NFL happy with more scoring, close games

NEW YORK (AP) — Plenty of scoring and close games are good for business in the NFL.

Teams are scoring at a record pace. The number of points (4,489), touchdowns (504) and touchdown passes (328) are the most in league history through six weeks.

And, games are coming down to the end.

Sixty-nine percent of all games (64 of 93) have been within one score in the fourth quarter. A total of 54 games have been decided by one score — eight points or less. That’s tied for the most in league history at this point. There have been 28 games decided by three points or fewer, second-most at this point. At least one game has reached overtime the first six weeks for the first time since extra time was instituted in 1974.

“I don’t think there has been a better time to be an NFL fan,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday. “The quality of the games and the enjoyment that comes with that, I hear it from the fans all the time — that is No. 1 for them. From our standpoint, we look at this as a great moment for us, the tremendous growth and the tremendous popularity of our game.”

One of the key factors contributing to the scoring output is the emphasis on calling defensive holding penalties. The total is up to 36 from 11 through six weeks last season. The increase in roughing-the-passer penalties and eliminating use of the helmet to initiate hits are also important factors.

League officials also point to an influx of talented young quarterbacks. However, scoring could taper off once defenses make adjustments and weather could affect games later in the season.

Here’s a look inside more numbers going into Week 7:

MORE THIELEN: Vikings receiver Adam Thielen has at least 100 yards receiving in each of Minnesota’s first six games this season. Only Charley Hennigan had more with seven in 1961 for Houston. Thielen’s 58 catches lead the NFL and he’s on pace for 155 receptions.

BREEZING UP: Drew Brees broke Peyton Manning’s career record for yards passing last week and now is one TD pass away from joining Manning (539), Brett Favre (508) and Tom Brady (501) in the 500 TD club. The Saints visit the Ravens on Sunday.

CHASING LT: Rams running back Todd Gurley has 11 TDs rushing and receiving. He’s on pace for 29. Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson set the record with 31 in 2006 for the Chargers.

THE KICKING GOAT: Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri is 10 points away from breaking Morten Anderson’s scoring record. Anderson had 2,544 points on 565 field goals and 849 extra points. Vinatieri has 2,535 points and already broke Anderson’s record for most field goals. He’s at 570 and counting.

PAT’S STATS: Patrick Mahomes has 18 TD passes in his first seven career games. Only Kurt Warner (21) and Deshaun Watson (20) had more through eight.

BIG PLAY TY: Mahomes’ teammate on the Chiefs, wide receiver Tyreek Hill, already has 14 career TDs of 50 yards or more. Only Gale Sayers (16) and Randy Moss (15) had more before age 25.

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Reports: CB Taylor joins Seahawks

Reports: CB Taylor joins Seahawks

Cornerback Jamar Taylor agreed to a one-year deal with the Seattle Seahawks

Reports: CB Taylor joins Seahawks

Cornerback Jamar Taylor agreed to a one-year deal with the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday, per multiple reports.

Taylor, a nickel cornerback, follows defensive end Ziggy Ansah as another potential value find deep into free agency.

Ansah, the fifth overall pick in the 2013 draft, was due in Seattle on Thursday to a sign a one-year deal that could be worth $8 million. However, Ansah is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and might not be cleared until August.

Taylor, 28, is a former second-round pick of the Miami Dolphins out of Boise State but has bounced around from Miami to the Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos, where he ended last season.

The Seahawks lost cornerback Justin Coleman (Detroit Lions) in free agency.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Seahawks agree with DE Ansah

Reports: Seahawks agree with DE Ansah

Reports: Seahawks agree with DE Ansah

The Seattle Seahawks agreed to a one-year deal with free agent defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, multiple media outlets reported Wednesday evening.

Ansah is expected to fly to Seattle on Thursday to sign, according to ESPN.

NFL Network reported earlier Wednesday that Seattle was the front-runner to sign Ansah, adding that no agreement had been finalized and the Buffalo Bills remained interested.

