Vinny Testaverde Stars In New Heisman Trophy Commercial

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Raiders Waiting for Clive Walford to Make Impact

At this point of the summer, the Raiders were hoping that Clive Walford would have established himself as a key part of the offense.

The rookie tight end from Miami, touted by head coach Jack Del Rio as a “complete” tight end – capable of being a strong blocker as well as receiver – was projected by many to eventually win the team’s starting job.

Instead, Walford’s participation in practice and games has been stymied by what has been reported by ESPN as a hamstring strain.

That has left veteran Lee Smith – acquired from Buffalo – and Mychal Rivera as the team’s top two tight ends. Both have received plenty of work and look sharp.

Now, there is just one game remaining in the exhibition season, a Thursday night matchup in Seattle against the Seahawks, and roughly two weeks until Game 1 of the regular season, for Walford to make up for lost time.

Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave recently said that Walford’s missed practice and game time has been “significant.”

When Musgrave was asked if Walford would be ready for that season opener on Sept. 13 vs. the Bengals, he said, “That’s hard to answer.”

But Walford, a third-round draft choice, remains upbeat. This past Friday, he tweeted: “I’m good!!! No worries I’ll be ready.”

In the meantime, Smith – an outstanding blocker -- is now listed as the No. 1 tight end on the depth chart, and Rivera has picked up where he left off last season, catching four passes for 61 yards through three summer games.

The Raiders would love to get Walford into action this week in practice and a game, if he’s healthy. At 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, he was a terrific receiver with the Hurricanes, catching 44 passes his final season. But even when he returned for a couple of practices in mid-August, Walford admitted he wasn’t up to speed, and Del Rio limited his practice time to guard against injury.

But the Raiders are invested in Walford for the long term. So far, this is just considered a minor bump on his long road.

“The bottom line is to have your horses make it to the race,” Del Rio told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group in mid-August about Walford’s status. “I don’t try to win the Kentucky Derby on a donkey. So we’ll try and get our best guys to the finish line. It’s important for them to get the work, but it’s also important to have him healthy.”

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Vince Wilfork's overall-wearing scene in 'Hard Knocks' can't be unseen

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Seantrel Henderson will start at right tackle

Orchard Park, N.Y. — Seantrel Henderson never had a doubt.

Once he was demoted to the third team during minicamp, the Buffalo Bills' offensive tackle knew he had to change something if he was going to take back the starting right tackle job he held down for his entire rookie season. So he went back home to Minnesota before training camp, set up a schedule and stuck with it.

He showed up to camp in shape, passed his conditioning test and quickly overtook Cyrus Kouandjio at right tackle. On Tuesday, Rex Ryan named him the starter at the position for the regular season.

"I just proved I can do this every day," Henderson said. "This is my job now. You know, just coming out of college last year I didn't really know what to expect. Now I am one year in, I know exactly what I got to do now. Now I am just ready to go."

Ryan said all Henderson had to do was decide he wanted the job and prove it with his play. The new coaching staff never questioned Henderson's ability, they just needed to give him a kick in the pants.

The message was received, and Henderson is the final piece of the starting offensive line.

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Jimmy Gaines released by Bills

The Buffalo Bills released linebacker Jimmy Gaines, a Buffalo native and Canisius High School graduate, and also designated offensive tackle Tyson Chandler as waived/injured Tuesday.

The two moves were required to make room on the 75-man roster for center Dalton Freeman and linebacker Kevin Reddick.

Freeman was claimed off waivers from the New York Jets. The 6-foot-5, 291-pound Clemson product played in all 16 games under Ryan last season in New York.

Reddick comes to the Bills off waivers from the Carolina Panthers. The 6-1, 240-pounder has played in 21 career games over two seasons, spending time with New Orleans, Carolina and San Diego. In those games, he’s made 12 special teams tackles. Reddick played in college for North Carolina.

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Travis Benjamin’s offseason a big reason why he’s thrived in preseason

If he gets a few moments before Thursday’s kickoff, Travis Benjaminicon-article-link might drop by to the other side of field to pay Chicago punter Pat O’Donnell a visit.

O’Donnell is among those Benjamin can thank for the way he blazed through August as a standout at wide receiver and on punt returns.

Still recovering from the serious knee injury he suffered to end 2013, Benjamin wasn’t able to field punts during his downtime before the 2014 season. Fully healed and ready to prove himself on a roster that added plenty of new options at wide receiver and punt returner, Benjamin worked with O’Donnell, a fellow University of Miami grad, throughout the months leading into training camp.

As Saturday’s 53-yard punt return for a touchdown showed, whatever Benjamin did to prepare for 2015 was exactly what the Browns wanted.

“That’s much like the Travis of old,” Browns coach Mike Pettine said. “We talked about the knee and how it is going to take that extra time to get back but I think we are seeing the results with it being two years out.”

The results have gone beyond punt returner, a position he fended off the likes of Taylor Gabrielicon-article-link and Shane Wynn to win the job. Benjamin is also the Browns leading receiver in the preseason with seven catches for 55 yards and a touchdown, a direct reflection of what he’s shown not only on the practice field since Day 1 of training camp but also the fields in Coral Gables, Florida.

