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  • Redskins activate TE Reed
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, August 20, 2017

    The Washington Redskins activated tight end Jordan Reed off the active/physically unable to perform list on Sunday.

    • Reed, who has been sidelined with a sprained toe, is now eligible to return to practice.

      The Redskins will resume workouts on Wednesday as the team prepares for a preseason game next Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. It's unknown whether Reed might see playing time in the Redskins' third preseason game.

      The 27-year-old Reed is in his fifth season with the Redskins after being drafted out of Florida in the third round in 2013.

      Last season, Reed played in 12 games and had 66 receptions for 686 yards and six touchdowns.

      In four NFL seasons and 46 regular-season games, Reed has 248 catches for 2,602 yards and 20 touchdowns.

  • Patriots continue roster building in preseason
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, August 20, 2017

    FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With summertime 19-0 talk still bubbling throughout fans and media alike, the New England Patriots have opened preseason action with consecutive losses following Saturday night's 27-23 defeat at the hands of the Texans in Houston.

    • Now, no one will pretend that preseason action is an indicator of regular-season potential. New England sat out 40 top players in the preseason opening loss to the Jaguars in Foxborough. Quarterback Tom Brady played a couple series this week, while tight end Rob Gronkowski saw his first preseason action since 2012.

      But, in reality, the work done on the field - and the work that takes place earlier in the week in the join practices the team has held with the Jaguars and Texans - is what matters most, not any specific play, result or statistic. After the loss, head coach Bill Belichick said everyone on his team is making progress before adding his summertime motto that everyone has a long way to go.

      While fans focus on Brady, Gronkowski and the core of stars that will be the backbone of the Patriots' 2017 success, Belichick is also piecing together all the complementary pieces that will fill out this fall's squad for the defending Super Bowl champions.

      That includes guys like running back addition Rex Burkhead. The former Bengals backup had seven rushes for 20 yards and three catches for 50 yards in his debut in a Patriots uniform, including a pretty 22-yard catch-and-run touchdown from Brady.

      Burkhead is the latest addition to the Patriots' annual committee backfield and his new coach likes what the versatile back brings to the job.

      "Rex has missed very little time. He's basically been out there every day and we've worked with him in all areas of the game that we think he can contribute in, which is all three downs offensively and the four phases of special teams that he's been involved with, from Day 1," Belichick said of the veteran, who will battle for playing time with fellow newcomer Mike Gillislee and returnees James White and Dion Lewis as the Patriots look to replace LeGarrette Blount's 1,000-plus yards and NFL-best 18 touchdowns.

      Another player whose role could be more notable than his name is trade addition James O'Shaughnessy. The third-year tight end was acquired on draft weekend from Kansas City. He also made his debut in Houston, notching a game-high five catches for 41 yards while playing throughout in the kicking game. O'Shaughnessy is vying for his own versatile role behind Gronkowksi.

      "He kind of got back into action this week in the kicking game and offensively," Belichick said of the young tight end who missed the preseason opener to an unknown injury. "So, again, there were some good things and there were some things that he'll need a little more work on and were a little rusty. But, again, I thought overall, I thought he competed well and gave a good account of himself last night."

      While he'll never admit it, and emphasizes every summer that every player and coach needs to re-establish his role within the team, Belichick knows what he has with many of his top stars like Brady and Gronkowski. It's the rest of what he often refers to as the roster "mosaic" that Belichick is working on right now heading toward the regular-season opener against the Chiefs on Sept. 7 at Gillette Stadium.

      Brady, Gronkowksi, cornerback Malcolm Butler and linebacker Dont'a Hightower will be the returning core. Top newcomers like wide receiver Brandin Cooks and cornerback Stephon Gilmore inject new playmaking blood. But Belichick knows that the bottom couple dozen guys on the roster can play just as big a role in the long march to a Super Bowl as the stars.

      Those are the guys earning their bones in the preseason.

      "That's what training camp and preseason games are for," Belichick emphasized after breaking down the tape from his team's second preseason contest against Houston, half the August schedule now in the books. "You give the players an opportunity to compete and they earn what they get. They earn the right to play more based on their performance. If a player goes out there and establishes a performance through his production, both in practice and in preseason games, then he earns more playing time. Anybody can do that. If they don't and other players do, then the other players will receive those opportunities ahead of the ones that didn't produce as well or show quite as much. But, yeah, that opportunity is there for everybody. That's what training camp and preseason is for is to give everybody an opportunity to do that. The players decide that. I don't decide it. They decide it based on what product they put out there."

  • Bengals part ways with DT Thompson, two others
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, August 20, 2017

    The Cincinnati Bengals terminated the contract of veteran defensive tackle Brandon Thompson on Sunday.

    • A day after the Bengals' 30-12 preseason loss to the Chiefs, the team also cut two undrafted rookies, running back Boom Williams and wide receiver Karel Hamilton.

      Thompson, 27, was the Bengals' third-round pick out of Syracuse in 2012. He missed the entire 2016 season recovering from the torn ACL he suffered in the 2015 season finale.

      Thompson played in three games as a rookie and then appeared in 27 games (seven starts) in 2013 and 2014. He played in nine games in 2015 before the injury. Thompson recorded 53 career tackles and three sacks with the Bengals.

      Hamilton and Williams will have to clear waivers before being able to sign as free agents.

  • Chiefs relying on revitalized run game jump-starting offense
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, August 20, 2017

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City Chiefs head coach threw down the gauntlet heading into the team's second preseason game at Cincinnati, charging his offensive line and running backs to improve on the paltry 31 yards on 14 carries posted in their preseason game a week ago.

    • "I told the guys we were going to run the ball a little more, and they took it as a challenge," Reid said. "They handled it and did well."

      The Chiefs ran all over the Bengals Saturday night, piling up 228 yards on 33 carries, good for a brisk 6.9 yards per clip.

      "They all have really played pretty good," Reid said. "I was happy with how they handled themselves."

      The Kansas City rushing attacked ranked in the middle of the pack a year ago, finishing 15th in the NFL with 1,748 rushing yards, 13th in touchdowns with 15 and 16th with 4.2 yards per carry.

      That marked a precipitous decline from the year before, when Jamaal Charles, Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware helped the Chiefs tally more than 2,000 yards and ranked No. 1 in the league with 19 touchdowns.

      The 2016 season saw Charles limited to a mere 12 carries, and now the team must move on without the franchise's all-time leading rusher.

      Ware, who led the team with 921 rushing yards a year ago, returns as the incumbent starter. Running backs coach Eric Bieniemy calls Ware the workhorse of the group.

      "He is just a consistent professional player," Bieniemy said.

      West battled a high ankle sprain last season. He returns hoping to recapture his 2015 form when he led the team in rushing with 634 yards following a season-ending injury to Charles.

      "Charcandrick is one of my favorite guys," Reid said. "He comes to work every day with a smile on his face and loves to play."

      The Chiefs also added two new faces to the mix, third-round draft pick Kareem Hunt and eight-year veteran C.J. Spiller. Hunt brings bounce and elusiveness to the position, while Spiller adds savvy and experience.

      Hunt received the bulk of the time with the first-team offense against Cincinnati, picking up 40 yards rushing on eight carries while adding three catches out of the backfield for 23 yards. He appears in line to receive substantial playing time in the regular season.

      "I wanted to see him, and I wanted him to see the speed of the game against a good defense," Reid said.

      The Chiefs like what they see from Hunt so far. Toledo's all-time leading rusher piled up 4,945 rushing yards in college. He also demonstrated expanded pass-catching skills as a senior, catching 41 passes for 403 yards.

      What Reid may like most of all about Hunt, however, is a willingness and ability to pass block, which remains a must in the coach's West Coast offense.

      "Carrying the ball you have a pretty good idea what they're going to do for the most part," Reid said. "But that protection when it's a bang-bang thing and you can't repeat the play and teach them and all that, it's for real as they say, that was good to see him execute there."

