Kenny Pickett connected with George Pickens for an early touchdown and the Pittsburgh Steelers played four quarterbacks en route to a 27-17 win in their preseason opener over the host Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday night.

Pickett finished the game 6-of-7 passing for 70 yards, including his 33-yard scoring strike to Pickens. Mason Rudolph later added a 67-yard touchdown throw to Calvin Austin III, and Tanner Morgan and Mitch Trubisky also saw time at quarterback.

Anthony McFarland added a 14-yard rushing touchdown for Pittsburgh.

Baker Mayfield started the game for the Buccaneers and found Trey Palmer for an 8-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter. Mayfield went 8-for-9 passing for 63 yards before giving way to Kyle Trask, with whom he is competing for the team’s starting quarterback gig.

Trask finished 6-of-10 passing for 99 yards and one interception. Tampa Bay trailed 27-7 before a 10-point fourth quarter, in which John Wolford (10-for-17, 111 yards) hit Payne Durham for a late 3-yard TD.

Packers 36, Bengals 19

Emanuel Wilson broke off an 80-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to punctuate Green Bay’s preseason win over host Cincinnati.

Wilson finished with 111 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just six carries.

New Green Bay starting quarterback Jordan Love completed 7 of 10 passes for 46 yards and a 9-yard touchdown pass to Romeo Doubs. Sean Clifford spent the majority of the game under center and went 20-for-26 passing for 208 yards and a touchdown.

Clifford also threw two interceptions, one returned 43 yards for a touchdown by Tycen Anderson — the Bengals’ only touchdown.

With Joe Burrow sidelined because of a calf injury, Jake Browning started at quarterback for the Bengals and went 10-for-17 passing for 95 yards. Trevor Siemian played the second half and went 15-for-28 for 121 yards. Each threw an interception.

Evan McPherson made all four of his field-goal attempts for Cincinnati.

Lions 21, Giants 16

Adrian Martinez’s 1-yard rushing touchdown with less than two minutes to play gave host Detroit a preseason win over New York.

Martinez, a rookie quarterback, capped an 11-play drive that milked 6:08 off the clock by scoring on the QB sneak. He also went 4-for-7 passing for 37 yards in relief of Nate Sudfeld, who started the game for Detroit and finished 15-for-28 for 194 yards and two interceptions.

Maurice Alexander returned a punt 95 yards for a score early in the third quarter for the Lions, and Sudfeld followed that with a 2-point conversion pass to Jameson Williams.

The Giants got three field goals from Graham Gano and a second-quarter touchdown hookup from Tommy DeVito to Tommy Sweeney. DeVito played quarterback for New York for most of the game and finished 15-of-24 passing for 155 yards with an interception.

Falcons 19, Dolphins 3

Godwin Igwebuike took 13 carries for 70 yards and a touchdown and Atlanta pulled away from Miami in a preseason contest in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Igwebuike’s 11-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, with a missed extra-point try, stood as the only points for either team until the fourth. Jason Sanders made a 49-yard field goal for the Dolphins before the Falcons put up two non-offensive touchdowns 13 seconds apart.

Dee Alford returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown to extend Atlanta’s lead to 13-3, and two plays from scrimmage later, Breon Borders intercepted Skylar Thompson’s pass and took it back 26 yards for another touchdown.

Thompson finished 10-of-16 passing for 104 yards and two interceptions. Myles Gaskin had 57 rushing yards and Erik Ezukanma added 52 rushing yards on just two touches.

Commanders 17, Browns 15

Sam Howell threw a touchdown pass and fellow quarterback Jacoby Brissett ran for a score as Washington outlasted host Cleveland.

Howell connected with Jahan Dotson at the 11-minute mark of the second quarter for a 26-yard score to answer the Browns’ first-quarter safety. Brissett made it 14-2 Commanders with a 12-yard TD run less than five minutes later.

Trailing 17-2, the Browns came to life for the second straight game behind rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The former UCLA quarterback zipped a 7-yard TD pass to David Bell to make it a one-score game at 17-9. Thompson-Robinson completed 9 of 10 passes for 102 yards and had three carries for 11 yards.

Kellen Mond’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Mike Harley Jr. with 1:39 remaining made it 17-15. Mond missed Austin Watkins Jr., who had a game-high six receptions for 71 yards, on the two-point conversion try that would’ve tied the game.

Browns starting quarterback Deshaun Watson ripped through the Commanders’ defense on the opening drive, ending in a goal-line stand by Washington at its own 1-yard line. Watson completed each of his three pass attempts for 12 yards and had three carries for 20 yards.

