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  • NFL notebook: Patriots release WR Brown
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 20, 2019

    The Antonio Brown era in New England is over.

    • The Patriots announced they are cutting the controversial wide receiver Friday afternoon, just five days after Brown caught four passes for 56 yards and scored a touchdown in his debut with the team.

      "The New England Patriots are releasing Antonio Brown," the team said in a statement. "We appreciate the hard work of many people over the past 11 days, but we feel it is best to move in a different direction at this time."

      Patriots coach Bill Belichick abruptly left his news conference earlier Friday after being asked repeated questions concerning Brown.

      --Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton officially is out of Sunday's road game against the Arizona Cardinals.

      Second-year QB Kyle Allen will start in Newton's place.

      The announcement was expected as Newton missed practice all week after aggravating a mid-foot sprain in Week 2's loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He sustained the left foot injury in the third preseason game.

      --The Dallas Cowboys are taking the restrictions off Ezekiel Elliott.

      Elliott's action was measured in the Cowboys' first two games after the running back missed the preseason while holding out for a new contract.

      Elliott, who signed a six-year, $90 million contract earlier this month, played about half the snaps in Week 1 and 75 percent in Week 2. Overall, he has 36 carries for 164 yards and two touchdowns.

      --Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan wants to retain disgruntled cornerback Jalen Ramsey and is willing to extend a huge offer despite the All-Pro's request to be traded, according to a report.

      "(It's) worth noting that the owner Shad Khan loves Ramsey, would be willing, from what I understand, to pay him and make him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL as soon as he possibly can," NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said.

      Ramsey is earning $3.6 million this season, and the Jaguars picked up his $13.7 million fifth-year option for 2020.

      --Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee will miss Sunday's game in Cleveland with a bruised lung, coach Sean McVay told reporters.

      McVay added that offensive lineman Austin Blythe (ankle) and All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald (back) are questionable when discussing the team's most noteworthy injuries. Donald is expected to play.

      --Cleveland Browns starting tight end David Njoku has been placed on injured reserve because of a broken wrist, the team announced.

      --Hotel magnate Barron Hilton, an original owner in the American Football League, died at age 91 at his home in Los Angeles, his family announced.

      --Indianapolis Colts All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard (concussion) and defensive end Jabaal Sheard (knee) have been ruled out of Sunday's home game against the Atlanta Falcons, head coach Frank Reich announced.

      --Speedy rookie running back Devin Singletary (hamstring) will be out for the Buffalo Bills on Sunday when the Cincinnati Bengals visit New Era Field.

      --Field Level Media

  • Browns TE Njoku on IR; injuries hamper secondary
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 20, 2019

    Cleveland Browns starting tight end David Njoku has been placed on injured reserve because of a broken wrist, the team announced Friday.

    • Njoku reportedly was seeking additional medical opinions on the injury, but a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter that the player might require surgery.

      Njoku was injured in the first quarter of the Browns' 23-3 victory over the New York Jets on Monday night. On the same play, he suffered a concussion as he appeared to land on his head and neck after being upended by Jets cornerback Nate Hairston on an attempted pass from quarterback Baker Mayfield.

      Njoku did not make a catch in the game after hauling in four receptions for 37 yards and a touchdown in the season-opening loss to the Tennessee Titans.

      In his third NFL season, all with the Browns, the 23-year-old from Jersey City, N.J., has career totals of 92 receptions for 1,062 yards and nine touchdowns.

      The Browns also ruled out two other starters for Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Rams: safety Damarious Randall (concussion) and linebacker Christian Kirksey (chest). Backup offensive tackle Kendall Lamm (knee) is also out.

      In a corresponding move Friday, the Browns claimed former Oakland Raiders safety Juston Burris off waivers. In his fifth NFL season, Burris has played in 38 career games, totaling 28 tackles, two interceptions, seven passes defensed and 11 special teams tackles. He played four games with the Browns last season after starting his career with the New York Jets (2016-18).

      The move was likely made because the Browns' entire starting secondary missed practice on Friday, including cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams (hamstring injuries for each) and safety Morgan Burnett (quadriceps).

      --Field Level Media

  • Rams TE Higbee out with lung injury, Donald questionable
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 20, 2019

    Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee will miss Sunday's game in Cleveland with a bruised lung, coach Sean McVay told reporters on Friday.

    • McVay added that offensive lineman Austin Blythe (ankle) and All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald (back) are questionable when discussing the team's most noteworthy injury. Donald is expected to play.

      "Hopefully we'll be able to get (Higbee) back next week," McVay said, per a team release. "With Austin and Aaron, (they) will be listed as questionable. Aaron's feeling good, probably just more semantics than anything else."

      Higbee, 26, was injured in the second quarter of the Rams' 27-9 victory over the New Orleans Saints last Sunday. After he came out of the game with a chest injury, Higbee was sent to a hospital for precautionary reasons, where he coughed up blood. He did not practice this week.

