BENGALS QB JOE BURROW CARTED OFF THE PRACTICE FIELD AFTER CALF INJURY
CINCINNATI (AP) — Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow was carted off the practice field after he came up hobbling from a scramble on Thursday.
The 26-year-old franchise quarterback hobbled on one leg and then went to the ground after the play near the end of the afternoon practice.
Coach Zac Taylor later said it was a calf injury. Burrow was wearing a sleeve on it and came up limping.
Several teammates gathered around while trainers tended to the Pro Bowl quarterback before he was helped on to the back of a cart.
“Sometimes players feel a little sore after the first day,” Taylor said when asked about Burrow wearing the sleeve on his right calf.
“I’m not the expert here, but my gut says Joe will be OK,” center Ted Karras said in the locker room.
“I’m not going to talk about another player’s injuries, but I know about calf strains all too well, and they are painful but aren’t the end of the world,” defensive end Sam Hubbard said. “They do linger a bit, but I think the training staff and Joe are going to do the right thing and to take care of this early in camp and be ready to go.”
Burrow is still negotiating with the Bengals on a long-term contract that could make him one of the NFL’s highest-paid players.
Burrow had talked Wednesday about how good he felt at the opening of camp after his first three NFL training camps were disrupted and how he hoped to play in some preseason games.
Preseason practice was truncated in Burrow’s rookie year in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. In 2001, he was still rehabbing after knee surgery the previous December. On the first day of camp last year, he was stricken with appendicitis.
“I feel in my position I don’t want to waste any of these days that I have to get better,” he said. “I’ve wasted enough days over the last two years with injuries, appendicitis, COVID year before that. I don’t want to get out of camp wishing I had seven more days that I could have got better.”
VIKINGS STAR JUSTIN JEFFERSON PLAYS HIS CONTRACT SITUATION COOL AND WELCOMES THE PRESSURE
EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — Justin Jefferson walked off the Minnesota Vikings practice field once the first session of training camp was finished, looking as fit and lean as ever with his easy, wide smile framing his designer sunglasses.
He was the picture of cool, hardly sweating the absence of a contract extension.
“That’s not the words that I have right now. Really, I’m about winning a Super Bowl,” Jefferson said. “Just getting the wins and being with my team. The contract is going to play itself out, and I’m just out here to play football.”
The relentless drive and gregarious presence of Jefferson sure keeps the tension to a minimum in Minnesota. The unresolved contract situation for outside linebacker Danielle Hunter appears to be much more of an issue for the club this summer even though Jefferson was absent all spring on his own offseason training and business agenda.
Jefferson has two years remaining on his rookie deal, for one. He’s also blossomed into the type of superstar at a premium position that there’s little doubt the Vikings will ante up. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has said, perhaps tongue in cheek, he wouldn’t even want to stay on the job without Jefferson on the roster. The negotiation between the Vikings and Jefferson’s representatives is in the “constant ongoing dialogue” phase, Adofo-Mensah said this week.
“There’s certain types of players you want around — players who love football, are great at football, make their teammates better, have that winning spirit,” Adofo-Mensah said. “I’ll never forget when I first met him, he just talked about winning.”
The Vikings are breaking in a rookie wide receiver, Jordan Addison, this season after jettisoning veteran Adam Thielen for salary cap savings. They’ve increased K.J. Osborn’s role, banking on the fourth-year player’s ability to do enough damage to keep defenses honest and reduce the burden of coverage that Jefferson will continue to see. Tight end T.J. Hockenson will play a big part in that, too.
Still, the onus will be on Jefferson to continue to evolve as a route-runner and pass-catcher after a thrilling third season during which he led the NFL with 128 receptions and 1,809 yards and won the AP Offensive Player of the Year award.
“That’s nothing new. I love the target on my back. That means more pressure toward me. That means more people looking at me, and it opens up more people,” Jefferson said.
The Vikings, starting with quarterback Kirk Cousins, ought to be on track for a smoother and more productive season as an offense now that they have a full year in head coach Kevin O’Connell’s system.
“I’m always confident in me and Kirk’s relationship. Since I’ve been here our relationship has gotten better and better. I feel like he’s trusting me more. I’m trusting him more. The more we play together, the better we are,” Jefferson said.
One place that was on Jefferson’s offseason itinerary was Brazil, where he befriended soccer star Vinicius Jr. in Brazil. Jefferson traveled to South America as part of his role as one of the NFL’s global flag football ambassadors to help promote the alternative sport.
“One of the most beautiful places that I’ve ever visited. It was definitely an eye-opener, just being with Vinicius Jr., seeing the type of life he lives over there and just being a part of that culture and that vibe. It definitely was a great experience,” Jefferson said. “I love being a face of the league, but I’ll be even more a face of the league once I get a Super Bowl.”
RUNNING BACK AARON JONES GETTING MORE VOCAL AS HE HELPS LEAD YOUNG PACKERS OFFENSE
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Jones doesn’t buy the notion that the lack of experience on the Green Bay Packers’ offense will result in diminished production.
