NFL discussing possible steps to deal with anthem protests

ATLANTA (AP) — The NFL approved a new owner for the Carolina Panthers, passed a rule to eject players who hit with their helmets, and took steps to spice up the kickoff.

Still to be resolved: a much more contentious issue.

What to do, if anything, about players who kneel during the national anthem?

“We recognize with our visibility and the interest itself that it’s taken a life of its own,” Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “We ask the world, ‘Don’t turn your head. Look at us. Wait a minute. Look at the NFL. Look at everything we’re doing.’ And then when we have some issues we’ve got to work through, we realize we’ve asked you to look.

“Let’s do as good as we can do.”

At their annual spring meeting on Thursday, league owners welcomed David Tepper to their ranks by signing off on his record $2.2 billion deal to purchase the Panthers from disgraced team founder Jerry Richardson.

During a brief news conference in which he took only a handful of questions, Tepper immediately made a bit of news by seeming to imply he would be willing to listen to offers for a new stadium from other cities in North and South Carolina. The team has made no secret of its desire to replace 22-year-old Bank of America Stadium, and its lease runs only through the upcoming season.

“What’s the name of the team? Carolina Panthers. It’s going to be the Carolina Panthers,” Tepper said. “And that means this team has to have some kind of presence in the Carolinas and last time I saw, how many are there? That’s right, there’s two of them.”

But Tepper, a hedge fund owner who is worth a reported $11 billion, also reiterated several times that the largest city in the Carolinas is the “logical place for this team.”

“As far as a new stadium, again, you’re asking me too much and the only thing I have a market on now is lack of knowledge,” he said. ” I’ll learn a lot more in the future.”

Tepper’s purchase was the first order of business at the luxury hotel in Atlanta’s tony Buckhead neighborhood.

That was the easy part.

As a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tepper was already familiar to the league’s owners and his approval was a mere formality. The vote was unanimous.

Anthem protests are a much thornier issue.

“We certainly want to make and will make a thought-out, deliberate decision,” said Jones, who has made it clear he opposes kneeling during the anthem and was one of the few people to speak with reporters in the hotel lobby after the meeting broke up. “Whatever we do, let’s put the focus on what the NFL’s about and that’s playing football.”

The owners began discussing the issue — which has reached all the way to the White House — and will talk more about the matter when they wrap up their meetings Wednesday.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016, a quiet but powerful protest against police brutality and racial inequities in the justice system. Other players took up the cause, and the gesture carried on during the 2017 season even after Kaepernick left the 49ers and failed to land a job with another team.

President Trump turned the anthem protests into a campaign issue, saying the NFL should fire any player who takes a knee during “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The NFL hasn’t gone that far, but Kaepernick has yet to land another job and one of his former teammates and fellow protesters, safety Eric Reid, is also out of work.

Both have filed collusion grievances against the NFL.

“I think there’s certainly resolve and I can assure the issue is getting the very best of every owner and the very best look at all our constituencies with an eye first and foremost to our fans. That’s No. 1,” Jones said. “We know our fans want us to zero in on football, and they don’t want to think about or think that we’re thinking about anything other than football.”

The NFL was reportedly considering whether to assess a 15-yard penalty against any player who takes a knee or conducts any other protest during the anthem. Another possible option would be to change up the pregame routine, keeping teams in their respective locker rooms until after the anthem has played.

That is the protocol long followed by college football, preventing anthem protests from being carried out in its stadiums.

The new kickoff rules are aimed at making the high-speed play a bit safer and perhaps more exciting.

Players on the kickoff team can’t get a running start, while eight of the return team’s 11 players must start out in a 15-yard zone near midfield, forcing them to run down the field alongside the coverage players. That will make the play more like a punt and should improve safety.

Wedge blocks — two blockers teaming up on the same player — will also be banned. In addition, any kick that hits the ground in the end zone will be an automatic touchback.

The new rules will be re-evaluated in 2019 to determine their effectiveness, but the league doesn’t want to eliminate kickoffs altogether.

“It’s part of the game,” said Atlanta Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay, head of the league’s competition committee. “If we can make plays more competitive and safer, we should do it.”

In another attempt to improve safety, any player who initiates contact with his helmet is subject to ejection after an in-game video review that will be decided in New York.

Al Riveron, the league’s head of officiating, said a foul can be called regardless of where on the body — not just the head or neck area — that one player hits another with his helmet. The rule is not position-specific, so offensive players will be subject to the same criteria as defensive players.

“This is about eliminating unnecessary use of the helmet,” Riveron said.

If a player is ejected, Riveron and his staff in New York will use network camera angles to determine if the ejection is necessary. He promised that games will not become “an ejection fest” every week.

“Immediately when I learn in New York that there’s an ejection, I will ask the network to give me everything you’ve got,” Riveron said. “I will take a look at it, I will rule on it and I will say yes, he’s ejected, (or) no, leave him in the game.’

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paul%20newberry

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For more AP NFL coverage: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

Reports: GM Mayock, WR Brown physically separated after spat

Reports: GM Mayock, WR Brown physically separated after spat

Wide receiver

Reports: GM Mayock, WR Brown physically separated after spat

Wide receiver Antonio Brown approached Oakland Raiders general manager Mike Mayock while he was watching practice to initiate the exchange that led to the men being physically separated on Wednesday, ESPN and NFL Network reported Friday.

Brown is expected to be suspended by the Raiders for conduct detrimental to the team and miss at least the Week 1 game, with $30 million in guaranteed money also on the line should the Raiders opt to take a hard-line position in the matter.

According to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Brown confronted Mayock over being fined almost $54,000 and called Mayock a “cracker” and addressed him with a number of “cuss words” during the altercation. Anderson reported Mayock began to walk away because he felt the situation would escalate.

Head coach Jon Gruden did not take a side in the matter Thursday and appears truly conflicted despite a pattern of behavior from Brown that would seem to indicate a lack of dedication to the Raiders. Gruden did say an official announcement would come “later.”

