Sammy Watkins active for Bills

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins is active for Thursday's preseason finale against the Detroit Lions.

Watkins injured his ribs in an Aug. 16 preseason loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and did not play in Saturday's loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Even though Watkins is active, it's unclear how much -- if at all -- he will play Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills be without some of their starters in the game.

Cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and Corey Graham, as well as tight end Scott Chandler, are inactive for unknown reasons. All three players practiced earlier this week.

Starting left guard Chris Williams (lower back), tight ends Tony Moeaki (hamstring) and Lee Smith (toe), cornerbacks Mario Butler (ankle) and Bobby Felder (groin), and safety Jonathan Meeks (neck) round out the Bills' inactives.

Dallas Cowboys waive B.W. Webb

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
IRVING, Texas -- In order to make room for Phillip Tanner on the roster for tonight’s preseason finale against the Denver Broncos, the Dallas Cowboys waived cornerback B.W. Webb.

A fourth-round pick last year, Webb suffered a hip flexor injury that would prevent him from playing in the final two preseason games. Webb was active for 15 games as a rookie and had 13 tackles and one pass breakup but never got comfortable on the field. He had a so-so training camp and was outplayed by undrafted rookie Tyler Patmon.

With Webb gone and Orlando Scandrick suspended the first four games of the regular season, the Cowboys will likely go with rookies Patmon and Terrance Mitchell, a seventh-round pick, as their fourth and fifth cornerbacks behind Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and Sterling Moore.

The Cowboys claimed cornerback Jemea Thomas off waivers from the New England Patriots on Wednesday.

With injuries to Joseph Randle (oblique) and Ryan Williams (cramping) the Cowboys were left with one tailback they would play tonight against the Denver Broncos -- DJ Adams. The Cowboys will not use starter DeMarco Murray or Lance Dunbar, necessitating the addition of Tanner, who played three years for the team and was recently cut by the Indianapolis Colts.

W2W4: Chicago Bears

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
The Chicago Bears (2-1) face the Cleveland Browns (0-3) in the preseason finale at FirstEnergy Stadium:
  1. No. 3 receiver battle: This competition remains in the forefront as the Bears hope to take one last look at Josh Morgan and Santonio Holmes, who should now be a little more comfortable with the offense. Morgan caught three of the five balls thrown his way last week against Seattle for 48 yards, while Holmes hauled in one pass for 7 yards. Morgan has shown he’s perfectly capable of handling the No. 3 job while Marquess Wilson continues to heal from a fractured clavicle. Holmes could potentially add a dynamic element in the slot.
  2. David Fales in extended action: The Bears plan to play Fales the entire game to find out whether he’s truly worth spending the time and resources to develop. Fales played sparingly in the exhibition opener against Philadelphia, but hasn’t taken any snaps since this preseason. So this will be an opportunity for Fales to earn a spot on the 53-man roster as opposed to being waived and brought back later to the practice squad. Fales hit on 5 of 7 passes for 68 yards in his only brief action of the preseason. Bears coach Marc Trestman likes what he’s seen so far from Fales, who flashes superior anticipation skills.
  3. Return of injured players: The starters typically don’t play in the fourth exhibition game, but an exception could be made for starting right tackle Jordan Mills, considering he hasn’t played a single snap this preseason. Mills returned to practice Monday and could use a little full-speed work against the Browns as the Bears prep for the season opener against Buffalo. Trestman isn’t sure whether Mills will play. Eben Britton also returned to practice this week, and he’ll need to show what he can do against Cleveland to keep a roster spot because Michael Ola and Dennis Roland have come on during his absence. Like Mills, Britton hasn’t participated in any games this preseason.
IRVING, Texas --- With his final chance to throw some punches in his bid to make the Dallas Cowboys' roster, running back Ryan Williams might not be able to play tonight against the Denver Broncos.

He left last week's game against the Miami Dolphins with cramping but said tests taken after the game showed no pull or defect in his groin muscle. He was, however, limited in practice due to the short week and as a result the Cowboys will add Phillip Tanner to the roster today to have a second fully healthy runner available for the Broncos.

If Williams can't play, he will have to rest his case on what he did in three preseason games. He leads the Cowboys with 112 rushing yards on 25 carries and a touchdown. He also leads the Cowboys with nine catches, good for 66 yards.

But is it enough?

Not even the Cowboys know for sure.

