A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals WR, may not return from toe injury until December

CINCINNATI — It’s looking likely that Bengals wideout A.J. Green could be out until at least December with a toe injury, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Green avoided surgery on the toe he injured against the Buccaneers prior to the Bengals bye week, however, the initial prediction was that he would be out at least two games. An early December return would have him missing three games.

If Green returns at the beginning of December, he would miss games against the Saints, Ravens and Browns.

Green was in a walking boot on Friday, although he also took it off and walked around without it. He declined to speak to reporters until he makes his return.

Green leads the Bengals with 687 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns. He is inactive for Sunday’s game against the Saints, which is his first game out since he tore his hamstring in 2016.

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Status of Jacksonville Jaguars’ A.J. Bouye unclear after talk of injury

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It appears the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to be without one of their top defensive players for Sunday’s game at Indianapolis — but they may be betting their top offensive player back, too.

Cornerback A.J. Bouye politely declined an interview request on Wednesday by saying he wasn’t going to play against the Colts because of his calf injury. Bouye was hurt against Houston on Oct. 20 and missed the Jaguars’ game against Philadelphia in London the following week.

However, coach Doug Marrone said “that’s news to me” when told of Bouye’s comment before the Jaguars hit the practice field.

“I guess I’ll have to talk to him about that,” Marrone said. “That’s not what the trainer told me. He did say that? OK, we will take care of that. That’s not been told to me by the trainer. That’s the truth.”

Bouye is tied for the team lead with five pass breakups and has one interception. He led the Jaguars with 18 pass breakups and six interceptions last season, which earned him a spot in the Pro Bowl and on the All-Pro second team.

Marrone did get some good news on Wednesday, though, because running back Leonard Fournette practiced fully for the first time since he aggravated his right hamstring injury in Week 4. Marrone did not say whether that meant Fournette would play against Indianapolis, but it’s clearly a good sign for the player around which the Jaguars built the offense.

Marrone said the team will not limit Fournette if he is able to play.

“We are full-boring everybody,” Marrone said. “Once a guy is ready to play, that has to be our expectation. I think you get into trouble when you put a player on the field and he is not able to live up to the expectation that you have for him meaning that all of a sudden now if something happens, it’s kind of like a built-in excuse. That’s the way I’ve always viewed it. I have always told players [if someone says], ‘I’m going to go out there, but I don’t feel like whatever …’ What does that mean? If they say, ‘I’m not 100 percent, I can’t do what’s expected of me.’ Well, then, I can’t put him on the field.”

Fournette originally hurt his right hamstring late in the first half of the season opener against the New York Giants and missed the next two games. He returned against the New York Jets in Week 4 and ran 11 times for 30 yards and caught one pass for 5 yards before aggravating the injury.

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Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green is fine and healing from hip issue

CINCINNATI — Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said A.J. Green is fine after missing the second half of Sunday’s loss to the Panthers with a hip issue.

Green landed hard on his hip while trying to catch a pass and eventually went to the sidelines while clearly in pain. He did not return to the game, and watched the rest of the contest while sitting on a cooler.

Lewis said he thought Green may have slightly re-aggravated an old injury from college, but has been on the mend. Lewis said he didn’t exactly know what was wrong during the game because Green said there was pain in both hips and also pain in his shoulder after he landed on it awkwardly.

“He seemed to come around very quickly with the anti-inflammatories. We’re very fortunate with that,” Lewis said.

Green was in pads during the portion of Wednesday’s practice open to the media, but went to the rehab field with Joe Mixon after the team was done stretching.

Green said after the game that he thought he would be able to go back in. He initially jogged off but couldn’t shake off the pain. Green said he felt better afterward and should be ready to go next week.

“I just came down on my hip and I guess my two bones just hit. Just another bruise. I should be fine,” he said on Sunday. “At first I didn’t feel anything. I just thought the air got knocked out of me. Then I got up and I was like, ‘Oh, it hurts a little bit.’ I didn’t feel anything pop or anything like that. So I should be fine.”

He added: “I hurt it as soon as I hit the ground. I just fell awkwardly. I did the same thing in college.”

Mixon and Billy Price are also on the mend. Mixon had a procedure done after the Ravens game to remove loose particles in his knee, but had progressed to doing some jogging on the side by Friday. He was in attendance during Wednesday’s practice but was not dressed out, and went to the rehab field.

Price, who has a foot injury, is still in a walking boot, but was able to ride the stationary bike during the open portion of Wednesday’s practice.