Had a team signed Ansah before Wednesday, he would have factored into the compensatory-pick formula. By waiting, Seattle remains in line to get third-, fourth-, sixth- and seventh-round picks next year as compensation for losing Earl Thomas, Justin Coleman, Shamar Stephen and Brett Hundley, per OverTheCap.com.

Bills general manager Brandon Beane said earlier Wednesday on 1270 The Fan in Buffalo that the team was still in contact with Ansah, and that he wasn’t necessarily buying that the Seahawks were the favorite.

“We’re still in talks with him and his agent,” Beane said. “Everything has been very good. All I’ll say about reports is I don’t buy into that garbage, especially when I consider where some of the sourcing comes from.”

Ansah visited the Baltimore Ravens and then the Seahawks in late April, after meeting the Bills and the New Orleans Saints shortly after free agency opened in mid-March. Coming off of shoulder surgery after missing nine games in 2018, Ansah saw his market be slow to develop as teams monitored his health and recovery.

NFL Network reported last month he is expected to be cleared by mid-August.

Ansah, who will turn 30 on May 29, had four sacks and seven quarterback hits in seven games (two starts) while playing on the franchise tag for the Detroit Lions last season, after posting 12 and 17, respectively, in 2017. His best season came in 2015, when he had 14.5 sacks and 34 QB hits while earning his only Pro Bowl nod.

Drafted fifth overall by Detroit in 2013, Ansah has 48 sacks and 110 quarterback hits in six NFL seasons.

The Seahawks added defensive end L.J. Collier with the 29th overall pick in last month’s draft, but they needed help at the “leo” defensive end spot after trading Frank Clark to the Kansas City Chiefs.

–Field Level Media

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Jaguars release QB Kessler

Jaguars release QB Kessler

Cody Kessler is looking

Jaguars release QB Kessler

Cody Kessler is looking for work after the Jacksonville Jaguars released the quarterback on Thursday.

Kessler, who turns 26 on Saturday, was 2-2 as a starter for Jacksonville last season. He completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 709 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

A third-round pick in 2016 by Cleveland, Kessler was 0-8 as a rookie starter for the Browns and was traded to the Jaguars during the 2018 offseason for a seventh-round pick.

Kessler and Blake Bortles were the only quarterbacks used by the Jaguars last season, and now both are gone.

Bortles was released in March after Jacksonville signed Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl hero Nick Foles to a four-year, $88 million contract.

Foles’ remaining backups on the roster are untested 2018 draft picks Tanner Lee (sixth round by Jacksonville) and Alex McGough (seventh round by Seattle).

–Field Level Media

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Report: Dolphins sign former Bills tackle Mills

Report: Dolphins sign former Bills tackle Mills

The Miami Dolphins are signing former

Report: Dolphins sign former Bills tackle Mills

The Miami Dolphins are signing former Buffalo Bills tackle Jordan Mills to a one-year, $3 million deal, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Thursday.

Mills, 28, started all 48 games over the past three seasons and has appeared in 87 games with 82 starts for the Chicago Bears (2013-14) and Bills (2015-18).

Mills played 95.5 percent of Buffalo’s offensive snaps (1,011 total) at right tackle last season and was penalized five times — three for holding and two false starts.

He was a fifth-round draft pick by Chicago in 2013.

Mills offers veteran stability to a Miami offensive line that lost Ja’Wuan James to the Denver Broncos in free agency.

–Field Level Media

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Panthers offered $120M to move facility to S.C.

Panthers offered $120M to move facility to S.C.

The Carolina Panthers will receive $120 million in tax breaks if they move

Panthers offered $120M to move facility to S.C.

The Carolina Panthers will receive $120 million in tax breaks if they move their facility to South Carolina, after the state’s Senate approved a bill Thursday by a 27-15 vote.

Under the bill, which Gov. Henry McMaster is expected to sign, the Panthers would be exempt from paying state income taxes for players, coaches and other employees for 15 years, assuming that money is used toward a new complex in South Carolina.

