Purdue QBs resume battle after returning from injuries

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — David Blough and Elijah Sindelar are already locked in.

With offseason workouts over and their banged-up bodies finally healthy, they’re eager to start Round 2 of Purdue’s quarterback battle.

“It’s a little different this year because Elijah kind of established himself a little more (last season),” quarterbacks coach Brian Brohm said. “David was getting most of the reps last year (in camp), and now it’s more 50-50. Both of these guys have a great understanding of our offense, so they can do some things for us.”

Both also have plenty to prove.

At 6-foot-4, 216 pounds, Sindelar has a prototypical body and a strong enough arm to help the Boilermakers execute the down-field passing game coach Jeff Brohm wants to see in his second season with the Boilermakers.

Last year, he narrowly lost the starting job in camp though both continued to play in a rotation. Eventually, Sindelar wound up starting eight times and led Purdue to its second postseason victory in a decade.

He finished the season 187 of 329 with 2,099 yards, 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions despite playing the last 3 1/2 games on a torn ACL in his left knee and somehow managed to win three of the four. Sindelar had surgery in December, missed all of spring workouts and didn’t fully return until practice opened Wednesday.

Naturally, he was a little rusty.

“I think right now we’re a little overhyped, everyone needs to relax,” Sindelar said after Thursday’s practice. “At the beginning of Day 1, my release point was high, probably because the Big Ten Network cameras were here. But I’ve calmed down.”

Blough has more experience, starting games 24 career games.

What the coaches want to see is more consistency.

At times, the Texan has shown why he was such a highly-touted recruit. But the 6-1, 195-pound fifth-year senior has a career completion percentage of 58.5 percent with 44 TD passes and 33 interceptions — too many for the coaching staff.

So Brohm, the quarterbacks coach is working with Blough to become more elusive in the pocket with the hope he’ll be able to see the field better and cut down on the turnovers.

Health is another concern.

He missed the 2015 season finale with a head injury and suffered a dislocated right ankle in November 2017. But Blough pushed hard to return for spring practice, figuring it was the best way to stay in the mix and he looked like his old self on the first day of camp.

“Who’s to say where I’d be if I didn’t get to practice in the spring? I’m just thankful I’m out here and able to go and be around these guys,” the fifth-year senior said. “To get back where I was, I needed to do it to get my best shot at being the starter.”

The stakes this year could be far greater, too.

With some cornerstone players missing off a vastly improved defense and two of their top three receivers lost to graduation, Purdue will more rely heavily on its quarterbacks this season.

And with an Aug. 30 season opener looming against Northwestern, Purdue needs to make the right call right out of the box. The final decision could be made about Aug. 20, though an announcement may not come until the lineups are announced.

So far, though, Brian Brohm likes what he’s seen. He just needs to see more of it.

“With Elijah we need to see the consistency from play-to-play. Some plays, it’s like ‘Wow, that’s really special.’ There are others where he’s a little off,” Brohm said “With David, it’s all about staying calm with pressure in his face, to slip and slide without panicking.

“I think both have shown grit and toughness,” he added. “I think David really has the respect of the team and I think Elijah has proven a lot.”

___

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Chiefs TE Kelce on schedule for training camp

Chiefs TE Kelce on schedule for training camp

Chiefs TE Kelce on schedule for training camp

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce expects to be 100 percent at the start of training camp next month.

Kelce said he’ll be fully recovered from offseason ankle surgery when the Chiefs take the field at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Mo.

“I’m ready to go,” Kelce said. “It’s kind of been a little bit of an experience just not being able to really go out there and train for the upcoming season quite yet. I don’t know if I’ve had an injury that hasn’t allowed me to get on the field, at least a little bit in the offseason, outside of my knee surgery my first year.”

Kelce, 29, was named All-Pro in 2018 — he caught 103 passes for 1,336 yards and 10 touchdowns — and described the offseason as “frustrating.” The Chiefs lost to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game, and Kelce has spent the entire offseason as an observer.

