NFL and NCAA Football News

Todd, Taylor, Weir earn berths in U.S. Open

Todd, Taylor, Weir earn berths in U.S. Open

Todd, Taylor, Weir earn berths in U.S. Open

Brendon Todd and Canada’s Nick Taylor each shot 10-under-par 131 on Monday to top the pack of 10 players who advanced to the U.S. Open from sectional qualifying in Dallas.

The event drew 102 players to par-71 Bent Tree Country Club and par-70 Northwood Club.

Also earning a spot in the U.S. Open was Canada’s Mike Weir, the 2003 Masters champion.

Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz (8 under) and Argentina’s Julian Etulain (6 under) came in third and fourth, respectively. Weir tied for fifth at 5 under with Scottie Scheffler, Brian Davis and Australia’s Matthew Jones.

Three players finished the 36 holes tied for the last two qualifying spots at 4 under, forcing a three-man playoff. Charles Danielson and amateur Austin Eckroat edged out Dallas native Cody Gribble, who will be the first alternate.

Todd was cruising in his second round of the day until he triple-bogeyed the par-4 15th hole. However, he immediately bounced back to make eagle on the par-5 16th hole.

Taylor was steady in his two rounds, making 10 birdies and no bogeys.

The next sectional U.S. Open qualifier is scheduled for Kuwana, Japan, on May 27. Then on June 3, sectional qualifiers will be held in Surrey, England; Milton, Ontario; and eight spots in the United States: Newport Beach, Calif.; Streamsong, Fla.; Ball Ground, Ga.; Rockville, Md.; Purchase, N.Y.; Columbus, Ohio; Springfield, Ohio; and Walla Walla, Wash.

The 119th U.S. Open will be held June 13-16 at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links. The reigning champion is Brooks Koepka, who shot 1-over par to win by one stroke last year at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.

–Field Level Media

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Gase disputes belief he undermined fired GM Maccagnan

Gase disputes belief he undermined fired GM Maccagnan

Adam Gase doesn't agree with

Gase disputes belief he undermined fired GM Maccagnan

Adam Gase doesn’t agree with the overriding perception that he undermined recently fired general manager Mike Maccagnan.

The New York Jets coach addressed the issue on Monday for the first time since Maccagnan was stunningly dismissed last Wednesday as reports insist the two had a relationship filled with heavy friction.

“I disagree with that, as far as a power struggle,” Gase, the current interim GM, told reporters. “Because whoever is getting hired (as the new GM) is going to have the same role — control of the roster. I will coach the football team. That’s what I’m going to do. Nothing is changing in that structure.”

Gase was hired to coach the Jets in January so the working relationship with Maccagnan lasted barely four months.

Both mean denied there was friction as reporters percolated. Multiple reports claimed prior to the NFL draft that Gase was upset over personnel decisions made by Maccagnan.

Other reports say Gase pulled a power play to get Maccagnan fired. But Gase is maintaining he was surprised when Maccagnan and vice president of player personnel Brian Heimerdinger were dismissed by CEO Christopher Johnson.

“He told me. That’s what it was,” Gase said. “He’s the owner. In this business, (expletive) like that happens all the time. It happened to me last year (in Miami). That’s what it is. I work for him. We’re aligned, as the head coach and the GM both report to the owner. That’s the way it is.”

Johnson said Gase had no influence on the decision, but he did cite the two weren’t clicking the way he had hoped.

One of the transactions Gase reportedly disagreed with was the signing of free-agent running back Le’Veon Bell to a four-year, $52.5 million deal. Gase reportedly was not keen on spending top dollar for a running back.

Gase went 23-25 in three seasons as Dolphins’ coach before being fired after last season.

Maccagnan became New York’s GM in January of 2015.

–Field Level Media

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Bucs release six-time Pro Bowl DT McCoy

Bucs release six-time Pro Bowl DT McCoy

The Gerald McCoy saga is over as the Tampa

Bucs release six-time Pro Bowl DT McCoy

The Gerald McCoy saga is over as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced Monday that they released the six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle who spent the past nine seasons with the organization.

McCoy, the third overall pick in 2010 NFL Draft, had three years left on his contract which called for him to make $13 million in base pay this season. The original contract was for six years and $95.2 million.

“These decisions are very difficult, personally and professionally,” Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said in a statement. “Over the past nine years, Gerald has been a cornerstone of this franchise and a leader in our community. Parting ways with a player and person such as Gerald is one of the toughest responsibilities of this job. We wish Gerald, along with his wife, Ebony, and the entire McCoy family continued success and thank them for everything they have meant to our organization and community.”

After the Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud originally reported the news, ESPN’s Adam Schefter noted that the Bucs tried for two months to find a trade partner, but when it was clear there was none, the two sides “mutually parted ways.”

The 31-year-old McCoy has been a pillar on otherwise subpar defenses for most of his career in Tampa.

Earlier this month, McCoy voiced his displeasure with trade rumors while skipping voluntary workouts.

“I will be playing football somewhere,” McCoy told a local reporter at the time. When asked where that would be, McCoy said, “I don’t know. We’ll see.”

First-year coach Bruce Arians didn’t get to coach McCoy but wished him well.

“I know Gerald has done a lot of good things on and off the football field in Tampa during his time here,” Arians said in a statement. “You hate to see good football players go, but this is a decision that we felt needed to be made in order to allow us, and Gerald, the ability to move forward. Gerald is a class act and I wish him the best.”

Drafted out of Oklahoma in 2010, McCoy has 296 tackles, 54.5 sacks, 140 quarterback hits, six forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries in 123 career games.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Bucs release six-time Pro Bowl DT McCoy

Reports: Bucs release six-time Pro Bowl DT McCoy

The Gerald McCoy-Tampa Bay Buccaneers saga appears to

Reports: Bucs release six-time Pro Bowl DT McCoy

The Gerald McCoy-Tampa Bay Buccaneers saga appears to be finally be over, as multiple outlets reported Monday that the team is releasing its six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle.

McCoy, the third overall pick in 2010 NFL Draft, has three years left on his contract which called for him to make $13 million in base pay this season. The original contract was for six years and $95.2 million.

After the Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud originally reported the news, ESPN’s Adam Schefter noted that the Bucs tried for two months to find a trade partner, but when it was clear there was none, the two sides “mutually parted ways.”

The 31-year-old McCoy has been a pillar on otherwise subpar defenses for most of his career in Tampa.

Earlier this month, McCoy voiced his displeasure with trade rumors while skipping voluntary workouts.

“I will be playing football somewhere,” McCoy told a local reporter at the time. When asked where that would be, McCoy said, “I don’t know. We’ll see.”

Drafted out of Oklahoma in 2010, McCoy has 296 tackles, 54.5 sacks, 140 quarterback hits, six forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries in 123 career games over nine seasons.

–Field Level Media

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Roethlisberger: I went too far in criticizing Brown

Roethlisberger: I went too far in criticizing Brown

Roethlisberger: I went too far in criticizing Brown

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said he went “too far” in his criticism of former teammate Antonio Brown.

Roethlisberger spoke publicly for the first time about his falling out with the All-Pro receiver — traded to the Oakland Raiders in the offseason — in an interview with Pittsburgh’s CBS affiliate, KDKA.

Roethlisberger referenced comments he made following a 24-17 loss at the Denver Broncos on Nov. 25. Roethlisberger attempted to throw toward Brown on third-and-goal from the 2 in the final minute, but the pass was intercepted.

Roethlisberger went on his weekly radio show and said Brown needed to run his route “flat” on that play, and that he wished he had thrown to wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, and not Brown, after the Steelers had first-and-goal.

“I took some heat and deservedly so for some of the comments on that show and especially towards him. I genuinely feel bad about that and I’m sorry. Did I go to far after that Denver game? Probably. …,” he told KDKA.

“That’s the thing about media and social media, As soon as you say ‘sorry’ it only goes so far. You can’t take it back. And I wish I could because if that’s what ruined our friendship and relationship, I’m truly, genuinely sorry about that.”

At the time, Brown called Roethlisberger’s comments “constructive criticism,” but the relationship deteriorated from there. Brown reportedly threw a football at Roethlisberger when they had a disagreement during Week 17, and he tweeted in February that the two lacked “mutual respect.”

“No conflict just a matter of respect! Mutual respect! He has a owner mentality like he can call out anybody including coaches. Players know but they can’t say anything about it otherwise they meal ticket gone. It’s a dirty game within a game. #truth,” Brown said in his tweet.

–Field Level Media

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Redskins LB Foster carted off field with torn left ACL

Redskins LB Foster carted off field with torn left ACL

Washington Redskins

Redskins LB Foster carted off field with torn left ACL

Washington Redskins linebacker Reuben Foster was carted off the field Monday with a season-ending torn left ACL, according to multiple reports.

The Redskins sent Foster for an MRI exam after the injury, coach Jay Gruden told reporters after the first workout of the team’s offseason program.

“Reuben, the type of player that he is, the type of energy that he brings, he wouldn’t be laying down unless something was wrong. We’ll hope for the best right now until we get the results, but very concerning for sure,” Gruden said after the workout.

“I’ll just have to wait and see before I get too emotional about it.”

Foster was emotionally distraught as he was assisted to the cart and into the locker room with an air cast on his left knee.

Foster crumpled to the ground on the third play and immediately was tended to by defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and team president Bruce Allen. Allen was observing the workout from nearby.

Gruden said Foster, in a non-contact drill while going about three-quarters speed, stepped on guard Tyler Catalina’s foot and “landed funny on his left leg.”

“Very disappointing what happened,” Gruden said. “His first rep as a Redskin, he runs through the gap and gets injured. … He’s devastated. He’s obviously guarded right now. He felt something happen in his leg. But he’s very upset about it.

“I don’t know how to process it really. We’ve had some bad luck over here for the past couple of years, but this one here takes the cake.”

The Redskins claimed Foster off of waivers when the San Francisco 49ers parted with the troubled linebacker last season. The 49ers let Foster go in the wake of a domestic violence accusation stemming from an alleged incident during a team road trip to Tampa, Fla.

Foster, 25, was a first-round pick out of Alabama in 2017 (31st overall). He has played in 16 of a possible 32 games in his career.

–Field Level Media

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Cowboys RB Elliott cuffed, not arrested after altercation

Cowboys RB Elliott cuffed, not arrested after altercation

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys RB Elliott cuffed, not arrested after altercation

Dallas Cowboys All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott was handcuffed after knocking a security guard to the ground at a Las Vegas music festival, but he was not arrested.

TMZ posted a video on Monday showing events that reportedly took place early Saturday at the Electric Daisy Carnival festival in the city.

The two-minute video begins with Elliott engaged in a tense conversation with a young woman, and as she walks away, he follows her. The interaction does not turn physical with the woman. He then encounters event security guards and says to one of them, “You got something to say?” He elbows the guard, who hits a metal rail and falls.

A Las Vegas policeman then handcuffs him.

Elliott’s attorney, Frank Salzano, told TMZ that “security misconstrued and overreacted to the situation.”

“He was cuffed as a precautionary measure. He was released with no charges. He left Vegas that night and went to his (youth football camp in Dallas) on Sunday,” the attorney said.

While the Cowboys have not issued an official statement, Mike Leslie of WFAA in Dallas tweeted this:

“#Cowboys front office source says they are aware of this incident involving Ezekiel Elliott being handcuffed at EDC Vegas after knocking a man to the ground, and says they are gathering information right now.”

The NFL likely will want to review the tape.