Currently based in Charlotte, N.C., the team has been planning a 200-acre development in Rock Hill, S.C., about 25 miles south of its current facilities next to Bank of America Stadium. The development plans include expansive football facilities as part of a broader campus with hotels, shopping and restaurants.

The bill was supported by McMaster, but many senators pushed back against the idea of giving public funds to a team owned by David Tepper, whose net worth is estimated at $11.6 billion.

“We’d like to be there. Hopefully they help us out there,” Tepper told reporters Wednesday of the potential facility in Rock Hill. “But I could be with a (practice) bubble and a cafeteria in Charlotte, too. So it’s up to them.”

Now the path appears clear for the Panthers to proceed with the planned move, which is not expected until at least 2022. The team will continue to play games at Bank of America Stadium, its home since its second season in 1996.

Tepper also told reporters Wednesday he hopes to bring a Major League Soccer team to the area eventually, potentially housing it on the same campus in Rock Hill.

–Field Level Media

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Jags LB Smith to skip 2019 for personal reasons

Jags LB Smith to skip 2019 for personal reasons

Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith said he

Jags LB Smith to skip 2019 for personal reasons

Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith said he won’t play the 2019 season for personal reasons.

A full-time starter the past four seasons and a 2017 Pro Bowler, Smith made the announcement Thursday on Instagram.

“At this time I must take time away from this game & get my world in order,” Smith wrote. “I must give this time back to myself, my family, & my health. I appreciate all the support I will & will not get. I just ask y’all respect my decision to not play football this season.”

He also affirmed he doesn’t plan to play for any team other than the Jaguars, despite rumors of a possible trade.

Smith, 28, was set to earn a base salary of $9.75 million this season. He signed a four-year, $45 million extension in October 2017.

A fifth-round pick by Jacksonville in 2014, Smith posted a career-high 134 tackles in 2018. He also has 26 pass breakups and nine interceptions in his five-year career.

Smith and Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey opted to sit out the Jaguars’ voluntary workouts last month, prompting public criticism from team executive vice president Tom Coughlin.

Smith made his first public comments about that controversy Monday during an Instagram live session.

“Understand this, I never left Duval. I’m never leaving Duval; it’s Duval ’til we die,” he said, referring to Jacksonville’s location in Duval County. “You understand me? Y’all seen trade rumors and stuff. Y’all seen me go anywhere? Exactly. Y’all seen the rumors go somewhere, but y’all ain’t seen me go nowhere cause I ain’t going nowhere. You understand me?”

Smith promised his followers Monday that they would learn more “this week” about what’s going on.

–Field Level Media

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Dolphins sign former Bills tackle Mills

Dolphins sign former Bills tackle Mills

The Miami Dolphins signed former Buffalo Bills

Dolphins sign former Bills tackle Mills

The Miami Dolphins signed former Buffalo Bills tackle Jordan Mills to a one-year deal Thursday, which ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports is worth $3 million.

Mills, 28, started all 48 games over the past three seasons and has appeared in 87 games with 82 starts for the Chicago Bears (2013-14) and Bills (2015-18).

Mills played 95.5 percent of Buffalo’s offensive snaps (1,011 total) at right tackle last season and was penalized five times — three for holding and two false starts.

He was a fifth-round draft pick by Chicago in 2013.

Mills offers veteran stability to a Miami offensive line that lost right tackle Ja’Wuan James to the Denver Broncos in free agency.

–Field Level Media

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NFL launches training academy in London

NFL launches training academy in London

The NFL will open a training academy

NFL launches training academy in London

The NFL will open a training academy in London this fall for teenagers who want to tackle the sport.

Starting in September, the NFL Academy will offer student-athletes ages 16 to 18 “the opportunity to combine education with the life skills and intensive training in the sport under full-time professional coaches,” the league said in a statement Tuesday.

Sponsored by Nike and headquartered at Barnet and Southgate College in North London, the academy hopes to identify and develop players who could go on to play college football in the United States.

