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After ugly loss to Saints, Washington Redskins face crucial week ahead – Washington Redskins Blog


NEW ORLEANS — The Washington Redskins went into their Monday night game against the New Orleans Saints with good vibes and an upbeat attitude. There was a quiet confidence.

They exited the 43-19 loss to New Orleans in silence, with a much different vibe, one that suggests this week and their next game against Carolina has turned into a crucial one for the franchise.

“Our whole team played poorly,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “That’s a reflection of myself. I think everybody in that locker room, hopefully, will say that they have to play better. I absolutely understand that coaches on this staff have to coach better.”

It’s not just about winning and contending in an NFC East that doesn’t look quite as tough as everyone thought it would be this season. At 2-2, the Redskins are in first place in the division, but with 12 games left, that’s meaningless. It’s about letting everyone know what’s acceptable. And their showing was anything but, coming off a bye, this is what they produced. It’s about continuing patterns for way too long for a starved fan base. Win games, get hopes up, suffer ugly loss.

It’s hard to imagine or remember a worse loss in the coach Jay Gruden era; not just by margin of victory, but for the team’s utter incompetence. They botched coverages — this continues a trend that shows no signs of ending — that led to two pass plays of at least 46 yards. They didn’t even throw to their best target, tight end Jordan Reed, until 5 minutes, 27 seconds remained in the third quarter. They committed dumb penalties — safety Montae Nicholson shoved a Saints player after a Ryan Kerrigan sack that would have forced a punt. Instead, it extended a drive that resulted in a touchdown.

After the drive, second-year defensive end Jonathan Allen was apparently getting on his teammates, letting him know their play was unacceptable. It’s great that a second-year guy did this; there needs to be a lot more of it from everyone in the organization, from coaches on down. If there aren’t enough players and coaches tired of the inconsistency, the breakdowns and losses will continue.

Quarterback Alex Smith was shaky all night, getting hit too often and not looking comfortable when he wasn’t being pressured. He missed open targets; he threw short of others. The coaching clearly wasn’t good enough, either. On a night when Drew Brees set the all-time record for passing yards, the Redskins were outclassed in every respect.

It doesn’t help the Redskins fan base that former quarterback Kirk Cousins has played well for Minnesota and former offensive coordinator Sean McVay is 5-0 with the Los Angeles Rams.

Meanwhile, cornerback Josh Norman — the highest paid player at his position — was benched to open the second half. Norman allowed a touchdown pass of 62 yards late in the first half when he appeared to be playing Cover 2 while the other defensive backs were in Cover 3, which would have had him covering deep. Two weeks ago against Green Bay, Norman did not play a quarters coverage properly, leading to another long score.

Monday, Norman was on the bench for the first series — only to watch rookie replacement Greg Stroman allow a 35-yard touchdown pass.

“There was an issue there,” Gruden said of Norman’s play late in the first half. “That’s one of the issues we’re talking about and that’s something that we have to get corrected. That can’t happen in pro football. You don’t see that happen in pro football. We’re together too long. We run the same coverage for too many times. We’ve got to coach that better. We’ve got to make sure that never happens again. That’s an absolute embarrassment.”

Norman said, “Coverage, man. We was blowing it all night. … As a fiery competitor you never want to come off, but whatever. I’ll roll with that because that’s the chain of command. He’s in charge. … End of the day I respect the head man and I’ve got to honor that and truly buy into what he wants.”

The Redskins finished the first quarter of the season with a 2-2 record. In this league, what looks true one week doesn’t always play out that way the next. The Redskins lost 44-16 in 2015 to Carolina only to win the following week — and eventually capture the NFC East. But it’ll be hard to shake the stink from this one; it’s probably good the Redskins have a short week.

The Redskins are 14-6-1 after a loss under Gruden. Washington has been resilient under him and that trait must reveal itself once more.

“It’s on to the next,” Redskins running back Adrian Peterson said. “This game doesn’t define our season. We just completed our first quarter of the season 2-2. It’s not bad at all. We’ll lick our wounds. … This is part of the NFL. It’s all about how you bounce back from adversity.”



