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Gronkowski Participates in First Full-Team Drills

Gronkowski Participates in First Full-Team Drills

Elsa/Getty Images(FOXBOROUGH, Mass.) — For the first time this preseason, the New England Patriots watched as Tom Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski for a touchdown pass during practice Monday afternoon. It was the first time Gronkowski had participated in full-team drills since having offseason surgery to repair a torn ACL. 
“It’s definitely huge to get it going again,” said Gronkowski. “I’ve been working with Tom since I’ve been out here, but we haven’t been doing it vs. the defense or anything. So it was good to be out there and ‘Boom!’ it was just like it was never missed before.”
Gronkowski has said that he plans to play all 16 games this season after playing a combined 18 games the last two seasons. There was no full contact for Gronkowski, but rather some minor hitting that included having the ball stripped from him by rookie corner Malcolm Butler.
Gronkowski, 25, has been participating in some drills since the start of camp on July 24 and is planning to suit up for week one. However, there has been no word on if he will play in one of New England’s final two preseason games.
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Manziel Flips the Bird in Preseason Loss

Manziel Flips the Bird in Preseason Loss

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images(LANDOVER, Md.) — It was not a good night for the Cleveland Browns offense, and the frustration showed when backup quarterback Johnny Manziel flipped the bird to the Washington Redskins sideline late in a 24-23 preseason loss.
The incident occurred late in the third quarter after an incomplete pass in front of the Washington bench. As Manziel trotted back across the field, he raised his right hand and extended his middle finger in the direction of his opponents. The rookie admitted post-game that he exchanged words with the bench, and he should have responded better.
“I felt like I did a good job of holding my composure throughout the night, and you have a lapse of judgment and slip up,” said Manziel.
While the play was not flagged, Manziel is subject to a fine of $11,025 from the NFL.  He can appeal the fine and have it limited to 25 percent of a weekly check, roughly $6,200.
Manziel, like the entire Cleveland offense, struggled last night, going 5-for-13 with only 49 passing yards. The rookie did however connect with Dion Lewis for a short touchdown pass as the Browns fought to come back.
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Scoreboard Roundup – 8/18/14

Scoreboard Roundup – 8/18/14

Hemera/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — MLB: Chicago Cubs 4 (54-70) – New York Mets 1 (59-67)
Washington Nationals 5 (70-53) – Arizona Diamondbacks 4 (53-72) 11 Innings
Atlanta Braves 7 (65-60) – Pittsburgh Pirates 3 (64-61)
Philadelphia Phillies 4 (55-70) – Seattle Mariners 1 (67-57)
Los Angeles Angels 4 (73-50) – Boston Red Sox 2 (56-68) 
Baltimore Orioles 8 (71-52) – Chicago White Sox 2 (59-66)
Kansas City Royals 6 (69-55) – Minnesota Twins 4 (55-68)
St. Louis Cardinals 6 (67-57) – Cincinnati Reds 5 (61-64) 10 Innings
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Saints’ Jimmy Graham: No More Dunking

Saints’ Jimmy Graham: No More Dunking

Stacy Revere/Getty Images(METAIRIE, La.) — New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham won’t be dunking the football after a touchdown this season to avoid any penalties during the game that could cost his team.
Following both of his touchdown receptions in Friday’s 31-24 preseason win over Tennessee, Graham proceeded to dunk the football through the goalposts and was penalized 15 yards for it, which led to head coach Sean Payton screaming at him on the sideline.
“You know, for four years and however many touchdowns, I’ve always dunked it. And I just gotta stop doing that now,” Graham said.
Graham didn’t believe any player dunking a ball through a goal post was hurting anyone, but promised to stop.
“The rule [is] unfortunate because I just love the game. I have a lot of passion for the game. And when I go out there on Sunday, it’s fun for me,” Graham said. “And I feel like a little kid out there. And sometimes I act like it.”
Graham said on Sunday that he would listen to Payton’s request for him to stop dunking the ball through the goal posts.
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Cam Newton Debuts in Preseason Win