“This is an opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of many young people, regardless of their experience of our sport. It is also an opportunity for us to create a pathway for players to get into the American college system and maybe even to the NFL itself,” NFL UK managing director Alistair Kirkwood said.

Recruitment for the first class of approximately 80 students will take place through tryouts over the next three months. More details are available online at nflacademy.com.

Many high-profile current and former NFL stars have pledged to support the academy’s efforts as ambassadors and also by mentoring participants through regular visits, including London-born Osi Umenyiora, a two-time Super Bowl-winning defensive end with the New York Giants, and Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice.

Also confirmed are Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, British-born Philadelphia Eagles running back Jay Ajayi, and London-raised Carolina Panthers defensive end Efe Obada.

“American football changed my life and I have seen it change the lives of many others,” Ajayi said. “I am looking forward to helping the students at the NFL Academy reach their potential, whether it is as students or football players. Maybe I will be playing with some of them in the NFL one day.”

–Field Level Media

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Report: Seahawks front-runner for DE Ansah

Report: Seahawks front-runner for DE Ansah

Report: Seahawks front-runner for DE Ansah

The Seattle Seahawks have emerged as the front-runner to sign free agent defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, NFL Network reported Wednesday.

The report says no contract is finalized, adding that the Buffalo Bills remain interested after hosting Ansah for a visit in March.

Bills general manager Brandon Beane said Wednesday on 1270 The Fan in Buffalo that the team is still in contact with Ansah, and that he isn’t necessarily buying that the Seahawks are the favorite.

“We’re still in talks with him and his agent,” Beane said. “Everything has been very good. All I’ll say about reports is I don’t buy into that garbage, especially when I consider where some of the sourcing comes from.”

Ansah visited the Baltimore Ravens and then the Seahawks in late April, after meeting the Bills and the New Orleans Saints shortly after free agency opened in mid-March. Coming off of shoulder surgery after missing nine games in 2018, Ansah’s market has been slow to develop as teams monitor his health and recovery. NFL Network reported last month he is expected to be cleared by mid-August.

Ansah, who will turn 30 on May 29, had four sacks and seven quarterback hits in seven games (two starts) while playing on the franchise tag for the Detroit Lions last season, after posting 12 and 17, respectively, in 2017. His best season came in 2015, when he had 14.5 sacks and 34 QB hits while earning his only Pro Bowl nod.

Drafted fifth overall by Detroit in 2013, Ansah has 48 sacks and 110 quarterback hits in six NFL seasons.

The Seahawks added defensive end L.J. Collier with the 29th overall pick in last month’s draft, but they could still use more help at the “leo” defensive end spot after trading Frank Clark to the Kansas City Chiefs.

–Field Level Media

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Cowboys’ Elliott pays funeral costs for slain eighth-grader

Cowboys' Elliott pays funeral costs for slain eighth-grader

Cowboys’ Elliott pays funeral costs for slain eighth-grader

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is paying the funeral expenses for Jaylon McKenzie, the promising eighth-grade football player killed by a stray bullet last weekend.

“For him to reach out to me was unbelievable,” McKenzie’s mother, Sukeena Gunner, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

“Jaylon loved Ezekiel Elliott. He talked about him all the time. When Ezekiel was playing, he would sit in front of the TV. His eyes were glued to the TV, watching him. For him to reach out to me and help me in this difficult time leaves me speechless.”

McKenzie, 14, was featured in an article in Sports Illustrated last November titled: “Six Teens Who Will Rule the Future in Sports.”

He played running back, wide receiver and defensive back at Mason-Clark Middle School in East St. Louis, Ill., and already had Division I college offers from Missouri and Illinois.

Elliott has ties to the area, having played prep football at John Burroughs School in the St. Louis suburb of Ladue, Mo.

–Field Level Media

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Stafford’s wife continues recovery from brain surgery

Stafford's wife continues recovery from brain surgery

Stafford’s wife continues recovery from brain surgery

Kelly Stafford, the wife of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, credited her surgeon for saving her hearing as he operated last month to remove a brain tumor.