      Spiller brings a different look to the position. Five years removed from his only 1,000-yard rushing season in the NFL, Spiller believes he's finally healthy once again and can reach the speed he needs to be effective.

      "I know I still have got some stuff left in the tank." Spiller said. "I just have to come out and try to showcase my skills."

      But it's experience and patience that makes the biggest difference between Spiller now and the former feature back in Buffalo.

      "I'm getting very comfortable with every aspect of our offense," Spiller said. "I feel that I understand our playbook, and that allows me to play fast. My reads of the defense are getting quicker too."

      Reid remains pleased with all four running backs, and the tight-competition could spell a difficult roster decision as the Chiefs prepare for their opening week Thursday night visit to New England. The team normally carries just three running backs plus fullback Anthony Sherman.

      "If we can only keep three, somebody's going to get a heck of a player," Reid said. "If we can keep all four, that's great. But we'll have to see how that goes down the road here."

  • Pederson says don’t worry about the running game
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, August 20, 2017

    PHILADELPHIA -- Preseason statistics generally aren't very relevant. So, the fact that the Philadelphia Eagles rushed for just 47 yards on 19 carries in their first preseason game against Green Bay, and just 66 yards on 26 carries in their second game against Buffalo probably is nothing for them to get concerned about.

    • "I'm not (concerned) at all," Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said. "Because I see it in practice every day. I know what they're capable of doing.

      "It goes back to the game-plan thing. We don't game-plan these games. We keep it very vanilla. We're still evaluating all of our players."

      The Eagles' newest veteran running back addition, LeGarrette Blount, who they are hoping will help them in short-yardage and goal-line situations, has 17 yards on 9 carries in the first two games.

      In Thursday's 20-16 win over the Bills, three of his five carries were on sweeps, which isn't exactly his strong suit. The 250-pounder never came close to turning the corner, though poor blocking had a little something to do with that. The Eagles' nine-time Pro-Bowl left tackle, Jason Peters, didn't play against the Bills.

      Blount said he never has been very productive in the preseason in his career and that it means next to nothing.

      "There's nothing that we're doubting or that we feel like we're lacking," Blount said. "I feel like we got all the pieces we need to be a good running team."

      The Eagles finished 18th in yards per attempt (4.1) last season and 11th in rushing yards per game (113.3). The Eagles like to harp on the fact that they finished fifth in rushing efficiency, which factors in down and distance. Runs of four yards or more on first-and-10 are efficient runs. So is a 1-yard run on third-and-1.

      One running back that did look good Thursday night was undrafted rookie Corey Clement. The 5-foot-10, 220-pound Clement, who was the first back in after Blount, had a 24-yard run and a 6-yard touchdown run. He also held his own in pass-protection and catching the ball.

      "Corey's been doing a really good job for us," Pederson said. "He's a tough, smart kid, a tough runner, a hard runner. He's done everything we've asked him to do. He's put himself in a good position (to make the roster)."

      The Eagles are expected to keep four running backs. Blount and 34-year-old Darren Sproles both are locks. Rookie fourth-rounder Donnel Pumphrey, who broke the FBS career rushing record at San Diego State, has struggled in the first two preseason games, but has looked fine in practice and figures to be the third back. That leaves Clement battling second-year man Wendell Smallwood for the final running back spot.

      Smallwood missed both of the first two preseason games with a hamstring injury. He practiced Sunday and is expected to play this week against Miami.

  • RB Harris signs with Jaguars
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, August 20, 2017

    The Jacksonville Jaguars signed veteran running back DuJuan Harris on Sunday to add depth at the position.

    • Third-year back T.J. Yeldon suffered a left hamstring injury in the Jaguars' 12-8 preseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night.

      With Yeldon and Leonard Fournette (foot) sidelined, Harris can help fill the void at running back for the remainder of the preseason.

      To make room on the roster, the Jaguars waived/injured cornerback Charles Gaines.

      The 5-foot-7, 206-pound Harris began his NFL career with the Jaguars in 2011 when he played in five games and had nine rushes for 42 yards during his rookie season. His six-year career includes two years in Green Bay (2012, 2014), one stop in Seattle (2015) and most recently two seasons in San Francisco (2015-16). He was released by the 49ers in May.

      Harris, 28, rushed for a career-high 38 times for 138 yards last season with the 49ers and added eight receptions for 115 yards and one touchdown.

      Fournette, who was the fourth overall pick of the 2017 draft, said his left foot injury is healing and he is confident he will be on the field for the season opener on Sept. 10 against the Houston Texans.

      Fournette did not play against the Jaguars on Thursday. He ran for 31 yards and a touchdown on nine carries against the New England Patriots in the first preseason game. Fournette amassed 3,830 yards at LSU in three seasons.

      Gaines signed with Jacksonville on July 31 and saw action in the team's first two preseason games.

  • Bills sign TE Anderson, S McDonald
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, August 20, 2017

    The Buffalo Bills signed tight end Rory Anderson and safety Adrian McDonald.

    • The 6-foot-5, 244-pound Anderson is a former seventh-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2015. He did not make the 49ers' 53-man roster as a rookie but was signed to the Chicago Bears' practice squad. By midseason, he landed on the Bears' practice squad/injured list.

      Anderson, 24, battled injuries throughout his college career at South Carolina, including torn triceps in both arms. He still managed to make 61 catches for 954 yards and nine touchdowns for the Gamecocks.

      The 5-9, 190-pound McDonald was an undrafted rookie signing of the San Diego Chargers in 2016. He spent his rookie year on the Chargers' practice squad but was released by the team last week.

      McDonald earned All-American honors at the University of Houston. He set the school record for interceptions with 17 in his college career

      To make room for Anderson and McDonald on the roster, the Bills released kicker/punter Austin Rehkow and waived/injured tight end Jason Croom, who was injured against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night in the second preseason game and was seen wearing a walking boot.

  • Vikings sign former Gophers QB Leidner
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, August 20, 2017

    The Minnesota Vikings signed former University of Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner on Sunday.

    • The 6-foot-3, 228-pound Leidner joins the Vikings as the team's fifth quarterback after not being selected in this year's draft. He attended the Baltimore Ravens' rookie minicamp but did not sign with the team.

      Leidner, 23, completed his collegiate career at Minnesota ranked second in passing attempts (1,029) and completions (580), ranked third in passing yards (7,287) and fifth in passing touchdowns (36).

      Quarterbacks Sam Bradford, Case Keenum and Taylor Heinicke played against the Seahawks on Friday night. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater remains on the physically unable to perform list after dislocating his left knee and tearing the ACL at the outset of training camp in 2016.

      After the 20-13 loss against the Seahawks on Friday night, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was asked about the play of backup quarterbacks Keenum and Heinicke.

      "We'll have to continue to look," Zimmer said. "I don't think anything is decided yet. We've still got some more time to figure it out."

      Keenum was 12 of 18 for 70 yards and Heinicke was 6 of 9 for 84 yards with one touchdown and an interception against the Seahawks.

      The Vikings have two more preseason games against the San Francisco 49ers on Aug. 27 and Miami Dolphins on Aug. 31

      Leidner joins two fellow Golden Gophers, wide receiver Isaac Fruechte and cornerback Marcus Sherels, on the Vikings' roster.

      Minnesota waived linebacker Darnell Sankey to create room for Leidner on the roster.

  • Cowboys' Jones remains silent about Elliott's suspension
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, August 20, 2017

    Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones continues to be non-specific about star running back Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy over alleged domestic violence against a former girlfriend.

    • Jones and the Cowboys were blindsided when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell handed down Elliott's suspension on Aug. 11.

      Jones, who earlier this month predicted Elliott would not be suspended, continues to say the second-year running back has the team's support in his fight against the ban, but the owner has yet to criticize the league's decision.