“My plan was to come back to camp full ready to go and put my best foot forward on the field and come out and have the best possible outcome I could,” Benjamin said.

Benjamin didn’t miss a game last season, but both he and Pettine are quick to admit he wasn’t the same. The fourth-year wide receiver said he was so focused on staying healthy that it led to indecisiveness, especially on punt returns. Benjamin lost his job for a stretch and finished the season with an average of 8.5 yards per return, down from the 11.7 he had in 2013 before the injury.

A peculiar play served as the one when Benjamin knew he was back to 100 percent.

Benjamin was unable to field and return a punt in Cleveland’s preseason opener, so he was hungry to test out the knee -- no matter what. Standing inside the 20-yard line during the first quarter, Benjamin drifted back, and back, and back before he fielded the punt at the 2-yard line -- a no-no in most situations. He made a move, darted to the sidelines and gained 17 yards.

“I actually told (special teams coordinator Chris Tabor) I got to get one,” Benjamin said. “I wouldn't go into the third preseason game knowing I hadn't gotten a return yet. I just wanted to put something on tape. I came to the sidelines and I explained it to Tabes and we were on the same page.”

Benjamin’s rapport with quarterback Josh McCownicon-article-link has been strong since the start of training camp, as the two have connected on a number of passes at practice to go along with the in-game production. He came to training camp better prepared, too, as he added five pounds of muscle, absorbed himself in offensive coordinator John DeFilippo’s playbook and focused on attacking the ball rather than letting it come to him.

On top of his 55 receiving yards, Benjamin helped the Browns move 35 more in the preseason opener when he induced a pass interference call on a deep ball from McCown. It’s one of the many plays that have contributed to Benjamin’s growing confidence.

“From receiver, from a special teams standpoint, whenever they want No. 11 on the field, I'll put my best foot forward,” Benjamin said. “As long as I keep that edge of getting open and running my routes and getting the right depth and putting speed on film, it will be a great season for me.”

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Andrew Luck: Reggie Wayne is no traitor

Some Indianapolis Colts fans are not happy Reggie Wayne signed with the New England Patriots.

"Anywhere but there!" some bellowed and moaned on social media following his one-year pact with the conference rival.

There has been a lot said locally about the long-time Colt since he made the decision to join Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Indianapolis Star columnist Gregg Doyle even penned a piece titled: "Reggie Wayne - Patriot or traitor?"

When asked Tuesday about the local coverage of Wayne on the Rich Eisen Show, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck dismissed the idea that the receiver is anything close to a traitor.

"There's a lot of things said and written about a lot of people," Luck said. "But Reggie will always be one of the great Colts in my mind and a great, great teammate. You can't control what people write. It doesn't really matter what's fair, I think, and not fair necessarily as a player. But I know Reg is no traitor to me at all."

Of course he's not a traitor. After sitting out nearly all of the offseason after not being re-signed by the Colts after 14 years, the Pats were his first whiff of real interest. What was he to say? "Nah, I can't sign there, it might upset the team that decided it didn't want me?"

Above all, the NFL is a business, even if we as fans sometimes think it more.

As Eisen pointed out, it's just as weird seeing Andre Johnson in a Colts' uniform and Wayne in a Pats', but neither is anything close to a traitor.

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Calais Campbell's appearance on NFL Rank top 100 shows progress, respect

It's been a year of progress for Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell.

First, he made the Pro Bowl in January.

Then he was rated among the top 100 players in the league by ESPN.

Campbell was ranked 78th (81.20) on the list, which was revealed Tuesday, and was the second Cardinal to appear on the list. Cornerback Patrick Peterson was 49th (84.85). Campbell was the seventh defensive end named to the list, but he should've been higher. He's not yet better than Houston's J.J. Watt (No. 1 -- 98.87) or Buffalo's Mario Williams (No. 46 -- 84.93), but Campbell's size and length makes him a better defensive end than New York's Muhammad Wilkerson (No. 50 -- 84.65), Miami's Cameron Wake (No. 51 -- 84.54), Seattle's Michael Bennett (No. 60 -- 83.13) and New York's Sheldon Richardson (No. 61 -- 83.04).

There were 71 total voters, including ESPN analysts, Insiders, reporters, and Stats & Info NFL experts, as well as partner sites including Pro Football Focus and Football Outsiders.

Campbell doesn't play for a team that attracts the limelight like the Jets or the Dolphins, or hasn't had the success of the Seahawks. But he's quietly become a defensive factor that has teams double-teaming and planning against him because he's 6-foot-8 and has the quickness of an outside linebacker.

At No. 49, Peterson appears low but he's the fourth cornerback on the list behind Seattle's Richard Sherman (No. 8 -- 93.31), New York's Darrelle Revis (No. 9 -- 93.24) and Cleveland's Joe Haden (No. 42 -- 85.46). Depending on the day, Peterson could -- and should -- be ranked higher than Haden.

Trimmer, slimmer and intent on proving he's better than his 2014 stats show, Peterson is poised to have a better year than he did last season.

But with a slew of young talent, the Cardinals are also poised to have more names on the list next season.