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Jamal Adams, New York Jets safety, says defense wasn’t prepared to face Baker Mayfield


In what could be perceived as criticism of the coaching staff, New York Jets safety Jamal Adams said Tuesday the defense wasn’t prepared for rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield, who came off the bench on Thursday to spark the Cleveland Browns to their first win in 20 games.

“We had to be open to knowing that Baker could come in, but we were prepared for Tyrod,” Adams said during his weekly paid spot on WFAN radio in New York. “When Baker came in, obviously we didn’t have a game plan for him. But hats off to him. He came in, he definitely played lights out. They gained momentum, and we just couldn’t grab it back.”

The Jets dominated Taylor, who was held to 19 yards on 14 attempts before leaving late in the second quarter with a concussion. The Jets led 14-0 when Mayfield entered the game in his NFL debut.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft rallied the Browns to a 21-17 victory, completing 17 of 23 passes for 201 yards.

The Jets have dropped two straight after a blowout win over the Detroit Lions in their opener.

Adams said he had no idea that Taylor was injured.

“We didn’t see it happening. I’m just being honest,” he said. “Tyrod goes down. I didn’t find out that Tyrod had a concussion until after the game. I thought they took him out. Injuries occur and the next man up. We weren’t prepared for him.

“They’re very similar guys in ways they can move in the pocket and throw the football. At the same time, we stuck to our game plan. Baker came in and he played phenomenal. Hats off to him.”

Prior to the game, Adams was hopeful of facing Mayfield.

Jets coach Todd Bowles, who was unavailable Tuesday, said after Thursday’s contest that Mayfield ran the same plays as Taylor, so the Jets didn’t have to make wholesale adjustments. He said they were prepared for both quarterbacks.

Adams declined to comment after the game, bolting the locker room after an interview with SNY TV, which partners with the team.

So far, Adams is the only player who has publicly questioned the game plan.

New York nose tackle Steve McLendon, asked after the game about the switch to Mayfield, said, “We knew both guys. There’s just no excuse. We had a great game plan, and I don’t want the coaches to feel like this is all their fault. It’s the players’ fault. We gave up way too many rushing yards up front.”

This isn’t the first time Adams has made controversial comments. In August, he was critical of the team’s culture in 2017, telling Bleacher Report that “everybody was used to losing” and “everybody wanted to do the bare minimum.” In the same story, he expressed confidence the chemistry would be better in 2018.

Adams, drafted sixth overall in 2017, is one of the Jets’ top players. He has one interception and one sack in three games.





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Bobby Wagner, Mychal Kendricks, Seattle Seahawks linebackers, expected to face Dallas Cowboys


RENTON, Wash. — The Seattle Seahawks expect to have linebackers Bobby Wagner and Mychal Kendricks available for Sunday’s home opener against the Dallas Cowboys, coach Pete Carroll said.

Wagner, Seattle’s All-Pro middle linebacker, is practicing Wednesday after missing the team’s Monday night loss to the Chicago Bears with a groin injury. K.J. Wright, who has missed the first two games following arthroscopic knee surgery, is not practicing.

Kendricks is appealing an NFL suspension that was handed down for his involvement in insider trading. He pleaded guilty to charges two weeks ago and was signed by Seattle (0-2) last Friday as a reinforcement with Wagner and Wright injured.

The NFL typically informs teams early in the week if a player is going to be suspended.

“He’s playing this week,” Carroll said of Kendricks. “That’s what I know.”

Asked if he expects Kendricks to be suspended soon, Carroll said: “I don’t know. I don’t know what to tell you on that one. Really, we haven’t been in a back-and-forth conversation about that yet.”

Center Justin Britt‘s status is uncertain due to what Carroll called a sore shoulder that he suffered late in the Bears game while diving for a loose ball. Carroll was hopeful that right guard D.J. Fluker (hamstring) and cornerback Tre Flowers (hamstring) will be available against Dallas (1-1).

