Vinatieri preparing for potential last visit to New England

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Adam Vinatieri remembers New England fondly.

In 10 seasons, he won three Super Bowl rings, was dubbed the league’s best clutch kicker and became the top scorer in franchise history. He has made the routine kicks look easy and the impossible ones look routine while earning the respect of two of the league’s greatest coaches and one of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks..

On Thursday, the 45-year-old kicker and the NFL’s newly crowned career field goals leader returns to his former home stadium, perhaps for the final time.

“I suppose any person who’s played somewhere for a certain amount of time and then has the opportunity to go back and just reminisce a little bit, maybe it holds a different feeling than some of the other places,” Vinatieri said Tuesday. “But I’m thinking more about how can we get a win and right the ship and get back where we need to be.”

Vinatieri knows better than to expect a warm welcome for the Colts (1-3) and himself.

Since signing with the dreaded Colts as a free agent in March 2006, Vinatieri has watched the video tributes former stars like Peyton Manning and Edgerrin James received when they returned to Indy with new teams. He’s seen former players such as Jeff Saturday and Robert Mathis, and former coaches like Frank Reich come back to work inside the organization.

But New England treats former players and coaches differently.

Vinatieri shrugs off the chorus of boos he’s heard at Gillette Stadium over the past dozen seasons, choosing instead to focus on those who acknowledge afterward just how much they actually respect him for having such a big hand in each of the franchise’s first three Super Bowl titles.

Back in 2006, New England figured it could find a cheaper, younger kicker than Vinatieri and the truth is, it worked out perfectly for both sides. Vinatieri found a home inside the controlled climate of Lucas Oil Stadium and has gone on to chase bigger and better milestones. His replacement with Patriots, Stephen Gostkowski, broke Vinatieri’s franchise scoring record and is currently ranked No. 18 all-time with 1,642 points as the Pats (2-2) have gone 8-4 against Vinatieri’s Colts. New England has won six of seven in Foxborough and seven straight in the series — including the 2014 AFC championship game, better known as “Deflategate.”

Still, Vinatieri seems to be aging like a fine wine.

He made two more field goals Sunday to break Morten Andersen’s career mark of 565 and heads back to New England needing one field goal attempt to break a tie with Gary Anderson (672) for second all-time. With 26 points, Vinatieri will break Morten Andersen’s career scoring record (2,544 points), and Vinatieri just passed Hall of Famer George Blanda for fourth in games played.

“I’m the second oldest guy in the locker room and my first year of playing football was his second year in the league,” Matt Slauson, the Colts’ 32-year-old right guard, said recently. “So he’s not only had one incredible career, he’s essentially had two incredible careers with two different teams. It’s amazing.”

The least surprised guy on the field Thursday might be Bill Belichick, who was an assistant coach on Bill Parcells’ staff when Vinatieri won the Patriots’ kicking job in 1996 over 18-year veteran Matt Bahr.

Belichick watched the rookie kicker save his job with a 40-yard field goal into the wind and rain in a Week 3 victory over Arizona and make a textbook tackle while chasing down Herschel Walker to save a touchdown later that season.

He will never forget the two kicks Vinatieri made in the Snow Bowl/Tuck Rule Game, the first to force overtime and the second to eliminate the Raiders in the divisional round, or the two last-minute Super Bowl winning kicks Vinatieri made to beat the Rams and Panthers.

“Certainly, in my opinion, the greatest kicker in the game. Not just for his longevity and production but again the magnitude of some of the kicks that he made and the difficulty,” Belichick said on a conference call with Indy reporters this week. “Back in 2001, it seemed like every game came down to the last possession or the last kick. Every point was critical. Those games we won in 2001 and 2003 — especially in the early part of the year in 2003 — were all close games and tough ones. Adam came through for us with some enormous kicks.”

Now, though, things clearly are winding down.

Vinatieri signed a 1-year deal this offseason to stay in Indy and the current scheduling format doesn’t have the Colts playing another round-robin against the AFC East until 2022.

So if this is his last stand in New England, the South Dakota native whose great-great grandfather served as General George Custer’s bandmaster has one goal: win one more time.

“It very well could be. Shoot, any game could be your last game ever, you know, so I haven’t contemplated that too terribly much,” he said. “It’s a game that we really must win, we need to win and that would be a real good way to stick it to them.”

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NFL notebook: Steelers clear way for RB Bell to be free agent

NFL notebook: Steelers clear way for RB Bell to be free agent

NFL notebook: Steelers clear way for RB Bell to be free agent

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell will be an unrestricted free agent as the team will not use a transition or franchise tag on the three-time Pro Bowler who sat out the entire 2018 season in a contract standoff, general manager Kevin Colbert told reporters Wednesday.

“Le’Veon is still a great player. We can’t afford to use any other type of tags,” Colbert said. “Le’Veon will be an unrestricted free agent at the start of the new league year.” Bell later tweeted: “Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I am free at last”

Bell, who turned 27 on Monday, has posted three 1,000-yard seasons since entering the league in 2013. He sat last season rather than collect $14.5 million under the franchise tag for a second consecutive season, when a long-term deal with the Steelers could not be reached.