They have so many questions on the roster that they might not be able to carry four tailbacks. Joseph Randle will not play against the Broncos because of an oblique strain, but he appears to have the inside track behind DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar. He's also been a better special teams player.

The third tailback has to contribute on special teams and Williams acknowledged that has been new for him. As a former second-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals, he wasn't asked to chase down punts and kicks. He's worked at it, according to Jason Garrett.

What Williams has done is put himself in the conversation not only for the Cowboys' roster, but for another team. If he is waived, he should get a second chance. Perhaps the Cowboys could find a willing trade partner looking for a back.

Or perhaps the Cowboys keep him, knowing that Murray and Dunbar have not played a full schedule in their short careers.

"The one thing I do know is it's a numbers' game and it's a business," Williams said. "At the end of the day, you can be as good as you want to be but they might not need you at the end of the day. So you go out there and play as hard as you can and you don't worry about the rest."
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne will "probably not" play in the team's Thursday preseason finale, executive vice president and director of player personnel Stephen Jones said.

This would mark the second consecutive preseason that Claiborne, the sixth overall pick in the 2012 draft, did not play a down. The Cowboys coaches hoped to get him some action Thursday against the Denver Broncos after Claiborne missed one game with knee tendinitis and the last two due to a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder.

"Just not worth the risk to go backwards," Jones said after the team's kickoff luncheon. "You know those shoulder injuries; they get sore on you quickly. After really going over it with our trainers and doctors, probably the better decision here is to let him get fully healed and then put him out there."

Claiborne returned to practice this week, saying Tuesday that he's ready for game action despite still feeling soreness in the shoulder.

Defensive tackle Henry Melton, the team's other starter who has yet to play this preseason, is expected to get some snaps against the Broncos.

Melton, whose final season with the Chicago Bears ended early due to a torn ACL suffered in September, missed the last two weeks because of a strained groin. Jones said Melton indicated he wanted to play in the preseason finale to chip off some rust before the regular season begins.

"He's ready to go and I think he just wants the peace of mind that he's going to feel good when he starts against the 49ers," Jones said.
RENTON, Wash -- Seattle Seahawks running back Christine Michael will not play Thursday night at Oakland in the preseason finale because of a strained hamstring.

Michael's injury is the reason the Seahawks re-signed rookie running back Demitrius Bronson, who was released earlier this week. The team waived guard Greg Van Roten to make room for Bronson to return. The Seahawks also released linebacker Marcus Dowtin and signed center Patrick Lewis off waivers from Jacksonville.

"He pulled up a little bit [Tuesday] in practice," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Michael, "so we're ensuring we have enough guys to run the football [adding Bronson]. He did a really nice job while he was here, but the numbers caught him and we're glad to have him back.”

Receiver Percy Harvin was not at practice for the second consecutive day, but Carroll said he was excused for personal business.

Cornerback Jeremy Lane and tight end Cooper Helfet are not expected to play Thursday. Lane has what Carroll described as a mild groin strain. Helfet has a bruised shoulder and Carroll said he was day-to-day.

Rookie defensive tackle Jimmy Staten has returned to practice after missing all of training camp with a hamstring injury, but Carroll said Staten will not make the trip to Oakland.

Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel did not practice this week. Carroll said McDaniel has a sore knee that they are resting.

Receiver Bryan Walters, who missed the Chicago game with bruised ribs, is expected to play at Oakland.

Cam Newton: I'll start Week 1

August, 27, 2014
Aug 27

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said he'll be ready to start Week 1 of the regular season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers despite fracturing his ribs last week.

Newton was injured during Friday night's 30-7 preseason loss at New England. He will not play at Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

"There's no doubt in my mind,'' Newton said Wednesday.

The fourth-year player also said the injury hasn't been a setback in developing chemistry with a new group of wide receivers after losing his top four from last season.

He is scheduled to make the trip to Pittsburgh to stay mentally connected as he has all week.

Newton said the fracture was to "ribs'' and not a rib as coach Ron Rivera has said all week. He said the injury will not be a setback in his preparation for the season

"No setback at all,'' said Newton, who has not missed a start since Carolina made him the first pick of the 2011 draft. "I'm excited about the opportunity, and each day brings more confidence that I am close to 100 percent.''

Newton moved better Wednesday than he had the previous three days, throwing a few underhanded passes during a short walk-through before the team boarded a plane for Pittsburgh.

