August 2016

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Whatever hard feelings safety Eric Berry might have had over his inability to secure a long-term contract from the Kansas City Chiefs dissipated Sunday as he walked through the doors of the team’s practice facility.

“I know it’s a societal issue, but I don’t feel like it’s my place to comment,” Fisher said during Sunday’s availability. “I think our respect for the national anthem has been very, very well-documented, and we’re going to continue to have respect for the national anthem.”

Kaepernick sat during the national anthem for the 49ers’ first three preseason games, and addressed his reasoning with the media on Sunday. The sixth-year pro cited police brutality as a central theme and said he will not stand for the anthem until “there’s significant change, and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent.”

Fisher said he would be “very, very surprised” if any of his players mimicked Kaepernick.

“I’m not being critical of ‘Kap,'” Fisher added. “He has every right to do that, but we have an organizational philosophy that has been in place for a long time with respect to the anthem. I think it’s a special event, and it’s something that should be respected, and that’s my opinion.”

The Panthers did not indicate what would happen to Scifres, who attended Monday’s practice but did not work out. An injury settlement is a possibility with four more moves needed to reduce the roster to 75 by 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

“I thought that was pathetic from him,” Isner responded. “The cause he was going for, fine by me — but don’t do it in that fashion. He could have found some other ways to present his voice there.”

A seventh-round pick in 2015, with a year-long apprenticeship under Peyton Manning to go with all of one December kneel-down, will succeed Manning as the Broncos’ quarterback.

There will be plenty of raised eyebrows and more than a few online journeys with Siemian’s name typed into the search engine to figure where he came from and how, exactly, he got to this point. The bottom line is he won the job and won it cleanly.

Kubiak consistently said he was looking “at a body of work’’ to decide on Siemian, Lynch or Sanchez. It wouldn’t be just one practice, one game, one week or even one month that determined the winner. It would be all of it.

It would be knowledge of the playbook, performance on the practice field, command in the huddle, the ability to keep calm in tight situations and Kubiak also even lumped in “the gut feel.’’ Siemian checked the boxes.

While many will question it, just think, for a moment, about who made the decision. A Hall of Fame quarterback calls the football shots for the Broncos in John Elway, and Kubiak played quarterback in the NFL for nine seasons and has invested roughly three decades of his life coaching quarterbacks.

They picked Siemian because of his power arm and level head. They picked Siemian because he played better and handled the competition better. If there has been a quiet criticism of Siemian, it has been that the team wanted to see a little more fire at times.

Siemian crossed that bridge, too, in recent weeks. Kubiak has consistently praised how Siemian managed the team in practice and in games. Kubiak has often said “he’s been around good players and Trevor knows how to handle himself.’’

His teammates have seen it all along: Siemian had an unshakable confidence that he could win the job, even as most believed it bordered on unthinkable.

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SEATTLE — In the days leading up to the Seattle Seahawks’ third preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys, running backs Thomas Rawls and Christine Michael heard from an old friend: Marshawn Lynch.

It was also a vivid depiction of why Peterson, admittedly, has been at odds with running out of the shotgun. He’s been able to build the bulk of his Hall of Fame resume on handoffs from a quarterback under center; Peterson has logged 2,257 such carries in his career, according to ESPN Stats and Information, and has averaged 4.95 yards per attempt, accounting for 11,204 of his yards and 94 of his touchdowns. But when asked to line up next to the quarterback, Superman becomes Clark Kent: Peterson has logged only 115 shotgun carries in his career, for 461 yards and three touchdowns, and his nine pistol attempts — all of which came in his last two full seasons — went for just 10 yards.

Peterson logged a career-high 32 carries out of the shotgun last year, and five more out of the pistol, as the Minnesota Vikings tried to bring him back from his 2014 suspension in an attack that had been adapted to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s strengths. The team quickly scrapped that plan, though, giving Peterson just 19 shotgun handoffs after Week 2. It wasn’t as if the return to familiar territory didn’t work; Peterson led the league with 1,485 rushing yards, accounting for a greater percentage of his team’s offensive output than any other player in the NFL, and helped the Vikings win the NFC North for the first time since 2009.

Still, after a wild-card playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the running back admitted he needed to be more versatile. Traditionally an infrequent participant in organized team activities, Peterson showed up on the first day of OTAs as the Vikings renewed their efforts to improve his compatibility with Bridgewater. And while Peterson won’t play in the preseason again this year, he said Thursday he’s done enough work in the shotgun to get a better feel for the running style — and even come to enjoy it.