“Like I said, I’m not going to get into all of this,” Gruden said. “Obviously, [Brown] wasn’t here today, and when we have some information for you, we’ll give it to you. … I’ve been talking about the same guy every day.

“… I’m emotional about it, I hope you understand why. I think a lot of this guy. I think Antonio is a great receiver, and deep down I think he’s a really good guy. So, I’m frustrated, I’m not going to say anything more about it, hope it all works out. But I don’t have anything official to say about anything else until I get all the facts, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said Brown is still hoping to play Monday night when Oakland begins the regular season at the Coliseum in a division game against the Denver Broncos.

“Right now I think his relationship with Coach Gruden is good, very good,” Rosenhaus said Friday. “I’m not going to get into his relationship with Mike Mayock, but I will say that we’re hopeful that that will be a good one, as well. It has been in the past; it can be in the future.”

–Field Level Media

Read More 319 Words

Report: Raiders WR Brown issues ’emotional apology,’ might play Monday

Report: Raiders WR Brown issues 'emotional apology,' might play Monday

Report: Raiders WR Brown issues ’emotional apology,’ might play Monday

Wide receiver Antonio Brown approached Oakland Raiders general manager Mike Mayock while he was watching practice to initiate the exchange that led to the men being physically separated on Wednesday, ESPN and NFL Network reported Friday.

According to ESPN, Brown was flanked by the team’s captains on Friday morning when he opened a team meeting with an “emotional apology.”

The Raiders have not made an official statement on his status for Monday’s regular-season opener, but multiple outlets reported Thursday that Brown would be disciplined. NFL Network reported Friday that the sense in Oakland was that Brown might actually be in the lineup.

Brown had been expected to be suspended by the Raiders for conduct detrimental to the team and miss at least the Week 1 game, with $30 million in guaranteed money also on the line should the Raiders opt to take a hard-line position in the matter. Indications from NFL Network’s were the Raiders were leaning toward letting up after Brown’s apology.

There has been plenty of drama around Brown since he was acquired from the Steelers and signed to a contract extension.

Per ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Brown confronted Mayock on Wednesday over being fined almost $54,000 and called Mayock a “cracker” and addressed him with a number of “cuss words” during the altercation. Anderson reported Mayock began to walk away because he felt the situation would escalate.

Head coach Jon Gruden did not take a side in the matter Thursday and appears truly conflicted despite a pattern of behavior from Brown that would seem to indicate a lack of dedication to the Raiders. Gruden did say an official announcement would come “later.”

“Like I said, I’m not going to get into all of this,” Gruden said. “Obviously, [Brown] wasn’t here today, and when we have some information for you, we’ll give it to you. … I’ve been talking about the same guy every day.

“… I’m emotional about it, I hope you understand why. I think a lot of this guy. I think Antonio is a great receiver, and deep down I think he’s a really good guy. So, I’m frustrated, I’m not going to say anything more about it, hope it all works out. But I don’t have anything official to say about anything else until I get all the facts, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said Brown is still hoping to play Monday night when Oakland begins the regular season at the Coliseum in a division game against the Denver Broncos.

“Right now I think his relationship with Coach Gruden is good, very good,” Rosenhaus said Friday. “I’m not going to get into his relationship with Mike Mayock, but I will say that we’re hopeful that that will be a good one, as well. It has been in the past; it can be in the future.”

Brown also missed time due to a frostbite-like condition on his feet, an incident Gruden said wasn’t Brown’s fault but stemmed from improper protection on his feet during cryotherapy.

Then he sat out during a dispute with the NFL over his helmet, returning only after losing two grievances.

–Field Level Media

Read More 473 Words

Report: Raiders WR Brown issues ’emotional apology’ to team

Report: Raiders WR Brown issues 'emotional apology' to team

Wide

Report: Raiders WR Brown issues ’emotional apology’ to team

Wide receiver Antonio Brown approached Oakland Raiders general manager Mike Mayock while he was watching practice to initiate the exchange that led to the men being physically separated on Wednesday, ESPN and NFL Network reported Friday.

According to ESPN, Brown was flanked by the team’s captains on Friday morning when he opened a team meeting with an “emotional apology.”

The Raiders have not made an official statement on his status for Monday’s regular-season opener, but multiple outlets reported Thursday that Brown would be disciplined.

Brown is expected to be suspended by the Raiders for conduct detrimental to the team and miss at least the Week 1 game, with $30 million in guaranteed money also on the line should the Raiders opt to take a hard-line position in the matter.

Per ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Brown confronted Mayock over being fined almost $54,000 and called Mayock a “cracker” and addressed him with a number of “cuss words” during the altercation. Anderson reported Mayock began to walk away because he felt the situation would escalate.

Head coach Jon Gruden did not take a side in the matter Thursday and appears truly conflicted despite a pattern of behavior from Brown that would seem to indicate a lack of dedication to the Raiders. Gruden did say an official announcement would come “later.”

“Like I said, I’m not going to get into all of this,” Gruden said. “Obviously, [Brown] wasn’t here today, and when we have some information for you, we’ll give it to you. … I’ve been talking about the same guy every day.

“… I’m emotional about it, I hope you understand why. I think a lot of this guy. I think Antonio is a great receiver, and deep down I think he’s a really good guy. So, I’m frustrated, I’m not going to say anything more about it, hope it all works out. But I don’t have anything official to say about anything else until I get all the facts, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said Brown is still hoping to play Monday night when Oakland begins the regular season at the Coliseum in a division game against the Denver Broncos.

“Right now I think his relationship with Coach Gruden is good, very good,” Rosenhaus said Friday. “I’m not going to get into his relationship with Mike Mayock, but I will say that we’re hopeful that that will be a good one, as well. It has been in the past; it can be in the future.”

–Field Level Media

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Dolphins sign OT Webb, place LB Van Ginkel on IR

Dolphins sign OT Webb, place LB Van Ginkel on IR

Dolphins sign OT Webb, place LB Van Ginkel on IR

The Miami Dolphins signed offensive tackle J’Marcus Webb and placed linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel on injured reserve, the team announced Friday.