“I think we can be very explosive,” the 28-year-old running back said. “We’ve got a lot of speed, got a lot of weapons, some people (you) may not have ever heard of and some people you may have heard of.”
Jones is one of the more familiar names on an offense that will be relying heavily on newcomers as the Packers adapt to life without four-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was traded to the New York Jets.
That puts more of an onus on Jones to assert himself as a leader.
Jones is accepting that responsibility by following the lessons he learned from his parents — both military veterans — and from former teammates such as Rodgers, Randall Cobb and Marcedes Lewis.
“I had some of those vets who aren’t here anymore help me get to this spot. I’ve been more a lead-by-example guy, but those guys put me in situations, made me get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and I think thank them for that,” Jones said. “I feel like it led to this and I’m ready to lead these guys in any way.”
He also is learning from the example his parents set while serving decades in the Army, with his father earning the rank of command sergeant major and his mother advancing to sergeant major. Jones’ father, Alvin Jones Sr., died in the spring of 2021 at the age of 57.
“It was never about them,” Jones said. “It was about the people that they were bringing along. When they were deployed, they were responsible for making sure that this group of people get back to their families safe. My dad told me so many times — and I’ve been there — he promised a kid’s mother, ‘I’ll make sure your son comes home safely.’ So things like that.
“It’s never about me, it’s about the people around me and who I can bring along and how I can help.”
Jones has tried to help out this year by being more vocal. His teammates already notice the difference.
“You see him in the huddle kind of getting the offensive line going before we go out in a competition period, just kind of encouraging the guys, ‘All right. Here we go,’ which is great,” running back AJ Dillon said. “It’s awesome. Definitely a couple of guys who were doing that role left, so he’s stepped up into that and done a great job so far throughout camp.”
Jones has long been a model teammate.
The 2017 fifth-round pick from UTEP is one of three players — Jim Brown and Adrian Peterson are the others — to rush for at least 5,000 yards, score at least 60 touchdowns from scrimmage and gain at least 5 yards per carry over their first six seasons in the league.
Each of the past two seasons, Jones has been the Packers’ nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, which honors players for excellence on the field and service in the community.
He showed his loyalty to the Packers by agreeing in the offseason on a restructured deal that reduced his salary for this season. He followed that up by getting a tattoo of the Packers’ “G” logo on his knee.
“He does things the right way,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “You guys have heard me talk about him at length in terms of just what he does on the field, what he does off the field, what he does as a father, as a son. And I think everybody in that locker room holds him in the highest regard.”
Jones is hoping he can continue setting that type of example for years to come. As he enters his seventh NFL season, Jones believes he isn’t even at the halfway point of his career.
“I’m going longer than 12,” Jones said. “Hopefully a Frank Gore career. That’s the goal. I want to play as long as I can. And I feel like 12, I can definitely achieve that, but I want to go longer.”
NOTES: Rookie WR Dontayvion Wicks (concussion) didn’t practice Thursday. … The offense had to do push-ups or down-ups at the end of practice for a second day. That punishment goes to the players on whichever side of the ball loses that day’s main competition period. … QB Alex McGough, the USFL MVP, says he’s working late nights trying to learn the Packers’ playbook. McGough just signed with the Packers last week. “I probably go to bed at 1 a.m. just because I’m studying,” McGough said. “I don’t want to let these guys down.”
CARDS REWORK CONTRACT FOR ALL-PRO SAFETY BUDDA BAKER, ADD BONUSES AND INCENTIVES, AP SOURCE SAYS
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Cardinals have reworked the contract for All-Pro safety Budda Baker, adding $2.4 million in bonuses and incentives for the upcoming season, including a $300,000 signing bonus, according to a person familiar with the deal.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal hasn’t been announced.
Baker also received a raise for next season. The NFL Network first reported about the reworked contract.
The 27-year-old has been one of the best defensive players in the league since he was drafted in the second round out of Washington in 2017. He’s a two-time All-Pro selection in 2017 and 2020 who is known as a hard-hitter despite his relatively small stature at 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds.
Baker had previously made it known he was unhappy with his contract, but was on the field for the Cardinals’ first practice of training camp on Wednesday, giving a good indication that contract talks were trending in the right direction.
On Thursday, the safety’s confidence was rewarded.
“He plays the game, in my opinion, how it should be played,” Cardinals first-year coach Jonathan Gannon said. “It’s easy to point out to other people that type of effort and enthusiasm when you turn on the tape. That’s how he’s always been.”
SEAN PAYTON PINS BLAME FOR AWFUL 2022 SEASON BY BRONCOS, WILSON ON PREDECESSOR NATHANIEL HACKETT
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Sean Payton was so intent on having the Denver Broncos put last year’s awful 5-12 season behind them that he had a video made showing a 2022 Ford Bronco with its rearview and side mirrors removed.
