest in a failed Alabama casino deal.

Most recently with the Washington Redskins, Moss joined retired players Fred Taylor and Lito Sheppard in a bench trial before U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom in Miami. A jury trial will follow for retirees Ray Lewis, Clinton Portis and Derrick Gaffney.

BB&T lawyers painted a picture of an athlete who didn't pay attention to the management of his money, signing away power of attorney to a Pro Sports employee and sending his bank statements to the company without looking over them. He claims a loss of $4.85 million.

"I heard so much growing up, 'Pay attention to this. Pay attention to that,' " Moss testified during cross-examination. "I didn't do it. I let [Pro Sports] pay attention to it. I'm paying for it now."

Moss was drafted in 2001 by the New York Jets and earned a signing bonus of about $5.4 million, he said. A few years into his NFL career, he hired Pro Sports to pay his bills and manage his money, along with other "concierge services."

"You want to go out of town, they made flight reservations," he said. "You name it."

He said he signed a document in January 2006 to open an account with BankAtlantic, whose assets were later acquired by BB&T. After a Pro Sports break-in that Moss said he was never told about, his bill-paying account was closed and a new BankAtlantic account was opened in his name.

Moss testified he didn't know who signed his name on the agreement to open the new account.

Over two months in 2009, $1.1 million in wire transfers moved money from that account to Ronnie Gilley Properties LLC, which was organized to buy the land for an Alabama casino project. Another $250,000 wire transfer and two checks paid to Pro Sports for a total of $80,000 were also made from 2008 to 2010, according to bank statements.

Moss testified he didn't authorize those transfers and received nothing in return, saying it was "lost."

He said he met with Ronnie Gilley in Alabama to discuss potential real estate investments but never visited the casino site and never agreed to invest in it. Moss acknowledged lending Gilley about $300,000 for a residential real estate project.

Moss said the NFL does not allow players to invest in casinos. When his lawyer asked him to explain the NFL policy, Moss said: "It's not something that we're allowed to do. It can cost you your career."

BB&T lead attorney David Hendrix of GrayRobinson in Tampa repeatedly asked the 36-year-old wide receiver how many BankAtlantic accounts he had during the time the transfers were made.

Moss said he didn't know.

He said he would sometimes receive financial documents from Pro Sports via FedEx and sign them without reading them. He had his bank statements sent to Pro Sports' Fort Lauderdale office and saved his paychecks—about $40,000 per game—in a drawer in his Virginia bedroom until he could send them to Pro Sports for deposit.

The former University of Miami player said he found out about the transfers around 2012 when he started hearing his teammates talking about problems brewing at Pro Sports.

"There was rumbling, and I made some calls, and that's when I got to the bottom of it," he said.

Moss said he has been handling his own financial affairs since then.

"I do all of that stuff myself now," he said. "I didn't want to trust nobody no more."

The players are represented by Matthew Brenner and Ronald Edwards Jr. of Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed in Orlando and Elizabeth Kagan of the Kagan Law Firm in Fort Myers.

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Leonard Hankerson: Becoming The Falcons' 3rd Receiver

The Leonard Hankerson signing was an intriguing front office move made by Atlanta Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff in the offseason.  Hank spent his entire four-year with the Washington Redskins organization as an often injured 4th receiver.

But the Atlanta Falcons needed to find a replacement for longtime slot receiver Harry Douglas now with the Tennessee Titans.  Atlanta brought in Leonard Hankerson who is familiar with new OC Kyle Shanahan’s system from their time together with the Washington Redskins.  Hank came in to compete with KR/WR Devin Hester and rookie WR Justin Hardy out of East Carolina for 3rd on the Falcons’ receiving depth chart behind Julio Jones and Roddy White.

Through the first two preseason games, I would say that Leonard Hankerson is very much in the lead for that third receiver option for QB Matt Ryan in Shanahan’s offense.  Since Hester is best known for his Hall of Fame worthy return skills, anything Shanahan gets from Devin in the receiving corps is really an added bonus.