Webb, who visited the Dolphins earlier in the week, was released by the Indianapolis Colts on Aug. 31.

Webb, 31, has played in 81 career games with the Bears (2010-12), Minnesota Vikings (2013-14), Oakland Raiders (2015), Seattle Seahawks (2016) and Indianapolis Colts (2018) since being selected by Chicago with a seventh-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Van Ginkel, who was a fifth-round pick by Miami in the 2019 NFL Draft, played two seasons at Wisconsin after transferring from Iowa Western Community College following his sophomore campaign. Van Ginkel didn’t play in the preseason because of a foot injury that has affected him since the second week of training camp.

— Field Level Media

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Gruden: Plan is for WR Brown to play in season opener

Gruden: Plan is for WR Brown to play in season opener

Gruden: Plan is for WR Brown to play in season opener

Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden announced Friday that Antonio Brown is expected to play in the team’s season opener against the Denver Broncos, mere hours after the wide receiver reportedly issued an apology.

Gruden’s comments are the latest in a whirlwind saga surrounding Brown, who approached Raiders general manager Mike Mayock while he was watching practice to initiate an exchange that led to the men being physically separated on Wednesday, ESPN and NFL Network reported.

According to ESPN, Brown was flanked by the team’s captains on Friday morning when he opened a team meeting with his “emotional apology.”

“That’s the plan,” Gruden told reporters of Brown’s expected participation for the season opener.

“Antonio’s back today. We’re really excited about that. Ready to move on. He’s had a lot of time to think about things. We’re happy to have him back and I know Raider Nation is excited about that too,” Gruden said.

Brown, 31, initially had been expected to be suspended by the Raiders for conduct detrimental to the team and miss at least the Week 1 game, with $30 million in guaranteed money also on the line should the Raiders opt to take a hard-line position in the matter.

There has been plenty of drama around Brown since he was acquired from the Steelers in March and signed to a contract extension.

Per ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Brown confronted Mayock on Wednesday over being fined almost $54,000 and called Mayock a “cracker” and addressed him with a number of “cuss words” during the altercation. Anderson reported Mayock began to walk away because he felt the situation would escalate.

Gruden did not take a side in the matter Thursday and appeared truly conflicted despite a pattern of behavior from Brown that would seem to indicate a lack of dedication to the Raiders.

Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said prior to Gruden’s announcement that the wideout was hoping to play in the season opener.

“Right now I think his relationship with Coach Gruden is good, very good,” Rosenhaus said. “I’m not going to get into his relationship with Mike Mayock, but I will say that we’re hopeful that that will be a good one, as well. It has been in the past; it can be in the future.”

Brown also missed time due to a frostbite-like condition on his feet, an incident Gruden said wasn’t Brown’s fault but stemmed from improper protection on his feet during cryotherapy.

Then he sat out during a dispute with the NFL over his helmet, returning only after losing two grievances.

–Field Level Media

Read More 373 Words

Saints QB Brees has thumb surgery, calls it ‘successful’

Saints QB Brees has thumb surgery, calls it 'successful'

Saints QB Brees has thumb surgery, calls it ‘successful’

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees underwent surgery on Wednesday on his injured right thumb, he reported on Instagram.

“Complete…successful surgery. This is my attempt at giving everybody a (thumb’s up),” he captioned a photo that showed him with a smile on his face and a heavily wrapped right, throwing hand.

The Saints have not given a timetable for his return, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported he is expected to miss six weeks.

The 40-year-old Brees was injured in Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams after hitting his hand on Aaron Donald’s hand while following through on a throw.

Brees, a second-round pick in the 2001 NFL Draft, has missed just one game because of injury since joining the Saints in 2006, which came in 2015 due to a shoulder issue. He has missed just two other contests of a possible 210 with the Saints, both while resting in Week 17 with the team’s playoff position secure.

The league’s all-time leading passer needs 155 yards to become the first in NFL history to pass for 75,000 yards. He is 18 passing touchdowns shy of leapfrogging Peyton Manning (539) for most all-time, though New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is tied with Brees at 522.

–Field Level Media

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Redskins QB Smith still facing many hurdles

Redskins QB Smith still facing many hurdles

Washington

Redskins QB Smith still facing many hurdles

Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith said “learning to run again” is one of the biggest hurdles he faces during his ongoing recovery from a devastating leg injury.

Making his first public comments since suffering a compound fracture in his right leg in November, the 35-year-old told a Fox 5 DC reporter he hasn’t given up hope of playing again.

“That’s the plan,” Smith told Angie Goff on her Oh My Goff podcast published Friday. “There are steps I’ve got to conquer before I get there. … Learning to run again. That’s a big one. I’m already throwing. Throwing isn’t a problem, but dropping, moving around, change of direction.”

Smith said he still has to wear an external fixator on his leg for another 4-6 weeks.

“The steps I’m at now are lifestyle steps,” he said. “I’m still working on playing basketball with my kids and running around after my daughter. Those are things I have to conquer anyway until I get to the point where I’m walking on the field. I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited about that challenge. The stronger I get every week, the more I do, the more hopeful I am that that’s a real possibility.”

Smith suffered compound and spiral fractures to his tibia and fibula in a Week 11 loss to the Houston Texans and underwent surgery Nov. 18. He then battled a subsequent infection and remained hospitalized until Dec. 16.

The Redskins acquired Smith from Kansas City before the 2018 season. He signed a four-year contract extension that put him under contract for five years and $111 million. It included $71 million in injury guarantees.

Washington hasn’t settled on a starter for 2019. The Redskins acquired veteran Case Keenum in a trade with Denver in March and drafted Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins in the first round in April. Colt McCoy is recovering from his own leg injury, but is expected to join the position battle in training camp.

–Field Level Media

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Committee OKs interference replay through 2019

Committee OKs interference replay through 2019

Committee OKs interference replay through 2019

A rule change allowing for late-game instant replay of pass interference calls and non-calls should remain in effect for the 2019 season only, the NFL’s competitions committee has unanimously recommended.

