Projected top 50 picks among medical re-checks in Indy

Projected top 50 picks among medical re-checks in Indy

A few dozen players who were invited to the Scouting Combine in February have been asked to return to Indianapolis this week for updated medical evaluations.

With the 2019 NFL Draft less than three weeks away, teams want to get the most current information available on the status of players recovering from various injuries. Players are not required to return to Indianapolis but generally make the trip if requested to do so.

Players are evaluated at the same medical facility at the Indiana University Health as their original appointments back in February. A key difference in April’s re-check is that only a player’s specific area of concern is being evaluated, unlike the exhaustive head-to-toe evaluation performed previously.

Five players with pressing medical concerns or rehabilitations whose stock may hinge on the information learned by IU Health doctors this week:

5. OLB Chase Hansen, Utah (151st-ranked prospect by Field Level Media/14th among OLBs)

Why he will be invited back to Indianapolis: Herniated disk in back

Timeline for return: Hansen told reporters at Utah’s March 28 pro day that he anticipates being fully cleared by the opening of NFL training camps in July.

Medicals matter: A former safety turned first-team All-PAC-12 outside linebacker, Hansen has the resume to warrant top 100 consideration, but his stock is in flux following surgery in January to correct a herniated disk in his lower back. The 6-3, 222-pound Hansen suffered the injury this past October and played through it, receiving multiple injections as he gutted it out to lead the Utes in both tackles (114) and tackles for loss (22) while playing in every game, even accepting an invitation to the play at the Senior Bowl.

Rather than compete in the prestigious all-star game, however, Hansen underwent surgery that has kept him from working out for scouts at the Combine or the Utes’ pro day. Older than most prospects due to serving a two-year LDS mission in Brisbane, Australia, the 25-year-old Hansen is now viewed as a likely mid-to-late Day Three selection who could slip out of the draft entirely should teams be nervous about the long-term durability of his back.

4. RB Bryce Love, Stanford (161, 16)

Why he will be invited back to Indianapolis: Torn right ACL.

Timeline for return: Love is hoping to be back on the field this summer for training camp after undergoing corrective surgery Dec. 18 with the renowned Dr. James Andrews. Team doctors will handle his recovery plan and return once he’s drafted with running backs and other “skill” position talent often requiring more of a grace period than others due to their reliance on elusiveness. A redshirt rookie year is possible.

Medicals matter: After making the surprising decision to return for his senior season following a breakout junior campaign in which he rushed for 2,118 yards and 19 touchdowns, Love suffered a heartbreaking injury in the final regular-season game of his career, tearing knee ligaments on his 22nd carry (matching his season-high) against rival California. B

Before the injury, the 5-9, 200-pounder was viewed as one of the few running backs in this class worthy of early-round consideration. Unable to work out before the draft, however, Love is now likely to be still on the board well into Day Three.

3. CB Kendall Sheffield, Ohio State (47/5)

Why he will be invited back to Indianapolis: Torn left pectoral muscle.

Timeline for return: With no surgery planned, Sheffield is hoping to be available for May rookie minicamps.

Medicals matter: For the second consecutive year, a projected top 50 pick out of Ohio State suffered a torn pectoral muscle while competing in the bench press at the Combine. The injury (and subsequent surgery) did not impact former Buckeyes’ standout offensive lineman Billy Price’s stock with the Cincinnati Bengals, who selected him 21st overall last spring. That provides plenty of reason for optimism for Sheffield, who suffered a partial tear on his seventh repetition in the event and was unable to further compete in Indianapolis or the Buckeyes’ March 20 pro day.

Given that Sheffield started just one season for Ohio State, scouts certainly want to get as much information as they can about him, making his individual workout scheduled for April 11 (and the interviews scheduled around it) as critical as any player on this list. While health and football character are concerns for some, no one questions his raw athleticism.

Sheffield, who originally with Alabama out of high school, is widely regarded as one of the nation’s fastest players. He broke the Ohio State school record in the 60-meter dash in February 2018 with a time of 6.663 seconds, eclipsing a 23-year-old record at a program well known for producing speedsters.

2. WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma (31/3)

Why he will be invited back to Indianapolis: Lisfranc surgery on left foot.

Timeline for return: After undergoing surgery in January, Brown is reportedly expected to be back on the field in time for summer training camp.