Elliott served a six-game suspension in 2017 after he was investigated following domestic violence allegations. Commissioner Roger Goodell handed down the punishment after a yearlong probe concluded that Elliott and former girlfriend Tiffany Thompson had several physical confrontations. Prosecutors in Columbus, Ohio, where Elliott went to school at Ohio State, declined to prosecute.

–Field Level Media

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Patriots bring back DT Shelton

Patriots bring back DT Shelton

The New England Patriots re-signed free agent defensive

Patriots bring back DT Shelton

The New England Patriots re-signed free agent defensive tackle Danny Shelton on Monday.

The Patriots acquired Shelton, a 2015 first-round pick, in a trade with the Cleveland Browns in March 2018. Shelton played in 13 games (one start) last season, making 21 tackles. The 6-foot-2, 345-pounder is expected to continue in his role as a run-stuffing rotational player in the middle of the line.

Shelton started 44 of 46 games with the Browns, making 128 tackles, including 1.5 sacks.

Shelton, who visited with the Cincinnati Bengals early in the free agency period, signed a one-year deal, according to the NFL Network. Terms of the contract were not announced.

The Patriots released offensive lineman Jake Eldrenkamp to make room for Shelton.

–Field Level Media

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Redskins LB Foster carted off field with left knee injury

Redskins LB Foster carted off field with left knee injury

Washington Redskins

Redskins LB Foster carted off field with left knee injury

Washington Redskins linebacker Reuben Foster was carted off the field Monday with an apparently leg injury.

Foster was emotionally distraught as he was assisted to the cart and into the locker room with an air cast on his left knee.

Not long after the first on-field workout of the Redskins’ offseason program began Monday, Foster crumpled to the ground on the third play and immediately was tended to by defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and team president Bruce Allen. Allen was observing the workout from nearby.

The Redskins claimed Foster off of waivers when the San Francisco 49ers parted with the troubled linebacker last season. The 49ers let Foster go in the wake of a domestic violence accusation stemming from an alleged incident during a team road trip to Tampa, Fla.

Foster, 25, was a first-round pick out of Alabama in 2017. He has played in 16 of a possible 32 games in his career.

–Field Level Media

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Koepka clear favorite to win U.S. Open

Koepka clear favorite to win U.S. Open

Brooks Koepka's fourth major

Koepka clear favorite to win U.S. Open

Brooks Koepka’s fourth major title in two years vaulted the new No. 1 player in the world into the position of the favorite to win next month’s U.S. Open.

Despite seeing his seven-shot lead shrink to one shot on Sunday, Koepka battled to defend his title at the PGA Championship. The winner of four of the past nine majors overall, Koepka is now listed at +550 by Bovada and +600 by Sportsbook.com to earn a U.S. Open three-peat at Pebble Beach.

Koepka won the tournament last year at Shinnecock Hills in New York and in 2017 at Erin Hills in Wisconsin.

The last player to three-peat a major came more than a century ago when Scotland’s Willie Anderson won the U.S. Open from 1903-05.

Dustin Johnson, who nearly caught Koepka at Bethpage Black on Sunday, is +700 by Sportsbook.com and +800 by Bovada. Tiger Woods missed the cut at the PGA Championship, but is the third favorite at +1000 by both books and Rory McIlroy (+1200), who rallied for his ninth T10 in 10 starts this year, is next.

Bovada is more bullish on Jordan Spieth (+1400) than Sportsbook.com (+1800), while both list Justin Rose at +1600.

Looking for an unlikely payday? Bovada is offering 50,000-to-1 odds on Nicolai Hojgaard, the Danish amateur ranked 1,127 in the world who posted a T29 at last year’s Open Championship. He also finished T10 in the Nordic Golf League’s Lumine Hills Open in March.

–Field Level Media

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Colts sign QB Chad Kelly

Colts sign QB Chad Kelly

Quarterback Chad Kelly will get

Colts sign QB Chad Kelly

Quarterback Chad Kelly will get another chance in the NFL.

Kelly, 25, signed with the Indianapolis Colts on Monday. He last played for the Denver Broncos and was released in October 2018 on the heels of an arrest for criminal trespass.

Englewood (Colo.) Police Department said a man had entered a residence on South Lincoln Street shortly after 1 a.m. An occupant at the residence chased the man out, and a search ensued. Kelly had been attending a Halloween party at teammate Von Miller’s house prior to the late-night incident.

At the time, he was the Broncos’ No. 2 quarterback behind Case Keenum.

Kelly has no guarantee to be more than a training camp arm. The Colts are locked into their top two quarterbacks, Andrew Luck and Jacoby Brissett, and Phillip Walker is currently listed behind them on the depth chart.

Myriad off-field issues caused Kelly to be drafted much later than his talent might have suggested. The final pick in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Kelly ran into disciplinary issues at Clemson. He was dismissed from Clemson in April 2014 for conduct detrimental to the program.

In December 2014, he was arrested following an altercation outside a bar in Buffalo, N.Y., and avoided criminal charges after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct and being ordered to perform 50 hours of community service.

He finished his college career at Mississippi.

–Field Level Media

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Eagles QB Wentz has ‘no limitations’ for OTAs

Eagles QB Wentz has 'no limitations' for OTAs

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz will have

Eagles QB Wentz has ‘no limitations’ for OTAs

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz will have “no limitations” when the team begins organized team activities Tuesday, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.

Wentz, 26, is coming back from a stress fracture in his back that forced him to miss Philadelphia’s last three regular-season games and both playoff contests.

“The team will be smart with him, of course, but he’s expected to be involved in the majority of all work,” Rapoport tweeted.

Wentz, the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, is 23-17 through three seasons with 10,152 passing yards, 70 touchdowns and 28 interceptions. He finished third in MVP balloting in 2017, although he missed the Eagles’ Super Bowl run because of a torn ACL.

“I get it. I get it,” Wentz said last month about concerns of his durability. “I’m looking forward to putting those behind me. I understand it’s a part of this league; it’s a physical league and things happen. Some of those things are out of my control and I look forward to putting that behind me.”

His health is more imperative in 2019 because his former backup, Nick Foles, is now the starter with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Eagles late last month exercised the fifth-year option on Wentz for the 2020 campaign. Wentz will make more than $20 million in 2020, although exact figures for fifth-year options won’t be firmed up until a later date.

Wentz returned from the ACL injury to play in 11 games last season, passing for 3,074 yards and 21 touchdowns against seven interceptions.

–Field Level Media

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Giants coach Shurmur: ‘We have a starter in Eli’

Giants coach Shurmur: 'We have a starter in Eli'

New

Giants coach Shurmur: ‘We have a starter in Eli’

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning didn’t impress on the first day of organized team activities on Monday, completing just 1 of 6 passes with two interceptions, but his performance did nothing to change coach Pat Shurmur’s mind about his QB depth chart.

“Eli Manning looks really good. … He’s throwing the ball well and looks strong physically,” Shurmur said.

The Giants also got a look at rookie Daniel Jones, the No. 6 pick in the NFL Draft.

“At the quarterback position, we have a starter in Eli and we have guys behind him, specifically Daniel Jones, who need to do everything they can to be ready to play Week 1. That’s where we’re at,” Shurmur told reporters.

Shurmur said Jones will get reps with the second and third-string offense, but that Alex Tanney and Kyle Lauletta also will have some chances. Tanney was Manning’s backup most of last season.

–Field Level Media

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Koepka holds on for second straight PGA Championship

Koepka holds on for second straight PGA Championship

Koepka holds on for second straight PGA Championship

Brooks Koepka clutched the trophy and figured even the anxious moments were worth it Sunday.

Koepka withstood a shaky back-nine stretch and held on to win the PGA Championship for the second year in a row.

“That was a stressful round of golf,” Koepka said. “I’m glad to have this thing (Wanamaker Trophy) back in my hands.”

Koepka’s lead shrunk to one stroke on hard-charging Dustin Johnson before steadying himself for what became a 4-over-par 74 final round at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y.

His 8-under 272 total was good enough for a two-shot edge on Johnson, who shot 69 on Sunday.

Koepka has won a major championship in three consecutive years and has four total major titles. With those four coming in an eight-tournament stretch of majors, it puts him in more elite company.

This took a different vibe than last year’s PGA Championship title for Koepka at Shinnecock, though he said the approach is the same.

“I’m trying to win a golf tournament,” he said. “I’m not focused on anything else other than hitting a good shot or a good putt.”

Koepka, 29, became the first golfer to successfully defend titles in the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. He’s the fifth wire-to-wire winner in the PGA Championship. He will try for his third consecutive U.S. Open title June 13-16 at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Monterey, Calif.

Johnson marveled at Koepka’s accomplishments.

“He’s one of the guys that I look for that I have to beat,” Johnson said. “He’s one of the best players out here, so he’s always somebody that I’ve got my eye on.”

After three days of Koepka appearing to be in an invincible position, there were signs of drama approaching when the gap on the field dipped to four shots.

“I’m just happy we didn’t have to play any more holes,” Koepka said after the round.

Johnson played the front nine in 32, cutting the margin to four strokes on Koepka. The advantage fluctuated until it was at one shot after Koepka’s consecutive bogeys on Nos. 11, 12, 13 and 14.

Amid that, Johnson posted a birdie at No. 15. Moments after Koepka’s bogey streak reached four holes, Johnson gave a stroke back with a bogey at No. 16 and then another on the next hole, when he missed the green on the par-3 17th. Johnson saved par on the final hole while playing out of a bunker.

Johnson said at key moments he encountered trouble contending with wind gusts, just like the other golfers.

“It was the most wind we’ve had all week,” Johnson said.

Koepka bogeyed the first hole Sunday, and then appeared to be in total control until the 11th.

“I knew if I could get off to a good start, which I did, that I could maybe put a little bit of pressure on him,” Johnson said. “… Obviously I knew starting seven back that it was going to be a big feat to catch Brooks. You know, I definitely gave him a run, though, so I was happy with that.”

Nobody has ever led by as many as seven shots entering the final round of a major and failed to win. Koepka was up by six strokes with eight holes to play.

Yet his final-round score was 11 shots off the 63 he posted in Thursday’s first round.

Jordan Spieth (71), Patrick Cantlay (71) and England’s Matt Wallace (72) all were at 2 under to tie for third place. Luke List (74) was alone in sixth place at 1 under.

Spieth said he made good headway during the tournament on a course that’s not suited for his game. It marked his first top-10 finish on the PGA Tour this year.

“Bethpage, just when the rough is up this high, obviously I can’t pick a course that’s probably further away from it being for me,” he said.

It wasn’t an easy round for any of the golfers on the course.

“I played really well. I hit a lot of good shots,” Cantlay said. “I actually hit some good shots that didn’t end up in good spots. Caught gusts. I’m sure everyone was catching gusts out there.”

Harold Varner III, who was Koepka’s playing partner in the final pairing, birdied the first hole in pursuit of his first PGA Tour victory. He soon tumbled out of contention, shooting an 11-over 81 on the final day.

Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard had a hole-in-one at No. 17. His shot bounced once and then into the cup for the only ace of the tournament.

–Field Level Media

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Koepka holds on for second straight PGA championship

Koepka holds on for second straight PGA championship

Koepka holds on for second straight PGA championship

Brooks Koepka withstood a shaky back-nine stretch and held on to win the PGA Championship for the second year in a row Sunday at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y.

Koepka’s lead shrunk to one stroke on hard-charging Dustin Johnson before steadying himself for what became a 4-over-par 74 final round.

His 8-under 270 total was good enough for a two-shot edge on Johnson, who shot 69 on Sunday.

Koepka has won a major championship in three consecutive years and has four total major titles.