In Bell’s absence, second-year back James Conner emerged as a reliable starter. He finished the 2018 season with 973 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.

–The Steelers will attempt to trade disgruntled receiver Antonio Brown this offseason, but Colbert told reporters Wednesday that they will not give away the All-Pro.

After meeting with team president Art Rooney II on Tuesday, Brown announced on Twitter that both sides had decided to part ways. Brown, 30, is due a $2.5 million roster bonus on March 17 and has three years remaining on a five-year, $72.7 million contract extension he signed before the 2017 season.

Colbert told reporters that the Steelers weren’t yet engaged in trade talks, but he expected they would pick up. Still, he said Brown conceivably could return to Pittsburgh if there is “no trade that does not benefit the team.” The GM also said Brown will not be allowed to select the team to which he is traded.

–Landon Collins, a three-time Pro Bowl safety, might soon be moving on from the New York Giants, according to a report from ESPN. Or not, according to other reports.

Reporter Josina Anderson wrote on Twitter that “Collins cleaned out his locker today at the team facility and said his goodbyes to teammates, coaches and trainers,” presumably not expecting to stay with the team. Collins, a four-year pro, can become an unrestricted free agent when the new NFL year begins March 13.

Later Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network chimed in, writing that Collins took “personal items” from his locker. According to Garafolo, “He doesn’t expect to be at the facility for a while. Why? The franchise tag he publicly said he doesn’t want. But the smart money remains on Collins with NYG this year.”

–The Seattle Seahawks could use the franchise tag option for the first time since 2010 if they can’t agree on a contract with defensive end Frank Clark before the March 5 tag deadline.

Clark, 25, will become a free agent on March 13 if no agreement is reached and likely would be pursued by many teams. He led the Seahawks with 13 sacks in the regular season, and head coach Pete Carroll said he wants him back.

Clark told The News Tribune in January that he expects to remain with the Seahawks in the upcoming season, if not beyond. Based on the defensive end market, the Seahawks likely would be paying Clark – their second-round draft pick in 2015 – at least $15 million a year in a new contract.

–The Oakland Raiders could wind up staying in the city for two more seasons, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Despite a contentious history between the two sides, the Raiders and the Oakland Coliseum Authority resumed negotiations earlier this month, and the Chronicle reported that an announcement about a new, short-term lease could be made in the next two weeks.

The Raiders announced plans to move into a new stadium in Las Vegas before the 2020 season, but their lease to play their home games in Oakland expired at the end of the 2019 season.

–The Chicago Bears are expected to release tight end Dion Sims, who made just four starts in 2018 during a season that was cut short because of concussion issues, the NFL Network reported.

Sims was scheduled to make $6 million in the final season of his three-year, $18 million contract with the Bears.

Sims, 28, had just two catches for 9 yards in 2018. Regarded more as a blocking tight end, he played in eight games last season and did not see action again after starting in a 41-9 victory on Nov. 4 over the Buffalo Bills.

–Field Level Media

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Source: NFL wants Rams’ info on Gurley’s injury

Source: NFL wants Rams' info on Gurley's injury

Source: NFL wants Rams’ info on Gurley’s injury

A revelation from running back C.J. Anderson that Todd Gurley’s knee injury was more severe than the Los Angeles Rams thought — and disclosed — triggered an NFL request for more information from the team, a league source told Field Level Media.

Gurley was not on the Super Bowl injury report. He largely gave way to Anderson in the postseason, but the company line from the Rams centered around head coach Sean McVay taking the blame for not getting Gurley more involved.

Gurley missed the final two regular-season games, dealing with an undisclosed knee problem, after rushing for 1,251 yards and 17 touchdowns in 14 games. He also caught 59 passes for 580 yards and four scores.

After the Rams went through their final on-field workout Friday, two days before the Super Bowl, McVay labeled Gurley “100 percent.”

A league source told FLM that the NFL office routinely seeks more information from teams in situations such as Gurley’s.

In 2017, the NFL ruled the Seattle Seahawks misinterpreted the rules when failing to disclose cornerback Richard Sherman’s sprained knee. Seattle was let off with only a warning, but reportedly faced potential discipline including a fine or loss of a draft pick.

Gurley returned for the playoffs — with 16 carries for 115 yards against Dallas — but had only a combined 14 carries and two receptions in the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl LIII.

But Gurley rushed just 10 times for 35 yards in the 13-3 loss to the New England Patriots.

“The injury was a little bit more than what everybody in the building thought, including himself,” Anderson said Tuesday on FS1’s “Undisputed.”

Anderson said he would call the injury a sprained knee. Gurley suffered a torn left ACL in 2014.

“Obviously, it’s the same knee injury he’s had before in his career,” Anderson said.

“I had surgery on my meniscus and once you have a knee, you always have a knee. So it aggravates, and if he was getting a lot of touches earlier in the year — obviously him being one of the best running backs, that probably was the case.”

Anderson, signed with the Rams for the final two regular-season games, had 46 postseason carries. Gurley had 30.

