Quinn: Falcons have right mindset to recover from 1-3 start

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons are 1-3 and facing another tough challenge this week.

Coach Dan Quinn, in his fourth season, has been in this situation before and still led the Falcons to the playoffs.

“My guess is in December and January we’ll look back on these games much like we do in past years,” Quinn said Monday. “In ’17 we had a tough stretch with Buffalo, Miami and New England, or the year before in the opener when the sky was falling externally. I want you to know inside it’s not.”

Quinn insists the Falcons have the right mindset to turn the season around, but their defense must make some quick fixes if Atlanta is to stop a two-game skid with a victory Sunday at Pittsburgh. The Falcons gave up 80 points the last two weeks at home, allowing New Orleans and Cincinnati to overcome late deficits in the closing seconds.

“The best thing about our team is the attitude that they’re in it for one another and the togetherness that it’s going to take,” Quinn said. “We’ll just throw all of our focus, all of our attention right into right now, and that’ll be this week’s preparation. But I will say you’ve got to learn from these.”

Injuries have caused matchup problems for the defense. Starting safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen are out for the season, and middle linebacker Deion Jones, the defensive captain, had foot surgery and will miss at least the next six weeks.

The Falcons have plugged in Damontae Kazee at strong safety. He took 73 snaps, tied with cornerback Robert Alford for the most on Sunday, and had his first career interception. Rookie Isaiah Oliver, a second-round draft pick, made his first career start and manned both free safety and cornerback.

The loss of Neal and Allen hurt most against the Bengals when the Falcons lined up in nickel. Longtime starting cornerback Desmond Trufant, usually a regular on the left side, moved to the slot while Brian Poole went from nickel to safety and Oliver went to left cornerback.

It all unraveled on the last drive.

With 1:30 remaining, defensive end Vic Beasley sacked Andy Dalton to force and recover a fumble, but the ruling was changed and Cincinnati kept the ball. Trufant dropped an interception on the next play and defended a third-down pass before Tyler Boyd beat him for a fourth-down catch to the Atlanta 24.

After Boyd and Dalton beat Trufant for another fourth-down completion, the Bengals used their last timeout with 12 seconds remaining. They had no choice but to throw the ball into the end zone on the next play. That way, if it wasn’t successful, they would get a chance at one last snap.

Defensive coordinator Marquand Manual quickly switched the Falcons from man to zone coverage, which might have worked if Oliver hadn’t let A.J. Green streak behind him and emerge wide open for the winning catch.

It was a big mistake, leaving a rookie with a chance to be out of position against Green, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection.

“In that moment, in that part of the field, you want (Oliver) to play it from high to low,” Quinn said. “As opposed to a communication error, that was a technique error. Those scars aren’t fun.”

Quinn was also disappointed that Dalton threw a pair of easy TD passes in the first half when Tyler Eifert and John Ross were wide open.

“Correction-wise we allowed two touchdowns on two-seam routes, and we know that we certainly haven’t seen that happen against our defense and the style that we play,” Quinn said. “So for us to foul up those two, that part we know we can get corrected.”

NOTES: Quinn hopes that RB Devonta Freeman and DE Derrick Shelby will be full participants when the Falcons return to practice Wednesday. Freeman has missed three straight games with a right knee injury. Shelby has been out two games with a groin injury. DT Grady Jarrett is still being evaluated after leaving the final drive with an ankle injury.

___

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Indianapolis Colts training camp primer

Indianapolis Colts training camp primer

New faces: DE Justin

Indianapolis Colts training camp primer

New faces: DE Justin Houston, WR Devin Funchess, RB Spencer Ware, CB Rock Ya-Sin, LB Ben Banogu, WR Parris Campbell, LB Bobby Okereke

They’re gone: WR Dontrelle Inman, DT Al Woods, WR Ryan Grant, S J.J. Wilcox, G Matt Slauson, S Mike Mitchell

2019 snapshot: With more than $45 million still remaining in cap space, the Colts certainly could have gone bigger in free agency.

Trey Flowers, Earl Thomas, Ndamukong Suh and Le’Veon Bell were all realistic options, and Indianapolis probably could have nabbed two of them. But GM Chris Ballard is committed to smart, patient building, and it’s hard to question that approach after he orchestrated the Colts’ bounce-back season in 2018.

Ballard did pay up for Houston (two years, $24 million), who immediately brings a pass-rush presence the team hasn’t had since Robert Mathis retired, and on extensions for CBs Pierre Desir (three years, $22.5 million) and Kenny Moore (four years, $34 million). He also kept S Clayton Geathers (one year, $2.8 million) and DT Margus Hunt (two years, $9 million) on modest deals. The biggest surprise was the one-year, $10 million deal (with $3 million in incentives) for Funchess, who fell out of favor in Carolina.

Ballard didn’t do anything fancy in the draft, either, trading down a few times to collect a war chest of picks and spending them mostly on defensive talents. Ya-Sin, Okereke and Banogu will compete to start from Day 1, with all likely to have at least a rotational role early on. The lone offensive pick, Campbell, will be one of Frank Reich’s favorite weapons, with wheels to terrify defenses on the speedy Lucas Oil Stadium turf.