After three days of Koepka appearing to be in an invincible position, there were signs of drama approaching when the gap on the field dipped to four shots.

Johnson played the front nine in 32, cutting the margin to four strokes on Koepka. The advantage fluctuated until it was at one shot after Koepka’s consecutive bogeys on Nos. 11, 12, 13 and 14.

Amid that, Johnson posted a birdie at No. 15. Moments after Koepka’s bogey streak reached four holes, Johnson gave a stroke back with a bogey at No. 16 and then another on the next hole, when he missed the green on the par-3 17th. Johnson saved par on the final hole while playing out of a bunker.

Koepka bogeyed the first hole Sunday, and then appeared to be in total control until the 11th.

Nobody has ever led by as many as seven shots entering the final round of a major and failed to win. Koepka was up by six strokes with eight holes to play.

Jordan Spieth (71), Patrick Cantlay (71) and England’s Mike Wallace (72) all were at 2 under to tie for third place. Luke List (74) was alone in sixth place at 1 under.

Harold Varner III, who was Koepka’s playing partner in the final pairing, birdied the first hole in pursuit of his first PGA Tour victory. He soon tumbled out of contention, shooting an 11-over 81 on the final day.

Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard had a hole-in-one at No. 17. His shot bounced once and then into the cup. It was the only ace of the tournament.

–Field Level Media

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Eagles DE Long announces apparent retirement

Eagles DE Long announces apparent retirement

Eagles DE Long announces apparent retirement

Longtime defensive end Chris Long appeared to announce his retirement from the NFL in a Twitter post Saturday night.

Long, 34, published a picture in which he raised a red plastic cup toward a mountainous horizon.

“Cheers,” wrote Long in his Twitter post. “Been a hell of a journey. Eleven years and I can honestly say I put my soul into every minute of it. Highs and lows. I’ve seen them both and I appreciate the perspective. Gratitude and love to those who lifted me up.”

The son of Hall of Famer Howie Long quickly set himself apart as a player and humanitarian during his career. He finished with 70 sacks and won a pair of Super Bowl rings, including one with the 2016 New England Patriots and one with the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles.

In 2017, Long supported teammate Malcolm Jenkins as he raised a fist during the national anthem.

“If you don’t see why you need allies for people that are fighting for equality right now, I don’t think you’ll ever see it,” Long said at the time.

Long also organized hikes during the offseason to provide clean water for people in Africa. He was named as the 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year.

Long entered the NFL as the No. 2 overall pick of the St. Louis Rams in the 2008 draft. He maintained a relationship with the fans of St. Louis even after the franchise moved to Los Angeles. He spent eight years in St. Louis, one year in New England and two years in Philadelphia.

–Field Level Media

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C Swanson retires from NFL

C Swanson retires from NFL

Free agent

C Swanson retires from NFL

Free agent center Travis Swanson, who made 53 starts in the NFL, announced his retirement from the NFL at age 28.

An Arkansas product, Swanson was a third-round pick of the Detroit Lions in 2014, starting 42 games over the next four seasons before signing with Miami last season. He started 11 games for the Dolphins after starting center Daniel Kilgore was injured.

Swanson made his announcement on Instagram, citing family reasons for stepping away from football.

“This ultimately came down to a family decision between Emily and I,” Swanson wrote. “When my daughter Kendyl was born and I first saw her, my heart expanded and completely changed my priorities. I will always love football, but the love for your child is a level of love that has no comparison.

“I have been an offensive lineman for 22 years of my life and will be for the remainder. In my years as a lineman, I have learned so many life lessons. It is extraordinary that this game has the power to take a kid from Kingwood, Texas to places all over the globe.”

–Field Level Media

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Koepka maintains seven-stroke lead at PGA Championship

Koepka maintains seven-stroke lead at PGA Championship

Brooks Koepka kept a steady

Koepka maintains seven-stroke lead at PGA Championship

Brooks Koepka kept a steady hand on the lead in the PGA Championship by shooting even-par 70 in the third round Saturday at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y.

That left him at 12-under 198 for the tournament, holding a seven-shot advantage as he goes for a repeat of the title in Sunday’s final round.

After his lead dipped to five strokes, Koepka birdied the par-5 13th to answer, and he is leaving few questions this weekend.

The final rounds of the tournament already lacked some buzz with Masters champion Tiger Woods missing the cut. There wasn’t a golfer showing the capability of making a sustained charge.

Koepka’s two-round total of 12 under set a record for any major, also giving him a seven-stroke lead, which he maintained through 54 holes.

Dustin Johnson (69) is tied with three others at 5 under. Johnson took a bogey on No. 18.

Luke List (69) had bogeys on the last two holes, dipping to 5 under and into a second-place tie with Johnson, Harold Varner III (67) and Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond (67), who tied for the low round of the day.

Jordan Spieth, who played in the final pairing with Koepka, shot 72 and is tied for eighth at 3 under. He shot 38 on the front after double-bogeying No. 9.

Koepka made it clear early he wasn’t about to fade. He posted a birdie on the second hole, then dumped an approach on the fifth hole — which has played as one of the most difficult on the course — just a few feet from the pin for what became another birdie, reaching 14 under.

But consecutive bogeys on Nos. 9 and 10 put a halt to the momentum.

Yet none of the other golfers made a sustained run. Janewattananond, Johnson and List all popped into second place at times.

Johnson played the front side in 3 under, then had four bogeys in a 2-over backside.

List played a nine-hole stretch in 4 under before his late-round troubles. He recorded three consecutive birdies on Nos. 12-14 as part of his temporary charge.

Of the 82 golfers who made the cut, only 17 shot under par in the third round.

–Field Level Media

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Rumors: Jets target Peyton Manning as next GM

Rumors: Jets target Peyton Manning as next GM

New York

Rumors: Jets target Peyton Manning as next GM

New York Jets CEO and chairman Christopher Johnson said he is looking for a general manager who is a “great strategic thinker” and can work with head coach Adam Gase.

After the Jets dismissed Mike Maccagnan on Wednesday and handed Gase the interim GM tag, Johnson said he was not looking for a traditional general manager.

Rumors immediately began circulating around the NFL that Peyton Manning could check both of those boxes.

“I want a great strategic thinker. It’s more than a talent-evaluation guy,” Johnson said. “I want a great manager, a communicator, someone who can collaborate well with the building. I’m convinced we’re going to find that person.”

Manning, 43, periodically has been linked to management openings since retiring after the 2015 season.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio said Gase “would be one of the few guys who could draw Manning back into football.”

Manning was the starting quarterback in Denver for the last four seasons of his legendary career, working with Gase for three seasons as quarterbacks coach (2012) and offensive coordinator (2013-14).

During their 2013 campaign together, Manning broke the NFL single-season records with 5,477 passing yards and 55 touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

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Woods misses cut by one at PGA Championship

Woods misses cut by one at PGA Championship

Woods misses cut by one at PGA Championship

There will be no repeat of the Masters magic for Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship.

Woods, who stunned the sports world when he won the Masters last month for his 15th career major and first since 2008, failed to make the cut Friday, missing it by one stroke at the Black Course at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, N.Y.

When Woods’ bump-and-run birdie chip from just off the 18th green rolled left of the hole, he was left with a short par putt, which he knocked down. But that left him with a 3-over-par 73 for his round, and at 5-over 145 through two rounds, one off the 4-over par cut line.

“Unfortunately, I just made too many mistakes,” Woods told reporters after the round. “I didn’t do the little things I needed to do. I had a couple three putts, I didn’t hit wedges close, didn’t hit any fairways today. I did a lot of little things wrong. … I just didn’t play well.”

Sitting three majors short of Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18, Woods came to Bethpage with high hopes — and expectations. But he also entered the tournament having not played competitively since winning at Augusta.

While acknowledging there was a quick turnaround between the two majors, and rust and rest could have been a factor, Woods also made it clear it will take more than one missed cut to bring him down from his Masters high.

“I’m the Masters champion at 43 years old, and that’s a pretty good accomplishment,” he said.

After shooting a 72 in Thursday’s opening round, Woods opened the second round with a bogey at the par-4 second. He birdied the par-4 sixth to get back to even for the day, then went bogey-par-birdie to end the front nine even for the day.

But Woods opened the back nine with three straight bogeys, responded with a birdie at No. 13, and bogeyed once more to reach 3 over for the day. He parred out from there.

It is his ninth missed cut at a major as a professional, according to the PGA Tour.

In a stark contrast, playing partner Brooks Koepka birdied No. 18 for a second-round 65 and a two-day total of 12-under 128. The 128 total equaled the 36-hole low in major tournament history and was good for a seven-stroke lead heading into the weekend.

Last year, Koepka topped Woods by two strokes to win the PGA Championship.

–Field Level Media

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Koepka sets 36-hole record to lead PGA Championship

Koepka sets 36-hole record to lead PGA Championship

Koepka sets 36-hole record to lead PGA Championship

Defending champion and first-round leader Brooks Koepka kept his momentum going through Round 2 of the 101st PGA Championship on Friday, firing a 5-under-par 65 at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y., to build a seven-stroke lead over Jordan Spieth and Australia’s Adam Scott.

Koepka’s playing partner, Tiger Woods, missed the cut by a shot after shooting 73 on Friday to finish at 5 over for the tournament.

Koepka opened with three birdies over his first four holes, experienced a few hiccups on the back nine with bogeys at Nos. 10 and 17, but carded four more birdies — including one on No. 18 — to finish at 12-under 128 for the lowest 36-hole score in major championship history.

“Today was a battle,” Koepka told TNT after his round. “I did not hit it very well today. I was fighting just a block (shot), but I was able to find a couple fairways, thankfully, and when I did miss a fairway, it was in a great lie. … I’m still putting really well. I hit my lines and feel very comfortable over these putts, which is big.”

Chasing history and his elusive major form at the same time, Spieth shot 66 on Friday morning to charge into a tie for second at 5 under.

Spieth, No. 39 in the world rankings, is attempting to become just the sixth player to win the career Grand Slam, but he entered the week without a top-20 finish so far this season, and he hasn’t posted a top-10 finish since last year’s Open Championship. And while he’s aware of his so-called slump, Spieth has insisted all week that his game is coming together.

“I haven’t been in contention on a Sunday since The Open last year, and if I’m able to put some good work in tomorrow, then … I will be in contention on Sunday,” said Spieth, who is third on the PGA Tour in second-round scoring this season.

“At that point, it will be just more of trying to win a golf tournament. It won’t matter to me what tournament it is. I’ll be pleased to be in contention, knowing that the work I put in from being pretty far off has really come back nicely on a very difficult golf course.”

Scott rebounded from an opening-round 71 with the low round of the day on Friday, posting a 64 to reach 5 under for the tournament. He carded four birdies on the front nine and three more on the back — with his lone bogey at No. 17 — to tie his career low round in a major championship.

“Everything was pretty solid today,” said 38-year-old Scott, who finished third at the 2018 PGA Championship. “It was nice to kinda keep the momentum going with the saves and post a number, but, you know, I’m going to have to post two more pretty good ones by the looks of things at this stage.”

Rounding out the top spots on the leaderboard were Englishman Matt Wallace (67) and a foursome of Americans, Daniel Berger (66), world No. 1 Dustin Johnson (67), Kelly Kraft (65) and Luke List (68). They all share fourth place at 4 under.

Starting on the back nine, Johnson bogeyed No. 10 before going on a tear that included five birdies over a seven-hole stretch to get to 5 under for the day. His charged stalled with a couple of short missed putts, as Johnson was 1 over par across his final 10 holes.

