2019-08-15

Landry Jones Signs With XFL

Photo Courtesy: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Former Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones became the first player to sign with the XFL, the league announced on Thursday.

“We're excited to welcome Landry as our first player and first quarterback,” XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck released in a statement.

Jones, 30-years-old, spent six seasons with Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars. He will likely become the starting quarterback for one of eight franchises in the league. The XFL will hold their inaugural draft in October ahead of their spring 2020 kickoff date.

“I’m looking forward to joining the XFL and playing the game I love,” said Jones. “I can’t wait to suit-up.”

Earlier this spring, Jones signed as free agent with Oakland Raiders before being cut by the team. In June, Jones joined dozens of prospective players to workout for the XFL's first annual “Summer Showcase Workout” in Dallas.

“He's an accomplished athlete with outstanding college credentials and pro experience, and his heart and desire to play football epitomizes the type of individual we want in the XFL,” said Luck.

At Oklahoma, Jones became the Big 12 all-time career passing yards leader throwing over 16,646 yds.

Jones will join former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops in XFL. Stoops, head coach and General Manager of the Dallas XFL franchise, was Luck's first head coaching hire as Commissioner.

The XFL kickoffs in spring of 2020.


2019-08-10

Lane Johnson To Miss Remainder Of Preseason

Photo Courtesy: Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports
Philadelphia Eagles tackle Lane Johnson will miss the remainder of the preseason, the team announced.

Johnson, a two-time Pro Bowler, is listed as week-to-week on the team's injury report after suffering  a minor knee injury. Johnson is expected to be available for the season opener against Washington Redskins on September 8.

Johnson was at Eagles practice wearing a brace on his knee after missing the preseason opener against Tennessee Titans.

Last season, Johnson established himself among thetop right tackles in the league. Johnson is ranked as 9th best offensive tackle, according to Pro Football Focus grading. An All-American while at Oklahoma, Johnson is ranked in top-5 in category of run blocking by tackles, according PFF metrics.

In 2016, Johnson signed a 5-year, $56M contract, restructuring his previous contract that will keep him in Philadelphia through 2021.

Damien Williams Loses Starting Job Following Injury

Photo Courtesy: Charlie Riede/AP 
Damien Williams has loss his role as featured back in Kansas City, head coach Andy Reid announced. Reid says the Chiefs' high-octane offense led by reigning league MVP Patrick Mahomes will use the running back by committee approach, after previously naming Williams starting running back in June.

However, Reid has grown frustrated with Williams' recovery from a hamstring injury suffered early in training camp. Williams returned to practice on Wednesday after being sidelined for nearly two weeks.

Williams will share the workload with six-year veteran Carlos Hyde and second-year back Darrel Williams.

"I did a little bit of that back when I was in Philadelphia," Reid told Sirius XM NFL Radio. "Kind of a running back by committee deal and we had some success with it. We'll do that here... They all have their strengths and we'll try to exploit their strengths there."



Williams started the final three games for the Chiefs following Kareem Hunt’s dismissal.

Prior to arriving in Kansas City, Williams had a reserve role with Miami Dolphins averaging 3.9 per rush. In 2018, Williams had his best year of production rushing for career-high yards and 5.1 yards per rush.

Williams will not play in Chiefs' preseason opener against Cincinnati.


2019-08-09

Report: Williams "Not Coming Back" To Washington

Photo Courtesy: Mark Tenally/AP
All-Pro Trent Williams' tenure with the Washington Redskins is all but officially over, according to NBC Sports Washington.

"He's not coming back. Period," NBC Sports Washington reports, citing an unnamed source connected to Williams. Williams, the 4th overall pick in 2010 NFL Draft, has earned over $100M throughout his career in Washington. The team could fine Williams up to $500,000 for missed practices, he reportedly called it “funny.”

People within Williams' circle say he is reportedly unafraid to continue his holdout into the regular season. They called him ”unconcerned” about holding out beyond the September 8th season-opener, making the contract not fully vested.

At first, it was believed that Williams, a 7-time Pro Bowler, chief concern was an extension with two-years remaining on his contract to align him with salaries of other tackles. However, Williams underwent a medical procedure to remain a tumor on his scalp after years of concern.

Williams and his relationship with Washington has been described as “fractured,” he has reportedly lost trust in the team's and General Manager Bruce Allen. The report, however, states sources within the organization believe it’s about money. The unnamed sources close to Williams say it would require a new deal.

Washington opens the regular season at Philadelphia September 8.