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Ereck Flowers enjoying a strong preseason as run blocker

The New York Giants were forced to throw rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers right into the action when incumbent starting left tackle Will Beatty tore his pectoral muscle in May. Flowers took over left tackle immediately and hasn't looked back since. 

Flowers is running with the first team offense and often the second team offense as well. This kind of usage gives him more repetitions and it gives the Giants a better look at what he can bring the table. He has worked with both units throughout training camp practices and for most of the preseason action.

Flowers has been a very strong run blocker throughout all three games. He has earned positive grades from Pro Football Focus while paving the way for some big runs off the left end. The Giants have found their most success this preseason running off the left end. According to Pro Football Focus, the Giants have ran the ball for 34 yards on five attempts of the left end -- averaging 6.8 yards per carry. 

It's not all good news for Flowers. Through the first three preseason games, Flowers has struggled a bit in pass protection. In the third preseason game against the Jets, Flowers allowed a sack and a quarterback hit on just 22 pass blocking snaps, per Pro Football Focus. Over the course of the preseason, he has allowed two additional quarterback hits and one hurry.

Flowers will look to improve in pass protection and continue more of the same in the run game. If he can clean up some of his issues and keep Manning upright, he could make a major impact for this offense in 2015.

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Jon Beason optimistic about playing Week 1

When New York Giants linebacker Jon Beason injured his knee earlier in the preseason, he had three weeks to get ready for the season opener. At the time, he claimed he would be good to go for Week 1, but based on his injury history, there was reason to be skeptical. It's beginning to look like Beason will be a full go when the Giants open up their regular season on September 13th.

"He feels better," head coach Tom Coughlin said about Beason's recovery, per True Jersey. "He has a routine now and they've been been a little more aggressive each day with it. He's optimistic."

The Giants desperately need Beason to suit up. With the Cowboys' offensive line on tap, they will need the linebackers to make plays at the second level on a consistent basis throughout the preseason opener.

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Peyton Manning Congratulated Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed After Their Retirements

A two-time Super Bowl champion, Polamalu announced his retirement in April after 12 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In three regular-season games, all while Manning was with the Indianapolis Colts, Polamalu recorded one interception on No. 18, but his Steelers went 1-2. 

Polamalu does hold the edge in the playoffs, as his Steelers beat the Colts in their only meeting in the 2005 AFC Divisional Round. He had an interception overturned in that game. 

Longtime Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed retired a month after Polamalu and was a menace to Manning in the playoffs, recording three interceptions in two games while he was with the Colts. But Manning emerged victorious in both of those affairs.      

Manning had lots of respect for Reed, telling Ryan Mink of that Reed was "the best safety in the league" in a 2012 interview.

"Shoot, you can kind of go on and on: unbelievable ball skills, unbelievable range, great hands," Manning said. "You can tell what kind of athlete he is because of what he’s done once he’s got the ball in his hands, returning them for touchdowns. Smart player, the list goes on and on."

While Reed was held quiet in their 2012 postseason meeting, his Ravens played spoiler to Manning's Broncos during the quarterback's first year with the team with a 38-35 overtime victory. Later that season, Reed earned his only Super Bowl ring.   

The Broncos signal-caller is no spring chicken himself. The 39-year-old is signed through the 2016 season, according to, as he looks to add to his one Super Bowl ring he won back in 2006. With two of this generation's best safeties out of the picture, his path to the championship could become a bit easier. But it is clearly apparent just how much Manning respected them during their respective careers. 

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Travis Benjamin was put on Earth to tear the tops off defenses

I will never forget the first time I noticed Cleveland Browns receiver Travis Benjamin in an NFL game. The Browns were playing the Baltimore Ravens on a rainy night in 2012, Benjamin's rookie season. This was when the Ravens still had future Hall of Famer Ed Reed patrolling the back end of their defense, and few quarterbacks were willing to push the ball down the field.

Benjamin was soooo friggin fast that you could almost see the surprise on the faces of the Ravens secondary as he ran right by them play after play after play. It got to the point where dudes were lining up 20 yards off him before the snap. But it didn't matter because even with a head start, Benjamin was still dusting their asses. And that includes him running by Reed a few times.

Unfortunately, as has been the case for most of his career, Benjamin's quarterback couldn't get the ball to him with any accuracy, so while he was open damn near all night, he ended up catching just two passes, neither of them for a touchdown or even a big gain.

Whether it was Brandon Weeden in 2012 or Brian Hoyer over the next two years, Benjamin has mostly been quiet in the first three years of his career because his quarterbacks were hot garbage.

I'll admit that Benjamin is not the most, um, courageous receiver you will ever see. He's not about that "going across the middle and extending his arms to catch the ball" life. At the same time, however, who the fuck would want to send a dude with his kind of wheels across the middle a lot anyway? Benjamin is a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. He was put on this earth to chew bubble gum and take the top off of defenses, and I hear he's fresh out of Juicy Fruit.

Now, the Browns have a quarterback who can actually get him the damn ball and shit is about to get real. I know this because their new starter, Josh McCown, was the quarterback for my Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season. If there was one thing McCown did well in 2014 -- and there weren't many things he did well -- it was pushing the ball down the field to the wide receivers. That means for the first time in his career, Benjamin is going to have a guy who can consistently get him the ball when he gets a step or three on his defender.