Justin Hardy has not turned heads with his play as I had hoped for in the first two preseason games.  His route running needs some edge to it to shake off pesky defenders in the slot.  Ceasing dropped passes would help out Hardy, too.

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Chris Perez retires

Former Indians closer Chris Perez has retired from baseball. This actually happened a few days ago, but no one took notice. The only mention of it appears to be this entry on the International League’s transactions page from four days ago:

He was in the Orioles organization, but he couldn’t even pitch anyway given that he had a 50-game suspension for a drug of abuse to serve that wouldn’t have ended until next month.

Maybe the retirement holds, maybe it doesn’t. Manny Ramirez retired when faced with a drug suspension but then came back and saw the suspension reduced. Precedent is set, right? Take a year or so off, get back in shape and try to latch on someplace else.

Maybe, however, Perez just wants to move on from baseball and into whatever else it is interests him in life. Which, based on his disciplinary and legal history of the past couple of years seems to be marijuana, but hey, whatever you want to do man.

When baseball was his thing he was pretty good at it for a while. He was an All-Star closer for the Indians in 2011 and 2012, saving 36 and 39 games in those years, respectively. But since then he has a 4.31 ERA with 46 walks in 100 innings. He was arrested in 2013, along with his wife, after having a package of marijuana delivered in their dog’s name. Then this suspension. He has bounced from the Indians to the Dodgers to the Brewers and now to the Orioles organization before hanging it up.

Hang loose, Chris. Go be you wherever you want to be.

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Pat O'Donnell goes undercover and no one knew who he was

For how bad the Bears were last year, one would think that fans would be pretty familiar with the team’s punter.

However, while doing a little undercover work during the preseason, Bears punter Pat O’Donnell found out first hand just how unknown he was.

The Bears sent O’Donnell out into the training camp crowd at their Bourbonnais facilities asking fans what they thought of the team’s punter. A few had no idea who he was at all. Others successfully danced around the details all together.

For one fan, O’Donnell even pushed the envelope a little further. He asked the fan what he thought of the team’s “new” return man Anthony Adams.

Of course, Anthony Adams was a defensive lineman who has been retired for a few years now. Not only did the fan say they watched Adams at practice, but apparently he looked good.

With another rough looking season ahead, it’s pretty likely Bears fans will get familiar with O’Donnell soon.

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Reggie Wayne dons new number, could add to HOF-level numbers

When new Patriots receiver Reggie Wayne met with the media on Tuesday for the first time as a non-Colt, he also did so for the first time as a guy who won’t be wearing No. 87.

“Eigthy-seven is over with,” Wayne said, after explaining he has no plans to try to get it away from tight end Rob Gronkowski.

At the time Wayne met with the media, he said he didn’t know what his number would be. According to the official roster on the team’s website, he’ll be wearing No. 15.

He’s already much higher than No. 15 on two key career receiving lists, and a solid season with the Pats could put him much higher. At seventh in receptions with 1,070, Wayne is only eight from catching Terrell Owens for No. 6, 24 from matching Tim Brown with 1,094, and 32 from equaling former Colts receiver Marvin Harrison for No. 3 all time, with 1,102.

Wayne is eighth on the all-time yardage list, with 14,345 yards. He’s only 235 yards from catching Harrison for No. 7, and he needs only 947 for the season to match Moss at No. 3.

When it comes to receiving touchdowns, Wayne sits at 22nd, with 82. Ten would vault him to No. 10, but he still needs a total of 46 to catch Harrison in that category.
Regardless, the total catches and receiving yards — along with the possibility of a second Super Bowl ring — could eventually get Wayne a spot in Canton.

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Chris Myers retires after 10-year career

After 10 years in the NFL, Chris Myers retired.

The former Texans center called it quits Tuesday on a career that saw him play in a pair of Pro Bowls as an anchor of the Houston offensive line.