His upper body didn't appear to be nearly as stiff as he walked.

"My body feels better,'' said Newton, who added he's had more painful injuries during his career. "It's obvious my ribs [were] hurting. I'm moving forward trying to stay positive and optimistic about this whole process. It's given me even greater focus on trying to heal my ankle at the same time.''

Newton missed most of the Panthers' offseason workouts recovering from left ankle surgery in March. He was turned loose to run before his first preseason start on Aug. 17 against Kansas City.

The rib injury occurred when New England

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IRVING, Texas -- Defensive end George Selvie's surgically repaired right shoulder is sore enough to cause him to sit out practice this week.

He's adamant, however, that it isn't sore enough to sideline him for next week's regular season opener against the San Francisco 49ers.

"I'm just taking it easy," said Selvie, who banged up the shoulder in last week's preseason loss to the Miami Dolphins. "I had the surgery in the offseason, so it's a little sore right now. We're just taking it a little easy.

"Everything should be good. Everything's good. I'll be out there."

The Cowboys can ill afford to be without Selvie, who played all 16 games last season and ranked second on the team with seven sacks. They already have depth problems across the defensive line and especially at end.

Anthony Spencer is expected to come off the physically unable to perform list soon but will not be ready for Week 1. Rookie second-round pick DeMarcus Lawrence will miss several games as he recovers from surgery to repair his broken right foot.

The Cowboys need Selvie to match his production from last season, when he was a pleasant surprise after signing with Dallas during the first week of camp. That's why it makes sense to be cautious with him this week.
Wes Welker, D.J. Swearinger, Jeff TarpinianAP Photo/Jack DempseyWes Welker suffered yet another concussion after taking this hit from D.J. Swearinger.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- For most of Emmanuel Sanders' NFL career, he has done his business as a wide receiver in that high-impact, high-traffic area where slot receivers roam.

So he knows what Wes Welker goes through in the Denver Broncos' high-powered offense and knows what it will take to adjust if Welker misses time in the regular season because of a concussion suffered just before halftime in this past Saturday's preseason loss to the Houston Texans.

"It's different," Sanders said. "I've played slot every year that I've played football except last year was my first year on the outside. It's a different game. On the outside, you just have to beat one man, really, and that's because they play man-to-man. Whereas in the slot, it's more zone. You have to avoid linebackers, you have to avoid safeties, you have to sit down in the zone and that's where the big hits can come from. Whereas on the outside, they'll come, but they're not going to come as much as in the slot."

Welker, who also suffered concussions Nov. 17 against the Kansas City Chiefs and Dec. 8 against the Tennessee Titans last season, is currently under the guidelines of the league's concussion protocol. The Broncos don't have a timetable for his return, but under those guidelines to return to full participation in a practice by next Friday -- two days before the Sept. 7 regular-season opener -- Welker would have to be symptom free by Monday.

Welker would also have to be cleared for a return to the field by an independent physician, designated by both the NFL and NFL Players Association.

[+] EnlargeWes Welker
Justin Edmonds/Getty ImagesWes Welker had 73 catches for 778 yards and 10 touchdowns with the Broncos last season.
"He's doing fantastic in the process," said Broncos head coach John Fox, following Tuesday's practice. "We'll take it one day (at a time), and another positive day today."

In their offense, much like how the Indianapolis Colts' offense looked with Peyton Manning behind center, the Broncos' bread-and-butter plays are the crossing routes, both shallow and deeper down the field, to go with the big-play shots that come down the seam.

With Welker having suffered three concussions in 10 months in the Broncos' offense, offensive coordinator Adam Gase said he would look at how the team is using its slot receivers to see if they are being put in harm's way more often. But Gase also said he didn't believe that to be the case on the play when Welker was injured.

"I think we'll take a look at our route concepts and see what we need to tinker with and maybe why something like that happened," Gase said. "If we have to make an adjustment, we will. If he came to me and said something about a certain route he didn't feel comfortable (with), we would make an adjustment. For right now, I feel like our scheme is pretty good. What happened, like Coach Fox said, it's a football play, and those things happen sometimes."

In their three-wide receiver set, their base formation, they'll line various receivers in the inside slot positions on either side of the formation. But players such as wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, Sanders and tight end Julius Thomas will line up plenty on the outside, as well.