      Blythe injured his ankle on the same play in which Higbee was injured and was a limited participant in practice Friday. Donald told reporters he will be ready to go when Los Angeles plays at Cleveland on Sunday night.

      "I feel good," Donald told reporters. "100 percent (I'll be out there)."

      Donald injured his back and briefly left the game, shortly after he hit Drew Brees' hand as the quarterback released the ball, knocking Brees out of the game with a torn ligament which required surgery earlier this week. Brees is expected to miss approximately six weeks.

      Also for Sunday, the Browns ruled three starters out for the game: tight end David Njoku (concussion, wrist), safety Damarious Randall (concussion) and linebacker Christian Kirksey (chest). Backup offensive tackle Kendall Lamm (knee) is also out. The Browns placed Njoku on injured reserve.

      --Field Level Media

  • Patriots release WR Antonio Brown
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 20, 2019

    The Antonio Brown era in New England is over.

    • The Patriots announced they are cutting the controversial wide receiver Friday afternoon, just five days after Brown caught four passes for 56 yards and scored a touchdown in his debut with the team.

      "The New England Patriots are releasing Antonio Brown," the team said in a statement. "We appreciate the hard work of many people over the past 11 days, but we feel it is best to move in a different direction at this time."

      The NFL later issued a statement that read: "Antonio Brown was released today by the New England Patriots and is currently an unrestricted free agent. Our office is presently investigating multiple allegations, some of which are the subject of pending litigation. We have as yet made no findings regarding these issues. The investigation is ongoing and will be pursued vigorously and expeditiously.

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

      Patriots coach Bill Belichick abruptly left his news conference earlier Friday after being asked repeated questions concerning Brown.

      "I know there are questions about Antonio," Belichick said, via NBCSportsBoston.com. "We take all the situations with our team very seriously. There are some things we're looking into."

      After answering a couple of general questions that stemmed from Brown's situation, Belichick said he would talk football. After another Brown-related question was asked, Belichick said: "I'm good. Thank you."

      An offseason full of tumult and controversy carried over into the regular season for Brown. On Thursday, Sports Illustrated reported that a female artist who leveled claims earlier this week that Brown made unwanted sexual advances before firing her contacted the NFL claiming the 31-year-old wide receiver sent her "intimidating and threatening" texts.

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

      The Patriots signed Brown earlier this month just hours after the Oakland Raiders released him. It was reportedly a one-year, $15 million deal with a $9 million signing bonus. Prior to his release, Brown spent training camp in and out of Raiders facilities, rehabbing a frostbite-like condition on his feet after a cryotherapy mishap, filing grievances with the NFL over his helmet, arguing with team management (reportedly calling general manager Mike Mayock a cracker), and posting a recorded conversation with Raiders coach Jon Gruden to YouTube.

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

      The 2-0 Patriots host the 0-2 New York Jets on Sunday.

      --Field Level Media

  • AFL founding owner, hotelier Hilton dies at 91
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 20, 2019

    Hotel magnate Barron Hilton, an original owner in the American Football League, died at his home in Los Angeles, his family announced Friday.

    • Hilton died Thursday of natural causes at age 91, the family run Conrad Hilton Foundation stated in a press release.

      After serving in the Navy and pursuing other business opportunities, Hilton joined the family business in 1954, eventually becoming chairman, president and CEO of Hilton Hotels Corp.

      In the late 1950s, he was approached by American Football League pioneers Lamar Hunt and Bud Adams about owning a franchise, and Hilton founded the Los Angeles Chargers in 1959. The team moved to San Diego after one season and appeared in five of the first six AFL title games, winning one.

      Hilton sold controlling interest in the Chargers to Gene Klein in 1966 for $10 million.

      The NFL paid tribute to Hilton on Friday.

      "Simply put, the modern NFL would not be what it is today without the vision of Barron Hilton," said Dean Spanos, who now owns the Chargers franchise. "A founding father and charter member of the upstart AFL's sarcastically self-dubbed ‘Foolish Club,' Barron was a pioneering leader, risk-taking entrepreneur, prolific philanthropist, devoted family man and, of course, anything but foolish. ... It seems fitting that we celebrate a life extraordinarily well-lived the same year as we recognize the Chargers 60th anniversary season since without Barron, there would be no Chargers."

      The rival Oakland Raiders also remembered Hilton in a team statement.

      "Hilton was instrumental in creating the American Football League and the Chargers, and he also played a large role in the history of the Raiders. His coaching staff of Sid Gillman, Al Davis, Chuck Noll, Joe Madro and Jack Faulkner is among the most legendary staffs ever assembled and he provided Al Davis with his first opportunity to coach at the professional level. The NFL would not be what it is today without his leadership and the Raiders family is saddened by his loss."

      --Field Level Media

  • Panthers QB Newton (foot) officially out of Sunday's game
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 20, 2019

    Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton officially is out of Sunday's road game against the Arizona Cardinals.

    • Second-year QB Kyle Allen will start in Newton's place.