Thursday’s announcement from NFL Football Operations indicates that the rule could be eliminated or extended after the season, depending on feedback throughout the year.

The call to make pass-interference plays reviewable arose after the NFC Championship Game in January, when the Los Angeles Rams’ Nickell Robey-Coleman wasn’t flagged on a play that league officials later admitted should have been a penalty. As a result, the Rams halted a drive by the Saints and ultimately won the game in overtime to earn a berth to Super Bowl LIII.

Under the new rule, the replay official will stop the game after the two-minute warning of each half and during overtime when there is “clear and obvious visual evidence” that a pass interference foul may or may not have occurred, based on viewing the play live or any initial replays.

In order to prevent excessive game stoppages, the criteria for a replay on pass interference will be stricter than other reviewable plays. Only a significant act that hinders a pass catcher’s ability to make a play will be overturned.

–Field Level Media

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Six tied for lead at Travelers Championship

Six tied for lead at Travelers Championship

Six players

Six tied for lead at Travelers Championship

Six players are tied for the lead at 6 under par as wet conditions Thursday led to a bevy of low scores during the first round of the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Conn.

A trio of Americans — Ryan Armour, Bronson Burgoon and Zack Sucher — posted 64s on the par-70 TPC River Highlands course along with Mexico’s Abraham Ancer, Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes and South Korea’s Kyoung-Hoon Lee.

Chez Reavie, fresh off a tie for third at the U.S. Open, continued his momentum with a 65. He is tied at 5 under with Keenan Bradley, Scott Langley, Brady Schnell, Robert Streb and England’s Paul Casey.

Patrick Cantlay reached 6 under before the Memorial champion put his tee shot in the water on the par-3 No. 8 — his 17th hole of the day. He finished in a pack of 12 players at 4 under that also includes England’s Tommy Fleetwood, who is playing in the event for the first time.

Cantlay turned professional at the event in 2012, a year after carding a 10-under 60 at TPC River Highlands — still the only 60 in PGA Tour history by an amateur. He led after 36 holes last year before finishing in a tie for 24th.

“I like coming back to places that I like playing golf at,” Cantlay said. “I hit the ball really well today. One missed shot cost me two.”

Another shot off the pace is Norway’s Viktor Hovland, who is making his professional debut after a tie for 12th at Pebble Beach last Sunday. Hovland is tied at 3 under with Phil Mickelson, the only back-to-back champion (2001-02) in event history. Mickelson is in the field for the first time since 2003.

Defending champion Bubba Watson has won the event three times, but he managed only a 1-under 69 on Thursday and is in a tie for 61st. That’s still two shots better than top-ranked Brooks Koepka, who continued his uninspired play outside of majors with a 1-over 71 that included four bogeys against three birdies.

Burgoon, 32, posted his first under-par opening round since March. Having missed the cut in 10 of his past 14 starts and currently 140th in the FedEx Cup standings, Burgoon needs a strong finish to the season to secure his Tour card for next season.

“My whole golf career has been an uphill battle, honestly,” he said. “I feel like I’ve made golf a little more complicated than it should be. I’m trying to simply things and get my mind where I can compete.

“One thing I can do is compete.”

NOTES: Hovland’s former Oklahoma State Cowboys teammate Matthew Wolff shot an even-par 70 in his pro debut. … Watson is one victory shy of Billy Casper’s event-record four. Watson and Koepka are paired with Tony Finau (1 over par) for the first two rounds. … Jordan Spieth shot a 3-over 73 on Thursday that included a triple-bogey on the par-5 13th hole when he put his tee shot out of bounds and another shot in the water. … Casey held a four-shot lead entering the final round last year, only to lose to Watson.

–Field Level Media

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Cards’ Nkemdiche arrested after traffic stop

Cards' Nkemdiche arrested after traffic stop

Police in Scottsdale, Ariz., arrested Arizona Cardinals defensive end

Cards’ Nkemdiche arrested after traffic stop

Police in Scottsdale, Ariz., arrested Arizona Cardinals defensive end Robert Nkemdiche for alleged speeding and driving without a license earlier this month, ABC 15 Arizona reported Wednesday.

The incident occurred June 6 at 6:30 a.m., according to police documents obtained by the TV station. Police allege that Nkemdiche was driving 75 mph in a 45 mph zone.

After pulling over Nkemdiche, police learned there was a warrant out for his arrest on an allegation of driving on a suspended license and failing to appear in court, per the police report.

The Cardinals issued a statement: “We are aware of the June 6th incident involving Robert Nkemdiche. We have alerted the NFL office in accordance with the league’s personal conduct policy and will comment further when appropriate.”

Per ABC 15, the police report also mentioned that officers found a “white powdery substance, consistent with cocaine” in a small case in the car’s interior console.

The police in the report wrote, “Based on the totality of the circumstances, it was decided not to pursue testing of the credit card holder in lieu of impounding the item for destruction with Robert’s cooperation.”

Nkemdiche, 24, was a first-round draft pick in 2016. He appeared in a total of 17 games for Arizona his first two seasons, then made his first six starts while playing in 10 games in 2018. Nkemdiche posted a career-high 32 tackles last season and registered the first 4.5 sacks of his career.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Suspended Pats WR Gordon works with Brady

NFL notebook: Suspended Pats WR Gordon works with Brady

Suspended

NFL notebook: Suspended Pats WR Gordon works with Brady

Suspended New England Patriots wideout Josh Gordon and quarterback Tom Brady got together for a workout this week.

Brady posted a GIF on Instagram on Wednesday showing him throwing to Gordon, with the caption “Practice makes perfect.” ESPN reported the photo came from a workout Tuesday.

Brady regularly connects with teammates for workouts during the offseason, but Gordon’s future is murky after he was suspended indefinitely by the NFL in December for violating the terms of his reinstatement from a yearlong ban for substance abuse.

The Patriots have supported Gordon since the suspension, offering him a restricted free agent tender, which Gordon signed in April. If he is able to play this season, New England would welcome him back.