By contrast Welker will line up on a smattering of snaps on the outside, but he works almost exclusively from the slot. Last season, for example, seven of Welker's 10 scoring receptions came on plays in which he started in the slot. And a look at the game video shows just over 50 of Welker's 73 receptions last season as well as almost 700 of his 778 receiving yards came on plays in which he was lined up in the slot. So, if Welker misses any significant time, it will take some adjustment in the team's offense.

"We're able to move pieces around and still do a lot of the same things that we've done," Gase said. "We don't really teach by position, so everybody can move in and out."

Sanders would certainly get more work as a slot receiver, as would tight end Jacob Tamme, but at varying points in training camp the Broncos have given all of their receivers some routes from the slot. Tamme gives the Broncos the option of sticking to a three-wide concept with a little more size in the formation. It's a formation that, at times, forces defenses to go a little bigger because the Broncos are in a two-tight end look.

The Broncos will also use rookie Cody Latimer, especially in some of their red zone packages, because of Latimer's size and ability to win the ball in contested situations -- "I felt like that was a strength of mine in college and want it to be in the NFL," he said. Whatever the personnel, the Broncos won't dial back how much, or where, they throw the ball. They'd certainly like to have Welker in the lineup, but believe they have insurance for the loss if they don't.

"If he's not there Week 1, then guess what? Other guys have to come in and step up," Sanders said. "Guys like myself, Demaryius Thomas, everyone has to come together and make this team better and it really doesn't matter who's on the field. ... We work our butt off and we have Peyton Manning as our quarterback, so everything is looking really good. Wes will be back and strong."
TEMPE, Ariz. -- A day after Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett had surgery to repair his right ACL, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said the three-time Pro Bowler was doing well.

The surgery "went great," Arians said.

"He was in really good spirits. Texted him back and forth, and he's anxious to get back."

Dockett's surgery was done by Dr. James Andrews at his office outside Pensacola, Florida. Dockett will stay in Florida for the next five days, Arians said, to begin rehab and then return to Arizona.

Last week, Arians said he wants Dockett to have a presence in the locker room and on the sideline during games while he rehabs, so his leadership and spirit continues to permeate through the team. Arizona opens the season against San Diego on "Monday Night Football" on Sept. 8.

The surgery came one week after Dockett tore his ACL during a practice on Aug. 18 at University of Phoenix Stadium. Dockett got hurt while rushing the passer during an 11-on-11 period but Arians had said it was a non-contact injury.

Doctors didn't find any other issues with Dockett's knee. It was the first major injury of his career.

"It was a clean surgery," Arians said. "They're very pleased with it."

Phillip Thomas to visit doctor

August, 26, 2014
Aug 26
ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins safety Phillip Thomas will visit Dr. James Anderson in North Carolina to see if he can determine the cause of Thomas' latest soreness.

Anderson performed the original Lisfranc surgery on Thomas last summer. Thomas, who missed two weeks with a hamstring injury, now is sidelined because of soreness in his left foot -- the same one that needed surgery.

“We’re going through all the avenues to make sure he gets checked out the right way,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said.

Thomas won’t play in Thursday’s preseason finale at Tampa Bay. He’s become a more important player with Brandon Meriweather suspended for the first two games. The Redskins likely would start Bacarri Rambo with Thomas out -- and might have done so anyway.

The Redskins also used corner E.J. Biggers at safety at times last season and could do so now in certain packages.

Thomas' injury also makes this week's cuts interesting. If he won't be ready for the opener, the Redskins might have to keep an extra safety for a couple weeks. They will have a roster exemption for Meriweather. But it could mean one of the young safeties, Trenton Robinson and Akeem Davis, makes the roster.

Sio Moore returns to practice

August, 26, 2014
Aug 26
[+] EnlargeSio Moore
AP Photo/Morry GashThe Raiders' Sio Moore returned to practice Tuesday, four days after being taken off the field on a stretcher.

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Oakland Raiders linebacker Sio Moore returned to practice Tuesday, four days after being taken off the field in Green Bay on a stretcher.

Moore, a second-year starting weakside linebacker, was taken to a Green Bay hospital but flew home with the team. He was diagnosed with a neck strain. It is not known if Moore will play Thursday against Seattle in the preseason finale or if the Raiders will wait until the regular-season opener at the New York Jets on Sept. 7 to get him back on the field.

"He moved around some out there," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said of Moore. "He is still not 100 percent."