Worth the investment?

–The Colts have come a long way, going from 1-5 last season to being one of seven teams this year with a double-digit over/under win total (10). They’re capable of topping that mark, but 11 wins is a lot for any team.

–Yet to win an MVP in his career, Andrew Luck seems destined for one sooner or later. Unfortunately, Vegas feels the same way, putting his odds (+650) behind only reigning winner Patrick Mahomes (+450).

Bottom line: If Indy’s Super Bowl window were closing, you could question Ballard’s lack of aggression this offseason. But it’s not, and the Colts might still wind up in Miami in February anyway.

–Field Level Media

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Houston Texans training camp primer

Houston Texans training camp primer

New faces: S Tashaun

Houston Texans training camp primer

New faces: S Tashaun Gipson, CB Bradley Roby, OT Matt Kalil, OT Tytus Howard, OL Max Scharping, S Jahleel Addae, CB Lonnie Johnson, TE Darren Fells, TE Kahale Warring

They’re gone: S Tyrann Mathieu, CB Kareem Jackson, WR Demaryius Thomas, OT Kendall Lamm, CB Kevin Johnson, TE Ryan Griffin, DT Christian Covington, RB Alfred Blue, CB Kayvon Webster

Firing GM Brian Gaine 17 months into a five-year contract was certainly cause for concern. Gaine wasn’t given the resources nor the time to prove he was the wrong man for the job, and the Texans weren’t able to pry Nick Caserio from New England (yet) to replace him, choosing to go without a GM for the 2019 season.

How will they navigate without a GM? Will the post remain open until Caserio’s Patriots contract is up after the 2020 draft?

Either way, many of the Texans’ moves this spring were curious. Set on improving Deshaun Watson’s protection, Houston focused on offensive tackle but might not have made large enough gains.

Free agent signee Kalil is a liability even when healthy. In the draft, the Texans were jumped by the Eagles for Andre Dillard and then took Howard 23rd overall, a significant reach on most boards for the Alabama State product. Scharping (second round, Northern Illinois) provides another option, but trusting small-school rookies to play early is dangerous.

The secondary turned over without really improving, as Gipson, Roby and Lonnie Johnson must make up for the more proven trio of Mathieu, Jackson and Kevin Johnson. Franchise-tagged linebacker Jadeveon Clowney remains away from the team and without a long-term contract, and the roster has other weak spots (tight end, guard) despite the Texans still holding $40 million in cap space.

Worth the investment?

–After winning 11 games and their division last season, the Texans should probably top their 8-win over/under, but a disappointing season is certainly possible given the improved AFC South.

–Watson has the star power and talent to win MVP, and his odds are rather enticing. At +3300, he’s even with Jimmy Garoppolo and a longer shot than Mitchell Trubisky (+2000).

Bottom line: The Texans don’t look all that improved, and they enter the year without a GM, which puts just about anything on the table.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Redskins OT Williams to hold out

NFL notebook: Redskins OT Williams to hold out

NFL notebook: Redskins OT Williams to hold out

Washington Redskins offensive tackle Trent Williams is not expected to report to training camp with the rest of the team this week, NFL Network reported Monday.

Williams missed mandatory minicamp in June, and his absence is expected to extend well into training camp, per the report.

“This could take awhile before Trent Williams is back in Washington, if at all,” NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo said on Training Camp Live. “It just really seems like an open-ended thing right now.”

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport added that Williams’ motivations are two-fold, relating to concerns with the team’s medical staff after a tumor scare earlier this offseason and also to his contract, for which he wants at least an “alteration.”

–Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has not ruled out a holdout during training camp as the sides explore the possibility of a new contract, NFL Network reported.

Rapoport said “all options are on the table,” and the fourth-year running back “still has not yet firmly decided whether or not he is going to hold out.”

Elliott still has two years remaining on his rookie contract. He will make $3.85 million in the upcoming season, with an option in 2020 for $9.1 million.

–The NFL suspended Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Jarran Reed six games without pay for violating the personal conduct policy.

Reed was disciplined for an incident in Bellevue, Wash., on April 27, 2017, according to multiple reports. A woman filed a complaint of assault against Reed. Prosecutors investigated and declined to press charges.

NFL Network reported that Reed’s appeal of the suspension was denied on Friday.

–New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman has a finger injury and will be out about three weeks, ESPN reported.

Over the weekend, Edelman had a brace on his left thumb while working at his youth camp, and whether the thumb was broken wasn’t clear. The Patriots open training camp later this week in Foxborough, Mass.

–New Detroit Lions defensive end Trey Flowers will start training camp on the shelf with a shoulder injury, per multiple reports.

Flowers, who signed a five-year, $90 million contract in March, had what was described as a minor shoulder procedure after the Super Bowl in February.

Meanwhile, defensive tackle Damon Harrison told NFL Network he’ll report for training camp after sitting out offseason workouts in search of a new deal. Detroit opens training camp on Thursday.

–The Atlanta Falcons lost defensive tackle Michael Bennett and safety J.J. Wilcox to serious injuries on the first day of training camp, according to multiple reports from NFL Network.

Bennett is out indefinitely with a broken ankle, while Wilcox tore his ACL and will miss the 2019 season, NFL Network reported. Both players were competing for rotational roles on defense.

