stats-recaps1
National Football League
NFL News Wire
  • Ravens' Dixon could miss season with knee injury
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, July 25, 2017

    Baltimore Ravens running back Kenneth Dixon could miss the season because of torn meniscus, according to a published report.

    • Dixon underwent surgery Tuesday and needed to have the meniscus repaired instead of trimmed, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. A repair has a recovery timetable of 4-to-5 months compared to 6-to-8 weeks to trim the meniscus.

      The news comes two days before the start of training camp for the Ravens, who drafted Dixon in the fourth round out of Louisiana Tech in 2016.

      Dixon was second on the team in rushing with 382 yards on 88 carries in 12 games during his rookie season. He ran for two touchdowns and also had 30 catches for 162 yards and a score.

      The 5-foot-10, 223-pounder earned an increasing role in the backfield late in the season with double-digit carries in four of his last six games.

      Dixon was scheduled to miss the first four games of this season to serve a suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

      Leading rusher Terrance West returns for Baltimore, which also signed former Chargers running back Danny Woodhead as a free agent in the offseason.

  • Cowboys rookie Lewis exonerated from domestic violence charges
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, July 25, 2017

    Dallas Cowboys rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis was found not guilty on misdemeanor charges of domestic violence on Tuesday in Ann Arbor, Mich.

    • Lewis was cleared on charges of assaulting his ex-girlfriend in March at their apartment in Ann Arbor. A six-person jury returned the verdict after deliberating for just over an hour.

      "I'm elated, of course," Lewis said outside the courtroom, per mlive.com.

      Lewis, who starred at the University of Michigan, was arrested on March 15, and one day later pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of domestic violence and assault and battery.

      "We thought all long that Jourdan would be totally exonerated and he was. Justice was served," said Kevin Poston, Lewis' agent, in a statement, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.

      If convicted, the 21-year-old Lewis -- a third-round draft pick of Dallas -- faced up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine.

      Lewis was exonerated one day after police in Virginia dropped charges against former Cowboys wide receiver Lucky Whitehead, who was cut by the club Monday even though authorities acknowledged it was a case of mistaken identity.

  • NFL notebook: Police drop charges against Whitehead
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, July 25, 2017

    All charges have been dropped against former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Lucky Whitehead, and the Prince William County (Va.) Police Department said Tuesday it regretted the impact its errors had bestowed upon Whitehead and his family.

    • Whitehead, a native of Manassas, Va., whose full name is Rodney Darnell Whitehead Jr., reportedly was released by the Cowboys on Monday after reports surfaced of his arrest last Saturday morning for shoplifting and his failure to show up for a court date earlier this month.

      Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported Tuesday the paperwork to release Whitehead had not been filed Monday. However, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones confirmed to the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday that Whitehead had been released.

      Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Tuesday that the franchise determined "a clean slate" is in the best interest of all involved despite the revelation.

      Whitehead denied he was in the state of Virginia at the time of the arrest and claimed it was a case of mistaken identity, which Prince William County Police Sergeant Jonathan L. Perok confirmed Tuesday in a statement.

      The department went on to say that the man did not have identification on him at the time of his June 22 arrest, but verbally provided his information to police officers. Officers then checked his information through the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles database and used the DMV photo on file to compare to the man they had in custody.

      --A new study focused on the connection between chronic traumatic encephalopathy and football found the neurodegenerative disease present in 99 percent of the 111 brains donated by families of former NFL players and examined by researchers.

      Evidence of the disease was found in 177 of 202 total brains examined by researchers from Boston University School of Medicine and VA Boston Healthcare. All specimens belonged to former football players at all levels of the sport.

      Of the 111 brains belonging to ex-NFL players, only one showed no trace of CTE upon post-mortem review.

      The study was published by the Journal of American Medicine.

      --Former Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak was named the Broncos' senior personnel advisor, the team announced.

      Kubiak, who resigned as the Broncos head coach on Jan. 2, led the team to a 24-11 record in his two seasons. Denver won the Super Bowl under his direction in the 2015 season. Kubiak had health problems while coaching the Broncos in 2016 and was taken to the hospital for a complex migraine.

      For his new job, Kubiak will be based in Houston and will evaluate college players in advance of the NFL Draft.

      --Offensive lineman La'el Collins agreed to a two-year, $15.4 million extension with the Dallas Cowboys one day before he turns 24.

      Collins, who will line up at right tackle after primarily playing guard his first two seasons, was projected as a first-round pick in 2015 before he was listed as a person of interest in a Baton Rouge, La., murder investigation. Collins went undrafted and signed a three-year, $1.4 million deal with the Cowboys.

      As part of his new agreement, Colins can earn an additional $2 million, which would push him ahead of the NFL's highest-paid right tackle, Ricky Wagner of the Detroit Lions, with take-home pay of more than $8.5 million per season.

      --The Jacksonville Jaguars signed center Brandon Linder to a five-year contract extension, the team announced.

      The team did not release details of the extension, but Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported the deal is worth up to $51.7 million and includes $24 million guaranteed. Linder is now the NFL's highest paid center in terms average salary per year, according to Rapoport.

      --The Miami Dolphins signed veteran cornerback Alterraun Verner and placed linebacker Koa Misi on injured reserve with a neck injury.

      Verner went to the Pro Bowl in 2013 while with the Tennessee Titans, and that enabled him to get a four-year deal worth $26.5 million with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after that season. However, the cornerback started only six games in 2015 and just three in 2016 before being waived by the Bucs in February.

      --Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen said he plans to finish his existing contract and report to training camp to avoid being a further distraction.

      Olsen was the subject of backlash in the wake of the franchise firing general manager Dave Gettleman last week. Olsen was scorned in media reports linking fragile and failing negotiations with Olsen and linebacker Thomas Davis as a key reason Gettleman was let go.

      Olsen, 32, is scheduled to make $6.5 million in 2017 and the same salary in 2018.

      --In addition to quarterback Andrew Luck, the Indianapolis Colts will be without safeties Malik Hooker and Clayton Geathers to start training camp as all three have been placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

      Hooker, the 15th-overall pick in this year's draft, had a hamstring issue pop up during the team's conditioning tests, the Indianapolis Star reports. The 21-year-old and former Ohio State standout had hip and sports hernia surgeries prior to the NFL Scouting Combine.

      Geathers, 25, had neck surgery in March and is still recovering.

      The Colts announced Monday that Luck would begin the season on the PUP list.

  • NFL camp openings: Texans' eyes on rookie QB Watson
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, July 25, 2017

    WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- When the full Houston Texans roster reported for duty here at the Greenbrier Resort Tuesday (July 25), most attention will be on a Savage, a rookie quarterback and one of the best defensive lineman in NFL history who must prove he can play again.

    • Texans head coach Bill O'Brien named Tom Savage as the starting quarterback over rookie Deshaun Watson, who must gain some seasoning before the Texans consider changing his status.

      "It's best for the team," admitted Watson, the former Clemson standout who was a Heisman Trophy finalist, Davey O'Brien and Manning Award winner and claimed an ESPY this month for Best Male College Athlete.

      "Coach OB knows a lot of football. He's been with the best, if not one of the best in NFL history, Tom Brady. He knows how everything is operated. He knows when the perfect timing will be. He knows when it's right and when it's wrong."

      Meanwhile, J.J. Watt, a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, must show he can return to some semblance of his former greatness and stay healthy after undergoing a pair of back surgeries to repair a herniated disk. Watt was not in contact drills yet but was fully cleared and participated in all offseason practices. His health is paramount to the NFL's top-ranked defense.

      The opening of camp was not without some drama. Tackle Duane Brown, who wants a new contract despite having two years remaining on his current deal, is officially a holdout and was placed on the team's reserve/did not report list. Brown was also absent from the team's June mandatory minicamp.

      His scheduled salaries are $9.4 million this year and $9.75 million in 2018.