Cam Newton Debuts in Preseason Win

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — For the first time since undergoing offseason ankle surgery, Cam Newtown put on his shoulder pads and helmet, walked onto the gridiron, and played football. The Carolina Panthers (1-1) quarterback made his preseason debut on Sunday night in a 28-16 win over Kansas City (1-1).
Newton was reasonably rusty to open the game, starting with three straight three-and-outs. He missed five of his first six passes and was sacked for a 13-yard loss as part of those three drives. Carolina did rebound though when Jonathan Stewart was inserted into the running back position.
Stewart ran for only 26 yards on four carries, but capped off consecutive scoring possessions with touchdown scampers.
“If we can run the ball effectively with the backs and not have to rely on [Cam] running we would much rather do that,” said head coach Ron Rivera on the running attack.
Newton also settled down a bit towards the end of his day. The four-year veteran completed four of nine passes for only 65 yards but connected on his last three attempts.
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Sammy Watkins Hurts Ribs

Sammy Watkins Hurts Ribs

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images(PITTSBURGH) — Buffalo Bills first-round draft pick Sammy Watkins left Saturday night’s preseason game against the Steelers with a rib contusion in the first quarter and did not return.
Watkins was trying to pull in a pass by EJ Manuel on a quick slant that was low and incomplete.  Steelers defender Cortez Allen fell to the ground while trying to make the play and linebacker Ryan Shazier jumped to avoid Allen and collided with Watkins’ rib cage.
“I think Sammy will be fine,” Manuel said. “Hopefully he’ll come back and bounce back from whatever little injury he had.”
Watkins walked to the locker room on his own power, but the Bills have still not released any further update after he received X-rays.
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Bears Agree to Deal with Wide Receiver Santonio Holmes

Bears Agree to Deal with Wide Receiver Santonio Holmes

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The Chicago Bears are rolling the dice on a potential big return as ESPN is reporting the team has agreed to terms on a deal with wide receiver Santonio Holmes.
The 30-year-old Holmes spent the past four seasons with the New York Jets, but has struggled to stay healthy the past two seasons.
He appeared in just four games in 2012 due to a lisfrank injury, and never fully regained his old form. 
The team decided that it was time for both sides to mutually part ways as he didn’t figure into the teams future plans.
In 11 games last season, Holmes caught 23 passes for 456 yards and one touchdown. He appeared in all 16 regular season games just once during his time with the Jets.
With the Bears set at wide receiver with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, Holmes figures to be a complimentary part of an already explosive Bears offense under second-year head coach Mark Trestman.
In 2014, the Bears had the eighth ranked offense in the NFL.
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Graham Penalized, Scolded for Touchdown Dunks

Graham Penalized, Scolded for Touchdown Dunks

Chris Graythen/Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) — It didn’t take long for Jimmy Graham to violate the rule many feel was put in place because of him. Following both of his touchdown receptions in Friday’s 31-24 preseason win over Tennessee, Graham proceeded to dunk the football through the goalposts and was penalized 15 yards for it.
The second celebration drew the ire of head coach Sean Payton, who tracked his tight end down on the sideline to scold him. In total, the Saints committed 22 penalties throughout the game. Graham declined interviews as he left the locker room while Payton would not directly comment on the incidents.
The celebration of “dunking” a ball through the goalposts was lumped in with other taunting penalties where the ball is used as a “prop”. Many have referred to the rule chance as the “Jimmy Graham rule”.
“I understand Jimmy’s frustration with that rule change. I understand what he’s doing,” said offensive tackle and team captain Zach Strief.  “And yet it’s something, look, if this is a regular-season game, Jimmy’s not dunking over the goalpost. Coach Payton was completely, I think, correct to jump on him. Any of us, I think would expect it.
New Orleans was once again without quarterback Drew Brees who sat with an oblique strain. He is expected to be 100% healthy come the regular season. Wide receiver Marques Colston was also not dressed for action, but for an undisclosed reason.
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Chiefs Suspend Wide Reciever Dwayne Bowe One Game