Medicals matter: While fellow big-play specialists D.K. Metcalf (Mississippi) and Parris Campbell (Ohio State) have since proven their exceptional timed speed in workouts, it was Brown who was widely regarded as the preeminent vertical threat in college football the past two years, averaging a healthy 18.3 yards per catch and scoring 17 touchdowns in 25 games for the Sooners.

Despite his gaudy production, Brown struggled with recurring foot issues in 2018 and may have aggravated the injury against Texas in the Big 12 Championship game, catching five passes for a relatively pedestrian 54 yards. Brown played against Alabama in the Orange Bowl but without his trademark speed, he was ineffective and did not catch a single pass.

The cousin to longtime NFL standout Antonio Brown, “Hollywood” is viewed as an elite vertical threat who should be among the first 50 players selected, as long as teams are comfortable with his recovery and a slim frame (5-9 3/8, 166 pounds).

1. DT Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State (38/7)

Why he will be invited back to Indianapolis: Torn left ACL.

Timeline for return: Simmons is reportedly on track to be back on the field in October. Team doctors will handle his recovery plan and return once he’s drafted, and the typical 9-12-month schedule applies. A redshirt rookie year shouldn’t be ruled out.

Medicals matter: Simmons was a potential top-10 pick before he suffered the injury training in Boca Raton, Fla. approximately two weeks before the Combine. Though obviously unable to compete in the on-field drills at Mississippi State’s March 27 pro day due to the injury, Simmons did meet with teams – all 32 attended the workout – and he showed off his strength, performing 28 repetitions of 225 pounds in the bench press.

He has met or plans to visit with several teams, with the Browns, Colts, Eagles, Jaguars and Seahawks among them. Simmons is expected to be drafted in the second round as long as clubs are satisfied with his recovery, as well as his explanation for his role in a fight involving two women before attending Mississippi State.

–By Rob Rang, Field Level Media

Eagles lure QB McCown out of retirement

Eagles lure QB McCown out of retirement

Eagles lure QB McCown out of retirement

Josh McCown was lured out of retirement to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles.

McCown announced his retirement and joined ESPN as an NFL analyst, ending a 17-year career that spanned 10 teams. But he’ll make it 11 when he officially signs with the Eagles, a team that can’t seem to keep a backup healthy this preseason.

Nate Sudfeld suffered a broken wrist in the preseason opener, and his audition to be the No. 2 quarterback behind Carson Wentz was derailed by surgery. Sudfeld could be ready to return in mid-September, head coach Doug Pederson said.

No. 3 quarterback Cody Kessler was diagnosed with a concussion following a hit in last week’s game.

Enter McCown, who turned 40 on July 4 and was last a starter in 2017.

Pederson did not directly answer questions posed last week about the Eagles’ interest in Colin Kaepernick, but the move to McCown indicates there was likely no interest.

–Field Level Media

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Reid kneels before preseason loss, rips Jay-Z deal again

Reid kneels before preseason loss, rips Jay-Z deal again

Carolina

Reid kneels before preseason loss, rips Jay-Z deal again

Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid kneeled in silent protest before a 27-14 preseason loss to the Buffalo Bills on Friday night.

Afterward, he took another shot at the partnership between the NFL and hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, who said during an introductory press conference this week “I think we’re past kneeling … I think it’s time for action.”

“For one, when has Jay-Z ever taken a knee to come out and tell us that we’re past kneeling?” said Reid, per ESPN. “Yes, he’s done a lot of great work, a lot of great social justice work. But for you to get paid to go into an NFL press conference and say that we’re past kneeling? Again, asinine. Players Coalition 2.0, he got paid to take the bullets that he’s taking now because we’re not having it.”

Reid, who joined the Panthers three weeks into the 2018 season, kneeled before every game last year, although no Panthers teammates joined him.

According to the Charlotte Observer, Reid’s reason for kneeling is to “protest racial inequality and social injustice in America.”

Reid is close friends with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick from their days as teammates with the 49ers. Kaepernick is well known for his protests during the anthem. Both players settled a collusion lawsuit with the NFL last year.

“Jay-Z made a money move. He’s capitalized on this situation. Nobody to my knowledge talked about social justice before Colin started protesting,” said Reid. “That was not a topic of the NFL off the field. For Jay-Z to come in and partner to address social justice, do it behind Colin’s back, get paid to do it … I don’t have words.”