      Top Summer Battle

      With most public and media attention focused on the all-important quarterback position and Watt's return, one of the key battles to watch in camp this summer will be at strong safety.

      This will a highly-contested battle for a starting job between Corey Moore, Lonnie Ballentine and, perhaps later, K.J. Dillon when he is healthy.

      Moore returns with starting experience and held up solidly last season, but didn't make many big plays. Ballentine has prototypical size and speed, but keeps getting hurt. Dillon is recovering from a torn ACL suffered as a rookie last year.

      THE FACTS:

      TRAINING CAMP: The Greenbrier; White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

      COACH: Bill O'Brien

      4th season as Texans/NFL head coach

      28-23 overall; 1-2 postseason

      THE BREAKDOWN

      2016 finish: 1st AFC South (9-7)

      STATISTICS

      TOTAL OFFENSE: 314.7 (29th)

      RUSHING: 116.2 (8th)

      PASSING: 198.5 (29th)

      TOTAL DEFENSE: 301.3 (1st)

      RUSHING: 99.7 (12th)

      PASSING: 201.6 (2nd)

      2017 PRESEASON SCHEDULE

      All times Central

      Aug. 9, at Carolina (Wed), 6:30

      Aug. 19, NEW ENGLAND (Sat), 7:00

      Aug. 26, at New Orleans (Sat), 7:00

      Aug. 31, DALLAS (Thu), 7:00

      UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS

      QUARTERBACKS: Starter -- Tom Savage. Backups -- Brandon Weeden, Deshaun Watson.

      Savage has a lot to prove as the Texans' new starter. He has had durability issues and hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in an actual game. Watson is a multi-dimensional option down the road, but Savage has been named the starter and it's not an open competition. Weeden is a reliable option who's won games for the Texans in the past.

      RUNNING BACKS: Starters -- Lamar Miller, FB Jay Prosch. Backups -- D'Onta Foreman, Akeem Hunt, Alfred Blue, Tyler Ervin, Dare Ogunbowale.

      The Texans want to be more judicious with Miller's workload after he wore down at the end of last season. When healthy, Miller is one of the better backs in the NFL. Prosch plays mostly on special teams but is a rugged lead blocker when called upon. Foreman was recently arrested on drug and gun charges and was overweight in the spring. He enters camp in coach Bill O'Brien's doghouse. Hunt has speed to burn. Blue is a solid backup who lacks explosiveness. Ervin has been a nonfactor on offense, but is getting another shot.

      TIGHT ENDS: Starter -- C.J. Fiedorowicz. Backups -- Ryan Griffin, Stephen Anderson, Zach Conque, RaShaun Allen, Evan Baylis.

      Fiedorowicz emerged last season as a productive pass-catcher. He's always been a stout blocker. Griffin is a big downfield target who can run after the catch.

      WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters -- DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller. Backups -- Jaelen Strong, Braxton Miller, Wendall Williams, Chris Thompson, Riley McCarron, Justin Hardee, Deante' Gray, Shaq Hill.

      Hopkins is looking for a bounce-back season after his production dipped last year during the failed Brock Osweiler experiment. Fuller, the fastest player on the roster, is working to improve his hands after dropping too many passes as a rookie. Miller is a converted quarterback who's starting to find his groove as a slot receiver. Strong has been a disappointing former third-round pick. He has good size and speed, but has yet to put it all together.

      OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LT Duane Brown, LG Xavier Su'a-Filo, C Nick Martin, RG Jeff Allen, RT Chris Clark. Backups -- T Kendall Lamm, G Chad Slade, G David Quessenberry, C Greg Mancz, T Breno Giacomini, C Erik Austell, C Kyle Fuller, T Laurence Gibson, T Julie'n Davenport, G Josh Walker.

      Brown is a three-time Pro Bowl blocker and the anchor of the line, but he opened training camp as a holdout after being absent for the entire offseason due to a contract dispute. Allen had a rough first season but has lost 20 pounds. Su'a-Filo had his best season last year, but his play hasn't justified his second-round draft status. Martin takes over in the middle and draws high marks from coaches after missing his rookie season with an ankle injury. Clark struggled at right tackle last season and needs to improve. Lamm is a capable swing tackle. Giacomini has to prove he can stay healthy. Mancz gives the Texans quality depth after starting all of last season.

      DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- DLE J.J. Watt, NT D.J. Reader, DRE Jadeveon Clowney. Backups -- DT Eli Ankou, DE Christian Covington, DE Matt Godin, DE Joel Heath, DE Carlos Watkins, DE Daniel Ross, DE Ufomba Kamalu, NT Ricky Hatley, DE Brandon Dunn.

      Clowney shed his injury-prone reputation last season and consistently disrupted offenses as he was named to the Pro Bowl. Watt is a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year who's made a full recovery from back surgery. Reader is a massive interior presence who takes over as the new starting nose tackle for Vince Wilfork. Covington's forte is stopping the run. The coaching staff likes Heath's long arms and versatility. Watkins was ultra-productive at Clemson and should fit in well as a rotational defensive lineman.

      LINEBACKERS: Starters -- WLB Whitney Mercilus, ILB Brian Cushing, ILB Benardrick McKinney, SLB Brennan Scarlett. Backups -- ILB Dylan Cole, ILB Zach Cunningham, OLB Eric Lee, ILB Sio Moore, ILB Brian Peters, OLB Gimel President, OLB Dayon Pratt, ILB Shakeel Rashad, OLB Tony Washington, ILB Avery Williams.

      Mercilus is regarded by some scouts as the Texans' most complete defensive player. He has size, speed and skill. Cushing is regarded as the emotional leader of the defense, but he's coming off shoulder surgery. McKinney was named second-team All-Pro last season as he led the Texans in tackles and notched five sacks. Cunningham was a tackling machine in college, but needs to upgrade his strength and ability to shed blocks. Scarlett is the new starting strong-side linebacker as the replacement for John Simon. Peters operates as the special-teams ace.

      DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- LCB Johnathan Joseph, RCB Kareem Jackson, FS Andre Hal, SS Corey Moore. Backups -- CB Kevin Johnson, CB Robert Nelson, CB Dee Virgin, CB Marcus Roberson, CB Denzel Rice, S Kurtis Drummond, S Lonnie Ballentine, S K.J. Dillon, S Eddie Pleasant, CB Bryce Jones, CB Treston Decoud.

      Joseph returns for his 12th season and is a two-time Pro Bowl selection who's healthier this year. Hal lost his starting job last season but regained it during a down year in pass coverage and tackling. Jackson is aggressive and got picked on some in single coverage. Johnson is fully recovered from a broken foot that required surgery. Moore is a fast, sound tackler, but doesn't make many plays in pass coverage. Ballentine has had chronic injuries. Dillon is a hard hitter but is not expected to be fully ready for training camp. Decoud is a prototypical big corner who excels in press coverage. Nelson could step in as a nickel back after intercepting Andrew Luck once last season. Rice has good size and speed, but needs to keep improving his understanding of coverages.

      SPECIAL TEAMS: K Nick Novak, P Shane Lechler, LS Jon Weeks, KOR Tyler Ervin, PR Will Fuller, K Ka'imi Fairbairn, P Cory Carter.

      Novak is a very accurate clutch kicker who keeps bailing out a horrendous red-zone offense. Lechler is one of the top punters in NFL history, seemingly ageless with strong hang time and distance. Fairbairn is expected to push Novak in camp, but Novak is the favorite to win the job. Weeks is a former Pro Bowl selection who remains one of the top long snappers in the NFL. Ervin had ball-security issues as a rookie. Fuller is explosive, but needs to stay healthy to have a full-time role on offense and returning punts.

  • Cowboys OL Collins finally scores contract
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, July 25, 2017

    Offensive lineman La'el Collins agreed to a two-year, $15.4 million extension with the Dallas Cowboys one day before he turns 24.