Gurley led the NFL with 21 touchdowns and 17 rushing scores during the regular season. He notched his third 1,000-yard rushing season in four years since the Rams took him with the 10th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

–By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media

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Report: NFL reinstates former Bills RB Williams

Report: NFL reinstates former Bills RB Williams

Report: NFL reinstates former Bills RB Williams

The NFL conditionally reinstated former Buffalo Bills running back Karlos Williams after a lengthy suspension for substance abuse, according to multiple reports.

Williams, 25, hasn’t played in the league since his rookie season in 2015.

The fifth-round draft pick from Florida State showed promise when he appeared in 11 games for Buffalo, rushing for 517 yards and seven touchdowns and adding 11 catches for 96 yards and two scores.

After the Bills cut him during training camp the following year, Williams signed with the Steelers’ practice squad but never got on the field due to multiple substance abuse violations.

He received a four-game suspension in July 2016, a 10-game ban in November 2016, and a minimum one-year suspension in June 2017.

A conditional reinstatement means Williams is free to sign with a team and play next season, as long as he meets certain treatment conditions.

–Field Level Media

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Broncos QB Keenum ‘shocked’ by Flacco trade

Broncos QB Keenum 'shocked' by Flacco trade

Broncos QB Keenum ‘shocked’ by Flacco trade

Put Denver quarterback Case Keenum atop the list of people surprised by the Broncos’ trade for Joe Flacco earlier this month.

Keenum, who signed a two-year, $36 million deal with Denver in March 2018, appeared this week on The Sports Spectrum podcast with his wife, Kimberly.

“[GM John] Elway called me that morning and we had a great conversation, which he didn’t have to do, and I appreciated that,” Keenum said. “It was definitely a shock. It was a surprise for us. … For us, we’re definitely disappointed. It’s not something we wanted to happen. I know everybody is doing their job and John feels like it was a chance to help the Broncos out.”

The Broncos traded a fourth-round draft pick to the Baltimore Ravens for Flacco on Feb. 13.

Flacco, 34, played 11 seasons with the Ravens and led them to a win in Super Bowl XLVII. He has compiled a 96-67 regular-season record, passing for 38,245 yards and 212 touchdowns.

Keenum, 31, went 6-10 in his first season with the Broncos, passing for 3,890 yards with 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

Keenum, who played for the Houston Texans, St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams and Minnesota Vikings before signing with Denver, said he doesn’t know what his future holds. He is reportedly guaranteed $7 million in 2019.

“It’s really open-ended right now,” Keenum said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen. This is still very fresh. A lot of these emotions we’re talking about are still going on and still happening. Who knows what’s going to be in store? I don’t, for sure.”

–Field Level Media

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Report: Bears expected to release TE Sims

Report: Bears expected to release TE Sims

The Chicago Bears are expected to release tight end

Report: Bears expected to release TE Sims

The Chicago Bears are expected to release tight end Dion Sims, who made just four starts in 2018 during a season that was cut short because of concussion issues, the NFL Network reported Wednesday.

Sims was scheduled to make $6 million in the final year of his three-year, $18 million contract with the Bears.

Sims, 28, had just two catches for 9 yards in 2018. Regarded more as a blocking tight end, he played in eight games last season and did not see action again after starting in a 41-9 victory on Nov. 4 over the Buffalo Bills.

In 2017, his first season with the Bears, he started in all 14 games in which he played, catching 15 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown.

In six seasons with the Miami Dolphins and Bears, the former fourth-round draft pick in 2013 out of Michigan State has 91 receptions for 888 yards and nine touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Ravens sign CB Young to extension

Reports: Ravens sign CB Young to extension

Reports: Ravens sign CB Young to extension

The Baltimore Ravens have agreed to a three-year contract extension with cornerback Tavon Young, multiple outlets reported Thursday.

The team announced it would hold a press conference Friday with head coach John Harbaugh and general manager Eric DeCosta.

Young, a 2016 fourth-round draft pick, turns 25 next month. He had one year remaining on his four-year rookie contract.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the extension is a three-year, $25.8 million deal with a max value of $29 million, making him the NFL’s highest-paid nickel back. NFL Network valued the extension at three years and $27 million.

After missing the 2017 season with a torn ACL, Young returned to play in 15 games (six starts) in 2018. He registered 37 tackles and one interception and recovered three fumbles, returning two of those recoveries for touchdowns against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13 and the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 16.

He missed the Ravens’ playoff loss to the Chargers with a sports hernia and had surgery in January, but is expected to be healthy in time for Baltimore’s offseason program.

Young had 50 tackles and two picks as a 2016 rookie.

–Field Level Media

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Wentz and Jackson rally Eagles past Redskins

Wentz and Jackson rally Eagles past Redskins

Wentz and Jackson rally Eagles past Redskins

Carson Wentz threw three touchdown passes and rallied the host Philadelphia Eagles from an early 17-point deficit for a season-opening 32-27 victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday afternoon.

Wentz was 28 of 39 for 313 yards with a pair of 50-plus touchdown passes to DeSean Jackson. It was Wentz’s first game in nine months while he recovered from a stress fracture in his back.

Jackson had eight catches for 154 yards.

Case Keenum finished 30 of 45 for 380 yards and three touchdown passes in his first start for the Redskins.