A Texan from 2008 to 2014, Myers helped lead the team to a pair of AFC South titles in 2011 and 2012. He made the announcement official on Tuesday morning's SportsRadio 610 "In the Loop" radio program, and also tweeted a thank you.

Head coach Bill O'Brien began his Tuesday press conference by thanking Myers for his service to the Texans, and said the Houston media was gaining a "good teammate" as well.

"Personally, I really appreciate what Chris Myers meant to our coaching staff and team," O'Brien said.

Ben Jones, who played guard on either side of Myers over the past three years, is now the starting center for Houston. He too, had nothing but high praise for his former teammate.

"Heck of a teammate, heck of a family man," Jones said of the married father of three. "He took me under his wing."

Myers is now a radio personality with 610, and can be heard on the Crown Royal Regal Apple postgame show following all Texans contests.

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Reggie Wayne is a Patriot. Will he be any good?

Reggie Wayne is a player Patriots fans should know well.

Wayne is the Colts’ all-time leader in games played and the leader among active players in receptions (1,070) and receiving yards (14,345). And, after 14 years in Indy, he’s now a New England Patriot.

The 36-year-old (who turns 37 in November) had been on the market since his final contract with the Colts expired in March, and despite reports of interest from a handful of teams in July, Wayne remained unsigned until Monday. With veteran wideout Brandon Gibson now on IR, fourth-year undrafted free agent Brian Tyms waived with an injury and Brandon LaFell, Aaron Dobson and Julian Edelman still sidelined with injury, the Patriots’ hand was forced—but Wayne could be an asset this season nonetheless.

Make no mistake, Wayne’s best years are behind him: He last eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in 2012, when he had 1,355 yards and 5 touchdowns with a rookie Andrew Luck. He was on pace to hit the mark in 2013 had he not gone on IR with a torn ACL in Week 7, and he labored to just 779 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 15 games last season. His recent stats paint a picture of receiver in steep decline, and yet it’s somewhat a deceiving one.

While 2014 was Wayne’s worst overall statistical season in a dozen years, injury-shortened 2013 aside, he was more than adequate on a per-catch basis. At 12.2 yards per reception last year, Wayne would have slotted third among Patriots pass-catchers with more than 20 targets last year, behind just Rob Gronkowski (13.7) and LaFell (12.9) and well ahead of Danny Amendola’s 7.4 mark.

He caught just 64 of 116 targets for a 55.1 percent catch rate, far below his 62.4 career rate, but he wasn’t that far off the 56.9 percent he grabbed in his first two years with Luck. Tom Brady (64.1 cmp% in 2014) is unqestionably a more accurate quarterback than Luck (61.7) at this stage in their careers, and so could bring an improvement there.

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Jon Beason Injury Update

Coughlin said he does not have anything new on Beason's sprained knee. Beason is week-to-week, but the Giants hope he will be back by Week 1, if not earlier. 

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Reggie Wayne: Whoever the naysayers are, watch me work

Patriots wide receiver Reggie Wayne — it will take some time for that to look right — has heard the doubts about his ability to produce at a high level after his sluggish end to the 2014 season, but they haven’t shaken his confidence.

Wayne said Tuesday that he was battling injuries all of last season, but knows “what I’m capable of” when he’s healthy.

“I think I have enough to play,” Wayne said, via “Like you said, if I didn’t think I had enough, I wouldn’t be here. One thing I don’t do is worry about what people have to say. If I didn’t play at all, if I decided to retire, they still would have something to say … The only thing I can do is let my work speak for myself. I know what I can do, what I can bring to the table. Just got to get caught up and get on the same [page] as everybody and be able to show what I can do. Whoever the naysayers are, watch me work.”

Getting on the same page with the rest of the Patriots is his biggest concern right now, saying, via Mike Reiss of, that there’s “no comparison” to the offenses he’s played in during his time with the Colts. That focus means that there’s “no time” for messages to Colts fans or thinking ahead to this year’s game in Indianapolis.