      The announcement was expected as Newton missed practice all week after aggravating a mid-foot sprain in Week 2's loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He sustained the left foot injury in the third preseason game.

      Newton, a former MVP, has completed 50 of 89 passes for 572 yards with no touchdowns and one interception in the Panthers' 0-2 start. His passer rating of 71.0 is among the league's worst.

      Allen, 23, a native of Scottsdale, Ariz., started Carolina's regular-season finale in 2018, completing 16 of 27 passes for 228 yards and two scores in a 33-14 win at New Orleans.

      Newton has not thrown or run for a touchdown in his last four games dating to last season when he was plagued by shoulder injuries.

      The Panthers listed defensive lineman Kawann Short (shoulder) and tight end Greg Olsen (back) as questionable. Rashaan Gaulden (groin), Bruce Irvin (hamstring) and Brandon Greene (neck) were listed as out.

      --Field Level Media

  • Colts All-Pro LB Leonard, DE Sheard out vs. Falcons
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 20, 2019

    Indianapolis Colts All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard (concussion) and defensive end Jabaal Sheard (knee) have been ruled out of Sunday's home game against the Atlanta Falcons, head coach Frank Reich announced Friday.

    • Leonard suffered the concussion last weekend against the Tennessee Titans and was placed in the league's concussion protocol and didn't pass, missing a full week of practices.

      As a rookie in 2018, Leonard, a second-round pick (36th overall) out of South Carolina State, led the NFL in tackles with 163. He has a team-leading 18 tackles and one sack in two games this season.

      Adjusting to replace Leonard, the Colts are expected to give rookie Bobby Okereke the start at middle linebacker and move Anthony Walker from the middle to the outsidet.

      "[Okereke looks] like he needs more playing time. He's that kind of guy," Reich said. "... He'll get some more time this week."

      Sheard practiced Wednesday, as a limited participant, for the first time in almost two months. He underwent a minor surgical procedure after feeling "soreness and swelling" on July 25, the team's first training camp practice.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: NFL temporarily bans on-field pyrotechnics
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 20, 2019

    The NFL temporarily is banning on-field pyrotechnics and "flame effects" while its investigates a fire that occurred last Sunday during Tennessee Titans' pregame ceremonies, ESPN reported Friday.

    • The league said the ban will be in place until it finishes its review of the circumstances at Nissan Stadium in Nashville last week. As the Titans were marking the jersey retirement for Eddie George and the late Steve McNair, flames shot out of one of the on-field pyrotechnic machines.

      No one was injured.

      The Minnesota Vikings issued a statement Friday, confirming that pyrotechnics away from the field remained allowed.

      --Field Level Media

  • Bucs LB White (knee) out vs. Giants
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 20, 2019

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting inside linebacker Devin White has been ruled out of Sunday's game against the New York Giants, head coach Bruce Arians said Friday.

    • In a Sept. 12 game against the Carolina Panthers, White sustained a sprained MCL in his left knee. The injury occurred on the first defensive series as he was trying to tackle Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey.

      White, who didn't practice the entire week, exited the field Friday wearing a metal brace on his knee. Arians previously indicated that White was "day-to-day."

      The No. 5 overall pick of the Bucs in the 2019 NFL Draft out of LSU, White made six tackles in the season opener against the San Francisco 49ers. He collected two tackles in the Panthers game.

      Against the Giants (0-2) on Sunday, the Bucs (1-1) will start Kevin Minter, who replaced White in the game against the Panthers and made eight tackles.

      "He's a pro," Arians said of Minter, in his seventh season. "You can count on him -- he's a great special teams player, but he's a heck of a linebacker too."

      Also not available to the Bucs on Sunday will be reserves Jamel Dean (ankle), Devante Bond (hamstring) and Blaine Gabbert (shoulder).

      --Field Level Media

  • Bills RB Singletary out vs. Bengals
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 20, 2019

    Speedy rookie running back Devin Singletary will be out for the Buffalo Bills on Sunday when the Cincinnati Bengals visit New Era Field.

    • Singletary is dealing with a hamstring issue.

      Singletary has added an energizing element to the running game behind veteran Frank Gore. He has 127 yards on 10 carries and five catches for 28 yards through two games, while Gore has 30 carries for 88 yards.

      Bills tight end Tyler Kroft also is out with an ankle injury.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Jags owner willing to offer Ramsey big deal
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 20, 2019

    Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan wants to retain disgruntled cornerback Jalen Ramsey and is willing to extend a huge offer despite the All-Pro's request to be traded, according to a report.

    • "(It's) worth noting that the owner Shad Khan loves Ramsey, would be willing, from what I understand, to pay him and make him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL as soon as he possibly can," NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said Friday. "There is a lot of love here. So, for the Jacksonville Jaguars to part with Ramsey, they're going to have to be convinced, overwhelmed that it's the right move."

      Ramsey is earning $3.6 million this season, and the Jaguars picked up his $13.7 million fifth-year option for 2020. Miami's Xavien Howard and Washington's Josh Norman are cornerbacks who have five-year deals worth at least $75 million.

