National Football League
NFL News Wire
  • Friday, August 22, 2014
    NFL roundup: Browns mull special package for Manziel
    By The Sports Xchange

    Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine, who named Brian Hoyer as his starting quarterback two days ago, said Friday he is not ruling out a two-quarterback system featuring a package with rookie Johnny Manziel.

    • "We could potentially look at a two-quarterback system down the road," Pettine said on Sirius XM Radio.

      Pettine admitted that he and Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan have considered that option, but not for the season opener in Pittsburgh.

      "No, this is Brian's job," Pettine said. "I don't foresee us now, especially early, being in a two-quarterback system."

      Pettine said Friday that a Manziel package is "on the table."

      While Hoyer has only four career starts -- and went 3-0 with the Browns before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in 2013 -- his biggest advantages were experience and leadership.

      Meanwhile, Manziel was fined $12,000 for making an obscene gesture at the Washington Redskins' bench.

      League sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter that the fine is $975 more than the minimum based on the NFL's fine schedule.

      Manziel extended his middle finger after a third-quarter incompletion in front of Washington's bench during Cleveland's 24-23 loss Monday night.

      In other Browns news, coaches, players and fans are still awaiting to hear about the fate of wide receiver Josh Gordon.

      As of late Friday afternoon, the league had yet to hand down punishment to the third-year wide receiver. Gordon has been awaiting word on his fate from league appeals officer Harold Henderson for 18 days since his arbitration hearing on Aug. 4.

      The NFL's substance-abuse policy says a decision from the hearing officer must be handed down within "reasonable time," but does not clarify what is "reasonable."

      The league's PED policy specifically states a decision must be made within five days after the end of the appeal hearing.

      ---The NFL fined New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham $30,000 for two celebratory dunks after he scored touchdowns in a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans last week.

      Graham "dunked" the football over the goalpost crossbar twice and received a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty each time. The league banned his trademark celebration during the offseason, a result of one of Graham's dunks knocking the goalpost out of alignment in a November game against Atlanta.

      Graham defended his celebrations by saying he's not hurting anyone. But he did acknowledge the new rule needs to be followed.

      ---The NFL suspended Kansas City Chiefs starting right tackle Donald Stephenson for the first four games of the 2014 season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

      "Obviously losing Donald is disappointing, but we are in full compliance with the league's policy. We will have no further comment on the situation," the team said.

      Stephenson, 25, has played in every game since being a third-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. He started seven games in both 2012 and 2013.

      ---Details from the criminal complaint emerged after Pittsburgh Steelers running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount were charged with marijuana possession.

      According to the complaint obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, when a Ross Township police officer motorcycle cop told Bell that he could be facing a DUI charge after he allegedly admitted smoking the marijuana police found in the car he was driving, the Steelers running back seemed puzzled.

      "I didn't know that you could get a DUI for being high. I smoked two hours ago," the complaint quoted the 22-year-old Bell as saying. "I am not high anymore. I am perfectly fine. Why would I be getting high if I had to get on a plane to make it to my game?"

      Bell and the 27-year-old Blount, who is in his first season with the team, as well as a 21-year-old woman passenger from California, were cited for misdemeanor possession of 30 or fewer grams of marijuana.

      Also, a serious spinal cord injury has forced former Steelers running back Isaac Redman to retire.

      Redman, 29, compiled 1,148 yards and five touchdowns on 282 career carries during his five-year career. Redman attended Division II Bowie State and went undrafted before signing with the Steelers before the 2009 season.

      ---The Miami Dolphins waived tight end Michael Egnew, the 2012 third-round pick out of Missouri who managed just seven catches for 69 yards and no touchdowns during his first two NFL seasons.

      The Dolphins also cut defensive tackle Micajah Reynolds and waived/injured defensive back Jalil Brown.

      Egnew is the highest draft pick to be cut loose by the Dolphins since 2009 second-round pick Pat White, the former West Virginia quarterback who failed to make his mark in a "Wildcat" role.

      ---Kansas City and star linebacker Justin Houston have been unable to agree on a long-term contract and now the Chiefs' defensive stalwart plans to play out his rookie deal and test free agency after this season.

      Despite being unhappy with his current deal, Houston showed up for training camp earlier this month. Kansas City offered a new deal, but Houston didn't accept the offer.

      Negotiations the past few weeks have not yielded an agreement. CBSSports.com reported a "source said there was no chance of a long-term deal getting done."

      ---Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy suffered a thumb injury and went to the locker room during the first quarter of Thursday night's preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but coach Chip Kelly called the injury "no big deal."

      X-rays were negative and McCoy came back to the sideline and had his right hand taped.

      During a first-quarter series, McCoy took a hard hit from Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons on a play that resulted in a 5-yard loss. McCoy came off the field and requested a trainer.

      "A helmet hit it," McCoy said, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. "It definitely hurts. But there have been times I've been banged up and it turns out fine. We'll see what happens."

      ---The Washington Post said the newspaper's editorial board will no longer refer to the NFL team as the Redskins.

      The editorial board released a statement on the Post's website saying, "While we wait for the NFL to catch up with public opinion and common decency we have decided not to use the slur ourselves except when it is essential for clarity or effect."

      The editorial board decision is separate from the Post's news gathering entity. Executive editor Marty Baron has said that Redskins still will appear in sports and news stories.

      ---The Minnesota Vikings and the Wilf family committed an additional private contribution of $46.1 million toward the new stadium, bringing the team's total increased contributions to the project since last November to nearly $49 million, the team announced.

      The new amount locks in the team's previous contingency guarantees of $26.4 million from last fall and includes an additional $19.7 million in cash. The $46.1 million is also in addition to the team's $1.2 million and $1.3 million contributions earlier this year.

      The public contribution toward the project remains at $498 million. The new stadium is due to open in 2016. The Vikings are playing outdoors at the University of Minnesota until then.

      ---A video showing former Texas A&M wide receiver and current Tampa Bay rookie Mike Evans involved in a fight at a Miami nightclub surfaced on the Internet.

      TMZ released the video and said the incident took place Saturday night. The Tampa Bay Times reported that Evans' agent said the incident took place in March, which is significant because Evans would be exempt from the NFL's personal conduct policy because he was not a member of a team at the time.