      "I don't have anything to say about anything with the commissioner or with anything to do with Zeke at this particular time," Jones told reporters after the Cowboys' 24-19 preseason victory Saturday night over the Indianapolis Colts at AT&T Stadium.

      Jones was pressed by reporters about his silence, but he reiterated the same stance when asked why he was not ready to talk about the suspension.

      "Because I have said I just want to get my thoughts together, see some more cards played, and just see kind of how this thing turns out," Jones said. "I know that they've got a real important date set and want that to have every opportunity it can to have things in its best light. But we certainly are in support of Zeke."

      Elliott and the NFL Players Association filed notice of appeal last week, and the hearing is scheduled for Aug. 29. Goodell appointed Harold Henderson as the arbiter to hear Elliott's appeal.

      Elliott did not play against the Colts and the team has not announced whether he will play next Saturday against the Oakland Raiders.

      "Wouldn't surprise me at all if he would get a few snaps," Jones told reporters. "We don't want to put 30 on him out there. No reason to do that. ... I just think it just logically has fallen that way."

      Elliott was suspended by the league following a 13-month investigation for domestic violence allegations made against the him in July 2016.

      Elliott's former girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson, accused him of domestic violence in Columbus, Ohio. Elliott, who was not arrested or charged in the case, has maintained his innocence all along.

      The Columbus City Attorney's Office announced last September it would not pursue charges against Elliott because of "conflicting and inconsistent information."

      The suspension is scheduled to begin Sept. 2 and Elliott is eligible to return to the Cowboys' roster on Oct. 23, one day after the team's Week 7 road game against the San Francisco 49ers.

      The 22-year-old Elliott is coming off a sensational season in which he rushed for a Cowboys rookie-record 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns. He led the NFL in rushing yards.

  • Bucs sign CB Cooper
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, August 20, 2017

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed cornerback Mariel Cooper on Sunday.

    • The 5-foot-11, 192-pound Cooper originally entered the league as an undrafted college free agent with the Washington Redskins in the 2016 offseason before being waived at the end of that preseason. He played collegiately at The Citadel.

      The Bucs also waived running back Quayvon Hicks.

  • Report: Giants OT Bowie charged with domestic assault
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, August 20, 2017

    New York Giants offensive tackle Michael Bowie won't make the trip for Monday's preseason game against the Cleveland Browns after being charged with domestic assault and battery in Oklahoma, according to published reports.

    • Bowie, a native of Tulsa, also was charged with two counts of malicious injury or destruction of property.

      A warrant was issued for Bowie's arrest and the Giants took immediate action.

      "We were made aware of the Michael Bowie situation Saturday afternoon," the Giants said in a statement. "We immediately notified NFL security. Michael will not make the trip for our game in Cleveland as we gather more information on the issue."

      According to the Tulsa World, Bowie and his girlfriend had an argument over finances and it turned physical after the woman made a remark about Bowie's mother.

      Tulsa County assistant district attorney Kenneth Elmore told the newspaper that Bowie grabbed the woman by her neck and tossed her to the ground. He then broke two televisions and punched a hole in the wall.

      Bowie, 25, would be subject to league discipline under the NFL's conduct policy should he make the roster. He is currently a third-stringer.

      The Giants faced a high-profile domestic abuse situation last season when kicker Josh Brown received a one-game suspension. The Giants cut Brown when he later admitted to physically abusing his ex-wife.

  • NFL preseason roundup: Siemian leads Broncos
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, August 20, 2017

    Trevor Siemian put the 49ers away -- and might have put away the race for the Broncos' quarterback position.

    • Siemian went 8 of 11 for 93 yards and a touchdown to lead Denver to a 33-14 victory over host San Francisco on Saturday, spoiling the preseason home opener for new 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan.

      Siemian did not start, as Broncos coach Vance Joseph opted to open the game with second-year quarterback Paxton Lynch.

      But the competition between the quarterbacks might have effectively ended Saturday, as Lynch looked unsettled and didn't complete any passes longer than 7 yards, while Siemian pushed the ball downfield and hit wide receiver Jordan Taylor for a 19-yard touchdown that pushed the Broncos' halftime lead to 20-0.

      Chiefs 30, Bengals 12

      Patrick Mahomes bolstered his case for Kansas City's backup quarterback job, passing for 88 yards and two touchdowns in a victory over host Cincinnati.

      Tight end Demetrius Harris caught two touchdown passes and rookie Kareem Hunt rushed for 40 yards on eight carries for the Chiefs. Charcandrick West rushed for 113 yards on seven carries and helping Kansas City amass 413 yards of total offense.

      The Bengals' offense got off to a fast start. A 22-yard completion from Andy Dalton to A.J. Green set up Randy Bullock's 47-yard field goal to put Cincinnati ahead 3-0.

      Texans 27, Patriots 23

      Tom Savage completed 8 of 9 passes for 98 yards, one score and no interceptions for a pristine 149.1 passer rating in nearly one quarter of action in Houston's victory over visiting New England.

      Savage lobbed a perfect spiral in the back of the end zone to connect with Jaelen Strong, who beat Pro Bowl cornerback Malcolm Butler for a leaping 2-yard TD catch. Savage, the new starter, continues to hold off the challenge of gifted first-round draft pick Deshaun Watson.

      Tom Brady completed 6 of 9 passes for 67 yards, one touchdown and had no interceptions for the Patriots. Backup Jimmy Garoppolo completed 15 of 23 passes for 145 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

      Cowboys 24, Colts 19

      Dak Prescott posted a perfect 158.3 passer rating as host Dallas defeated Indianapolis.

      Prescott completed 7 of 8 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown, a 32-yard strike to receiver Dez Bryant on the opening drive. Backup Kellen Moore went 10 of 21 for 131 yards.

      Colts backup quarterback Scott Tolzien started for Andrew Luck, who remains sidelined with a right shoulder injury. Tolzien completed 10 of 14 passes for 70 yards and led Indianapolis to a field goal in his five first-half drives.

      Packers 21, Redskins 17

      Quarterback Taysom Hill ran 23 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 6:16 remaining as visiting Green Bay defeated Washington.

      The Packers' Aaron Rodgers, who saw preseason action only during Week 3 a year ago, played the first series, completing 6 of 8 passes for 37 yards and a touchdown. He ran twice for 15 yards. Backup Brett Hundley, was 9 of 10 for 107 yards and a touchdown.

      Kirk Cousins played the first half for the Redskins, finishing 14 of 23 for 144 yards and one touchdown. Washington rookie running back Semaje Perine rebounded from a rough debut (six carries, 15 yards), gaining 45 yards on eight carries and adding a 29-yard reception.

      Lions 16, Jets 6

      Matthew Stafford connected with Marvin Jones on a 5-yard scoring strike and Matt Prater kicked three field goals in host Detroit's victory over New York.

      Stafford, who played three series, looked sharp while completing eight of 10 passes for 84 yards. Backup Jake Rudock also threw for 84 yards while completing 8 of 13 passes with an interception.

      Christian Hackenberg started at quarterback for the Jets and played the entire first half but connected on only 2 of 6 passes for 14 yards. Bryce Petty played the second half and completed 15 of 24 pass attempts for 160 yards while getting intercepted.

      Bears 24, Cardinals 23

      Deonte Thompson returned a missed field goal 109 yards for a touchdown at the end of the second quarter as Chicago hung on to defeat host Arizona.

      The Cardinals rallied from a 10-point deficit in the final two minutes to almost steal the victory, but after a 52-yard field goal with 1:25 to play and a 3-yard touchdown pass by Blaine Gabbert with nine seconds left, Arizona couldn't connect on a two-point conversion.

      Bears quarterback Mike Glennon shook off last week's disappointing performance by completing 13 of 18 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted once, but it wasn't for a pick six like it was in his Bears debut against Denver.