      Rapoport added that despite a Week 2 altercation between Ramsey and coach Doug Marrone on the sidelines, Ramsey's beef wasn't with Marrone but with members of the front office.

      Ramsey, who turns 25 in October, was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. He hasn't missed a game in his pro career.

      On the "Uninterrupted" podcast this week, Ramsey told host Nate Burleson he requested a trade because of the way he was treated by the team after last Sunday's loss to the Houston Texans.

      "Some disrespectful things were said on their end that made me definitely walk out and call my agent as soon as I walked out," Ramsey told Burleson. "I said, ‘It's time. My time is up here in Jacksonville.' I said, ‘I want to ask for a trade.' I was truly at peace, like I wasn't in a mindset of making a decision while I was angry. I was completely calm. I still stand by that decision to ask for a trade."

      He made those comments before Thursday night's 20-7 win against the Tennessee Titans. Ramsey made nine interceptions.

      --Field Level Media

  • Belichick bolts press conference after Brown questions
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 20, 2019

    New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick abruptly left his news conference Friday after being asked repeated questions concerning embattled receiver Antonio Brown, just hours before the team did release Brown.

    • Belichick confirmed Brown remained on the Patriots roster at that time but didn't address Brown's off-field issues, which include recent allegations of sexual assault. Hours later, the team issued a written statement that it had released Brown.

      "I know there are questions about Antonio," Belichick told reporters gathered at the news conference, via NBCSportsBoston.com. "We take all the situations with our team very seriously. There are some things we're looking into."

      Belichick added he would not comment "on any off-the-field situations" involving Brown. He said those words at the end of opening remarks that began with comments regarding Sunday's home game against the New York Jets.

      After answering a couple of general questions that stemmed from Brown's situation, Belichick said he would talk football. After another Brown-related question was asked, Belichick said, "I'm good. Thank you."

      Later, the team issued the following statement:

      "The New England Patriots are releasing Antonio Brown. We appreciate the hard work of many people over the past 11 days, but we feel it is best to move in a different direction at this time."

      The latest news surrounding Brown involved the female artist who leveled claims earlier this week that Brown made unwanted sexual advances before firing her. Sports Illustrated reported that she contacted the NFL Thursday, saying Brown sent her "intimidating and threatening" texts.

      --Field Level Media

  • Cowboys lift snaps limit for RB Elliott
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 20, 2019

    The Dallas Cowboys are taking the restrictions off Ezekiel Elliott.

    • Elliott's action was measured in the Cowboys' first two games after the running back missed the preseason holding out for a new contract.

      No more, offensive coordinator Kellen Moore said.

      "This is our third game," Moore told the Dallas Morning News. "I think he's at that point where we're pretty much playing this thing out at this point. It was good those first two weeks just to be aware of it and then also trust Zeke's response and how he feels and all those things and just balancing that stuff out."

      Elliott, who signed a six-year, $90 million contract earlier this month, played about half the snaps in Week 1 and 75 percent in Week 2. Overall, has 36 carries for 164 yards and two touchdowns.

      The Cowboys (2-0) host the Miami Dolphins (0-2) on Sunday.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Accuser tells NFL that WR Brown sent 'threatening' texts
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 20, 2019

    The female artist who leveled claims earlier this week that New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown made unwanted sexual advances before firing her contacted the NFL Thursday saying that Brown sent her "intimidating and threatening" texts, Sports Illustrated reported.

    • Already facing a civil lawsuit brought by his former trainer Britney Taylor over sexual assault allegations, Brown was accused by the artist's attorney of sending text messages to the artist that were "intimidating and threatening to our client, in violation of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy."

      The letter from lawyer Lisa J. Banks to the NFL stated that her client was "understandably frightened by these text messages, which are clearly intended to threaten and intimidate her." Banks also denied that the artist planned to be seeking money "to compensate her for his sexual misconduct, contrary to his allegations in the text messages."

      According to the SI report, the NFL reached out to Banks within an hour of receiving her complaint to coordinate a phone call between league investigators and the artist's counsel.

      Per the SI article earlier this week in a story detailing multiple domestic violence allegations against the seven-time Pro Bowl receiver, Brown met the artist at a 2017 charity softball game and invited her to his house to create another piece of artwork. Per her claim, the unnamed artist, who requested anonymity before speaking about Brown, "was in a kneeling position while painting and turned to find Brown behind her, naked, holding a small hand towel over his genitals." The artist continued painting, but "after that, it all ended abruptly," she told SI.

      The report indicated the artist received $2,000 from Brown, who didn't contact her after the incident. The woman did not plan to file charges or receive renumeration, though Brown's behavior troubled her, SI reported.

      Thursday's report alleged that the artist was included on a group text with three other unidentified phone numbers that seemingly came from the same number she was originally given by Brown two years ago. Among other texts claiming she was a "super broke girl" and prompts to "look up her background history," the texts reportedly included an accusation that she was lying about her 2017 claim in order to extort money out of Brown, 31.