Gordon, 28, played one game for the Cleveland Browns last year before being traded to the Patriots in September. In 12 games, he caught 41 passes for 737 yards and four touchdowns.

— Police in Scottsdale, Ariz., arrested Arizona Cardinals defensive end Robert Nkemdiche for alleged speeding and driving without a license earlier this month, ABC 15 Arizona reported.

The incident occurred June 6 at 6:30 a.m., according to police documents obtained by the TV station. Police allege Nkemdiche was driving 75 mph in a 45 mph zone.

After pulling over Nkemdiche, police learned there was a warrant out for his arrest on an allegation of driving on a suspended license and failing to appear in court, per the police report.

— The Green Bay Packers waived tight end Michael Roberts after he failed a team physical, according to multiple reports. The Packers claimed Roberts off waivers from the Detroit Lions on Monday.

The Lions released Roberts on Friday after his trade to the New England Patriots for a 2020 seventh-round pick was rescinded due to a failed physical.

Roberts, 25, has 13 receptions for 146 yards and three touchdowns in 23 NFL games, with 48 yards and two scores coming in one game last season (at Miami).

–Field Level Media

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Texans aim to keep Watson upright vs. Chargers

Texans aim to keep Watson upright vs. Chargers

Two

Texans aim to keep Watson upright vs. Chargers

Two teams seeking to move above .500 meet Sunday when the Houston Texans visit the Los Angeles Chargers in Carson, Calif.

The Chargers return home after dropping a 13-10 road decision to the Detroit Lions. It is the ninth time in the past 11 years the team has started 1-1.

Adding to Los Angeles’ frustration were two missed field goals, Austin Ekeler’s fumble on Detroit’s 1-yard line and Philip Rivers’ late-game interception deep in Lions territory.

“I’d expect us to be fired up and ready to bounce back,” said Rivers, who became the eighth player in NFL history with 55,500 career passing yards. “I think we’ve shown the ability to do that over the years when we’ve lost some tough ones.”

Houston heads to ROKiT Field at Dignity Health Sports Park off a 13-12 home victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Texans dropped their season opener at New Orleans on a 58-yard field goal on the game’s final play.

On offense, the Chargers rank fourth overall with 429.5 yards per game. They’re eighth in passing (298.5 ypg), and despite the absence of holdout Melvin Gordon, they’re 10th in rushing (131.0 ypg).

Houston’s offense has struggled, ranking 21st in total offense (338.5 ypg) and 24th in passing (185.5). The Texans, however, have averaged 153 rushing yards (No. 5).

The Texans’ biggest offensive problem has been protecting quarterback Deshaun Watson. He has been sacked four or more times in eight consecutive games, tying the longest such streak since sacks became an official stat in 1982. That, after Houston acquired left tackle Laremy Tunsil from Miami before the season opener.

Although each team was close to being unbeaten so far, both have had issues defensively. Los Angeles is ranked 17th overall (357.5 ypg) and Houston 23rd (395.5).

The Chargers have fared better against the pass (eighth, 209.0) than the run (28th, 148.5). But the unit sustained another blow Sunday when safety Adrian Phillips broke his forearm. He subsequently was placed on injured reserve.

“His versatility is huge,” coach Anthony Lynn said of Phillips. “He was a special teams Pro Bowler last year. He’s the captain of that secondary. He’ll be hard to replace. But we have some guys who are going to try to fill his shoes.”

The loss of Phillips, and the absence of safety Derwin James (foot) and running back Gordon, means the Chargers are missing three of their seven Pro Bowlers from last season. Tight end Hunter Henry (knee) remains out, and wide receiver Keenan Allen (knee) and kicker Michael Badgley (groin) were limited Wednesday.

The Texans are 22nd in the league defending the pass (270.0 ypg) and 23rd vs. the run (125.5).

One bright spot has been outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus, who has thrived after Houston traded Jadeveon Clowney. Mercilus was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week after registering three tackles, two sacks, three quarterback hits and two forced fumbles against Jacksonville.

“Whitney has been a very productive player for us over the years,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “He’s been a guy who’s known really for just doing his job. He just does a good job of setting the edge in the run game, and then rushing the passer.”

Some bragging rights also will be on the line, as Texans defensive end J.J. Watt will face younger brother Derek, a Chargers fullback.

O’Brien also said his team needs to “be ready for the field,” as it will host a Los Angeles Galaxy soccer match Saturday night. What effect, if any, that has on the turf likely won’t be known until just before game time.

–Field Level Media

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Bears, Nagy search for remedy after ‘ridiculous’ opener

Bears, Nagy search for remedy after 'ridiculous' opener

On the optimistic side, Matt Nagy

Bears, Nagy search for remedy after ‘ridiculous’ opener

On the optimistic side, Matt Nagy has 10 days to evaluate and implement a fix for an ailing offense after the Chicago Bears put up three points in what the second-year head coach termed a “ridiculous” showing Thursday against the Green Bay Packers.

The Packers won the opener 10-3 at Soldier Field.

“It just seemed a little scattered tonight with all our personnel (groups) and just trying to find a rhythm and trying to find our identity on offense, and we just put ourselves in bad situations and shot ourselves in the foot,” quarterback Mitchell Trubisky said after throwing a game-sealing interception in the end zone with 2:03 remaining. “It’s just we were uncharacteristic of usually who we were tonight as an offense, and I think we just need to do our job. But we just couldn’t find a rhythm, and I don’t think it’s because we didn’t play in the preseason, because we were rolling in practice, and it just didn’t translate the week of practice we had to the game. We’re going to look at the film and try to find out why and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine helped spare the Matt LaFleur in his coaching debut. The Bears went 3 for 15 on third downs.

The Packers put up negative yardage in the first quarter and survived with a win despite consistently moving the chains on only one drive, which ended in Aaron Rodgers finding tight end Jimmy Graham in the end zone.

Chicago dialed up only 12 handoffs in the game, while Trubisky threw 45 passes and never found the strike zone. Rookie David Montgomery, a star of the preseason for the Bears, managed six carries and one reception.