      Rams 24, Raiders 21

      Sean Mannion guided Los Angeles on a fourth-quarter touchdown drive, connecting with Josh Reynolds on a 20-yard touchdown pass with 1:11 left to defeat Oakland.

      Jared Goff was sharp while playing into the second quarter, throwing for 160 yards on 16-of-20 passing with one touchdown for the Rams. He marched Los Angeles to two touchdowns and a field goal on three of his four drives.

      The Raiders' Derek Carr, making his first appearance since breaking his leg on the second-to-last week of the 2016 season, finished 7 of 9 with 100 yards and two touchdowns.

      Titans 34, Panthers 27

      NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Marcus Mariota was 6 of 8 for 61 yards and a touchdown in Tennessee's victory over Carolina.

      Mariota's 4-yard touchdown pass went to Delanie Walker and gave the Titans a 10-0 lead. Derek Henry rushed 16 times for 36 yards and two touchdowns for Tennessee.

      The Panthers' Christian McCaffrey rushed three times for 33 yards and a touchdown while recording a 38-yard reception among his two catches. His 17-yard TD run resulted in Carolina's first points.

  • NFL notebook: Union head says Goodell 'lied' on conduct policy
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, August 19, 2017

    NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith in harsh terms said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's explanation of how the league's personal conduct policy was overhauled was a falsehood.

    • "He lied," Smith said in response to questioning from Bryant Gumbel during an interview that will air Tuesday night on HBO.

      NFL owners unanimously approved a more stringent personal conduct policy in December 2014 following a series of high-profile incidents, the most notable featuring former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. How that policy evolved is what drew a terse response from union chief Smith during the sit-down with Gumbel.

      "When Roger Goodell can stand up there as he did and say, 'We're drafting a new NFL Personal Conduct Policy. We're gonna do so in conjunction with the union,' and then doesn't consult the union, comes up with a new policy, that says what?" Gumbel asked Smith.

      "That says he lied," Smith said.

      With the NFLPA filing an appeal last week of a six-game suspension handed to Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott for violating the league's personal conduct policy after multiple domestic violence incidents, the relationship between the union and league office again is in the spotlight.

      --Two prominent organizations showed support for quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his inability to catch on with an NFL team.

      The NAACP chapter in Atlanta is calling for all football fans to boycott NFL games by not watching those contests until a team signs Kaepernick. Meanwhile, a number of current and former New York City police officers, including Frank Serpico, gathered in Brooklyn in support of Kaepernick.

      Kaepernick, 29, brought controversy when he decided to kneel during the national anthem prior to NFL games in protest of racism in America. He became a free agent after playing for the San Francisco 49ers last season, but no team has signed him for the coming season.

      Gerald Griggs, the vice president of the NAACP's Atlanta chapter, said this week that his chapter will boycott all things related to the NFL as long as Kaepernick remains unsigned.

      --Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, as expected, was not playing in Saturday afternoon's preseason game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium.

      Backup Derek Anderson started against the Titans, and he was expected to be followed by Joe Webb and Garrett Gilbert.

      The 28-year-old star quarterback, who also did not play in last week's preseason opener against the Houston Texans, continues to rehabilitate his surgically repaired throwing shoulder. He had surgery on March 30 to repair a partially torn rotator cuff that was expected to require a four-month rehab process.

      Coach Ron Rivera has not been concerned if Newton ends up missing all four preseason games, with the goal being to have him ready for the Sept. 10 opener on the road against the San Francisco 49ers.

      --The Miami Dolphins and veteran linebacker Rey Maualuga agreed to a one-year contract, according to multiple reports.

      The move follows the loss of rookie linebacker Raekwon McMillan to a season-ending torn ACL in his right knee suffered in the preseason opener last week against the Atlanta Falcons.

      Maualuga, who was released by the Cincinnati Bengals in March, is expected to compete with Mike Hull for the starting job at middle linebacker after the injury to McMillan, who was the Dolphins' second-round pick out of Ohio State.

      The 30-year-old Maualuga agreed to a deal that will pay him $900,000 in base salary (the minimum for a ninth-year veteran), according to the Miami Herald.

      --Seattle Seahawks starting left tackle George Fant, who was carted off the field during Friday night's preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings, needs surgery after tearing his ACL.

      Seahawks coach Pete Carroll confirmed after the game that Fant likely will miss the 2017 season because of the right knee injury suffered in the second quarter.

      Fant, 25, went down at the end of a passing play when center Justin Britt fell and rolled into the back of Fant's leg. He was carted off the field with an air cast on his right leg.

      A former college basketball player out of Western Kentucky, the 6-foot-5, 322-pound Fant signed with the Seahawks as an undrafted rookie free agent last year and played in 14 games with 10 starts at left tackle.

      --Seattle Seahawks kicker Blair Walsh said his gestures toward the Minnesota Vikings' sideline in a preseason game Friday night were in response to his ex-teammates taunting him.

      Walsh was spotted gesturing each time after nailing a pair of 52-yard field goals in the Seahawks' 20-13 win at CenturyLink Field. He pointed at the sideline after his first make and walked toward the bench and appeared to say something after the second.

      "I felt like it was nothing that was serious or meant to be hurtful, but I wanted to let them know that it just wasn't going to roll off," Walsh said, via ESPN.com. "I didn't say anything though. Just looked at them."

      Walsh was asked by reporters after the game what the Vikings were saying to him. "Nothing I can repeat here. That's for sure," said Walsh, who played five seasons in Minnesota before the team released him in November after nine games.

      --Just as former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Zachary Orr officially stepped away from the NFL, another door has apparently opened.

      Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said there might be an opportunity to work for the organization in some capacity. Months after initially announcing that his career was over because of a congenital neck and spine condition, a second opinion provided Orr with a glimmer of hope for a comeback with Baltimore or another team.

      However, after further evaluation, Orr was not cleared to play by any NFL franchise, forcing him to officially retire for good. That doesn't mean other opportunities don't await in another capacity as a scout or an assistant coach.

      "I am a big admirer of Zach Orr," Harbaugh said. "I think he wants to get involved in football, and we will probably try to talk him into coming here and being a part of what we do. I sure would like to have him on board -- scouting or coaching -- whatever he wants to do, if he wants to do it. He has expressed an interest in doing that. Good for him."

      --The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed offensive tackle Austin Albrecht and cornerback Vernon Harris.

      The 6-foot-5, 300-pound Albrecht is a college free agent out of Utah State. He played in 39 games for the Aggies, including starting his final 25, earning honorable mention All-Mountain West in both his junior and senior seasons

      The 6-1, 197-pound Harris originally entered the league as a college free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2016 offseason. The Dartmouth product spent last season on the Chiefs' injured reserve list before being waived this offseason.

      The Bucs also announced that cornerback Maurice Fleming and tackle Cole Gardner were waived/injured.

  • NAACP calls for boycott if Kaepernick remains unsigned
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, August 19, 2017

    Two prominent organizations showed support for quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his inability to catch on with an NFL team.

    • The NAACP chapter in Atlanta is calling for all football fans to boycott NFL games by not watching those contests until a team signs Kaepernick.

      Meanwhile, a number of current and former New York City police officers, including Frank Serpico, gathered in Brooklyn in support of Kaepernick.

      Kaepernick, 29, brought controversy when he decided to kneel during the national anthem prior to NFL games in protest of racism in America. He became a free agent after playing for the San Francisco 49ers last season, but no team has signed him for the coming season.

      Gerald Griggs, the vice president of the NAACP's Atlanta chapter, said this week that his chapter will boycott all things related to the NFL as long as Kaepernick remains unsigned.

      "There will be no football in the state of Georgia if Colin Kaepernick is not on a training camp roster and given an opportunity to pursue his career," Griggs told Fox 5 in Atlanta. "This is not a simple request. This is a statement. This is a demand."