      The video shows Evans outside the Dream Nightclub. He appears to get into a shouting match with nightclub bouncers. Someone, allegedly in his group, triggers a brawl by throwing a punch and Evans can be seen bobbing and weaving. He even jumps across the hood of a car.

  • Friday, August 22, 2014
    Gordon, Browns remain in limbo
    By The Sports Xchange

    While most of the news from the Cleveland Browns during this year's training camp involves Johnny Manziel, coaches, players and fans are still awaiting to hear about the fate of wide receiver Josh Gordon.

    • As of late Friday afternoon, the league had yet to hand down punishment to the third-year wide receiver. Gordon has been awaiting word on his fate from league appeals officer Harold Henderson for 18 days since his arbitration hearing on Aug. 4.

      The NFL's substance-abuse policy says a decision from the hearing officer must be handed down within "reasonable time," but does not clarify what is "reasonable."

      The league's PED policy specifically states a decision must be made within five days after the end of the appeal hearing.

      Gordon tested positive for pot during the offseason, a violation of conditions required as a repeat offender. Gordon hired lawyer Maurice Suh to represent him at his appeal hearing before arbitrator Harold Henderson in New York. Suh argued the positive test was the result of secondhand smoke. Gordon has been tested nearly 70 times and passed every test but this particular one, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.

      If Gordon is suspended for an entire year, he will not be eligible to return to any team activity until just a few weeks before the start of the 2015 regular season.

      The 23-year-old Gordon led the league in receiving yards last season with 1,646 yards despite missing two games for violating the substance-abuse program.

      Browns first-year coach Mike Pettine said leaving Gordon in limbo for so long is draining for everyone.

      "He, like all of us wants to know and wants to get on with it and move forward," Pettine said.

  • Friday, August 22, 2014
    Steelers having multiple problems
    By The Sports Xchange

    PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers may be in more trouble than even their Cheech & Chong running mates of Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount.

    • They have problems on the field on the other side of the ball too, on defense. The Steelers have been counting on a mix of rookies, young players and a few aging veterans to springboard their defense into a reformation period. The Philadelphia Eagles made them look as if much more work -- and perhaps talent -- needs to take hold.

      Philadelphia scored all 31 of its points Thursday night against the first-team defense. Even the second-team Eagles' offense led by quarterback Mark Sanchez marched for two touchdowns in the third quarter against the top Steelers' defense.

      "I think everybody's pissed off," defensive end Cam Heyward said. "If you're not pissed off, you shouldn't be on this team. There is a big level of disappointment."

      Might Thursday's play against the Eagles be an indication of what is to come for the once-proud Steelers' defense this season?

      "It better not be or we have a long season ahead of us," Heyward said.

      As for halfbacks Bell and Blount and the charges levied against them in suburban Pittsburgh for marijuana possession, the Steelers are not expected to take any drastic action. They will allow the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell to determine any disciplinary measures, which often do not occur until the following season. In typical cases such as theirs, Goodell has issued a one-game suspension.

      Coach Mike Tomlin and the Steelers' hierarchy were upset particularly with the absurdity and stupidity of it: two players caught with marijuana use on their way to catch the team's chartered flight to Philadelphia early in the afternoon.

      "They'll be dealt with appropriately," said Tomlin, who played them both in Philadelphia because he said he did not view it as punishment to send them home for a preseason game.

      The Steelers cannot afford to lose both, especially Bell, who is expected to be their horse and a big part of their no-huddle offense. They have no other halfbacks with any NFL carries to their credit.

      "I'm sorry to be a distraction to the team," is all Bell said.

  • Friday, August 22, 2014
    Video shows Evans in brawl
    By The Sports Xchange

    A video showing former Texas A&M wide receiver and current Tampa Bay rookie Mike Evans involved in a fight at a Miami nightclub surfaced on the Internet Friday.

    • TMZ released the video and said the incident took place Saturday night. Evans, who teamed up with A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel in college, turned 21 on Thursday.

      The Tampa Bay Times reported that Evans' agent said the incident took place in March, which is significant because Evans would be exempt from the NFL's personal conduct policy because he was not a member of a team at the time.

      The video shows Evans outside the Dream Nightclub. He appears to get into a shouting match with nightclub bouncers. Someone, allegedly in his group, triggers a brawl by throwing a punch and Evans can be seen bobbing and weaving. He even jumps across the hood of a car.

      Evans, the seventh pick in this year's draft, was trying to get back inside the club to get his girlfriend, his agent alleges. Deryk Gilmore also said Evans was not drinking that night.

      No arrests were made.

  • Friday, August 22, 2014
    Vikings kick another $46.1M into stadium project
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Minnesota Vikings and the Wilf family committed an additional private contribution of $46.1 million toward the new stadium, bringing the team's total increased contributions to the project since last November to nearly $49 million, the team announced Friday.

    • The new amount locks in the team's previous contingency guarantees of $26.4 million from last fall and includes an additional $19.7 million in cash. The $46.1 million is also in addition to the team's $1.2 million and $1.3 million contributions earlier this year.

      Combined, the additional dollars push the original team/private contribution of $477 million to nearly $526 million and increase the stadium budget from $975 million to approximately $1.024 billion.

      The public contribution toward the project remains at $498 million.

      The new stadium is due to open in 2016. The Vikings are playing outdoors at the University of Minnesota until then.

      "The Vikings have made a significant contribution to the stadium budget, which allows us to maintain the original design to ensure the stadium is the most iconic, world-class stadium in the country and perhaps the world," Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority chairperson Michele Kelm-Helgen said in a press release. "The team stepping up to make this contribution was instrumental in helping to solve our budget gap."

      The Vikings and the stadium authority also announced that SMG signed a 10-year deal to market and operate the stadium when it opens.

      SMG already runs NFL stadiums in Chicago, New Orleans, Houston and Jacksonville. SMG's facilities have hosted nine Super Bowls. Minneapolis is due to host the 2018 Super Bowl.

      According to the Sports Business Daily, SMG beat out AEG and Global Spectrum in an intense competition for the contract. As part of the 10-year deal with a five-year option, SMG will pay a $6.75 million annual guarantee to the stadium authority.

      The Vikings also have absorbed a total of $23.2 million in costs of playing at the University of Minnesota for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, up from the $15 million announced by the team last November. These costs were included in the original $975 million budget in order to cover the team's relocation expenses to TCF Bank Stadium but will now be directed toward construction costs of the new facility.