Browns rookie safety Ronnie Hickman Jr. intercepted both Commanders backup quarterbacks.

Lightning and heavy rain delayed the start of the game.


NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans Saints added veteran one-time Pro Bowl linebacker Jaylon Smith to their roster and he practiced in the Superdome on Friday in advance of Sunday’s preseason opener against Kansas City.

Saints coach Dennis Allen doubted Smith would play against the Chiefs.

“I wouldn’t expect for him to play,” Allen said. “We’ll have him ready in an emergency situation if we need him.”

Smith’s signing comes as starting linebacker and defensive captain Demario Davis tries to work his way back from a calf injury that has sidelined him since late last week.

Smith played at Notre Dame and began his NFL career with Dallas, which selected him in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft.

Smith has played in 87 career regular-season games with 69 starts for three teams: the Cowboys, Green Bay and the New York Giants. He was selected to the Pro Bowl during the 2019 season, when he was still with Dallas and made a career-high 168 tackles.

He moved to the Packers in 2021 and last season played in 13 games with 11 starts for the Giants. He made 88 tackles in 2022 to go with a sack and fumble recovery.

“He’s been a productive player in our league at an off-the-ball position,” Allen said. “So, we felt like he was somebody we’d like to bring into the mix.”

NOTES: LT Trever Penning was involved in a scuffle during 11-on-11 drills. Soon after, Allen huddled the entire team at midfield. Allen has said he likes Penning’s intensity and does not want to dial that back, but he also doesn’t want practice being derailed by fighting after the whistle. Allen said he told the team: “If we want to act like boxers, then we’ll train like boxers and get over on the side and run.” … RT Ryan Ramczyk, WR Michael Thomas and TE Jimmy Graham were given a “veteran day off” from Friday’s practice but all should be available for Sunday’s preseason opener, Allen said. … OL Landon Young left practice with what appeared to be a strained medial collateral ligament, Allen said. … New Orleans cut WR Keke Coutee to make room for Smith on the roster, which stands at the 90-player preseason maximum.


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Damar Hamlin turned and pointed to the glass-enclosed booth above the end zone tunnel of Highmark Stadium and recalled the last time he attended a Buffalo Bills home game.

“Right up there,” the Bills safety said following the team’s annual “Red and Blue” practice inside the stadium. “It was an emotional day. I felt the love then.”

The setting last week provided Hamlin a chance to reflect on the excitement he felt attending the Bills’ loss to the Bengals in an AFC playoff game on Jan. 22. Raising his arms to urge on a cheering crowd through an open window on a snowy afternoon, it marked Hamlin’s celebrated first public appearance some three weeks after his near-death experience during a regular season game in Cincinnati.

The moment also stirred emotions of uncertainty Hamlin experienced about his future.

Some seven months later, the 25-year-old is preparing to take the next major step in his efforts to resume playing when the Bills open their preseason hosting the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday.

After coach Sean McDermott on Thursday said he’s taking a “day at a time” approach to Hamlin’s playing status, he later clarified to The Associated Press by saying Hamlin is “scheduled to play.”

Much like everyone else, McDermott has closely followed each milestone of Hamlin’s recovery, with the game to be the third-year safety’s first appearance in a competitive setting since going into cardiac arrest and needing to be resuscitated on the field.

“This is to some extent uncharted territory for me as well, and all of us. So we’re just trying to do the best we can to be there for him,” McDermott told reporters. “I try to keep a close eye on where he is and where he’s showing up and how he’s responding. And he’s done a great job.”

For Hamlin, it’s been a step by step process without peeking too far ahead.

“Trying to look forward, it just creates a lot of anxiety, a lot of unnecessary feelings,” he said. “If you stay in the moment, it allows you to process it when you’re there.”

It’s an approach that began with Hamlin waking up from a medically induced coma in a Cincinnati hospital bed, to being able to breathe on his own, being strong enough to attend the Super Bowl, and eventually announcing he was putting fear aside to resume playing football after being cleared by doctors in April.

Football for Hamlin has ramped up over the past three months, with him taking part in individual drills in May, to team drills in June and finally enduring his first thud of being hit during the Bills’ first session in pads two weeks ago.

Hamlin wasn’t ready to envision what it might be like to play on Saturday, saying: “It’s too soon, man.”

Doctors have referred to Hamlin’s recovery as remarkable since he collapsed on prime-time TV after making what appeared to be a routine tackle. His heart stopped as a result of commotio cordis, which is when a direct blow at a specific point in a heartbeat causes cardiac arrest.