“Right now, just getting healthy is the main thing, and I think we’re there. I think by the time training camp comes around, I’ll be 100 percent,” Kelce said.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Pats accuse Texans of tampering with Caserio

Reports: Pats accuse Texans of tampering with Caserio

The

Reports: Pats accuse Texans of tampering with Caserio

The Patriots filed tampering charges against the Texans and the league opened an investigation, according to multiple reports Wednesday, regarding Houston’s attempts to hire New England director of player personnel Nick Caserio as its new general manager.

The Texans fired former GM Brian Gaine on Friday, 17 months after giving him a five-year contract and one day after the Patriots’ Super Bowl ring ceremony. According to multiple reports, new Texans executive vice president of team development Jack Easterby — the Patriots’ former team chaplain — was at Thursday’s ring ceremony, as was Caserio.

Asked Tuesday if he or Easterby had contact with Caserio or his representatives before Gaine’s firing, Texans head coach Bill O’Brien told reporters, “I would say that the answer to that is no relative to contact about anything having to do with the Houston Texans. No.”

The Texans have formally requested permission to interview Caserio, just as they did in January of 2018, when the Patriots denied the request and the Texans moved on to hire Gaine.

Caserio, 43, has held his position since 2008 as the top personnel man for Bill Belichick, who has final authority on personnel decisions. He is also close with O’Brien, who coached in New England from 2007 to 2011.

Caserio has turned down numerous overtures for GM jobs in the past, though he was allowed to interview with the Miami Dolphins in 2014. He is widely considered the favorite for the Texans’ job if he is interested.

Houston has reportedly interviewed San Francisco 49ers vice president of player personnel Martin Mayhew — the former Detroit Lions GM — and former Cleveland Browns GM Ray Farmer for the opening.

–Field Level Media

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Cowboys WR Cooper says he won’t hold out

Cowboys WR Cooper says he won't hold out

Cowboys WR Cooper says he won’t hold out

Preparing for his first training camp with the Dallas Cowboys, wide receiver Amari Cooper is also entering the final season of his rookie contract.

However, the 24-year-old is far more focused on his team than his contract, and he vows to continue to practice through the offseason and not hold out in hopes of forcing the Cowboys’ hand.

“I just handle my business,” Cooper told reporters Wednesday at the Cowboys’ minicamp in Frisco, Texas. “I’m more anxious about camp and actually playing football. …

“I just want to get better and I love football. That’s why I’m here. I love coming out here doing seven-on-seven, routes on air, team periods and being able to showcase my ability. To be able to run routes, that’s like the greatest thing to me. It’s kind of like an art to me. It’s like a painter drawing or something like that. That’s how I feel every time I run a route.”

The Cowboys acquired Cooper from the Oakland Raiders last October in exchange for a 2019 first-round pick. After grabbing 22 balls for 280 yards and one touchdown in six games with Oakland, Cooper was a revelation for Dallas. In nine games, the 2015 first-round pick had 53 catches for 725 yards and six touchdowns, earning his third Pro Bowl selection despite the limited time with the team.

Drafted fourth overall out of Alabama by the Raiders in 2015, Cooper had consecutive 1,000-yard seasons — and consecutive Pro Bowl berths — in his first two seasons. But his numbers dipped in his third season in 2017 (48 catches and 680 yards — though he did score seven touchdowns), and when new coach Jon Gruden took over in 2018, his days in Oakland were numbered.

He is due $13.9 million for the 2019 season thanks to his fifth-year option. Odell Beckham is the highest-paid receiver in the league currently, making $18 million per season as he approaches his first season with the Cleveland Browns.

Antonio Brown ($16.7 million), Mike Evans ($16.5 million) and DeAndre Hopkins ($16.2 million) are next on the list. And receivers including Julio Jones, Mike Thomas and A.J. Green are also in talks for new deals with their teams.

But when it comes to measuring his contract against those of other receivers, Cooper said, “I ain’t counting nobody’s pockets.”

–Field Level Media

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Post-Gronk Patriots trade for TE Roberts

Post-Gronk Patriots trade for TE Roberts

New England added tight end Michael Roberts in a

Post-Gronk Patriots trade for TE Roberts

New England added tight end Michael Roberts in a trade with the Detroit Lions, agreed to on Thursday.