“Just being more patient, that’s always been the main thing,” Peterson said. “I’ve been able, I feel, to conquer that now. I feel real comfortable taking runs out of the shotgun, and I’m liking it more. I was always against running out of the shotgun, but now that I’ve kind of switched and tweaked my way of approaching it, things are working out good.

The groin injury Cruz had been dealing with didn’t appear to limit him Tuesday, when he took 18 snaps during live drills and caught a team-high seven passes.

Cruz, 29, has missed most of the past two seasons with knee and calf injuries. He tore the patellar tendon in his right knee on Oct. 12, 2014, against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Beckham continues to reiterate that the goal for Cruz should be the Sept. 11 season opener against the Dallas Cowboys. But the Giants are anxious for Cruz to get on the field, hopefully as soon as this weekend against the Jets.

“It’s important. It’s the game,” coach Ben McAdoo said. “That is what he is looking forward to. That is what we are looking forward to seeing him do.”

McAdoo said last week the Giants still haven’t been able to make an evaluation on him this summer. He’s hoping this week provides some information.

“We’ll find out more [Tuesday] and [Wednesday],” McAdoo said before Tuesday’s practice. “But I’m looking forward to seeing him. It was nice to see him in a uniform in pregame the other day.”

After coming through unscathed Tuesday, the next step is to string together back-to-back practices. Cruz’s legs need to prove they can handle the pounding of football work. Then it’s onto getting through the week and playing in the game. But for one day at least, the Giants were happy with where this situation is headed after years of health struggles.

“It’s great to see Vic back out there,” Beckham said. “He’s been through quite a lot.”

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INDIANAPOLIS — Colts cornerback Vontae Davis is week-to-week with right medial ankle sprain, coach Chuck Pagano announced Monday.

Davis was seen walking out of the locker room with a cast on his right foot. He is coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl appearances.

As for the line, they say they block the same regardless of the runner.

“It’s going to be about him getting in and learning the system and learning the way that other backs do it so it’s uniform across the board,” center Travis Frederick said. “For us, it doesn’t really change. There’s not a ton of back and forth there. But we’re excited to get him back. I think he can bring a lot to the team.”

Just as Elliott and the rest of the rookies have to earn the stars on their helmets, they also have to earn a spot in the new locker room at The Star. The rookies are in a side locker room, out of sight from the rest of the room.

Payton was asked if the team is making a conscious effort to limit expectations with Thomas, who has generated so much buzz this summer.

“No, I’ve got high expectations for him,” Payton quickly responded. “Listen, I think he’s gonna contribute early. I don’t follow fantasy football, but shoot, I’d try to have him. I think he’s gonna do well.”

Payton has tried to keep Thomas in check in one area — stressing that he would like to see a few less one-handed catches after Thomas has been swept up in the Odell Beckham Jr. “epidemic.”

But other than that, Payton and the Saints’ quarterbacks have raved about the second-round draft pick from Ohio State this summer. He has quickly earned their trust with his ability to make difficult catches and win in traffic.

“They are all going to play an equal amount,” Kubiak said. “I have to sit here and think about how much I’m going to play the starters, so that’ll have a lot to do with how I play them. I’m going to see how much I’m going to play our starters in the game. I’ll make that decision later in the week.”

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Williams did play in the Rio Olympics last week but fell to Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina in the third round. During that match — one in which Williams double-faulted five times in one game late in the second set — she was visibly bothered by her shoulder. She and sister Venus also lost in the first round of doubles.

With her withdrawal, Williams is now in danger of losing her No. 1 ranking, which she has owned for 183 consecutive weeks, second all time to Steffi Graf’s record of 186.

If Rio silver medalist Angelique Kerber wins Cincinnati this week, she would unseat Williams atop the WTA Tour’s rankings. Earlier this season, Kerber won the Australian Open, her first major title, and at Wimbledon, she reached the final before running into Williams.

Assuming she is healthy enough to play, Williams will next appear at the US Open, where she has a chance to pass Graf’s Open era record of 23 Grand Slam titles.

Williams will be replaced in the Western & Southern draw by lucky loser Misaki Doi of Japan.