Keenum tossed two early TDs — a 48-yarder to Vernon Davis and a 69-yard loft to rookie Terry McLaurin — sandwiched around a 41-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins.

The Eagles sliced the lead to 17-7 when Jackson hauled in a 51-yard touchdown from Wentz with 4:19 remaining in the second quarter.

Other than that connection, the Eagles’ offense sputtered through much of the first half.

Hopkins hit a 48-yard field goal just before halftime for a 20-7 Washington lead.

The Redskins compiled 278 yards of total offense in the first half.

Philadelphia began to establish the run game in the third quarter and a 12-play drive culminated with Wentz rolling out and tossing a 5-yard touchdown to Alshon Jeffery. The score cut the Washington advantage to 20-14 with 7:50 left in the third.

Wentz connected with Jackson from deep again, this time from 53 yards, for a 21-20 Eagles lead with 5:15 remaining in the third. It was Jackson’s 31st career touchdown of 50 or more yards.

After a defensive stop, the Eagles scored again on the first play of the fourth quarter. Wentz threw a screen to Jeffery, which was deemed a lateral, and 2 yards later, the Eagles led 27-20. Philadelphia went for two and Darren Sproles converted for a 29-20 advantage.

Jake Elliott completed a 19-play drive with a 22-yard field goal with 3:10 left for a 32-20 lead.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Roethlisberger won’t need Tommy John surgery

Report: Roethlisberger won't need Tommy John surgery

Ben Roethlisberger's right

Report: Roethlisberger won’t need Tommy John surgery

Ben Roethlisberger’s right elbow injury doesn’t require Tommy John surgery, and the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback should be ready for the 2020 season, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday.

The injury forced Roethlisberger to leave the Week 2 game against the Seattle Seahawks, and he will have season-ending surgery this week. But Schefter said it won’t involve reconstruction of the ulnar collateral ligament, which could have kept him out for more than a year.

“He fully intends to come back from his injury, and everything we’ve heard, we’re comfortable that’s a strong possibility,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said this week.

Second-year pro Mason Rudolph will make his first career start on Sunday at San Francisco (2-0). He replaced Roethlisberger last week and was 12-of-19 passing for 112 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

Devlin Hodges, promoted from the practice squad, will be the backup quarterback for the Steelers (0-2).

–Field Level Media

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Report: RB Elliott, Goodell to discuss Vegas incident

Report: RB Elliott, Goodell to discuss Vegas incident

NFL commissioner Roger

Report: RB Elliott, Goodell to discuss Vegas incident

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott will meet Tuesday in New York to discuss an incident involving the running back that occurred in Las Vegas in May.

TMZ posted a video allegedly showing events that took place early May 18 at the Electric Daisy Carnival festival in Las Vegas. The video shows a man identified as Elliott pushing a security guard against a metal railing and to the ground. Elliott then is handcuffed but not arrested.

The incident is reviewable under the league’s personal conduct policy, especially given Elliott’s previous six-game suspension that followed allegations of abuse made by a former girlfriend. Under the league policy, a player doesn’t need to be arrested or convicted to face a penalty.

In the aftermath of the incident, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he didn’t expect Elliott to face any discipline and downplayed the incident.

“In terms of his status with us, (it) has not been impacted in any way,” Jones said in May. “And frankly, I know how conscientious he has been in the offseason, and that’s good enough. No, I don’t see that having any consequences for us.”

Cowboys executives have indicated a desire to extend Elliott’s contract past 2020, when it is due to expire.

Elliott, who turns 24 this month, rushed for 1,434 yards and six touchdowns in 15 games last season. He also caught three touchdown passes.

Elliott won the NFL rushing title twice in his first three years in the league.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Redskins TE Reed might not play again

Report: Redskins TE Reed might not play again

Report: Redskins TE Reed might not play again

The latest concussion for Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed could be a career-ender, ESPN reported on Sunday, citing league sources.

Reed already missed the first two games of the season and on Saturday was ruled out for Monday night’s game against the visiting Chicago Bears due to lingering effects from a concussion.

Reed was hurt in Washington’s third preseason game. The 29-year-old sustained a concussion following a helmet-to-helmet hit by Atlanta safety Keanu Neal on Aug. 22. The hit drew a penalty and later a $28,075 fine.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, some people within the Redskins organization and around the league are questioning whether he’ll be able to return at all after suffering multiple concussions throughout his college and professional career.

An NBC Sports Washington report Saturday cited a source saying Reed could still be “weeks” from a return.

Reed has recorded 329 receptions for 3,371 yards and 24 touchdowns in six seasons with the Redskins, earning Pro Bowl honors in 2016. He had 54 catches for 558 yards and two scores in 13 games (eight starts) last season.

–Field Level Media

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Titans dampen Browns’ high hopes with rout

Titans dampen Browns' high hopes with rout

Marcus Mariota threw for three

Titans dampen Browns’ high hopes with rout

Marcus Mariota threw for three touchdowns, Derrick Henry scored twice and the visiting Tennessee Titans clamped down on the error-prone Cleveland Browns for a season-opening 43-13 win on Sunday.