Reid also suggested the NFL is using Jay-Z as cover for Kaepernick still not having an NFL job.

“The (injustice) that’s happened to Colin, they get to say, ‘Look, we care about social justice, we care about the black community because we’re with Jay-Z,'” said Reid.

“Jay-Z is doing the work for them. We all know that it’s unjust that Colin isn’t in an NFL locker room, the way he lost his job. But they get to pretend they care about social justice.”

Reid, 27, ended up starting all 13 games he was in uniform for the Panthers last season. He was sixth on the team with 71 tackles with one sack and one interception. In six NFL seasons, five with the 49ers, the former No. 18 overall selection in the 2013 draft has 398 career tackles and 11 interceptions.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Bucs GM Licht signed 5-year extension

Report: Bucs GM Licht signed 5-year extension

Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager

Report: Bucs GM Licht signed 5-year extension

Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht received a five-year contract extension earlier this year, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The deal came just days after he lured Bruce Arians out of retirement to coach the team.

Licht is now under contract through 2023, which coincides with Arians’ contract with the team.

Just a year ago, Licht had been rumored to be on the hot seat after the team missed the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season.

The ensuing 5-11 season led to the firing of coach Dirk Koetter, but Arians reportedly insisted on Licht staying in the job before signing on.

Licht, 48, is in his sixth season as the GM after stints in the front offices of the Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. His 2015 draft class produced starters with the first four picks (QB Jameis Winston, OT Donovan Smith, G Ali Marpet, LB Kwon Alexander), but he also was responsible for trading up in the second round in 2016 to take kicker Roberto Aguayo, who didn’t make it out of his second training camp with the team.

Licht used his top pick this year on inside linebacker Devin White out of LSU. He also signed defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh as a free agent this offseason after allowing DT Gerald McCoy to walk away.

If Licht serves the duration of his contract, he’ll become the longest-tenured GM in club history.

–Field Level Media

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Manning, Daniels solid in Giants’ win over Bears

Manning, Daniels solid in Giants' win over Bears

Manning, Daniels solid in Giants’ win over Bears

Giants quarterback Eli Manning and his heir apparent, rookie first-round pick Daniel Jones, each threw a touchdown pass, and New York routed the Chicago Bears 32-13 on Friday in East Rutherford, N.J.

Manning hit all four of his pass attempts for 42 yards before exiting, with his 10-play, 79-yard drive ending with an 8-yard touchdown to wide receiver Bennie Fowler.

Jones then came in for the Giants (2-0) and connected on 11 of 14 passes for 161 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown to wide receiver TJ Jones, but he fumbled twice. Running back Saquon Barkley was held out for the second straight week.

Chase Daniel threw for 103 yards for the Bears (0-2), and Tyler Bray chipped in with 53 yards passing as Mitchell Trubisky sat out. Javon Wims hauled in five passes for 64 yards to lead Chicago. Kerrith Whyte Jr. produced the Bears’ only touchdown on a 1-yard run in the third quarter.

–Field Level Media

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Allen leads Bills to victory over Panthers

Allen leads Bills to victory over Panthers

Allen leads Bills to victory over Panthers

Josh Allen threw for 102 yards and directed a pair of scoring drives, and Kevin Johnson returned an interception 70 yards for a touchdown as the Buffalo Bills beat the Carolina Panthers 27-14 on Friday night in Charlotte, N.C.

Allen completed 9 of 11 passes and led the Bills (2-0) to 10 first-quarter points, with Stephen Hauschka kicking a 30-yard field goal and LeSean McCoy capping the next drive with a 1-yard run up the middle.

Matt Barkley also produced for the Bills, completing 8 of 10 passes for 110 yards and one touchdown, a 9-yard strike to Duke Williams in the second quarter. Cole Beasley led the Bills with five catches for 44 yards.

The Panthers (1-1) couldn’t get going on offense without Cam Newton, who sat out for the second straight game. They were held to 258 total yards. Taylor Heinicke hit 8 of 12 passes for 78 yards and one touchdown, and Will Grier threw for 75 yards with one interception.

–Field Level Media

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QB Griffin tops 200 yards as Bucs beat Dolphins

QB Griffin tops 200 yards as Bucs beat Dolphins

QB Griffin tops 200 yards as Bucs beat Dolphins

Backup quarterback Ryan Griffin threw for 201 yards and one touchdown as the host Tampa Bay Buccaneers edged the Miami Dolphins 16-14 in a preseason game Friday night.