Clearly those mirrors were no longer missing this week when he excoriated his predecessor, Nathaniel Hackett, and lashed into Hackett’s new team, the New York Jets, in an interview with USA Today’s Jarrett Bell that was posted Thursday.
Payton, who’s returning to the sideline after a year’s sabbatical, called the work Hackett and his staff did in Denver last season “one of the worst coaching jobs in the NFL” and said there were “20 dirty hands” around Russell Wilson’s career-worst season.
“Everything I heard about last season,” Payton said, “we’re doing the opposite.”
Although Payton was known for his frankness during his 15-year stint with the New Orleans Saints, his comments came as somewhat of a surprise given that he’s admonished his team not to look back at 2022 and because he had avoided playing the blame game when discussing roster repairs and culture change.
“It doesn’t happen often where an NFL team or organization gets embarrassed,” Payton told USA Today. “And that happened here. Part of it was their own fault, relative to spending so much (expletive) time trying to win the offseason — the PR, the pomp and circumstance, marching people around and all this stuff.
“We’re not doing any of that. The Jets did that this year. You watch. ‘Hard Knocks,’ all of it. I can see it coming. Remember when (former Washington owner) Dan Snyder put that Dream Team together? I was at the Giants (in 2000). I was a young coach. I thought, ‘How are we going to compete with them? Deion’s (Sanders) there now.’ That team won eight games or whatever. So, listen … just put the work in.”
Payton’s next media availability is Friday.
Asked about Payton’s comments, Jets coach Robert Saleh had some spicy comments Thursday.
“Well, I’m not going to acknowledge Sean on that. You know, he’s been in the league a while. He can say whatever the hell he wants,” Saleh began.
“But as far as what we have going on here, I kind of live by the saying, ‘If you ain’t got no haters, you ain’t poppin’,’ so hate away. Obviously we’re doing something right if you’ve got to talk about us when we don’t play you until Week 4.”
The Jets visit the Broncos on Oct. 8 in Week 5.
Saleh also defended Hackett, who was hired as New York’s offensive coordinator following his dismissal from the Broncos on Dec. 26 with a 4-10 record. Hackett’s arrival helped lure Aaron Rodgers to the Jets this offseason.
“I think Hackett’s doing a phenomenal job here. The coaching staff is doing a phenomenal job. And we’re focused on us,” Saleh said. “I get it, there’s a lot of external noise, there’s a lot of people that are hatin’ on us and a lot of people looking for us to fail. There’s a lot of crows pecking at our neck. But all you can do is spread your wings, keep flying high until those crows fall off and suffocate from the inability to breathe.”
Behind Rodgers, the Jets are aiming to end the league’s longest current playoff drought at 12 years. Up next are the Broncos, who haven’t been back to the postseason since winning Super Bowl 50 in Peyton Manning’s last game, the seven-year streak the longest ever for a Super Bowl champ.
The Broncos’ chances of turning it around in 2023 rest largely on how Wilson bounces back from last year, when he looked nothing like the star he was in Seattle.
“There’s so much dirt around that,” Payton said. “There’s 20 dirty hands, for what was allowed, tolerated in the fricking training rooms, the meeting rooms. The offense. I don’t know Hackett. A lot of people had dirt on their hands. It wasn’t just Russell. He didn’t just flip. He still has it. This B.S. that he hit a wall? Shoot, they couldn’t get a play in. They were 29th in the league in pre-snap penalties on both sides of the ball.”
Payton said he’s encouraged by what he’s seen from Wilson so far this offseason, adding, “He’s still got gas in the tank.”
FANS RETURN TO WASHINGTON COMMANDERS CAMP TO CELEBRATE THE TEAM’S OWNERSHIP CHANGE
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Three weeks after Dan Snyder and wife Tanya began exploring selling part or all of the Washington Commanders, Andrew and Laura Potts went to a home game and decided to become season-ticket holders.
They hoped a sale would be completed by the time they returned, and they got their wish last week when NFL owners unanimously approved the transfer of the team from the Snyders to a group led by Josh Harris.
The couple from Front Royal, Virginia, was in the front row at the first public practice of training camp, with the back of Andrew’s jersey bearing the words, “SNYDER GONE.”
Snyder is gone, and Washington football fans are back. More than 3,000 attended Thursday, filling up brand new bleachers and standing room space next to the field like nothing seen at this team’s camp in recent years.
“Just the excitement: Nobody’s negative anymore,” said Laura Potts, 34. “All the negativity’s gone all of a sudden. It’s really fun to see.”
The packed stands full of cheering fans was a stark contrast from a year ago, when the grounds were nearly empty and apathy at an all-time high. The Commanders were last in the NFL in attendance after ranking 31st of 32 teams in 2021.
And the fans who were there often wore the colors of the visiting team. Looking around at the crowd assembled for practice, offensive lineman Sam Cosmi envisioned a world this season where home games feel like home.
“It’s going to be nice,” Cosmi said. “I feel like this year we’re not going to be at a home game and having to go on silent count. I’m looking forward to that. I think we’ll have a packed stadium with burgundy and gold, so I’m excited about that.”