Meanwhile, as expected, starting quarterback Matt Schaub missed his third straight day of practice with elbow soreness. Allen and Schaub called the issue minor, and they both expect Schaub to play against the Jets.

Allen said Schaub will not play Thursday. Rookie Derek Carr will start in his place.

Schaub threw on the side Tuesday for the first time since the injury, which Allen called a "good sign."

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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers reached an injury settlement with rookie tight end Colt Lyerla on Tuesday and waived him off injured reserve.

The settlement will pay Lyerla through Week 8 of the regular season, his agent Vinnie Porter said, and also allows him the opportunity to return to the NFL this season. Had he spent the entire year on injured reserve, he would have had no chance to play until 2015 but would have been able to attend meetings and other functions with the Packers.

Now, the Packers cannot bring him back until after Week 14 because NFL rules state a player who reaches an injury settlement can't return to his old team until six weeks after the settlement expires. Any other team could sign him to the roster or practice squad after Week 8.

"They said they didn't think injured reserve and sitting out a whole other year would be the best thing for him," Porter said. "This allows them to bring him back later this year. It also allows other teams to do the same, but they're willing to take the risk."

The Packers were the only team willing to take a chance on Lyerla after his college career ended prematurely last fall, when he left the University of Oregon in midseason. He subsequently got into legal trouble, which further hurt his standing with NFL teams.

After going undrafted and unsigned in free agency immediately following the draft, Lyerla came to Green Bay on a tryout basis for their rookie minicamp. They signed him the following week.

It took a while for the talented, athletic tight end to show much and when he did, he got hurt. He tore the medial collateral and posterior collateral ligaments in his right knee while trying to hurdle a defender in practice on Aug. 2. Porter said the injury will not require surgery.

"They definitely said nothing but good things about him," Porter said. "He had a little rust from not playing in a while, but he was in shape and showed how talented he is. They said all good things, so hopefully they do [bring him back]."
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears held five players out of their final full practice before Thursday’s preseason finale in Cleveland: safety Ryan Mundy, offensive lineman Brian de la Puente, wide receiver Marquess Wilson, fullback Tony Fiammetta and safety Chris Conte.

Cornerback Isaiah Frey also missed the workout due to a sore hamstring, but Frey and guard James Brown were later waived to trim the Bears’ active roster down to 75 active players before the 3 p.m. CT deadline.

Generally speaking, the first-team plays very little, if at all, in the fourth preseason game.

However, an argument can be made that certain veterans would benefit from some playing time versus the Browns. Among that group is Jordan Mills. A foot injury forced the starting right tackle to miss the first three preseason games. Mills did return to practice on a full-go basis on Monday and probably would relish the opportunity to knock off some of the rust before the regular-season opener against Buffalo.

“That’s a good question,” Bears head coach Marc Trestman said regarding Mills’ availability. “He did practice today. I haven’t talked to the trainers about that situation. We really haven’t made any decisions on those types of situations. We’re still working on who is going to play and who is not. But Jordan did practice today, which was a good thing.”

Veteran offensive lineman Eben Britton also practiced on Tuesday and should make his preseason debut in Cleveland, although his roster spot is far from assured. Britton's hamstring injury early in camp opened the door for Michael Ola and Dennis Roland to impress the coaching staff and potentially earn a spot on the final 53-man roster.

Chiefs' Joe Mays likely out 6 weeks

August, 26, 2014
Aug 26
[+] EnlargeJoe Mays
Denny Medley/USA TODAY SportsChiefs linebacker Joe Mays is expected to be sidelined for six weeks after having wrist surgery.

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Joe Mays is expected to miss at least six weeks after having surgery on his wrist, a league source told ESPN's Adam Caplan.

Mays, who was expected to start alongside Derrick Johnson at inside linebacker, is scheduled to have a follow-up examination late next week.

Mays signed a two-year, $6 million contract with the Chiefs in the offseason, and he was being counted on to replace the departed Akeem Jordan. Mays had been having a productive training camp as a run-stuffing linebacker who would sub out in obvious passing situations.

The Chiefs were already dealing with a rash of injuries.

The injury to Mays should create playing time for James-Michael Johnson, who appeared in all 16 games for the Chiefs last season, and Josh Mauga, a veteran who has moved past second-year pro Nico Johnson on the depth chart after signing at the start of training camp.

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