–DJ Durkin, ousted as Maryland’s football coach after the death of one of his players, is working as a training camp assistant coach with the Falcons.

Durkin was one of four camp-only coaches announced by head coach Dan Quinn, ESPN reported.

–The New York Jets signed former Houston Texans tight end Ryan Griffin to fill in for the recently suspended Chris Herndon.

Earlier this month, the NFL suspended Herndon for the first four games of the 2019 season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. He pleaded guilty in January to a 2018 DWI charge.

Meanwhile, Jets safety Marcus Maye was placed on the PUP list as he continues to recover from shoulder and thumb injuries from last season.

–The Tennessee Titans placed defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, tight end Jonnu Smith and kicker Ryan Succop on the PUP list.

Casey and Smith are still recovering from late-season knee injuries — Casey reportedly had a sprained MCL, while Smith tore his MCL — and Succop missed all offseason work with an undisclosed issue. The team also placed first-rounder Jeffery Simmons, who tore his ACL in February, on the non-football injury list.

–The Buffalo Bills placed running back Frank Gore on the NFI list and tight end Tyler Kroft on the PUP list.

Gore’s injury is unknown but not believed to be serious. Kroft broke his foot on the first day of OTAs. Both players joined the team in March via free agency.

–Green Bay Packers first-round safety Darnell Savage was placed on the NFI list after having his wisdom teeth pulled, ESPN reported.

–Jacksonville Jaguars undrafted rookie safety Zedrick Woods filed retirement papers with the NFL, The Athletic reported.

Woods is battling turf toe, according to agent Ron Butler. He had surprised teams by running the fastest 40-yard dash (4.29) at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine.

–The Minnesota Vikings waived running back Roc Thomas and signed guard Tiano Pupungatoa.

Thomas is suspended for the season’s first three games after pleading guilty to a marijuana charge earlier this year.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Redskins’ Williams to hold out of camp

Report: Redskins' Williams to hold out of camp

Report: Redskins’ Williams to hold out of camp

Washington Redskins offensive tackle Trent Williams is not expected to report to training camp with the rest of the team later this week, NFL Network reported Monday.

Williams missed a mandatory minicamp in June and his absence is expected to extend well into training camp, per the report.

“This could take awhile before Trent Williams is back in Washington, if at all,” NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo said on Training Camp Live. “It just really seems like an open-ended thing right now.”

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport added that Williams’ motivations are two-fold, relating to concerns with the team’s medical staff after a tumor scare earlier this offseason and also to his contract, for which he wants at least an “alteration.”

Williams had surgery in April to remove a tumor from his scalp, after there were initial concerns that the tumor could be malignant. It was not, and he was expected to recover in time for the regular season, but CBS Sports reported in June that Williams wanted out of Washington because of how the medical staff handled the situation.

Rapoport and Garafolo reported Monday that Williams has since had a second surgery to address a cosmetic issue with the original wound and could still have more operations. That could mean he wouldn’t be cleared to practice anyway, even if present at training camp.

“I know Trent knows how much we need him and want him back,” head coach Jay Gruden told reporters in June. “That’s the only thing I can do from here. As far as what happened with him and the doctors, that’s between he and the doctors, and hopefully we get that cleared up soon.”

As for Williams’ contract, he has two years and $24 million remaining — including base salaries of $11 million in 2019 and $12.5 million in 2020 — on a five-year, $68 million deal signed in 2015. Six offensive tackles have since exceeded Williams’ $13.6 million annual average, led by Oakland’s Trent Brown at $16.5 million.

Williams, who turned 31 on Friday, has reached seven consecutive Pro Bowls. He has been with the Redskins since 2010, when they took him fourth overall in the NFL draft.

Reliable swing tackle Ty Nsekhe left Washington for Buffalo during free agency. Former New York Giants first-round pick Ereck Flowers has been working as the first-team left tackle, and 2018 third-rounder Geron Christian is also competing for the swing tackle job.

–Field Level Media

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Falcons’ Bennett breaks ankle on first day of camp

Falcons' Bennett breaks ankle on first day of camp

Falcons’ Bennett breaks ankle on first day of camp

Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Michael Bennett suffered a broken ankle Monday in the first practice of training camp, NFL Network reported.

Bennett, 26, played in two games for the Falcons last season and was expected to compete for a primary role in the defensive-line rotation. He is out indefinitely.

Drafted in the sixth round by Jacksonville in 2015 out of Ohio State, Bennett played in 13 games with the Jaguars as a rookie and appeared in one game in 2017 when he struggled with chest and groin injuries. He also missed the entire 2016 season due to a calf injury.

He has tallied 16 tackles, two tackles for a loss and half a sack in 16 career NFL games.

It is the second major injury to the Falcons’ defensive line. Defensive end Steven Means suffered a torn Achilles tendon during organized team activities in May.

–Field Level Media

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Jets sign former Texans TE Griffin

Jets sign former Texans TE Griffin

The New York Jets

Jets sign former Texans TE Griffin

The New York Jets signed former Houston Texans tight end Ryan Griffin on Monday to fill in for the recently suspended Chris Herndon.