Tuesday, on Instagram, she thanked Dr. Gregory Thompson of the University of Michigan for his patience and persistence during the 12-hour surgery, which she said was complicated by a rare artery.

“When he opened me up, he saw an ‘anomalous’ artery that is normally not there. In his 2000 cases, he had seen it ONE other time. BUT bc it was so rare, he & his team wrote a paper on it for other surgeons,” Stafford wrote. “Then, God sent him me & although surprised when he cut in to see the artery, he was confident & prepared. He took his time & was patient. There was a moment when they thought I might have lost my hearing completely. He made everyone & everything stop, they all sat, & waited for some time.. the audio wave returned. His patience saved my hearing, as well as my face. You read right, he PRESERVED MY HEARING!”

Stafford had a setback when she was readmitted to the hospital briefly for help with pain management, but since then, she has continued to share her recovery journey on Instagram. She has posted two photos of her holding their children — the Staffords have three young daughters — and another workout photo at the gym, writing she was tired but optimistic.

“Knowing each day my energy, balance, dizziness and nausea will get better so always looking forward to tomorrow,” she wrote.

–Field Level Media

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Romo a 10,000-1 longshot to win AT&T Byron Nelson

Romo a 10,000-1 longshot to win AT&T Byron Nelson

Romo a 10,000-1 longshot to win AT&T Byron Nelson

Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has been installed as a 10,000-1 longshot by multiple sportsbooks to win this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson.

It will be Romo’s third appearance on the PGA Tour following sponsors exemptions into the past two Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championships, an opposite field event where he missed the cut in both attempts. While the Byron Nelson features only two of the top 20 players in the world rankings and Romo is a member at Trinity Forest Golf Club, the field will be much stronger than those he has previously faced on Tour.

Caesers Entertainment is a little more bullish on Romo’s chances this week, putting his odds at 2,000-1.

“If you want to compete, you want to play against the best,” Romo told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram this week. “Obviously I understand where I’m at comparatively to the guys in this field. These are the best of the best.”

Romo, 39, will also begin another attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open next week. He has failed in two previous attempts in that effort, but he did reach the sectional qualifying round in 2010, when he was still in the NFL.

Romo’s chances of making the cut in Dallas this week — let alone being in contention on Sunday — would appear astronomical. The next closest longshot listed by Bovada is Australian Stuart Deane at 750-1. A host of lesser-known PGA Tour pros are 500-1.

By comparison, world No. 3 Brooks Koepka is the current favorite at 6.5-1.

“Golf is one of my greatest passions outside my family and football, and I am honored to have the opportunity to compete amongst the pros again in this year’s AT&T Byron Nelson,” Romo said in a release from the tournament in February.

Last fall, Romo reached the second round of qualifying on the Web.com Tour. That followed his July win at the American Century Championship in South Lake Tahoe, Nev.

–Field Level Media

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Daly OK’d to use golf cart at PGA Championship

Daly OK'd to use golf cart at PGA Championship

Daly OK’d to use golf cart at PGA Championship

If John Daly makes a run for the PGA Championship title beginning May 16 at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y., he’ll be propelled by a golf cart.

The winner of the 1991 PGA Championship, who has an injured left knee and said he has osteoarthritis in his right knee that prevents him from walking 18 holes, was given approval Tuesday by the PGA of America to ride a cart after applying through an Americans with Disabilities Act policy.

Casey Martin was the most recent player to ride a cart in a major championship, doing so at the U.S. Open at San Francisco’s Olympic Club in 1998 and 2012.

A former British Open winner, Daly, bothered by the aching right knee, skipped the event last year at Carnoustie because he was denied a request to use a cart.

“Sorry…really tried these last 2 days to compete & walk, my rt knee osteoarthritis is unbearable. It would have been nice to have gotten a cart but unfortunately was turned down by our tour board. I couldn’t even hit balls this am!” he wrote on Twitter.

Prior to that, he withdrew from the U.S. Senior Open at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs after the USGA denied the same request.