According to multiple reports, the Lions are owed a seventh-round pick in return.

The Patriots are shuffling into life after Rob Gronkowski at tight end with significant uncertainty. Roberts, entering his third season, was a fourth-round pick out of Toledo in 2017.

Matt LaCosse, who caught one touchdown in 15 games for the Denver Broncos last season, lined up with the first-team offense at mandatory mincamp for the Patriots this week. With Gronkowski retired, New England is counting on 38-year-old Benjamin Watson to hold off Father Time another year. But Watson, who was lured out of retirement, is suspended the first four games of the 2019 season.

Detroit drafted T.J. Hockenson in the first round, spent a seventh-round pick on Isaac Nauta and signed free agent Jesse James to fill out the tight end depth chart.

Gronkowski, 30, retired in March, taking his 79 career TD receptions and one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets out of the offensive gameplan.

–Field Level Media

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Ex-NFL lineman Bennett found dead; son charged

Ex-NFL lineman Bennett found dead; son charged

Authorities have

Ex-NFL lineman Bennett found dead; son charged

Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for a 22-year-old man accused of killing his parents, retired NFL lineman Barry Bennett and his wife, who were found dead earlier this week in their Minnesota home.

The Todd County (Minn.) Sheriff’s Office announced Friday that it is seeking the public’s help in finding Dylan John Bennett. ESPN reported Friday afternoon that authorities believe he fled to Mexico.

The bodies of Barry Bennett, 63, and his 66-year-old wife, Carol, were found in their home in Long Prairie, Minn., on Wednesday. They were discovered after authorities went to their house on a welfare check requested by a friend.

Both victims were shot, ESPN reported, adding that Barry Bennett reported in December that his son had been in a mental health facility and discussed killing his parents.

The elder Bennett played 11 seasons in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints (1978-81), New York Jets (1982-88) and Minnesota Vikings (1988). He appeared in 132 games and posted 18.5 sacks in his career.

A product of Concordia College in Minnesota, he was a native of Saint Paul, Minn. After his NFL stint ended, he had a second career as a physical education teacher, the Star Tribune reported.

Jim Christopherson, who coached Barry Bennett at Concordia, told the Pioneer Press that Dylan Bennett was adopted by the couple. He said Dylan recently graduated from Bemidji State University and had found a job in China.

The Vikings tweeted their condolences on Friday afternoon.

“We are saddened by the tragic loss of former Vikings player Barry Bennett and his wife, Carol. Our thoughts are with their friends and family during this difficult time,” the Vikings said.

–Field Level Media

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Roethlisberger to play vs. Titans

Roethlisberger to play vs. Titans

Roethlisberger to play vs. Titans

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will see his first preseason action of the summer in Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans.

Coach Mike Tomlin confirmed Roethlisberger’s expected participation on Friday after the 37-year-old quarterback said earlier in the week that he was “pretty sure” he’d play against the Titans.

Tomlin did not divulge whether Josh Dobbs or Mason Rudolph would immediately replace Roethlisberger on Sunday.

Roethlisberger will lead a new-look offense this season, with disgruntled stars Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown playing elsewhere. Running back Bell held out last season, opted for free agency and signed with the New York Jets while wideout Brown was traded to the Oakland Raiders.

Despite the distractions, Roethlisberger posted his best statistical season in 2018 — his 15th as a starter — leading the league and setting career highs in completions (452), attempts (675) and passing yards (5,129) and tossing a career-high 34 touchdown passes. The Steelers missed the playoffs, however, at 9-6-1.

The Steelers’ first-round pick (11th overall) in 2004, Roethlisberger is a two-time Super Bowl champion and six-time Pro Bowl selection. He ranks sixth in NFL history in passing yards (56,194) and seventh in touchdown passes (363).

–Field Level Media

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Seahawks WR Moore injures shoulder in practice

Seahawks WR Moore injures shoulder in practice

Seahawks WR Moore injures shoulder in practice

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver David Moore sustained a shoulder injury in practice and is not expected to be ready for the Sept. 8 season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, coach Pete Carroll announced Friday.