Josh Kirby, 24, of Stephens City, Virginia, was excited just to see Harris, team president Jason Wright and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin signing autographs and taking pictures with fans on their way in. Chants of “Thank you, Josh!” filled the air, and individual fans expressed their appreciation to Harris as he made his way by.
“That means a lot to me,” Kirby said. “They’re recognizing the fan base and what they mean to Washington football.”
Bringing fans back is one of the immediate priorities for the new ownership group, which features three prominent figures with Washington-area ties in Harris and limited partners Mitchell Rales and Mark Ein, as well as basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.
“All of us in the new ownership group are deeply committed to making this a franchise that people are proud to support and that brings people together,” Ein told The Associated Press by phone Wednesday. “We want to deliver a world-class experience for our fans at the stadium and wherever we touch them. That’s a deep commitment we all have: making this one of the great fan experiences in all of sports.”
New ownership’s mere presence is helping. Since word emerged of Harris and Snyder reaching an agreement in principle on a $6.05 billion sale in mid-April, the team has added 4,143 more season-ticket holders, according to a Commanders spokesperson.
The effort is also there. Harris’ group is looking into fixing up aging FedEx Field, and the addition of the bleachers themselves, along with food trucks, a store and more fan-friendly activities stood out.
“Mr. Harris ain’t playing games,” 2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year and Maryland native Chase Young said. “I know (fans are) excited about new ownership, and just the stands itself made it feel more like an NFL practice, for real.”
Minutes earlier, Cosmi sounded the same tone.
“This looks put together,” he said. “It looks like a professional football team.”
A professional football team that’s now wanted by the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia after several off-field scandals derailed previous plans. Rep. James Comer, a Kentucky Republican, and Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.’s nonvoting representative in the House, introduced a bill to Congress on Thursday that could pave the way for the Commanders to make the old RFK Stadium site their next home.
Deciding on where to build will take some time, and it could be until 2030 until Washington — whatever the team is called at that point — starts playing in a shiny, new, state-of-the-art facility.
Until then, Andrew Potts said, “It’s refreshing” for Commanders fans not to be the butt of jokes because of Snyder or the negative news he made. The organization is now hoping to take camp crowds and turn them into even bigger ones for games this fall and beyond.
“Having support from fans is a huge thing for a football team — for any football team,” Cosmi said. “When you feel like you can come out here and you know what you’re playing for and you have people to play for, that just helps a ton.”
SAQUON BARKLEY FOLLOWED HIS HEART IN SIGNING FRANCHISE TAG AND JOINING THE GIANTS
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Star running back Saquon Barkley followed his heart in signing his franchise tag and joining the New York Giants for the start of training camp.
Speaking for the first time since signing a one-year, $11 contract earlier Tuesday, Barkley said he wanted to play the game he loved, realized he had little leverage in contract talks after being tagged and hoped having a second straight big season would help increase the value of running backs across the NFL.
“I had an epiphany,” Barkley said Thursday after the second day of practice. “Now, the reality of it is, I kind of just followed my heart.”
The Giants and Barkley failed to reach a deal on a multi-year contract extension on July 17, meaning he could only play on a one-year deal, centered around the $10.1 million franchise tag the Giants placed on him on March.
There was speculation Barkley would sit out a part of training camp or possibly the entire season if he was very unhappy. It never came that close. The two sides got together Monday and 24 hours later the 26-year-old signed his tender sheet which was coupled with $909,000 in incentives.
Barkley said he considered sitting out, but opted to sign the new contract after talking with family and former players. He also noted if he sat out and the Giants had a bad season, no team would want to sign him the following season.
“The only way that I will make a change or do something that’s going to benefit for myself and my family is doing what I do best, and that’s showing up playing the game I love and do at a high level,” Barkley said.
Barkley strongly hinted he could have gotten more money from contract proposals made during the 9 1/2-month of negotiations that started last season. He turned them down because he felt the offers were not “respectable” at the time. He said he didn’t use “fair” because most fans don’t come close to making what an athlete does, he said.
Barkley ran for a career-best 1,312 yards as well as 10 touchdowns in 2022. He also shared the team lead with 57 catches in helping the Giants (9-7-1) make the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
The Penn State product hopes another good season will increase the value of his position. The Giants can put a franchise tag on Barkley again next season.
Barkley refused to speculate how he would react if he was tagged again, but noted he is now focused on this season. He admitted he was disappointed at times during the talks, but felt the sides talked in good faith.
Barkley is now focused on this season and he has no regrets. His goal is being there for his teammates and helping them win a title. He also wants to combine with fellow running backs such as Christian McCaffrey of the 49ers, Jonathan Taylor of the Colts and Najee Harris of the Steelers to change the financial narrative for the position.
“There are a lot of running backs out here that are pivotal,” Barkley said. “A key point to having teams have success in this league, helping teams have success in this league and the way that we are getting devalued, it’s not fair at all. But life’s not fair. God willing, I stay healthy so I can show them and then I can tell them.”