Wayne also isn’t going to spend any time worrying about the fact that he won’t be wearing the familiar No. 87 that he wore with the Colts. That number belongs to Rob Gronkowski in New England, so Wayne will wear No. 15 in his 15th NFL season as he embarks on his “new journey” with the Patriots.

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Yasmani Grandal still being bothered by sore shoulder

Yasmani Grandal won't play Tuesday or Wednesday due to lingering soreness in his left shoulder.

Grandal also missed Sunday's finale in Houston and some time last week. He's considered day-to-day for now and the Dodgers don't think he'll need a DL stint. A.J. Ellis is starting at catcher and batting seventh Tuesday in the Dodgers' series opener in Cincinnati.

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Duke Johnson primed for 'real big' role?

ESPN Cleveland's Tony Grossi expects third-round RB Duke Johnson to have a "real big" role if he can stay healthy.

The Browns have been alluding to it all summer, but it's grown more likely as Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West have dawdled through the preseason. Johnson missed a ton of practice time with a hamstring issue, but all will be forgotten if he puts on a show in this weekend's regular season dress rehearsal. At the very least, Johnson will be Cleveland's third-down back in Week 1.

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Ladarius Gunter playing his way onto Packers' 53-man roster

The Green Bay Packers spent their first two picks in this year's draft on cornerbacks. With the 30th-overall selection the Packers took Damarious Randall out of Arizona State; a round later they picked up Miami (Ohio) product Quinten Rollins.

And yet it's an undrafted rookie who has stood out the most at the cornerback position, so far. Through two preseason games, former Miami Hurricane Ladarius Gunter has earned a higher Pro Football Focus grade than any other player on the Packers' roster (+3.3), according to Ryan Wood of Press-Gazette Media.

Gunter, 23, may have started out as a long shot to make the team, but his play has been impossible to ignore. He has defended four passes, including one he intercepted, through two preseason exhibitions.

If Gunter keeps up this level of play, he'll make the Packers' 53-man roster for the 2015 season.

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Thurston Armbrister Emerging At Linebacker For Jacksonville Jaguars

The odds have always been stacked against Jacksonville Jaguars rookie Thurston Armbrister.

As a no-star recruit, Armbrister was not heavily recruited coming out of high school. He eventually signed with the Miami Hurricanes, but not much was expected of the young linebacker. After barely seeing the field early in his collegiate career, he made his mark on special teams and eventually grew into one of Miami’s top defensive playmakers. In 38 career games with the Hurricanes, the 6-foot-3, 241-pound Armbrister recorded 129 tackles and seven sacks.

Despite his success at the collegiate level, Armbrister was not invited to the NFL combine. Doubts about his athleticism and ability in coverage led to him going undrafted. The Jaguars quickly signed him following the draft.

The Jaguars’ starters at linebacker are set with Telvin Smith, Paul Posluszny and Dan Skuta. However, depth at the position remains a concern. Aside from third-year linebacker LaRoy Reynolds, the Jaguars lack quality players at the position. Second-year linebackers Jeremiah George and Khairi Fortt, as well as fellow undrafted rookie Todd Thomas, are competing with Armbrister for the final two linebacker spots.

Through two preseason games, Armbrister appears to be on the verge of locking down one of those spots. He is third on the team with eight tackles. He has played well against the run, and has greatly improved in coverage throughout training camp and the preseason. He also has the versatility to play all three linebacker spots.

With Reynolds and Fortt suffering knee injuries in Saturday’s preseason game against the New York Giants, Armbrister should have plenty of opportunity to prove his worth over the next couple of weeks. Being in this position is nothing new to Armbrister. He has played his entire career with a chip on his shoulder. If he can continue to impress in the final two preseason games, his roster spot will be all but secured.

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Duke Johnson will be used heavily in 3rd game

Browns OC John DeFilippo said he expects rookie RB Duke Johnson to have a significant role in the third preseason game.