Earlier this month, the NFL suspended Herndon for the first four games of the 2019 season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. He pleaded guilty in January to a 2018 DWI charge.

Griffin, 29, caught 136 passes for 1,491 yards and seven touchdowns in 77 games (36 starts) with the Texans from 2013-18.

He made a career-high 11 starts in 2018 and caught 24 passes for 305 yards.

Griffin’s six-year run in Houston ended abruptly in May when he was cut by the Texans after getting arrested in Nashville, Tenn., during the NFL draft. Charges of vandalism for breaking a hotel window and public intoxication were later dismissed.

–Field Level Media

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Lions DE Flowers to PUP, DT Harrison to report

Lions DE Flowers to PUP, DT Harrison to report

Lions DE Flowers to PUP, DT Harrison to report

New Detroit Lions defensive end Trey Flowers will start training camp on the shelf with a shoulder injury, per multiple reports Monday.

On the bright side, the Lions will get back defensive tackle Damon Harrison, who told NFL Network he’ll report for training camp after sitting out offseason workouts in search of a new deal.

Flowers, an end and linebacker in the 3-4 defense, signed as a big-ticket prize in free agency in March. He left the New England Patriots, where he began his career as a protege of current Lions head coach Matt Patricia.

Flowers underwent what was described as a minor shoulder procedure at the end of the 2018 postseason. But starting training camp on the physically unable to perform list could be an ominous, unexpected signal of Flowers’ health. The Detroit Free Press was the first outlet to identify the nature of Flowers’ current injury.

Detroit opens training camp on Thursday.

The Lions spent almost all of last season without their prized pass rusher, Ziggy Ansah, who was playing on the one-year franchise tender but battled shoulder issues all year.

Flowers came in to replace Ansah, signing a five-year, $90 million deal to unite with Patricia. Flowers had 57 tackles for the Patriots last season and a career-best 7 1/2 sacks. He has 164 career tackles and 21 sacks in 46 games (37 starts) over four seasons.

Harrison, 30, was acquired for a fifth-round pick from the New York Giants last October and totaled 50 tackles (five for loss) with 3.5 sacks and seven QB hits in 10 games with the Lions. One of the game’s premier run-stuffers, he earned All-Pro honors in 2016 and hasn’t missed a game since 2012.

The eighth-year veteran has two years and $16.25 million remaining on his contract.

It’s unknown if the Lions’ other prominent offseason holdout, cornerback Darius Slay, also plans to report to training camp. Slay has two years and $23.5 million remaining on his contract.

Drew Rosenhaus, the agent for both Harrison and Slay, reportedly met with the Lions this week.

–Field Level Media

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Jacksonville Jaguars training camp primer

Jacksonville Jaguars training camp primer

New faces: QB Nick Foles,

Jacksonville Jaguars training camp primer

New faces: QB Nick Foles, LB Jake Ryan, DE Josh Allen, OT Jawaan Taylor, WR Chris Conley, WR Terrelle Pryor, TE Geoff Swaim, TE Josh Oliver

They’re gone: DT Malik Jackson, S Tashaun Gipson, LB Telvin Smith (at least for 2019), OT Jermey Parnell, WR Donte Moncrief, QB Blake Bortles, RB Carlos Hyde, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, G Chris Reed

2019 snapshot: The Bortles era is finally over, and Foles will surely provide an upgrade, but that doesn’t make his addition a slam dunk.

The price tag ($22 million annually, up to $25 million annually with incentives) was curiously high considering there was no other apparent suitor. There also isn’t much evidence Foles is a quality starter outside of Philadelphia, where his career rating is 74.2 compared to 93.2 with the Eagles. Pairing with former Eagles QB coach John DeFilippo could help, but the duo seems like an odd fit with Jacksonville’s run-heavy identity.

If Foles isn’t more than an average starter, the Jaguars’ defense must get back near its 2016 form, but the group still has plenty of holes. Jackson (released), Gipson (released) and Smith — who announced he won’t play in 2019 for personal reasons — were all key pieces of the dominant group from two years ago, and none has a proven replacement on the roster. Ryan helps some but isn’t nearly as fast as Smith.

On the plus side, the Jags had a terrific draft, capitalizing on Allen’s slide to No. 7 overall and then scooping up Taylor — considered a top-10 prospect by some — in Round 2. Oliver needs polish but has the talent to thrive as a receiver, and he could see plenty of work at a thin position.

Worth the investment?

–Are the Jaguars closer to their 2017 selves (10-6) than the group that went 5-11 last year? Vegas smartly has the 2019 over/under smack dab in the middle at 7.5.

–Even if you’re a believer in Foles, it’s hard to like him as a longshot MVP at +6600. If you hope to catch lightning in a bottle, you could have Kyler Murray for the same odds or Sam Darnold for better (+7500).

Bottom line: Foles is an upgrade, but he’s far from a savior. Likewise, the Jags should be better, but the difference might be marginal.