“I felt like I did a really good job today,” Johnson, who has hit 30 of 36 greens this week, told TNT. “I hit the ball really, really well … gave myself a lot of looks at birdie. Made some nice putts but missed quite a few short ones. The greens are really tricky to read … lot of subtle breaks.

“I’m pleased with the score again and pleased with how I played.”

Kraft, the last player to be added to the field when Justin Thomas withdrew, took advantage of the opportunity and carded his lowest round in a major to date. He had one bogey and six birdies on the day.

“I feel like I may need to send Justin a bottle of wine or something, but it’s been good,” said Kraft, 30, who has yet to win on the PGa Tour.

“I’ve been playing really well. I’ve been hitting a lot of fairways. The driver is going where I’m looking, and the game plan is just to get as many birdie looks as we can and see what happens, and I rolled a few of them in today.”

Along with four-time tournament winner Woods, several former champions missed the cut, including Germany’s Martin Kaymer (2010; 5-over 148), Jason Dufner (2013; 8 over) and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington (2008; 12 over). John Daly, the 1991 champion who was allowed to use a cart this week, missed the cut after shooting a 6-over 76 on Friday to finish 11 over for the tournament.

World No. 11 Jon Rahm of Spain missed by one after shooting 70-75, as did countryman Sergio Garcia, who shot 74-71.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Texans reportedly cut TE Griffin

NFL notebook: Texans reportedly cut TE Griffin

The Houston Texans

NFL notebook: Texans reportedly cut TE Griffin

The Houston Texans have released veteran tight end Ryan Griffin, multiple outlets reported Friday, three weeks after he was arrested in Nashville, Tenn., for allegedly punching a hotel window.

Griffin, 29, was charged with vandalism and public intoxication after he was arrested April 26, the night of the second and third rounds of the NFL draft held in Nashville. He sustained a bloody left hand in the incident and was released a day later on $1,750 bond, with a court date set for May 31.

Griffin was entering the final year of a three-year, $9 million extension signed in March of 2017. He was set to count $2.7 million against the cap, but Houston will save all of that figure. A sixth-round pick by the Texans in 2013, Griffin had 24 catches for 305 yards in 14 games (11 starts) last season. Through six seasons, he has 136 catches for 1,491 yards and seven scores in 77 games (36 starts).

–New York Giants left tackle Nate Solder will miss offseason workouts as he recovers from arthroscopic surgery to remove bone spurs in an ankle, NFL Network reported. He is expected to be ready to take part in training camp this summer.

Solder, 31, played the first seven years of his career with New England before he signed a four-year, $62 million deal with the Giants in advance of the 2018 season. He started all 16 games.

The Giants will be counting on Solder to help improve the protection of the quarterback after Eli Manning was sacked 47 times last season.

–The Baltimore Ravens made additions to both sides of the ball, reaching one-year free agent deals with defensive end Shane Ray and wide receiver Michael Floyd.

Ray, the 23rd pick in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos, had 12 sacks over his first two NFL seasons, including eight in 2016. But multiple wrist surgeries in 2017 led to a drop in production — two sacks over the next two seasons and inactive for the final three games of 2018.

Floyd, the 13th overall selection in 2012 by the Arizona Cardinals, has played with four teams in the past three seasons. He was with the Washington Redskins last season when he had 10 receptions for 100 yards and one touchdown over 13 games (three starts). He has 266 career receptions for 3,959 yards and 25 touchdowns.

–In other personnel moves:

The Carolina Panthers announced the signing of wide receiver Aldrick Robinson to a one-year contract. He had 17 catches for 231 yards and a career-high five touchdowns last season with Minnesota, his fifth team in seven seasons.

The New England Patriots signed linebacker Brandon King to a two-year extension, NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported. King’s biggest impact comes on special teams, where he has played 1,307 snaps over the last four seasons.

The Indianapolis Colts announced they have signed safety Isaiah Johnson and waived cornerback D.J. Killings. Johnson, 27, has six tackles in 12 career games with Detroit and the Los Angeles Rams. Killings, 23, has spent most of his two-year career on numerous practice squads, though he was active for a time with the Colts last season.

–Prosecutors in Florida are appealing a judge’s decision to suppress video evidence in their case against Robert Kraft, in which they allege the Patriots owner solicited a prostitute at a massage parlor in Jupiter.

Earlier this week, Palm Beach County Judge Leonard Hanser sided with the defense’s contention that the warrant that allowed recording devices into the spa, and the methods detectives used to obtain video, did not sufficiently protect the privacy and identity of innocent people in the surveillance videos.

Kraft, 77, visited the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter on Jan. 19 and 20, during which time prosecutors claim Kraft paid for and received sex acts at the spa.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Texans release TE Griffin

Reports: Texans release TE Griffin

The Houston

Reports: Texans release TE Griffin

The Houston Texans have released veteran tight end Ryan Griffin, multiple outlets reported Friday, three weeks after he was arrested in Nashville, Tenn., for allegedly punching a hotel window.

Griffin, 29, was charged with vandalism and public intoxication after he was arrested April 26, the night of the second and third rounds of the NFL draft, which was held in Nashville. He sustained a bloody left hand in the incident and was released a day later on $1,750 bond, with a court date set for May 31.

Griffin was entering the final year of a three-year, $9 million extension signed in March of 2017. He was set to count $2.7 million against the cap, but Houston will save all of that figure.

A sixth-round pick by the Texans in 2013, Griffin had 24 catches for 305 yards in 14 games (11 starts) last season. Through six seasons, he has 136 catches for 1,491 yards and seven scores in 77 games (36 starts).

The Texans drafted tight end Kahale Warring in the third round out of San Diego State hours before Griffin was arrested, after taking Jordan Akins (third round) and Jordan Thomas (sixth) in the 2018 draft. The team also signed veteran Darren Fells, formerly of Cleveland, Detroit and Arizona, in March.

–Field Level Media

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Ravens add Ray, Floyd on one-year deals

Ravens add Ray, Floyd on one-year deals

The Baltimore Ravens

Ravens add Ray, Floyd on one-year deals

The Baltimore Ravens made additions to both sides of the ball Friday, reaching one-year free-agent deals with defensive end Shane Ray and wide receiver Michael Floyd.

Ray, the 23rd overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos, had 12 sacks over his first two NFL seasons, including eight in 2016. But multiple wrist surgeries in 2017 led to a fall off in production, and the Missouri product had just two sacks over the next two seasons and was not active for the final three games of 2018.

Ray, who turns 26 on Saturday, has 94 career tackles to go along with his 14 sacks over four seasons, playing in 49 games with the Broncos, 15 as a starter. His deal with the Ravens is pending a physical, ESPN reported.

Floyd, the 13th overall selection in 2012 by the Arizona Cardinals, has played with four teams in the past three seasons. He was with the Washington Redskins last season when he had 10 receptions for 100 yards and one touchdown over 13 games (three starts).

A Notre Dame product, Floyd, 29, has 266 career receptions for 3,959 yards and 25 touchdowns with the Cardinals, New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings and Redskins. His most productive season came in 2013 with the Cardinals, when he had 65 receptions for 1,041 yards and five TDs.

Friday’s moves come one day after the Ravens brought back linebacker Pernell McPhee, a former fifth-round draft pick by the team, who had played the past four seasons with the Chicago Bears and Redskins.

–Field Level Media

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Giants LT Solder undergoes ankle surgery

Giants LT Solder undergoes ankle surgery

Giants LT Solder undergoes ankle surgery

New York Giants left tackle Nate Solder will miss offseason workouts as he recovers from arthroscopic surgery to remove bone spurs in an ankle, NFL Network reported Friday.

He is expected to be ready to take part in training camp this summer.

Solder, 31, played the first seven years of his career with New England before he signed a four-year, $62 million deal with the Giants in advance of the 2018 season. He started all 16 games.

The Giants will be counting on Solder to help improve the protection of the quarterback after Eli Manning was sacked 47 times last season.

–Field Level Media

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Spieth makes charge at 101st PGA Championship

Spieth makes charge at 101st PGA Championship

Spieth makes charge at 101st PGA Championship

Chasing history and his elusive major form at the same time, Jordan Spieth shot a 4-under-par 66 on Friday to charge into second place at 5 under following the morning wave of the second round of the 101st PGA Championship in Farmingdale, N.Y.

Spieth is attempting to become just the sixth player to win the career grand slam, but he entered the week without finishing in the 20 this year and having slid to No. 39 in the world rankings.

Spieth, who is third on the PGA Tour in second-round scoring this season, opened on the back nine Friday. He traded a pair of birdies and bogeys before catching fire after making his turn. Spieth birdied the first hole and then poured in three more birdies in posting a 4-under 31 for his final nine holes.

Finishing well before Brooks Koepka was scheduled to take the course, Spieth was in the clubhouse just two shots behind the overnight leader as rain and heavier winds rolled over Bethpage Black. He is one shot clear of world No. 1 Dustin Johnson (67 on Friday) and Daniel Berger (66).

“Just trying to get a little bit better than yesterday,” Spieth told TNT of his mindset entering the second round. “Just try to feel like I have good control of the club, good timing, good rhythm to the swing. And it was nice to roll in a few putts, too.”

Spieth hasn’t posted a top 10 finish since last year’s Open Championship but has insisted all week that his game is coming together.

“It’s less of what could go wrong, and it’s more of just trying to force things,” Speith said when asked what some of his mental hurdles have been. “And I feel like I didn’t do that. And on this golf course, you can’t. It requires more patience, which is nice because that feeds into what I’m trying to do.”

Also starting on the back nine, Johnson bogeyed No. 10 before going on a tear that included five birdies over a seven-hole stretch to get to 5 under. His charged stalled with a couple of short missed putts, as Johnson was 1-over par over his final 10 holes.

“I felt like I did a really good job today,” Johnson, who has hit 30 of 36 greens this week, told TNT. “I hit the ball really, really well… gave myself a lot of looks at birdie. Made some nice putts, but missed quite a few short ones. The greens are really tricky to read … lot of subtle breaks.

“I’m pleased with the score again and pleased with how I played.”

Berger did not enter the week on many people’s radars, but did share the 54-hole lead at last year’s U.S. Open and posted his 66 despite hitting only half the fairways.

“My short game was really on point today,” he said. “You gotta chip and putt well around here because you’re going to not hit a lot of fairways, and that’s what I did today.

“It’s a long week, 72 holes of extremely difficult golf. You’re not gonna hit a ton of perfect shots, but your bad shots have to be a little bit better than everyone else’s.”

South Korea’s Sung Kang, who has now made the cut in all six of his career majors, reached 4 under before bogeys on his final two holes. Also at 2 under is New Zealand’s Danny Lee, who shot a 74 on Friday – 10 shots worse than his opening round.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy was 5 over through six holes and 7 over for the tournament through 12 holes on Friday. He then reeled off four birdies over a five-hole stretch to get back to 3 over. He is tied with Australia’s Jason Day, who got back to 3 over with a birdie on his final hole after a stretch of three bogeys in four holes.

“I just needed one putt to go in, just to see something go into the bottom of the hole,” said McIlroy, who made less than 50 feet in total putts on Thursday but more than 100 on Friday. “That was at the fourth hole, and from there I started to play some good golf.

“My goal was just to be here for the weekend and it looks like I’ve done that, which is nice.”

NOTES: Koepka entered Friday at 62 under par in majors since the start of the 2016 PGA Championship — 22 shots better than anyone else.