He had no update on when receiver Doug Baldwin might be back from the MCL injury that kept him out Monday night and the second half of the opener in Denver.

“Doug had a good weekend,” Carroll said. “He’s real positive about it, but there’s nothing to say about when he’s returning at this point.”

Kendricks started at weakside linebacker for Wright on Monday night and finished with three tackles, a sack and a pass breakup in Seattle’s 24-17 loss. He played 54 of 66 defensive snaps as the Seahawks spelled him on occasion with a three-safety look given that he had so little time — only practicing twice with the team last week — to learn their defense.

“He did a really nice job,” Carroll said. “He missed one huge opportunity on the sideline when he went for an interception on the flat route, but other than that he did a good job. He blitzed well, he covered well, he ran to the football well. Coming brand new into our game [last week], he did a great job. I was really pleased.”

Asked if the Seahawks feel a sense of urgency heading into Sunday’s game at CenturyLink Field, Carroll said “heck yeah,” but added that they feel that way every week.

“It’s obvious that we need to get kick-started,” Carroll said, “and this is the best place to do that.”



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Buffalo Bills fans caught ‘table-slamming’ may face criminal charges


Fans tailgating at Buffalo Bills games this season could face criminal charges or be ejected for “table-slamming,” a practice of jumping into and breaking plastic folding tables that has been popularized in recent seasons by viral videos on social media.

The Bills and the Erie County, New York, sheriff’s office have made it a point of emphasis to police table-slamming this season, although rules against the activity have already existed as part of the team’s code of fan conduct at New Era Field.

“Despite some of the viral videos and social media posts you’ll see, our fans in general are very good, and they are very responsible and have a good time,” Bills vice president of operations and guest experience Andy Major said. “But we want to make sure that everyone understands that we’re going to hold those folks accountable — the [small] minority of fans that do some of those things out there in the community and on game day that we feel are unsafe — we are going to take care of that with our [security] teams.”

In an announcement before the Bills’ home opener Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Erie County sheriff’s office said deputies will be “focusing on eliminating excessive consumption of alcohol” in parking lots surrounding the stadium.

The Bills said Thursday that there were a record-low number of fan incidents last season.



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Colin Kaepernick face of Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ 30th anniversary campaign


Colin Kaepernick is back — at least as far as Madison Avenue is concerned.

The former NFL quarterback, who is suing NFL owners for allegedly colluding to keep him out of the league, is one of the faces of a new Nike campaign meant to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the brand’s iconic “Just Do It” motto.

The new ad, which Kaepernick shared on social media Monday afternoon, features the message: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

Nike signed Kaepernick in 2011 and kept him on its endorsement roster over the years. The company had not used him in the past two years.

“We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward,” Gino Fisanotti, Nike’s vice president of brand for North America, told ESPN.

Other athletes in the “Just Do It” campaign include Odell Beckham Jr., Shaquem Griffin, Lacey Baker, Serena Williams and LeBron James.

“We wanted to energize its meaning and introduce ‘Just Do It’ to a new generation of athletes,” Fisanotti said.

Fisanotti said the new version of the campaign is meant to specifically speak to 15- to 17-year olds.

Kaepernick’s protests of racial injustice — which began in August 2016 with sitting and later kneeling during the national anthem — launched a movement across the NFL. No team signed him as a free agent in 2017.





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Lane Johnson of Philadelphia Eagles ready to face New England Patriots


PHILADELPHIA — Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson is expecting some fan backlash for his pointed comments toward the New England Patriots organization when his team travels to Foxborough, Massachusetts, for Thursday’s preseason game against the team Philadelphia defeated in Super Bowl LII.

“Oh yeah. I hope so. I hope they raise hell,” Johnson said at the conclusion of training camp Tuesday. “They can cuss me, they can say whatever they want. At the end of the day, I’m not blocking them, I’m blocking guys on the edge, so it really doesn’t matter what they say.

“I know that I’m not going to be well-liked, this team is not going to be well-liked going there, so it’s going to basically bring out our best.”