      "It is critical that the original stadium design unveiled in 2013 is delivered to the public when the new stadium opens in 2016," Vikings owner and president Mark Wilf said in a statement. "Our goal is to provide the best game day experience possible for our fans and for everyone in Minnesota who uses the stadium. We strongly believed eliminating significant items that contribute to that fan experience was not an option."

  • Friday, August 22, 2014
    Dolphins waive TE Egnew
    By The Sports Xchange

    DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins waived tight end Michael Egnew, the 2012 third-round pick out of Missouri who managed just seven catches for 69 yards and no touchdowns during his first two NFL seasons.

    • The Dolphins also cut defensive tackle Micajah Reynolds and waived/injured defensive back Jalil Brown.

      Egnew, 24, appeared in just two games as a rookie, struggling to pick up the offense and create separation downfield. He managed seven catches last season, but was fighting for a roster spot throughout training camp with Arthur Lynch, Gator Hoskins, Brett Brackett and Evan Wilson, only one of whom is likely to be kept on the depth chart behind Charles Clay and Dion Sims.

      Egnew is the highest draft pick to be cut loose by the Dolphins since 2009 second-round pick Pat White, the former West Virginia quarterback who failed to make his mark in a "Wildcat" role.

  • Friday, August 22, 2014
    Graham fined for celebratory dunks
    By The Sports Xchange

    The NFL fined New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham $30,000 for two celebratory dunks after he scored touchdowns in a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans last week.

    • Graham "dunked" the football over the goalpost crossbar twice and received a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty each time. The league banned his trademark celebration during the offseason, a result of one of Graham's dunks knocking the goalpost out of alignment in a November game against Atlanta.

      Graham defended his celebrations by saying he's not hurting anyone. But he did acknowledge the new rule needs to be followed.

      "For four years and however many touchdowns, I always dunked it," Graham told NOLA.com. "I've just got to stop doing that now."

      While Graham has ignored the league mandate this preseason, his dunks have clearly irritated Saints head coach Sean Payton.

      "I'm very upset," Payton said after the Tennessee game in which the Saints were penalized 22 times. "Would you be upset? I was, particularly."

      Despite the fines and upsetting his coach, Graham has not promised to stop dunking.

      Graham signed a new four-year contract in July after a highly-publicized battle over his designation as a wide receiver or tight end. His new deal guarantees nearly $21 million and could be worth up to $40 million.

  • Friday, August 22, 2014
    League suspends Chiefs tackle Stephenson
    By The Sports Xchange

    The NFL suspended Kansas City Chiefs starting right tackle Donald Stephenson for the first four games of the 2014 season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

    • The Chiefs were informed of the league's decision on Friday morning.

      "Obviously losing Donald is disappointing, but we are in full compliance with the league's policy. We will have no further comment on the situation," the team said.

      Stephenson, 25, has played in every game since being a third-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. He started seven games in both 2012 and 2013.

      "I'm extremely sorry that I failed to check with the NFL, NFLPA or Chiefs medical team before I took a medication that requires a therapeutic use exemption," Stephenson said via a statement. "The rules are strict and without a therapeutic use exemption, the consequence is a four-game suspension. ... It is not a mistake I will ever make again."

      He is permitted to play in the Chiefs' final two preseason games and will be eligible to return to the active roster on Sept. 30.

  • Friday, August 22, 2014
    Post editorial board won't use 'Redskins'
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Washington Post on Friday said the newspaper's editorial board will no longer refer to the NFL team as the Redskins.

    • The editorial board released a statement on the Post's website saying, "While we wait for the NFL to catch up with public opinion and common decency we have decided not to use the slur ourselves except when it is essential for clarity or effect."

      The Post editorial board's opposition to the name began before current owner Daniel Snyder purchased the team. The first editorial stating opposition to the team's name appeared in 1992, but most recently the board used Redskins in an Aug. 13 editorial, the newspaper reported.

      The editorial board decision is separate from the Post's news gathering entity. Executive editor Marty Baron has said that Redskins still will appear in sports and news stories.

      "The Post's newsroom and the editorial page operate independently of each other," Baron said. "Standard operating policy in the newsroom has been to use the names that established institutions choose for themselves. That remains our policy, as we continue to vigorously cover controversy over the team's name and avoid any advocacy role on this subject."

      The new policy does not apply to letters to the editor that use the name Redskins.

      Editorial page editor Fred Hiatt said the decision was made now because opposition to the name has picked up steam recently.

  • Friday, August 22, 2014
    Report: 'No chance' Chiefs sign Houston
    By The Sports Xchange

    Kansas City and star linebacker Justin Houston have been unable to agree on a long-term contract and now the Chiefs' defensive stalwart plans to play out his rookie deal and test free agency after this season.

    • Despite being unhappy with his current deal, Houston showed up for training camp earlier this month. Kansas City offered a new deal, but Houston didn't accept the offer.

      Negotiations the past few weeks have not yielded an agreement. On Friday, CBSSports.com reported a "source said there was no chance of a long-term deal getting done."

      Houston was a third-round pick out of Georgia in 2011. In his first two years, Houston has recorded 15 1/2 sacks and 99 solo tackles.

  • Friday, August 22, 2014
    Former Steelers RB Redman retires
    By The Sports Xchange

    A serious spinal cord injury has forced former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Isaac Redman to retire.

    • He announced his retirement via Twitter on Friday:

      "Why I'm not in the NFL? To those who are wondering why I am not playing anymore. Last season, I tried my best to play through a neck injury, but I just wasn't myself on the field."

      Redman, 29, compiled 1,148 yards and five touchdowns on 282 career carries during his five-year career. Redman attended Division II Bowie State and went undrafted before signing with the Steelers before the 2009 season.

      The Steelers released Redman after he suffered a concussion in the second game of the regular season.

  • Friday, August 22, 2014
    Criminal complaint details emerge for Bell, Blount
    By The Sports Xchange

    Details from the criminal complaint emerged on Friday after Pittsburgh Steelers running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount were charged with marijuana possession.

    • According to the complaint obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, when a Ross Township police officer motorcycle cop told Bell that he could be facing a DUI charge after he allegedly admitted smoking the marijuana police found in the car he was driving, the Steelers running back seemed puzzled.

      "I didn't know that you could get a DUI for being high. I smoked two hours ago," the complaint quoted the 22-year-old Bell as saying. "I am not high anymore. I am perfectly fine. Why would I be getting high if I had to get on a plane to make it to my game?"