–Field Level Media

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Cardinals CB Peterson gets six-game PED ban

Cardinals CB Peterson gets six-game PED ban

Eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson of the Arizona

Cardinals CB Peterson gets six-game PED ban

Eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals has been suspended for the first six games of 2019 for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

Details of the violation have not been released, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Peterson has dropped his appeal. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the length of the suspension — compared to the typical four-game punishment for a PED violation — is because the violation involved a masking agent.

“Definitely sorry for what broke out today,” Peterson told reporters before an event at his foundation in the Phoenix area on Thursday night.

“But I think you guys understand my character and also understand my commitment on and off the field and also to my teammates and also to the Arizona Cardinals organization. That’s why this is very, very hard for me, because, obviously, I have never been in this situation before and never wanted to have my name attached to anything like this. …

“I’m looking forward to getting back in Week 7 … trying to keep that smile on my face and getting back to being the best DB in the league.”

Peterson, 28, has never missed a start since the Cardinals drafted him in the first round (fifth overall) in 2011, making the Pro Bowl all eight seasons and earning first-team All-Pro honors three times. The Pro Bowl streak will now end, with Peterson ineligible due to the violation.

“Patrick recognizes how disappointing this is for everyone in the organization as well as our fans,” the Cardinals said in a statement. “As we all do, he understands that regardless of intent he is ultimately responsible for everything he puts in his body. Our coaching staff and our players are now aware that we will have to play the first six games without Patrick and they understand they have to rise to the challenge that it presents.”

Peterson would be eligible to return for the Oct. 20 road game against the New York Giants.

In 128 games, Peterson has registered 387 tackles, 23 interceptions, 76 passes defensed and 12 fumble recoveries.

Peterson asked for a trade last October, but rescinded the request and later confirmed his commitment to the Cardinals.

“I just want to apologize to everybody for asking for that trade in the middle of the season,” Peterson said while competing in a golf tournament in Phoenix in January. “I’m here to stay, baby.”

However, reports earlier this offseason said Peterson’s relationship with the team has become strained, and Rapoport reported Thursday that the suspension has further complicated things.

Peterson, who did not participate in Arizona’s voluntary workouts last month, signed a five-year, $70 million deal with the Cardinals in 2014 and was due to make a base salary of $11 million in 2019. The suspension will cost Peterson $3.88 million.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Cardinals CB Peterson banned six games (PEDs)

NFL notebook: Cardinals CB Peterson banned six games (PEDs)

Eight-time Pro

NFL notebook: Cardinals CB Peterson banned six games (PEDs)

Eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals has been suspended for the first six games of 2019 for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

Details of the violation have not been released, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Peterson has dropped his appeal. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the length of the suspension — compared to the typical four-game punishment for a PED violation — is because the violation involved a masking agent.

Peterson, 28, has never missed a start since the Cardinals drafted him in the first round (fifth overall) in 2011, making the Pro Bowl all eight seasons and earning first-team All-Pro honors three times. The Pro Bowl streak will now end, with Peterson ineligible due to the violation.

“Patrick recognizes how disappointing this is for everyone in the organization as well as our fans,” the Cardinals said in a statement Thursday. “As we all do, he understands that regardless of intent he is ultimately responsible for everything he puts in his body. Our coaching staff and our players are now aware that we will have to play the first six games without Patrick and they understand they have to rise to the challenge that it presents.”

Peterson asked for a trade last October, but rescinded the request and later confirmed his commitment to the Cardinals. However, reports earlier this offseason said Peterson’s relationship with the team has become strained, and Rapoport reported Thursday that the suspension has further complicated things.

–Outside linebacker Jamie Collins rejoined the New England Patriots after two-plus seasons with the Cleveland Browns. Terms of the deal were not announced.

Collins, 29, spent three-plus seasons with the Patriots before being dealt to the Browns for a conditional third-round pick midway through the 2016 season. Cleveland signed Collins to a four-year, $50 million extension in January 2017, but he was released this March after 30 games with the club.

The Patriots drafted Collins in the second round in 2013 and he blossomed with a Pro Bowl campaign in 2015. In 50 games (41 starts) with the Patriots, Collins totaled 326 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, five interceptions and 16 passes defensed. In 2018, Collins played in all 16 games for the first time in his career, totaling 104 tackles, four sacks, an interception and four passes defensed for the Browns.

–The Baltimore Ravens reportedly reached a one-year deal to bring back free agent linebacker Pernell McPhee.

After three seasons with the Chicago Bears (2015-17) and one with the Washington Redskins (2018), McPhee returns to the organization he called home from 2011-14. McPhee, 30, has 31 career sacks, 94 quarterback hits, 197 tackles and six forced fumbles in 109 games.

–Scott Pioli resigned after five years as assistant general manager of the Atlanta Falcons, after months of discussions about his future with the club.

Pioli, who has 26 years in NFL personnel evaluation under his belt, and Dimitroff have been friends for decades after meeting in Cleveland. Dimitroff’s father was a scout for Bill Belichick’s Browns staff, which included Pioli.

–Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph won’t take a pay cut to stay in Minnesota, telling the Star Tribune: “I am too young for that.”

Rudolph, the subject of trade rumors and reported broken-down negotiations over a contract extension, said he is hoping to find a way to stay with the only team he played for in his eight seasons. The 29-year-old has one year left on his contact and is due $7.5 million in 2019. The Vikings have about $1.13 million left in cap space, according to Over The Cap.

–First-round draft pick Jonah Williams and second-round selection Drew Sample signed their rookie contracts — both four-year deals — with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Williams, the No. 11 overall selection, played 44 games at offensive tackle for Alabama and was a unanimous first-team All-American in 2018. Sample, a tight end from the University of Washington, was the No. 52 overall selection.

–Sixth-round pick Corey Ballentine signed his rookie contract with the New York Giants as he continues his rehabilitation from injuries suffered on the night he was drafted. He was shot in the backside on April 28 in an incident in Topeka, Kan., that claimed the life of Washburn University teammate Dwane Simmons.

Ballentine missed New York’s rookie minicamp from May 3-5. The Giants encouraged him to remain in Kansas to mourn the loss of his best friend, whose funeral took place on May 4.

–Field Level Media

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Koepka leads PGA by 1 after course-record 63

Koepka leads PGA by 1 after course-record 63

Koepka leads PGA by 1 after course-record 63

Brooks Koepka said before the start of the 101st PGA Championship that he believes majors are easier to win because perhaps only 35-40 players begin the tournament with a legitimate shot of beating him.

The three-time major champion and world’s third-ranked player backed up that statement with a course-record 7-under-par 63 in Thursday’s first round in Farmingdale, N.Y. Koepka’s bogey-free card on the demanding Black Course at Bethpage State Park included seven birdies — none of which came on the course’s two par-5s.

“That was one of the best rounds I’ve played probably as a professional,” Koepka said. “This golf course is brutal.”

However, he acknowledged that his round could have been even better and that Thursday’s conditions lent themselves to low scoring.

While no one in the morning wave could get within four shots of Koepka’s masterpiece, New Zealand’s Danny Lee used eight birdies to offset a pair of bogeys in posting a 6-under 64 in the afternoon.

The next closest competitor is England’s Tommy Fleetwood, who was one of the first players out Thursday and posted a 3-under 67. Another shot off the pace are Luke List, Chez Reavie, Pat Perez, France’s Mike Lorenzo-Vera and South Korea’s Sung Kang.

A star-studded and deep group of players at 1 under includes world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth, who is attempting to become only the sixth player to complete the career grand slam. Australia’s Jason Day is also at 1 under.

They’ll begin Friday tied for ninth place, but staring a long way up at Koepka with 54 holes to play.

Koepka began his round with a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 10. He would roll in six more birdies to throw down the early gauntlet as he attempts to defend his title and become the first player since World War II to win his first four career majors within a two-year span.

He played Thursday’s opening round with Tiger Woods, who had a far more stressful time around the par-70 track. Woods, seeking his 16th major title, double-bogeyed the opening hole and added another double on No. 17 to go out in 3-over 38.

Woods blistered the opening portion of the front nine with a pair of birdies followed by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole — his first eagle at a PGA Championship since 2001 — to get under par for the first time. The rally stalled when his par putt on the following hole lipped out, and Woods added more bogeys on Nos. 7 and 8 to fall eight shots back of his playing partner.

The margin grew to nine when Koepka rolled in a lengthy birdie putt on his final hole while Woods made par from just off the back to complete his 2-over 72.

“Just make it,” Koepka told reporters when asked about his thought process on the final putt. “I think that was the only thing that was going through my head.

“I had good reads on it all day. The speed control was very solid. I felt very comfortable with the putter after a couple of changes we made, and very pleased with the way I putted today.

“(The course) definitely tests every part of your game, that’s for sure.”

Woods is playing for the first time since winning the Masters last month, while Koepka is coming off a fourth-place finish at last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson. He has now played 10 consecutive major rounds under par.

The rust showed for Woods, who missed a pair of greens from inside of 100 yards and struggled with the speed of the greens. He’ll need a solid round Friday just to make the cut, as will Rory McIlroy, who also carded a 72 but only after rolling in his first birdie of the day at No. 18.

“It wasn’t as clean as I’d like to have it for sure,” said Woods, who admitted he skipped Wednesday’s practice round because he was “a little bit sick” but felt fine Thursday.

“Didn’t get off to a very good start. It was a good drive and ended up in a bad spot, and I compounded the problem with trying to use the backboard behind the hole there and missing a putt I should have made.

“And then found my way back around. Got it back under par for the day, and let a couple slip away with a couple bad putts and a couple mistakes at the end.”

If Woods can take any positive away from Thursday, it may be the fact that the past four PGA champions were outside the top 10 after the first round. On the flip side, he is chasing a man in Koepka who has posted six consecutive rounds in the 60s at the PGA Championship while shooting a combined 25-under par.

The scary part for the rest of the field is that Woods said that 63 was about the highest Koepka could have shot on Thursday with the way he was playing.

“I didn’t take care of the par-5s, didn’t birdie any of the par-5s,” Koepka said. “That was disappointing because I felt like you know those are holes you should be able to birdie. … And then the second hole today, my 11th hole, I missed about a 5-footer.

“That would have been nice to shoot 60. I guess that would have been pretty good.”

But Koepka also realizes that the number he posted on Thursday already limits the number of players in the field who have a realistic shot of catching him.

“I wouldn’t say there’s very many guys,” Koepka acknowledged. “It tests every asset of your game. You’ve got to drive the ball straight. It’s long, so you’ve got to hit it far and really position yourself with some of these shots in.

“You can’t miss — you can’t take a shot off, and that’s what I love. There’s a fine line between 5, 6 over and a couple under out here. It’s a fun golf course to play, that’s for sure.”

Other notable finishers included Matt Kuchar, Xander Schauffele, England’s Justin Rose and Spain’s Jon Rahm at even par; Bryson DeChambeau and Italy’s Francesco Molinari (2 over); Patrick Reed and Spain’s Sergio Garcia (4 over) and Bubba Watson (6 over).

NOTES: John Daly, who has been permitted to use a cart during the tournament, carded a 5-over 75. … The Black Course is playing host to the PGA Championship for the first time after serving as the venue for the U.S. Open in 2002 and 2009. It will also be the host site for the 2024 Ryder Cup. … The Championship was moved to May for the first time since 1949 as part of the PGA Tour’s schedule overhaul this season. … The 156-player field includes 20 club professionals, led by Jason Caron and Ryan Vermeer at even-par 70 on Thursday.