Griffin threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to first-year tight end Tanner Hudson with 3:35 left in the game to give Tampa Bay a 13-6 lead.

The Dolphins (1-1) came back behind quarterback Jake Rudock to go 51 yards on seven plays in just over 1 1/2 minutes, capped by an 8-yard pass from Rudock to rookie running back Patrick Laird. Rudock completed the two-point conversion on a pass to Trenton Irwin to give Miami a 14-13 lead.

Griffin marched Tampa Bay (1-1) down the field in the closing seconds, setting up Matt Gay’s 48-yard field goal with six seconds left for the game-winner.

Dolphins quarterback Josh Rosen played the first half, hitting 10 of 18 passes for 102 yards. Jameis Winston played only the Buccaneers’ first series, completing 2 of 4 passes for 24 yards.

–Field Level Media

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QB Griffin tops 200 yards as Bucs top Dolphins

QB Griffin tops 200 yards as Bucs top Dolphins

QB Griffin tops 200 yards as Bucs top Dolphins

Backup quarterback Ryan Griffin threw for 201 yards and one touchdown as the host Tampa Bay Buccaneers edged the Miami Dolphins in an NFL preseason game Friday night.

Griffin threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Tanner Hudson with 3:35 left in the game to give Tampa Bay a 13-6 lead.

The Dolphins came back behind quarterback Jake Rudock to go 51 yards on seven plays in just over 1 1/2 minutes, capped by an 8-yard pass from Rudock to rookie running back Patrick Laird. Rudock completed the 2-point conversion on a pass to Trenton Irwin to give Miami a 14-13 lead.

Griffin marched Tampa Bay down the field in the closing seconds, setting up Matt Gay’s 48-yard field goal with 10 seconds left for the game winner.

Dolphins quarterback Josh Rosen played the first half, hitting 10 of 18 passes for 102 yards. Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston played only the Buccaneers’ first series, completing 2 of 4 passes for 24 yards.

–Field Level Media

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Matsuyama grabs BMW lead with course-record 63

Matsuyama grabs BMW lead with course-record 63

Japan's Hideki

Matsuyama grabs BMW lead with course-record 63

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama grabbed a one-shot lead at the BMW Championship by setting a course record with a 9-under-par 63 at Medinah Country Club outside of Chicago on Friday.

Scoring conditions weren’t quite as favorable on Medinah’s No. 3 course as they were when Justin Thomas and Jason Kokrak tied the course record with 65s on Thursday, but that didn’t slow Matsuyama, who sank seven putts outside of 10 feet in carding nine birdies.

He holds a one-shot lead at 12-under 132 over Tony Finau (66 on Friday) and Patrick Cantlay (67). Thomas is another shot back at 10 under, with a half-dozen players another shot off the pace: Lucas Glover, Chez Reavie, Xander Schauffele, Canada’s Adam Hadwin and Corey Conners and Slovakia’s Rory Sabbatini.

World No. 1 Brooks Koepka managed only a 1-under 71 on Friday and is seven shots back in a tied for 25th at 5 under. However, he is still projected to hold the No. 1 spots in the FedEx Cup rankings entering next week’s Tour Championship in Atlanta, where the top-seeded player will hold a two-shot advantage and begin the tournament at 10 under.

Patrick Reed, who won last week’s The Northern Trust, is also at 5 under and projected to fall three spots to No. 5, with Matsuyama projected to vault to No. 2, followed by Cantlay and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, who is tied for 11th at 8 under at the BMW.

Tiger Woods saw a promising round derailed by a pair of late bogeys. He shot a second consecutive 71 and is tied for 48th at 2 under. Likely needing to finish 11th or better to qualify for East Lake and defend his title at the Tour Championship, Woods is currently projected to drop seven more spots to No. 45.

Other big names who currently sit outside of the top 30, the cutoff to qualify for East Lake, include Jordan Spieth (No. 48), Phil Mickelson (No. 51) and Australia’s Jason Day (No. 55). Reigning FedEx Cup champion Justin Rose of England is tied for 40th at 3 under and is projected to drop to 15th.