OXNARD, Calif. — Dallas Cowboys tight end James Hanna will have knee surgery that puts his availability for the Sept. 11 season opener against the New York Giants in jeopardy, according to multiple sources.

Hanna was placed on the physically unable to perform list at the start of training camp with a bone bruise. He has sought multiple opinions and has opted for the surgery.

Because the Cowboys put Hanna on the active/PUP list when camp began, he is eligible to be placed on the reserve/PUP list when the final cuts are made. If the Cowboys opt for that route, he would miss the first six games of the season and be able to return Oct. 30 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Last week, McDaniel posted a Snapchat photo of the long TSA pre-check line at the airport in Atlanta. His agent, David Canter, saw the photo and asked McDaniel where he was flying to. He said he was headed to Seattle to visit some family and friends.

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This has to be the largest contract in the league for a long-snapper, I thought to myself upon seeing this news. Turns out, I was very wrong.

There are TWELVE long-snappers that make more on a per-year basis than McDermott is set to make on his new deal, per Spotrac. Who are they? John Denney of the Dolphins and Beau Brinkley of the Titans lead the way at $1.15 million, and they’re joined above $1 million by Morgan Cox of the Ravens, Garrison Sanborn of the Bills, L.P. Ladouceur of the Cowboys, J.J. Jansen of the Panthers, Zak DeOssie of the Giants, Jon Condo of the Raiders, Don Muhlbach of the Lions, Greg Warren of the Steelers, Jon Dorenbos of the Eagles, and Kyle Nelson of the 49ers.

Lance Moore is calling it a career.

The Atlanta Falcons on Monday announced that the veteran wide receiver is retiring from the NFL after more than a decade of action.

Moore, 33, played for three different teams over 10 seasons, but is best known for his eight productive campaigns with the New Orleans Saints, who saw the deep threat pile up 4,281 yards and 38 touchdowns off 346 catches. His big-play chemistry with quarterback Drew Brees was at its peak during the 2012 campaign, when Moore ripped through defenses for 1,041 yards and six scores.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles won’t be doing any more live hitting during training camp. Coach Doug Pederson didn’t describe that as a change in plans. Rather, Pederson said, the team has just finished six days with a lot of contact and several injuries. “I just have to look at the overall health of the football team,” Pederson said. “It’s not about getting somebody hurt, but it’s about protecting the guys out here. They have been doing an excellent job.” — Phil Sheridan

Washington Redskins

Receiver Jamison Crowder won’t play in Thursday’s game against Atlanta because of tightness in his hamstring. Crowder has been running at practice, and it’s not an issue the Redskins think will linger. It provides third-year Ryan Grant a chance to get good work Thursday; Grant has been a training camp all-star each of the past two summers, but his production in the regular season has been limited. With Crowder, Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and first-round pick Josh Doctson on board, Grant needs to find a way to get on the field, so he can’t waste opportunities. — John Keim

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Both players are nearing the end of their careers, but they were very productive in 2015. Palmer had 4,671 yards and 35 touchdowns, although most people will probably remember him struggling in the playoffs. Fitzgerald had 109 catches, 1,215 yards and nine touchdowns. Palmer and Fitzgerald are big reasons the Cardinals are Super Bowl contenders this season. Depending on how the extensions are structured, it should create some cap space for the Cardinals, perhaps to lock up recently-acquired defensive end Chandler Jones to an extension. Jones will be a free agent after this season.

Cardinals fans might be concerned about Palmer and Fitzgerald slowing down soon. But they don’t need to worry about them suiting up with another team for the next couple seasons.

Denver Broncos

1 to 10 percent: Aqib Talib spent the first five years of his career wandering through Tampa before finally finding his way in New England. … Chris Harris Jr. is perpetually one of the 10 best corners in the league without ever threatening to be the best (at least thus far).

Demaryius Thomas had one of the quieter 100-catch seasons you’ll ever see last season, but he has now produced four seasons in a row with 90 or more catches and 1,300 or more receiving yards. (The two prior seasons involved Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton.) Thomas has made it to three Pro Bowls in six years, but the concern is simply the sheer number of great receivers flooding the AFC. I don’t think this will be the case, but Thomas might only be the third-best wideout in his own division in 2016, and that wouldn’t even be a knock on his skills. Given the presence of Emmanuel Sanders on the opposite side of the field for another year, Thomas might not enjoy his real breakout season until 2017. 35 percent

Von Miller’s fascinating five-year career has included huge highs and troubling lows. We’re obviously on one of those highs right now, but we’re only two years removed from a season in which he was suspended for cheating a drug test and subsequently tore his ACL. On talent and performance alone, Miller’s on the path to the Hall of Fame. It just feels like there’s a little more risk here than there typically is with similarly productive superstars. 75 percent

DeMarcus Ware has been a first-team All-Pro four times, posted a 20-sack season and won NFC Defensive Player of the Year. His performance in last year’s playoffs was just icing on the cake. 98 percent

Could the Buffalo Bills be without their top two 2016 draft picks when the season opens?