He also explained the situation on Twitter, writing, “I had to WD from the U.S. Senior Open. The deteriorating osteoarthritis isn’t helping my rt knee. I fall under the ADANational but USGA turned down a cart for me this week. Just going to give the knee a rest. Don’t know what’s ahead for me.”

Daly, 53, still competes in PGA Tour Champions tournaments because cart use is permitted. He finished in a tie for 27th at last week’s Insperity Invitational at The Woodlands Country Club, trailing champion Scott McCarron by 13 strokes.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Cowboys, Prescott making progress on deal

NFL notebook: Cowboys, Prescott making progress on deal

NFL notebook: Cowboys, Prescott making progress on deal

Negotiations between the Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott on a contract that would make the quarterback the highest-paid player in team history are progressing, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Tuesday.

The contract could be worth close to $30 million a year, or more, according to the newspaper.

Team owner Jerry Jones told Cowboys Hall of Famer Michael Irvin on “The Rich Eisen Show” on Monday that he was confident the deal with Prescott, entering his fourth NFL season, would get done.

“We are sold on Dak,” Jones said. “We do want to have him for the long term.”

–Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul sustained a fractured neck in a single-car crash last week and could require surgery, multiple media outlets reported.

The 30-year-old will visit neck specialists for opinions, and ESPN reported he likely will need an operation. NFL Network reported Pierre-Paul could indeed be headed for surgery — which would carry a recovery time of five to six months — but added there is hope the injury could heal on its own before Week 1.

The Buccaneers issued a statement that did not acknowledge the specific injury but confirmed the evaluation process is ongoing.

–Le’Veon Bell remains absent from voluntary team sessions with the New York Jets two months after signing a contract with $27 million guaranteed.

Bell preferred his Miami-area digs for offseason training as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, including his full year spent in relative exile as a holdout.

“When it’s time to play football…” Bell wrote on Instagram. “I got to stick to the formula that I know works for me to be the best player I can be…I’ll take the heat right now, everybody will forget about that once January comes around.”

–Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman said he won’t have any trouble with new San Francisco 49ers teammate Nick Bosa as long as the rookie shows up to play.

Bosa admitted pre-draft that he had scrubbed his Twitter account clean of anything that could be considered political. The former Ohio State defensive end had tweeted his support for President Donald Trump, and also criticized former 49ers quarterback-turned-social activist Colin Kaepernick.

“It’s not like something where guys are like, ‘Hey man, what about what you said?’ No. No. If he can play, he can play. If he can’t play, he won’t be here,” Sherman told the Sacramento Bee.

–An infamous sideline interview during the 2003 football season is what gave legendary quarterback Joe Namath the motivation he needed to stop drinking, he writes in a new autobiography.

In the book, “All the Way: My Life in Four Quarters,” Namath described the aftermath of the awkward interview with ESPN’s Suzy Kolber, in which he told her he wanted to kiss her.

“I saw it as a blessing in disguise,” said Namath, 75, who has acknowledged he was drunk during the interview. “I had embarrassed my friends and family and could not escape that feeling. I haven’t had a drink since. … I’d probably be dead by now if I hadn’t stopped drinking.”

–Longtime Tampa Bay cornerback Ronde Barber will become the 13th member of the Buccaneers’ Ring of Honor in September.

The ceremony will take place at halftime of the Buccaneers’ Sept. 22 game against the New York Giants, a game Barber will be working as a member of the FOX broadcast team.

–The Oakland Raiders and free agent guard Richie Incognito have “strong mutual interest” but are waiting on potential NFL discipline for Incognito’s arrest last summer, ESPN reported.

Incognito was arrested in August during an incident at an Arizona funeral home following his father’s death. He pleaded guilty last month to disorderly conduct and was sentenced to 11 months of probation and a 90-day suspended jail sentence. The 35-year-old last played for Buffalo in 2017.

–The New England Patriots will sign free agent offensive tackle Jared Veldheer to a one-year deal worth up to $6.5 million later this week, multiple media outlets reported.

According to SiriusXM NFL, the minimum value will be $3.5 million, with up to $3 million in additional escalators.