And his comeback bid has been called courageous. After two more preseason games, Hamlin’s next hurdle will come on Aug. 29, when the Bills make their final cuts to establish their regular-season roster.

Hamlin has displayed no signs of a setback or hesitation during training camp in seeking to re-secure one of the backup spots behind returning starters Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. One of Hamlin’s best moments came during the Bills’ second day of padded practices, when he intercepted a pass from backup quarterback Matt Barkley.

Otherwise, he’s been his playful self, whether it’s skipping out to practice while acknowledging the cheering crowd, dancing on the sideline to the music, and signing as many autographs as time allows.

Stefon Diggs takes joy in seeing Hamlin simply being himself again.

“It’s easy to come in and say, `OK, he’s back on the football field.’ But to see him every day living, breathing, laughing and having a good time is really where you have your eye opening. Like God is good,” Diggs said. “Of course I’m going to be one of the main people cheering for him. From a human standpoint, I’m just happy the guy is alive.”

Hamlin will have friends on the other sideline cheering for him, too.

Receiver Isaiah McKenzie, who signed with the Colts this offseason after spending the previous four-plus years in Buffalo, has already arranged to exchange jerseys with Hamlin following the game.

“Being part of that was scary, and I think it was scary for anyone who plays this gladiator sport,” McKenzie said. “At the same time, I was happy that he came through. Now he’s doing well. He’s progressing. He’s making plays on the football field. And I’m liking what I’m seeing.”

Colts linebacker Rodney Thomas has also kept tabs on Hamlin. The two were high school teammates in Pittsburgh, and again at Pitt, and Thomas drove from Indianapolis to Cincinnati to visit Hamlin in the hospital a day after he collapsed.

“Definitely going to be special, especially with all the things that he went through,” Thomas said. “I’m looking forward to being on the field with him again, just competing, just trying to make a name for ourselves as usual.”

Hamlin is eager to return to normalcy, knowing such a thing may never exist for someone who nearly died, and whose life has changed personally, emotionally and spiritually.

“Man, sometimes it’s like normal don’t exist,” Hamlin said. “But it’s a super-blessed space. To be able to do what I love again. That’s kind of the normal thing.”


HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams limped off the practice field Friday with what appeared to be a leg injury, but coach Josh McDaniels said he didn’t “think it was crazy serious.”

Adams, who has made first-team All-Pro each of the past three seasons, was injured during the Raiders’ joint practice with the San Francisco 49ers.

“It was a bang-bang play,” McDaniels said. “Totally clean on their side.”

In his first season with the Raiders last year, Adams caught 100 passes for 1,516 yards and 14 touchdowns. He became one of the NFL’s top receivers in his first seven seasons with the Green Bay Packers, before being traded to Las Vegas.


Sean Dawkins, a football star at Cal who went on to a nine-year NFL career, died on Tuesday of cardiac arrest, the university announced Friday. Dawkins was 52.

Dawkins was a wide receiver who earned first-team All-America honors in his senior year in 1992. He had 65 catches for 1,070 receiving yards that year, and his 14 receiving touchdowns led the country and still stand as the program’s single-season record. He also holds the Cal record for career receiving touchdowns (31).

The Indianapolis Colts made Dawkins the 16th overall selection in the first round of the 1993 NFL Draft. He spent five season with the Colts before suiting up for the New Orleans Saints (1998), Seattle Seahawks (1999-2000) and Jacksonville Jaguars (2001).

In 140 career games (109 starts) in the NFL, Dawkins finished a productive career with 445 receptions for 6,291 yards and 25 touchdowns.

“Rest in peace, Sean Dawkins,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said in a social media post. “I am shocked and saddened. My prayers and condolences to Sean’s family.”



(AP) — The death of a freshman football player at Liberty University was not football-related, first-year Flames coach Jamey Chadwell said Friday.

Chadwell said the team learned of the passing of Tajh Boyd, 19, from Chesapeake, Virginia, on Saturday. He declined to give further details about Boyd’s death, saying he wanted to respect the privacy of the player’s family.

A spokesperson for the Lynchburg police said this week that police had looked into the death and determined a criminal investigation was not necessary.

“It’s been a challenging time not only for our staff, our players and just our whole community trying to comprehend all the different things have been going on,” Chadwell said at a press conference.

Boyd, an offensive lineman who enrolled in January, had already blended in well, not only with fellow linemen, but the team in general, Chadwell said.

“He made a huge impact on the team. He was very quiet as far as an outwardly quietness. But when he was one on one with his teammates, he lit up the room,” the coach said. “He had a very giving heart and if there was something that anybody was going through on the team, he was always there.”