Chiefs Suspend Wide Reciever Dwayne Bowe One Game

Jason O. Watson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The Kansas City Chiefs will start their season without one of their best play makers as the team has suspended wide receiver Dwayne Bowe one game for a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Bowe will now miss the team’s season opener against the Tennessee Titans on Sept. 7. He will be allowed to play in the Chiefs final three preseason games.
“I am extremely sorry that I can’t be on the field for the first game of the 2014 season because I made an error in judgment,” Bowe said in a statement. “I take responsibility for my mistake, and it will not happen again. I hope that my teammates, coaches and Chiefs fans accept my sincere apology.
“I will be supporting my teammates in Week 1, and I cannot wait to get back on the field to help us win in Week 2 and beyond as we work towards our goal of winning the Super Bowl.”
The 29-year-old Bowe has spent his entire seven-year career with the Chiefs.
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Dolphins Sign Quarterback Brady Quinn

Dolphins Sign Quarterback Brady Quinn

Leon Halip/Getty Images(MIAMI) –  Brady Quinn is receiving one more chance to prove himself in the NFL.
The Miami Dolphins signed the 29-year-old quarterback after he and several other free agents worked out at the team’s facility on Monday. Quinn is expected to compete for a backup job behind starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Also in attendance at the workout were QB’s Rex Grossman and John Skelton.
Quinn has played in 24 games over seven seasons with the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, New York Jets, and St. Louis Rams. The former 2007 first-round pick has thrown for 3,403 yards with 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions over the course of his career.
In a corresponding roster move, the team released quarterback Pat Devlin.
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Orlando Scandrick Suspended Four Games

Orlando Scandrick Suspended Four Games

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images(OXNARD, Calif.) — Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick was suspended by the NFL for four games on Monday for violating it’s performance-enhancing drugs policy.
Sources say the violation stemmed from a supplement taking by Scandrick, which included a substance banned by the league.
“I would like to apologize to my children, my family, the Jones Family, my coaches, my teammates and my fans,” Scandrick said in a statement released by his agent, Ron Slavin. “Failing a drug test is far out of my character, and although I never knowingly took a performance-enhancing drug/banned stimulant while on vacation in Mexico, I take full responsibility for what goes in my body and more importantly for the embarrassment of a failed drug test. It’s my goal by issuing this statement to clear my name and more importantly to be judged by what happens to me in the future.”
The seven-year veteran is coming off the best year of his career, recording 64 tackles, two interceptions and two sacks. Scandrick beat out Morris Claiborne for the starting job last summer and was doing so again in 2014.
Slavin placed blame for the suspension on the NFL and the NFL Players Association for their failure to pass an agreement on the use of human growth hormone testing.
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Bears Reinstate Suspended TE Bennett

Bears Reinstate Suspended TE Bennett

National Football League(BOURBONNAIS, Ill.) — Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett has been reinstated following a fine and indefinite suspension. The suspension ended up lasting just six days, as Bennett rejoined his teammates on the practice field Sunday at Olivet Nazarene University. 
The punishment was a result of an altercation involving Bennett and rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller that saw Bennett slam the first-year player to the ground. Bennett was initially unapologetic but has reversed course in the last couple days.
“I think I could’ve handled the situation differently,” Bennett said. “We can talk about it right now, but (I would have handled it) any way differently than I did. I think everything in life is about learning lessons.”
Bennett was unable to play in the preseason opener and said it was difficult to watch because of how much he wanted to play. The tight end also expressed how happy he was to be back with his teammates.
“They love me. I love the guys,” Bennett said. “I got a lot of hugs and high-fives, slaps on the butt, all that good stuff, a lot of jokes. The moment they saw me, most guys just started laughing because they wanted me to say something funny.”
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Linval Joseph Returns to Practice After Shooting Incident

Linval Joseph Returns to Practice After Shooting Incident

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images(MANKATO, Minn.) — One day after being struck by a stray bullet at a nightclub, Linval Joseph was back at practice on Sunday for the Minnesota Vikings. Joseph, who was hit in the calf, is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season.
“I appreciate everyone’s thoughts and concerns over the past 24 hours. I am extremely thankful that this was a minor injury for me,” said Joseph in a statement released by the team. “My thoughts are with all of the victims at this time. I am looking forward to getting back onto the field with my teammates in the near future.”
The shooting occurred near the back of 400 Soundbar in Minneapolis where the defensive tackle and some teammates spent several hours after their first preseason game. A total of nine people were wounded when a gunman opened fire in what police are calling a gang-related shooting. 
“He’s pretty good, really, for the most part,” head coach Mike Zimmer said. “He was in the meeting this morning and paying attention to what corrections he needs to make when he was playing. He’s a fairly quiet guy anyway so I’m sure it shook him up like it shook all of us up. He’s a very high-character, high-quality young man.”
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Manziel Impresses in Preseason Debut