–Kelly Stafford, the wife of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, credited her surgeon for saving her hearing as he operated last month to remove a brain tumor.

On Instagram, she thanked Dr. Gregory Thompson of the University of Michigan for his patience and persistence during the 12-hour surgery, which she said was complicated by a rare artery.

–The NFL will open a training academy in London this fall for teenagers who want to tackle the sport.

Starting in September, the NFL Academy will offer student-athletes ages 16 to 18 “the opportunity to combine education with the life skills and intensive training in the sport under full-time professional coaches.”

–Field Level Media

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Bears acquire K Pineiro from Raiders

Bears acquire K Pineiro from Raiders

The Chicago Bears

Bears acquire K Pineiro from Raiders

The Chicago Bears acquired kicker Eddy Pineiro from the Oakland Raiders on Tuesday in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2021.

Pineiro shined with the Florida Gators before signing with the Raiders in May 2018. He made all three of his field-goal attempts during the preseason, including two attempts from beyond 40 yards, but did not play during the regular season.

At Florida, Pineiro made 38 of 43 field-goal attempts for an 88.4 percent success rate. He made the final 16 kicks of his college career.

The Bears are looking for a kicker to replace Cody Parkey, whose infamous “double doink” miss in the playoffs cost his team the season. Chicago brought in eight kickers to its rookie minicamp last weekend and asked each one to attempt a field goal from 43 yards with the rest of the team watching.

The distance was not a coincidence. Parkey’s season-ending miss came from 43 yards.

–Field Level Media

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Former All-Pro OT Thomas joins NFL Network

Former All-Pro OT Thomas joins NFL Network

Former All-Pro OT Thomas joins NFL Network

Joe Thomas, a former All-Pro offensive tackle with the Cleveland Browns, has joined the NFL Network in various on-air roles.

Thomas will be added to the network’s on-location pregame and postgame shows for 13 Thursday Night Football games this season, starting Sept. 13 when the Carolina Panthers host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Thomas is also slated to appear on the NFL Network’s coverage of the Super Bowl, the NFL Scouting Combine and the draft, as well as various daily programs.

“I am thrilled to join NFL Network and Thursday Night Football,” Thomas said in a statement. “Throughout my playing career, I quickly realized there are few events which can rival the excitement and action of primetime NFL games, and having the chance to be a part of that atmosphere each week is something I greatly look forward to.”

Thomas played 11 seasons with the Browns, earning 10 Pro Bowl invitations and six first-team All-Pro nods. He retired after the 2017 season.

The New York Post reported Wednesday that the NFL Network is being forced to cut $20 million out of its projected budget and has eliminated five shows. The network said it was shifting its programming based on a celebration of the NFL’s 100 season this year.

“As part of an increased investment in programming and content for 2019, NFL Network will unveil several shows geared towards a celebration of the NFL’s 100th season,” an NFL network spokesman, Alex Riethmiller, said in a statement to The Post. “These shows will replace a handful of existing shows from our 2018 schedule.”

–Field Level Media

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RB Powell cleared from neck injury, seeking work

RB Powell cleared from neck injury, seeking work

Free agent running back Bilal

RB Powell cleared from neck injury, seeking work

Free agent running back Bilal Powell has been cleared to play after a career-threatening neck injury and is looking for an employer.

Powell, 30, played eight seasons with the New York Jets, rushing for 3,446 yards and 15 touchdowns and catching 204 passes for 1,567 yards and five scores from 2011-18.

He suffered a season-ending neck injury during the Jets’ 37-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 21. He underwent surgery soon after.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Powell sent a letter to NFL teams to say he was “really looking forward to getting back to work.”

Powell played the final year of a three-year, $11.25 million contract last season. He earned a base salary of $4 million in 2018.

The former fourth-round draft pick gained a combined 2,052 yards from scrimmage with 10 touchdowns during the 2016-17 seasons.