Second-round linebacker Reggie Ragland went down during Friday’s practice with a non-contact knee injury while chasing down running back Reggie Bush.

The Bills are unsure of the extent of the injury, but coach Rex Ryan said he’s “very concerned,” per WKBW’s Joe Buscaglia. As of now the team doesn’t believe the injury involved ligament damage.

Ryan’s concern is foreboding. There will certainly be an update to come on Ragland’s status soon.

Rex added that Ragland’s injury “looked odd” because he wasn’t hit. “But sometimes those can be the worse ones,” he said, via ESPN.

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“Bottom line, without getting into it a lot, Stephen has absolute, tremendous influence on these decisions that are ultimately made in this organization and everything we do,” the elder Jones said. “It would be madness for two people to work as hard as [Stephen and coach Jason Garrett] do, not to … be influenced by what they are telling you.”

In the NFL, teams with legitimate franchise quarterbacks are always in the playoff conversation. Romo provides that for the Cowboys. But those teams that are perennial playoff contenders also have roster depth — it’s as close to insurance against injuries as you’re going to get.

That’s where Stephen comes in, and why the rest of the league has apparently taken notice.

The 2016 NFL Draft was one of the craziest drafts in recent memory, thanks to a tumble by Laremy Tunsil sparked by a video of him smoking marijuana using a gas-mask bong. (Say it out loud, seriously.)

It nearly got even crazier, with the Giants and Jets coming close to a Big Apple blockbuster trade in the middle of the first round.

According to Gary Myers of the New York Daily News, the Jets were eager to try and draft Tunsil and, when he started falling, rang up the Giants to make a move from No. 20 up to No. 10.

The Giants had just lost out on their top targets, Jack Conklin and Leonard Floyd (taken by the Titans and Bears, respectively, both who traded up to get them) and weren’t interested in Tunsil.

The Jets wanted Tunsil and were willing to spend on moving up. But not spend big. More from Myers:

The Jets offered just one pick, their second-rounder, to flip spots. It was easy to say no. If they had also offered their fourth, the Giants would have been tempted. The second-round choice was not enough to drop 10 spots.
According to the Jimmy Johnson Trade Value Chart, the difference between the two picks (Nos. 10 and 20) is 450 points. The Jets’ second-round pick, No. 51, is worth 390 points. So we’re not talking a massive difference here.

According to Myers, the Giants were worried Eli Apple, the next player on their board, wouldn’t be available at No. 20.

Many of these players have been done no favors by organizations and some have been dogged by injuries. Some might be ready to finally cash in on potential while facing the prospect of not having their fifth-year options executed. A few might just be late bloomers, which is not uncommon.

With that in mind, here are three players from that star-crossed 2013 first round who I believe we have yet to see the best from:

OL Jonathan Cooper, No. 7 overall, Patriots: It wasn’t happening for Cooper in Arizona. He wasn’t developing or really even playing — starting only 11 games in three years — so things looked bleak. But sometimes a change of scenery can work wonders and Bill Belichick, of all people, wanted Cooper for a reason. The Pats don’t get their hands on too many prospects drafted this high, and they’ve mostly been making due with try-hard guys on their offensive line.

This is a unique specimen in an area of particular import, and I generally don’t bet against the Pats. They parted with a pretty accomplished player in Chandler Jones to get Cooper, and if he can be a competent guard it would be a major step forward. With his fifth-year option not activated, he should have plenty of motivation to accelerate his progress.

CB D.J. Hayden, No. 12 overall, Raiders: He came in very raw, missing significant time in college because of a vein injury that nearly killed him. He’s continued to have bad luck as a pro and if some would call him a doomed pick, well, I wouldn’t entirely blame them. It’s been a struggle, but he’s overcome bigger problems.

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