      "This sort of intimidation and harassment is the reason victims are often so reluctant to step forward in these cases," Banks told SI Thursday. "We have confidence the NFL and the Patriots will step in and end this behavior."

      After Monday's report was published, Brown's attorney Darren Heitner wrote on Twitter, "Antonio Brown has reviewed the sexual misconduct allegations made by an unnamed artist included in a recently published Sports Illustrated article and denies that he ever engaged in such activities. There will be no further comment at this time."

      Regarding the Taylor civil suit, the league has interviewed her and continues to investigate, but it is not known whether the league will interview Brown.

      Taylor claims Brown sexually assaulted her on three separate occasions, including once in Pittsburgh, where the wide receiver played for the Steelers for nine seasons, and twice in Florida.

      ESPN also has reported that Brown, who hired Taylor as a trainer after they attended Central Michigan at the same time, turned down a $2 million settlement before the suit was filed.

      --Field Level Media

  • NFL notebook: Dolphins reportedly to start Rosen at QB
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 19, 2019

    A day after head coach Brian Flores affirmed veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Miami Dolphins reversed course and made Josh Rosen the starting quarterback for Sunday's game at the heavily favored Dallas Cowboys, according to multiple reports Thursday.

    • The Miami Herald reported earlier Thursday that the two quarterbacks split reps in Thursday's practice, a change from previous weeks after Fitzpatrick won the preseason competition.

      Fitzpatrick, 36, is 25 of 50 for 274 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions -- two returned for touchdowns -- through two games.

      Rosen, 22, has gone 8 of 21 for 102 yards and two interceptions in mop-up duty.

      --Philadelphia Eagles are expected to be without wide receivers DeSean Jackson (lower abdomen) and Alshon Jeffery (calf) on Sunday against the Detroit Lions, and likely Week 4 as well.

      The Eagles were missing seven key players at practice, including tight end Dallas Goedert (calf), who is also considered unlikely for Sunday.

      --New York Giants coach Pat Shurmur no longer will appear weekly on Mike Francesa's radio show on WFAN, the team's flagship station.

      Francesa was blunt with Shurmur about the play of the 0-2 Giants on Monday. "You look like a bad team through two weeks. I hate to say it, but you look like a terrible team. You're not good at anything."

      Shurmur said the team brass decided to end the weekly spots.

      --Carolina quarterback Cam Newton missed practice with a foot injury again, increasing the likelihood that the Panthers will start Kyle Allen on Sunday in Arizona.

      Newton aggravated a left mid-foot sprain during last Thursday night's loss and has not practiced since.

      Head coach Ron Rivera told reporters he wasn't yet sure whether Newton or Allen would start against the Cardinals, saying he would know more Friday.

      --In his first public comments since joining the New England Patriots on Sept. 7, wide receiver Antonio Brown declined to address his status amid the league's investigation into sexual assault allegations against him.

      "I appreciate that question," Brown replied when asked about the subject. "I'm just here to just focus on ball. I look forward to getting out there in the home stadium and being with the team."

      The Boston Globe also reported that Nike has terminated its endorsement deal with Brown.

      --Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner was critical of the performance of wide receiver Donte Moncrief, saying he's got to start hauling in catches.

      In Week 1, Moncrief caught three of 11 targets for 7 yards, with four incompletions that hit both of his hands. Last week, Moncrief was targeted just once, watching the pass go off his hands and deflect for an interception.

      --Denver Broncos general manager John Elway was frank about the rash of holding penalties racked up by left tackle Garett Bolles.

      "It's gotta stop. Period," Elway said on 850 KOA radio. "There's no more excuses for it. He's had 26 holding penalties in the last two years and two games, so it's gotta stop."

      --Chicago Bears defensive tackle Bilal Nichols has a broken hand but will likely avoid injured reserve. He is unlikely to play Monday at Washington but could play with the hand wrapped into a club, according to head coach Matt Nagy.

      --The Dolphins claimed former first-round defensive end Taco Charlton, 24, off waivers from the Cowboys. The two teams play each other Sunday.

      -- The Green Bay Packers promoted tight end Evan Baylis from the practice squad as Jimmy Graham deals with a groin injury. Graham, 32, did not practice Thursday, and his status is murky for Sunday's game at Lambeau Field against the Broncos.

      --Cowboys defensive end Tyrone Crawford is doubtful for Sunday due to a hip injury.

      --Giants wideout Sterling Shepard is expected to clear the concussion protocol and play Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

      --In addition to a groin injury, Oakland Raiders rookie running back Josh Jacobs said he also has an illness that has caused him to lose 10 pounds.

      -- Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill is out of a sling this week, sparking speculation that he could return from a right clavicle injury before the original six- to eight-week estimate.

      --Running back Marlon Mack (calf) and linebacker Darius Leonard (concussion) both missed their second straight day of practice. Coach Frank Reich is expected to announce their availability on Friday.