Carroll said that Moore would be out for “a while” after he was injured on Thursday.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that the 24-year-old Moore is receiving a second opinion on the injury.

Moore was expected to play a larger role this season after recording 26 catches for 445 yards and five touchdowns in 16 games (seven starts) in 2018.

The five receiving scores tied Moore for second on the team with Jaron Brown and two-time Pro Bowl selection Doug Baldwin

Baldwin was released by the team on May 9 and announced his retirement three days later.

–Field Level Media

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Packers WR St. Brown (ankle) could miss six weeks

Packers WR St. Brown (ankle) could miss six weeks

Packers WR St. Brown (ankle) could miss six weeks

Green Bay Packers receiver Equanimeous St. Brown sustained a sprained left ankle in the team’s preseason game in Winnipeg and could be sidelined up to six weeks, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Friday.

St. Brown needed assistance to leave the field in Thursday’s 22-21 loss to the Oakland Raiders in Winnipeg, where turf conditions forced the NFL to play on an 80-yard field.

The 22-year-old St. Brown caught 21 passes for 328 yards during his rookie season after being selected in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

St. Brown is part of an improved wide receiver corps in Green Bay, which consists of star Davante Adams as well as Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Geronimo Allison, Jake Kumerow, Trevor Davis, Allen Lazard and undrafted rookie Darrius Shepherd, among others.

— Field Level Media

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Titans LT Lewan loses appeal, will serve four-game ban

Titans LT Lewan loses appeal, will serve four-game ban

Tennessee Titans left

Titans LT Lewan loses appeal, will serve four-game ban

Tennessee Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan lost his appeal and received a four-game suspension for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances, the league announced Friday.

Lewan acknowledged last month over social media that he tested positive for the banned substance ostarine. The 28-year-old posted apparent polygraph results on Instagram to detail that he didn’t knowingly use the substance.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Lewan is eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games. He will be allowed to return to the Titans’ roster on Monday, Sept. 30, following the team’s Week 4 contest at Atlanta.

Lewan signed a five-year, $80 million contract last season to become the highest-paid tackle in the league.

He has played in 73 games (68 starts) since being selected by Tennessee with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Pats file tampering charges vs. Texans

NFL notebook: Pats file tampering charges vs. Texans

The Patriots filed tampering charges against the Texans

NFL notebook: Pats file tampering charges vs. Texans

The Patriots filed tampering charges against the Texans and the NFL opened an investigation, according to multiple reports Wednesday, regarding Houston’s attempts to hire New England director of player personnel Nick Caserio as its new general manager.

The Texans fired former GM Brian Gaine on Friday, 17 months after giving him a five-year contract and one day after the Patriots’ Super Bowl ring ceremony. According to multiple reports, new Texans executive vice president of team development Jack Easterby — the Patriots’ former team chaplain — was at Thursday’s ring ceremony, as was Caserio.

Asked Tuesday if he or Easterby had contact with Caserio or his representatives before Gaine’s firing, Texans head coach Bill O’Brien told reporters, “I would say that the answer to that is not relative to contact about anything having to do with the Houston Texans. No.”

The Texans have formally requested permission to interview Caserio, just as they did in January 2018, when the Patriots denied the request and the Texans moved on to hire Gaine.

–Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster wishes Antonio Brown’s run in Pittsburgh — which ended with his trade to the Oakland Raiders — had resolved more amicably.

Brown left Pittsburgh, torch in hand, criticizing management, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and other team leaders. He didn’t exactly share kind words about Smith-Schuster, either.

“The man’s a role model. In that situation, I didn’t want it to end like that,” Smith-Schuster said. “I have no hard feelings against him. Obviously if we’re ever in the same room, I’m going to say what’s up to him. I think hatred is a huge word to use against somebody. At the end of the day, he’s a great player, he comes out every day with work ethic. He worked hard. Other than that, I don’t have anything toward him like that.”

–The Kansas City Chiefs signed right tackle Mitchell Schwartz to a one-year extension, putting him under contract through 2021.