    • Collins, who will line up at right tackle after primarily playing guard his first two seasons, was projected as a first-round pick in 2015 before he was listed as a person of interest in a Baton Rouge, La., murder investigation. Collins went undrafted and signed a three-year, $1.4 million deal with the Cowboys.

      As part of his new agreement, Colins can earn an additional $2 million, which would push him ahead of the NFL's highest-paid right tackle, Ricky Wagner of the Detroit Lions, with take-home pay of more than $8.5 million per season.

      Collins started 11 games as a rookie and then three last season before landing on injured reserve with a toe injury.

      He moved to right tackle on the Dallas offensive line after Doug Free retired in the offseason.

  • NFL camp openings: Panthers interim GM Hurney making changes
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, July 25, 2017

    SPARTANBURG, S. C. -- Recent dramatic moves from the front office to the roster certainly helped get the attention of the Carolina Panthers even before the full squad reported Tuesday (July 25) for training camp at Wofford College.

    • Coming off a pathetic 6-10 record in 2016, owner Jerry Richardson obviously decided not to maintain status quo. He surprised almost everyone last week, including head coach Ron Rivera, by firing general manager Dave Gettleman, who was replaced by his predecessor, and now interim GM, Marty Hurney.

      Rivera denied any input on the matter.

      Hurney, Carolina's general manager from 2001-2012, knows Richardson's impatience well. Hurney drafted two consecutive Rookies of the Year, quarterback Cam Newton and linebacker Luke Kuechly. But after a 1-5 start in 2012, Richardson fired Hurney.

      Why pull the plug on Gettlemen so close to camp opening? Some point to the unsettled status of popular linebacker Thomas Davis and productive tight end Greg Olsen as well as releasing iconic Panthers, including wide receiver Steve Smith and running back DeAngelo Williams.

      Knowing Richardson's impatient nature first hand, Hurney made changes quickly. First, he released offensive tackle Michael Oher, who had 110 NFL starts but failed his physical(concussions). That saved $1.69 million toward the salary cap, but it was quickly spent when guard Trai Turner's contract was extended to the tune of $45 million over four years.

      "The offensive line is a key to the team's success and Trai is a very integral part of that," said Hurney.

      He then fired Mark Koncz, who had been promoted in May by Gettleman from pro personnel director to director of player personnel.

      Hurney inherits a team that hopes Newtown rebounds from offseason shoulder surgery, an unsettled secondary and that offensive line on which he already made significant moves.

      Newton will report in the best shape of his career, based on social media pictures that show ripped abs and muscle tone. Hurney also gets Gettleman's final No. 1 draft pick, versatile running back Christian McCaffrey from Stanford.

      The good news as camp opened was the presence of tight end Greg Olsen, who was the subject of speculation that he might hold out. Olsen wants a new contract, but has two years remaining on his current deal.

      Upon arriving in Spartanburg, Olsen said, "We thought, obviously, long and hard about everything over the last couple months - our position, the team's position, how things played out and things changed last week with the move to let go of Dave. At the end of the day, with everything going on, and now with the transition to Marty and slight chaos that went around for another week, I just didn't feel like it was right for me to add fuel to that fire and make things that much more complicated, add more controversy or distraction to our team.

      "I didn't think it was right to the players, I didn't think it was right to the guys that count on me to be a leader on this team and coaches, people in this organization - Mr. Richardson on down - who count on me to set a certain example both by my presence here but also my play. I just didn't think my selfishness would do any good."

      Top Summer battle:

      Despite all those big names and big bodies already in the news, one of the key battles for the Panthers this summer will be at kicker.

      Graham Gano is the incumbent, but the Panthers felt serious enough about this position they selected Harrison Butker in the draft. Gano had his shakiest season as a Panther, capped by missing three field-goal attempts in the final game in a loss to Tampa Bay. With the seventh-round pick, Butker became the first kicker ever drafted by the Panthers. Butker was 15 of 17 on field goals as a senior.

      THE FACTS:

      TRAINING CAMP: Wofford College; Spartanburg, S.C.

      HEAD COACH: Ron Rivera

      7th season as Panthers/NFL head coach

      56-45-1 overall; 3-3 postseason

      THE BREAKDOWN

      2016 finish: 4th NFC South (6-10)

      STATISTICS

      TOTAL OFFENSE: 343.7 (19th)

      RUSHING: 113.4 (10th)

      PASSING: 230.3 (T21st)

      TOTAL DEFENSE: 359.8 (21st)

      RUSHING: 91.6 (6th)

      PASSING: 268.2 (29th)

      2017 PRESEASON SCHEDULE

      All times Eastern

      Aug. 9, HOUSTON (Wed), 7:30

      Aug. 19, at Tennessee (Sat), 3:00

      Aug. 24, at Jacksonville (Thu), 7:30

      Aug. 31, PITTSBURGH (Thu), 7:30

      UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS

      QUARTERBACKS: Starter - Cam Newton. Backups - Derek Anderson, Joe Webb.

      Newton was the NFL's Most Valuable Player in 2015, so he's on the elite level. He made steady progress in each season in the league until last year, when injuries were partly to blame. He's coming off shoulder surgery so his workload in training camp is something that must be considered. Anderson gives the Panthers the veteran backup who's good to have, but they probably don't want to rely on him across the course of an entire season.

      RUNNING BACKS: Starters - Jonathan Stewart, Christian McCaffrey. Backups - Fozzy Whittaker, FB Alex Armah, FB Darrel Young, Jalen Simmons.

      Stewart will be pushed by McCaffrey, if not for direct playing time than for prominence in the game plan. McCaffrey's versatility will be put to use, and that could leave Stewart to handle much of the grunt work with carries. McCaffrey has the ability to bring flair to the position and that's something that's much anticipated. Whittaker has been solid at times in a limited role and he's likely to stick with the team.

      TIGHT ENDS: Starter - Greg Olsen. Backups - Ed Dickson, Chris Manhertz, Scott Simonson, Eric Wallace.

      Olsen is one of the league's top producers at the position and he doesn't seem to be letting up. Perhaps because Olsen has been so entrenched at the position since arriving in a trade from the Chicago Bears, the Panthers haven't had much of a chance to groom others at the position and it's not a spot that has been attractive to free agents. Dickson will be looking to hang on to his backup role, with the need for more consistency.

      WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters - Kelvin Benjamin, Devin Funchess. Backups - Chris Samuel, Austin Duke, Brenton Bersin, Damiere Byrd, Kaelin Clay, Mose Frazier, Keyarris Garrett, Russell Shepard.

      Benjamin's physical presence at 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds makes him difficult to cover, though his sometimes-ballooning weight tends to be a topic of discussion. Funchess has made considerable strides and has been lauded for his leadership among the receivers. Samuel is a rookie out of Ohio State who figures to factor in prominently in the team's plans, particularly with his speed.

      OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters - LT Matt Kahil, LG Andrew Norwell, C Ryan Kahil, RG Trai Turner, RT Daryl Williams. Backups - RT Taylor Moton, T Dan France, T Tyrus Thompson, T Blaine Clausell, C Gino Gradkowski, C Tyler Larsen, C/G Greg Van Roten.

      Matt Kahil arrived from the Minnesota Vikings to join his brother along the Carolina offensive line. Ryan Kahil has been an all-pro player, but he missed time last year with an injury. There could be quite a bit of sorting out along the line in August, though Norwell and Turner have proved to be dependable. Moton might be versatile enough to fill spots at guard and tackle until he potentially moves into a starting role. In fact, there's some thoughts that Moton might be the key to the whole breakdown along the front.

      DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- DE Charles Johnson, NT Star Lotulelei, DT Kawann Short, DE Wes Horton. Backups - NT Vernon Butler, DT Kyle Love DE Mario Addison, DT Eric Crume, DT Toby Johnson, DT Gabriel Mass, DE Charles Johnson, DE Julius Peppers, DE Bryan Cox, DT Toby Johnson.