–Field Level Media

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Cardinals CB Peterson gets 6-game PED ban

Cardinals CB Peterson gets 6-game PED ban

Eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson of the Arizona

Cardinals CB Peterson gets 6-game PED ban

Eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals has been suspended for the first six games of 2019 for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

Details of the violation have not been released, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Peterson has dropped his appeal.

Peterson, 28, has never missed a start since the Cardinals drafted him in the first round (fifth overall) in 2011, making the Pro Bowl all eight seasons and earning first-team All-Pro honors three times.

“Patrick recognizes how disappointing this is for everyone in the organization as well as our fans,” the Cardinals said in a statement. “As we all do, he understands that regardless of intent he is ultimately responsible for everything he puts in his body. Our coaching staff and our players are now aware that we will have to play the first six games without Patrick and they understand they have to rise to the challenge that it presents.”

Peterson would be eligible to return for the Oct. 20 road game against the New York Giants.

In 128 games, Peterson has registered 387 tackles, 23 interceptions, 76 passes defensed and 12 fumble recoveries.

Peterson asked for a trade last October, but rescinded the request and later confirmed his commitment to the Cardinals.

“I just want to apologize to everybody for asking for that trade in the middle of the season,” Peterson said while competing in a golf tournament in Phoenix in January. “I’m here to stay, baby.”

Peterson, who did not participate in Arizona’s voluntary workouts last month, signed a five-year, $70 million deal with the Cardinals in 2014 and was due to make a base salary of $11 million in 2019. The suspension will cost Peterson $3.88 million.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Cardinals CB Peterson banned 6 games (PEDs)

NFL notebook: Cardinals CB Peterson banned 6 games (PEDs)

Eight-time Pro

NFL notebook: Cardinals CB Peterson banned 6 games (PEDs)

Eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals has been suspended for the first six games of 2019 for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

Details of the violation have not been released, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Peterson has dropped his appeal. Peterson, 28, has never missed a start since the Cardinals drafted him fifth overall in 2011. He has made the Pro Bowl in all eight seasons, earning first-team All-Pro honors three times.

“Patrick recognizes how disappointing this is for everyone in the organization as well as our fans,” the Cardinals said in a statement Thursday. “As we all do, he understands that regardless of intent he is ultimately responsible for everything he puts in his body. Our coaching staff and our players are now aware that we will have to play the first six games without Patrick and they understand they have to rise to the challenge that it presents.”

Peterson would be eligible to return for the Oct. 20 road game against the New York Giants.

–Outside linebacker Jamie Collins rejoined the New England Patriots after two-plus seasons with the Cleveland Browns. Terms of the deal were not announced.

Collins, 29, spent three-plus seasons with the Patriots before being dealt to the Browns for a conditional third-round pick midway through the 2016 season. Cleveland signed Collins to a four-year, $50 million extension in January 2017, but he was released this March after 30 games with the club.

The Patriots drafted Collins in the second round in 2013 and he blossomed with a Pro Bowl campaign in 2015. In 50 games (41 starts) with the Patriots, Collins totaled 326 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, five interceptions and 16 passes defensed. In 2018, Collins played in all 16 games for the first time in his career, totaling 104 tackles, four sacks, an interception and four passes defensed for the Browns.

–The Baltimore Ravens reportedly reached a one-year deal to bring back free agent linebacker Pernell McPhee.

After three seasons with the Chicago Bears (2015-17) and one with the Washington Redskins (2018), McPhee returns to the organization he called home from 2011-14. McPhee, 30, has 31 career sacks, 94 quarterback hits, 197 tackles and six forced fumbles in 109 games.

–Scott Pioli resigned after five years as assistant general manager of the Atlanta Falcons, after months of discussions about his future with the club.

A restructuring under general manager Thomas Dimitroff was expected.

Pioli, who has 26 years in NFL personnel evaluation under his belt, and Dimitroff have been friends for decades after meeting in Cleveland. Dimitroff’s father was a scout for Bill Belichick’s Browns staff, which included Pioli.

–Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph won’t take a pay cut to stay in Minnesota, telling the Star Tribune “I am too young for that.”

Rudolph, the subject of trade rumors and reported broken-down negotiations over a contract extension, said he is hoping to find a way to stay with the team. The 29-year-old has one year left on his contact and is due $7.5 million in 2019. The Vikings have about $1.13 million left in cap space, according to Over The Cap.

Rudolph, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, has spent his eight-year career in Minnesota.

–First-round draft pick Jonah Williams and second-round selection Drew Sample signed their rookie contracts with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Both signed four-year deals, and Williams’ contract contains a team option for a fifth year. Financial terms were not announced.

Williams, the No. 11 overall selection, played 44 games at offensive tackle for Alabama and was a unanimous first-team All-American in 2018. Sample, a tight end from the University of Washington, was the No. 52 overall selection.

–Sixth-round pick Corey Ballentine signed his rookie contract with the New York Giants.

Ballentine is participating in meetings and classroom work with the other rookies while he continues his rehabilitation from injuries suffered on the night he was drafted. He was shot in the backside on April 28 in an incident in Topeka, Kan., that claimed the life of Washburn University teammate Dwane Simmons.

Ballentine missed New York’s rookie minicamp from May 3-5. The Giants encouraged him to remain in Kansas to mourn the loss of his best friend, whose funeral took place on May 4.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Ravens bringing back LB McPhee

Report: Ravens bringing back LB McPhee

The Ravens reportedly reached a one-year deal Thursday to bring

Report: Ravens bringing back LB McPhee

The Ravens reportedly reached a one-year deal Thursday to bring free agent linebacker Pernell McPhee back to Baltimore.

After three seasons with the Chicago Bears (2015-17) and one with the Washington Redskins (2018), McPhee returns to the organization he called home from 2011-14.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the deal, but no financial details were released.

McPhee, 30, has 31 career sacks, 94 quarterback hits, 197 tackles and six forced fumbles in 109 games.

The Ravens’ 2011 fifth-round pick posted a career-high 7.5 sacks in his final season in Baltimore in 2014.

–Field Level Media

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Falcons assistant GM Pioli resigns

Falcons assistant GM Pioli resigns

Scott Pioli resigned Thursday after five

Falcons assistant GM Pioli resigns

Scott Pioli resigned Thursday after five years as assistant general manager of the Atlanta Falcons.

Pioli’s seat at the personnel table had been under discussion for months, and a restructuring under general manager Thomas Dimitroff was expected.

Pioli, who has 26 years in NFL personnel evaluation under his belt, and Dimitroff have been friends for decades after meeting in Cleveland. Dimitroff’s father was a scout for Bill Belichick’s staff, which included Pioli.

“After careful consideration and ongoing dialogue with Thomas over the past year I have decided to step away from my position as the assistant general manager of the Atlanta Falcons to pursue other potential opportunities,” Pioli said. “I want to thank both (owner) Arthur (Blank) and Thomas for bringing my family and I here in 2014.”

Dimitroff worked on the Browns’ grounds crew, but with bonds formed with Belichick and Pioli, he would rise to the position of Patriots’ director of college scouting as the Belichick-Pioli team began building a dynasty in New England. Pioli left the Patriots to be a first-time general manager with the Kansas City Chiefs, and Dimitroff headed to Atlanta.

After a brief foray into media, Pioli followed Dimitroff to Atlanta.

The Falcons did not announce a new personnel structure, but Dimitroff said options are under consideration.

“Over the last five years Scott has not only provided tremendous value to me, but to the entire Falcons organization. He is a dear friend and will be missed within our organization. We are continuing to assess the structure within our organization and move forward with our next steps,” Dimitroff said.

–Field Level Media

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Koepka charges to PGA lead as Tiger’s rally stalls

Koepka charges to PGA lead as Tiger's rally stalls

Koepka charges to PGA lead as Tiger’s rally stalls

Defending champion Brooks Koepka fired a 7-under-par 63 on Thursday to grab the early lead in the first round of the 101st PGA Championship in Farmingdale, N.Y.

Beginning on the back nine of the Black Course at Bethpage State Park, Koepka’s bogey-free round started with a birdie on No. 10. He would roll in six more birdies to serve early notice as he attempts to become the first player since World War II to win his first four majors within a two-year span.

He played Thursday’s opening round with Tiger Woods, who had a far more stressful time around the 7,459-yard, Par-70 track. Woods, seeking his 16th major title, double-bogeyed the opening hole and added another double on No. 17 to go out in 3-over 38.

Woods blistered the opening portion of the front nine with a pair of birdies followed by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole to get under par for the first time. The rally stalled when his par putt on the following hole lipped out, and Woods added two more bogeys on Nos. 7 and 8 to fall eight shots back of his playing partner.

The margin grew to nine when Koepka rolled in a lengthy birdie putt on his final hole while Woods parred from just off the back to complete his 2-over round of 72.

Woods is playing for the first time since winning the Masters last month, while Koepka is coming off a fourth-place finish at last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson and has now played 10 consecutive major rounds under par. In his last six rounds in the PGA Championship — all in the 60s — Koepka is a combined 25-under par.

The rust showed for Woods, who missed a pair of greens from inside of 100 yards and struggled with the speed of the greens.

NOTES: Koepka finished two shots ahead of Woods at last year’s PGA Championship. … The Black Course is playing host to the PGA Championship for the first time after serving as the venue for the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens. It will also be the host site for the 2024 Ryder Cup. … The Championship was moved to May for the first time since 1949 as part of the PGA Tour’s schedule overhaul this season. … Jordan Spieth is attempting to become only the sixth player to complete the career grand slam. None of the previous five completed it at the PGA Championship. … The 156-player field includes 20 club professionals.

–Field Level Media

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Koepka fires course record as Tiger’s rally stalls at PGA

Koepka fires course record as Tiger's rally stalls at PGA

Koepka fires course record as Tiger’s rally stalls at PGA

Defending champion Brooks Koepka fired a course-record 7-under-par 63 on Thursday to grab the early lead in the first round of the 101st PGA Championship in Farmingdale, N.Y.

Beginning on the back nine of the Black Course at Bethpage State Park, Koepka’s bogey-free round started with a birdie on No. 10. He would roll in six more birdies to serve early notice as he attempts to become the first player since World War II to win his first four majors within a two-year span.

He played Thursday’s opening round with Tiger Woods, who had a far more stressful time around the 7,459-yard, Par-70 track. Woods, seeking his 16th major title, double-bogeyed the opening hole and added another double on No. 17 to go out in 3-over 38.

Woods blistered the opening portion of the front nine with a pair of birdies followed by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole – his first at a PGA Championship since 2001 – to get under par for the first time. The rally stalled when his par putt on the following hole lipped out, and Woods added two more bogeys on Nos. 7 and 8 to fall eight shots back of his playing partner.

The margin grew to nine when Koepka rolled in a lengthy birdie putt on his final hole while Woods parred from just off the back to complete his 2-over round of 72.

“I drove the ball pretty well today, and the key is you’ve got to put it in the fairway here if you want to put it on the green,” Koepka told TNT. “If you put it in the rough all day, you’re going to be laying up and really trying to scramble for pars.

“Did a good job there, and my iron play was solid, hit a lot of greens. And if I didn’t, I left it in the correct place to get up and down. And then, my putter was hot today, I’m not going to lie. It hasn’t felt that good in a long time.”

Koepka finished the morning wave four shots clear of England’s Tommy Fleetwood (3 under), with Luke List, Chez Reavie and France’s Mike Lorenzo-Vera another shot off the pace.

Woods is playing for the first time since winning the Masters last month, while Koepka is coming off a fourth-place finish at last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson and has now played 10 consecutive major rounds under par.