Barkley had no problem with the Giants giving quarterback Daniel Jones, defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and left tackle Andrew Thomas deals this year worth a combined $365 million, saying he always wants the best for his teammates.
NOTES: DT Rakeem Nuñez-Roches was in a car accident on Tuesday and has missed the first two days of practice. Coach Brian Daboll said the free agent signee is making progress and will not be sidelined long. … Second-round draft pick John Michael Schmitz played center with the first unit Thursday. Ben Bredeson was there on Wednesday. Daboll said the two would rotate for now, and so will other players at other positions. … UConn coach Danny Hurley, who led the Huskies to the NCAA men’s basketball title, was at practice with some of his assistant coaches.
PATRIOTS’ LAWRENCE GUY ON THE FIELD AT TRAINING CAMP AMID ONGOING CONTRACT DISCUSSIONS WITH TEAM
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Lawrence Guy won’t say whether he is content with his contract situation with the New England Patriots.
He’s at training camp. For now, that’s enough.
The veteran defensive lineman reported as scheduled this week and has been on the field each of the first two days of workouts after skipping the team’s optional offseason program in the spring and last month’s mandatory minicamp.
“Me and my agent have been in discussions with the organization, and I’ll keep that private and between us,” Guy said on Thursday. “I’m here. I have a big smile on my face. I’m going to do whatever I can for the organization and work as hard as I can. That’s why we play this game, we play this game to be on the field.”
Guy is entering the third season of the four-year, $11.5 million contract he signed in 2021. He’s been with the Patriots since 2017 and is entering his 13th NFL season.
It’s included stops at five different teams, but he’s had his longest and most productive years with the Patriots, winning a Super Bowl ring in the 2018 season.
The 33-year-old has been one of the more consistent members of New England’s defensive front during his tenure, coming off a 2022 season that saw him start each of the 14 games he appeared in, totaling 46 tackles and two sacks. But he did deal with a nagging shoulder injury, which kept him sidelined for three games.
In 93 games for the Patriots, he’s started 91 of them. He also served as a team captain in 2020 and was the team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee last season.
“I’m in Year 13. Every day is a blessing when I get to touch this field,” Guy said. “Every day is a blessing that my family gets to come out and see me play this game.”
He cited his family as at least one reason he wasn’t present during spring workouts, noting that his wife gave birth to their fourth child around that time.
Now his attention is back on the football field.
“My job is to go out there and play football, let everything else handle itself on the other side of it,” Guy said. “But when I’m out here with this jersey I’m going to make sure I’m out here playing for my teammates, for my coaches.”
While he said retirement is a contemplation after every season at this point in his career, Guy said the enjoyment for playing is still there.
“When I’m done enjoying this game and I feel like I need to hang them up, then I’m going to hang them up,” Guy said. “Right now, I’m just happy to have my kids out here to see me play. I have my daughter asking if I can throw her on the goal post. … I just want to build those memories and enjoy it, every down I can.”
JAGUARS LT CAM ROBINSON EMBRACES TEMPORARY BACKUP ROLE WHILE PREPARING FOR 4-GAME SUSPENSION
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson is a backup for the first time in six years.
The reduced role isn’t something he wanted, but he’s embracing it.
“It’s honestly not terrible,” Robinson quipped.
The NFL suspended Robinson last month for the first four games of the regular season for violating league policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Robinson spoke publicly about the punishment for the first time after practice Thursday, saying he unwittingly ingested a banned substance after tearing a ligament in his right knee in December.
“I hadn’t even started rehabbing yet,” he said. “I was still on crutches. I take full responsibility for it. I just got to be more careful and be more cautious about what I’m putting into my system.”
Robinson first learned about the failed drug test in January, but the appeals process took more than five months before he learned the ultimate outcome.
“It was a long time coming, really, really nerve-wracking,” he said. “Probably the most nerve-wracking offseason I’ve had. So, yeah, it’s kind of good to get the verdict and know what I got to know, do know what I got down the road and just work to getting back to where I need to be.”
Even though coach Doug Pederson expects to have Robinson available for 13 games this fall, he decided to use training camp and the preseason to get third-year pro Walker Little more snaps at the position. So Robinson is working as a backup for the first time since his rookie training camp in 2017.
“We understand the situation. We have to prepare both guys,” Pederson said.
Pederson anticipates sliding Little to left guard — a position he’s never played — once Robinson is reinstated in early October. But Robinson will have to be away from the facility for part of the suspension.
“We actually got a really good plan for that, just to try to keep me locked in as mentally as much as I can be,” Robinson said. “I think that’s probably the most important part.”
A second-round pick from Alabama in 2017, Robinson has started 75 games for Jacksonville. The team thought enough of him to sign him to a three-year, $52.75 million contract in 2022. But under the collective bargaining agreement, Robinson’s suspension voids all guaranteed money remaining in the deal.