In his first season with the Flames, Chadwell and his staff are using their fall camp to make player evaluations and create a depth chart, “but that’s not the most important thing that we’re doing now,” he said. “Obviously we’re trying to get a team ready, but also we’re trying to make sure that we’re understanding the different feelings that different groups might have and how to navigate that.”

The Flames are scheduled to open the season at home against Bowling Green on Sept. 2.

Funeral arrangements have not been made yet, and Chadwell said when they are, the coaching staff will rearrange the Flames’ schedule to be a part of it.

Many members of the team have availed themselves of counseling services made available by the university, Chadwell said. The team also had a service the day after learning of Boyd’s death, “and let some of our players share their hearts, and then it started raining and one of our players, after the rain, he said, `You know, rain brings growth.’”

After the showers, Chadwell said, a rainbow appeared over the stadium.


Head coach Kirk Ferentz plans to take a hard-line position on any players proven guilty of placing bets on Iowa games.

Ferentz said Friday that the ongoing investigation into illegal gambling activity by student-athletes at Iowa and Iowa State produced new revelations about players on his Hawkeyes’ roster betting on Iowa games.

“I think the key point there is betting on our games,” Ferentz said. “… It’s a deal breaker if that is, in fact, proven to be true. So, we’ll deal with that when we get there. But, I think as we move forward, I think, at least in my opinion, it’s been a learning process.”

Twenty-six athletes in five sports were part of an investigation into betting announced in May. Three more were added to the list by prosecutors this week.

Sports betting, gaining legal approval in more than 30 states, is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 in Iowa. NCAA rules prohibit athletes and most university-affiliated employees, including coaches, staff, trainers and support staff, from wagering on college sports and most professional sports, regardless of age.

Investigators revealed last month that electronic gambling accounts connected to players under names of parents or family members tipped off authorities of the widespread nature of the betting trend among state university athletes.

The NCAA revealed an organized but independent investigation into the matter, which includes Iowa defensive tackle Noah Shannon. Shannon said he’s part of the NCAA investigation but unlike most of the other Iowa athletes named, Shannon hasn’t been charged by Iowa authorities and is over the age of 21. Ferentz said on Friday that Shannon’s issue is largely related to injury.

“It’s really not that big of a deal right now, quite frankly. I’m not trying to be coy, but it just isn’t,” Ferentz said. “Noah is injured; he would be the most prominent player, to my knowledge, that’s involved in this. Let’s say he was 100 percent healthy, which he’s not. If we got closer to games, that’s something we’d have to weigh and measure.”

Ferentz said he doesn’t have a timeline for when any NCAA decision or legal ruling might take place. He asked the NCAA last month at Big Ten Media Days to take into account the climate around sports betting, which has become omnipresent in and around sports. Regardless, he said there is accountability for athletes, too.

“As I stand here right now, the one thing it doesn’t — it can’t be compromised, the integrity of the game, that’s first and foremost. That’s got to be protected, and that’s where everything should start,” Ferentz said. “We will continue to cooperate. I think everybody involved has done a good job of that. That will be ongoing, and as we move forward, just hope that whoever is making decisions, they’re thoughtful. Hopefully they’re making appropriate decisions, and then being timely would be appreciated, as well.”


Graham Mertz will be the guy for the Gators when Florida opens the 2023 season at Utah.

“We’ve seen enough,” Florida head coach Billy Napier declared Friday. “I think the big thing I’ve been impressed with is just his ability to come in and learn the system, translate what he knows and apply that to our system. Probably has worked as hard as any player on our team.”

Mertz, who is wearing Tim Tebow’s No. 15 jersey with the Gators, started 32 games at Wisconsin before entering the transfer portal in January and quickly aligning with Napier and the Gators, who were in the early stages of learning starting quarterback Anthony Richardson was on his way to the NFL. The Indianapolis Colts made Richardson the No. 4 pick in the draft in April.

At that time, Mertz was locked in a tight competition at quarterback with redshirt sophomore Jack Miller, a former transfer from Ohio State.

“My biggest thing is I want to be coached, and I want to be coached hard,” Mertz said of choosing Florida instead of staying at Wisconsin following a coaching change. “The standard here is exactly where you want it to be. It was nice to have that plan and hear that. They were 100 percent honest with me, telling me what they saw in my game, what I needed to improve, and how they would improve it. That was very refreshing. For me, it was a no-brainer.”

The Gators were informed of the QB call by Napier on Friday, with 20 days left to prepare for the game at Salt Lake City on Aug. 31.

Mertz, a redshirt junior, would be in line to make his debut at The Swamp in Gainesville on Sept. 9 against McNeese State.