Baker Mayfield Throws Perfect QB Rating In Preseason Opener

Photo Courtesy: David Richard
Cleveland Browns got the preseason underway at the Dawg Pound for one of most anticipated seasons.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield’s lone drive resulted in 24-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Rashard Huggins with 2:13 remaining in the first quarter. Mayfield was 5 of 6 for 77 yards throwing a perfect 158.3 rating in the 33-10 victory over Washington Redskins.

The scripted opening drive played out with precision, head coach Freddie Kitchens wanted to work on their two-minute drill. Mayfield was 5 of 5 in the hurry up offense --completing short, midrange throws.

Mayfield asked about executing their two minute drill, “It was a little over two minutes so not exactly," said following the game.

Kitchens was pleased with Mayfield and Browns overall performance in the opening drive.

“It was a good drive," Kitchens said, in postgame press conference. “We didn’t have a third down. We were working our two-minute offense. That was what they were supposed to do. They’re supposed to get completions and big chunk plays. When we hand the ball off, we’re supposed to block for Nick. We did a good job outside, inside and everywhere. It was a really nice first drive.”

Mayfield, the 2017 Heisman Trophy, has earned the respect of Longhorns' great Colt McCoy.

“Baker’s done a great job,” McCoy told Steve Doerschuk of Canton Repository. “He did great last year, and he looked good tonight. He’s got a lot of talent around him. I know the Browns are fired up. They’ll be fun to watch.”

McCoy, 33, says the league has changed since being selected in third round of 2010 NFL Draft.

“Now you look across the league and there are a lot of guys who are playmakers and leaders and doing awesome stuff. Baker’s one of ’em. For me ... I’m thankful to have hung on this long”
Browns play Indianapolis Colts in their second preseason game next Saturday.

Quarterback Kyler Murray Shines In Preseason Debut

Photo Courtesy: Ross D. Franklin/AP
Kyler Murray played exceptionally well in his debut preseason game. The rookie started at quarterback playing one series of downs for the Cardinals throwing 6-of-7 for 44 yards.

"I thought it was smooth. I was anxious to get out there, move around and throw it a little bit," Murray said in the press conference, following 17-13 win over Los Angeles Chargers.

Murray's first snap, he took over the offense from their own two in shotgun formation completing a 7-yard pass from back of the endzone to WR Damiere Byrd.

"I was happy the defense got a stop, but I was like, 'Of course, this is the way it starts at the 2-yard-line,'" Murray said. "But at that time, I mean, my mindset was to go score. Unfortunately we didn't."

Murray in ten snaps had six completions under 8 yards, he avoided mistakes throwing no interceptions only getting sacked once after the pocket collapsed.



“I think he made quick decisions," coach Kliff Kingsbury said via AZCardinals.com. He added that Murray "did a nice job tonight of putting it on the money."

Murray displayed mobility and on-field awareness leaving the pocket on two occasions. He unofficially completed both passes having one negated when WR Keesean Johnson stepped out of bounds prior to the catch.
"It was tough tonight," Murray said. "Tonight was tough. I thought I was going to get at least two drives. I mean, it is what it is. He did say we might play a little bit more next week, so we'll see however long that is. But I mean, I understand that we're just getting ready for the regular season."

Murray didn’t have a set number of plays entering the game, Kingsbury said.  He wanted his rookie quarterback to leave the field feeling good.



Kingsbury expects Murray will "a little bit longer,” when Cardinals host Oakland Raiders Thursday on ESPN.

2019-08-07

Kenny Stills Responds To Critic Blaming Athletes For Mass Shootings

Photo Courtesy: Mark Brown/Getty Images
An Ohio state representative posted on Facebook blamed “professional athletes who hate our flag and National Anthem,” following the shooting massacres in El Paso, Texas, Dayton, Ohio, that killed over 30 last weekend.

Candice Keller, an Ohio state representative, blamed marijuana, video games and those who a have “hatred for our veterans, ” as contributors to mass killings.

Miami Dolphins WR Kenny Stills known for his silent protest against social injustice commented following Monday’s practice. "I'd love to have a conversation with her, " Stills told Hal Habib of Palm Beach Post. Stills, who’s knelt during the Anthem the past three seasons, plans to continue into the 2019 season.

“Just hear what she has to say and then in the kindest way possible, with the most love and the most empathy that I have, try and explain to her why I do what I do," Stills said. "And show her pictures and just get her to understand, 'Hey, everything that I do is about bringing people together and trying to make this country a better place and leave it better than I found it.' 
"That's what I wake up to do every day and none of the things that she said in that (post) is making us any better. Just try to encourage her to think about the stuff that she puts out there and understand that hate and fear aren't going to get us anywhere."