      Griggs said the NAACP plans to have a rally at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons, on Sept. 17, which is the day the Falcons play their home opener at their new $1.5 billion stadium.

      "If Mr. Kaepernick is not allowed to pursue his career, then on September the 17th, at 5 o'clock, we are going to have the world's largest tailgate, and that tailgate will not go into Mercedes-Benz Stadium," Griggs said, according to CBSSports.com. "We will take a knee, and we will continue to take a knee on the NFL until they act with one voice."

      Falcons owner Arthur Blank responded in a statement to Fox 5: "I have long had a record of active opposition to any symbol or behavior that represents exclusion or discrimination, both personally and in keeping with the core values of our businesses. I, along with our Family Foundation, the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United, have never and will never waver from that stance."

      Griggs also said the NAACP will gather at NFL headquarters in New York on the same day.

      New York has already been the site of gatherings supporting Kaepernick, as about 75 officers came together on Saturday.

      One of the former officers was Serpico, the subject of the 1973 film "Serpico."

      He told the New York Daily News that he is not a football fan, but felt he needed to support Kaepernick.

  • Orr retires; might have place in Ravens organization
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, August 19, 2017

    OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Just as former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Zachary Orr officially stepped away from the NFL, another door has apparently opened.

    • Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said there might be an opportunity to work for the organization in some capacity.

      Months after initially announcing that his career was over because of a congenital neck and spine condition, a second opinion provided Orr with a glimmer of hope for a comeback with Baltimore or another team.

      However, after further evaluation, Orr was not cleared to play by any NFL franchise, forcing him to officially retire for good. That doesn't mean other opportunities don't await in another capacity as a scout or an assistant coach.

      "I am a big admirer of Zach Orr," Harbaugh said. "He just comes from a great family. All of those kids are doing great because their parents are so amazing. He is going to be successful in many ways and in whatever he does, but I think he wants to be in football.

      "I think he wants to get involved in football, and we will probably try to talk him into coming here and being a part of what we do. I sure would like to have him on board - scouting or coaching - whatever he wants to do, if he wants to do it. He has expressed an interest in doing that. Good for him."

      Orr was initially placed on injured reserve after suffering a herniated disk Christmas Day against the Pittsburgh Steelers. A post-season CT scan finally revealed the problem. Orr previously did not have that test because there was no history of neck problems, and therefore, not necessary.

      Orr evolved from being an undrafted player from North Texas to a starter last season. Orr tied for eighth in the NFL with 132 combined tackles and earned second-team All-Pro honors.

      "He has peace with the whole thing now, I believe," Harbaugh said. "He will get on with the rest of his very successful life."

  • Manning anxious to get on the field
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, August 19, 2017

    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning will make his 2017 preseason debut Monday night in Cleveland.

    • Manning, who dressed but did not play in last week's season opener, is expected to play into the second quarter with the rest of the team's starters, McAdoo said. It will be Manning's' first extensive live game action with the team's revamped skill players, such as receiver Brandon Marshall, tight ends Rhett Ellison and Evan Engram, new starting running back Paul Perkins, and, of course, holdover receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard.

      "I think that is big," Manning said of having the chance to work with the revamped offense. "I think you are always going to learn something from every practice, but especially from every game. They play different coverages or you get a different look and you have to adjust and learn from it, so for some of the new guys, we will learn together and be on the same page. It is a great opportunity to go out there and be tested."

      Manning, who will be testing out a new piece of equipment Monday night -- a glove worn on his left hand that he hopes will give him a better grip on the ball once it's snapped -- said his objective for his first preseason action of the year is very simple.

      "I think for me it is just finding completions, running the offense smoothly, make sure everybody is on the same page of communication," he said.

      "Also having great movement in the pocket and not moving too much if you don't need to. Feeling the rush and being able to make subtle movements to get your feet in place and being able to throw the ball and make smart decisions."

      That includes getting on the same page with everyone else.

      "I think any time you get some live game exposure, you are trying to get on the same page as your receivers. For the first time in eight months, it is live.

      "Now I know that these guys can hit me, they can tackle me, they can go at me. I think that getting used to that, feeling things in the pocket, not looking at the rush, but feeling the rush and buying a little extra time or moving in the pocket and finding a completion."

      Manning grinned when asked about the challenge of trying to keep all his receivers and tight ends happy with pass distributions.

      "I think you want to get everybody involved. I think that's good and that's when we'll be at our best, when we have all the guys getting catches, feeling involved in the offense," he said.

      At the same time, the veteran quarterback said it's important to not try to force throws just for the sake of getting someone who doesn't have a pass target in a game on the stat sheet.

      "You can't get overly concerned with if someone doesn't have a catch, then you have to go out of your way to force a throw to them and that's going to affect the team," he said.

      "I'd like to have everybody have eight catches in a game. It's not going to happen, but you never know. They all have to be ready and they have to get open."

      --Meanwhile, veterans Josh Johnson and Geno Smith are neck in neck for the No. 2 quarterback job behind Manning.

      With neither man really distinguishing himself in the team's preseason opener last week, head coach Ben McAdoo threw another stoke on the competitive fire by hinting that rookie Davis Webb, who has gradually been earning more and more practice reps outside of the seven-on-seven developmental period McAdoo has designated for young players trying to acclimate to the NFL level, might enter the fray.

      "I think we all have to be careful making assumptions," McAdoo said when asked about the backup quarterback battle being limited to Smith and Johnson. "Josh and Geno are competing right now for the No. 2 spot, and if that doesn't look the way we want it to look, Davis will get a crack."

      Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, who didn't slam the door shut on the possibility, was a bit more pragmatic with his response.

      "Well, there is always a chance of anything happening," Sullivan said before adding, "Right now, we are taking an approach with Davis where he has had a lot of work in the developmental period where we pull some players aside and do some cross training that goes on with some of the other players and he has certainly done very well in the meeting room. He is understanding what to do and how to do certain things."

      Webb, who came to the Giants with realistic expectations for himself as a rookie, has been the picture of patience while he makes the adjustment from the Air Raid to the West Coast offense, and credits Manning for being a glowing example.

      "It's easy to be patient because you have a guy in the room like Eli Manning who comes in every day, one of the first people in the building and one of the last ones to leave and he's been in the league as long as he has," Webb said.

      "He sets the standard, and I need to reach it. I'm not there yet -- I'm not even close. That's what I'm striving for every day, and I'm going to continue to work to get there."

      While the possibility of Webb getting bumped up in status ahead of time does exist, realistically, it's a long shot.

      "Right now, we've got Josh and Geno that are battling it out for that second position," Sullivan said. "We will see how that unfolds and cross any bridges when we get to them if something like that were to not resolve itself."

      Like McAdoo, Sullivan was encouraged by what he saw from Webb, the team's third-round draft pick this year, in the preseason opener.

      "He was energized," he said. "Like any rookie, they are going to make some mistakes, but he was certainly not overwhelmed. He was prepared, he was excited, and I think the young man has a bright future."

  • Giants believe O-line is coming together
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, August 19, 2017

    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For a unit that consists of just five big and nondescript guys, the New York Giants' starting offensive line -- left tackle Ereck Flowers, left guard Justin Pugh, center Weston Richburg, right guard John Jerry and right tackle Bobby Hart -- sure has drawn a lot of attention not only this summer, but also in the spring.

    • Rightfully so, given its inconsistent performance combined with the fact that general manager Jerry Reese chose not to upgrade any of the five starters in the offseason with a premium free agent.

      It was a curious move by Reese considering the emphasis placed on revamping the running game, the tight ends and the receivers. So far, the Giants' coaches and players have been steadfast in their belief that last year's offensive line, which finished 30th in the league in run blocking (3.5 yards per carry), is on the ascent.