Matsuyama birdied his first hole of the day en route to his lowest round of the year. He made the turn in 5-under 36, then poured in four more birdies on the back nine.

“It seemed like every time I had a birdie chance today that I made the putt,” Matsuyama told the Golf Channel through his interpreter. “You add it up, and that’s what I got.”

Matsuyama has fallen to No. 32 in the world rankings and is without a victory since 2017, when he ended the year No. 5, but he has posted a third and four other top-10 finishes in 20 events this year while missing only two cuts.

Cantlay has been going the other direction, breaking into the world’s top 10 for the first time in his career with a victory at the Memorial following ties for third at the PGA Championship and RBC Heritage and a tie for ninth at the Masters.

He had five birdies on a bogey-free card Friday, including salvaging par after driving it into the water on the par-4 15th hole.

“I played really solid today,” Cantlay said. “I don’t think you can play your way perfect around this place. Eventually, you will have to get up and down, just because it’s long and if you get out of position you need to leave yourself fat side.”

Finau, who is searching for his second PGA Tour victory, also had a bogey-free card that included four birdies over a five-hole stretch on the front nine.

“I mean, I feel like a win is around the corner. I felt that way all season,” Finau said, per Golfweek. “Coming off the Ryder Cup, I feel like I got some great experience there. Had a couple good looks at majors this year and haven’t got it done, but one of these times I know it’s going to be my turn. And hopefully that’s Sunday.”

Finau is also currently projected to move from 10th to No. 8 in the Presidents Cup standings, bumping Bryson DeChambeau to No. 9. The top eight following this week will automatically qualify for the United States team captained by Tiger Woods.

Woods also will have four captain’s picks.

–Field Level Media

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Tiger’s charge fizzles in second 71 at BMW

Tiger's charge fizzles in second 71 at BMW

Tiger’s charge fizzles in second 71 at BMW

Tiger Woods was unable to keep a mid-round charge going Friday and will have to rally over the weekend at the BMW Championship in order to qualify for next week’s Tour Championship.

Woods traded a pair of birdies and bogeys over his first nine holes at Medinah Country Club outside of Chicago to make the turn in even par for the second round. He then reeled off three birdies over the next six holes and was in prime position in the fairway on the par-4 16th hole.

However, Woods left his approach shot in the bunker and was unable to get up and down to save par. He then bogeyed the 17th hole to fall back to 1-under for the day and went on to card his second consecutive 1-under round of 71.

“Left quite a few shots out there,” Woods told reporters after the round, adding that he was unable to capitalize on better ball striking than his first round.

At 2-under par entering the weekend, Woods is well off the pace entering the weekend and needs to finish in 11th place or better to advance and defend his Tour Championship. His inconsistent round on Friday included five birdies and four bogeys while hitting 11 of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens in regulation.

The telling statistic was successfully scrambling in just one of five attempts while also needing 30 putts to get around Medinah’s No. 3 course.

Woods has been unable to capitalize on a course softened by heavy rains of late. Meanwhile, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama set a course record of 8-under 63 playing just a few groups behind Woods.

Woods said he thinks it will take “something in the mid-60s” to give himself an opportunity to compete with the top 30 players in the FedEx Cup standings at East Lake in Atlanta next week.

–Field Level Media

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NFL conditionally reinstates Patriots WR Gordon

NFL conditionally reinstates Patriots WR Gordon

Troubled wide receiver Josh

NFL conditionally reinstates Patriots WR Gordon

Troubled wide receiver Josh Gordon was reinstated on a conditional basis by the NFL, the league announced on Friday.

Gordon will be able to rejoin the New England Patriots on Sunday and is eligible to play in the regular season.

Gordon was suspended on Dec. 20 for violating the terms of his previous reinstatement under the NFL substance abuse policy.

“We are all rooting for Josh to succeed, both personally and professionally,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Everyone shares in that hope and will continue to support him to every extent possible. But as Josh acknowledged, ultimately his success is up to him.”

The NFL said that Gordon won’t play in New England’s Aug. 22 preseason game against the Carolina Panthers because he hasn’t had “sufficient conditioning and practice.”

After breaking into the NFL with the Cleveland Browns in 2012 and making the Pro Bowl after the 2013 season, Gordon missed the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons due to suspensions related to substance abuse.

Gordon played in five games in 2017 after being reinstated. He played one game for Cleveland last year before being traded to the Patriots in September.