      This group has the chance to be extremely stout and there aren't any perceived weaknesses. Lotulelei and Short have gained more stock with their play and Horton has continued to be a force. The experience level is high as well, particularly with Johnson and Peppers, who began his career with the organization, available to fill vital roles. Addison has a high motor and could be in line for a breakout season after a nice contract bump. Upgrading the pass rush remains a priority, particularly with questions in the secondary.

      LINEBACKERS: Starters - MLB Luke Kuechly, WLB Thomas Davis, SLB Shaq Thompson. Backups - David Mayo, Jeremy Cash, Jared Norris, Ben Jacobs, Ben Boulware, Zeek Bigger

      Kuechly sat out a large chunk of last season with a concussion, missing time with that ailment for the second year in a row. He has the ability to be one of the best defensive players in the NFL, a status he has held previously. With Davis, the Panthers have one of the most revered players in the league and he continues to be a playmaker. There's no shortage of expectations for Thompson as well and his athleticism is something the team would like to see more of. Mayo made a case for the key backup role when he picked up some unexpected playing time for injured teammates last year.

      DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- LCB James Bradberry, RCB Daryl Worley, FS Kurt Coleman, SS Mike Adams. Backups - CB Captain Munnerlyn, CB Corn Elder, CB Zack Sanchez, CB Teddy Williams, S Dean Marlowe, S Colin Jones, S Dezmen Southward, S Travell Dixon, S Brian Blechen.

      Bradberry and Worley paid their dues during what was sometimes a rough 2016 rookie season. But they're more seasoned now and building their confidence during the offseason was one of the objectives. With the likelihood that Coleman moves back to free safety, that should increase his comfort level. But this means the Panthers are counting on Adams, at age 36, to provide additional stability in the secondary. Munnerlyn, a former Panther returning after playing for Minnesota, figures to be on the field plenty, particularly in special packages. Elder could stick on the roster in part because he has value as a return specialist. Jones' work on special teams adds to his value as well.

      SPECIAL TEAMS: K Graham Gano, K Harrison Butker, P Andy Lee, P Michael Palardy, LS J.J. Jansen, KOR Corn Elder, Chris Samuel. PR Corn Elder.

      Gano has experience on his side, but Butker was valued enough to use a draft selection. Among punters, Palardy provided efficient after Lee went out with an injury last season. Jansen is the stabilizing force in the kicking game because he largely goes unnoticed. The returning specialist roles could be turned over to rookies, so that will be worth keeping an eye on. Elder provided some big-time plays on returns in college for Miami.

  • Jaguars give C Linder 5-year extension
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, July 25, 2017

    The Jacksonville Jaguars signed center Brandon Linder to a five-year contract extension, the team announced Tuesday.

    • The team did not release details of the extension, but Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported the deal is worth up to $51.7 million and includes $24 million guaranteed. Linder is now the NFL's highest paid center in terms average salary per year, according to Rapoport.

      "It means the world to me," Linder said in a statement. "I'd love to play here my whole career. I fell in love with this city and we have big things coming, changing the culture, and now we start tomorrow for training camp. I couldn't think of a better place to play my career."

      Linder started all 14 games in which he played for the Jaguars last season.

      "It was something we wanted to get done so now we can just ball," Linder told the Florida Times-Union. "We knew after OTAs we wanted to talk. In the past two weeks got some traction."

  • Dolphins sign CB Verner, place LB Misi on IR
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, July 25, 2017

    The Miami Dolphins addressed a depth problem at cornerback by signing veteran Alterraun Verner on Tuesday.

    • The team also placed linebacker Koa Misi on injured reserve.

      Verner went to the Pro Bowl in 2013 while with the Tennessee Titans, and that enabled him to get a four-year deal worth $26.5 million with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after that season.

      However, the cornerback started only six games in 2015 and just three in 2016 before being waived by the Bucs in February.

      Misi is sidelined with a neck injury. Coach Adam Gase said on Tuesday that he believes Misi will play again, but it won't be in 2017. Players need to be on the initial 53-man roster to be eligible to return to action that season.

  • Kubiak returns to Broncos as scout
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, July 25, 2017

    Former Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak was named the Broncos' senior personnel advisor, the team announced Tuesday.

    • "With as much experience as he has evaluating players, Gary's going to be a tremendous resource for our personnel department," Broncos general manager John Elway said in a statement. "He'll primarily help on the college side and assist us in free agency as well.

      "Gary will be based out of his home in Texas while also making visits here throughout the year to participate in various personnel meetings."

      Kubiak, who resigned as the Broncos head coach on Jan. 2, led the team to a 24-11 record in his two seasons. Denver won the Super Bowl under his direction in the 2015 season.

      Kubiak had health problems while coaching the Broncos in 2016 and was taken to the hospital for a complex migraine. He suffered a mini-stroke in 2013 when he was the Houston Texans head coach.

      For his new job, Kubiak will be based in Houston and will evaluate college players in advance of the NFL Draft.

      "It's an honor for me to continue to be part of this great organization," Kubiak said in a statement. "John and I talked long ago about any opportunity like this, and I'm very happy to be able to contribute on the personnel side.

      "I said when I left that I still wanted to be involved in football. This gives me an opportunity to be involved with the game, and I'm excited to get to work."

  • Study finds CTE in 99 percent of ex-NFL players
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, July 25, 2017

    A new study focused on the connection between chronic traumatic encephalopathy and football found the neurodegenerative disease present in 99 percent of the 111 brains donated by families of former NFL players and examined by researchers, according to the study published Tuesday.

    • Evidence of the disease was found in 177 of 202 total brains examined by researchers from Boston University School of Medicine and VA Boston Healthcare. All specimens belonged to former football players at all levels of the sport.

      Of the 111 brains belonging to ex-NFL players, only one showed no trace of CTE upon post-mortem review.

      "The fact that we've been able to gather this high a number of cases in such a short period of time says that this disease is not uncommon," said neuropathologist Ann McKee, who is considered the leading authority on the degenerative brain disease thought to be caused by repeated head trauma. "In fact, I think it's much more common than we currently realize. And more importantly, this is a problem in football that we need to address and we need to address now in order to bring some hope and optimism to football players."

      McKee, the author of the study published by the Journal of American Medicine, said the study linked longer football careers with higher rates, and more profound cases, of CTE.

      She cautioned that the latest case study focused on brains donated by families who considered their loved ones "symptomatic" leading to a "skewed population." In other words, symptomatic confirmation for a positive CTE diagnosis was present in most cases before the posthumous analysis.

      Researchers examined the brains of 202 deceased former football players at all levels. Nearly 88 percent of all the brains, 177, had CTE. Three of 14 who had played only in high school had CTE; 48 of 53 college players; nine of 14 semiprofessional players; seven of eight Canadian Football League players.

      Texas Southwestern Medical Center neuropathologist and concussion expert Dr. Munro Cullum said the greatest takeaway from the study is adding to more than three decades of research.

      "It obviously adds to the cases in the literature," he said. "It has expanded the age range (of diagnoses of CTE) beyond just retired NFL players. And we did find increasing CTE pathology in the cases (in players) who were older. That's all useful information."

      The next step for McKee is promoting funding and education in all levels of sports, which includes a proposal to track youth football players for decades.

      "It's always tricky for us to get funding," McKee said. "There's so much discussion of this disease not existing that funding agencies are reluctant to consider this a real neurodegenerative disease. But I think we've proven beyond a doubt this is."

  • Panthers TE Olsen reports to avoid being 'distraction'
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, July 25, 2017

    Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen said he plans to finish his existing contract and reported to training camp to avoid being a further distraction.