Johnson has taken aim at the Patriots on several occasions, describing them as a “fear-based organization” with players who “act like f—ing robots.” He has also asserted that Patriots owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick talked trash to Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and coach Doug Pederson prior to the Super Bowl.

“I just felt like we weren’t even given a chance going into the game. I felt like we were disrespected, and we were by them,” Johnson said. “I made plenty of comments about why I said what I said. It’s not like I was coming out of the blue just to talk. It’s because I felt like I’ve been disrespected and the team’s been disrespected. It’s not like I’m coming out here running my mouth because I want to. No other teams really came out and ran their mouth.”

Belichick was asked about Johnson’s criticisms of the team during his news conference Tuesday.

“We’re focused on what we’re doing. We need to have a good practice today and try to improve our team today,” he said. “That’s what we’re going to do.”

Johnson believes he knows why his comments have resonated.

“People can discredit it all they want. I think it’s why I get so much recognition is because a lot of it is true and they don’t want to accept it. At the end of the day, man, I’m over it,” Johnson said. “… It’s a totally different year.

“I am excited to go play against a great team. Anytime you go against a great team, it’s going to bring out the best in yourself and in them, and that’s what we need, even if it’s a preseason game, so Week 1 we don’t have anything that surprises us.”

The Eagles’ starters will likely get about a quarter-and-a-half of work Thursday, per Johnson, enough time to reacquaint themselves with their Super Bowl foe.

“I’m ready. I’ve been waiting on this since the Super Bowl was over with,” he said. “So, it’s time.”



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How NFL’s latest safety measures face resistance from players


Eric Weddle rolled his eyes. The Baltimore Ravens safety was two weeks into his 12th NFL training camp. This one, however, brought a twist. Along with 2,800 other players around the league, Weddle was trying to adapt to the NFL’s wide-ranging “call to action” on head and neck injuries.

As he left the practice field, Weddle carried a new helmet. He didn’t like how it feels, but the league and the NFL Players Association banned his previous model because of poor laboratory performance. His head swam with what he considered impractical video instructions from league headquarters. He took a deep breath. Then he let it fly.

“I think the NFL is trying,” Weddle said. “You don’t want to fault them for putting in the effort to finding the best helmets and keeping players safe and all that. But the biggest problem I have is this: How do you not consult with the players and have them agree with it? You make these changes. Well, we play the game. How are you going to make these cultural changes without asking us? They think that it’s going to make the game better and safer. It’s not.”

The NFL’s new helmet rule, a centerpiece of its efforts to reduce a league-record 291 diagnosed concussions in 2017-18, has been the story of training camp. Players from around the league have railed on its ambiguity, intent and feasibility. Their concerns will be evident Thursday, when the preseason schedule begins in earnest and officials begin throwing flags for reasons that might appear confusing.

But there are deeper issues at play, ideas I tried to drill down on during interviews with more than a dozen players over the past week. Their opinions about the helmet rule aside, do they share the NFL’s urgency to lower concussion numbers? Can they see past the league’s dark history of quashing concussion concerns? And what does it mean if the game can’t (or won’t) change to limit brain and spine injuries?

I found their answers thoughtful and complex. This sample, drawn mostly of veteran players from seven teams, was not unappreciative of the league’s efforts. The players simply questioned whether the initiative will work and who will be blamed if it doesn’t. Some were resentful that they have been put in position to execute what they think is an impractical solution. A few would prefer to make their own decisions about brain health.

“A lot of [players] would rather take their hit up top because they can live to see another day rather than have a knee injury,” Washington Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger said. “If I was an offensive player, I would want to get hit right in my face because I signed up for football. I didn’t sign up for basketball. I didn’t sign up for soccer. I signed up for football.

“Long term, [a decline in health] is the nature of the game. If you play football for a long time, you are going to have those things happen.”