McCown is also an athletic guy, so I'm betting we see a few instances where the pocket breaks down, McCown avoids the rush and slings it downfield to a waiting Benjamin who already left his guy in the dust. Oh, it's gonna happen. Write it down, take a picture, y'all know the rest.

Finally, Browns fans will get to see what kind of downfield threat Benjamin really is. I don't think he will start over Andrew Hawkins or Brian Hartline, but he won't need to.

Provided he stays healthy, Benjamin will more than double his career high of 18 catches, easily. With McCown pulling the trigger, or even an apparently rejuvenated Johnny Manziel, Benjamin will finally become the deep threat he was drafted to be and opposing defenses had better beware.

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Devin Hester Rips Jay Cutler

Despite the offensive woes the Atlanta Falcons experienced during Saturday’s 13-9 preseason loss at Miami, one positive was the chemistry between Matt Ryan and Devin Hester on two pass plays totaling 21 yards.

Hester, who entered the preseason unsure of his role in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, looked comfortable running his routes while using his elusiveness to gain extra yards after one of the catches. Such cohesion with Ryan has been brewing throughout practice. Several times this preseason, Ryan has pulled Hester aside for extended conversations about why there was miscommunication on a given route. Even during Saturday’s game, Ryan was animated pre-snap in making sure Hester was lined up correctly on a play that resulted in an 8-yard completion from Ryan to Hester.

Hester, who is adjusting to playing all the receiver spots rather than just the slot, recalled one of those practice scenarios with Ryan.

"We did like a down, out and up type deal,’’ Hester explained, "and in the past when we ran the out, if the corner played over the top, he’d back-shoulder it to me. And so I was expecting him to back-shoulder it, and he threw it deep. And he said, 'You were right on that one, but the next time it comes up, if that guy’s playing over the top of you, let’s back-shoulder it.’ Four plays later, that came up, and we back-shouldered it and made a good play on it.

"It’s just little small things that come with practice and timing. You get all your kinks and knots out in practice. That was one of those instances where we did something in previous years. We just had to get back on the same page.’’

The manner in which the dialogue between Ryan and Hester transpired is important to note. Hester realizes he doesn't run every route perfectly. When he does make a mistake, at least he knows Ryan’s approach to correcting the matter won’t be condescending.

Such wasn’t the case during Hester’s time alongside Bears quarterback Jay Cutler in Chicago. The main reason why Hester asked not to play offense during his final year with the Bears was because of his strained relationship with Cutler.

"If we weren’t on the same page, Jay just didn’t say anything to me,’’ Hester said. "He just wouldn’t (throw) to me. That’s just how he was.

"With Matt, if he sees something that he feels needs to be changed, he’ll come to you and say, 'Hey man, what do you think about doing it this way? It will give us a clearer look, and I’ll be able to get the ball to you.’"

Leadership is a quality Ryan displays on a daily basis despite not being overly vocal. Falcons coach Dan Quinn, in his first year, has gotten a better feel for that quality in Ryan this preseason, including observing those exchanges with Hester.

"Matt has that kind of respect because we all see the amount of time that he puts into it, and I think as a teammate, you get a lot of regard and respect for those guys,’’ Quinn said. "Say, 'Look how hard this guy’s going for it in terms of preparation, the energy he brings, the detail that he goes with it.’ I respect those both ways, from the quarterback to the receivers.’’

Hester, the most accomplished kickoff returner in league history, certainly appreciates having Ryan as his quarterback, regardless of how many offensive snaps or targets he gets come game day.

"He’s just an all-around quarterback,’’ Hester said of Ryan. "He goes through his progressions. He makes the right reads. He doesn’t care who’s out there, he just expects guys to make plays. Whoever the defense gives the opportunity to make the play, that’s who he goes with.’’

And the Falcons know Hester is capable of making plays with the ball in his hands.

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Phillip Dorsett returns to practice

As far as Fleener and Dorsett go, it's great to see them back on the field and starting to practice again, as both of them could have significant roles in the offense in 2015.  With Dorsett in particular the Colts were fortunate, as when he was injured in the second preseason game it initially appeared much worse than what it really was.

Of course, the Colts don't need either of them back until the September 13 regular season opener in Buffalo, as this Thursday's preseason game is the one in which the starters don't play.  We might have seen Dorsett play in the game if healthy, but since he's recovering from an injury and has his roster spot secured, I would be surprised if he does end up playing in the most meaningless of all the preseason games.  Instead, just let both Dorsett and Fleener continue to work their way back into the flow of things and have them ready for week one.  That's likely what the Colts will do as well.

There's no need to rush either Fleener or Dorsett back with the first regular season game not for nearly two weeks, but it's still nice to hear that they are back at practice today.

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NFL proCane Cuts Begin

#NFL #proCane Cuts: #Jets QB Jake Heaps, #Eagles OL Jared Wheeler, #Chargers DL Luther Robinson, #Bears DL Olsen Pierre, #Dolphins WR LaRon Byrd, #Vikings DB DeMarcus Van Dyke.