Considering the third preseason game is often viewed as a regular season dress rehearsal, this could point to a large regular season role for the rookie. Terrance West shined in the second preseason game, but neither he nor Isaiah Crowell has impressed as receivers. Johnson was one of the best receiving backs in this year's class.

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Bill Belichick on Reggie Wayne: We’ll see how it goes

Patriots coach Bill Belichick has spent a lot of time devising plans to cover wide receiver Reggie Wayne over the years and those experiences left him with plenty of complimentary things to say about the veteran wideout.

Now he’ll get a chance to coach Wayne, who signed a one-year deal with the Patriots on Monday. In past years, it wouldn’t have been a question whether Wayne would find a spot on the team’s roster but Wayne looked like he lost a step or two in 2014. That’s left Belichick to play “wait and see” before figuring out what, if any, role Wayne will play for the Patriots this year.

“We’ll find out. We’ll see how it goes,” Belichick said during an appearance on WEEI. “We’ve never had him in our system before. I mean I’ve coached him in the Pro Bowl and all that. We just have to see how it goes. He’s had a great career and has done a lot of things for the Colts organization, primarily playing on the left and in more recent years being moved around to playing on the right and also some slot in situations. I think he has a lot of versatility, obviously he has a lot of experience so we’ll have to see how it goes.”

We’ve seen receivers like Chad Johnson fail to flourish in New England after having productive careers with other teams, so it’s no sure thing that Wayne will wind up making an impact for the Patriots this fall. With Brandon Gibson hitting injured reserve on Monday and the Aaron Dobson/Josh Boyce duo failing to grab major roles with the team since being drafted in 2013, Wayne probably won’t be lacking chances to show he has something left in the tank.

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Ereck Flowers a cautious thumbs-up so far

A quick observation of New York Giants first-round pick Ereck Flowers and how he has played through three weeks of training camp:

The Giants drafted Flowers No. 9 overall thinking they could use him at right tackle right away and develop him as their left tackle of the future. But when left tackle Will Beatty tore his pectoral muscle lifting weights in May, the Giants shifted Flowers to the left side and accelerated his development. He's played on the left throughout OTAs, minicamp, training camp and the first two preseason games, and so far the reviews are good.

As expected, Flowers looks like a giant mauler who can eat up defenders in the run game. The Giants believed he would show that right away, and he has. The questions are about footwork and technique in pass protection, especially now that he's charged with protecting Eli Manning's blind side.

So far on that front, some good and some bad news. Flowers held up all right against the Bengals' impressive defensive front in the first preseason game. Jacksonville didn't test him much Saturday in the second, as most of his one-on-one matchups seemed to be against linebackers and not defensive ends. He looked very good on a couple of plays and was beaten on a couple of others -- basically what you'd expect from a talented rookie learning the league.

What teammates and coaches seem to like best about Flowers is that he's serious about his business and his education. Tom Coughlin said Sunday that he liked the way Flowers went after a loose ball behind the line of scrimmage even though it was an incomplete pass and not a fumble, because it shows he's been listening as the coaching staff has preached pursuit of every loose ball. Teammate Andre Williams said Flowers is "not easily frustrated," which is a fine quality for a rookie who's likely to have some struggles mixed in among the successes.

Overall so far, Flowers has given the Giants reason to believe they could be all right with him as their left tackle to start this season, which is actually more than they expected when they drafted him.

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Patriots agree to deal with Reggie Wayne

The Patriots have a new receiver, and this one has a very big reputation.

The team has agreed to a deal with former Colts wideout Reggie Wayne, according to a source.

On WEEI this afternoon, Patriots coach Bill Belichick pretty much confirmed the transaction.

"I think we've agreed (to a contract)," Belichick said. "I've had several (conversations) with him. We'll see how it goes. We've never had him in our system before; coaching him in the Pro Bowl and all that, but we'll just have to see how it goes."

Wayne came to terms after visiting for a physical over the weekend.

The wide receiver's defection from Indianapolis is just the latest bit of gasoline on the fiery Patriots-Colts rivalry.

