Browns rookie QB Mayfield raising money for Special Olympics

CLEVELAND (AP) — Baker Mayfield is making a handoff from the heart.

The Browns rookie quarterback has teamed up with Barstool Sports to raise money for Special Olympics, an organization he first made a personal connection with while playing at Oklahoma. Mayfield has helped create a line of clothing merchandise, including T-shirts, hoodies and a flag bearing his image, with 100 percent of the sales proceeds going to Special Olympics Ohio.

Mayfield was moved to do more charitable work after being involved in college with “Special Spectators,” a program that allows seriously ill children to have an all-access, VIP-day at sporting events.

“It was a special bond, and when you do stuff like that, it makes a huge difference when you can build an actual relationship instead of just saying, ‘Hey, I like this cause I want to throw money at it’,” Mayfield said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.

“But there were relationships throughout that process that made a huge impact on me so my love for inspiring kids and competing in sports made Special Olympics a very easy choice to help out.”

Mayfield said being around children and young adults with disabilities and other challenges gives him perspective — and appreciation.

“I’m so blessed to be in the position that I’m in,” he said. “It makes me think that there are no bad days. I need to be thankful for what I have and when I’m around kids like that, they always find a way to put a smile on my face when they have absolutely every reason not to do that. And to me, that’s inspiring. That’s finding the good in every situation, the positives in every situation that you can and it’s so much fun to see.”

Mayfield launched the initiative during his bye week with the Browns, who selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft. Mayfield had his best game as a pro last week, throwing three touchdown passes as Cleveland beat Atlanta 28-16 to snap a four-game losing streak.

It’s been a bumpy first NFL season for both Mayfield and the Browns, who are undergoing more change following coach Hue Jackson’s recent firing.

But Mayfield has long-suffering Cleveland fans feeling good about the team’s future, especially because it appears the Browns finally have found a franchise quarterback.

For Mayfield, the adversity is nothing new. He battled to win a starting job in high school and then walked on at both Texas Tech and Oklahoma before winning the Heisman Trophy.

Obstacles are nothing new, and in some ways, he feels coming to Cleveland and helping the Browns was destined.

“I think everything happens for a reason,” he said. “I love a good challenge. I think it’s been everything that I’ve gone through, the lessons I’ve learned and the things that I’ll continue to learn now that I’m here. Yeah, I think it’s absolutely meant to be, and I couldn’t be happier to have an opportunity to change it.”

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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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