In 12 games last season, Gordon caught 41 passes for 737 yards and four touchdowns.

Gordon has played in just 52 NFL games while battling substance-abuse issues. He has 220 receptions for 3,826 yards and 19 touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

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Titans sign Smith, waive fellow LB Folston

Titans sign Smith, waive fellow LB Folston

Titans sign Smith, waive fellow LB Folston

The Tennessee Titans signed Joshua Smith and waived fellow linebacker James Folston on Friday.

Smith is a local product, having grown up in Murfreesboro (Tenn.) and playing collegiately at Vanderbilt.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, Smith joins undrafted free-agent defensive back LaDarius Wiley as the former Commodores players on Tennessee’s roster.

Smith registered 61 tackles, including eight for loss and 3.5 sacks, and a forced fumble in 12 games during his final season with Vanderbilt. He collected six sacks during his collegiate career and finished with 92 tackles in 40 games.

Folston’s stint with the Titans was a short one.

The 23-year-old, who signed with Tennessee on Monday, was undrafted out of Pittsburgh in May.

Folston recorded 47 total tackles and 1.5 sacks in 43 career games with the Panthers.

–Field Level Media

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Rivers, Chargers plan to wait on contract talks

Rivers, Chargers plan to wait on contract talks

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback

Rivers, Chargers plan to wait on contract talks

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is content to wait on talks of a new deal.

Rivers, who will turn 38 in December, will play in 2019 in the final year of a four-year, $83.25 million contract extension that pays him a base salary of $11 million and includes a no-trade clause.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport wrote Friday that both sides expect a deal will get done after the season for Rivers to remain with the Chargers after his 16th season with the club, although it would be intriguing if he and 42-year-old New England star Tom Brady each fully explored free agency this offseason when their deals expire.

“I think when you get to this point, you do take it one year at a time,” Rivers told NFL Network in training camp. “But I do expect to be playing here next year, that is the expectation. But when you’re 37, you say, ‘OK, let’s focus on this year.’ Then, ‘Let’s focus on next year.’ Take them one at a time.”

Rivers previously has indicated he wants to be with the Chargers when they move into the new stadium they will share with the Rams in Inglewood in 2020.

Rivers is coming off a 12-4 season that ended just short of the AFC title game with a playoff loss to the New England Patriots. He threw for 4,308 yards (ranking eighth in the NFL) with 32 touchdowns (tied for sixth) and 12 interceptions. He finished fifth in the league in passer rating (105.5) and ninth in completion percentage (68.3), while getting selected to the Pro Bowl for the eighth time.

He and general manager Tom Telesco have been on the same page throughout the offseason with their public comments about the quarterback’s future with the Chargers.

“I haven’t seen [a] drop-off in Philip since I arrived here six years ago,” Telesco said in January. “In the six years I’ve been here, he’s even playing better now than when I first got here so I guess the sky’s the limit.”

–Field Level Media

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OT Toth gets military waiver to sign with Eagles

OT Toth gets military waiver to sign with Eagles

Former Army

OT Toth gets military waiver to sign with Eagles

Former Army offensive tackle Brett Toth received a military waiver on Friday and sign a three-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, his agent, Alan Herman, told ESPN.

Toth started to fulfill his service requirement after graduating as a nuclear engineer in May 2018, but a change in policy regarding athletes pursuing professional careers provided an opening for him to request an opportunity to sign with the Eagles.

Toth, who is listed at 6-foot-6 and 291 pounds, played 31 games in college and became the first player from West Point to compete in the Senior Bowl.

Air Force draftee Austin Cutting became the first military graduate to sign with a team in July under President Donald Trump’s change of policy.

The Minnesota Vikings made Cutting, a long snapper, a seventh-round draft pick (250th overall) out of the Air Force Academy in April.

–Field Level Media

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Chargers S James suffers stress fracture in foot

Chargers S James suffers stress fracture in foot

Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James suffered a stress

Chargers S James suffers stress fracture in foot

Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James suffered a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal of his right foot, the team announced Friday.

The team said James will continue to be evaluated, while NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport wrote that the second-year player is expected to miss a “significant amount of time.”

Multiple outlets reported earlier that James was in a walking boot on his right leg during Friday’s practice. He suffered the injury in Thursday’s practice.