      "I'm excited about the direction that we're headed in," said Pugh. "Just watching the game film, we're doing some good things."

      "We have seen a lot of progress, especially being in pads, especially having one game to take a look at where you can draw it up on the board (and) talk about it in meetings," added offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan.

      For many people on the outside looking in, the progress made by the line has been miniscule at best. The unit was at the switch last week when Josh Johnson, getting the start for Eli Manning, was sacked three times.

      The Giants' running also picked up right where it left off last year, averaging a dismal 3.2 yards per carry against the Steelers, with starter Paul Perkins accumulating just three yards on five carries.

      Head coach Ben McAdoo has been careful to avoid leveling scathing criticism on the offensive line, particularly on Flowers, their third-year blind-side protector. But as both he and Sullivan pointed out, there is still a lot of preseason football -- 75 percent of their games, to be exact -- left to be played.

      "We are not where we want to be, but we are headed in the right direction," Sullivan said. "I have seen some flashes of the type of offensive line performances that we are going to want to have and we are pleased with where we are headed right now. We have a lot more work to do, but we are headed in the right direction."

      When asked if the progress has been slow to come due to any tweaks made in the linemen's technique by offensive line coaches Mike Solari and Lunda Wells, Sullivan shook his head.

      "I don't know if it is as much about the technique per se in terms of anything that is schematically different. Fundamentals are still fundamentals," he said.

      Instead, Sullivan cited areas such as aiming points, initial quickness, and communication to help the unit avoid some of the breakdowns that plagued them last year.

      Sullivan was particularly generous with his praise for Flowers, who didn't allow any pressures or sacks in the dozen or so snaps he played in the preseason opener.

      "There was one particular play where we were on the 10-12-yard line going in to score, and there was 1-on-1 pass protection and he had great initial quickness, his hand placement, he reacted to the second reaction of the defender and it was a legitimate good play," Sullivan said.

      "It was what we want; it was the model. He has shown better finish, he has shown better sustain and strain of his blocks."

      Despite all the rays of sunshine, Sullivan is realistic when it comes to the offensive line moving forward.

      "We know we are going to go as far as our offensive line goes," he said. "There has been improvement, (but) as I said earlier, we are not where we want to be."

  • Panthers QB Newton again relegated to spectator
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, August 19, 2017

    Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, as expected, was not playing in Saturday afternoon's preseason game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium.

    • Backup Derek Anderson started against the Titans, and he was expected to be followed by Joe Webb and Garrett Gilbert.

      Newton threw a handful of passes to receivers in one-on-one and seven-on-seven drills on Thursday, but the 2015 NFL MVP's timing appeared to be off and several fell incomplete, according to the Charlotte Observer.

      "You could tell he was rusty,'' Panthers coach Ron Rivera told reporters Thursday. "A couple late (balls) on the decisions he made. When he was throwing the ball, he was throwing the ball well, so we're not concerned about that.

      "Now it's just a matter of him working himself back into shape where he can go out and take normal reps instead of us having to make sure we monitor him.''

      Newton was held to a "pitch count" leading up to the preseason game in Nashville, Tenn., after 12 days of not throwing in team warmups or drills during training camp.

      The 28-year-old star quarterback, who also did not play in last week's preseason opener against the Houston Texans, continues to rehabilitate his surgically repaired throwing shoulder. He had surgery on March 30 to repair a partially torn rotator cuff that was expected to require a four-month rehab process.

      Rivera has not been concerned if Newton ends up missing all four preseason games, with the goal being to have him ready for the Sept. 10 opener on the road against the San Francisco 49ers.

      Newton's injury occurred in the Panthers' Week 14 game against the Chargers last season. He played in each of the team's remaining three games and underwent offseason MRI exams to monitor his progress before deciding on surgery.

      Newton passed for 3,509 yards with 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 15 games last season for the Panthers, who missed the playoffs after finishing last in the NFC South with a 6-10 record.

  • Cutler solid in debut; Maualuga added to defense
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, August 19, 2017

    DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins have signed middle linebacker Rey Maualuga, according to a source, shoring up its biggest need on defense. With Maualuga in the fold, and quarterback Jay Cutler about to enter his third week on the job, head coach Adam Gase can breathe a bit easier.

    • Cutler got good reviews from Gase for his debut Thursday in a 31-7 loss to Baltimore.

      After being drawn out of retirement and signed Aug. 7, Cutler went 3 for 6 for 24 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions in two series (nine plays).

      Cutler had a nicely-thrown 31-yard completion to wide receiver DeVante Parker negated by a holding penalty.

      "I thought he was good his first time out," said Gase, who was Cutler's offensive coordinator in 2015 in Chicago. "He looks like we really weren't apart for a year."

      The first-team offense, however, didn't have such favorable reviews. They were beset by penalties that forced them into a third-and-26 on their first possession and a second-and-11 on their second possession.

      Running back Jay Ajayi, who came out of concussion protocol Tuesday, two days before the game, ended with two carries for minus-two yards. But he had a head-banging 19-yard run negated by a holding penalty. He also showed his hard-to-tackle form on an 11-yard reception.

      The offensive line, which was without three starters - center Mike Pouncey (hip), guard-center Kraig Urbik (shoulder) and right tackle Ja'Wuan James (shoulder) - was a bit of an adventure. Right tackle Sam Young was called for two holding penalties on one possession that wiped out 50 yards.

      Defensively, the first team performed fairly well in its three possessions. They gave up 12 yards rushing on three carries, but cornerback Byron Maxwell caused two fumbles and cornerback Xavien Howard had an interception.

      Special teams were a disaster with a fumbled kickoff return, fumbled punt return and a blocked punt that featured 10 men on the field and a premature snap.

      The reserves also struggled. After taking a 7-0 lead, the Dolphins were outscored 31-0 the rest of the way.

      Regardless, the Dolphins are looking forward with optimism, mostly because Cutler passed his first test, including being slammed on his surgically-repaired right shoulder, but also because Maualuga represents hope at the middle linebacker position.

      Maualuga, the eight-year veteran who spent his entire career with Cincinnati, will compete with Mike Hull for the job left open when rookie Raekwon McMillan was injured in the preseason opener against Atlanta.

      Maualuga only had 27 tackles in six games last season while trying to recover from an early-season fibula injury.

      But he should fit nicely into Miami's 4-3 defense as a first- and second-down player.

      Maualuga will presumably travel to Philadelphia with the Dolphins on Sunday, practice against the Eagles on Monday and Tuesday, and possibly play in Thursday's game.

      Notes: Quarterback Ryan Tannehill (knee) still hasn't had his surgery. If Tannehill needs major ACL repair, as is suspected, his recovery could take between eight and 12 months. ... Center Mike Pouncey (hip) seems likely to play Thursday against Philadelphia, but it remains unclear whether he'll practice Monday and Tuesday against the Eagles. Pouncey hasn't had a full-contact practice since November. ... Tight end Julius Thomas, somewhat of an invisible man during training camp, had one receptions for two yards against Baltimore. ... Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips has almost certainly lost his starting job to rookie Davon Godchaux. But Phillips remains a solid part of the rotation. He finished with one tackle and one pass defended against Baltimore in limited action.

      Cornerback Xavien Howard, the 2016 second-round pick, continues to impress. Howard had a nice interception on a deep pass against Baltimore in which he positioned himself so well he appeared to be the receiver and the receiver appeared to be the defender. Howard was slowed by a knee injury last year, but now that he's healthy he appears to be the best cornerback on the roster. ... Wide receiver DeVante Parker had a 31-yard reception negated by a holding penalty. But Parker and QB Jay Cutler seemed to have a nice rapport. Parker had a 16-yard reception on a slant. From the short time Parker and Cutler have been together (four practices and two series in a game), they seem to be developing a strong connection, especially on back-shoulder throws. ... Guard/tackle Jesse Davis was a surprise starter at left guard against Baltimore. Injuries forced the situation, but Davis, the first-year player from Idaho, appeared to perform well. The same was true when he shifted to right tackle. With two preseason games remaining, it appears Davis has a good chance of making the 53-man roster. ... Tackle Sam Young, the primary backup on the right and left sides, had a rough night against Baltimore. Young was flagged twice for holding, costing Miami 50 yards of offense. Head coach Adam Gase gave Young a vote of confidence after the game, however.