Manziel Impresses in Preseason Debut

Elsa/Getty Images(DETROIT) — It wasn’t the most glamorous of debuts, but Johnny Manziel raised some eyebrows in his first NFL preseason game. The rookie quarterback played four series for Cleveland in a 13-12 loss at Detroit on Saturday night. 
While completing 7-of-11 pass attempts for 63 yards, Manziel also rushed for 27 yards on six carries. His longest of the night, a 16-yard scamper, gave fans a glimpse into the possible future of “Johnny Football” in the NFL. 
“For me it was a good start,” Manziel said. “Have to start somewhere and set a foundation.”
Brian Hoyer got the starting nod for Cleveland and was 6-of-11 for 92 passing yards, leading a pair of drives that resulted in field goals. Hoyer, who was the starter last year for the Browns, has not voiced a concern about potentially losing his job to Manziel.
“That decision has not been made yet,” said Cleveland head coach Mike Pettine. However, a source has told ESPN’s Bob Holtzman there is a “very good chance” Manziel starts next week against Washington.
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Vikings’ Joseph Struck by Bullet, Released by Hospital

Vikings’ Joseph Struck by Bullet, Released by Hospital

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Minnesota Vikings defensive end Linval Joseph was struck in the calf by a stray bullet fired in a nightclub in downtown Minneapolis early Saturday morning.  
Joseph’s injury was minor and he was treated at a local hospital and released.
“The entire Vikings organization is extremely thankful that Linval was not seriously hurt, and our thoughts are with all of the victims of this shooting,” the team said in a statement. “The team will defer any further comment to the Minneapolis Police Department during its ongoing investigation.”
Joseph signed a five-year, $31.25 million deal with the team in March and isn’t expected to miss more than two weeks, ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter reports.
Police are still searching for the shooter, who injured nine people in the nightclub, according to the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.
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Rams Defensive Lineman Michael Sam Makes NFL Preseason Debut

Rams Defensive Lineman Michael Sam Makes NFL Preseason Debut

Joe Robbins/Getty Images(ST. LOUIS) — On Friday night, Michael Sam’s dream of playing in the NFL came true as he made his preseason debut as member of the St. Louis Rams.
Sam is the first openly gay athelte in NFL history, so his pro debut was no small feat.
Against the New Orleans Saints, Sam was solid in opener. He had a tackle as well as a quarterback hit for the team.
“You know, I can play in this league,” Sam said. “I can play in this league.”
“He’s unpolished like a lot of rookies,” Rams defensive end Chris Long said of Sam. “But he pleasantly surprised you when he went out in a game situation and played pretty well.”
Sam was selected by the Rams in the seventh round after a productive collegiate career at Missouri. He was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and now Sam will get every chance to make the talented Rams defensive unit.
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Scoreboard Roundup – 8/8/14