      Officer Sean Stafiej asked Bell where he was headed.

      "I have to be on my plane at 3 to be in Philadelphia," Bell said. "I play for the Steelers."

      Bell and the 27-year-old Blount, who is in his first season with the team, as well as a 21-year-old woman passenger from California, were cited for misdemeanor possession of 30 or fewer grams of marijuana after Stafiej stopped them after he noticed a "strong odor of marijuana" coming out of the driver's side window when he pulled up next to the Chevrolet Camaro.

      Bell also was charged with driving under the influence of marijuana after a blood test at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Passavant, Ross Township Police detective Brian Kohlhepp said. Both charges are misdemeanors.

      A preliminary court date has not yet been determined.

      Bell initially told the officer there was no marijuana in the car, but when asked if they had smoked any, he replied: "It was about a minute ago," before clarifying that it could have been within the previous two hours.

      The Steelers played both backs Thursday night in their 31-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. They combined for 55 yards in a loss.

      Bell and Blount apologized after the game but said nothing about the charges each faces.

      "I'm sorry for the distraction that I caused my team," said Blount, who led the Steelers with 32 rushing yards on seven carries. "I just want to apologize to my team and my coach and my organization for causing that distraction."

      Bell rushed for 23 yards on nine carries. He later apologized for causing a distraction but declined to answer any questions that didn't pertain to football.

      Coach Mike Tomlin opened himself up to criticism by playing Bell and Blount in the preseason game.

      "I didn't view it as punishment to send them home, to not play in this preseason game," Tomlin said after the game. "I'd rather play them more than anticipated than to remove them from the game, so that's why we took the stance we took tonight. Obviously we've got some things to do regarding the matter moving forward but not a lot to say at this point in time."

      The NFL is expected to review the incident, and each player is subject to a one- to four-game suspension.

      Bell is entering his second season after breaking Franco Harris' Steelers rookie record for yards from scrimmage with 1,259.

      Blount signed with the Steelers during the offseason after rushing for 772 yards and seven touchdowns on 153 carries last year with the New England Patriots.

  • Friday, August 22, 2014
    Henery close to kicking his way out of Philly
    By The Sports Xchange

    PHILADELPHIA -- Alex Henery has been the Philadelphia Eagles' placekicker for the past three seasons, but there is no guarantee he still will be their kicker when they open the regular season against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 7.

    • Henery, who the Eagles thought enough of to select in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, did not have a particularly good season in 2013. He had one of the worst touchback percentages on kickoffs in the league and while he made 23 of 28 field-goal attempts, four of his five misses were from 48 yards and in. He also missed a critical 48-yard attempt in the Eagles' two-point playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints.

      While he has been accurate in training camp this summer, Henery missed a 47-yard attempt last week against the New England Patriots, then shanked a 31-yarder Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

      The Eagles brought in another kicker Aug. 20, acquiring rookie Cody Parkey in a trade with Indianapolis. Parkey converted an extra point Thursday in his only kick of the game.

      "You have to make a field goal like that," coach Chip Kelly said of Henery's 31-yard miss Thursday. "You have to make it."

      Corey Spear was signed over the offseason to compete with Henery but hasn't performed well enough in practice to earn a field-goal opportunity during the preseason.

      Asked if he is considering bringing in a more experienced kicker to compete with Henery, Kelly said: "I don't know. But if outside influences are going to affect you, then that's something you've got to deal with, you know what I mean?

      "There is going to be competition at every position. Our job is to make sure we put the best players out there and the guys that give us the best chance (to win)."

      Earlier this week, Eagles special teams coordinator Dave Fipp made it clear that Henery is on a short leash.

      "We're keeping an eye on everybody (around the league)," he said. "We'll see. We'll see how the next two weeks go."

      --RB LeSean McCoy suffered a thumb injury and went to the locker room during the first quarter of Thursday night's preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but coach Chip Kelly called the injury "no big deal."

      X-rays were negative and McCoy came back to the sideline and had his right hand taped.

      During a first-quarter series, McCoy took a hard hit from Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons on a play that resulted in a 5-yard loss. McCoy came off the field and requested a trainer.

      On the Eagles' next offensive series, McCoy went back into the game and scored a touchdown on a 22-yard screen pass from quarterback Nick Foles.

      McCoy acknowledged after the game that his thumb was sore.

      "A helmet hit it," McCoy said, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. "It definitely hurts. But there have been times I've been banged up and it turns out fine. We'll see what happens."

      --WR Jeremy Maclin crumpled to the turf without being hit early in the second quarter Thursday and grabbed his knee. But he eventually walked off under his own power and later returned to the game.

      "It was obviously an awkward fall," he said. "It was similar to what I did last year (when he tore his ACL), with the knee going straight into the ground like that. Luckily, my quad is strong enough and the leg is intact."

      --RB Chris Polk missed his third straight preseason game with a hamstring injury. He suffered the injury on the second day of training camp. Polk, who was supposed to be the Eagles' No. 3 running back behind LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles, is in jeopardy of not making the team.

  • Friday, August 22, 2014
    Manziel fined $12K for middle finger
    By The Sports Xchange

    Cleveland Browns backup quarterback Johnny Manziel was fined $12,000 for making an obscene gesture at the Washington Redskins' bench, multiple media outlets reported Friday.

    • League sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter that the fine is $975 more than the minimum based on the NFL's fine schedule.

      Manziel extended his middle finger after a third-quarter incompletion in front of Washington's bench during Cleveland's 24-23 loss Monday night.

      Manziel said at the time that he had "words exchanged" with the Redskins.

      "I felt like I did a good job of holding my composure throughout the night, and you have a lapse of judgment and slip up," Manziel said after the game.

      Manziel can appeal to have the fine reduced because it is more than 25 percent of his weekly salary of $24,075, according to Pro Football Talk.

      Manziel will enter the regular season as the Browns' backup quarterback after Brian Hoyer was named the starter on Wednesday.

      "It does not sit well," Browns coach Mike Pettine said Monday about Manziel's gesture. "It's disappointing, because what we talk about is being poised and being focused. ... That's a big part of all football players, especially the quarterback."