"He's certainy had a great career and has done a lot of things for the Colt organization, primarily playing on the left but then in more recent years being moved around to playing on the right and also in some slot situations. I think he has a lot of versatility and obviously he has a lot of experience, so we'll just have to see how it goes."

In a 14-year career with the Colts, Wayne is the franchise record-holder for games played with 211. In that time, he racked up 14,345 receiving yards and scored 82 touchdowns. As recently as 2012, Wayne had 106 catches for 1,335 yards. Both outputs were the second best of his career.

During the Colts' 2013 campaign, Wayne tore his ACL, and last season his numbers were down. He finished 2014 with 64 catches on 116 targets, and only had two touchdown receptions for Andrew Luck's prolific offense. In fact, in his last five seasons in Indy, Wayne caught just 19 TD passes in a span of 70 games.

Nonetheless, it's clear Wayne has the respect of Belichick, who spoke glowingly of the veteran before a meeting with the Colts last season.

"He's still really good at everything," Belichick said. "Obviously a real smart, experienced guy. Knows how to set up routes, make all of his routes look the same. Does a great job releasing, and then at the top of his routes, being able to create separation at just the right time when the quarterback is ready to throw."

Wayne is getting a shot in New England because the Patriots are thin at wide receiver with the season rapidly approaching.

Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce are all nursing injuries, so there's a chance that Wayne cracks the opening day roster, especially if LaFell (who has the most serious ailment of the bunch) opens the season on the PUP list.

ESPN first reported the Wayne signing.

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Phillip Dorsett a first-round thumbs-up so far

A quick observation of first-round pick Phillip Dorsett and how he has played through three weeks of training camp:

At this point, the Colts would get a thumbs-down based on the position they addressed with their first-round pick when they knew they had concerns on the offensive line. But that isn't Dorsett's fault. The wide receiver shouldn't be blamed for Indianapolis selecting him, and his performance in training camp through the first three weeks definitely deserves a thumbs-up.

I wrote about Dorsett last week, and in that piece, cornerback Greg Toler said the speedster "flat out burns down the field. You sit on his routes too much or miss on a jam and it’s a foot race.” That's how it's been from the start for Dorsett. A lot of speed. Dorsett's ability to quickly grasp multiple receiver positions in the offense has impressed the coaching staff.

Dorsett had four receptions for a team-high 51 yards in the Colts' preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. That was the good news. The bad news was that Dorsett lost a fumble after having the ball stripped from behind. He bounced back by catching all three passes thrown his way and finishing with 21 yards in the second preseason game against the Chicago Bears. Dorsett likely would have had more receptions and yards, but he left the game with a knee contusion in the second half. He's day to day.

Dorsett, who also returns punts, is currently the Colts' No. 4 receiver behind T.Y. Hilton, Andre Johnson and Donte Moncrief.

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Patriots players excited about addition of Reggie Wayne

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots players expressed excitement late Monday with news that longtime Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne has agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the team.

"Not in a million years did I think I’d be [teammates with] a guy that I’ve been watching for a long time. Glad to have him, time to get to work," cornerback Malcolm Butler said.

Added receiver Danny Amendola, "He's played at a high level for a long time, played on some really good football teams, and we're excited to have him. He's a professional."

Veteran cornerback Tarell Brown noted that he's played against Wayne once in his career, saying that it's exciting to bring a leader like him aboard. He compared it to when he had the chance to practice against longtime Rams receiver Isaac Bruce when both were teammates in San Francisco (2008-2009) at the end of Bruce's career.

“Somebody of that caliber, you have to be very disciplined [playing against]," Brown said. "[He’s] somebody that’s really crafty that’s going to give you different looks, give you different leverages and just attack you in so many different ways. It makes you more of a patient player. It makes you trust your technique a lot more, and it also helps you prepare week in and week out to understand that guys will game plan you, guys will come out and do different things against you.”

Brown said Wayne's influence and experience will help all players -- from rookies to veterans.