      Strongiside linebacker Lawrence Timmons was fairly quiet during Thursday's game against Baltimore, but in fairness, the first-team defense only played 10 snaps. Timmons finished with one tackle, and it was for a loss. ... Middle linebacker Mike Hull appears to be going back to backup duty now that the Dolphins have signed Maualuga. Hull had five tackles, one for a loss, in Thursday's game against Baltimore. Hull will also return to being a core special teams player, which should help that unit greatly. ... Running back Kenyan Drake remains in concussion protocol. He hasn't yet progressed to the stage where he does outside work, which is often an indicator the player is in the final stage or two of the process.

  • NFLPA's Smith claims Goodell lied about conduct policy overhaul
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, August 19, 2017

    NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith in harsh terms said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's explanation of how the league's personal conduct policy was overhauled was a falsehood.

    • "He lied," Smith said in response to questioning from Bryant Gumbel during an interview that will air Tuesday night on HBO.

      NFL owners unanimously approved a more stringent personal conduct policy in December 2014 following a series of high-profile incidents, the most notable featuring former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.

      How that policy evolved is what drew a terse response from union chief Smith during the sit-down with Gumbel.

      "When Roger Goodell can stand up there as he did and say, 'We're drafting a new NFL Personal Conduct Policy. We're gonna do so in conjunction with the union,' and then doesn't consult the union, comes up with a new policy, that says what?" Gumbel asked Smith.

      "That says he lied," Smith said.

      With the NFLPA filing an appeal last week of a six-game suspension handed to Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott for violating the league's personal conduct policy after multiple domestic violence incidents, the relationship between the union and league office again is in the spotlight.

      "He has a job," Smith said. "And I have a job. My relationship with Roger I would argue is irrelevant."

      The broadened powers under the more rigid policy has allowed Goodell to serve as judge and jury in deciding both the punishment and appeals of players, a point of contention between the league and union.

      Smith somewhat sidestepped another question by Gumbel of whether he trusts the commissioner.

      "I don't have the luxury of trust, now do I?" Smith said.

      NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy responded to Smith's comments, according to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio.

      "We repeatedly tried to engage the union but they had no interest in developing a tough and enhanced personal conduct policy," McCarthy told HBO.

  • Ravens like progress of their defense
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, August 19, 2017

    OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The middle of the Baltimore Ravens defense is already showing the potential to be one of the best in franchise history.

    • During the opening two preseason games against the Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins, Baltimore has allowed 2.3 yards per carry and just 10 total points.

      Nose tackle Brandon Williams signed a five-year, $54 million deal in the offseason and is showing the Ravens they made a wise investment. Williams has been supported by defensive tackle Michael Pierce, a second-year player primed for a breakout season.

      The Ravens are also getting production from their young pass rushers, who have managed six sacks in the two games. Despite the early success, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh sees room for improvement.

      "There are some plays that we are going to build off of, and we are going to stack and stand on and improve from," Harbaugh said. "There are going to be some other plays that we are going to look at, and we are going to not be happy with, we are going to be kind of ticked at ourselves for, and that we are going to want to look at really closely and make sure they don't happen again.

      "If you are chasing something really, really good, that is the way you have to look at it - with a real critical eye - and that is what we will do."

      While the front of the defense is already hitting its stride, the secondary is also showing signs of becoming a dominant group. Veteran safeties Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson have been effective directing traffic.

      Cornerback Jimmy Smith has been solid, but must show he can stay healthy through 16 games. Rookie Marlon Humphrey, the team's first-round pick in this year's draft, made his preseason debut against the Dolphins and is pushing for the starting job opposite Smith.

      Baltimore held the Dolphins' starters to just 44 yards in their three drives and limited them to just one third-down conversion on four opportunities.

      "You have to be addicted to making plays especially on this defense," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "It's a good start, but we are not satisfied at all. We are just getting better. We work every week. Work every week to get better."

      The Ravens are going to need to have their defense come up big, especially in the early part of the season while quarterback Joe Flacco finds his footing. Flacco will not take a snap in the preseason so he can be ready for the regular-season opener Sept. 10 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

      Harbaugh said the team does have a specific date for when Flacco will be back in practice, but he did not reveal it to the media.

      "I don't think that time frame is this week," he said. "We'll stick with the plan with that. It's a pretty straightforward date the doctors and back specialists have given us, so we're going to stick with that."

      Baltimore's offensive line is also a work in progress because of injuries. Starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley was out with an undisclosed injury, six-time Pro-Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda is being eased back into the lineup from offseason shoulder surgery. Left guard Alex Lewis is already lost for the season because of shoulder surgery, so the Ravens were again forced to start a makeshift offensive line.

      Baltimore was forced to scramble against Miami and used four starters who entered the league as undrafted rookies. The line should be much more experienced by the regular-season opener once Yanda and newly signed veteran Austin Howard get up to full speed.

      "We've been hit in the offensive line especially hard and it wasn't a real deep position for us anyway," Harbaugh said. "All you can do is just manage what you have and make the best of it and see where you get. Sometimes I think it makes you tougher and stronger and all of those kinds of things. I'm really proud of the way they're working and we'll make of it what we can.

      "I think we're going to be a good offensive line before it's all said and done. But you know, we can add some players still. That's still part of the plan and see where we get."

      Notes: Defensive end Patrick Ricard was used at fullback on a couple of plays against the Dolphins. He has some experience at that position and the Ravens like his toughness. "They just pretty much said, 'Hey we're going to try you at fullback' and they just tell me what I do and I go out there and just do it," Ricard said. "I did it in high school, so it feels a little natural to me so it's not like I've never done it before but it felt great." Ricard's opportunity at fullback does not bode well for either Lorenzo Taliaferro or Ricky Ortiz making the team. ... Tight end Maxx Williams is showing he can produce when he stays healthy. He had a pair of catches for 48 yards against the Dolphins and did well eluding tacklers. Williams, a second-round pick in 2015, appears to be fully healthy from a knee injury that ended his 2016 season. "He's a sneaky athlete," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. "You want to think that he's not athletic and all of a sudden he starts running people over and breaking tackles. That's what we've been looking for from him since we drafted him. That was really fun to watch." Williams has shown potential and set Ravens rookie franchise records for a tight end with 32 catches for 268 yards and a touchdown.

      Tight end Larry Donnell is showing he can be a viable target, especially in the red zone. He caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Mallett and converted a two-point conversion in the second preseason game against the Dolphins. Donnell was signed July 30 after Dennis Pitta and Crockett Gillmore each went down with season-ending injuries. Donnell provides a veteran presence and started six games for the New York Giants last season. "It felt good to get out there and run around a little bit and just have fun again," Donnell said. ... Offensive lineman Matt Skura has impressed coaches with his versatility. With injuries on the offensive line, Skura got the start at right guard in the second preseason game against the Dolphins. However, the second-year player from Duke had an uneven performance and was called for two penalties. Skura has also spent time at center.

  • Dolphins, LB Maualuga agree to 1-year deal
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, August 19, 2017

    The Miami Dolphins and veteran linebacker Rey Maualuga agreed to a one-year contract, according to multiple reports Saturday.

    • The move follows the loss of rookie linebacker Raekwon McMillan to a season-ending torn ACL in his right knee suffered in the preseason opener last week against the Atlanta Falcons.