Scoreboard Roundup – 8/8/14

Hemera/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — MLB: Tampa Bay Rays 4 (56-59) – Chicago Cubs 3 (49-64) 10 Innings
Baltimore Orioles 12 (66-49) – St. Louis Cardinals 2 (61-53)
New York Mets 5 (55-61) – Philadelphia Phillies 4 (52-64)
Pittsburgh Pirates 2 (62-53) – San Diego Padres 1 (52-62)
Miami Marlins 2 (56-59) – Cincinnati Reds 1 (59-57)
Detroit Tigers 5 (63-50) – Toronto Blue Jays 4 (61-56)
New York Yankees 10 (61-54) – Cleveland Indians 6 (57-59) 
Kansas City Royals 4 (61-53) – San Francisco Giants 2 (62-54)
Milwaukee Brewers 9 (64-52) – Los Angeles Dodgers 3 (66-51)
Atlanta Braves 7 (59-56) – Washington Nationals 6 (62-52)
Houston Astros 4 (48-68) – Texas Rangers 3 (45-70)
Arizona Diamondbacks 5 (50-66) – Colorado Rockies 3 (45-70)
Oakland Athletics 6 (71-44) – Minnesota Twins 5 (51-63)
Seattle Mariners 4 (61-54) – Chicago White Sox 1 (55-62)
Boston Red Sox 4 (51-64) – Los Angeles Angels 2 (67-48)
NFL Preseason: Atlanta Falcons 16 (1-0) – Miami Dolphins 10 (0-1)
Jacksonville Jaguars 16 (1-0) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10 (0-1)
Buffalo Bills 20 (1-0) – Carolina Panthers 18 (0-1)
Minnesota Vikings 10 (1-0) – Oakland Raiders 6 (0-1)
New Orleans Saints 26 (1-0) – St. Louis Rams 24 (0-1) 
Chicago Bears 34 (1-0) – Philadelphia Eagles 28 (0-1)
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Jets Have Faith in Geno Smith

Jets Have Faith in Geno Smith

Nick Lahem/Getty Images(CORTLAND, N.Y.) — New York Jets veteran quarterback Michael Vick believes second-year quarterback Geno Smith will be “10 times” better than he was last year.
The Jets signed Vick to be the backup to the young Smith in the offseason and he’s taken it in stride.
“He’s going to be great,” Vick said Tuesday after practice. “He’s going to be 10 times better than where he was last year, and I’m looking forward to it.”
“You see guys around the league, around his age, having success and doing good things for their ball club, and I think he wants to fall right into that echelon,” Vick continued.
Smith will start the preseason opener on Thursday night against the Indianapolis Colts.
“I want to see some production,” head coach Rex Ryan said of Smith. “I think we’ll see it. I know [Smith] will have the command. Let’s have the production, too.”.
Ryan, who is relying on the success of the team for another contract, believes that having Vick as a backup is a good thing for Smith.
“When you have a Mike Vick come in here, you’d better be at the top of your game,” Ryan said.
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Bears Suspend Bennett for Training Camp Fight

Bears Suspend Bennett for Training Camp Fight

Tom Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images(BOURBANNAIS, Ill) — The Chicago Bears fined and suspended tight end Martellus Bennett for conduct detrimental to the team after getting in a fight with cornerback Kyle Fuller during practice Monday.
“Last night (Monday), we made a decision to fine and suspend Martellus Bennett for an undetermined length of time,” Bears general manager Phil Emery said. “This is a process that we’re working with Martellus. We are in contact with him. Our goal is to have Martellus back as soon as possible. He’s a very loved and respected teammate. We want him back, but it’s a process we have to work through.”
The 27-year-old Bennett pushed and then body-slammed Fuller after Fuller tried stripping the ball from Bennett during Monday’s training camp practice at Olivet Nazarene University. 
Bennett had to be calmed down by teammates. The situation led to head coach Marc Trestman to end practice early.
“Everybody talks about friendships, but really we are all preparing to win a championship,” Bennett said. “If we make friends along the way, cool. But I’m just trying to help the Bears win a championship and do the job to the best of my ability.”
No details were released on the length of the suspension or the amount of the fine Bennett received.
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ESPN: Bengals Reward Quarterback Andy Dalton with Six-Year Extension

ESPN: Bengals Reward Quarterback Andy Dalton with Six-Year Extension

Andy Lyons/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The Cincinnati Bengals see quarterback Andy Dalton as the the face of their franchise, which is why the team has reportedly signed him to a six-year extension worth $115 million.
“I’ve been impressed with him since I’ve gotten to be the coordinator, but I’ve been really impressed with him over the last couple of days, because I think he’s really starting to buy into the urgency, getting the ball out of his hands and making great decisions,” Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said. “That was a great throwaway when we were backed up. There were times in the past the ball might have gone someplace else.”
Dalton is entering his fourth NFL season and was set to make just less than $1.7 million in the final year of his deal.
The 26-year-old Dalton has proven to be a solid starting quarterback during his time with the team. He’s led the team to three-straight postseason appearances, but he’s never won a playoff game.
In those three playoff games, Dalton has thrown just one touchdown and six interceptions.
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