“That part is new to us a little bit, so we’ve got to make sure that, again, we figure out how to get that thing right,” Nagy said. “And luckily it is the first game of the year.”

Nagy will be knuckles deep in his game plan for the Denver Broncos and former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio by the time the rest of the Week 1 slate gets underway Sunday. Fangio knows all the flaws and personalities inside the building, and he likely already has a decent jump on his plan to keep the Bears’ offense in hibernation next week in Denver.

Nagy might take a day or two to get over putting up a 3-spot in the primetime 2019 opener.

“There’s humility there just for the fact that I know that our guys – we feel really good, we felt good going into it,” Nagy said. “I don’t know what the exact word is for it other than that what you can’t do and what you can’t fall into the trap of is all of a sudden making this seem like it was the Super Bowl and we just lost the Super Bowl. We didn’t lose the Super Bowl, we lost the first game of the regular season. We just need to make sure that we pull back and understand, okay, we’re 0-1, we were 0-1 last year, let’s go ahead and figure out how we rally together.”

–Field Level Media

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Brown saga thickens as Broncos visit Raiders

Brown saga thickens as Broncos visit Raiders

Antonio Brown's arrival

Brown saga thickens as Broncos visit Raiders

Antonio Brown’s arrival in Oakland was supposed to represent a recharging of the offense. Instead, it has been nothing but a headache.

Brown is expected to be suspended for Monday’s season opener against the visiting Denver Broncos after his antics led to a near-physical altercation with general manager Mike Mayock on Wednesday, according to multiple reports Thursday.

Brown’s suspension was widely reported, but the Raiders stopped short of confirming it, though coach Jon Gruden told reporters he is tired of talking about Brown.

“I’m emotional about it, I hope you understand why. I think a lot of this guy,” Gruden said after Thursday’s practice. “I think Antonio is a great receiver, and deep down I think he’s a really good guy. So, I’m frustrated, I’m not going to say anything more about it, hope it all works out.”

Brown, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, wore out his welcome with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and it seemed to be a worthy move when Oakland acquired him in March for third- and fifth-round picks. The Raiders later signed Brown to a three-year, $50.125 million deal.

But training camp was filled with drama, ranging from the cryotherapy treatment that caused frostbite on his feet, to Brown losing two grievances against the NFL in a battle to wear a helmet ruled to be outdated, to $53,950 in fines for skipping a practice ($40,000) and a walkthrough ($13,950).

Brown ratcheted up the tension by posting a letter from Mayock about the fines on his Instagram account on Wednesday. Then came the furious exchange of words, a day before he was listed as a non-participant — per the team, “not injury related – conduct” — for practice.

Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, is hoping his client will play in the opener.

“That’s up to the Raiders,” Rosenhaus told ESPN. “If it’s up to us, he would like to play. But ultimately that’s going to be their decision. He would like to honor his contract and fulfill his commitment to the Raiders. That’s what we’re trying to hammer out with the team right now.”

The situation regarding Brown is overshadowing the start of the season in which Oakland is trying to rebound from a 4-12 mark.

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr passed for a career-high 4,039 yards last season but had a career-low 19 touchdowns.

Denver will be unveiling a new quarterback in Joe Flacco, who was acquired in the offseason from the Baltimore Ravens.

The 34-year-old figures to be an upgrade over the likes of recent signal-callers such as Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch and Case Keenum and has quickly ingratiated himself with stellar receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

“Flacco’s a baller,” Sanders told reporters. “Probably one of my favorite quarterbacks of all time, him and Peyton (Manning). They’re close. I’m looking forward to going on Sundays and competing with him because I know what type of guy he is.”

Flacco started 163 regular-season games over 11 seasons with the Ravens while passing for 38,245 yards and 212 touchdowns. He also was Super Bowl MVP in the big game following the 2012 season when he passed for 287 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

Now Flacco is charged with getting Denver back to the postseason after missing the stage in three straight seasons. In fact, the Broncos were just 11-21 over the past two campaigns, posting back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1971-72.

“The goal is that 17 weeks from now, we’re still preparing for games,” Flacco said.

The Broncos have a new head coach in Vic Fangio — who was on the losing side of Flacco’s Super Bowl triumph — but the same old stars on the defensive side in linebacker Von Miller and cornerback Chris Harris.

Miller has 98 career sacks in eight seasons, and Harris has 19 career interceptions in eight campaigns.

–Field Level Media

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Amos, Packers outlast Bears in defensive slugfest

Amos, Packers outlast Bears in defensive slugfest

Amos, Packers outlast Bears in defensive slugfest

In an old-school game reminiscent of the old NFC Central — also known as the Black and Blue Division — the visiting Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears 10-3 in Matt LaFleur’s coaching debut as the NFL kicked off its 100th season with the league’s oldest rivalry Thursday night.

The Packers hired LaFleur as coach to resurrect the Aaron Rodgers-led offense, but it was second-year coordinator Mike Pettine’s defense and a former Bears defensive back that helped Green Bay upset the defending NFC North champions.

“We’ve got a defense,” a smiling Rodgers said afterward on the NBC broadcast.

With Chicago in the red zone and trailing 10-3 with 2:03 remaining, Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky fired a pass into the end zone that was intercepted by former Chicago safety Adrian Amos, whom the Packers signed in free agency.

The Bears got the ball back at their own 14 with 1:33 and one timeout remaining, but Trubisky & Co. went four-and-out, with Preston Smith’s sack on fourth-and-8 clinching it.

The Packers led 7-3 at halftime, and that score held into the fourth quarter. Chicago crossed midfield early in the fourth, but three consecutive penalties made it first-and-40, and two dropped passes made it third-and-40.

Green Bay tacked on a 39-yard field goal by Mason Crosby with 5:15 remaining, a drive keyed by 28-yard completions to receiver Trevor Davis and tight end Robert Tonyan.