Mariota completed 14 of 24 passes for 248 yards, hitting all six of his second half passes for 143 yards. He broke the game open in the fourth quarter with scoring strikes of 11 and 7 yards to tight end Delanie Walker about 3 1/2 minutes apart.

Both of those scores came off short fields after interceptions of Baker Mayfield, temporarily deflating the high hopes of Browns fans looking for the team’s first division title since this version of the franchise was founded in 1999. Mayfield hit 25 of 38 throws for 285 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

Cleveland played a sloppy, undisciplined game in coach Freddie Kitchens’ debut. It was penalized 18 times for 182 yards, and three other flags were declined or offset. Mayfield capped it by tossing his third interception with 3:08 left, with Malcolm Butler taking it 38 yards for a touchdown.

Cleveland opened its season with a bang, going 73 yards on eight plays to take a 6-0 lead on a 4-yard run by Dontrell Hilliard with 10:11 left in the first quarter. A missed extra-point attempt by rookie Austin Seibert hinted at the day’s remainder.

Browns mistakes colored the rest of the day, and Tennessee eventually took advantage. New Titans kicker Cairo Santos booted a 37-yard field goal with 6:32 left in the first quarter to get Tennessee on the board, and Henry’s 1-yard leap with 9:39 remaining in the second quarter put the Titans ahead to stay.

Frustration and penalties mounted for Cleveland. Left tackle Greg Robinson was ejected at the 4:49 mark of the second quarter for kicking Tennessee safety Kenny Vaccaro. The Browns finished the half with nine penalties for 107 yards and trailed 12-6 after Cameron Wake sacked Mayfield in the end zone for a safety.

Santos’ 53-yard field goal with 11:53 left in the third quarter upped the Titans’ lead to 15-6, but Mayfield drew Cleveland within two on a 3-yard touchdown pass to David Njoku at the 2:10 mark. However, Henry took a short pass from Mariota and zipped 75 yards for a game-changing score 13 seconds later.

–Field Level Media

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Brown says he’s done with NFL in Twitter rant

Brown says he's done with NFL in Twitter rant

Brown says he’s done with NFL in Twitter rant

Free-agent wide receiver Antonio Brown said he won’t play in the NFL again in a Sunday morning tweet.

“Will not be playing in the @NFL anymore these owners can cancel deals do whatever they want at anytime we will see if the @NFLPA hold them accountable sad they can just void guarantees anytime going on 40m 2 months will see if they pay up!,” he wrote.

He followed it up with a series of tweets about Patriots owner Bob Kraft, former player turned TV personality Shannon Sharpe and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who each had scandals mark their careers. Brown implied that they were held to a different standard than he is being held to currently.

The Patriots cut the controversial wideout on Friday afternoon, five days after Brown caught four passes for 56 yards and scored a touchdown in his debut with the team. Brown’s due $5 million of a $9 million signing bonus on Monday, but the Patriots could try to void the deal and the $1 million guaranteed base salary he is owed. The Oakland Raiders cut him earlier in September after reportedly voiding a $30 million guarantee.

His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN on Saturday he’s been in touch with “a few teams,” who “want information regarding (Brown’s) legal situation and the NFL investigation” into accusations against Brown of sexual assault and sending intimidating text messages.

ESPN reported that people around the league don’t expect any team to sign Brown until the league’s investigation is resolved.

The NFL released a statement hours later in response to questions about Brown’s status.

“Our office is presently investigating multiple allegations, some of which are the subject of pending litigation,” the statement read, in part. “We have as yet made no findings regarding these issues. The investigation is ongoing and will be pursued vigorously and expeditiously.

“As long as Mr. Brown is a free agent, placement on the Commissioner’s exempt list is not appropriate. If he is signed by a club, such placement may become appropriate at any time depending on the status of the investigation. Upon the conclusion of the investigation, he may also be subject to discipline if the investigation finds that he has violated the law or league policies.”

Britney Taylor, Brown’s former trainer, filed a civil suit last week accusing him of three incidents of sexual assault or rape over a two-year period from 2017-18. According to multiple reports, the league met with Taylor for 10 hours last Monday, and a meeting with Brown was expected at some point.

On Thursday, Sports Illustrated reported that a female artist — who leveled claims earlier this week that Brown made unwanted sexual advances before firing her — contacted the NFL claiming the 31-year-old wide receiver sent her “intimidating and threatening” texts. On Friday, the woman’s attorney said the league had agreed to investigate the situation, and that the league had contacted the Patriots, who told Brown not to contact the woman any further.

In 10 NFL seasons (the first nine with Pittsburgh), Brown has 841 catches for 11,263 yards and 75 touchdowns. He is a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and four-time All-Pro.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Bridgewater to start for Saints

Report: Bridgewater to start for Saints

Report: Bridgewater to start for Saints

Teddy Bridgewater will start at quarterback on Sunday for the New Orleans Saints, ESPN reported.

Coach Sean Payton declined to name his starter at Seattle earlier this week. Veteran Drew Brees is out after undergoing surgery on his right (throwing) thumb on Wednesday after suffering the injury last weekend against the Los Angeles Rams.