It essentially means the Jaguars could cut or trade Robinson with no additional salary-cap repercussions. But that’s unlikely given Robinson’s experience and the team’s belief that it’s a legit playoff contender in 2023.
More troubling for Robinson: the suspension is without pay, so he will lose roughly $900,000 a game. But he’s focused on getting in playing shape and staying there after he’s forced to leave the team in a little more than a month.
In the meantime, he and his offensive line teammates have found a little extra motivation to carry them through camp. A prominent website ranked the unit 31st in the league in pass blocking, prompting line coach Phil Rauscher to create T-shirts that point out the less-than-desirable spot.
Offensive coordinator Press Taylor proudly wore it during practice Thursday.
“It definitely puts a little chip on our shoulder,” Robinson said. “But, man, if I got to be honest, we’re kind of used to that playing in (Jacksonville). That’s kind of like an uphill battle we face every year.
“So we got a narrative we got to flip, and we’re in the process of doing that right now.”
DOLPHINS CB JALEN RAMSEY TO UNDERGO KNEE SURGERY AND MISS START OF SEASON, AP SOURCE SAYS
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Dolphins All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey will undergo surgery Friday to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, a person familiar with the diagnosis told The Associated Press.
Ramsey was injured and he was carted off the field at the end of Miami’s practice on Thursday. The person, speaking to the AP on condition of anonymity because the team hasn’t released details, said the severity of Ramsey’s injury will be determined during surgery.
Miami opens the season on September 10 at the Los Angeles Chargers.
Ramsey collided with receiver Tyreek Hill during an 11-on-11 drill. Ramsey went down grabbing at his left knee and was attended to by trainers.
Ramsey was helped up but didn’t appear to put any weight on the leg. He was carted back to the locker room as Miami’s second full-team practice of training camp closed.
“I’ll be back on that field stronger than ever… in due time!” Ramsey tweeted Thursday evening. “This SO minor for God’s child! I trust fully & know He got me! I’m forever grateful to worship His name!”
The Dolphins acquired the All-Pro cornerback Ramsey in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams in March.
Ramsey, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, had 77 tackles and four interceptions during the Rams’ Super Bowl-winning 2021 season. Last season, he had a career-high 88 tackles and four interceptions.
BENGALS DE TREY HENDRICKSON SIGNS 1-YEAR EXTENSION
The Cincinnati Bengals signed defensive end Trey Hendrickson to a one-year contract extension through the 2025 season.
Financial terms were not disclosed by the Bengals for Hendrickson, who has been selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his two seasons with the team.
Hendrickson, 28, followed up a career-best 14-sack season in 2021 with eight more in 2022. He also recorded three forced fumbles and 24 quarterback hits in 15 starts.
Hendrickson has totaled 42 sacks and nine forced fumbles to go along with 131 tackles in 76 career games (47 starts) with the New Orleans Saints (2017-20) and Bengals. He was selected by the Saints in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
REPORT: JETS TO HOST DALVIN COOK ON FREE-AGENT VISIT
Free-agent running back Dalvin Cook is slated to visit the New York Jets this weekend, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports.
The Jets are the latest team to show interest in Cook. The Miami Dolphins reportedly made an offer to the former Minnesota Vikings running back in June, and Cook had multiple other proposals on the table. He’s also in talks with the New England Patriots about setting up a potential visit, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh left the door open to adding Cook when asked on July 20.
“Obviously, you never want to say no to a great player,” Saleh said, according to Pro Football Talk’s Myles Simmons. “I’ll leave (general manager Joe Douglas) to that one. I know there’s a lot of contractual stuff that goes with it. But he is a good one.”
Aaron Rodgers reportedly took a pay cut on his reworked contract Wednesday to give the Jets more financial flexibility.
If Cook signs with New York, he’d join a backfield that features Breece Hall and Michael Carter, among others. Hall is still working his way back from an ACL tear that prematurely ended his 2022 campaign.
The Vikings released Cook in June after a six-year run with the franchise. The 27-year-old has been one of the NFL’s most productive backs and eclipsed 1,100 yards in each of his last four seasons. He’s also made four consecutive Pro Bowls.
TEAMMATES SAY PANTHERS NO. 1 PICK BRYCE YOUNG’ ‘BROUGHT THE HOUSE DOWN’ AT ROOKIE TALENT SHOW
SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) — It turns out playing football may not be Bryce Young’s only talent.
The Carolina Panthers’ No. 1 overall draft pick wowed teammates with his rendition of Keyshia Cole’s song “Love” at the team’s annual rookie talent show on Wednesday night at Wofford College.
“ He brought the house down,” Panthers offensive tackle Ickey Ekwonu said.
Ekwonu was among the many who were impressed with Young’s showmanship and poise on stage in front of his new Carolina teammates.
“He got everyone singing, everyone clapping and got a standing ovation,” Ekwonu said. “And he went first — that’s a lot of pressure going first. I think he killed it.”
Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson said the performance was so good that he thought he was at a concert.