The rust showed for Woods, who missed a pair of greens from inside of 100 yards and struggled with the speed of the greens. He’ll need a solid round Friday just to make the cut.

“I got off to just not the best start today,” Woods told TNT. “Fought my way back in the round there, but unfortunately let a couple slip away at the end with some bad putts.

“Making two double bogeys and making two three-putts wasn’t very clean today, and consequently I’m a long way back.”

If Woods can take any positive away from Thursday, it may be the fact that the past four PGA champions were outside of the top 10 after the first round. On the flip side, he is chasing a man in Koepka who has posted six consecutive rounds in the 60s at the PGA Championship while shooting a combined 25-under par.

The scary part for the rest of the field is Koepka believes he still left some shots out on the course.

“This is a crazy day,” he acknowledged. “Seven under isn’t going to happen every day, I know that. I parred two par-5s and missed about a five-footer on No. 11, so it could have been a helluva round.

“Don’t get me wrong, it was great. I’ll take it every day, but just need to clean a few things up.”

Other notable scores from the morning wave included Rickie Fowler (1 under), Xander Schauffele and England’s Justin Rose (even), Patrick Reed and Spain’s Sergio Garcia (4 over) and Bubba Watson (6 over).

NOTES: Koepka finished two shots ahead of Woods at last year’s PGA Championship. … The Black Course is playing host to the PGA Championship for the first time after serving as the venue for the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens. It will also be the host site for the 2024 Ryder Cup. … The Championship was moved to May for the first time since 1949 as part of the PGA Tour’s schedule overhaul this season. … Jordan Spieth is attempting to become only the sixth player to complete the career grand slam. None of the previous five completed it at the PGA Championship. … The 156-player field includes 20 club professionals.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Cardinals CB Peterson gets 6-game PED ban

Report: Cardinals CB Peterson gets 6-game PED ban

Eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson of the

Report: Cardinals CB Peterson gets 6-game PED ban

Eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals has been suspended for the first six games of 2019 for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy, ESPN reported.

Details of the violation have not been released, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Peterson has dropped his appeal.

Peterson, 28, has never missed a start since the Cardinals drafted him in the first round (fifth overall) in 2011, making the Pro Bowl all eight seasons and earning first team All-Pro honors three times.

He would be eligible to return for the Oct. 20 road game against the New York Giants.

In 128 games, Peterson has registered 387 tackles, 23 interceptions, 76 passes defensed and 12 fumble recoveries.

Peterson asked for a trade last October, but rescinded the request and later confirmed his commitment to the Cardinals.

“I just want to apologize to everybody for asking for that trade in the middle of the season,” Peterson said while competing in a golf tournament in Phoenix in January. “I’m here to stay, baby.”

Peterson, who did not participate in Arizona’s voluntary workouts last month, signed a five-year, $70 million deal with the Cardinals in 2014 and was due to make a base salary of $11 million in 2019. The suspension will cost Peterson $3.88 million.

–Field Level Media

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Bengals sign top draft picks Williams, Sample

Bengals sign top draft picks Williams, Sample

First-round draft

Bengals sign top draft picks Williams, Sample

First-round draft pick Jonah Williams and second-round selection Drew Sample signed their rookie contracts Thursday with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Both players signed four-year deals, and Williams’ contract contains a team option for a fifth year. Financial terms were not announced.

The No. 11 overall selection, Williams, an offensive tackle, played 44 games for the Crimson Tide and was a unanimous first-team All-American in 2018.

Sample, a 6-foot-5 tight end, played four seasons at Washington and caught 46 passes for 487 yards and five touchdowns. The No. 52 overall selection, Sample caught 25 passes for 252 yards and three scores in his senior season.

Linebacker Germaine Pratt, selected in the third round, and quarterback Ryan Finley, a fourth-round pick, are the only players among the Bengals’ 10 draftees to remain unsigned. Both played at North Carolina State.

–Field Level Media

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Patriots bring back former Pro Bowl LB Collins

Patriots bring back former Pro Bowl LB Collins

Outside

Patriots bring back former Pro Bowl LB Collins

Outside linebacker Jamie Collins rejoined the New England Patriots on Thursday after two-plus seasons with the Cleveland Browns.

Terms of the deal were not announced, but the Patriots made room by releasing second-year defensive tackle Frank Herron.

Collins, 29, spent three-plus seasons with the Patriots before being dealt to the Browns for a conditional third-round pick midway through the 2016 season. Cleveland signed Collins to a four-year, $50 million extension in January 2017, but he was released this March after 30 games with the club.

The Patriots drafted Collins in the second round in 2013 and he blossomed with a Pro Bowl campaign in 2015, racking up 89 tackles (eight for loss), 5.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, an interception and six passes defensed in just 12 games.

In 50 games (41 starts) with the Patriots, Collins totaled 326 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, five interceptions and 16 passes defensed.

After missing 10 games to injury in 2017, Collins played in all 16 for the first time in his career last year, totaling 104 tackles, four sacks, an interception and four passes defensed for the Browns.

Collins will be coached by a former teammate, as he played alongside Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo from 2013-15.

He adds experience and depth to a strong linebacker corps that includes Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts and 2018 fifth-rounder Ja’Whaun Bentley.

Herron, 24, joined the Patriots in 2018 as an undrafted free agent out of LSU. He spent time on the Seattle Seahawks’ practice squad before joining the Patriots’ practice squad on Oct. 8, where he stayed for the duration of the campaign. He has not appeared in a regular-season game.

–Field Level Media

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Giants sign CB Ballentine

Giants sign CB Ballentine

Sixth-round pick Corey Ballentine signed his rookie contract with the New York

Giants sign CB Ballentine

Sixth-round pick Corey Ballentine signed his rookie contract with the New York Giants.

The Giants announced the signing on Thursday.

Ballentine is participating in meetings and classroom work with the other rookies while he continues his rehabilitation from injuries he suffered when he was shot on the night he was drafted.

He was shot in the backside on April 28 in an incident in Topeka, Kan., that claimed the life of Washburn University teammate Dwane Simmons.

Ballentine missed New York’s rookie minicamp from May 3-5. The Giants encouraged him to remain in Kansas to mourn the loss of his best friend, whose funeral took place on May 4.

–Field Level Media

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Vikings TE Rudolph won’t take pay cut

Vikings TE Rudolph won't take pay cut

Vikings

Vikings TE Rudolph won’t take pay cut

Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph won’t take a pay cut to stay in Minnesota.

“No I won’t, I am too young for that,” the 29-year-old told the Star-Tribune in a story published Thursday.

Rudolph, the subject of trade rumors and reported broken-down negotiations over a contract extension, said he is hoping to find a way to stay with the team.

“I am really excited about where this offense is headed, under the guidance of (offensive coordinator) Kevin Stefanski, with the influence of (assistant head coach) Gary Kubiak. I am extremely excited about our offensive staff,” Rudolph said. “I think we have the best offensive staff in football and they’re going to put our guys in great situations to be successful.”

Rudolph has one year left on his contact and is due $7.5 million in 2019. The Vikings have about $1.13 million left in cap space, according to Over The Cap.

Minnesota drafted Alabama tight end Irv Smith in the second round as a potential replacement.

Rudolph, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, has spent his eight-year NFL career in Minnesota, catching 386 passes for 3,787 yards and 41 touchdowns. He had 64 receptions for 634 yards and four scores last season.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: New Jets boss Gase trades Lee to Chiefs

Reports: New Jets boss Gase trades Lee to Chiefs

Reports: New Jets boss Gase trades Lee to Chiefs

A busy day for the New York Jets wasn’t limited to the front office. And the drama spilled over to social media.

Hours after the team fired general manager Mike Maccagnan and named head coach Adam Gase his temporary replacement on Wednesday, Gase traded linebacker Darron Lee to the Kansas City Chiefs, multiple outlets reported.

According to the reports, New York received a 2020 sixth-round pick in return.

Maccagnan selected Lee in the first round (20th overall) in 2016. The former Ohio State star struggled in his first two seasons, but had three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and 74 tackles in 12 games (all starts) in 2018. However, his season was cut short when he received a four-game ban for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.

The Jets declined his fifth-year option and signed free agent linebacker C.J. Mosley to a five-year, $85 million contract in the offseason, all but assuring Lee’s days in New York were numbered.

When the man who drafted him was no longer in power, his number was up.

But in the hours between Maccagnan’s firing and Lee’s exit, Lee tweeted “Good Afternoon everybody!” with a rosy cheek emoji, believed to be an indication of his happiness at Maccagnan’s departure.

The 24-year-old soon deleted the tweet, though screen grabs were caught before it was gone.

The Jets hired Gase in January, shortly after Miami fired the 41-year-old after three seasons and a 23-25 record.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Patriots bring back former LB Collins

Reports: Patriots bring back former LB Collins

Reports: Patriots bring back former LB Collins

The New England Patriots have agreed to bring back former linebacker Jamie Collins, multiple media outlets reported Wednesday.

Contract terms have yet to be reported. NFL Network reported earlier Wednesday the sides were in talks about a deal.

Collins, 29, spent three-plus seasons with New England before being dealt to the Cleveland Browns for a conditional third-round pick midway through the 2016 season. Cleveland gave Collins a four-year, $50 million extension in January of 2017, but he was released this March after 30 games with the club.

The Patriots took Collins in the second round of the 2013 draft, and he blossomed with a Pro Bowl 2015 campaign, when he racked up 89 tackles (eight for loss), 5.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, an interception and six passes defensed in just 12 games.

In 50 games (41 starts) with the Patriots, Collins totaled 326 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, five interceptions and 16 passes defensed.

After missing 10 games to injury in 2017, Collins played in all 16 for the first time in his career last year, totaling 104 tackles, four sacks, an interception and four passes defensed for the Browns.

Collins will now be coached by a former teammate, as he played alongside current inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo from 2013-15.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Jets fire Maccagnan, make Gase interim GM

NFL notebook: Jets fire Maccagnan, make Gase interim GM

NFL notebook: Jets fire Maccagnan, make Gase interim GM

The New York Jets fired general manager Mike Maccagnan on Wednesday and named first-year head coach Adam Gase as the interim GM.

Hired in January of 2015, Maccagnan had two years remaining on the contract extension he signed at the end of the 2017 season.

Team chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson issued a statement saying the decision was made “in the best long-term interests of the New York Jets.” Speaking to reporters later Wednesday on a conference call, Johnson said he made the decision only after “diving deep into the organization,” but declined to go into specifics.

Johnson said the Jets’ search for a permanent general manager would begin immediately. Multiple outlets report that Philadelphia Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas has been rumored around the league as the Jets’ potential GM for some time. Douglas and Gase were both with the Chicago Bears in 2015, Douglas as director of college scouting and Gase as offensive coordinator.

–Cleveland running back Kareem Hunt said he promised the Browns there will not be another incident like the one that led to his eight-game suspension to start the 2019 season.

“I’ve apologized for my actions in the past and definitely won’t make those same mistakes,” Hunt told reporters in Cleveland, where he is attending organized team activities.

Hunt signed with the Browns on Feb. 11, about two and a half months after being cut by Kansas City. The Chiefs parted ways with their leading rusher after a video surfaced of him kicking and shoving a woman at a Cleveland hotel. Hunt, 23, said he hasn’t had a chance to apologize to the woman face to face, but said he would if given that chance.

–The New England Patriots have agreed to bring back former linebacker Jamie Collins, multiple media outlets reported.

Collins, 29, spent three-plus seasons with New England before being dealt to the Cleveland Browns for a conditional third-round pick midway through the 2016 season. Cleveland gave Collins a four-year, $50 million extension in January of 2017, but he was released this March after 30 games with the club.