A key moment came on a second-and-10 from Chicago’s 49 with 4:16 remaining. Trubisky hit receiver Taylor Gabriel for a 24-yard catch while tumbling out of bounds. Trubisky rushed the offense to the line of scrimmage, but LaFleur threw his challenge flag, and the completion was overturned by review.

Chicago kept moving, though, before Amos’ interception on third-and-10 from the 16.

Chicago’s defense, which led the NFL in points allowed last season and returned four Pro Bowlers, dominated the start of the game. Green Bay’s first three possessions resulted in three punts and minus-12 yards.

With the Packers’ offense going in reverse, the Bears’ field position was on fast forward. They started their second drive at Green Bay’s 36 but settled for a 38-yard field goal by Eddy Pineiro. As the ball split the uprights, the Soldier Field crowd erupted, no doubt due to memories of last year’s double-doink miss by Cody Parkey in a playoff loss to the Eagles.

One big play changed everything, as Rodgers employed a fake end-around to receiver Davante Adams and hit fellow receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a gain of 47 early in the second quarter. Rodgers followed with short completions to tight end Marcedes Lewis and Adams before hitting tight end Jimmy Graham for an 8-yard touchdown, despite 12 defenders on the field.

–Field Level Media

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Soccer match stymies Jets’ plan to get K Vedvik a test run

Soccer match stymies Jets' plan to get K Vedvik a test run

Recently signed New York

Soccer match stymies Jets’ plan to get K Vedvik a test run

Recently signed New York Jets kicker Kaare Vedvik never has booted footballs inside MetLife Stadium, so the team planned to get him inside the venue Friday for a trial run ahead of Sunday’s opener against the Buffalo Bills.

But the plan was stymied by a soccer match.

The United States Men’s National Team faces Mexico in a friendly on Friday night, meaning the stadium wasn’t in football configuration. The uprights weren’t up and the artificial surface had been replaced by grass.

“We’ll have to adjust on the fly,” Jets special teams coordinator Brant Boyer told reporters Thursday.

Boyer wanted to get Vedvik inside the facility so he could get familiar with how the ball moves after it comes off a kicker’s foot. The winds were a primary concern.

“(The plan was) to test the winds a little bit because it swirls a little bit in some areas,” Boyer said. “It’s always good to get in there if you can. It’s just a matter of them having that soccer field in there.”

Boyer’s audible was for Vedvik to have a longer pregame session prior to Sunday’s game.

Vedvik, a 25-year-old Norwegian, was claimed by the Jets last Sunday after being waived by the Minnesota Vikings a day earlier.

Vedvik was acquired by the Vikings from the Baltimore Ravens on Aug. 11 for a fifth-round pick but was just 1-of-4 on field goals for Minnesota. His only make was from 27 yards.

“It wasn’t mechanical,” Vedvik told reporters of his struggles with the Vikings. “I just went 1-for-4. It’s as simple as that. I think anything more into it is just overanalyzing a problem that doesn’t necessarily exist.”

New York needed a kicker after losing Pro Bowler Jason Myers (33-of-36 field goals in 2018) to the Seattle Seahawks in free agency. Chandler Catanzaro struggled during training camp before retiring. Taylor Bertolet missed three field goals in the final preseason game before being cut.

Boyer thinks the Jets now have their kicker.

“He’s got a really big opportunity here,” Boyer said. “It’s all ahead of him. It’s just a maturation process. If he can grow and learn from his mistakes, I think he can do really well in this league, I really do.”

–Field Level Media

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Cowboys: No deal imminent for WR Cooper

Cowboys: No deal imminent for WR Cooper

The Dallas Cowboys signed running back Ezekiel Elliott to a contract extension

Cowboys: No deal imminent for WR Cooper

The Dallas Cowboys signed running back Ezekiel Elliott to a contract extension before Sunday’s season opener. Wide receiver Amari Cooper is another story.

“There haven’t been a lot of negotiations with Amari (Cooper), period,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Thursday, via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News. “And I’m not free to be able to share why. I think at some point we’ll start that. I don’t know what their parameters will be.”

Unlike Elliott, Cooper was not holding out in search of a new deal. He’s expected to play when the Cowboys meet the visiting New York Giants on Sunday.

The Morning News reported that Cooper is not necessarily waiting for Atlanta’s Julio Jones to sign his expected extension and reset the wide receiver market, as many have speculated.

The Cowboys began training camp with their three biggest stars seeking contract extensions. Elliott held out before signing a six-year, $90-million deal on Wednesday. Cooper and quarterback Dak Prescott have been practicing and playing with the team throughout the preseason.

In July, Jones said he “for sure” expected the Cowboys to reach a long-term contract extension Pro Bowl receiver Cooper, who’ll earn nearly $14 million during the final year of his rookie contract in 2019. He’s set to hit free agency next offseason.

Cooper, 25, has said he wants to remain in Dallas but is willing to play out the season in an effort to prove that he is worthy of a top-dollar deal.

Dallas acquired Cooper from the Oakland Raiders last October in exchange for a first-round pick. Overall, he had 75 receptions for 1,005 yards and seven touchdowns last season.

–Field Level Media

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Redskins RB Peterson possible healthy scratch

Redskins RB Peterson possible healthy scratch

Washington Redskins running back Adrian

Redskins RB Peterson possible healthy scratch

Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson could be a healthy scratch for the first time in his career in Sunday’s opener at the Philadelphia Eagles.

Head coach Jay Gruden said Thursday a decision hadn’t been made on how many backs will be active, or if Peterson — who doesn’t play special teams — will be one of them. The decision also will depend on health elsewhere, with five Washington players either sitting out or limited in practice this week.

“We’ve got a lot of ‘ifs’ we’ve got to worry about,” Gruden told reporters. “We’re just going to go (out) tomorrow see who’s active, see who can play, and then we’ll make the determination come Sunday.”

Derrius Guice, a 2018 second-round pick who is healthy after missing his rookie season with a torn ACL, is slated to start. Chris Thompson is listed behind Peterson on the depth chart but is the team’s top third-down back, with Wendell Smallwood the other back on the roster.