      --Tight end Jordan Reed (concussion) remains out of practice, but the Washington Redskins haven't ruled him out of Monday night's game against the Bears.

      Reed sustained the concussion in the preseason and has yet to be cleared to play.

      --Buffalo Bills tight end Tyler Kroft, an offseason acquisition, has yet to play this season because of a broken right foot.

      It appeared he might play Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, but that is in doubt. He left practice with a right ankle injury, and coach Sean McDermott said the extent of the injury wasn't known yet.

      --Four-time Pro-Bowl linebacker C.J. Mosley missed another practice, but coach Adam Gase wasn't ready to rule him out for Sunday when the New York Jets travel to meet the Patriots.

      --Field Level Media

  • Giants sever relationship with Francesa's radio show
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 19, 2019

    New York Giants coach Pat Shurmur no longer will appear weekly on Mike Francesa's radio show on WFAN, the team's flagship station.

    • Francesa, an outspoken and often controversial figure in New York, has been highly critical of general manager Dave Gettleman for using the No. 6 overall pick in April's draft on quarterback Daniel Jones, who will make his first career start on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

      And on Monday, Francesa was blunt with Shurmur about the play of the 0-2 Giants.

      "You look like a bad team through two weeks," Francesa told Shurmur in the segment. "I hate to say it, but you look like a terrible team. You're not good at anything."

      Shurmur said the team brass decided to end the relationship.

      "I think that was an organizational decision not to do that," Shurmur told reporters Thursday about pulling out of the 15-minute weekly appearance. "Most people aren't aware of this, but I wasn't contractually obligated to do that spot. We did it as a courtesy and out of respect for our relationship with the radio station. We just felt like for a while, just put that to bed for a while and not do it and move forward."

      Eli Manning backed out of his frequent appearances on Francesa's show earlier this year. The quarterback said he wanted to spend more time with his family; Francesa previously said it was because Manning knew he would lose his starting QB spot to Jones.

      Francesa addressed the Shurmur development in his show opening on Thursday.

      "Not everyone is cut out for handling what is the real intense spotlight that there is in this city, that comes with these jobs," he said. "I don't take anything personally from it. That's his prerogative."

      --Field Level Media

  • Patriots WR Brown: 'Just focused on ball'
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 19, 2019

    In his first public comments since joining the New England Patriots on Sept. 7, wide receiver Antonio Brown declined to address his status amid the league's investigation into sexual assault allegations against him.

    • "I appreciate that question," Brown replied when asked about the subject Thursday. "I'm just here to just focus on ball. I look forward to getting out there in the home stadium and being with the team."

      That was the fourth and final question Brown took during a one-minute session with reporters before a team official escorted Brown away. The first question Brown was asked concerned his standing with the league, but he declined to acknowledge it.

      "I'm super grateful to be here," Brown said. "Thankful for Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. I've got a lot of the offense to learn and catch up, but I'm excited and grateful to be here and be a part of these guys."

      Brown was not asked directly about the accusations.

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

      Brown made his Patriots debut on Sunday in Miami, catching four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown while playing 24 snaps.

      The Patriots host the New York Jets on Sunday.

      --Field Level Media

  • Steelers OC calls out WR Moncrief
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 19, 2019

    Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner didn't mince words Thursday when asked about the struggles of wide receiver Donte Moncrief.

    • "I just know that I had a coach a long time ago say that you've got to put the word receive into receiver," Fichtner told reporters. "That's your job No. 1. Receive the football. Catch it."

      Moncrief, who joined the Steelers as a free agent on a two-year deal in March, has had major issues hanging onto the ball through two weeks. In Week 1, he caught three of 11 targets for 7 yards, with four incompletions that hit both of his hands, although most involved a New England Patriots player contesting the attempted catch.

      Last week, Moncrief was targeted just once, watching the pass go off his hands and deflect for an interception by Seattle Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald.

      Moncrief, 26, told reporters he's been putting too much pressure on himself and overthinking things. He said a minor finger injury is not to blame.

      "When you go out there and try to be perfect, it just puts more pressure on yourself," Moncrief said. "Put a lot on you mentally. Like you said, when you're mentally not out there, just not out there having fun, it's hard."

      In six NFL seasons, Moncrief has 203 catches for 2,550 yards and 21 touchdowns.

      --Field Level Media

  • Bears DT Nichols (broken hand) out, should avoid IR
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 19, 2019

    Defensive tackle Bilal Nichols has a broken hand, the Chicago Bears announced Thursday, but it appears the second-year player will avoid the injured reserve list.

    • Nichols came away with the injury in Sunday's victory over the Denver Broncos. He is unlikely to play Monday at Washington but could return sooner than later with the hand wrapped into a club, according to head coach Matt Nagy.

      Nichols has two tackles while starting each of the Bears' first two games this season. In his rookie season of 2018, the Delaware product had 28 tackles (five for loss) and three sacks, while forcing two fumbles.