The Patriots took Collins in the second round of the 2013 draft, and he blossomed with a Pro Bowl 2015 campaign, when he racked up 89 tackles (eight for loss), 5.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, an interception and six passes defensed in just 12 games.

–The Patriots signed first-round wideout N’Keal Harry to a four-year contract worth more than $10 million. Like all first-round deals, it comes with a fifth-year team option.

Harry, taken 32nd overall out of Arizona State, is the first wideout drafted in the first round by New England since Terry Glenn in 1996.

–The Seattle Seahawks officially signed quarterback Geno Smith.

The 28-year-old will compete with former Denver Broncos first-round pick Paxton Lynch to back up starter Russell Wilson.

The Jets’ second-round selection in 2013, Smith joins his fourth NFL team. He was 12-18 as a starter over four seasons with the Jets, lost his only start with the New York Giants in 2017, and attempted just four passes with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2018.

–Dallas Cowboys defensive end Taco Charlton had minor ankle surgery but should be ready for training camp, NFL Network reported.

The Cowboys’ 2017 first-round draft pick tweeted a picture of himself Tuesday with his left leg in a boot, referring to the situation as a “minor setback.”

Charlton, 24, is entering the third year of his four-year, $10 million rookie contract.

–The Arizona Cardinals promoted former Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson to director of pro scouting, in one of several personnel moves.

A five-time Pro Bowler and 2009 first-team All-Pro in his 12 seasons (2001-12) with Arizona, Wilson joined the Cardinals’ front office in 2016. The 39-year-old has worked in both the pro and college scouting departments for the team.

Wilson’s promotion filled a position vacated by the promotion of another former Cardinals safety, Quentin Harris, who was named director of player personnel.

–The Miami Dolphins hosted free agent linebacker Connor Barwin on a visit and signed free agent linebacker Nate Orchard, according to multiple reports.

Barwin, 32, spent the last two years with the Rams (2017) and Giants (2018) after four years each with the Texans and Eagles, going to the Pro Bowl in 2014 with Philadelphia. He was released by the Giants in February.

Orchard, 26, played in four games last season for the Bills and Chiefs before latching on briefly with the Seahawks this offseason.

–The San Francisco 49ers signed free agent tight end Levine Toilolo, releasing safety Cameron Glenn to make room on the roster.

Toilolo, 27, spent last year with the Detroit Lions, catching 21 passes for 263 yards and a touchdown. He spent the first five years of his career with the Atlanta Falcons.

–Field Level Media

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Browns RB Hunt: ‘I’ve got to earn everybody’s trust’

Browns RB Hunt: 'I've got to earn everybody's trust'

Cleveland running

Browns RB Hunt: ‘I’ve got to earn everybody’s trust’

Cleveland running back Kareem Hunt said he promised the Browns there will not be another incident like the one that led to his eight-game suspension to start the 2019 season.

“I’ve apologized for my actions in the past and definitely won’t make those same mistakes,” Hunt told reporters Wednesday in Cleveland, where he is attending organized team activities.

Hunt signed with the Browns on Feb. 11, about two and a half months after being cut by Kansas City. The Chiefs parted ways with their leading rusher after a video surfaced of him kicking and shoving a woman at a Cleveland hotel.

Hunt, 23, said he hasn’t had a chance to apologize to the woman face to face, but said he would if given that chance.

The 2017 Pro Bowl selection and Ohio native said he hopes to make a fresh start with the Browns.

“It turned out to be good landing in a situation like the Browns, close to home again,” Hunt said. “I just have to sit back [during the suspension] and keep faith and better myself as a person.”

He also said he is currently undergoing counseling twice a week and is planning to get baptized this Sunday.

“I’ve got to earn everybody’s trust,” Hunt said.

A third-round pick out of Toledo in 2017, Hunt rushed for 2,151 yards and 15 touchdowns and caught 79 passes for 833 yards and 10 scores in 27 games with the Chiefs. He won the NFL rushing title as a rookie with 1,327 yards.

–Field Level Media

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Seahawks sign free agent QB Smith

Seahawks sign free agent QB Smith

The Seattle Seahawks are giving journeyman

Seahawks sign free agent QB Smith

The Seattle Seahawks are giving journeyman quarterback Geno Smith a shot at backing up the NFL’s highest-paid player.

Seattle signed the 28-year-old on Wednesday and said he will compete with former Denver Broncos first-round pick Paxton Lynch to back up starter Russell Wilson.

The New York Jets’ second-round selection in 2013, Smith joins his fourth NFL team. He was 12-18 as a starter over four seasons with the Jets, lost his only start with the New York Giants in 2017, and attempted just four passes with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2018.

In 40 career games, Smith has completed 57.7 percent of his passes for 6,182 yards with 29 touchdowns and 36 interceptions. Smith has also rushed for 661 yards and seven scores.

Lynch, 25, was 1-3 as a Denver starter and completed 61.7 percent of his passes for 792 yards with four touchdowns and four picks. The Broncos cut him last September, and he signed with Seattle in January.

Last month the Seahawks signed Wilson, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, to a contract extension through 2023 that averages $35 million per season.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Patriots in talks with former LB Collins

Report: Patriots in talks with former LB Collins

Report: Patriots in talks with former LB Collins

The New England Patriots are in talks to bring back former linebacker Jamie Collins, NFL Network reported Wednesday.

Collins, 29, spent three-plus seasons with New England before being dealt to the Cleveland Browns for a conditional third-round pick midway through the 2016 season. Cleveland gave Collins a four-year, $50 million extension in January of 2017, but he was released this March after 30 games with the club.

The Patriots took Collins in the second round of the 2013 draft, and he blossomed with a Pro Bowl 2015 campaign, when he racked up 89 tackles (eight for loss), 5.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, an interception and six passes defensed in just 12 games.

In 50 games (41 starts) with the Patriots, Collins totaled 326 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, five interceptions and 16 passes defensed.

After missing 10 games to injury in 2017, Collins played in all 16 for the first time in his career last year, totaling 104 tackles, four sacks, an interception and four passes defensed for the Browns.

If he does rejoin the Patriots, Collins would be coached by a former teammate, as he played alongside current inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo from 2013-15.

–Field Level Media

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Take 5: Good bets to win 101st PGA Championship

Take 5: Good bets to win 101st PGA Championship

Take 5: Good bets to win 101st PGA Championship

With a Par 70 course measuring 7,459 yards and featuring gnarly rough, the winner of the 101st PGA Championship at Bethpage Black this week will need to drive the ball long — and straight.

He will also have to cope with a partisan New York crowd expected to number around 60,000 fans daily.

Five good bets to hoist the Wanamaker Trophy come Sunday:

Lucas Bjerregaard, Denmark (150/1 by Bovada.com): We’ll go straight to our longshot pick. The 44th-ranked player in the world still isn’t a household name, but Bjerregaard’s game is well respected by his peers. He has also been playing more in the States this year, including knocking off Tiger Woods en route to the semifinals of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in March. Great odds on an emerging player, with the downsides being two missed cuts in his past three events and little Sunday experience on the game’s grandest stages.

Tiger Woods, United States (11/1): Woods will have the crowd behind him and can’t be counted out, but he also hasn’t played a competitive round since winning the Masters last month. Few players understand the nuances of how to get around the Black Course better than the 2002 U.S. Open champion on the difficult track, and his course management is second to none. To be in contention on Sunday, Woods must drive the ball well and convert the short putts that have nagged him at times as he has aged. Tiger still gets our nod over world No. 1 Dustin Johnson (10/1), who is tied for 74th on the PGA Tour in final-round scoring (70.22) this season, including several notable Sunday implosions.

Tommy Fleetwood, England (28/1): Fleetwood is going to earn his major breakthrough sooner than later. One of the world’s elite ball-strikers, the Englishman hasn’t cracked the top 35 in his past two majors but did finish second at last year’s U.S. Open and has spent plenty of time on the first page of major leaderboards. He also earned a T-5 at this year’s Players Championship and is coming off a T-8 at the British Masters.

Brooks Koepka, United States: (10/1): Koepka has won three of the past eight majors and is a combined 47-under par in his past five PGA appearances — including a record-setting 72-hole score of 264 at Bellerive last year. He lives for the major stage, has more than enough firepower and is coming off a solid solo fourth at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

Rory McIlroy (11/1): A two-time PGA Championship winner (2012, 2014) seeking his first major in five years, no one has been more consistent in 2019 than the recently turned 30-year-old Northern Irishman. He has top-10 finishes in all but one of his nine starts this year, and most important, he is the best all-around driver of the golf ball in the world. If he can get even warm with his inconsistent putter this week, McIlroy should be in line to capture his fifth career major.

–Field Level Media

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Cardinals promote Wilson to director of pro scouting

Cardinals promote Wilson to director of pro scouting

Cardinals promote Wilson to director of pro scouting

The Arizona Cardinals promoted former Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson to director of pro scouting, in one of several personnel moves announced Wednesday.

A five-time Pro Bowler and 2009 first-team All-Pro across 12 seasons (2001-12) with Arizona, Wilson joined the Cardinals’ front office in 2016. The 39-year-old has worked in both the pro and college scouting departments for the team.

Wilson’s promotion filled a position vacated by the promotion of another former Cardinals safety, Quentin Harris, who was named director of player personnel after serving as director of pro scouting since 2013.

Harris, 42, played four of his five NFL seasons for the Cardinals from 2002-05, then joined the front office in 2007.

The team also promoted Dru Grigson — the team’s director of college scouting for the last six years — to assistant director of player personnel and Chris Culmer to director of college scouting. Another former player, Josh Scobey, was promoted to western regional scout.

–Field Level Media

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Tiger rests as agent denies illness rumors

Tiger rests as agent denies illness rumors

Tiger Woods skipped his final practice

Tiger rests as agent denies illness rumors

Tiger Woods skipped his final practice round Wednesday, deciding to rest rather than play another nine holes ahead of Thursday’s start of the 101st PGA Championship.

Woods, who has not played a competitive round since winning the Masters last month, has played only nine holes this week. He opted to focus primarily on practicing around the course, although his agent noted that Woods also played the course last week.

“He’s all good, just getting some rest,” agent Mark Steinberg told ESPN in shooting down rumors that Woods may be dealing with an illness. “Saw the course last week, all is good.”

Woods’ yacht was docked in Oyster Bay more than two weeks ago, and the golfer arrived in Farmingdale, N.Y. last week. The 2002 U.S. Open champion at Bethpage Black also knows the course well.

The 43-year-old Woods indicated during his Tuesday press conference that managing energy over four days on the course measuring nearly 7,500 yards will be critical.

“There’s definitely going to be a component to stamina this week as the week goes on,” Woods said. “Four days over a tough championship that is mentally and physically taxing takes its toll.”

Woods won his 15th major championship last month and is currently three away from Jack Nicklaus’ all-time record.

–Field Level Media

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Cowboys DE Charlton has minor ankle surgery

Cowboys DE Charlton has minor ankle surgery

Dallas

Cowboys DE Charlton has minor ankle surgery

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Taco Charlton had minor ankle surgery but should be ready for training camp, NFL Network reported Wednesday.

The Cowboys’ 2017 first-round draft pick tweeted a picture of himself Tuesday with his left leg in a boot, referring to the situation as a “minor setback.”

Charlton, 24, is entering the third year of his four-year, $10 million rookie contract.

He has recorded just four sacks in 27 games since Dallas made him the 28th overall pick out of Michigan. Injuries limited him to 11 games last season.

–Field Level Media

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