Safety Tavon Wilson echoed those thoughts.

"Going up against a veteran guy like that that brings a lot of versatility and how productive he’s been as long as he’s been in this league is going to help our defense in practice," he said. "I’m looking forward to adding him to our team.”

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Chase Ford, impressive last season, now battling for job

Chase Ford had more receiving yards than any Vikings tight end last season, but he's now in jeopardy of not making the team.

Ford, who caught 23 passes for 258 yards in 2014, could be the odd man out in a crowded position group. Starter Kyle Rudolph, blocking specialist Rhett Ellison and rookie MyCole Pruitt all figure to survive the final cut.

Ford has 34 catches for 391 yards the past two seasons with the Vikings. He had some strong outings last season when Rudolph missed seven games because of injury.

Ford at least didn't hurt himself in Saturday's 20-12 preseason victory over Oakland, catching five passes for 19 yards. He had a four-yard touchdown reception in the middle of the end zone, hanging onto the ball after being hit very hard.

"Any opportunity you have a chance to catch the ball, you need to catch it," Ford said. "You don't want to miss the ball. That's how you get cut."

NFL teams must cut down from 90 to 75 by Sept. 1, then to the regular-season limit of 53 by Sept. 5. Coach Mike Zimmer didn't want to speculate Monday on Ford's chances or on whether the Vikings could keep four tight ends.

But Zimmer did speak well of Ford's Saturday performance.

"Chase does a really good job in the passing game," Zimmer said. "He catches the ball well, he runs good routes and he's got to continue to maintain consistency."

Minnesota's three tight ends last year were Rudolph, Ellison and Ford. Pruitt, a fifth-round pick from Southern Illinois, now is a cinch to make the team.

Pruitt missed Saturday's game because of a sprained left ankle and sat out practice on Monday, but Zimmer said he is doing better.

"He's got the body to be a blocker. He's willing," Zimmer said or Pruitt. "I think he's going to continue to get better. Right now, I wouldn't say he's a killer blocker, but I think he'll be better than adequate when it's all said and done."

Ford acknowledges Pruitt's presence has put him in a battle to make the team. If Ford gets cut, he thinks he's at least done enough in his three NFL seasons to get another shot.

"That's up to the other (general managers) and coaches and stuff, but I feel like somebody will try to chance on me," he said.

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Jon Beason believes he will be ready for season opener

Given his recent injury history, Jon Beason knows full well how alarming it was when the linebacker had to exit Saturday night’s preseason game with a knee injury.

But the New York Giants linebacker assured everyone that he doesn’t plan on missing the season opener on Sept. 13 against the Dallas Cowboys with the knee sprain he suffered.

“It’s minor,” Beason said in a conference call late Sunday. “Nothing too concerning in my book.”

“I totally believe that I can and I have my mind made up,” Beason added of whether he will be ready for the opener. “I’ll do everything I can humanly possible to make sure that that happens. And I don’t want just straight on Sunday. I want to get back in time for preparation for that [Dallas] game.”

Beason said he hurt his knee when he made a breakup on a pass attempt in the end zone. The linebacker felt some instability in the left knee and was kept out of the game. He underwent an MRI on Sunday which revealed nothing more than a sprain.

Head coach Tom Coughlin said he did not know how long his middle linebacker would be out. Veteran Jameel McClain should help fill the void until Beason is back.

“We do have the benefit of a guy that’s played a lot of football and is very good in the huddle,” Coughlin said of McClain. “Does all those things extremely well. So you hate to think in terms of anything that stretches your depth right at this point in time, but it’s a reality in our league.”

Beason said the most frustrating part of his injury is missing practice reps in new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s system.

“I felt like I was just starting to come into a zone where I felt comfortable in this scheme in terms of getting everybody lined up and trying to do my job at a high level and being active,” Beason said. “But the other thing about it is that I’ve been down this road before and I know how to prepare without necessarily being on the field.”