Peterson, 34, joined Washington after Guice’s injury last August and rushed for 1,042 yards and seven touchdowns while starting all 16 games, his most productive season since 2015. He re-signed with the Redskins on a one-year deal this offseason.

One player working to get healthy enough to play in the opener is tight end Jordan Reed, who is recovering from his seventh known concussion dating back to college.

Reed practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day on Thursday but remains in concussion protocol.

“He’s been taking tests,” Gruden said. “Now it’s just a matter of how he does on though tests and then how he feels at night sleeping, in the morning when he wakes up and when he goes through the drills. Then he continues to pass the test and continues to progress then they’ll allow him back on the field.”

Reed, 29, has missed multiple games in all six of his NFL seasons, including 10 in 2017 and three last year.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Raiders create chaos before opener

NFL notebook: Raiders create chaos before opener

NFL notebook: Raiders create chaos before opener

The Oakland Raiders plan to suspend wideout Antonio Brown after he “got into it” with general manager Mike Mayock, multiple outlets reported Thursday.

Multiple outlets reported Brown had to be held back from Mayock by teammates. NFL Network reported that Brown told Mayock he would hit him in the face, then punted a football and said, “Fine me for that.”

Their exchange occurred Wednesday after Brown went on Instagram and posted a letter he received from Mayock detailing the $53,950 in fines he accrued while missing time in training camp.

Head coach Jon Gruden declined to get into details after practice, telling reporters the team would have “an official announcement later.”

–Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones did not play in the preseason and said he is “trying to be ready” to face the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1, but stopped short of saying he would be on the field in Minneapolis.

Jones and the Falcons have been negotiating toward a new contract for months.

Owner Arthur Blank said in March the team wanted a deal done before training camp. General manager Thomas Dimitroff set a goal of the start of the season — which is Sunday.

–Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said he plans to play Sunday despite an ongoing hip injury that prevents him from “opening up and sprinting.”

Beckham updated reporters on the status of an ailment he has been dealing with for weeks. He did not play in the preseason.

“It’s like an extremely fast car with like a little alignment or something off,” he said. “And it’s right in the center of what you need. Now, the car can still go, but it’s dangerous, you know what I mean?”

–Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson could be a healthy scratch for the first time in his career in Sunday’s opener at the Philadelphia Eagles.

Head coach Jay Gruden said a decision hadn’t been made on how many backs will be active, or if Peterson — who doesn’t play special teams — will be one of them. The decision also will depend on health elsewhere, with five Washington players either sitting out or limited in practice this week.

Derrius Guice, a 2018 second-round pick who is healthy after missing his rookie season with a torn ACL, is slated to start.

–Ezekiel Elliott might not be on a snap count Sunday against the New York Giants after all.

According to head coach Jason Garrett, the Dallas Cowboys will wait at least another day before deciding whether Elliott should be limited in Week 1 after missing five weeks of preseason work during a contract holdout.

Elliott reported to the team Wednesday, signed a $90 million contract and was in meetings from sunrise to sunset to get up to speed on some of the essentials of the team’s game plan for the Giants. He was officially limited in practice, but Garrett said that was by design.

–The Cowboys likely will not offer big money to wide receiver Amari Cooper anytime soon.

“There haven’t been a lot of negotiations with Amari (Cooper), period,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Thursday, via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News. “And I’m not free to be able to share why. I think at some point we’ll start that. I don’t know what their parameters will be.”

Unlike Elliott, Cooper was not holding out in search of a new deal. He’s expected to play when the Cowboys meet the Giants on Sunday.

–San Francisco 49ers defensive back Jimmie Ward could miss Sunday’s season opener at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after breaking a finger in Wednesday’s practice.

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and cornerback Richard Sherman both confirmed the injury to reporters.

–Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs returned to practice after he was out a day earlier.

The Vikings are hopeful Diggs will be on the field for Sunday’s regular-season opener with the Atlanta Falcons in Minneapolis.

–Atlanta Falcons rookie offensive lineman Kaleb McGary could start Sunday’s season opener against the Minnesota Vikings, just five weeks after undergoing a heart procedure.

Head coach Dan Quinn said the first-round pick (31st overall) will be on the active roster, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constutition. McGary, 24, had a cardiac ablation on July 31, a procedure designed to correct heart rhythm issues.

–The Los Angeles Rams and tight end Tyler Higbee agreed to terms on a four-year extension through 2023.

The deal has a base value of $31 million (more than $36 million with incentives) and includes $15 million in guarantees, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported. Higbee, 26, was entering the final year of his four-year, $2.9 million rookie contract signed in 2016.

–More than 38 million Americans — 15 percent of the country’s population — are expected to place bets on the National Football League this season, according to the American Gaming Association (AGA).

Based on a study conducted by Morning Consult, the AGA report stated that millions of Americans now have access to regulated betting within the United States. The report also said that 24 percent of the population would plan to wager on NFL games if it were legal to do so in their state.

–Field Level Media

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49ers DB Ward breaks finger, uncertain for Sunday

49ers DB Ward breaks finger, uncertain for Sunday

49ers DB Ward breaks finger, uncertain for Sunday

San Francisco 49ers defensive back Jimmie Ward could miss Sunday’s season opener at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after breaking a finger in Wednesday’s practice.

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and cornerback Richard Sherman both confirmed the injury to reporters on Thursday.

“Unfortunately, he broke his finger, but I think he’ll be fine,” Sherman said. “I think he’s mentally where he needs to be. I don’t think he’s down-and-out about this. He’s been through harder things in his life than a few injuries.”

Ward broke his collarbone in the offseason but was healthy in time for preseason. His last two seasons were both ended by forearm fractures, after the former first-round pick battled foot and shoulder fractures early in his career.

Ward, 28, was the 49ers’ first-round pick (30th overall) in 2014. He has played in all 16 games just once through five seasons.

Tarvarius Moore, a 2018 third-round pick, is expected to fill in for Ward if he can’t play.

“T -Moore has been doing a great job and showed he’s earned the right to go out there and play,” Saleh said.

–Field Level Media

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