  • Friday, August 22, 2014
    Pettine says two-QB system 'on the table'
    By The Sports Xchange

    Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine, who named Brian Hoyer as his starting quarterback two days ago, said Friday he is not ruling out a two-quarterback system featuring a package with rookie Johnny Manziel.

    • "We could potentially look at a two-quarterback system down the road,'' Pettine said on Sirius XM Radio.

      Pettine admitted that he and Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan have considered that option, but not for the season opener in Pittsburgh.

      "No, this is Brian's job,'' Pettine said. "I don't foresee us now, especially early, being in a two-quarterback system. This is Brian's job and I never think of it as a leash or we want a guy to be a game manager. ... I don't want our guys on offense to feel like there's any type of governor there and they can't just cut it loose and be aggressive. I think when you feel like you're going to be solid on defense, that allows you to be even more aggressive on offense."

      Pettine said Friday that a Manziel package is "on the table.''

      During his press conference Wednesday to announce Hoyer as the starter, Pettine said he didn't envision such a platoon early in the season.

      According to Cleveland.com, Shanahan was asked July 31 if he would put in a package for Manziel right from the start, and he said he wouldn't hesitate.

      "I would do it if it looked like the right thing to do,'' Shanahan said. "That has to do all about studying Pittsburgh, what their schemes are, whether we think some things look good versus them that maybe Johnny could do that Brian couldn't, what the rest of our team's doing. I have no problem with that.

      "I think that does present some issues, but I don't like to ever do something just to do it. There's got to be a reason for it and we think something looks good and it can help our team move the chains and it can be successful, then I would never hesitate to do it."

      Pettine also made it clear on Wednesday that Hoyer is on a week-to-week trial -- just like other starters.

      "I don't want to make a permanent commitment to any starter,'' Pettine said. "I just don't think you can do that. I think you make more of a commitment to your quarterback because of the unique circumstances that surround that position. But I think you need all your guys on the roster running scared a little bit, that, 'Hey listen, if I don't perform, this is a performance-based business, if I don't perform, I'm not going to be in there.'''

      While Hoyer has only four career starts -- and went 3-0 with the Browns before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in 2013 -- his biggest advantages were experience and leadership.

      "He was the clear leader from the beginning," Pettine said Wednesday. "We've maintained all along that if it was close, I would prefer to go with the more experienced player. Brian has done a great job in the meeting rooms and with his teammates on the practice field and in the locker room."

      Manziel was disappointed he did not win the starting job, but he said the competition was fair.

      "I feel like if I would have come out and played better, it would have been a different outcome," Manziel said. "I don't think I played terrible, but I didn't do anything to jump off the page. I made strides and got better throughout training camp, and that's what I wanted to do.

      "Obviously, it's disappointing, but at the same time I want what's best for this team moving forward, and I'm going to continue come out here every day and give it my all and continue to get better as a quarterback. That's all I can do."

      Manziel, drafted 22nd overall in May, played only two seasons at Texas A&M in an offense designed to win at that level. The Browns want him to get more time in an NFL offense before asking him to beat NFL defenses. Manziel was not great statistically in two games. He also showed immaturity Monday night, Pettine said, when he raised his middle finger to the Washington Redskins' bench in response to heckling from the sideline.

  • Friday, August 22, 2014
    Eagles' McCoy says injured thumb hurts
    By The Sports Xchange

    Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy suffered a thumb injury and went to the locker room during the first quarter of Thursday night's preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but coach Chip Kelly called the injury "no big deal."

    • X-rays were negative and McCoy came back to the sideline and had his right hand taped.

      During a first-quarter series, McCoy took a hard hit from Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons on a play that resulted in a 5-yard loss. McCoy came off the field and requested a trainer.

      On the Eagles' next offensive series, McCoy went back into the game and scored a touchdown on a 22-yard screen pass from quarterback Nick Foles.

      McCoy acknowledged after the game that his thumb was sore.

      "A helmet hit it," McCoy said, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. "It definitely hurts. But there have been times I've been banged up and it turns out fine. We'll see what happens."

  • Friday, August 22, 2014
    Steelers stumble badly in loss to Eagles
    By The Sports Xchange

    PHILADELPHIA -- In the final dress rehearsal, the Pittsburgh Steelers were lucky the stage didn't collapse underneath them.

    • The Philadelphia Eagles dominated the Steelers in the first half, when both teams played their starters, and went on to an easy 31-21 victory Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field in Week 3 of the NFL preseason.

      Teams traditionally play their starters the most in the third preseason game and then don't play them at all in the fourth and final exhibition. That meant Thursday night was the last chance for the Steelers' regulars to put on a good show, and they fell flat on their facemasks.

      The Eagles, behind quarterback Nick Foles, dominated the first half and took a 17-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.

      "We obviously didn't bring our 'A' game, and that's disappointing," Steelers safety Troy Polamalu said. "They did a good job keeping us off balance, and we didn't respond the way we needed to, so we have a lot to look at in (film study) and a lot of things we can correct."

      Steelers running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount played Thursday night, one day after they were arrested for misdemeanor possession of marijuana after the car they were in was pulled over by a traffic officer in Ross Township, Pa. Bell started against the Eagles and finished with 23 yards on nine attempts. Blount gained 32 yards on seven carries.

      Steelers coach Mike Tomlin declined to comment on the charges, other than to say that he was disappointed and that the arrests had no impact on the game. Bell also refused to talk about the incident and just said he was disappointed in the way his team played.

      As for the game, Tomlin said he was displeased even though the result doesn't count.

      "Obviously, we don't want to play like that under any circumstances," he said. "We're not going to make any excuses. Now, I'm looking for the proper response to this performance. We're going to challenge them."

      Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a rough night. He played the entire first half and completed just eight of 17 passes for 60 yards and an interception -- a passer rating of 31.5 -- against the Eagles' No. 1 defense.

      Roethlisberger also played two series in the third quarter and finally got on track against the Eagles' second-team defense. He led his offense on a six-play, 79-yard drive, and the Steelers (1-2) scored their first TD on his 27-yard pass to tight end Heath Miller. However, that score merely cut the Eagles' lead to 24-7.

      For the night, Roethlisberger completed 15 of 24 passes for 157 yards.

      "We couldn't get into a rhythm in the first half, but give them some credit -- they have a good team," Roethlisberger said. "And we didn't quit -- we managed to put together a good drive in the third quarter, and that's something to build on."

      Foles played the first two quarters and completed 19 of 29 passes for 179 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He sat out the rest of the game.