      Maualuga, who was released by the Cincinnati Bengals in March, is expected to compete with Mike Hull for the starting job at middle linebacker after the injury to McMillan, who was the Dolphins' second-round pick out of Ohio State.

      The 30-year-old Maualuga agreed to a deal that will pay him $900,000 in base salary (the minimum for a ninth-year veteran), according to the Miami Herald.

      The 6-foot-2, 258-pound Maualuga, who was drafted by Cincinnati in the second round in 2009, played in 114 games (104 starts) in his eight seasons with the Bengals, compiling 584 tackles, four sacks, seven interceptions and six forced fumbles.

      Hull finished with five tackles, including one for a loss, in Thursday's 31-7 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

  • Seahawks K Walsh gestures toward ex-Vikings teammates
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, August 19, 2017

    Seattle Seahawks kicker Blair Walsh said his gestures toward the Minnesota Vikings' sideline in a preseason game Friday night were in response to his ex-teammates taunting him.

    • Walsh was spotted gesturing each time after nailing a pair of 52-yard field goals in the Seahawks' 20-13 win at at CenturyLink Field. He pointed at the sideline after his first make and walked toward the bench and appeared to say something after the second.

      "I felt like it was nothing that was serious or meant to be hurtful, but I wanted to let them know that it just wasn't going to roll off," Walsh said, via ESPN.com. "I didn't say anything though. Just looked at them."

      Walsh was asked by reporters after the game what the Vikings were saying to him.

      "Nothing I can repeat here. That's for sure," said Walsh, who played five seasons in Minnesota before the team released him in November after nine games.

      Following the second kick, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman ran onto the field to express his approval.

      "I simply was just responding to getting taunted," Walsh said. "I didn't say anything. When you've got guys who were your teammates for five years yelling at you when you're trying to kick, it's just odd. And I hope they were in jest. And I hope they didn't mean it because I didn't mean anything with mine, but it was definitely not out of nowhere."

      Walsh signed a one-year deal with the Seahawks as a free agent in February.

      Seahawks coach Pete Carroll defended his 27-year-old kicker, who went 2-for-2 on field goals in the first preseason game and 6-for-6 on extra points. He also missed a field goal in the first half Friday night as a 53-yard attempt hit the crossbar.

      "I'm fired up for Blair. ...They were giving him a hard time," Carroll said. "They were razzing him a little bit and all that. He was just having a little fun with it. He's a really good competitor. I like his mentality, and I think we are very fortunate to have him."

      Walsh was 12 of 16 on field goals and 15 of 19 on extra points last season before being released by the Vikings. He missed a 27-yard field-goal attempt in the closing seconds of a 2015 NFC wild-card game against Seattle that could have given Minnesota the victory.

      During his five seasons with the Vikings, Walsh converted 133 of his 158 field goals (84.2 percent) with a career-long of 56 yards.

  • McDermott distressed by penalties, offensive problems
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, August 19, 2017

    ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- The one thing Sean McDermott was looking for from game one of the preseason to game two was improvement. He certainly did not get that. The Buffalo Bills nearly rallied in the waning seconds to pull out the victory in Philadelphia, but that really didn't matter to McDermott who was disturbed by the regression of the offense, and was downright angry about the absurd amount of penalties.

    • "You want to be able to say it's all one area, and that's not the case," McDermott said. "There is some discipline in there, there's concentration, there's playing aggressive without hesitation so that we stay in good position, so we're not in chase mode. There's different buckets, if you will, that are factoring into the penalties, all of which are unacceptable. We need to continue to work at that, I am concerned about it, and we're going to look into bringing officials into practice, to help us in that effort. We've got to get it corrected."

      The Bills had 15 accepted penalties for 131 yards, one week after having 10 for 106 yards in the loss to the Vikings. As McDermott said, they came in all varieties, and in all three phases - offense, defense, special teams.

      "It's 100-percent unacceptable," McDermott said. "Good teams, as you heard me say, don't beat themselves and, obviously, we need work on technique and we're going to go hard on that this week like we've been attacking it. So, we've got a lot of work to do, (penalties) being one of the areas, but overall, a lot of work to do."

      That would also suffice as the takeaway for the first-team offense that was ineffective, particularly quarterback Tyrod Taylor. He completed just 8 of 18 passes for 53 yards and threw two interceptions while also absorbing two sacks. His passer rating was a ghastly 12.0.

      In total, Buffalo had four turnovers and its three quarterbacks were sacked six times. The only touchdown came on a T.J. Yates pass to Brandon Reilly in the fourth quarter after an interception gave the Bills a drive-start inside the red zone. It was a huge disappointment, especially after McDermott had said he wanted to see the offense take a step forward after a sluggish start the week before.

      "I want us to get in a rhythm offensively; I didn't think we got into a rhythm offensively early," McDermott said. "Some of that, we didn't have very favorable field position, and that goes back to special teams and the penalties. I thought we moved the ball out of some unfavorable situations offensively, in both games. That said, I want to see us get into a rhythm offensively, and not only run the ball - I thought we ran the ball well at times over the last two games - but also throw the ball and execute."

      Taylor's first pick came when his pass was deflected at the line of scrimmage and set up a quick field goal for the Eagles. The second was intercepted by ex-Bill Ronald Darby, traded just last week to Philadelphia. His 48-yard return came one play after the Bills' defense had forced an Eagles turnover.

      "I have all the confidence in the world in Tyrod," McDermott said. "Tyrod's going to start for us this week and I look forward to him getting back on track. There were plays that he wanted back from last night among other players as well. That said, there were good moments in the game. We continue to evolve as an offense; that's the second game."

      The bulk of the good moments came when rookie Nathan Peterman was on the field. He replaced Taylor late in the second quarter, and like the opener, he played pretty well. He completed 10 of 20 passes for 167 yards and again looked like a player filled with poise.

      "I thought there were some good things, but I thought there were a lot of things to work on," said Peterman. "I missed a lot of plays we probably could've scored on. My group, we never got in the end zone. That's something that we've got to work on. When we're in the red zone, we've got to get seven points, not three. Just keep working on those things."

  • Seahawks LT Fant needs ACL surgery
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, August 19, 2017

    Seattle Seahawks starting left tackle George Fant, who was carted off the field during Friday night's preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings, needs surgery after tearing his ACL.

    • Seahawks coach Pete Carroll confirmed after the game that Fant likely will miss the 2017 season because of the right knee injury suffered in the second quarter.

      "Really broken-hearted about George Fant getting hurt," Carroll said after Seattle's 20-13 win. "Just unfortunate. He's done so much, come so far and everybody's cheering for him and rooting for him all along. He's going to be in trouble getting back this season. He's got a knee injury that's going to require surgery, unfortunately. Kinda takes a little something out of it for everybody."

      Fant, 25, went down at the end of a passing play when center Justin Britt fell and rolled into the back of Fant's leg. He was carted off the field with an air cast on his right leg.

      A former college basketball player out of Western Kentucky, the 6-foot-5, 322-pound Fant signed with the Seahawks as an undrafted rookie free agent last year and played in 14 games with 10 starts at left tackle.

      Fant worked hard during the offseason, putting on about 25 pounds heading into his second NFL year.

      "We talked about the great year that he had this offseason and that it's going to take that same kind of application of his fight and his competitiveness and his spirit to work his way back through this," Carroll told reporters Friday night. "And in that he felt very confident that he would do exactly that. He's going to take the same approach that he took to this offseason and he's going to get back, and when he gets back he's going to be a really good football player."

      Fant was injured on a play when quarterback Russell Wilson completed a 9-yard slant pass to tight end Marcus Lucas.

      "I talked to George in the training room about him just being upbeat and continuing to learn everything he can learn even though he is going to be out for a bit here," Wilson said. "We don't know exactly what is going on but he wants to continue to learn the game and that is key."