      --Field Level Media

  • Chiefs WR Hill no longer in sling
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 19, 2019

    Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill is out of a sling this week, sparking speculation that he could be ready to return from a right clavicle injury before the original 6-8 week estimate.

    • Hill came away with a clavicle injury in a Week 1 victory at Jacksonville, keeping him out of Sunday's victory over the Oakland Raiders. He will not play in this weekend's home game against the Baltimore Ravens.

      It is unknown if Hill can return for a Week 4 game at Detroit, but the sight of him dribbling a basketball with both hands at the Chiefs' facility this week, reported by ESPN, has raised the question of an early return.

      Hill, 25, had just two catches for 16 yards in the opening week against the Jaguars. He was a key contributor to the Chiefs' offense last season, catching 87 passes for 1,479 yards and 12 touchdowns, while also running for another score.

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: Dolphins reverse course, Rosen to start Sunday
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 19, 2019

    A day after head coach Brian Flores affirmed veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Miami Dolphins reversed course and made Josh Rosen the starting quarterback for Sunday's game at the Dallas Cowboys, according to multiple reports Thursday.

    • The Miami Herald reported earlier Thursday that the two quarterbacks had split reps in Thursday's practice, a change from previous weeks after Fitzpatrick won the preseason competition.

      Flores had said Wednesday that Fitzpatrick was the starter "right now."

      Fitzpatrick, 36, is 25 0f 50 for 274 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions -- two returned for touchdowns -- through two games, a 59-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens and a 43-0 loss to the New England Patriots. He didn't finish either game because of the lopsided score.

      Rosen, 22, has gone 8 of 21 for 102 yards and two interceptions in mop-up duty, although he had two pinpoint deep throws dropped by receivers late in the loss to the Patriots.

      The Dolphins are 21-point underdogs against the 2-0 Cowboys on Sunday.

      Miami traded a second-round pick for Rosen during the draft in April, just a year after he was the 10th overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals.

      Meanwhile, the Dolphins claimed former first-round defensive end Taco Charlton off waivers from the Cowboys.

      Charlton, drafted 28th overall by Dallas in 2017, had requested his trade or release from the team after being a healthy scratch to start the season. The 24-year-old has four sacks and 11 quarterback hits across 27 games (seven starts) through his first two seasons.

      --Field Level Media

  • Eagles likely short at receiver until Week 5
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 19, 2019

    The Philadelphia Eagles are expected to be without wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery on Sunday against the Detroit Lions, with reports indicating that neither will be back until Week 5 against the New York Jets.

    • The Eagles were missing seven key players at practice Thursday, including tight end Dallas Goedert, who hurt his calf in Week 1 and did not play Monday at Atlanta. He is also considered unlikely for Sunday's game against the Lions.

      Jackson has been dealing with a lower abdomen injury, with concerns that he could have a sports hernia. His timetable remains up in the air, according to NFL Network. ESPN reported earlier this week that Jackson turned down the option of having surgery in hopes of returning sooner.

      Jeffery has been dealing with a calf injury. NFL Network reported that a return for Jackson and Jeffery in Week 5 is a best-case scenario.

      Jackson had eight receptions for 154 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1 but was held catchless before getting hurt Monday. Jeffery had five catches for 49 yards and a TD in the opener before also going catchless Monday. Goedert, who plays a big role in the Eagles' running game as a blocker, has two catches for 16 yards.

      To combat the recent injuries, head coach Doug Pederson canceled practice Wednesday and instead had a walk-through. The Eagles were back on the practice field Thursday.

      --Field Level Media

  • Packers promote TE Baylis with Graham (groin) ailing
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 19, 2019

    The Green Bay Packers promoted tight end Evan Baylis from the practice squad on Thursday as Jimmy Graham deals with a groin injury.

    • Graham, 32, did not practice Thursday, and his status is murky for Sunday's game at Lambeau Field against the Denver Broncos.

      The 10th-year NFL veteran caught three passes for 30 yards and a touchdown in the season-opening win at Chicago, but was held without a catch on one target and 51 snaps in last Sunday's victory over Minnesota.

      Baylis, undrafted in 2017 out of Oregon, played in one game that season for the Houston Texans and did not record a catch.

      He played well for the Packers in the preseason, catching three passes or 23 yards and a touchdown.

      "Evan Baylis had done a really, really good job," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at the end of August. "I love his energy with us. I think he's been, in the most respectful way, very pleasantly surprising with his versatility. He's been great at the point of attack blocking and he's made a lot of plays downfield."

      Graham, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, has 614 receptions for 7,466 yards and 72 touchdowns in 139 games with the New Orleans Saints (2010-14), Seattle Seahawks (2015-17) and Packers (2018-19).

      --Field Level Media

  • Redskins brace for Bears amid massive MNF skid
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 19, 2019

    The Washington Redskins have had a terrible case of the Mondays -- and they are desperate to fix it.

    • Since 1998, the Redskins are 1-16 when they play at home on Monday nights. They have dropped their last six Monday home games, with their last victory coming Dec. 3, 2012, against the New York Giants.