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Duke Johnson has concussion

CLEVELAND — Duke Johnson's concussion has aggravated the Browns' headache at running back.

Johnson is following the NFL's protocol on head injuries after the rookie sustained a concussion in the first half of Saturday night's 31-7 win over Tampa Bay. Coach Mike Pettine said Sunday that Johnson, whose exhibition debut ended after he was rocked on a hit by Buccaneers cornerback Mike Jenkins, could be sidelined for some time.

The Browns have major plans this season for Johnson, a versatile third-round pick and Miami's career rushing leader. However, he hasn't been able to stay healthy.

He missed Cleveland's first two preseason games and was limited throughout training camp by a hamstring issue — a condition he said dates to high school.
Johnson only carried the ball once and caught one pass against the Buccaneers, so the Browns still don't know what Johnson can do.

"We have seen what he can do in practice and that is important," Pettine said. "That is why we were so positive and optimistic about it. Football is about availability. He hasn't been available for much of the preseason. While we are hopeful about the potential, at the same time, it is discouraging to not have him out there."

Johnson's injury, and those to veteran Shaun Draughn and Glenn Winston, has left the Browns thin at running back. Second-year backs Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell have not produced as expected and Pettine said the team may consider other options at the position.

One of them could be Ray Rice.

The former Baltimore back, released by the Ravens following his domestic abuse case, is available and waiting for a second chance. Pettine has acknowledged the Browns have discussed the possibility of signing Rice, who played for Cleveland running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery in Baltimore.

Pettine did not mention Rice by name when asked specifically about him Sunday.

"If we do come to the decision that we need to add a back that is not here, we'll look at the list of backs that are available," he said.

Rice is reportedly in excellent shape and excited for an opportunity to play. The Browns have to first consider if he can help them, and also what kind of public backlash they could face in signing a player with his reputation.

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WATCH: Andrew Luck hits Andre Johnson for a Colts touchdown

WATCH: #proCane #Colts WR Andre Johnson score his first TD as a #Colt on a 32-yard pass.

A video posted by procanes (@procanes) on

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WATCH: Travis Benjamin returns punt 53 yards for a touchdown

It didn't take Travis Benjamin long to make an impact on Saturday night in Tampa Bay. The receiver and punt returner took the punt off of Tampa Bay's first possession 53 yards for a score.

Benjamin, who some (admittedly me) thought might be on the bubble this season, has been one of the team's best wide receivers in training camp and the preseason. He had a rocky 2014 season returning punts, but is expecting to get back to his old form this season. This isn't a bad start.

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Reggie Wayne believes he’s ‘doing all right’ adjusting to Patriots

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Imagine sitting by the ocean and unwinding with nothing imminent on the calendar when someone calls with a job offer.

In such a relaxed state, jumping at that opportunity may not be your first thought. Now imagine that job comes with the following description: You’ve got to crack the books right away and you’re going to get hit. A lot. Often by much bigger men.

Those caveats really don’t sweeten the proposition, do they?

That was the scenario facing Reggie Wayne last week. But the receiver didn’t think twice. He happily accepted the Patriots’ employment offer and made his debut in a 17-16 exhibition win over the Carolina Panthers Friday night with just a pair of practices under his belt.

“Hell, you go from chillin’ on the beach and just relaxing [to playing football],’’ said Wayne. “I worked out every day but there’s no way you can simulate football practices in your workouts at home so it was different.’’

Wayne didn’t have any catches and was only targeted once — Tom Brady’s short pass was just a bit off — but the veteran isn’t too concerned with statistics just yet, he was just happy to be back in pads.

“Felt like football,’’ said Wayne, when asked what it was like to return to the game. “I’m still adjusting, still trying to get on the same page with the quarterback, get on the same page with this team, learn this playbook. But just to be out there and hearing all the football terminology, seeing all of the stuff that I have been wanting to see for months, it felt good.’’

Coach Bill Belichick, who has had to shuffle the wide receiver deck more than a few times this summer with so many injuries (Brandon LaFell has yet to practice and Julian Edelman, Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, and Brian Tyms, who is on injured reserve with a foot ailment, all have been nicked up in camp), is happy to have Wayne in the fold and on the field, especially under game conditions.

“I think it’s always different in a game,’’ said the coach. “Game speed, timing, communication, not necessarily verbal but the timing of the communication with the quarterback and the routes and so forth. Practice is good and that certainly helps, but it’s never quite the same as the game. That’s something we can learn from and build on. We’ve obviously got a long way to go but [we’ll] keep working on it.’’

The 36-year-old Wayne, who played his previous 14 seasons with the Colts, collecting 1,070 receptions for 14,345 yards and 82 touchdowns, said he feels like a rookie again and though the Patriots playbook isn’t pleasure reading, he’s jumped right in.

“I’m learning,’’ said Wayne. “I’m doing better than I thought I would. No one likes to go back to school, it’s a process. Hopefully I can continue to grasp everything and continue to do as best as I can. I knew from afar that this playbook wasn’t simple. They’re throwing a lot at me, trying to see what sticks. I’m doing all right, man.’’