Dual-threat quarterback Taysom Hill also is expected to see action against the Seahawks, ESPN’s Dianna Russini said.

Brees, 40, won’t be in Seattle to tutor either of his backups. Doctors advised against him flying because of the possibility of swelling or inflammation, ESPN said.

“It crushed me not to be there,” he texted to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.

The Minnesota Vikings selected Bridgewater with the No. 32 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He led the Vikings to the playoffs in 2015, then missed most of the 2016 and ’17 seasons after suffering a serious knee injury in training camp.

In relief of Brees last week, the 26-year-old Bridgewater completed 17 of 30 pass attempts for 165 yards in the 27-9 loss to the Rams.

–Field Level Media

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Lashley wins by six in Detroit for first career title

Lashley wins by six in Detroit for first career title

Lashley wins by six in Detroit for first career title

DETROIT – Nate Lashley, in just his 33rd career start on the PGA Tour, capped a wire-to-wire performance on Sunday with a 2-under 70 to finish at 25-under 263 and win the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club, his first Tour victory.

Lashley took home the $1.314 million winner’s check, locked up his Tour card for at least then next two years and secured a spot on the British Open at Royal Portrush in three weeks.

“It was surreal, to be honest with you,” Lashley said of his walk up the 18th hole. “I didn’t know what to think. There was a lot going through my mind. It’s just an unreal feeling. Just so happy to be here and happy to be in Detroit, and I’ll always remember this place. Going to be a special place to me.”

Doc Redman, the 2017 U.S. Amateur champion, shot a 5-under 67 in the final round to finish six back of Lashley. The winner of Monday’s open qualifier, Redman was playing in just his second PGA Tour event of the season and locked up a spot in the British Open in three weeks while securing his Tour exemption for the rest of the season.

“I knew what was at stake, but I was trying not to think about it,” Redman said. “I actually didn’t even think about The Open Championship until someone said it to me after. … I actually just learned that not long after I got off the course. I didn’t even think about that, but I can’t wait.

“I’ve never been over there, it’s going to be an awesome experience and, you know, I can’t wait to see how it is.”

Slovakia’s Rory Sabbatini and Wes Roach were another shot back at 18 under, while six players finished at 17 under, including 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed and 2012 FedEx Cup champion Brandt Snedeker.

Lashley’s final round wasn’t nearly as sizzling as his first three, as he fired bogey-free rounds of 63 on Thursday and Saturday, sandwiching a 67 in the second round. But considering he entered Sunday with a six-shot lead, Lashley essentially just had to avoid a blowup.

He did so with two birdies and two bogeys on the front nine before cruising home for the victory.

Lashley was the last man in the field, getting in as the third alternate after a withdrawal from David Berganio on Wednesday. He became the first alternate to win a Tour event since Vaughn Taylor at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2016.

“One week can change — it’s a career-changing event getting a win out here,” Lashley said. “It gives you job security, it gets you into majors, you have two more years to basically get more comfortable and play better golf. So you really can’t put into words how much this means, and it’s just huge for my career.”

–Field Level Media

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Agent: ‘A few teams’ interested in WR Brown

Agent: 'A few teams' interested in WR Brown

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Agent: ‘A few teams’ interested in WR Brown

“A few teams” have reached out to express interest in free agent Antonio Brown since his release Friday by the New England patriots, according to the wide receiver’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

Rosenhaus told ESPN on Saturday he’s been in touch with a few teams, who “want information regarding (Brown’s) legal situation and the NFL investigation” into accusations against Brown of sexual assault and sending intimidating text messages.

ESPN reports that people around the league don’t expect any team to sign Brown until the league’s investigation is resolved.

The Patriots cut the controversial wideout on Friday afternoon, five days after Brown caught four passes for 56 yards and scored a touchdown in his debut with the team.

The NFL released a statement hours later in response to questions about Brown’s status.

“Our office is presently investigating multiple allegations, some of which are the subject of pending litigation,” the statement read, in part. “We have as yet made no findings regarding these issues. The investigation is ongoing and will be pursued vigorously and expeditiously.

“As long as Mr. Brown is a free agent, placement on the Commissioner’s exempt list is not appropriate. If he is signed by a club, such placement may become appropriate at any time depending on the status of the investigation. Upon the conclusion of the investigation, he may also be subject to discipline if the investigation finds that he has violated the law or league policies.”

Britney Taylor, Brown’s former trainer, filed a civil suit last week accusing him of three incidents of sexual assault or rape over a two-year period from 2017-18. According to multiple reports, the league met with Taylor for 10 hours on Monday, and a meeting with Brown was expected at some point.

On Thursday, Sports Illustrated reported that a female artist — who leveled claims earlier this week that Brown made unwanted sexual advances before firing her — contacted the NFL claiming the 31-year-old wide receiver sent her “intimidating and threatening” texts. On Friday, the woman’s attorney said the league had agreed to investigate the situation, and that the league had contacted the Patriots, who told Brown not to contact the woman any further.

In 10 NFL seasons (the first nine with Pittsburgh), Brown has 841 catches for 11,263 yards and 75 touchdowns. He is a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and four-time All-Pro.