Beason played in four games last year due to a toe injury suffered in minicamp. And before playing in 15 games the year before for the Giants and Panthers, Beason played in a total of five games over the previous two years because of leg injuries in Carolina.

Beason and the Giants are relieved the injury isn't more serious especially after seeing the team lose two safeties –- Bennett Jackson and Justin Currie –- to injury for the season.

“People may say, ‘Hey, Beason has been accident prone the latter part of his career,’” Beason said. “But this game is unforgiving. ... For us, it’s unfortunate when starters and guys who you assume are going to be a big part of the equation for the season get hurt. But you know, that’s a part of the gig.

“So we’ve had some really bad injuries and knock on wood but we’ve had injuries that are just setbacks for guys that are probably going to come back and be fine,” he added. “You just keep your fingers crossed, but it is the nature of the beast and it’s like gambling, you just don’t know what’s going to happen. Day to day, anything can happen, so hopefully the injuries for us slow down, because they’ve been coming fast and furious over the past couple weeks.”

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Andre Johnson Feeling Right At Home In Colts Culture

INDIANAPOLIS – Andre Johnsonicon-article-link heard the fan and he had to crack a smile.

“Welcome to a winning team, Andre” shouted an onlooker in Anderson, prior to the Colts first Training Camp practice of 2015.

Acquainting yourself in a new culture, after 12 seasons being the face of another franchise, especially that team’s division rival, is no simple task.

Training Camp in Anderson was the first time Johnson had ever gone “away” for camp in his NFL career.

The added uncertainty of seeing a new fan base day-in-and-day-out for Johnson was eased early on.

“When the fan said that, I just turned around and started laughing. All the fans kind of started laughing,” Johnson says with a smile.

“After practice, (I signed) autographs for fans a few times (and) they’ve been very welcoming. A lot of them are telling me they are glad that I’m here and they don’t have to go against me. That makes you appreciate it, makes you feel at home. I’m just excited about this opportunity.”

With a weapon like Johnson, the Colts are giving him several opportunities to showcase his unique range.

Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton is moving Johnson all around the Colts offense, lining the seven-time Pro Bowler up both outside and in the slot, more frequently than he did in Houston.

Hamilton could pop in the film and see what the Colts were getting in Johnson from a pure football standpoint. The Colts offensive coordinator is also seeing the side of Johnson inside the classroom.

“One of the things that’s allowed Andre to be such a good pro for so long is his ability to focus and pay attention to the details,” Hamilton says.

“He approached joining our team as if he was a rookie. He took copious notes and he was always focused and engaged in meetings. He’s constantly asking questions and he’s working overtime to build a relationship with Andrew Luckicon-article-link and the rest of our guys.”

While Johnson has put up rare numbers in his dozen NFL seasons, the way he goes about his business is a bit unusual, too.

Unlike the “diva” stereotype that can often follow elite wide receivers, Johnson is quiet in nature…until he hits the field.

“Everybody always asks me about that. They say you are so laid back but when you are on the field, you are a different person. That’s just the way I’ve always been,” Johnson says.

“That’s how I was growing up. My mom, my little brother, we are all the same, just a quiet house. We are all competitive (though). Whenever those competitive juices get going, we kind of get revved up a little bit. That’s the way we approach things.”

Chuck Pagano has known Johnson for over a decade and a half. The Colts head coach remembers a high school aged Johnson barely saying a word when Pagano and the Miami football staff were pursuing the blue-chip recruit.

That demeanor hasn’t changed much, which should be a sign of caution for anyone having to face Johnson.

“There are a lot of quiet guys that are in the Hall of Fame,” Pagano says. “There are some guys that like to talk a lot in there and then there are probably some guys in there that didn’t say a whole lot and just went out and did their job and did it very well.

“(Johnson’s) one of those guys that, he’s so quiet, you never mess with. You don’t mess with that guy. He doesn’t say a whole lot, but what he does on the football field and how he attacks his profession, his work ethic and all those types of things, the plays that he can make, it speaks for itself.”

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