NFL Network reported the extra year is worth $11,255,000, with Schwartz’s 2019 and 2020 salaries fully guaranteed.

Schwartz, who was named first-team All-Pro in 2018, was scheduled to make $6.6 million in both 2019 and 2020, with a cap hit of $8 million in each season. It’s unclear if the contract structure in 2019 and 2020 was affected.

–Running back Sony Michel underwent minor knee surgery, causing him to miss offseason workouts with the Patriots, according to multiple reports.

A reason for his absence had not previously been revealed. The date of the knee scope was not announced, but NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said Michel should be ready for training camp next month.

Michel wasn’t seen at any of the Patriots practices that were open to the media, including minicamp last week, during the offseason.

–The Tennessee Titans will retire quarterback Steve McNair’s No. 9 jersey and running back Eddie George’s No. 27 during the Sept. 15 home opener.

The pair, who led the Titans to Super Bowl XXXIV, will be the first to have their jerseys retired after playing primarily for the Titans, since the team was rebranded from the Oilers in 1999.

Hall of Fame offensive tackle Bruce Matthews (No. 74) played five of his 19 seasons in Tennessee — after the team moved from Houston in 1997 — and three as a Titan, but none of the franchise’s other five with retired numbers played more recently than 1993.

–The Chicago Bears waived former Pitt kicker Chris Blewitt, one of three kickers at mandatory minicamp.

A day earlier, with the whole team and about 25 former Bears gathered to watch, all three kickers missed a 42-yard attempt.

“Um, whatever went through your mind went through my mind,” coach Matt Nagy said of the missed kicks. “Yeah, no, I mean, that’s about as real as it gets. They were 0-for-3 out there. For today, we can’t have that. We are going to figure this thing out, but 0-for-3 today, no good.”

–Baltimore Ravens first-round wideout Marquise Brown was cleared for individual drills, allowing him to practice with teammates for the first time.

Brown didn’t do much, but his progress in his recovery from a Lisfranc injury has him on track to be ready for training camp.

The Ravens drafted Brown 25th overall out of Oklahoma in April.

–Field Level Media

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Titans to retire jerseys for McNair, George

Titans to retire jerseys for McNair, George

The Tennessee Titans will retire quarterback Steve McNair's

Titans to retire jerseys for McNair, George

The Tennessee Titans will retire quarterback Steve McNair’s No. 9 jersey and running back Eddie George’s No. 27 during the Sept. 15 home opener, the team announced Wednesday.

The pair, which led the Titans to Super Bowl XXXIV, will be the first to have their jerseys retired after playing primarily for the Titans, since the team was rebranded from the Oilers in 1999.

Hall of Fame offensive tackle Bruce Matthews (No. 74) played five of his 19 seasons in Tennessee — after the team moved from Houston in 1997 — and three as a Titan, but none of the franchise’s other five with retired numbers played more recently than 1993.

“Steve and Eddie will be forever linked as two of the driving forces for our team in the late 90’s and early 2000’s,” owner Amy Adams Strunk said in a statement. “They were the heart and soul of the team and each made the other a better player and ultimately led to a great deal of team success. Their statistics will forever live in our record books, but their play and sacrifice is what our fans will always remember.”

McNair, who was tragically shot and killed in 2009, was drafted third overall by the then-Houston Oilers in 1995 and went on to start 131 of 139 games across 11 seasons with the franchise, throwing for 31,304 yards, 174 touchdowns and 119 interceptions, reaching three Pro Bowls and sharing MVP honors with Peyton Manning in 2003.

His number has not been worn by a Titan since he was traded to the Baltimore Ravens in 2006.

George, 45, was drafted 14th overall in 1996 and started all 128 games over eight seasons with the Titans, earning four Pro Bowl nods and All-Pro honors in 2000.

His number was been worn just once since he left Tennessee for the Dallas Cowboys in 2004, when running back Chris Henry used it briefly in 2009.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Pats’ Michel had knee scope, will be ready for camp

Reports: Pats' Michel had knee scope, will be ready for camp

Reports: Pats’ Michel had knee scope, will be ready for camp

Running back Sony Michel underwent minor knee surgery, causing him to miss offseason workouts with the New England Patriots, according to multiple reports Wednesday.