–Field Level Media

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Saints QB Brees having surgery Wednesday

Saints QB Brees having surgery Wednesday

Saints QB Brees having surgery Wednesday

After seeing two specialists about his injured right thumb, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees will have surgery Wednesday in Los Angeles, ESPN’s Ed Werder reported Tuesday.

Werder cited a source saying the timeline for Brees’ return won’t be known until after surgery, which will be performed by Dr. Steven Shinn. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the current expectation is six weeks.

“I’m confident in the surgery that will take place and will dedicate myself to the rehab process to get back as quickly as I can,” Brees wrote in a text to Werder.

Multiple reports Monday said Brees would require surgery. Head coach Sean Payton did not confirm the information Monday, saying the quarterback was seeking a second opinion.

Brees hurt his thumb in Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams after hitting his hand on Aaron Donald’s hand during a follow through of a throw. Teddy Bridgewater replaced him, going 17 of 30 for 165 yards, and is expected to start Sunday’s game at Seattle.

Brees, 40, has missed just one game due to injury since joining the Saints in 2006, which came in 2015 due to a shoulder issue. He has missed just two other contests of a possible 210 with the Saints, both while resting in Week 17 with the team’s playoff position secure.

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

–Field Level Media

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Allen rallies Bills past Jets

Allen rallies Bills past Jets

Josh

Allen rallies Bills past Jets

Josh Allen overcame a four-turnover performance to rush for a touchdown and throw for another in the fourth quarter as the Buffalo Bills rallied to a 17-16 win over the New York Jets on Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J.

Allen scored from 3 yards out to trim New York’s lead to 16-10 early in the fourth quarter before his underthrown ball was reeled in by John Brown for a 38-yard touchdown with 3 minutes to play. Allen finished 24 of 37 for 254 yards passing.

In his first game since the 2017 season, Le’Veon Bell reeled in a touchdown pass and a two-point conversion pass for the Jets, who were hurt by kicker Kaare Vedvik misfiring on both an extra-point attempt and a 45-yard field-goal attempt.

Four-time Pro Bowl linebacker C.J. Mosley returned an interception 17 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and joined defensive tackle Steve McLendon in recovering a fumble. Linebacker Neville Hewitt also had an interception and New York added a safety in its first game under new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

Signed to a four-year, $52.5 million contract with the Jets in offseason, Bell made a shoestring catch from Sam Darnold for a 9-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter. Bell provided the exclamation point as he jumped to snare the two-point conversion attempt and give the Jets a 16-0 lead.

Bell, who rushed for 60 yards and had six catches for 32 more, became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 8,000 yards from scrimmage following a 5-yard gain on his first carry of the contest. The 27-year-old Bell was playing in his 63rd game, one fewer than Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson.

Darnold completed 28 of 41 passes for 175 yards, with Jamison Crowder emerging as a trusty outlet with a 14-catch, 99-yard performance.

The Jets seized the early lead as Mosley snared the ball after it caromed off the hands of wide receiver Cole Beasley before rumbling 17 yards for a touchdown.

New York extended its lead to 8-0 lead early in the third quarter after its swarming defense swallowed up veteran running back Frank Gore inside the end zone for a safety.

–Field Level Media

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Munoz fires 63, surges to Sanderson Farms lead

Munoz fires 63, surges to Sanderson Farms lead

Munoz fires 63, surges to Sanderson Farms lead

Colombia’s Sebastian Munoz blistered a 9-under-par 63 on Saturday to surge into the lead through three rounds of the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Miss.

The low round of the tournament thus far leaves Munoz at 16-under 200, one stroke ahead of third-round playing partner Carlos Ortiz of Mexico (65 on Saturday) at the Country Club of Jackson. The two were teammates at North Texas.

“It was pretty comfortable, I’ve played with him quite awhile,” Munoz said, per Golf Digest. “He made birdies, I made birdies. It was good vibes from the beginning.”

South Korea’s Byeong Hun An (70), the 36-hole leader, is another stroke back in third. Australia’s Cameron Percy (68) is alone in fourth at 13 under, completing a top four who are all seeking their first career PGA Tour victory. Five players are tied for fifth another stroke back.

Saturday’s action began with the final third of the 155 players finishing the second round, which was halted due to darkness after inclement weather prevented half of the field from finishing the first round on Thursday.

Munoz, 26, opened Saturday on fire, with birdies on the first three holes and another at the fifth. He gained another stroke at No. 8, finishing the front nine at 5-under 31, then added four more birdies on the back nine to complete a bogey-free round.

Munoz, who birdied all four par-5s, holds a 54-hole lead for the second time in his career. The previous time, he finished tied for third at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier in 2017.

“I’m going to have a great opportunity tomorrow,” Munoz told PGATour.com. “Just one shot at a time.”

Ortiz also had a bogey-free round, making hay with two highlight-reel moments to start the back nine. First, he holed a 50-foot bunker shot for birdie at the par-3 10th. Then he put his 227-yard approach at the par-5 11th inside 20 feet and sunk the eagle putt. Ortiz added birdies at the 13th and 15th before parring out.

An was 1 under through 12 holes before a birdie spree from Nos. 13-15. But he dropped out of a share of the lead with back-to-back bogeys at 16 and 17.