–Field Level Media

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Freeney to join Colts’ Ring of Honor on Nov. 10

Freeney to join Colts' Ring of Honor on Nov. 10

The Indianapolis Colts will induct defensive

Freeney to join Colts’ Ring of Honor on Nov. 10

The Indianapolis Colts will induct defensive end Dwight Freeney into their Ring of Honor during a Nov. 10 game against the Miami Dolphins.

The date was confirmed Wednesday on Twitter by team owner Jim Irsay, who announced Freeney’s selection last week.

A first-round pick (12th overall) by Indianapolis in 2002, Freeney played 163 games with the Colts from 2002-12. He earned three first-team All-Pro selections, made seven Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl championship during that tenure.

Freeney ranks second in franchise history in sacks (107.5) and forced fumbles (43).

Freeney becomes the 16th member of the Ring of Honor, a group that includes former teammates Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Edgerrin James and Jeff Saturday and former coach Tony Dungy.

–Field Level Media

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McVay regrets ‘overpreparing’ for Super Bowl

McVay regrets 'overpreparing' for Super Bowl

Head coach

McVay regrets ‘overpreparing’ for Super Bowl

Head coach Sean McVay experienced paralysis by analysis in the days before the Los Angeles Rams lost to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3.

McVay took responsibility for the 13-3 loss in the immediate aftermath of the game and expounded upon his faults in an interview with Sports Illustrated.

“In the back of my mind, [when making the Super Bowl game plan back in L.A.], I operated knowing I had another week,” he said. “That urgency to completely finalize the game plan wasn’t quite there, and that led to me watching so much film that you can almost water down your thought process.”

“You have so much time that you can overprepare and get away from some of the things that helped you get there. I watched every game from New England’s season. You see stuff that worked in, say, Week 3, but you forget about the amount of stuff that’s taken place since Week 3. You can watch so much film that you lose perspective. You have 18 games of film you can pore over. And then I even watched the Philly and Atlanta Super Bowls closely.”

McVay said after the Super Bowl that he was outcoached, tipping his hat to Bill Belichick and the Patriots for a better plan and superior execution.

Los Angeles under McVay was No. 2 in scoring in the NFL in 2018.

McVay also told SI that he didn’t take enough time to absorb what it took to become NFC champions.

“I didn’t appreciate it,” McVay said. “I think there’s a lot to be said for the journey, and I appreciated what the season had entailed. But I could have appreciated the week and entirety of the event more. I kept myself kind of isolated because I didn’t want any distraction.”

–Field Level Media

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Ex-Packers GM Thompson reveals nerve disorder

Ex-Packers GM Thompson reveals nerve disorder

Former Green Bay Packers general

Ex-Packers GM Thompson reveals nerve disorder

Former Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson said Wednesday he is suffering from an autonomic disorder that contributed to his decision to step down after the 2017 season.

Thompson, 66, who was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame on Saturday, revealed his diagnosis on the Packers’ official website.

“I have been diagnosed with an autonomic disorder,” Thompson said. “I feel that it’s important to mention that based on the test results and opinions of medical specialists, they feel that I do not fit the profile of someone suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).”

Thompson played linebacker for the Houston Oilers for 10 seasons from 1975-84, appearing in 146 games.

He served as the Packers general manager from 2005-17, helping to build a roster that became a perennial playoff contender and won a championship in Super Bowl XLV following the 2010 season.

According to the Mayo Clinic website, “autonomic nerve disorders (dysautonomia) refer to disorders of autonomic nervous system (ANS). … Symptoms are wide-ranging and can include problems with the regulation of heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, perspiration, and bowel and bladder functions. Other symptoms include fatigue, lightheadedness, feeling faint or passing out (syncope), weakness, and cognitive impairment.”

Thompson, whose current position with the Packers is senior advisor to football operations, thanked the organization for its support.

“The Green Bay community and the fans of the Packers have always been and will continue to be very special to me. It is my hope and belief that I will be able to overcome this disorder,” he wrote.

“Finally, I’d like to ask that you respect the privacy of myself and my family as we move forward.”

–Field Level Media

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