    • Olsen was the subject of backlash in the wake of the franchise firing general manager Dave Gettleman last week. Olsen was scorned in media reports linking fragile and failing negotiations with Olsen and linebacker Thomas Davis as a key reason Gettleman was let go.

      "At the end of the day it really came down to with everything going on, obviously now with the transition to (interim GM) Marty (Hurney), kind of the slight chaos that went around for another week I didn't think that it was right to add fuel to that fire," Olsen said. "Make things that much more complicated, add any more distraction or controversy to our team."

      Olsen, 32, is scheduled to make $6.5 million in 2017 and the same salary in 2018.

      Hurney promptly rewarded offensive guard Trai Turner with a new contract upon taking over as general manager. Davis said he expects contract discussions to pick up.

  • Police clear former Cowboys WR Whitehead of wrongdoing
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, July 25, 2017

    All charges have been dropped against former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Lucky Whitehead, and the Prince William County (Va.) Police Department said Tuesday it regretted the impact its errors had bestowed upon Whitehead and his family.

    • Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Tuesday that the franchise determined "a clean slate" is in the best interest of all involved despite the revelation.

      "He'll have a new opportunity somewhere else," Garrett said. "That's good for him."

      Whitehead, a native of Manassas, Va., whose full name is Rodney Darnell Whitehead Jr., reportedly was released by the Cowboys on Monday after reports surfaced of his arrest last Saturday morning for shoplifting and his failure to show up for a court date earlier this month.

      Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported Tuesday the paperwork to release Whitehead had not been filed Monday. It meant Whitehead had not been officially cut. However, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones confirmed to the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday that Whitehead had been released for a number of issues.

      "We made a decision. We're moving on," Jones said, according to the Morning News. He was officially waived Tuesday.

      Whitehead denied he was in the state of Virginia at the time of the arrest and claimed it was a case of mistaken identity, which Prince William County Police Sergeant Jonathan L. Perok confirmed Tuesday in a statement.

      "Upon reviewing the June 22, 2017 arrest of an individual named "Rodney Darnell Whitehead, Jr.," the police department is confident that the man charged with petit larceny, and who is subsequently being sought on an active warrant for failure to appear in court, is not Lucky Whitehead of the Dallas Cowboys," Perok's statement read in part.

      The department went on to say that the man did not have identification on him at the time of his June 22 arrest, but verbally provided his information to police officers.

      Officers then checked his information through the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles database and used the DMV photo on file to compare to the man they had in custody.

      "... Officers acted in good faith that, at the time, the man in custody was the same man matching the information provided. At this point, the police department is also confident in confirming that Mr. Whitehead's identity was falsely provided to police during the investigation. The police department is currently seeking the identity of the man involved in the incident."

      Whitehead was in Dallas at the time of the arrest, according to his ticket for a United flight that departed at 7:18 a.m. and landed in Washington, DC at 11:30 a.m., 10 hours after the crime allegedly took place.

      "To be honest, I just couldn't believe it," Cowboys star wide receiver Dez Bryant told reporters after the Cowboys released Whitehead. "I pray it's not true, and I understand he got cut. I wish the best for him."

      Whitehead, 24, spent the first two seasons of his NFL career with the Cowboys and played primarily as a kick/punt returner.

  • Colts S Hooker, S Geathers join QB Luck on PUP list
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, July 25, 2017

    In addition to quarterback Andrew Luck, the Indianapolis Colts will be without safeties Malik Hooker and Clayton Geathers to start training camp as all three have been placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

    • Hooker, the 15th-overall pick in this year's draft, had a hamstring issue pop up during the team's conditioning tests, the Indianapolis Star reports. The 21-year-old and former Ohio State standout had hip and sports hernia surgeries prior to the NFL Scouting Combine.

      On Monday, Colts general manager Chris Ballard said he expected Hooker to be ready for the start of training camp.

      Geathers, 25, had neck surgery in March and is still recovering.

      The Colts announced Monday that Luck would begin the season on the PUP list. However, Ballard insisted the three-time Pro Bowler will be ready for the start of the regular season.

      Players on the PUP list will miss at least the first six games of the new season. Indianapolis' training camp begins Saturday and opens the regular season Sept. 10 at the Los Angeles Rams.

  • Jerry Jones insists there's no evidence against RB Elliott
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, July 25, 2017

    OXNARD, Calif. -- Jerry Jones opened training camp by declaring war on the NFL in the ongoing investigation into domestic violence allegations against running back Ezekiel Elliott.

    • The NFL ended its yearlong investigation into domestic violence accusations brought against Elliott by a former girlfriend.

      The Columbus (Ohio) attorney's office dropped the case because of "conflicting and inconsistent" information. Elliott has maintained his innocence all along.

      ESPN has reported that Elliott should brace for a one- or two-game suspension.

      But Jones let it be known at the start of training camp that Elliott did nothing wrong and he should not be punished.

      It was a clear message to the NFL that Jones is ready to fight if he is indeed suspended.

      "There's nothing. ... I have reviewed everything as you know. ... There is absolutely nothing, not one thing, that I've seen that has anything to do with domestic violence," Jones said. "I don't want to answer any more. But I've seen nothing."

      Jones was absolute in his comments, just as he was a year ago.

      He has long maintained that the NFL had no cause and no case.

      The only thing that has changed recently is the NFL has completed its report. Elliott and the NFL Players Association have submitted "a final response" to the league.

      Jones claims he has seen the report. Nothing has changed his mind.

      "I found nothing since we were standing here this time last year," Jones said. "And I knew everything in that report, I knew that this time last year. Those are their concerns because you need to get this stuff behind you."

      Jones not only declares that nothing happened but that there is not a discrepancy among the participants.

      "My opinion is there is not even an issue of 'he said, she said,'" Jones said. "There is not even an issue there."

      The NFL doesn't need a court conviction or even a court case to levy discipline against a player for conduct detrimental to the league.

      The league has taken a long time investigating this case to make sure it gets it right after so many past mistakes.

      According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the league "wants to pin something" on Elliott as a lesson for his repeated mistakes in judgment.

      But Jones is not going to let it happen without a fight.

      And he is seemingly not going to let his upcoming induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame get in the way of his battle with the NFL over Elliott.

      He brought up the New England Patriots as an example of a team that overcame the distraction of Tom Brady's four-game suspension last season and went on to win the Super Bowl.

      Seemingly, the bigger lesson for Jones comes from Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who admittedly regretted not fighting the NFL sanctions and penalties from the Deflategate controversy.

      "I don't want to in any way speculate," Jones said. "I don't know that there's anything I could say that might influence, but I don't want anything I've said over the last week to be interpreted as a feeling or a speculation about his status, relative to a suspension. It shouldn't be. It should be just reflective as what I am here and what I know."

  • LB Smith has Cowboys optimistic
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, July 25, 2017

    OXNARD, Calif. -- Linebacker Jaylon Smith is practicing with the Dallas Cowboys after missing all of last season with a knee injury suffered in his final football game at Notre Dame.

    • Smith will still be limited, but he is excited and ready to go, just as is owner Jerry Jones who compared him to watching a No. 1 draft pick for the first time.

      "It feels great," Smith said Monday. "Last year I was kind of a spectator just in the beginning stages of rehab. Now I'm in the mix and playing football.

      "The plan is to work hard and every day. It varies as far as the scheduling. I'm just doing everything that they allow me to do."

      Smith said his latest EMG test showed improvement in the nerve regeneration.

      What are the next steps?

      "Just constant growth," Smith said. "Everything we've done we've started off slowly and gradually progressed, and it's always gotten better. I don't anticipate that stopping."

      He said he has no limitations, but just rust.

      "When you take a year off there's some little work, ins and outs that you have to get back used to coming off an injury, but I feel like myself," Smith said.

      While Jones is hoping for the best, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli doesn't know what to expect.