James recorded 105 total tackles, 3.5 sacks and three interceptions last season after being selected with the 17th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.

The 23-year-old was the first rookie in franchise history to eclipse 100 tackles.

James excelled in his final season at Florida State in 2017, collecting 84 tackles (5.5 for loss), two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and 11 pass breakups.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Jets LB Williamson tears ACL, out for year

Reports: Jets LB Williamson tears ACL, out for year

Reports: Jets LB Williamson tears ACL, out for year

Jets linebacker Avery Williamson is expected to miss the season with a torn ACL, according to multiple reports.

An MRI exam confirmed the injury Friday morning.

Williamson was expected to start at inside linebacker alongside free-agent signee C.J. Mosley. Either Anthony Wint or Neville Hewitt could step into the starting spot.

The 27-year-old Williamson suffered the injury Thursday night in the Jets’ preseason game against Atlanta when he collided in the second quarter with Falcons cornerback Tevaughn Campbell.

The Tennessee Titans drafted Williamson, a Kentucky product, in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He turned down a four-year, $12 million deal to remain with the Titans when he became a free agent in 2018, instead signing a three-year, $22.5 million contract with the Jets. The contract included a $6 million signing bonus and $16 million in guaranteed money.

He has been remarkably durable in his career, missing just one game over five seasons. In his first season with the Jets, he started all 16 games and made 120 tackles, including six for loss, and had three sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception.

–Field Level Media

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Eagles’ Pederson to remain patient in wake of injuries to QBs

Eagles' Pederson to remain patient in wake of injuries to QBs

Philadelphia

Eagles’ Pederson to remain patient in wake of injuries to QBs

Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson plans to examine his options following an injury to a second backup quarterback in as many preseason games.

Reserve signal-callers Nate Sudfeld and Cody Kessler sustained injuries in consecutive preseason games while starter Carson Wentz effectively has remained a healthy scratch.

Sudfeld is expected to miss a few regular-season games after sustaining a broken bone in his left wrist last week.

Kessler was placed in concussion protocol after four passing attempts in Philadelphia’s 24-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday.

“I don’t know if I have ever been a part in the 14 years I played or been coaching, where we lost two quarterbacks like this in preseason games,” Pederson said. “The beauty is we will get both of them back and we will evaluate Cody in the morning. We still have a lot of preseason weeks to work out a lot of details and, again, make those decisions at the end.”

Rookie Clayton Thorson, a fifth-round pick out of Northwestern, finished 16 of 26 for 175 yards on Thursday with a touchdown — a 38-yarder to Greg Ward Jr. — and an interception.

Sudfeld has completed 20 of 25 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown in three career regular-season games. He played collegiately at Indiana and was the Washington Redskins’ sixth-round pick (No. 187 overall) in 2016.

After the Redskins released Sudfeld in 2017, the Eagles signed him to their practice squad and later put him on the 53-man roster.

Kessler is a former Southern Cal quarterback drafted by the Cleveland Browns who played for the Jacksonville Jaguars last season.

He completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 709 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

–Field Level Med

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Megatron, Harvard team on medical marijuana research

Megatron, Harvard team on medical marijuana research

Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson and ex-NFL lineman Rob

Megatron, Harvard team on medical marijuana research

Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson and ex-NFL lineman Rob Sims are teaming their marijuana company with Harvard University to research the benefits of medical marijuana to treat chronic traumatic encephalopathy, more commonly known as CTE, and pain management.

Johnson and Sims established their marijuana business under the name Primitive and said Thursday at the Cannabis Capital Conference in Detroit that they’re hoping for a long-term relationship with Harvard that leads to paths of healing for NFL brethren and everyday Joes.

Primitive participated in Harvard’s Global Catalyst Health Summit in May and committed to give research money and start a consortium with the brain-performance company NESTRE and Dr. Wilfred Ngwa. NESTRE does brain training with NFL athletes, including former quarterback and current ESPN analyst Josh McCown.

Harvard will provide medical research for Primitive, run clinical trials tied to CTE and pain management all with support from Harvard Medical School.

The medical school will provide support and quality assurance for any co-produced products.

Because CTE is only currently diagnosed postmortem, Johnson and Sims are hopeful Harvard’s medical group can make advancement toward living diagnoses with Primitive assisting in treatment plans.