‘Guys are going to end up broke’

This spring, the NFL launched a three-pronged attack to reduce concussions for 2018. It teamed with the NFLPA to ban the use of 10 helmet models — six immediately and four others for 2019 — that engineers hired by the league determined performed poorly in testing. It added two new rules, one to prohibit the lowering of helmets to initiate contact, and another to reimagine the kickoff. And it provided each team with detailed data to help stem a rise of concussions in physical training camp practices.

The helmet rule, which carries a 15-yard penalty, a potential fine and possible ejection, has received outsized attention. Some players can’t envision a recognizable form of football without regular instances of lowered heads.

“I get it,” Redskins tailback Chris Thompson said. “You’re trying to make the game safer. But football is a violent sport, and you are not going to be able to take that away from it. You can say, ‘I’m going to fine you guys every time you put your head down.’ And guys are going to end up broke. It’s a natural reaction sometimes.”

While it’s reasonable to think that only the most obvious cases will be flagged, the rule is broad enough to suggest that any occasion is fair game. In the view of Pittsburgh Steelers guard David DeCastro, there is a lowered helmet contacting another player “all the time.”

DeCastro added: “It’s the nature of football leverage. You’re taught to get your head underneath another guy’s chin. I understand what they’re trying to do, to make it safer. But I don’t know how much you can take away from this game before it stops being football.”

The league has distributed position-by-position videos, narrated by head coaches, to promote techniques that comply with the rules. The videos are clear but not practical, Weddle said.

“There’s no question it’s hard on [the players]. But they need to adjust. We’re not doing this to do anything other than make the game safer.”

Rich McKay, chairman of NFL competition committee

“There are some plays on the videos where I’m like, ‘There is no way you can make a tackle that way,'” he said.

Rich McKay, the chairman of the NFL competition committee, has heard similar complaints before. Sitting in his office this week at the Atlanta Falcons‘ training facility, McKay said the league fully expects some growing pains but is convinced that players will settle in with the rule.

“There’s no question it’s hard on them,” McKay said. “But they need to adjust. We’re not doing this to do anything other than make the game safer. It’s for their own protection, realizing that they are still going to say, ‘I’m playing the game the way I always played.’ Well, there was a time when players were allowed to head slap. I can’t imagine that Deacon Jones and those guys were still head-slapping two years later because it was illegal.

“We know there is going to be calls this year that people are going to complain about it. There’s always that, and I feel bad for the officials because they’re the ones that always get the scrutiny. But the adjustment period will be shorter than people think. I think the players understand that ultimately this rule, and the rules that will develop over the coming years as we see this rule evolve, are all driven by one simple idea, which is the helmet needs to be used as a protective device — period.”

‘If you really cared about player safety …’

In 2013, the NFL settled a class-action lawsuit that alleged that it hid information about the long-term dangers of concussions. Without admitting fault, the league agreed to pay an uncapped amount of money overall to retired players who are suffering from the effects of football-related brain injuries.

That settlement — along with the 2015 movie “Concussion,” which chronicled the discovery of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — was a dark reminder of the league’s motivation to tamp down public discussion of brain injuries. That history leaves some players suspecting ulterior motives this summer. Meanwhile, anecdotal stories about a decline in youth football participation are concerning for the future of the sport.

“I didn’t think that [lowering the helmet] was a big problem,” said Chicago Bears linebacker Sam Acho, who is a vice president on the NFLPA executive committee. “In all reality, I think a lot of this is for PR. We talk about, and the NFL talks about, player safety. But if you really cared about player safety, and you really cared about the well-being of players, maybe you guarantee all players’ contracts.

“So I think this is more about PR. You want moms to keep their kids in football so the game keeps going. So you make all these rules. Look at the concussion settlement. They said, ‘We’ll settle, as long as you say we have no culpability in the concussion deal.’ It’s all about PR. I don’t think it’s about player safety. This rule is under the guise of player safety, but more than anything, it’s about PR.”

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, a member of the competition committee, said it has been “pretty clear” that player safety has been atop the league’s agenda for several years. He winced at the suggestion that the league’s motives were less than pure.

“I would not be involved in it if I thought it was,” he said.