“Joe’s doing great, Lewis said. “We’re very happy and pleased with he and Billy’s progress. Very positive reports. And we have a chance to have all hands on deck here soon, and that’s exciting. But Joe’s youth and everything I think is playing a big part. I think Billy’s youth is playing a big part. We’ll keep the glass half full and keep moving on.”

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Buffalo Bills trade AJ McCarron to Oakland Raiders

The Buffalo Bills traded quarterback AJ McCarron to the Oakland Raiders for a 2019 fifth-round draft pick on Saturday.

The Raiders, who will owe McCarron his fully guaranteed, $900,000 base salary this season, also waived quarterback Connor Cook on Saturday.

In March, the Bills signed the 27-year-old McCarron to a two-year, $10 million contract, which included a $4 million signing bonus, after trading starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor to the Browns.

McCarron can also earn an additional $4.5 million this season in playing-time incentives from the Raiders.

The Bills now are down to a choice between Nathan Peterman and rookie Josh Allen to be the team’s starting quarterback for Week 1.

Peterman completed 33 of his 41 passes this preseason for 431 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Allen completed 24 of 44 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns.

If the Raiders choose to keep him next season, McCarron will earn a $1.9 million base salary that becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2019 league year, as well as a $3 million roster bonus that is due on the third day of the league year.

McCarron’s departure from Buffalo does not come as a surprise after the fifth-year quarterback played Buffalo’s entire preseason finale, as Peterman and Allen were among a group of starters and core players who did not play that game.

However, coach Sean McDermott told reporters that McCarron remained in the mix to start in Week 1 after he led Buffalo on four touchdown drives in the fourth quarter for a 28-27 win Thursday over the Chicago Bears.

“It’s just one of those feelings you can’t explain,” McCarron told reporters, according to The Buffalo News. “First I said, ‘Watch this, we’re going to go down and win. You’re going to remember this for a long time. This is going to be legendary for us, our group.’

“Final game together, it’s part of the business not knowing who’s here tomorrow and what not. I’m just super proud of the guys. That was just awesome to battle with them. Probably the most fun I’ve ever had.”

McCarron was 13-of-34 for 156 yards and three touchdown passes in the win against the Bears. He also threw two interceptions and rushed for 54 yards — and a touchdown — on six carries.

McCarron went wire-to-wire in the preseason finale after he did not play in the Bills’ third preseason game. He suffered a right shoulder injury on Aug. 17 against the Cleveland Browns, when he completed 3 of 6 passes for 12 yards.

In the Bills’ preseason opener, McCarron led the second-team offense and finished 7-of-10 passing for 116 yards.

Peterman and McCarron alternated practices leading the first-team offense through spring practices and into training camp until McCarron’s injury caused Allen to be elevated in the quarterback rotation.

The Bills will take a $2 million dead-money hit against each of their 2018 and 2019 salary caps as a result of trading McCarron.

The Cincinnati Bengals selected McCarron in the fifth round of the 2014 draft from Alabama. He started the final three games of the 2015 regular season, as well as an AFC wild-card playoff loss in place of an injured Andy Dalton.

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Buffalo Bills discuss signing another QB as AJ McCarron remains sidelined

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott said Monday that he and general manager Brandon Beane have discussed the possibility of signing another quarterback as AJ McCarron remains out of practice because of a right shoulder injury.

McDermott said Sunday that McCarron was receiving a second opinion on his shoulder after initial tests were “not totally conclusive.” One day later, McDermott said there was “nothing really new” about McCarron’s health.

“Like always, [Beane] is always looking at our situation and what we may need to do for not only the long term, but the short term in this case,” McDermott said Monday. “We’ll see.”

The Bills continued to rotate quarterback reps in Monday’s practice, with rookie Josh Allen leading the first-team offense after Nathan Peterman led that group Sunday. McDermott has yet to name a starter for next Sunday’s preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

McDermott stressed on Monday that Allen taking first-team reps is simply part of the rotation.

“We’re staying with the rotation,” McDermott said. “Nate had the one’s [Sunday], Josh will have them [Monday]. We’re just with the rotation at this point.”

McDermott said Sunday that if McCarron is healthy, the Bills will pick up “where [they] left off” with a three-way quarterback competition between McCarron, Peterman and Allen.

Peterman started the preseason opener and played almost the entire second half of the Bills’ second preseason game Friday. He has completed 17 of 20 passes this preseason for 231 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

McCarron played in the second quarter of the Bills’ first preseason game and started the team’s second game. He has completed 10 of 16 passes this preseason for 128 yards.

Allen led the Bills for the second half of the first preseason game and played mostly in the second quarter of Friday’s game. He has completed 18 of 32 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns.