      Running back LeSean McCoy, who scored the Eagles' first touchdown on a 22-yard screen pass, injured his right thumb during the TD drive. X-rays were negative, but McCoy sat out the rest of the game.

      The Eagles (1-2) got on the board first and did so in impressive style, driving 80 yards on 11 plays. On third-and-10 from the Pittsburgh 22-yard line, Foles faked a quick pass to the left side, then wheeled to his right and dropped a screen pass to McCoy. A key block downfield by guard Todd Herremans gave McCoy enough running room to take it all the way to the end zone and give the Eagles a 7-0 lead with 6:12 left in the first quarter.

      The Eagles followed that impressive drive with another one -- this time they went 77 yards in 13 plays -- and once again their high-octane offense had the Steelers back on their heels. Philadelphia cashed in when running back Darren Sproles scored on a 1-yard run that made it 14-0 with 12:34 left in the second quarter.

      "We got things going in the beginning of the game and got on a good roll," Foles said. "Everyone contributed to this one, and that's a good feeling to have as we get closer and closer to the regular season."

      NOTES: The Eagles' newest players, K Cody Parkey and RB Kenjon Barner -- both of whom were in trades acquired this week -- participated Thursday night. Parkey kicked an extra point. Barner gained 32 yards on seven carries and returned a kickoff 22 yards. ... With the addition of Parkey, the Eagles' roster now includes nine former University of Oregon players. Oregon, of course, is where Chip Kelly coached until he joined the Eagles last year. ... Steelers LB Jason Worilds injured his right knee in the third quarter and did not return. ... Two late scratches for the Eagles were CBs Cary Williams and Brandon Boykin, both with sore hamstrings.

  • Thursday, August 21, 2014
    Steelers RBs charged with pot possession
    By The Sports Xchange

    Pittsburgh Steelers running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount were charged with marijuana possession on Thursday, but both played in a preseason game in Philadelphia.

    • Bell also was charged with driving under the influence of marijuana, Ross Township Police detective Brian Kohlhepp said. Both charges are misdemeanors.

      A preliminary court date has not yet been determined, Kohlhepp said.

      The two players were taken into custody Wednesday after a police officer found approximately 20 grams of marijuana in their car.

      Bell and Blount, the team's starter and primary backup at running back, were pulled over at about 1:30 p.m. ET Wednesday when the motorcycle officer smelled marijuana. Both admitted that the pot belonged to them.

      The two players met with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on Thursday morning and the decision was made to allow Bell and Blount to play, according to reports.

      Speedy but short Kent State rookie Dri Archer is the Steelers' No. 3 running back. Another rookie, undrafted Indiana running back Stephen Houston, could also sneak into the picture despite only a few practices with the team. Houston was recently waived by the New England Patriots.

      Bell was initially left at home by the Steelers, who travel to Philadelphia for a preseason game Thursday. But Bell opted to pay his own freight to join the team.

      Bell was driving a black Camaro, which included an unidentified female passenger. Police said all three were cooperative and released.

      Once the case is resolved, Bell and Blount could face disciplinary action from the NFL under the league's substance abuse policy.

      Bell, selected in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, rushed for 860 yards and eight touchdowns on 244 carries as a rookie last year.

      Blount signed with the Steelers during the offseason after rushing for 772 yards and seven touchdowns on 153 carries last year with the New England Patriots.

  • Thursday, August 21, 2014
    Bucs acquire OG Johnson from Chiefs
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers acquired guard Rishaw Johnson from the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for safety Kelcie McCray on Thursday.

    • The Bucs continue to search for depth in the middle of their offensive line, where guards Oniel Cousins and Patrick Omameh have a tenuous hold on starting spots, with Jamon Meredith also in the mix. The offensive line play has been inconsistent at best through the first two preseason games.

      Johnson is a natural guard who also has spent some time at center, providing backup to Evan Dietrich-Smith.

      "A big athlete - young, looked pretty good on video," Bucs coach Lovie Smith said. "Don't know a lot about him right now, but everything has checked out. Again, whenever you get a chance to add a big, young athlete, you have to be pretty excited about that."

      Johnson (6-foot-3, 313 pounds) originally entered the league as a college free agent with Seattle in 2012, and spent 13 weeks on the Seahawks' practice squad before being promoted to the active roster for the final four weeks of the season.

      After spending the 2013 offseason with the Seahawks, Johnson was waived in the final round of cuts before being added to Kansas City's practice squad. After spending the first three weeks of the season on the practice squad, Johnson was promoted to the active roster.

      During the 2013 season, Johnson played in three games, with one start, and saw playing time in the Chiefs' AFC wild-card game at Indianapolis.

      McCray played in 11 games for the Bucs last year, signing with Tampa Bay after being waived by the Miami Dolphins last season.

      The Bucs also signed guard R.J. Mattes and waived defensive end James Ruffin.

      Mattes entered the NFL with the New England Patriots as a college free agent out of North Carolina State in 2013, playing in two games during the 2013 preseason before being released. Mattes spent the 2014 offseason with the Patriots.

  • Thursday, August 21, 2014
    Falcons sign WR Weems, waive Sambrano
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Atlanta Falcons tweaked their wide receiver depth chart and addressed a special teams concern by re-signing Eric Weems to a one-year deal worth a reported $730,000 and waiving Jabin Sambrano.

    • Weems, 29, was released by Chicago last week after the Bears signed Santonio Holmes, and reportedly was set to sign with the Tennessee Titans before negotiations broke down.

      Known as a special teams stalwart, Weems originally signed with the Falcons as an undrafted rookie out of Bethune-Cookman following the 2007 NFL Draft. He spent five seasons with the Falcons, and holds the franchise record with a 102-yard kickoff return for touchdown in 2010.

      In 87 career games, he has 27 receptions for 240 yards and two touchdowns. He has returned 131 kickoffs for 3,184 yards and one touchdown, and 78 punts for 815 yards and another score.

      However, he is not expected to see much return duty with the team signing record-setting return man Devin Hester in free agency. Weems does provide a veteran presence to the coverage teams and the receiver depth chart, putting a player like undrafted rookie Bernard Reedy on the roster bubble.

      Sambrano entered the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted rookie following the 2012 draft, and has spent time on the practice squads of the Colts, Bucs and Jaguars.