–Field Level Media

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Tennessee Titans training camp primer

Tennessee Titans training camp primer

New faces: G Rodger Saffold, WR Adam Humphries, DE Cameron

Tennessee Titans training camp primer

New faces: G Rodger Saffold, WR Adam Humphries, DE Cameron Wake, QB Ryan Tannehill, DT Brent Urban, DT Jeffery Simmons, WR A.J. Brown

They’re gone: OLB Brian Orakpo, OLB Derrick Morgan, S Johnathan Cyprien, DT Bennie Logan, G Josh Kline, TE Luke Stocker, G Quinton Spain, QB Blaine Gabbert

2019 snapshot: A small-market team that hasn’t won double-digit games since 2008, the Titans don’t draw many headlines, but they’ve been perhaps the league’s most aggressive team under GM Jon Robinson and head coach Mike Vrabel. For the second consecutive year, they handed out multiple major deals in free agency and then took heavy risks in the draft.

The question is whether that aggression makes sense, especially for two men who learned from the famously patient Patriots.

Saffold (four years, $44 million) and Humphries (four years, $36 million) should both help contract-year QB Marcus Mariota, but neither contract has an easy out if either flops. Tennessee also paid the 37-year-old Wake (three years, $23 million) handsomely, giving the team two undersized starting edge rushers along with Harold Landry.

Brown should contribute early, but his fit is odd — he’s best in the slot, where Humphries thrives and where Corey Davis has flashed at times. Despite adding Brown and Humphries, Tennessee’s offense still lacks perimeter speed. Meanwhile, the Titans’ first-round pick, Simmons, is recovering from a torn ACL and might not play this year, leaving just eight healthy picks from the past two drafts on the roster.

The Titans deserve credit for adding an option at quarterback in Tannehill, who could fill in if Mariota gets hurt or struggles. Still, it seems like they could be shopping for a new QB next spring.

Worth the investment?

–The Titans have reached nine wins in three straight seasons, making the over on their 7.5-win total look very reasonable, especially given Tannehill’s presence as a safety net.

–In a make-or-break year, Vegas appears to be leaning “break” for Mariota. He’s a 100-1 longshot, after entering 2018 with 40-1 odds.

Bottom line: Tennessee made some clear upgrades but took plenty of risks, and the pieces don’t quite seem to fit right. If Mariota doesn’t blossom, serious changes could follow next year.

–Field Level Media

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Jaguars rookie S Woods retires

Jaguars rookie S Woods retires

Jacksonville rookie safety Zedrick Woods filed

Jaguars rookie S Woods retires

Jacksonville rookie safety Zedrick Woods filed retirement papers with the NFL, The Athletic reported Monday.

Woods, who signed with the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent, was dealing with a turf toe injury, according to his agent, Ron Butler.

“It was kind of shocking to me just because I knew how much he was grateful for the opportunity to get a chance to play in Jacksonville and not being too far from home,” Butler told The Athletic of the decision by Woods, who is from Lake City, Fla., about 65 miles west from Jacksonville.

Woods, who turns 22 next month, played college football at Ole Miss and had six interceptions in 47 career games. He surprised NFL teams by running the 40-yard-dash in 4.29 seconds at the NFL Combine.

–Field Level Media

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Seahawks DT Reed draws six-game suspension

Seahawks DT Reed draws six-game suspension

Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Jarran Reed

Seahawks DT Reed draws six-game suspension

Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Jarran Reed has been suspended for the six first games of the NFL season without pay for violating the personal conduct policy, the league announced Monday.

Reed was disciplined for an incident in Bellevue, Wash., on April 27, 2017, according to multiple reports. A woman filed a complaint of assault against Reed. Prosecutors investigated and declined to press charges.

The NFL Network reported that Reed’s appeal of the suspension was denied on Friday.

“We are aware of the situation involving Jarran Reed and have followed league and law enforcement protocol since the alleged incident in April of 2017,” the team said in a statement Monday.

Reed posted his own statement on Twitter.

“I apologize to those close to me including my family, the entire Seattle Seahawks organization and fans of the team for putting myself in a position where I could be disciplined by the NFL,” Reed wrote. “While I totally disagree with the decision of the NFL, I still must accept it and take responsibility for the situation. I have learned from this and will do everything I can to make my friends, family, teammates, fans and the Seahawks proud of me moving forward.”

Reed will forfeit approximately $394,000 of his nearly $1.17 million salary in 2019.

The 26-year-old Reed will be eligible to return to the active roster of the Seahawks on Oct. 14, one day after a game against the Cleveland Browns.

Reed had a career-best 10.5 sacks in 16 games last season after having just three in 30 games over his first two NFL seasons.

Reed underwent sports hernia surgery in late April but recovered in time to participate in minicamp drills during the second week of June.

–Field Level Media

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Lions’ $90M man Flowers on PUP

Lions' $90M man Flowers on PUP

New

Lions’ $90M man Flowers on PUP

New Detroit Lions defensive end Trey Flowers will start training camp on the shelf with a shoulder injury, per multiple reports.

Flowers, an end and linebacker in the 3-4 defense, signed as a big-ticket prize in free agency in March. He left the New England Patriots, where he began his career as a protege of current Lions head coach Matt Patricia.

Flowers underwent what was described as a minor shoulder procedure at the end of the 2018 postseason. But starting training camp on the physically unable to perform list could be an ominous, unexpected signal of Flowers’ health. The Detroit Free Press was the first outlet to identify the nature of Flowers’ current injury.