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AJ McCarron of Buffalo Bills getting second opinion on shoulder

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills quarterback AJ McCarron is seeking a second opinion on his injured right shoulder after initial tests were “not totally conclusive,” coach Sean McDermott said Sunday.

The Buffalo News previously reported McCarron suffered a hairline fracture in his collarbone during Friday’s preseason game against the Cleveland Browns.

McDermott said the team will “pick up where [it] left off” with its three-way quarterback competition if McCarron is healthy. McCarron’s injury could leave Nathan Peterman and rookie Josh Allen as the Bills’ only healthy quarterbacks for next Sunday’s preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

McCarron started Friday’s game and completed 3 of 6 passes for 12 yards. He was sacked once in the first quarter but remained in the game until early in the second. In four offensive possessions Friday with McCarron at quarterback, the Bills’ first-team offense gained 7 yards and did not earn a first down.

McDermott also said Sunday that defensive tackle Kyle Williams is week-to-week with a knee injury suffered in Friday’s game. Williams was spotted by reporters in a full-length brace on his right leg leaving the locker room.

Backup punter Cory Carter suffered a torn ACL in Friday’s game and is out for the season, McDermott said.

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AJ McCarron of Buffalo Bills suffers right collarbone fracture

Buffalo Bills quarterback AJ McCarron suffered a hairline fracture to his right collarbone in Friday’s preseason game against the Cleveland Browns, the Buffalo News has reported.

McCarron started the game and completed 3 of 6 passes for 12 yards. He was sacked once in the first quarter but remained in the game until early in the second.

In four offensive possessions Friday with McCarron at quarterback, the Bills’ first-team offense gained a net total of 7 yards and did not gain a first down.

“All I really know right now is that he hurt his right shoulder,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. “He’ll have some more tests when we get back.”

McCarron was replaced by rookie first-round pick Josh Allen, who led the Bills’ first-team offense on an 80-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter. Allen played three possessions, completing 9 of 13 passes for 60 yards and a 2-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Rod Streater. He was replaced by Nathan Peterman in the third quarter. Buffalo won 19-17.

Buffalo now is tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for worst Super Bowl odds (200-1) at Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.

The Bills have rotated their quarterbacks throughout training camp and the preseason as part of a three-way competition for the starting job. Peterman started the preseason opener before being replaced in that game by McCarron, who went 7-of-10 passing for 116 yards. Peterman and McCarron have generally split first-team snaps in practice.

McCarron signed a two-year, $10 million contract with Buffalo in March after four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. The deal included a $4 million signing bonus, a fully guaranteed $900,000 base salary in 2018 and had $1.1 million of his 2019 base salary guaranteed for injury.

Meanwhile, Allen looked good in a performance the Bills may need more of sooner than expected.

“Tonight we wanted to see him in the second quarter and look at him with increased talent level on the other side of the ball and on our side of the ball,” McDermott said. “I thought he did some good things.”

On his first drive of the game with Bills trailing 7-0 and the offense having done nothing against the first-string defense of the Browns, Allen completed 4 of 6 passes for 29 yards and a touchdown. Following a rocky start in which he left Kelvin Benjamin out to dry on a play over the middle, the rookie settled in and hit four of his next five passes.

On third-and-goal from the 2, Allen looked more like the rookie on the other sideline, Baker Mayfield, as he eluded pressure and created a passing lane for a touchdown toss to Streater for the Bills’ first points of the night.

“That’s certainly one of his strengths in terms of the skill set that he brings to the table, we saw that in college,” McDermott said. “But at the end of the day, you have to win from the pocket and I thought he made some good throws from the pocket tonight.”

The next drive for Allen started on the Browns’ 41 with just 1:40 left in the first half after a 39-yard punt return by Marcus Murphy. Allen ran the 2-minute offense effectively, leading to a field goal and a 10-7 halftime lead. On the drive, Allen showcased his feet as much as his huge arm.

“It’s a continuing struggle for quarterbacks when you feel pressure breaking down in the pocket and not trying to get out too fast and knowing when the right time is,” Allen said. “That just kind of comes with game reps.”

While McDermott continued to say the staff would have to “look at the tape” before making any evaluations at the quarterback position, especially if the McCarron injury is indeed a fracture, he did say the Bills like what they see in Allen.

“So far overall I would say he has been pretty steady, mentally, and that’s a great quality,” McDermott said. “I think the guys appreciate that. For a rookie to have that quality is important. The mental toughness element if you will that is so important to manage the highs and lows of life in the NFL.”

Information from ESPN contributor Ryan Isley was used in this report.>

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Former Tennessee Volunteers LB A.J. Johnson signs with Denver Broncos following rape acquittal

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos signed linebacker A.J. Johnson on Monday, less than three weeks after Johnson was acquitted of aggravated rape charges on July 27.