      "No, other than I know he's a very talented and terrific college football player," Marinelli said. "I know his talent level, his character and how much he works at it. The next step is to start to get in Wednesday. He's never been in an NFL practice. This will be his first chance. I just take everything day by day, see how he does progress and give him a little bit more each day, and just coach him, coach him."

  • Cowboys owner Jones puts NFL on notice
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, July 25, 2017

    OXNARD, Calif. -- Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones opened training camp by declaring war on the NFL in the ongoing investigation into domestic violence allegations against star running back Ezekiel Elliott.

    • The NFL has ended its year-long investigation into the accusations brought against Elliott by a former girlfriend.

      The Columbus (Ohio) attorney's office dropped the case because of "conflicting and inconsistent" information. Elliott has maintained his innocence all along.

      ESPN has reported that Elliott should brace for a one- or two-game suspension.

      But Jones let it be known at the start of training camp that Elliott did nothing wrong and he should not be punished.

      It was a clear and present message to the NFL that Jones is ready to fight if he is indeed suspended.

      "There's nothing ... I have reviewed everything as you know. There is absolutely nothing, not one thing, that I've seen that has anything to do with domestic violence," Jones said. "I don't want to answer any more. But I've seen nothing."

      Jones was absolute in his comments, just as he was a year ago. He has long maintained that the NFL had no cause and no case.

      The only thing that has changed recently is the NFL has completed its report. Elliott and the NFL Players Association have submitted "a final response" to the league.

      Jones claims he has seen the report. Nothing has changed his mind.

      "I found nothing since we were standing here this time last year," Jones said. "And I knew everything in that report, I knew that this time last year. Those are their concerns because you need to get this stuff behind you."

      Jones not only claims that nothing happened, but that there is not a discrepancy among the participants.

      "My opinion is there is not even an issue of 'he said, she said,'" Jones said. "There is not even an issue there."

      The NFL doesn't need a court conviction or even a court case to levy discipline against a player for conduct detrimental to the league.

      The league has a taken a long time investigating this case to make sure it gets it right after so many past mistakes.

      According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the league "wants to pin something" on Elliott as a lesson for his repeated mistakes in judgement.

      But Jones is not going to let it happen without a fight.

      And he is seemingly not going to let his upcoming induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame get in the way of his battle with the NFL over Elliott.

      He brought up the New England Patriots as an example of a team that overcame the distraction of quarterback Tom Brady's four-game suspension last season and went on to win the Super Bowl.

      Seemingly, the bigger lesson for Jones comes from Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who admittedly regretted not fighting the NFL sanctions and penalties from the Deflategate controversy.

      "I don't want to in any way speculate," Jones said. "I don't know that there's anything I could say that might influence, but I don't want anything I've said over the last week to be interpreted as a feeling or a speculation about his status, relative to a suspension. It shouldn't be. It should be just reflective as what I am here and what I know."

      ROOKIE TO WATCH

      --CB Chidobe Awuzie will start out at outside cornerback with hopes of breaking into the starting lineup. He will also be given reps at nickel, but could eventually be competing with Jeff Heath for the starting spot at strong safety. The Cowboys want to find a way to get him on the field.

  • Hali's social media rant over playing time with Chiefs bothers Reid
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, July 24, 2017

    Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid didn't take umbrage with linebacker Tamba Hali venting his frustration last week.

    • Reid, however, took issue with the 33-year-old Hali taking his message to social media.

      "We don't want him doing it through the social media part of it," Reid said. "If you have a problem, let's talk about it.

      "One thing you love about Tamba is he loves to play. I can't tell you he's getting any younger. I can't tell you that. But I do love the fact he bugs on you that he wants to play. As coaches, we have to make the decision and so we make the decision whether he plays seven plays or 27 plays or 47 plays. That's what we do.

      "Is a player always going to be happy about that? No. That's not how it works. But do I love the fact he loves to play? Yeah. He's going to be 50 years old and probably still tweeting out those things that he wants to get in his plays."

      Hali didn't hold back as he unleashed a firestorm on Twitter Saturday, questioning if he was still "needed in KC anymore." He also lowered the boom on teammates for skipping organized team activities on a podcast.

      "I'm not going to shy from it -- I think it's important, especially if you're on our team and you're one of our leaders -- that you should be always there," Hali said on Arrowheads Abroad Podcast. "I don't want to say names, but I've been there for (12 years) and I haven't missed one offseason with the Chiefs."

      Hali lamented competing on just seven plays during the team's playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. His role had been reduced dramatically last season when he started just two games and finished with 34 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

  • Chargers to work out Griffin III
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, July 24, 2017

    Free agent quarterback Robert Griffin III is scheduled to work out for the Los Angeles Chargers on Tuesday, according to multiple reports.

    • Griffin has spent the offseason training in Florida with former Cleveland Browns assistant coach Pep Hamilton.

      The former Heisman Trophy winner and 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year completed 59.2 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and three interceptions in five games last season for the Browns. Griffin led the club to its only win -- over the Chargers on Christmas Eve -- but was released March 10 after Cleveland acquired quarterback Brock Osweiler in a trade with the Houston Texans.

      Griffin, 27, would join a crowded quarterback room in Los Angeles, which is led by Philip Rivers and includes Kellen Clemens, Mike Bercovici and Eli Jenkins.

      The former second overall pick in the 2012 draft by the Washington Redskins has now been released by two teams. He spent four seasons in Washington but lost his job to Kirk Cousins and did not play a down in 2015.

  • NFL notebook: Cowboys cut Whitehead after reported arrest
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, July 24, 2017

    The Dallas Cowboys cut Lucky Whitehead on Monday hours after police in Virginia announced that the wide receiver/kick returner is facing misdemeanor petit larceny charges stemming from an arrest in June.

    • The move came despite Whitehead's agent, Dave Rich, telling NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport that his client was not in Virginia at the time of the incident. Rapoport reported that he reviewed Whitehead's flight records from the day he was reportedly arrested, with Whitehead flying out of Dulles International Airport in Washington to Dallas only six hours after his arrest.

      "It sounds like (the Cowboys) didn't buy it or they simply decided, as to be the case with players who aren't a lock to make the team, they decided it was not worth it to wait and see was he telling the truth and was he not," Rapoport said on Inside Training Camp Live. "But this would explain why Whitehead, his agent and the Cowboys had no idea about the arrest or the hearing that he missed until earlier today when it was reported."

      Whitehead, 25, was arrested and charged with shoplifting/petit larceny under $200, a misdemeanor, on June 22 in Prince William County, Va. He then failed to appear for a court hearing on July 6, resulting in the arrest warrant being issued, according to Prince William County General Court records.

      The Cowboys were not aware of Whitehead's arrest until the news was first reported by TMZ Sports and confirmed by the Dallas Morning News and ESPN.

      "First time I heard it was coming off the practice field," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Monday.

      --John Elway, the general manager and executive vice president of football operations for the Denver Broncos, agreed to a five-year contract extension through 2021, the team announced.

      Financial terms were not disclosed by the club for Elway, who has seen the Broncos record the second-most overall wins (73) in the NFL since 2011. Denver has captured five AFC West titles and reached the Super Bowl on two occasions during that stretch, with the highlight of Elway's tenure as general manager coming in 2015 as the Broncos posted a 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.

      "We're pleased to reach an agreement on a five-year contract with John to continue leading our football operations," team president and CEO Joe Ellis said. "During these last six seasons, John's clearly established himself as one of the best general managers in all of sports. He's demonstrated impressive football instincts, a strong business acumen and a consistent ability to build competitive teams."

      Elway played for Denver from 1983 to 1998 during a Hall of Fame career that was capped with consecutive Super Bowl titles.

      --Quarterback Andrew Luck will begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list after offseason surgery, but the Indianapolis Colts expect him to be ready for the regular season in September.