Defending champion Cameron Champ is tied for 25th at 7 under after shooting a 69. No winner has ever defended his title in the event.

–Field Level Media

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Ex-NFL QB Lorenzen hospitalized

Ex-NFL QB Lorenzen hospitalized

Former NFL quarterback Jared Lorenzen remains hospitalized in the intensive care unit, battling an infection as well as heart and kidney issues.

His family released an update on his condition late Saturday through Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio.

"On Friday, June 28th

Ex-NFL QB Lorenzen hospitalized

Former NFL quarterback Jared Lorenzen remains hospitalized in the intensive care unit, battling an infection as well as heart and kidney issues.

His family released an update on his condition late Saturday through Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio.

“On Friday, June 28th Jared began playing a bigger, more important game than he’s ever played before. Jared had not been feeling well for a few weeks and that finally caught up with him,” the statement began.

It continued: “He is fighting with every thing he has and his immediate family is by his side.”

Lorenzen, 38, played four seasons at Kentucky (2000-03) and led the SEC in passing yards (3,687) as a freshman. He still holds the Wildcats’ record for career passing yards with 10,354.

Despite his collegiate success, he was undrafted in 2004 and later signed with the New York Giants as a free agent, backing up Eli Manning in 2006-07. He appeared in four games, completing four passes for 28 yards.

Because of his weight, which was listed at 285 pounds in his NFL career, he was nicknamed “The Hefty Lefty.” Weight continued to be an issue for him after retirement and he said it climbed to more than 500 pounds.

In 2017, he launched The Jared Lorenzen Project, a videotaped weight-loss journey. He lost about 100 pounds within the first year.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Browns DE Garrett fined $42K for two hits

NFL notebook: Browns DE Garrett fined $42K for two hits

NFL notebook: Browns DE Garrett fined $42K for two hits

Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett was fined $42,112 by the NFL on Saturday for two hits he made on New York Jets quarterback Trevor Siemian during Monday night’s game.

Each hit cost Garrett a $21,056 fine in a game in which he was penalized four times, including twice for roughing the passer, while recording a career-best three sacks. Siemian suffered a season-ending ankle injury on the second roughing call, which occurred midway through the second quarter. The backup quarterback started in place of Sam Darnold, who was out with mononucleosis.

Also fined after the Jets-Browns game were Browns rookie linebacker Mack Wilson ($28,075), who was penalized for lowering his head and delivering a helmet-to-helmet hit on Jets wide receiver Ty Montgomery, and Jets safety Jamal Adams ($21,056) for a roughing-the-passer penalty against Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.

–Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed was ruled out for Monday night’s game against the visiting Chicago Bears due to lingering effects from a concussion.

Reed has yet to play this season after being hurt in Washington’s third preseason game. The 29-year-old Reed sustained a concussion following a helmet-to-helmet hit by Atlanta safety Keanu Neal on Aug. 22. The hit drew a penalty and later a $28,075 fine.

An NBC Sports Washington report Saturday cited a source saying Reed could still be “weeks” from a return. Reed has recorded 329 receptions for 3,371 yards and 24 touchdowns in six seasons with the Redskins, earning Pro Bowl honors in 2016.

–Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy said he expects Eddy Pineiro to play Monday night at Washington despite the kicker being listed as questionable on the Bears’ injury report.

Nagy told reporters Pineiro hurt his right (kicking) knee Friday in the weight room but termed the injury “minor.” Pineiro, 24, kicked Saturday and “felt like it was hurting him a little bit,” Nagy said. “I really do think that we’ll be OK.”

Also listed as questionable were tight end Trey Burton (groin), safety Eddie Jackson (shoulder/knee) and right guard Kyle Long (hip). Defensive end Bilal Nichols (broken hand) is out.

–The Cleveland Browns put linebacker and team captain Christian Kirksey on the injured reserve list with a chest injury.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that he was believed to have torn a pectoral muscle on Monday night in the Browns’ 23-3 win against the New York Jets. He’d be eligible to return on Nov. 24 against the Miami Dolphins but could be out for the season.

–The Philadelphia Eagles placed offensive tackle Jordan Mailata on injured reserve, further pushing back his eventual NFL debut.

Mailata, a seventh-round pick by the Eagles in 2018, has been dealing with a back injury since the preseason. He didn’t play at all last year and eventually was placed on IR in December. A former rugby player in Australia, the 6-foot-8, 346-pound Mailata made his way to the NFL via the International Pathway Program.

–The Green Bay Packers put starting left guard Lane Taylor on injured reserve with a biceps injury.

The 29-year-old suffered the injury in practice on Thursday. He will be eligible to be activated in eight weeks. Taylor started 45 of 48 games over the past three seasons.

–The New England Patriots promoted German running back Jakob Johnson to the 53-man roster after fullback James Develin (neck) was ruled out for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.

Johnson takes the roster spot of receiver Antonio Brown, who was released Friday by the team. Johnson, who played his collegiate ball at Tennessee, played running back and linebacker for the Patriots in the preseason. He is a native of Stuttgart, Germany.

–Field Level Media

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