A reason for his absence had not been revealed.

The date of the knee scope was not announced, but NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said Michel should be ready for training camp next month.

Michel wasn’t seen at any of the Patriots practices that were open to the media, including minicamp last week, during the offseason.

The No. 31 overall draft pick in 2018, Michel has had a variety of knee issues. He tore an ACL in high school, then had a knee strain at Georgia in 2017.

He missed the first game of the 2018 season after having a knee procedure as training camp opened, and he missed two more games later in the year.

In 13 games, he rushed for 931 yards with six touchdowns. In three playoff games, including the Super Bowl, he had 336 yards rushing and six more TDs.

–Field Level Media

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Trademark denied: Pats’ Brady can’t claim ‘Tom Terrific’

Trademark denied: Pats' Brady can't claim 'Tom Terrific'

The U.S.

Trademark denied: Pats’ Brady can’t claim ‘Tom Terrific’

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied Tom Brady’s application to trademark “Tom Terrific.”

The New England Patriots quarterback sought to trademark the phrase because he wanted to keep others from marketing that nickname in connection with him.

When news of his application got out in June, however, it caused a furor among fans of Tom Seaver, the Hall of Fame pitcher who got the nickname as a member of the New York Mets from 1967 to 1977.

And that’s just why the patent office rejected the trademark, stating “the applied-for mark consists of or includes matter which may falsely suggest a connection with Tom Seaver.”

The ruling, dated Thursday, continued: “Although Tom Seaver is not connected with the goods provided by applicant under the applied-for mark, Tom Seaver is so well-known that consumers would presume a connection.”

Brady said in June that it never was his intention to encroach on Seaver’s legacy.

“It’s unfortunate,” Brady said. “I was actually trying to do something because I didn’t like the nickname, and I wanted to make sure no one used it, because some people wanted to use it.

“I was trying to keep people from using it, and then it got spun around to something different than what it is. Good lesson learned, and I’ll try to do things a little different in the future.”

Brady has six months to respond to the rejection. If he doesn’t, the application will be closed.

–Field Level Media

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Dolphins’ Flores taunts activist/WR Stills with Jay-Z playlist

Dolphins' Flores taunts activist/WR Stills with Jay-Z playlist

Dolphins’ Flores taunts activist/WR Stills with Jay-Z playlist

Brian Flores decided to pump up the volume on wide receiver Kenny Stills’ disdain for Jay-Z with a practice playlist the Miami Dolphins’ head coach said was intended to challenge the veteran receiver to perform under pressure.

One day after Stills — he has been outspoken regarding social activism and criticized owner Stephen Ross’ support of President Donald Trump — called out Jay-Z for saying he was “past kneeling,” the Dolphins came to practice and heard eight straight Jay-Z tunes. They were selected by Flores.

When the playlist ended, Flores challenged Stills in front of the team to put up or shut up.

“We talked about it in-house and he handled it in-house,” Stills, 27, said. “For the most part, I think it was him seeing if I could handle if people were going to heckle me or play Jay-Z in another stadium if I could be mentally strong enough to handle that sort of treatment. I’ve been dealing with this since 2016 — music, boos, racial slurs. So I don’t think a little Jay-Z music is going to ruffle my feathers that bad.”

Flores defended his choice of music and motivational ploys on Thursday.

“It was a challenge to Kenny to perform regardless of whatever is going on outside,” Flores said of playing the Jay-Z songs. “I would say, and I said this to him, he hasn’t performed up to that level over the course of training camp, or as I’ve seen. So that was the challenge — to get open, catch the football and make plays for this team, regardless of what’s going on outside of this building.”

Flores grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and said his stance on social activism is not a part of what he brings to practices. He said he supports those who use their voice — because they’re telling his own story.