      Luck enters his sixth season with health concerns after issues with the franchise quarterback's shoulder lingered since 2015. He underwent surgery for an injury he confirmed originated in September 2015 in a game at Tennessee, about six weeks before he went down with a lacerated kidney in a game against the Denver Broncos.

      In January, echoing statements made by owner Jim Irsay, Luck said he did not plan offseason surgery. Irsay announced via Twitter two weeks later that Luck underwent surgery.

      In May, coach Chuck Pagano offered few details on Luck but described his recovery as positive and said Luck was "doing great." General manager Chris Ballard said Monday that Luck is not injured, but he is focused on building strength in the shoulder.

      --The Minnesota Vikings placed running back Latavius Murray on the physically unable to perform list as training camp got underway.

      Murray, 27, is still recovering from offseason right ankle surgery. He reported to camp at Minnesota State University in Mankato. Murray spent the past four seasons playing for the Oakland Raiders before signing a three-year, $15 million deal -- $8.55 million guaranteed -- with Minnesota as a free agent. He missed all of spring drills after his March 22 ankle surgery.

      Murray was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2015 after rushing for 1,066 yards and six touchdowns with the Raiders. He has rushed for 2,278 yards and 20 touchdowns (12 in 2016) in 45 games (31 starts).

      The Vikings also announced defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd was placed on the non-football injury list as he tries to move past the nerve issues caused by his right knee surgery last September. Floyd played in last year's season opener against the Tennessee Titans and then underwent knee surgery.

      --Buffalo Bills defensive lineman Adolphus Washington pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of improperly carrying a concealed firearm.

      Washington, 24, was arrested on July 9 at a water park in the Cincinnati suburb of Sharonville.

      According to the police report, Washington was arrested after he "reached for and displayed a gun while sitting inside his vehicle, just feet away from officers."

      A pre-trial hearing for Washington is set for Aug. 1, according to the Hamilton County Municipal Criminal and Traffic Court.

      --Chicago Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman is a hero after saving a man from choking on his food at a restaurant airport.

      Freeman was enjoying his meal inside an Austin, Texas, airport Sunday before reporting to training camp later this week. At a table nearby at the Salt Lick Taco Bar, Freeman told the Chicago Tribune that he noticed a man who appeared to be in distress. The man, Marcus Ryan, stood up quickly with a look of grave concern across his face.

      Freeman said an older woman unsuccessfully tried to perform the Heimlich maneuver on Ryan. The 6-foot, 236-pound linebacker then jumped into action.

      "I've never done the Heimlich before," Freeman told the Tribune. "I don't think I've had any training or anything. My mom's a nurse, and she had talked about it. So I just did what I heard you should do. I guess it worked."

      --Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff is employing tunnel vision this week in hopes of signing star running back Devonta Freeman to a long-term contract.

      Dimitroff's stated goal is locking up Freeman before veterans arrive for training camp Thursday.

      "I've always said that I think it's going to be a fairly expeditious negotiation, but you never know," Dimitroff said. "I'd love it to happen."

      Freeman, scheduled to earn $1.8 million in 2017, which is the final year of his rookie contract, was reportedly offered a five-year contract worth between $7 million and $8 million per season. Among running backs, only franchise-tagged Le'Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers ($12.2 million) is scheduled to make more than $8 million in 2017.

      --Safety David Bruton Jr. announced his retirement from the NFL after multiple concussions during his eight-year career.

      Burton, who turned 30 on Sunday, told ESPN's Jeff Legwold that his six concussions along with a loss of passion to prepare for the game brought the longtime special teams captain of the Denver Broncos to his decision.

      Bruton, who graduated from Notre Dame before entering the NFL in 2009, is back in school at the University of Colorado-Denver. He plans to become a physical therapist in his post-football life.

      Bruton's 2016 season with the Washington Redskins came to an end after he suffered a concussion in the fourth game. He was released by the Redskins in December and had a workout with the Baltimore Ravens that "did not go well at all, because I just didn't have it in me anymore to do it."

  • Broncos give Elway 5-year contract extension
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, July 24, 2017

    John Elway, the general manager and executive vice president of football operations for the Denver Broncos, has agreed to a five-year contract extension through 2021, the team announced on Monday.

    • Financial terms were not disclosed by the club for Elway, who has seen the Broncos record the second-most overall wins (73) in the NFL since 2011. Denver has captured five AFC West Division titles and reached the Super Bowl on two occasions during that stretch, with the highlight of Elway's tenure as general manager coming in 2015 as the Broncos posted a 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.

      "We're pleased to reach an agreement on a five-year contract with John to continue leading our football operations," team president and CEO Joe Ellis said. "During these last six seasons, John's clearly established himself as one of the best general managers in all of sports. He's demonstrated impressive football instincts, a strong business acumen and a consistent ability to build competitive teams.

      "There's no doubt John means a great deal to the Broncos, our fans and the entire community. It was important for us to reach this long-term agreement, and we're all excited to now turn our full attention toward the 2017 season."

      Elway was quick to return to the compliment.

      "I appreciate the trust and confidence that Joe has shown in me," the 57-year-old Elway said. "Pat Bowlen has always put outstanding leadership in place, and I'm grateful for the support Joe gives us to compete for championships each and every year.

      "This is a special place, and the Broncos are home to me. While there's still a lot of work to be done, I'm excited about the future of this team and this organization."

      Elway played for Denver from 1983-1998 during a Hall of Fame career that was capped with consecutive Super Bowl titles.

      He was drafted No. 1 overall by the then-Baltimore Colts, who traded him to Denver.

  • Bills DT Washington pleads not guilty to weapons charge
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, July 24, 2017

    Buffalo Bills defensive lineman Adolphus Washington pleaded not guilty on Monday to a misdemeanor charge of improperly carrying a concealed firearm.

    • Washington, 24, was arrested on July 9 at a water park in the Cincinnati suburb of Sharonville.

      According to the police report, Washington was arrested after he "reached for and displayed a gun while sitting inside his vehicle, just feet away from officers."

      A pre-trial hearing for Washington is set for Aug. 1, according to the Hamilton County Municipal Criminal and Traffic Court.

      Washington, who is not required to appear in court, will not miss the 8:45 a.m. practice scheduled that day at the Bills' St. John Fisher training camp in Pittsford, N.Y., according to the Buffalo News.

      "I believe the charges are factually and legally inappropriate," Washington's attorney, Clyde Bennett, told ESPN. "I don't believe that Mr. Washington committed any crimes. That is why we have filed a motion to dismiss. Our intent and plan is to have the charges against him dismissed."

      Bennett told ESPN that he believes the charge against Washington is not appropriate because his client was not stopped by the police and was rather "one of many patrons" in the parking lot. The attorney also said Washington's weapon was "open and obvious" because he was driving a three-wheeled vehicle with an open top.

      The Bills released a statement after Washington's arrest, saying "since it is a pending legal matter, we will have no further comment."

      Buffalo selected the 6-foot-4, 295-pound Washington, a Cincinnati native, in the third round of the 2016 draft out of Ohio State. He played in 15 games with 11 starts last season, recording 21 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

      Washington was suspended by Ohio State for its Fiesta Bowl win in January 2016 after he was cited for solicitation of prostitution in Columbus, Ohio. The charges were dismissed conditionally after completing a program.

  • Cowboys release Whitehead after reported arrest
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, July 24, 2017

    The Dallas Cowboys cut Lucky Whitehead on Monday hours after police in Virginia announced that the wide receiver/kick returner is facing misdemeanor petit larceny charges stemming from an arrest in June.

    • The move came despite Whitehead's agent, Dave Rich, telling NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport that his client was not in Virginia at the time of the incident. Rapoport reported that he reviewed Whitehead's flight records from the day he was reportedly arrested, with Whitehead flying out of Dulles International Airport in Washington to Dallas only six hours after his arrest.