      Now, Washington (0-2) will get another chance to snap the skid when it hosts the Chicago Bears (1-1) in Landover, Md.

      Both teams have shown flaws in terms of offense, but the Bears are feeling better after a wild 16-14 win over the Denver Broncos last week. Chicago nearly blew the game late in the fourth quarter only to have rookie kicker Eddy Pineiro win it as time expired.

      Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has posted an ugly 65.0 passer rating in his first two starts. He has passed for 348 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception. Plenty of time remains for Trubisky and the offense to turn things around, coach Matt Nagy said.

      "Overall in two games, with there being a lot more negatives than positives offensively, we've done a good job at protecting the football, and that's given us a chance," Nagy said.

      Nagy relied much more heavily on the run game in Week 2, with rookie running back David Montgomery leading the way. Montgomery will look to build upon his statistics (80 rushing yards, one touchdown) against the Redskins.

      Meanwhile, Allen Robinson (11 receptions, 143 yards) has proved to be Trubisky's top target through two weeks.

      For the Redskins to beat the Bears, they will have to avoid beating themselves. Washington is coming off a 32-27 loss against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1 and a 31-21 defeat against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2.

      Redskins quarterback Case Keenum will aim to continue his sharp performance. He has passed for 601 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions for a sterling 111.2 passer rating.

      Adrian Peterson returned to the field last week and picked up 25 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. The Redskins' top receiver thus far has been rookie Terry McLaurin, who has 10 catches for 187 yards and two scores.

      It's the defense that has Redskins coach Jay Gruden concerned.

      "Well, pass rush is not there. It's really not there," Gruden told reporters. "(Cowboys quarterback Dak) Prescott is patting the ball two or three times (last week), and when we do get pass rush, we're not tight enough in coverage. So it's a combination, really. I'm not blaming the pass rush. I'm not blaming the coverage. It's a combination.

      "So maybe we have to give some more exotic looks to make the quarterback hold on to the ball a little longer to get home with the pressure. We got to rush the passer a little bit better. I think that's the biggest challenge for our defensive line."

      The Bears do not have to worry much about their stout defense, which is led by Pro Bowl pass rusher Khalil Mack and second-year linebacker Roquan Smith. And Pineiro's big leg has eased many fears about a poor kicking game.

      Instead, the spotlight is on a struggling Trubisky and his hopeful head coach.

      "We were just talking to those guys and talking to Mitch, that no matter how these games go as we go through this process, you're going to be judged on your wins and losses," Nagy said. "That's what it comes down to. When we fight through, figuring out how we get going here offensively and what our identity is, let's get these wins. We have a very good defense to be able to do that. We just keep fighting and we just stick together."

      Following a second primetime appearance in three weeks, the Bears are back at Soldier Field for Week 4 and a matchup with the Minnesota Vikings.

      Washington will play at the New York Giants next week.

      --Field Level Media

  • Elway calls out Broncos LT Bolles for holds
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 19, 2019

    Denver Broncos general manager John Elway was frank about the rash of holding penalties racked up by left tackle Garett Bolles.

    • "It's gotta stop. Period," Elway said on 850 KOA radio Wednesday. "There's no more excuses for it. He's had 26 holding penalties in the last two years and two games, so it's gotta stop."

      Bolles had 10 holding penalties (three declined) as a rookie in 2017 and 11 (four declined) in 2018. He already has five through two games, including four (two declined) in Sunday's loss to the Bears, two of which came on the same drive. There was also a play in the fourth quarter where teammate Ronald Leary was called for a hold when it appeared Bolles could have been called.

      Elway suggested he wasn't certain Bolles knows what is and isn't allowed by the rules with regard to holding.

      "He's gotta understand what he's doing and -- that was my question yesterday: Does he know what holding is? Does he know what he can and can't do?" Elway said. "If he thinks he's getting targeted, he's gotta realize he isn't."

      Elway took Bolles 20th overall in the 2017 draft, plugging him in as the starter at left tackle immediately. Through 34 career games, Bolles has allowed 11.5 sacks, per STATS LLC, and committed seven false starts, in addition to the holding penalties.

      "We'll keep working for it, and he's still a talented guy," Elway added. "... Hopefully, with an explanation and a better understanding by him of what it is they are looking for ... he cannot do that because it's beating us."

      The Broncos added highly regarded offensive line coach Mike Munchak this offseason with hopes of improving the line's development, Bolles included. The group has allowed five sacks and 10 quarterback hits through two games.

      "You have to learn from it, move forward and not let it be a detriment," Munchak told reporters Wednesday of Bolles' issues. "We can't let it be a drag on what he's trying to accomplish or what we're trying to accomplish, or what the line is trying to do. You don't want to hurt the team ever."

      "We talked to him extensively early in the week," head coach Vic Fangio added. "Mike (Munchak) did the bulk of it. ... He knows what he's up against and what he has to do."

      --Field Level Media