“I’m a son of immigrants. I’m black. I grew up poor. I grew up in New York during the stop-and-frisk era. So I’ve been stopped because I fit a description before. So everything that these guys protest, I’ve lived it, I’ve experienced it. So I applaud those guys’ protest,” Flores said. “So whether it’s (Colin) Kaepernick, or Eric Reid or Kenny, I applaud those guys. I told Kenny that in our meeting in front of the entire team.

“I don’t know how many people have, but I lived it. So I understand why guys protest. And it’s important. And you know what else is important to me? There’s 89 guys in that locker room who are counting on Kenny to get open, catch the football and perform for this team.”

–Field Level Media

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Panthers ‘optimistic’ Newton can play in opener

Panthers 'optimistic' Newton can play in opener

Panthers ‘optimistic’ Newton can play in opener

The Carolina Panthers are “cautiously optimistic” that Cam Newton will be able to play in the season opener after the quarterback sustained a foot injury during Thursday night’s preseason game, general manager Marty Hurney said.

“Cam Newton has a mid-foot sprain in his left foot, and we are cautiously optimistic he will be ready for Week 1,” Hurney said on Friday.

Newton sustained the injury on a sack in the first quarter of Carolina’s 10-3 preseason loss to the New England Patriots.

The 2015 NFL Most Valuable Player limped off the field before retreating to the locker room. Newton exited the stadium in a walking boot.

Newton was making his preseason debut, his game first action since having shoulder surgery in April. He went 4-of-6 passing for 30 yards, taking two sacks, before departing.

Newton, 30, is entering his ninth NFL season. He completed 67.9 percent of his passes for 3,395 yards, 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 14 games last season, missing the final two due to the shoulder injury.

The Panthers open the regular season Sept. 8 against the visiting Los Angeles Rams.

–Field Level Media

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Colts QB Brissett expected to sit out vs. Bears

Colts QB Brissett expected to sit out vs. Bears

Colts QB Brissett expected to sit out vs. Bears

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett is expected to sit out Saturday’s preseason game against the Chicago Bears.

The decision to keep Brissett under wraps comes as questions surround the availability of fellow quarterback Andrew Luck for the season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sept. 8.

Luck, who is dealing with injuries to his left calf and high ankle, previously had been ruled out of playing in any preseason games.

“At some level, we want to protect Jacoby anyway, to be honest with you, regardless of Andrew’s status,” coach Frank Reich said Thursday. “Because in theory, even if Andrew is playing Week 1, he still hasn’t taken a lot of reps. So we’re still going to protect Jacoby anyway.”

Brissett started 15 games for the Colts in Luck’s absence in 2017, with the team going 4-11 in that stretch.

Brissett, 26, completed 58.8 percent of his passes for 3,098 yards with 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2017. He also rushed for 260 yards and four scores.

— Field Level Media

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Giants’ Shurmur: ‘Eli’s our starter’

Giants' Shurmur: 'Eli's our starter'

New

Giants’ Shurmur: ‘Eli’s our starter’

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning remains the team’s starting quarterback despite another strong showing by rookie Daniel Jones, coach Pat Shurmur announced Friday.

Shurmur stopped short of declaring the 38-year-old Manning as the starter for the season opener against Dallas immediately following Thursday’s 25-23 preseason win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

That, apparently, prompted reporters to bring up quarterback concerns during a conference call on Friday morning.

“Eli’s our starter, and we’re getting Daniel ready to play,” Shurmur said. “(Jones) has done a good job in the preseason. He’s getting better and he’s going to do continue to do that, so that at whatever time we need him to play, he’ll be ready.”

Jones was ready on Thursday, completing 9 of 11 pass attempts for 141 yards in four series. The sixth overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft is 25 of 30 for 369 yards and two touchdowns during the preseason.

Manning is 8-23 as the starter over the past two seasons, throwing 40 touchdown passes and 24 interceptions during that span.

The four-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time Super Bowl champion enters his 16th NFL season ranked seventh all-time in passing yards (55,981) and eighth in TD passes (360).