Johnson, who last played in a game in 2014 at the University of Tennessee, was added to the Broncos roster on Monday and participated in the team’s afternoon practice. He was suspended from the Tennessee football team in November 2014 after rape charges were filed against him and his former Vols teammate Michael Williams.

Johnson was not selected in the 2015 NFL draft and has not played since.

“A.J. hasn’t had the opportunity to play football for the last three years while resolving a serious legal matter,” Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway said in a statement. “We’ve had several conversations with him since he’s been cleared and have become very familiar with his background and character. Our organization is confident A.J. is ready to move forward and resume his playing career.”

The Broncos released linebacker Stansly Maponga to make room for Johnson on the roster.

“It was a three-year legal battle for this young man, he was cleared in June,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph said after Monday’s practice. “He wants to play football again. We talked to a lot of his coaches … everyone spoke highly of him, so we’ll see … we’ll see how he fits in.”

Johnson and Williams were indicted in February 2015 after a woman said both men raped her during a party at Johnson’s apartment in the early morning hours of Nov. 16, 2014. Johnson and Williams were suspended from the team less than 48 hours after the party and never played for Tennessee again.

Johnson was a three-time All-SEC selection from 2011-14. He was a four-year starter in Knoxville whose 425 tackles ran second among any Volunteer since the school started keeping track of the statistic in 1970.

In 46 career games at Tennessee, he had 30½ tackles for loss, three sacks, an interception, 11 pass breakups, three forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. He posted double digits in tackles 23 times.

After a jury of seven women and five men found Johnson and Williams not guilty, Johnson said, “I just knew God was going to take care of it.”

The Broncos listed the 6-foot-2 Johnson at 243 pounds, but he said at his trial last month that he weighs 255 as he sought to revive his dream of playing in the NFL.

“We’ll see, it’s been three years since he’s actually played football,” Joseph said. “At that time three years ago, he was a serious prospect … we’ll see, he’s been here for three or four hours.”

First-year Broncos wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni was on the Tennessee coaching staff during Johnson’s time at the school. Joseph’s cousin, Terry Joseph, was also an assistant coach on that Tennessee staff.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Buffalo Bills QBs AJ McCarron, Nathan Peterman banged up late in practice

PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills quarterbacks AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman both appeared to be banged up late in Sunday’s practice.

McCarron was seen limping after a play during an 11-on-11 drill ended in what would have been a sack. The play was whistled dead because defenders are not allowed to make contact with quarterbacks during practice.

Athletic trainers examined McCarron’s lower right leg before he returned to participate in another 11-on-11 drill later in practice. McCarron again spoke to a trainer after that drill, slamming his helmet down in apparent frustration.

Peterman appeared to be hurt on his final play during a live-action drill at the goal line to end practice. After being tripped while attempting a handoff and falling on his right arm, Peterman spoke to trainers and later was seen testing his throwing arm.

Peterman, who started the Bills’ preseason opener Thursday, led the first-team offense Sunday as part of a rotation between him and McCarron, who led the first-team offense in practice Friday. Rookie Josh Allen also saw occasional practice time Sunday with the first and second teams.

The Bills return to practice Monday in advance of their next preseason game, Friday against the Cleveland Browns. Coach Sean McDermott declined Sunday to name a starting quarterback for that game.

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A.J. Francis of New York Giants — Mom’s ashes spilled by TSA

New York Giants defensive lineman A.J. Francis went on a Twitter tirade Monday after claiming that the Transportation Security Administration went through his suitcase and left open an urn carrying his mother’s ashes.

Carrie Leanne Francis died on June 26 at 46 years old, according to a post on her son’s Instagram account. A.J. Francis posted a picture Monday of his clothes covered with what appeared to be ashes after returning from a week in Arkansas and California celebrating the life of his mother.

“Hey you pieces of s**** at @TSA next time you a******* feel the need to go thru my mother’s ashes for no reason, make sure you close it back so her remains aren’t spilled on all my clothes… the least you pieces of garbage can do is your f****** job,” he said in a tweet.

AskTSA, the Twitter service arm for TSA, responded to Francis’ complaints with an explanation, apology and condolences.

Francis did not accept their apology. Instead, he again cursed at the agency, before telling several media outlets he wasn’t commenting on the situation.

Francis, 28, played six games last season for the Washington Redskins, where he recorded 18 tackles. He has previously spent time with the Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks.

The University of Maryland product spent the past two years with the Redskins. He signed as a free agent with the Giants earlier this year.

Giants veterans are due to report to training camp on July 25.

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