Stills is hopeful his approach of listening and explaining himself could change Keller's stance.

“I've had a lot more successful conversations with people on the other side than unsuccessful," Stills said.

On Wednesday, Stills created a stir critizing Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross after learning of plans to hold $250,000 fundraiser in The Hamptons headlined by President Donald Trump -- one of Stills’ chief critics.



Prior to learning of it, Stills commented on Trump: "I think people are learning from the President of the United States on how to just gather people and put people in groups so that you can kind of speak to certain groups of people and get them riled up.”

In offseason, Dolphins rejected any idea of trading or releasing him, according to Joe Schad of Palm Beach Post.

Running Back Rodney Anderson Cleared To Practice

Photo Courtesy: Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press
Cincinnati Bengals running back Rodney Anderson passed a physical and cleared to practice at training camp, the team announced on Wednesday.

Anderson, who suffered a torn ACL in Oklahoma's third game against UCLA, was hopeful to return sometime in training camp avoiding the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.  “He has done a great job of staying engaged with everything we’re doing,” Bengals' running back coach Jamel Singleton told Jay Morrison of The Athletic.

The sixth-round pick from Katy, TX has unquestionable talent – rushing for 13 touchdowns and 1,161 yards, averaging 6.2 yards per carry in 2017. However, it was Anderson's only healthy season in three seasons at Oklahoma.

Singleton praised Anderson’s film study, involvement in team meetings while being limited in individual drills at camp.

“That’s one thing I’ve really liked about it. It’s easy for a guy who’s not practicing, who’s injured, to kind of not pay attention as much. But he’s been very involved in meetings, really studies hard and we get little walk-throughs in out here when we can. He’s doing all that stuff well. But until he steps on the field in practices, we really won’t know.
“It’s been a while since he played football. We knew he had the injury, but the training staff has done a great job to try to get him healthy and get him to a spot where he can start participating in activities. Really it’s going to be his body that tells him when he’s ready to go. And when he is, we’ll be able to answer a lot more questions.”

Cincinnati opens the regular season at Seattle September 8.

2019-08-06

NY Giants Will Walk 'Fine Line' With Sterling Shepard

Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke
Photo Courtesy: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke/Newsday
New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmer said following Monday's practice they will walk a ‘fine line' while Sterling Shepard recovers from a fractured thumb.

“Any time we’re practicing, we have to be smart,” Shurmur told Newsday's Tom Rock. “That’s the fine line between trying to get your work in and being smart.”

Shepard, who signed a 4-year, $41M contract in the offseason, has been catching passes less two weeks removed from suffering the injury in the first practice of camp. Shepard has been wearing a yellow protective jersey, at times, forgetting it for team drills.

“The fact that he’s wearing a yellow jersey should alert you to the fact that you don’t touch him,” said Shurmur.

 “At this point, there have been a couple of times where he was tested, but he’s fine .  .  . He’s out there running routes. I think because of what it takes to play, he’s able to do those things.”

2019-08-05

Mayfield Looks Forward to Film Study; Seibert Could Be Cut?

Photo Courtesy: Ron Schwane/Associated Press 
Cleveland Browns held their “Orange and Brown” scrimmage on Saturday.

A crowd of 37,686 fans gathered to watch quarterback Baker Mayfield, WR Odell Beckham Jr. in their first appearance together at the Dawg Pound. "It feels good to be back here,” Mayfield said, following the scrimmage.

To the surprise of teammates and fans -- Mayfield wore a helmet with a dark visor.

"People were congratulating me for finally moving to the visor gang, but I liked it,’’ Mayfield said. "It didn't really bother my game, I felt like I was in a different realm inside there. It was dark but it wasn't too dark and I felt more focused. I might stick with it, we'll see.’’

Once underway, the first-team offense failed to reach the endzone on a pair of drives from the 30. The highly anticipated Mayfield-Beckham combo connected in a pass over the middle for 19 yards leading to a field goal.

Mayfield said following the scrimmage, he looks forward to studying film, "We will go back and watch this tape. It is never as good as it seems and never as bad. We have to continue to work and be game ready by September.”

Kicker Austin Seibert was 3-for-5 in kicking drills missing from 43 and 46 yards. Kitchens didn’t dismiss the possibility of cutting the fifth-round pick. "We’re a long way from that,”Kitchens told Dan Labbe of Cleveland.com.

“I’m not trying to avoid your question. We truly are. What if the next one comes out tomorrow and the other one misses them all and the other one makes them? We are just strictly day by day until we have to decide.”

Cleveland opens the preseason hosting Washington on Thursday.