–Field Level Media

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Ex-NFL lineman Bennett found dead; son sought

Ex-NFL lineman Bennett found dead; son sought

Authorities are

Ex-NFL lineman Bennett found dead; son sought

Authorities are looking for a 22-year-old man in connection with the death of retired NFL lineman Barry Bennett and his wife, who were found dead earlier this week in their Minnesota home.

The Todd County (Minn.) Sheriff’s Office announced Friday that it is seeking the public’s help in finding Dylan John Bennett. His car was located outside the state, officials said.

The bodies of Barry Bennett, 63, and his 66-year-old wife, Carol, were found in their home in Long Prairie, Minn., on Wednesday. They were discovered after authorities went to their home on a welfare check requested by a friend.

The cause of death remains under investigation, the sheriff’s office said Friday.

Bennett played 11 seasons in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints (1978-81), New York Jets (1982-88) and Minnesota Vikings (1988). He appeared in 132 games and posted 18.5 sacks in his career.

A product of Concordia College in Minnesota, he was a native of the state. After his NFL stint ended, he had a second career as a physical education teacher, the Star Tribune reported.

Jim Christopherson, who coached Barry Bennett at Concordia, told the Pioneer Press that Dylan Bennett was adopted by the couple. He said Dylan recently graduated from Bemidji State University and had found a job in China.

The Vikings tweeted their condolences on Friday afternoon.

“We are saddened by the tragic loss of former Vikings player Barry Bennett and his wife, Carol. Our thoughts are with their friends and family during this difficult time,” the Vikings said.

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs sign RT Schwartz to extension

Chiefs sign RT Schwartz to extension

Chiefs sign RT Schwartz to extension

The Kansas City Chiefs signed right tackle Mitchell Schwartz to a one-year extension, putting him under contract through 2021, Schwartz’s agent said Wednesday.

Agent Mike McCartney announced the one-year deal on Twitter.

NFL Network reported the extra year is worth $11.255 million, with Schwartz’s 2019 and 2020 salaries fully guaranteed. Schwartz was scheduled to make $6.6 million in both 2019 and 2020, with a cap hit of $8 million in each season.

It’s unclear if the contract structure in 2019 and 2020 was affected.

The highest paid offensive lineman in NFL history, Trent Brown, averages $16.5 million annually and will play right tackle for Oakland this season after playing on the left side for New England last year. The highest-paid full-time right tackle, Denver’s Ja’Wuan James, averages $12.75 million annually.

Schwartz, who turned 30 last week, was named first-team All-Pro in 2018, the first such honor of his career. He has never missed an NFL snap in seven seasons, spending his first four with the Cleveland Browns and the last three with the Chiefs after arriving in free agency.

According to STATS LLC, Schwartz has allowed just 2.5 sacks and committed four penalties in three out of the last four seasons.

–Field Level Media

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Bears cut Blewitt, search for kicker continues

Bears cut Blewitt, search for kicker continues

Bears cut Blewitt, search for kicker continues

Chicago’s search for a kicker hit the upright again at minicamp.

The Bears waived former Pitt kicker Chris Blewitt on Wednesday, one of three kickers at mandatory minicamp. On Tuesday, with the whole team and about 25 former Bears gathered to watch, all three kickers missed a 42-yard attempt.

“Um, whatever went through your mind went through my mind,” head coach Matt Nagy said of the missed kicks. “Yeah, no, I mean, that’s about as real as it gets. They were 0-for-3 out there. For today, we can’t have that. We are going to figure this thing out but 0-for-3 today, no good.”

Still under contract are Eddy Pineiro, acquired from the Oakland Raiders, and former AAF kicker Elliott Fry, but the Bears aren’t satisfied with those options as training camp looms.

“We talk it through and we figure it out and we do everything we possibly can to make sure that in the end, when we get to the very end, we have the right guy there,” Nagy said.

The Bears cut Cody Parkey, who missed a 43-yard attempt that would have given Chicago a win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the wild-card round of the playoffs. Instead, the Bears lost 16-15 after Parkey missed the kick with seconds remaining.

The Bears have actively searched for a new starting place-kicker since the club cut Parkey.

Parkey missed seven field goal attempts and three extra points in the regular season.

–Field Level Media

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