Detroit opens training camp on Thursday.

The Lions spent almost all of last season without their prized pass rusher, Ziggy Ansah, who was playing on the one-year franchise tender but battled shoulder issues all year.

Flowers came in to replace Ansah, signing a five-year, $90 million deal to unite with Patricia. Flowers had 57 tackles for the Patriots last season and a career-best 7 1/2 sacks. He has 164 career tackles and 21 sacks in 46 games (37 starts) over four seasons.

–Field Level Media

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Lowry vaults to No. 17 in world rankings

Lowry vaults to No. 17 in world rankings

Winning his first

Lowry vaults to No. 17 in world rankings

Winning his first major at The Open Championship came with a slew of perks for Ireland’s Shane Lowry, including a 16-spot jump to No. 17 in the official world golf rankings Monday.

Lowry began 2019 ranked No. 75. He has steadily risen throughout the year thanks to at win in Abu Dhabi in January and a string of three consecutive top-10 finishes in stroke play events that included the PGA Championship in May. Lowry entered last week ranked 33rd, but earned 100 ranking points for his triumph at Royal Portrush.

England’s Tommy Fleetwood jumped seven spots to No. 13 with his second-place finish at The Open, while Tony Finau moved up five places to No. 12 with his solo third – Finau’s best career finish in a major.

England’s Lee Westwood was unable to mount a Sunday charge, but he did rise 26 spots to No. 52 by tying for fourth with Brooks Koepka, who strengthened his grip on No. 1. It is the highest ranking for Westwood in the two-year revolving points system.

The top five remained unchanged, with No. 2 Dustin Johnson, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, England’s Justin Rose and Tiger Woods following Koepka. McIlroy and Woods missed the cut at The Open. Italy’s Francesco Molinari leapfrogged Bryson DeChambeau for No. 6, followed by Spain’s Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Jets signing former Texans TE Griffin

Report: Jets signing former Texans TE Griffin

The New York

Report: Jets signing former Texans TE Griffin

The New York Jets are signing former Houston Texans tight end Ryan Griffin to fill in for the recently suspended Chris Herndon, NFL Network reported Monday.

Earlier this month, the NFL suspended Herndon for the first four games of the 2019 season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. He pleaded guilty in January to a 2018 DWI charge.

Griffin, 29, caught 136 passes for 1,491 yards and seven touchdowns in 77 games (36 starts) with the Texans from 2013-18.

He made a career-high 11 starts in 2018 and caught 24 passes for 305 yards.

Griffin’s six-year run in Houston ended abruptly in May when he was cut by the Texans after getting arrested in Nashville, Tenn., during the NFL draft. Charges of vandalism for breaking a hotel window and public intoxication were later dismissed.

–Field Level Media

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Pittsburgh Steelers training camp primer

Pittsburgh Steelers training camp primer

New faces: CB Steven Nelson,

Pittsburgh Steelers training camp primer

New faces: CB Steven Nelson, LB Mark Barron, LB Devin Bush, WR Donte Moncrief, WR Diontae Johnson, CB Justin Layne, RB Benny Snell

They’re gone: WR Antonio Brown, RB Le’Veon Bell, OT Marcus Gilbert, TE Jesse James, S Morgan Burnett, LB Jon Bostic

2019 snapshot: There’s no getting around it: The Steelers said goodbye to perhaps the best wide receiver (Brown) and the best running back (Bell) of the past five years. That’s difficult to swallow, but was there anything Pittsburgh could have done differently this offseason?

Bell’s departure was inevitable long ago. Letting him walk also wasn’t the worst idea given the dangers of paying running backs big money. Perhaps Brown’s situation could have been resolved, but the disgruntled wideout appeared determined to barge his way out of Pittsburgh, with no regard for collateral damage. How ugly would it be if he were still on the Steelers’ roster?

Pittsburgh never had the leverage to bring back a big return, but it did get two picks for Brown, one of whom (Johnson) should contribute early. The Steelers found another option at receiver in free agency (Moncrief) and worked to upgrade at linebacker and cornerback in both free agency and the draft. After signing Barron and Nelson, they traded up for Bush, who should step right into Ryan Shazier’s old spot in the middle of the defense. Layne brings lots of talent but has time to develop from the bench.

Pittsburgh also got quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s extension done as he approached a contract year, an inevitable but important move that ensures the Super Bowl window will remain open another few years.

Worth the investment?

At 9.5 wins via PointsBet.com, the Steelers are still expected to be in the mix in the AFC North. How realistic is that future proposition based on the subtractions from the roster? Getting to 8-8 seems a reasonable ask, but 10 wins would be a major achievement for Mike Tomlin’s crew.

Bottom Line: No team in the league lost two more talented players, and Brown and Bell defined Pittsburgh’s offseason, but much of it was out of the Steelers’ hands.