      "It sounds like (the Cowboys) didn't buy it or they simply decided, as to be the case with players who aren't a lock to make the team, they decided it was not worth it to wait and see was he telling the truth and was he not," Rapoport said on Inside Training Camp Live. "But this would explain why Whitehead, his agent and the Cowboys had no idea about the arrest or the hearing that he missed until earlier today when it was reported."

      Whitehead, 25, was arrested and charged with shoplifting/petit larceny under $200, a misdemeanor, on June 22 in Prince William County, Va. He then failed to appear for a court hearing on July 6, resulting in the arrest warrant being issued, according to Prince William County General Court records.

      The Cowboys were not aware of Whitehead's arrest until the news was first reported by TMZ Sports and confirmed by the Dallas Morning News and ESPN.

      "First time I heard it was coming off the practice field," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Monday.

      Garrett said at the time that the team was gathering information on the incident and did not deny that Whitehead could be released.

      "We will do what's in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys," Garrett told reporters at training camp in Oxnard, Calif.

      The shoplifting arrest reportedly came in connection with a theft from a convenience store.

      Whitehead was asked about the charges at camp.

      "I didn't even know about that," he told reporters. "I don't know what's going on."

      Whitehead's next hearing is scheduled for Aug. 10, according to court records.

      Whitehead made headlines last week when his dog, Blitz, was kidnapped and was briefly held for ransom. He announced the next day on social media that the dog was returned unharmed.

      The 5-foot-9, 180-pound Whitehead served as the team's punt and kickoff returner and combined for nine catches and 64 yards in 30 games over his first two NFL seasons. He also rushed 20 times for 189 yards and caught nine passes for 64 yards.

      Whitehead's legal trouble is just the most recent -- or at least the latest to come to light -- for the Cowboys in recent months.

      Running back Ezekiel Elliott was involved in an altercation on July 16 at a club in Dallas where a man was punched. The Dallas Police Department suspended its investigation of the alleged assault, citing a lack of witnesses and an inability to contact the victim.

      Elliott also is awaiting possible punishment from the NFL stemming from an alleged domestic violence incident a year ago in Columbus, Ohio.

      Multiple sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter last week that Elliott could face a one- or two-game suspension, but the NFL denied it made a decision on a course of disciplinary action.

      In other off-the-field incidents, Cowboys linebacker Damien Wilson was arrested July 4 on charges of assault with a deadly weapon; cornerback Nolan Carroll was arrested May 29 and charged with driving under the influence; defensive end David Irving was suspended by the NFL on June 28 for four games for violating the league's drug program; and rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis also was arrested with a jury trial scheduled to begin Monday in Michigan.

  • Falcons in rush to sign RB Freeman
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, July 24, 2017

    Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff is employing tunnel vision this week in hopes of signing star running back Devonta Freeman to a long-term contract.

    • Dimitroff's stated goal is locking up Freeman before veterans arrive for training camp Thursday.

      "I've always said that I think it's going to be a fairly expeditious negotiation, but you never know," Dimitroff said. "I'd love it to happen."

      Freeman, scheduled to earn $1.8 million in 2017, which is the final year of his rookie contract, was reportedly offered a five-year contract worth between $7 million and $8 million per season. Among running backs, only franchise-tagged Le'Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers ($12.2 million) is scheduled to make more than $8 million in 2017.

      Dimitroff also confirmed rookie pass rusher Takkarist McKinley will be limited to start training camp. McKinley had surgery to repair a torn labrum in March, and his expected recovery time was four to six months.

      Freeman's agent said during Super Bowl Media Night that Freeman should be paid "like the elite back he is."

      The 25-year-old Freeman started all 16 regular-season games in 2016, leading the Falcons with 1,079 rushing yards to go with 462 receiving yards on 54 receptions. Freeman had 13 total touchdowns.

      Freeman has 3,175 yards from scrimmage the past two seasons.

  • Ex-Broncos S Bruton retires due to concussions
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, July 24, 2017

    Safety David Bruton Jr. announced his retirement from the NFL on Monday after multiple concussions during his eight-year career.

    • Burton, who turned 30 on Sunday, told ESPN's Jeff Legwold that his six concussions along with a loss of passion to prepare for the game brought the longtime special teams captain of the Denver Broncos to his decision.

      "I'm burnt out, definitely worry about my health," Bruton said. "Another season was cut short by a concussion (in 2016) -- that's six. I'm a guy who likes to use his brain. Especially back in school, I need as many brain cells as possible with all these science classes. It came down to health, and I've definitely had my time in the league. I'm ready to move on."

      Bruton, who graduated from Notre Dame before entering the NFL in 2009, is back in school at the University of Colorado-Denver. He plans to become a physical therapist in his post-football life.

      Bruton also plans to work with the Broncos' training staff during this summer's camp.

      "Physical therapy is definitely something I've always wanted to do," Bruton told ESPN. "To see the people who enjoy doing it, who are good at it, and seeing the reward they get with working with people who work so hard to get back to normal life -- it's so rewarding."

      Bruton's 2016 season with the Washington Redskins came to an end after he suffered a concussion in the fourth game. He was released by the Redskins in December and had a workout with the Baltimore Ravens that "did not go well at all, because I just didn't have it in me anymore to do it."

      Bruton was a fourth-round pick by Denver in 2009 and spent seven years with the Broncos. He was part of their Super Bowl 50 team after the 2015 season but did not play in the win over the Carolina Panthers due to a fractured fibula. He played 108 games in his NFL career -- 104 with the Broncos.

      Bruton later posted on Instagram: "After 8 years in the NFL, I am calling it a day in the league. I want to thank everyone who helped me along the way. This decision did not come easy being that I've done this for so long and my love for the game, but it comes to an end for everyone and mine is on July 24, 2017. Thank you to my family, friends, Pat B., the Bowlen Family, the Broncos, the Redskins and the fans. It's been a hell of a ride and a lot of stories to pass down to future ball players."

  • QB Luck on Colts PUP list to open camp
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, July 24, 2017

    Quarterback Andrew Luck will begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list after offseason surgery, but the Indianapolis Colts expect him to be ready for the regular season in September.

    • Luck enters his sixth season with health concerns after issues with the franchise quarterback's shoulder lingered since 2015. He underwent surgery for an injury he confirmed originated in September 2015 in a game at Tennessee, about six weeks before he went down with a lacerated kidney in a game with the Denver Broncos.

      "We sat down after that year and felt like rehab was the way to go and I think that was the absolute correct decision," Luck said. " We did some awesome things and then this year happened obviously and what transpired through this year and sat down after this year and decided that maybe it was time to do surgery on it."

      In January, echoing statements made by owner Jim Irsay, Luck said he did not plan offseason surgery. Irsay would announce via Twitter two weeks later that Luck underwent surgery.

      In May, head coach Chuck Pagano offered few details on Luck but described his recovery as positive and said Luck was "doing great."

      General manager Chris Ballard said Monday that Luck is not injured, but focused on building strength in the shoulder.

      "We're exactly where I thought we'd be at this time," Ballard said.

      Irsay defended Luck's decision and contradicted former GM Ryan Grigson's statements on the severity of the injury. Per Irsay, Luck was mentally drained by the weekly process of getting ready for each regular-season game because of the treatment and rehab involved in keeping his shoulder game-ready.

      "He worked really hard," Irsay said in the offseason while preaching patience with Luck in his return to the field this summer. "We are not going to be rushing him. "We are going to make sure, obviously, that the shoulder has to be ready and the doctors are going to give full approval before he starts putting real reps on it and that sort of thing."

      Even though Irsay and the Colts were aware of Luck's shoulder issues, he was signed to a five-year, $122.7 million contract that runs through the 2021 season. He was guaranteed $44 million at signing.

      Ballard would not say Luck is a definite for Week 1 of the regular season against the Los Angeles Rams on Sept. 10.