  • Thursday, August 21, 2014
    NFL roundup: Cowboys LB Holloman's career likely over
    By The Sports Xchange

    Dallas Cowboys second-year linebacker DeVonte Holloman has been advised by doctors to give up football due to a severe neck injury, coach Jason Garrett revealed Thursday.

    • Holloman, 23, missed six games last year with a neck injury and injured his neck in Saturday's preseason game against Baltimore.

      Holloman had three different medical opinions, including one in San Antonio this week.

      "DeVonte got information back from the doctors he visited with regarding his neck and it doesn't look like he's going to be able to play football anymore," Garrett told reporters. "It's in relation to the injury he had last year and he had a similar injury this year. I'll let him speak more to that. But the information we have doesn't look he's going to be able to play football anymore."

      Garrett said he spoke to Holloman, who was on the field in practice Thursday, although he was not dressed in uniform like his teammates.

      Holloman appeared in nine games (two starts) for the Cowboys in 2013, recording 26 tackles and two sacks.

      ---Pittsburgh Steelers running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount were charged with marijuana possession on Thursday, but both were with the team in Philadelphia for a preseason game.

      Bell also was charged with driving under the influence of marijuana, Ross Township Police detective Brian Kohlhepp said. Both charges are misdemeanors.

      A preliminary court date has not yet been determined, Kohlhepp said.

      The two players were taken into custody Wednesday after a police officer found approximately 20 grams of marijuana in their car.

      Bell and Blount, the team's starter and primary backup at running back, were pulled over at about 1:30 p.m. ET Wednesday when the motorcycle officer smelled marijuana. Both admitted that the pot belonged to them.

      ---New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is on target in his recovery from a strained oblique to play Saturday in an exhibition game against the Indianapolis Colts.

      It likely will be Brees' first and only game action during the preseason. He's expected to play about a half.

      "It is important, it is important," Brees said. "I want to play well, I want to get out there and feel comfortable. I feel like this week has been great just to get back out and feel like I'm throwing the ball like I should. And now it's just time to take it to the game field and go through this final dress rehearsal before the season."

      The Saints also waived running back Timothy Flanders, wide receiver Tobais Palmer, tight end Je'Ron Hamm and linebacker Chidera Uzo-Diribe.

      ---The Tampa Bay Buccaneers acquired guard Rishaw Johnson from the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for safety Kelcie McCray.

      The Bucs continue to search for depth in the middle of their offensive line.

      Johnson (6-foot-3, 313 pounds) originally entered the league as a college free agent with the Seattle Seahawks in 2012.

      The Bucs also signed guard R.J. Mattes and waived defensive end James Ruffin.

      ---Danger was lurking in the opinion of head coach Jim Harbaugh, who stopped practice Wednesday night at Levi's Stadium because of an unplayable field.

      By Thursday, workers were ripping out portions of the sod and replacing it with new turf. The 49ers said the field will be ready for Sunday's preseason game against the San Diego Chargers.

      Visible divots and chunks of sod, remnants of last Sunday's stadium-opening game in Santa Clara, Calif., against the Denver Broncos caused several players to slip, trip and hit the deck. Harbaugh stopped practice, and the 49ers sent home fans who'd come to the brand new stadium to see the team's final practice at the $1.3 billion facility.

      ---An angry Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone sent a message to his players following a series of fights and shoving matches during practice.

      Wednesday's practice ended with an intense fight and Marrone became fed up when more fighting broke out between players in Thursday's morning practice.

      Marrone lined players up on one sideline and ripped into them for fighting. Defensive end Jerry Hughes talked back to Marrone, leading to more shouting from Marrone in Hughes' direction.

      Marrone said his stance on fighting is that it is disrespectful.

      "It's not part of the game," he said. "Therefore, I don't want to speak about it. It hurts the integrity of our game the more we talk about it. That's how I feel about fighting. We're responsible for the integrity of the game. Can you figure it out? Figure it out. We're responsible for the integrity of the game. There is no use for fighting in the game of football. Period. End of discussion. Move on."

      ---The Cincinnati Bengals reached agreement Wednesday with Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict on a four-year, $20.05 million contract extension.

      The deal has a $19 million base salary and additional incentives for Pro Bowl appearances, NFL.com reported.

      Burfict's 2014 compensation will be $7.6 million, and he's the second young core player -- quarterback Andy Dalton signed a long-term deal -- to be locked up by the Bengals. Wide receiver A.J. Green is expected to be up next.

      ---The New England Patriots released defensive lineman Marcus Forston and tight end D.J. Williams.

      Forston, 24, played in three games last season for New England and had three tackles. He spent most of the 2012 and 2013 seasons on the Patriots' practice squad.

      Williams, 25, appeared in two regular-season games with the Patriots last season after signing on Nov. 27 and re-signing on Dec. 9.

  • Thursday, August 21, 2014
    Dolphins have long check list for preseason game No. 3
    By The Sports Xchange

    DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins host the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday in the all-important third preseason game. The Dolphins are expected to play starters and key reserves the entire first half and a series or two into the third quarter.

    • Miami needs resolution on both guard positions, the nickel defensive back and the nickel linebackers. The Dolphins would also like to see some evidence of a reliable running game and some production from second-year defensive end Dion Jordan.

      The defense needs to be disruptive and the offense needs to show a deep passing threat.

      Also, there is a chance previously sidelined tight end Charles Clay (right knee) and running back Knowshon Moreno (left knee) might play, which would give the offense a complete look.

      At right guard, Shelley Smith must show he can hold the job after taking over for Dallas Thomas. At left guard, Daryn Colledge, who was decent against Atlanta, has to improve on last week's performance against Tampa Bay. Both guards are a concern overall.

      In the nickel, second-year cornerbacks Will Davis and Jamar Taylor are battling for the No. 3 cover spot, and rookie linebackers Jordan Tripp and Chris McCain could see time with the starters.

      Jordan, the No. 3 pick of the 2013 draft who has been good in practice, needs to show he can produce in a game.

      So the Dolphins have a lot of issues to resolve against the Cowboys, making this an important preseason game.

      "It doesn't really count, but it matters," quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. "It matters to us and the progression we make as a team as far as getting better. It's our last chance before we play for real."

      Coach Joe Philbin has a general idea of what he considers a productive NFL offense.

      "I've always kind of started with 25 (points per game)," he said. "That gets you to 400 points for the season if my math is correct. That's always a barometer.