Wayne is getting some tutelage from a guy with pretty expansive knowledge on the playbook — Brady.

“He’s just trying to get me to understand the lingo, the way things go around here, it’s totally different [than in Indianapolis],’’ said Wayne. “He’s just trying to get me up to speed with everything.’’

Wayne is very appreciative of the help and support Brady has been able to offer, despite controversy surrounding the quarterback and the imminent decision on his suspension status as a result of Deflategate.

“Just what I know of Tom, I know that he’ll take care of business, whatever that is,’’ said Wayne, who has a little experience playing with elite quarterbacks after splitting his tenure in Indianapolis with Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. “He’s a professional, man. He knows what to do. Things happen, everybody’s going to have some bumps in the road here and there. I’m just glad that in spite of all that stuff he’s able to pull me to the side and kinda help me out. Whatever the situation is, it is. That’s my teammate and I’m willing to do whatever I can to help.’’

Wayne is wearing No. 15 with the Patriots because a certain fun-loving tight end has his familiar No. 87. He chose the number because “it’s my 15th season and eight plus seven equals 15.’’

After being entrenched with one team for so long, Wayne acknowledged it is a bit surreal to be wearing a different uniform. Especially New England’s red, white, and blue, considering the intense rivalry between the Patriots and Colts. The teams meet again Oct. 18 in Indianapolis, and the possibility exists that it could be Brady’s return if he is ordered to serve his four-game suspension.

“It’s different,’’ said Wayne. “You’ve been somewhere for 14 years so you never think you’ll be anywhere else, but that’s life. Life is when you plan for something else and things happen, you have to adjust. It was weird but once the whistle blows it just becomes football. I’m just thankful for the opportunity to be back out there again.’’

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Ereck Flowers A Stud Vs Jets

LT Ereck Flowers
It's hard to complain about what you've seen from Flowers this preseason. He's a rookie left tackle holding his own, and he did so again on Saturday night against a good Jets defensive line. Mostly, Flowers was matched against Jets outside linebacker Trevor Reilly. He won that matchup, especially up until the final drive. There were two plays in particular on the Giants' long touchdown drive in the second quarter where Flowers stood out with his run blocking. He also showed some feistiness near the goal line on a play where his helmet came off. The one negative came on a when Flowers found himself against Muhammad Wilkerson and was pushed into the backfield. Wilkerson and Reilly split the sack after running a twist that the Giants left side didn't handle well. Still another promising performance from the rookie left tackle. 

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Reggie Wayne describes why he picked jersey No. 15

CHARLOTTE -- Veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne has worn No. 87 throughout his football career, but after signing a one-year contract with the New England Patriots on Tuesday, he talked about how his time in 87 was over. That number, of course, is donned by tight end Rob Gronkowski in New England.

On Friday night, Wayne described why No. 15 is the right fit for him.

“It’s my 15th season and 8 plus 7 equals 15. I’m a little better than you thought I was; see how I put all that together?" Wayne cracked. "That’s the reason for the 15.”
Wayne drew a large crowd of reporters in the locker room after the Patriots' 17-16 victory over the Panthers, a game in which he played 20 snaps and had one ball thrown in his direction (he couldn't bring it in).

He talked about how refreshing it was for him to get back to playing football and "seeing all the stuff I’ve been wanting to see for months.” He said he's doing better than he thought he would in terms of learning the playbook, but still feels there's a long road ahead as he "knew from afar that this playbook wasn’t simple."

Quarterback Tom Brady has been a big help to him.

“I’m just glad that in spite of all that stuff [he's dealing with], he’s able to pull me to the side and help me out; trying to get me to understand the lingo, the way things go around here," Wayne said, adding that it feels like he's a rookie again. "That’s my teammate and I’m willing to do whatever I can to help.

"What I know of Tom, I know that he’ll take care of his business, whatever that is. He’s a professional. He knows what to do. Things happen. Everybody is going to have some bumps in the road here and there, but I’m sure he knows what to do and how to take care of that."

A few other soundbites from Wayne:

Playing 20 snaps after signing on Tuesday. “It’s a little shock to the body -- you go from on the beach chilling to playing football. ... I worked out every day, but there’s no way you can assimilate a football practice in your workouts at home. ... It felt good to be back with teammates, cheering me on, hearing the sounds of the helmets and things.”

Being one of the first players on the field and appreciating the moment. "That’s something I always did. I’m being appreciative. I’m thankful. I’m blessed. I’ve been doing this for 15 years. Those years go fast. You try not to take anything for granted. Anything can be your last play. See some of the faces come in and out of this league, to be able to do it this long, I’m thankful for that. What you saw me doing was a normal routine. It won’t ever change.”

Adjusting to his new surroundings at age 36. "It adds a little spice to your life a little bit. It’s a challenge. Everybody loves a challenge. I accept it. I’m seeing how the brain works at 36 years old. So far so good. I guess you can’t put me in the hospital just yet. I’m all right.”

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Phillip Dorsett has 'inside track' to No. 3 WR job

The Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder reports Colts rookie Phillip Dorsett has the "inside track" to the No. 3 receiver job.