–Field Level Media

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Cleveland Browns training camp primer

Cleveland Browns training camp primer

New faces: WR Odell Beckham Jr., DT Sheldon

Cleveland Browns training camp primer

New faces: WR Odell Beckham Jr., DT Sheldon Richardson, DE Olivier Vernon, RB Kareem Hunt, CB Greedy Williams, S Morgan Burnett, S Eric Murray

They’re gone: G Kevin Zeitler, S Jabrill Peppers, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, QB Tyrod Taylor, LB Jamie Collins, WR Breshad Perriman, TE Darren Fells, OT Desmond Harrison

2019 snapshot: John Dorsey sure isn’t shy about swinging for the fences. With an already impressive roster, the Browns’ GM heaped on more talent this offseason, albeit taking some risks in the process.

How risky those moves prove to be might depend on Dorsey’s first decision, which was to hire Freddie Kitchens as head coach. The former RBs coach and interim offensive coordinator was a somewhat surprising choice, but he provides continuity for second-year QB Baker Mayfield. Now, can Kitchens manage all of Cleveland’s personalities?

Beckham’s talent far outweighs the headaches he creates, and his acquisition could be the single most impactful of the offseason. The compensation (pick Nos. 17 and 95, plus Peppers) was a bargain, and if Beckham and college teammate Jarvis Landry feed off each other, the move will look even better.

Dorsey also added disruption up front by inking Richardson (three years, $37 million) and trading for Vernon, and he nabbed one of the draft’s top cornerbacks in Williams despite losing draft capital in the deal for Beckham.

Trading Zeitler (for Vernon) could hurt the offensive line, but 2018 second-rounder Austin Corbett should be ready to step in at right guard. Trusting Greg Robinson to hold up for a whole season at left tackle is bold, though he performed well in the second half of 2018. Hunt’s addition also was risky, but the payoff could be huge if the Pro Bowl selection can stay on the field.

Worth the investment?

Everyone with a dollar is ready to buy the Browns, but at what cost? They’re no longer a value bet and books are starting to swing the pendulum to reflect the amount of buy-in they’re seeing in Cleveland.

Mayfield remains a decent get in the MVP race, however, at 25-1. Sounds rich, we know, considering his treading into Drew Brees-Matt Ryan territory if the Browns get off to a hot start. That also means he’s presently at value at PointsBet.com. Break it down in the simplest of terms: Quarterbacks win MVP in this league, and if the Browns write the miracle playoff run some think is possible, it’ll be Mayfield playing the role Patrick Mahomes did for the 2018 Kansas City Chiefs.

Bottom Line: It’s hard to argue with adding so much talent. If Kitchens proves to be the right hire, this is a grand slam.

–Field Level Media

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Cincinnati Bengals training camp primer

Cincinnati Bengals training camp primer

New faces: OT Jonah Williams, OG John Miller, CB B.W. Webb, DT

Cincinnati Bengals training camp primer

New faces: OT Jonah Williams, OG John Miller, CB B.W. Webb, DT Kerry Wynn, TE Drew Sample, LB Germaine Pratt

They’re gone: TE Tyler Kroft, LB Vontaze Burfict, DE Michael Johnson, LB Vincent Rey, OT Cedric Ogbuehi

2019 snapshot: One of the league’s most conservative teams, the Bengals went off the rails — by their standards — in not only firing head coach Marvin Lewis but hiring a young, offensive mind from outside the organization in Zac Taylor. Lewis’ tenure probably should have ended much earlier, but the team deserves credit for passing on familiar-but-lackluster options and swinging big with Taylor instead.

Other than the coaching change, the Bengals were predictably unflashy. They re-signed a trio of average-at-best players (OT Bobby Hart, LB Preston Brown, TE C.J. Uzomah) to surprisingly lucrative three-year deals (each more than $16 million), then gave similar contracts to Miller and Webb, both of whom were below-average starters with their former teams.

Cincinnati managed to keep a few talented players on short one-year contracts in TE Tyler Eifert ($4 million) and CB Darqueze Dennard ($4.5 million) and released Burfict, which was overdue.

A meat-and-potatoes draft added some nice pieces — including the potential long-term left tackle in Williams — but taking a blocking tight end (Sample) in Round 2 after re-signing two players at the position was awfully rich. Pratt (third round) could break into a mediocre linebacking corps, but he remains raw. It’s also worth wondering if the Bengals should have drafted a quarterback such as Dwayne Haskins or Drew Lock, as they might not get a similar chance again soon.

Worth the investment?

Losing rookie tackle Williams to a season-ending injury is a major hit for the MVP chances of running back Joe Mixon and quarterback Andy Dalton, who were well down the board to begin with. In a division defined by defense, not having a blindside protector for Dalton is a big variable to factor into any futures.

That includes the W/L number, which checks in at a modest 6.

Bottom Line: Cincinnati finally made a much-needed coaching overhaul, but the roster doesn’t look much better elsewhere. Plenty of work remains, and getting to 6-10 will not be easy.

–Field Level Media

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Baltimore Ravens training camp primer

Baltimore Ravens training camp primer

New faces: S Earl Thomas

Baltimore Ravens training camp primer

New faces: S Earl Thomas III, RB Mark Ingram II, WR Marquise Brown, OLB Jaylon Ferguson, WR Miles Boykin, OLB Pernell McPhee, OLB Shane Ray, CB Justin Bethel, WR Seth Roberts

They’re gone: LB C.J. Mosley, S Eric Weddle, OLB Terrell Suggs, QB Joe Flacco, OLB Za’Darius Smith, WR John Brown, DT Brent Urban, WR Michael Crabtree, RB Alex Collins

2019 snapshot: Even for a team used to letting talent walk in favor of compensatory picks, the Ravens had to be a little alarmed by how many big names departed this offseason. Obviously Flacco’s departure was inevitable — and he fetched a fourth-round pick despite the Ravens having no leverage — and Weddle was released.