      "I think, if you study the league for a long time, you would say, if you score 400 points a year, you would have a reasonably productive offense."

      The Dolphins, who totaled 317 points last season, haven't scored 400 points in a season since 1986, early in the Dan Marino Era, when they scored 430 points.

      Last season, 11 NFL teams scored more than 400 points.

      NOTES: TE Michael Egnew, a third-round pick in 2012, could be fighting for his job this week. Egnew might be the third tight end behind starter Charles Clay and reserve Dion Sims. ... Jason Fox, who is contending for a roster spot, has been playing left and right tackle during practice, which will add value if he holds up. Fox, usually the backup right tackle, is playing both because backup LT Nate Garner is playing backup center because Sam Brenner (shoulder) is out. ... RT Ja'Wuan James, the first-round pick from Tennessee, hasn't had any major problems with the speed rush, the power rush or run blocking to this point.

  • Thursday, August 21, 2014
    Bills' Marrone angry for practice fights
    By The Sports Xchange

    PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- An angry Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone sent a message to his players Thursday following a series of fights and shoving matches during practice.

    • Wednesday's practice ended with an intense fight and Marrone became fed up when more fighting broke out between players in Thursday's morning practice.

      Marrone lined players up on one sideline and ripped into them for fighting. Defensive end Jerry Hughes talked back to Marrone, leading to more shouting from Marrone in Hughes' direction.

      Players then ran sprints across the field.

      After practice, Marrone went over to where the defensive linemen were huddling and he pulled Hughes aside.

      "I told Jerry that I love the way he practices and I love the way he plays special teams, how he goes about it," Marrone said. "We've got to get some other guys who are starters to do that, too. That was my conversation with him."

      Marrone, who was clearly irritated when he met the media after practice, said his comments were directed at the team and not Hughes.

      "That's directed at anyone who doesn't want to be part of the team," Marrone said.

      Marrone said his stance on fighting is that it is disrespectful.

      "It's not part of the game," he said. "Therefore, I don't want to speak about it. It hurts the integrity of our game the more we talk about it. That's how I feel about fighting. We're responsible for the integrity of the game. Can you figure it out? Figure it out. We're responsible for the integrity of the game. There is no use for fighting in the game of football. Period. End of discussion. Move on."

      In other player news:

      --WR Sammy Watkins sat out two days of padded practices after injuring his ribs last week at Pittsburgh, but he was a full participant in the no-pads workout. It's not known whether the Bills will hold him out of Saturday's game against Tampa Bay.

      --DT Kyle Williams was a non-participant in practice due to a leg injury, and it's not known whether he'll be able to play Saturday.

      --TE Tony Moeaki continues to be sidelined by a hamstring injury that relegated him to spectator status for most of the month the Bills were in training camp. His status for Saturday remains up in the air, but he probably won't play, and one has to wonder whether he's going to make the final roster.

      --FS Jonathan Meeks has been sidelined all week by a back injury and will probably not be ready in time for the game. This has given players like Jaquan Harley and Kenny Ladler additional reps which they certainly needed.

      --WR Robert Woods has seen his first-team reps cut because of the presence of Mike Williams (outside) and Chris Hogan (slot), but he has been as productive a player as the Bills have had in camp. It's tough to envision Woods not being among the top three once the season starts.

      --CB Leodis McKelvin returned to full practice early in the week, but he left Wednesday's workout with a groin injury, and was out Thursday, so his availability for Tampa Bay is in question. It has been a mostly useless camp for McKelvin, who has been slow to recover from offseason hip surgery.

  • Thursday, August 21, 2014
    49ers stop practice due to unplayable field
    By The Sports Xchange

    Danger was lurking in the opinion of head coach Jim Harbaugh, who stopped practice Wednesday night at Levi's Stadium because of an unplayable field.

    • By Thursday, workers were ripping out portions of the sod and replacing it with new turf. The 49ers said the field will be ready for Sunday's preseason game against the San Diego Chargers.

      Visible divots and chunks of sod, remnants of last Sunday's stadium-opening game in Santa Clara, Calif., against the Denver Broncos caused several players to slip, trip and hit the deck. Harbaugh stopped practice, and the 49ers sent home fans who'd come to the brand new stadium to see the team's final practice at the $1.3 billion facility.

      Practice resumed on the team's typical practice fields but was closed to fans who received complimentary tickets and media.

      "The 49ers organization would like to apologize to any fans who were inconvenienced by today's practice ending early," team spokesman Bob Lange said in a statement. "We have determined the appropriate measures necessary to have the field ready for Sunday and look forward to hosting the San Diego Chargers."

      The stadium sod was laid in April.

      After Sunday's preseason date with the Chargers, the 49ers do not play at home until Sept. 14, a "Sunday Night Football" game against the Chicago Bears.

  • Thursday, August 21, 2014
    Brees plans to play Saturday
    By The Sports Xchange

    New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is on target in his recovery from a strained oblique to play Saturday in an exhibition game against the Indianapolis Colts.

    • It likely will be Brees' first and only game action during the preseason. He's expected to play about a half.

      "It is important, it is important," Brees said. "I want to play well, I want to get out there and feel comfortable. I feel like this week has been great just to get back out and feel like I'm throwing the ball like I should. And now it's just time to take it to the game field and go through this final dress rehearsal before the season."

      Saints coach Sean Payton is pleased with the way Brees has thrown the ball in practice this week.

      "I thought he looked pretty sharp," Payton said. "There were a handful of throws that were exceptional. I think we've handled it the right way, and he is pretty smart and he knew where he was at. My only concern was (that) we had set our mind on a game maybe, and that really shouldn't dictate his healing.

      "Now, it happened to be that he feels ready to go. I'm sure he's going to play, and we'll figure out how many snaps in this game."

      Brees doesn't feel rusty after the two-week recovery.

      "But just anytime you're coming off an injury that was directly related to you throwing, there's this ramp-up that takes place," Brees said. "So, obviously, I didn't want to push it too hard, too fast, because I didn't want to take any unnecessary chances with it. So just kind of that progression, each day, of, 'OK, I can do a little bit more, I can kick up the volume, kick up the intensity.'

      "I'd say the first day or two you're a little bit, 'Ah, how's it feeling?' on every throw. Then after a while you're just like, 'C'mon man, forget it, just play ball.' And I'm at that stage right now, just playing ball."