Holder admits this is a position battle that is still playing out. Dorsett is the fastest receiver on the team and gets the edge on Donte Moncrief because he can play inside and outside. Moncrief has size and is equally explosive. While Dorsett has a leg up for the No. 3 job, both players will be highly inconsistent week-to-week performers. They're better best-ball picks.

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Denzel Perryman is playing catch-up

Four months into his Chargers career, Denzel Perryman is a minor mystery.

Sorry to be self-referential, but I've little sense of how Perryman has fared since he arrived in May.

Injuries, both in the spring and the summer, have set back the rookie linebacker and second-round draft pick.

Perryman missed several spring practices due to a hamstring injury.

When he worked in June, hitting wasn't allowed. The Chargers, remember, drafted Perryman as a hammer.

Perryman looked fit when training camp began, having worked out with NFL veterans Frank Gore, Andre Johnson and other University of Miami alums this summer in Miami.

In the camp opener, he made a fine play that many rookies don't make.

He worked 25 snaps in the exhibition opener, Aug. 13.

Again, he reacted well, breaking up a pass for a receiver, but as coach Mike McCoy noted, he also was flagged for a late hit.

The hits have been few. An undisclosed injury sidelined Perryman last week, and the Chargers held him out of the exhibition at Arizona.

So even for McCoy, who with his coaches pores over tape of every practice and the exhibitions, Perryman remains something of a mystery.

Here's McCoy on Thursday, when asked how Perryman has grown since joining the team.

Well, he's learning the system. He's missed too much time up to this point in time, with injuries, unfortunately. That's all part of the game. So it's been more mental for him. The big thing is, that he's got to stay healthy, and really stay into his book, and learn, and get in great football shape, and get going.

He has made all three practices this week and is expected to play Saturday against the Seahawks. The Chargers will play another exhibition Sept. 3, against the 49ers.

For Perryman, 21, it's a chance to catch up. He's behind.

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Devin Hester could have been a Miami Dolphin

A part of Devin Hester wanted to end his NFL career in familiar territory; in a place where his family and friends could make the short drive down I-95 south or the Florida Turnpike to Sun Life Stadium.

The Riviera Beach, Florida, native and former Miami Hurricane figured a return home would be an option when the Chicago Bears decided not to re-sign him after the 2013 season.

And it was.

"I just wanted to get out of the cold, really," Hester said with a laugh. "At the end of the day, Miami was a team I considered going to. My agent said they contacted us to ask how the process was going. It was tempting, but it didn't work out."

Instead, the most accomplished kick returner in NFL history signed a three-year deal in March 2014 with the Atlanta Falcons worth $3 million per year. And he has no regrets about the decision.

"I'm happy here," Hester said. "I was ready to move on."

Saturday's preseason road matchup (7 p.m. ET) with the Dolphins is sure to spark memories for Hester. He'll walk into the same place -- formerly known as Dolphin Stadium -- where he created the most memorable moment of his illustrious, 10-year career. It's the same place he returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLI against the Colts.

"It was my rookie year, and just being able to come back after you play your last college game in Miami -- you don't expect to come back to the same area," Hester said. "I'm pretty sure a lot of Hurricane fans were at the Super Bowl. And just to go out there at home and run the opening kickoff back, it just didn't hit me. It was too good to be true.

"It really didn't set in on me until after the game when everybody was talking about it and couldn't believe what happened. And then I started thinking about it and said, `Yeah, it was a big play.'"

Hester had just five family members at the Super Bowl. Saturday, he'll have about 20 people coming to see him back at home, including his wife and two sons.
"We're going to treat it like a home game," he said.

Hester purchased a home in Orlando more than two years ago. He never considered living in Miami after he got married.

"Miami was fun, during the single life," Hester said. "When you start having kids, you not only look for what makes you happy but what's going to be better for the kids. And Orlando is a decision we made for our kids.

"My wife's family is still in Miami. My family is in West Palm Beach. It's all still home."

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Reggie Wayne on playbook: They’re throwing a lot at me right now

Wide receiver Reggie Wayne is wrapping up his first week as a member of the Patriots and it’s been full of new things.

Wayne is wearing a new number on a new team after spending 14 years with No. 87 on the back of a Colts jersey and he’s also trying to lear a new offensive playbook with limited time to cram in all the new information before the start of the regular season. The scheme may be new but the experience brings back some old memories.

“Like a rookie,” Wayne said, via the Boston Herald. “They’re throwing a lot at me right now. I’m not getting very much sleep. I feel like a rookie all over again.”

Other veteran wideouts have struggled to pick up the Patriots offense quickly enough to make an impact for the team, so it’s not surprising to hear that Wayne’s working hard to pick everything up. With Brandon LaFell on the PUP list and Julian Edelman out of action for almost all of August, the Patriots may need that work to pay off early in the season.

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Eric Winston glad Jonathan Kraft “coming around” on player discipline

Patriots president Jonathan Kraft said in a recent radio interview that he thinks the league needs to take a look at possible changes to the way player discipline is meted out by the league office.