But Baltimore likely didn’t expect Mosely, Suggs and Smith all to leave in free agency. Mosely’s departure was particularly concerning as (along with Weddle) a defensive leader and communicator, and no apparent replacement was added at inside linebacker.

New GM Eric DeCosta countered with the terrific signing of Thomas, who is still near his physical prime at age 30 but also brings the leadership, versatility and ability to disguise that Weddle offered. On the edge, DeCosta didn’t overpay for replacements, instead trying cheap one-year fliers on Ray and McPhee and drafting Ferguson, the NCAA’s all-time sack leader, in Round 3.

On offense, Baltimore made a concerted effort to build around QB Lamar Jackson, promoting Greg Roman to offensive coordinator, re-signing sturdy blocking TE Nick Boyle and adding speed (Brown and Boykin) at wideout. Mark Ingram (three years, $15 million) cost a bit much, but he should be very productive with Jackson drawing so much attention. More competition at center would have been nice, but the O-line remains solid.

Worth the investment?

At 100/1, Lamar Jackson is not a heavy favorite to win the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award. But considering his short resume as a pro and peers in the same range – including Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack – more than a few dollars are like to land on No. 8 this summer.

Bottom Line: Some of the Ravens’ plans were likely shaken by free agency, but they still managed to build around Jackson, which was priority No. 1.

–Field Level Media

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Detroit Lions training camp primer

Detroit Lions training camp primer

New faces: DE Trey Flowers, CB Justin

Detroit Lions training camp primer

New faces: DE Trey Flowers, CB Justin Coleman, TE Jesse James, WR Danny Amendola, RB C.J. Anderson, TE T.J. Hockenson, LB Jahlani Tavai, CB Rashaan Melvin, WR Jermaine Kearse, G Oday Aboushi, S Will Harris

They’re gone: DE Ezekiel Ansah, G T.J. Lang, S Glover Quin, RB LeGarrette Blount, CB Nevin Lawson, DT Kerry Hyder, FB Nick Bellore, TE Luke Willson, TE Levine Toilolo, TE Michael Roberts

2019 snapshot: The Lions didn’t hold back in free agency, handing massive contracts to Flowers (five years, $90 million) and Coleman (four years, $36 million) plus an ample deal for James (four years, $22.6 million) and a one-year flier on Amendola ($4.5 million). Each could prove to be upgrades, but it’s hard to imagine any outperforming his contract, so there isn’t much upside.

The rest of Detroit’s offseason was about reshaping the offense, as coordinator Jim Bob Cooter was allowed to walk, with Darrell Bevell arriving to replace him. Matt Patricia and Bevell have been adamant about building through the running game, an uncommon approach in today’s NFL, but Hockenson will certainly help the cause. He should contribute from Day 1 as a receiver and blocker, giving Detroit schematic flexibility and options in the run game and off play-action. Anderson should join Kerryon Johnson to form a quality backfield duo.

Even if offensive issues are solved, the defense still has holes. Tavai is the sort of multi-faceted linebacker Patricia loves, but the Lions don’t have any true edge pass rusher (Flowers is best off working inside). Another outside cornerback must step up, especially if Darius Slay’s holdout for a new contract continues. Damon Harrison is also holding out for a new deal, and the Lions’ run defense was a mess before he arrived last year.

Worth the investment?

–The Lions were big spenders in the offseason, but will they be able to cash out in the win column? Oddsmakers aren’t so sure. The consensus over-under win total is 7 after going 6-10 a year ago.

Bottom Line: The Lions added talent and have a clear plan, but a run-first offense and free agent spending sprees rarely breed success in today’s NFL.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Camp holdout still possible for Cowboys’ Elliott

Report: Camp holdout still possible for Cowboys' Elliott

Report: Camp holdout still possible for Cowboys’ Elliott

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has not ruled out a holdout during training camp as the sides explore the possibility of a new contract, NFL Network reported.

“From what I’m told, as recently as yesterday, all options are still on the table,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said on “Good Morning Football.” The fourth-year running back “still has not yet firmly decided whether or not he is going to hold out. If he does not hold out, that means contract talks are going in the right direction or at least he trusts the Cowboys to get a deal done.”

Elliott, who was the fourth overall selection by the Cowboys in the 2016 NFL Draft, still has two years remaining on his rookie contract. He will make $3.85 million in the upcoming season, with an option in 2020 for $9.01 million.

The Ohio State product rushed for an NFL-leading 1,434 yards in 2018, and his 95.6 yards per game also led the league. He had six rushing touchdowns and three receiving.

Elliott, 24, has started all 40 games he has played in over the past three seasons, He has rushed for 4,048 yards on 868 carries with 28 touchdowns. He also has 135 receptions for 1,199 yards and six more TDs.

–Field Level Media

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