“Bryce had a hell of a performance,” Thompson said. “… Everybody enjoyed it. He got into it. I’m trying to tell you, it was like a concert. He set the stage.”
Thompson said he was “shocked” to learn Young had so much personality.
The 2021 Heisman Trophy winner is known for his quiet, humble demeanor and a business-like approach to the game. But it terms of his personality, he’s kept things largely even keeled — that is, until he let it all out on stage.
“Just seeing that personality out of him,” Thompson said. “It was good for us to see and good for him to be up there.”
Thompson said sometimes it takes rookies time to get comfortable with their new teammates and earn trust.
“Yesterday, it was a whole different Bryce,” Thompson said. “… We didn’t know what to expect, but he got up there and killed it. That’s it. First-round pick, he had a lot of stuff on you, and he killed it. He lived up to it.”
It wasn’t the first time Young has performed Cole’s hit song.
He was filmed on Instagram performing “Love” when he was playing quarterback for Alabama.
The 22-year-old Young was not made available to reporters on Thursday after speaking during the first two days of training camp.
But he said earlier in the week he was preparing for the talent show by singing in the shower, adding that he likes to do so with his eyes open.
“I’m more of a visualizer,” Young said with a laugh. “I see the crowd. A little crowd control. That’s more of my thing.”
Young’s winning performance came on the same day coach Frank Reich selected him as the team’s starting quarterback. Barring injury, Young will start Carolina’s Week 1 game against the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 10.
Young has impressed his coaches and teammates with his strong arm, attention to detail and knowledge of the game, wrestling away first-team reps from veteran quarterback Andy Dalton back in June.
Panthers wide receiver DJ Chark said he knew Young had a great personality after spending three days in July working out with him and other Carolina skill position players at SMU.
“He’s smart, funny and those things carry over to the field,” Chark said. “The moment never gets too big or too intense because you have that relationship and things like that.”
ROGER CRAIG, TOM COUGHLIN AND MIKE SHANAHAN ADVANCE IN HALL OF FAME CONSIDERATION
Versatile running back Roger Craig, and two-time Super Bowl-winning coaches Tom Coughlin and Mike Shanahan advanced to the next stage of consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The selection committees cut down the list of candidates from 31 seniors and 29 coaches and contributors to 12 in each category in results announced Thursday.
The 12-person committees for each group will meet next month to pick up to three senior candidates among players who last played no later 1998, and one coach and contributor. The finalists will be part of the Hall’s class of 2024 if they are supported by at least 80% of voters next January.
Craig was a key part of San Francisco’s dynasty in the 1980s with his ability as a physical runner and as a receiver out of the backfield. Craig was the first player ever to have 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in the same season in 1985, and led the NFL with 2,036 yards from scrimmage in 1988 when he helped the 49ers win the Super Bowl.
Craig was also part of the title-winning teams in San Francisco in the 1984 and 1989 seasons. His 410 yards from scrimmage in those Super Bowl wins are the third- most ever behind only Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Franco Harris.
Among the other senior candidates are former league MVP Ken Anderson, 1978 Defensive Player of the Year Randy Gradishar and AFL star receivers Otis Taylor and Art Powell.
The other remaining semifinalists are Maxie Baughan, Joe Jacoby, Albert Lewis, Steve McMichael, Eddie Meador, Sterling Sharpe and Al Wistert.
Anderson was a four-time Pro Bowler for Cincinnati and won the MVP in 1981 when he helped the Bengals reach their first Super Bowl before losing to San Francisco. When Anderson retired after the 1986 season he ranked sixth all time with 32,838 yards passing and 13th with 197 TD passes.
Gradishar was a key part to Denver’s “Orange Crush” defense in the 1970s, making the Pro Bowl seven times in 10 seasons and being selected as an All-Pro in 1977 and ’78.
Taylor and Powell were among the top receivers in the pass-happy AFL. Powell’s 81 touchdowns rank second best in AFL history behind Don Maynard, and his 8,015 yards receiving were third behind only Maynard and Hall of Famer Lance Alworth.
Taylor, who died in March at age 80, was an All-Pro twice and led the AFL in TD catches in 1967 and the NFL in yards receiving in 1971.
Shanahan won back-to-back titles for Denver in the 1997 and ’98 seasons and Coughlin won two championships with the Giants in the 2007 and 2011 seasons to earn advancement to the next stage.
Of the 14 coaches to win multiple Super Bowls, nine are in the Hall of Fame, two more are active, with Shanahan, Coughlin and George Seifert the only ones not to get into the Hall.
Mike Holmgren, who won a Super Bowl for Green Bay in the 1996 season and lost two more trips with the Packers and Seahawks, also advanced.
The other semifinalists in the coach and contributor category are Frank “Bucko” Kilroy, Robert Kraft, Buddy Parker, Dan Reeves, Art Rooney Jr., Marty Schottenheimer, Clark Shaughnessy, Lloyd Wells and John Wooten.
The Class of 2024 will be formally enshrined next summer in Canton, Ohio.