“There probably needs to be a rethinking so that the league office and the Commissioner aren’t put in a spotlight in a way that detracts from the league’s image and the game, even if the league office is doing the right thing, or the wrong thing, or whatever you think,” Kraft said. “It probably needs to be rethought for the modern era that we’re in and the different things that are coming up that I don’t think people anticipated and how the public wants to see them treated.”

Outside of a retweet of a story about Kraft’s comments from 49ers CEO Jed York, there hasn’t been much comment from ownership around the league about Kraft’s suggestion but NFLPA president Eric Winston liked what Kraft had to say. Winston said he’s “glad they’re coming around” and “starting to see what we’ve been seeing and what we’ve been saying” about the way NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wields his power over player discipline.

“I don’t want to keep pointing fingers at the league office, but that’s really what it is in the sense of running these rogue investigations that are clearly against the CBA,” Winston said, via USA Today. “An ex-commissioner has said so. Federal judges have said so. Arbitrators have said so. A lot of people can say, ‘Oh, well that’s just a partisan union hack.’ But don’t take my word for it. Take their word for it. Take federal judge David Doty recently questioning whether they know what the CBA says, because it’s clear to everybody but them that they’re not following it.”

Winston says he thinks every owner would see that the current system is “detrimental” to the game, something that doesn’t seem to be the case based on sentiments they’ve shared publicly.

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Brett Romberg calls Jonathan Martin 'garbage'

Former Miami Dolphins lineman Jonathan Martin recently retired from the NFL and explained how he experienced bouts of depression and attempted suicide several times throughout his NFL career.

None of that appears to matter to former Miami Hurricane Brett Romberg, who called Martin “a piece of garbage” on 790 The Ticket’s morning show as reported by the Miami New Times.

Romberg, a former center for the Hurricanes and a 10-year NFL veteran, criticized Martin for creating drama in the Miami Dolphins locker room after Martin accused former teammate Richie Incognito of bullying and harassment.

After Martin posted a deep, heartfelt explanation on Twitter about the end of his NFL career and the struggles he encountered, Romberg didn’t seem to buy any of it.
Romberg said on the 790 The Ticket that:

“He is. He’s a piece of garbage. The guy affected so many people’s lives around here. If you really think about it, Jonathan Martin has been sitting at home typing up his monologue or his inner monologue on Facebook. Talking about, ‘Woe is me. I’ve had issues.’”

Romberg went on to say that Martin essentially caused his own problems due to his own mental and health issues.

“You wanna cry about committing suicide and all this other stuff man, just don’t, don’t talk about it anymore,” Romberg said on 790 The Ticket.

You can listen to the full podcast on the link below at about the 8:00 minute mark:

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Reggie Wayne: Tom Brady Helpful In Spite Of Deflategate Distractions

Apparently Reggie Wayne had reasonable expectations for his preseason debut with the New England Patriots, which came just four days after the veteran wideout signed with his new team.

Wayne was targeted twice by quarterback Tom Brady. He caught neither attempt, and the second target, which Brady threw behind him, clanged off his finger tips. Still, Wayne held his head up after the Patriots’ 17-16 preseason win over the Carolina Panthers.

“I’m doing better than I thought I would,” Wayne said, via’s Kevin Duffy.

The Patriots’ offense is considered extremely intricate, and it’s been a stumbling block for many veteran wide receivers who have tried to play under Brady.

“I knew from afar this playbook wasn’t simple,” Wayne said.

Brady is doing what he can to help his new teammate comprehend the system, including putting in some extra work during practice.

“He’s a professional, man,” Wayne said, via the Providence Journal’s Mark Daniels. “He knows what to do. Things happen. Everybody is going to have some bumps in the road here and there. I’m sure he knows what to do, knows how to take care of that. I’m just glad, in spite of all that stuff, he’s able to pull me to the side and kind of help me out. Whatever the situation is, it is. That’s my teammate and I’m willing to do whatever I can to help.”

It remains to be seen if Wayne can catch on more quickly than the likes of Joey Galloway or Chad Ochocinco, but his first game was expectedly sloppy. The former Indianapolis Colts receiver will need to digest the Patriots’ complex offensive playbook soon, however, if Brandon LaFell — who’s still dealing with a foot injury — can’t get back on the field by Week 1.

The Patriots have just 13 days and one preseason game left before their Week 1 opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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WATCH: D-backs prospect Peter O'Brien crushes HR to dead center

During the course of Friday night's Pacific Coast League encounter between Memphis and host Reno, Diamondbacks outfielder/catcher Peter O'Brien did the following to an oncoming baseball ...

And the people say: "Whoa and golly."

As you can see and as you were informed, O'Brien hit that ball well clear of the batter's eye in deep center field. Yes, Reno is a hitter's haven, but that's a bomb in any context. Some perspective from the team prez ...

Indeed, the word from on high is that O'Brien Trumbo'd the snot out of that ball. That was the 25-year-old's 25th homer of the season and 91st across parts of four minor-league seasons. Don't be surprised if he makes his way to Arizona after the rosters expand.

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Jon Jay goes hitless in rehab debut

Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay went 0 for 3 at the plate during his first rehab game at Triple-A on Saturday. A wrist injury has kept Jay out since late June.

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