“As being former athletes, we know there’s some sort of CTE or some sort of damage, 99 percent I think they say in the study,” Sims told ESPN. “So that means I may be walking around with some form of it. It’s really about the hope. Just providing hope, improving the game, making the game safer for former players after they are done. Really just being able to help people.

“I’m a second-generation NFL kid, both my father and father-in-law. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly of what it looks like when you’re done playing ball. If we can help this facet of people suffering from CTE or other cognitive disease, that’s the real goal here.”

Johnson, the six-time Pro Bowl selection, his wife, Brittney Johnson, and Sims were originally denied a license but have since been approved.

Johnson retired from the NFL following his ninth season with Detroit in 2015. He is the franchise’s all-time leader in receptions (731), receiving yards (11,619) and touchdown catches (83).

–Field Level Media

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Rodgers advises Ravens’ Jackson to ‘slide a little bit’

Rodgers advises Ravens' Jackson to 'slide a little bit'

Rodgers advises Ravens’ Jackson to ‘slide a little bit’

Aaron Rodgers liked what he saw out of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson during their preseason game Thursday, although the two-time NFL Most Valuable Player was quick to offer a bit of advice to the promising star.

Jackson had an electric 18-yard touchdown run negated by penalty in the Ravens’ 26-13 win over the Green Bay Packers on Thursday.

“I love watching you play, man. That was pretty spectacular,” Rodgers told Jackson. “Have a great season. Slide a little bit.”

Jackson appeared to appreciate Rodgers’ praise. He pointed at Rodgers and said, “I got you, baby.”

The 22-year-old Jackson played two series during the first quarter before Trace McSorley took over to start the second. Jackson finished 6 of 10 for 58 yards through the air along with two carries for 14 yards.

Jackson wowed the crowd with a juking, hurdling jaunt to the end zone late in the first quarter, but Willie Snead’s illegal blind-side block negated the score.

Jackson was quick to use his legs shortly after replacing Joe Flacco last season. He averaged 17 runs per game and set the NFL single-season record for rushing attempts by a quarterback (147).

Rodgers sat for the second straight week on Thursday, a precautionary move as he deals with back tightness. Backup DeShone Kizer went 5 of 10 for 70 yards before giving way to Tim Boyle early in the second quarter.

–Field Level Media

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Chargers WR Allen (ankle) expected to miss rest of preseason

Chargers WR Allen (ankle) expected to miss rest of preseason

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver

Chargers WR Allen (ankle) expected to miss rest of preseason

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen is expected to miss the remainder of the preseason after sustaining an ankle injury during practice this week.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Chargers plan to be cautious with Allen, although the team doesn’t consider the injury to be serious.

Allen is expected to be ready for the season opener against the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 8, Schefter reported, citing an undisclosed source.

The 27-year-old Allen did not participate in the Chargers’ joint practice with the New Orleans Saints on Thursday, with coach Anthony Lynn telling reporters that the wideout’s absence was because he was “sore.” Lynn did not address Allen’s ankle.

The injury reportedly is the second this month for Allen, who banged his knee during a joint practice with the Los Angeles Rams.

Allen has played in all 16 games over the past two seasons after missing 23 contests due to injury from 2015-16. He missed the final few weeks of the 2015 season after sustaining a lacerated kidney and the final 15 games of the 2016 season after tearing his ACL in the season opener.

Allen led the Chargers with 97 receptions for 1,196 yards last season. He also had six touchdown receptions, which were second on the team.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Cards CB Alford (leg) out two months

Report: Cards CB Alford (leg) out two months

Arizona Cardinals cornerback

Report: Cards CB Alford (leg) out two months

Arizona Cardinals cornerback Robert Alford will miss “about two months” due to a lower leg injury, ESPN reported Thursday night.

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters after Thursday night’s preseason loss to the Oakland Raiders that Alford would miss “an extended amount of time,” but did not provide further details.

Alford, 30, hurt his leg during practice earlier this week. A two-month absence would keep him out of Arizona’s first six regular-season games, the same stretch during which All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson will serve his suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

Alford joined the Cardinals on a three-year, $22.5 million deal in February after being released by the Atlanta Falcons. He has missed just two games over the last four seasons and eight total during his first six NFL seasons.

A second-round pick by Atlanta in 2013, Alford had 10 interceptions and 85 pass breakups in 88 career games (76 starts).

–Field Level Media

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