NFL PREVIEW: NEW YORK GIANTS
The Giants had a successful first season with Brian Daboll, who quickly turned them into a playoff team en route to winning Coach of the Year.
But the Giants will no longer catch teams by surprise after winning 10 games last season, including a wild-card victory vs. the Vikings.
Despite making roster upgrades and paying their top players, the Giants will have a tough time returning to the postseason considering they reside in a competitive NFC East with the Eagles, Cowboys and Commanders.
The Giants will likely need newcomers Deonte Banks (the team’s first-round rookie cornerback) and Bobby Okereke (a standout linebacker who signed during free agency) to quickly find their footing in New York and help the defense become one of the best units in 2023.
The Giants have plenty of playmakers on their roster, but the season will once again fall on the shoulders of quarterback Daniel Jones, who was paid like a top-10 quarterback in the NFL.
Biggest gamble this offseason: Paying Jones $40 million per year
After a slow first three seasons, Jones made drastic strides in 2022 under the guidance of Daboll, which earned the quarterback a four-year, $160 million contract extension this offseason. This led many to wonder why the Giants made the investment after one good year; New York prioritized the skill positions this offseason in the hopes that it will lead to even more improvements from Jones, who had a subpar supporting cast (outside of running back Saquon Barkley) in 2022. New York traded for tight end Darren Waller, drafted wide receiver Jalin Hyatt and signed wide receiver Parris Campbell. Suddenly, Jones has a strong crew of pass catchers with wideouts Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Wan’Dale Robinson and Isaiah Hodgins also on the roster. It’s time for Jones, the ’19 No. 6 pick, to play like a top-10 quarterback after receiving a new deal and additional weapons this offseason.
Toughest stretch of the season: Weeks 3 to 8
The Giants have a brutal schedule overall, with Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr calling it borderline criminal. And most might agree with that assessment because of the brutal six-game stretch the Giants were handed, with four games on the road against the 49ers, Seahawks, Dolphins and Bills, and two at home vs. the Commanders and Jets. The Giants made many roster upgrades in the offseason, but it might not matter, given they could easily go 1–5 during that grueling stretch to derail their season. New York also starts the season against the Cowboys and faces the Eagles twice in the final three games. To steal a line from Orr, what on Earth did the Giants do to deserve this?
Breakout player to watch: Edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux
Thibodeaux struggled to finish plays at times during his rookie season, but he consistently won his matchups and often found himself in the backfield. With 40 pressures and 13 quarterback hits as a rookie, Thibodeaux could develop into a sack artist in his second season after recording only four sacks in 2022. Also, Thibodeaux’s 10.3% pressure rate was more than fellow first-round rookies Aidan Hutchinson (9.9%) and Travon Walker (9.2%).
Position of strength: Interior defensive line
Dexter Lawrence received a hefty pay raise after a dominant 2022 season, which included Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro selections. Lawrence signed a four-year, $90 million contract extension, making him the fourth-highest-paid interior defensive lineman in the league, according to Over the Cap. Lawrence went from being a run-stopping specialist to a versatile playmaker last year, with a career-high 7.5 sacks. Leonard Williams, who can also play on the edge, cashed in two years ago with a three-year, $63 million contract and remains a productive playmaker in the middle of New York’s defensive line. The Giants also added A’Shawn Robinson and Rakeem Nunez-Roches this offseason.
Position of weakness: Interior offensive line
Instead of being specific, the offensive line could have been listed here, but that would be unfair to left tackle Andrew Thomas, who continues to get better after establishing himself as one of the best at his position last season. At right tackle, Evan Neal (the No. 7 pick in ’22) had a rocky rookie season, but so did Thomas in ’20—perhaps Neal can improve in Year 2. But the Giants have real concerns on the interior, with the guard spots possibly up for grabs in training camp, and with a rookie center in John Michael Schmitz, a ’23 second-round pick.
X-factor: TE Darren Waller
No one will say Jones is missing a legitimate No. 1 wideout if Waller regains his top form from his dominant days in 2019 and ’20. (He averaged 98.5 receptions and 1,170 receiving yards during that time.) When healthy, Waller is a matchup nightmare and is just as dangerous in the passing game as Travis Kelce, George Kittle and Mark Andrews. But if Waller continues to deal with injuries, Jones will need one of his many wideouts to step up and deliver Pro Bowl–type seasons.
Sleeper fantasy pick: WR Isaiah Hodgins
Hodgins became the top option in the Giants’ pass attack in the second half of last season, and he made the most of his chances. In his final five games, he scored 14-plus points four times, including one game with almost 23 points. The Giants don’t have an alpha wideout, so Hodgins is worth a look.—Michael Fabiano, SI Fantasy
Best bet: Take the over on Daniel Jones’s rushing prop of 575.5 yards
The Giants are best when Jones is able to use his mobility. Jones logged 708 ground yards last year on the way to a winning record for New York. Why fix what isn’t broken?—Jennifer Piacenti, SI Betting
Final record: 8–9, third in NFC East