Indeed, the NFL’s data contradicts Acho’s assessment. The league contends that players have increasingly lowered their helmets in recent years, ignoring a long-taught technique that instructs them to keep their heads up and “see what they hit.” An NFL-hired biomechanical engineering firm discovered that last season, helmet-to-helmet hits were responsible for 46 percent of all concussions. In 2005, that figure was 33 percent.

Meanwhile, computer models provided scientific confirmation of what was long considered a matter of intuition: that players with their helmets dipped were more likely to suffer brain and neck injuries. Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier suffered a catastrophic neck injury last season after lowering his helmet to make a tackle. Still, Weddle said, the Shazier injury was one tragic incident in years and years of play.

“If they really cared about safety, they wouldn’t have Thursday night games,” Weddle said. “Are they really concerned about the players? I’m fortunate enough to play this game, and I’m grateful. But I think they’re always trying to quick-fix things. Let the game be the game. The game is fine. It’s been around for so long. And it has been successful a certain way. We don’t need to keep trying to change it. … They’re trying, but I don’t know how hard they’re trying.”

Thursday night games, many players contend, risk their health because of the short recovery time from the previous week. In January, the NFL acknowledged that injury rates on Thursday nights in 2017 were higher than the rates in other games for the first time since the league began releasing data in 2014.

‘Everything evolves’

JC Tretter is entering his sixth year in the NFL and his second as the Cleveland Browns‘ center. He has maintained a sober outlook on the changes.

“I think eventually people will realize that the NFL is not changing the core of football,” he said. “We’re just trying to make sure that guys aren’t going to be in trouble 30 years down the line.”

Agreeing to play football means different things to different people. For Swearinger, it means accepting the risk of future brain injury. Tretter isn’t as tolerant.

“I don’t get behind the ‘You know what you signed up for, and you know the risks’ thing,” he said. “I don’t think that we say that for coal miners, that there should be a lack of safety for them because they knew the job. Obviously, we’re very well paid, but I don’t think any amount of money is worth these horror stories you hear.

“We love playing the game, and it’s given us a lot. It’s given us a lot of popularity and fame and money and the ability to play the game we love, travel the world, see a bunch of cities. But there is no reason not to continue to try to make the game safer. Just because you’re getting a lot of great things out of it doesn’t mean there needs to be a huge drawback.”

“I think eventually people will realize that the NFL is not changing the core of football. We’re just trying to make sure that guys aren’t going to be in trouble 30 years down the line.”

JC Tretter, Browns offensive lineman

Tretter isn’t the only player I encountered who was encouraged by the NFL’s efforts this offseason. Many understand, as McKay said, that the helmet and brain health will be an annual focus for future rule changes as well.

“I know some die-hard fans, and some die-hard, old-school guys are upset about it,” Browns left tackle Joel Bitonio said. “But I think everything evolves. Trust me, I practice every day. It’s just as physical when someone doesn’t bury their head in me as when they do.

“If you want young kids to play, and you want the game to continue to grow. … I know the game is at a good point still, and we’re making money. But I think, just make it safer. I’m not saying we have to play flag football out here. You can still make good, hard tackles with your shoulders. You can still use your body to do things. But the brain is the most important part of the body. Protect the brain and in turn protect the spine as well, keeping your head out of it? I think that’s going to be worth it.”

In truth, everyone understands that concussions are caused by a wide variety of factors, not all of which are covered by any of this offseason’s initiatives. But, NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said, there is every reason to try.

“It might sound trite to say,” he said. “But any concussion we save is important to us.”

‘How does he know what’s best for me?’

When Swearinger suggested that long-term health problems were the “nature of the game,” I asked him if he specifically meant issues with the brain. Swearinger said he thought there were ways to protect brain health other than rule changes.

“I got a hyperbaric chamber a couple years ago,” he said. “The doc told me they made those things for people that had brain surgery. I feel there are a lot of things that can help.”

Indeed, there have been studies but no firm conclusions on the efficacy of such tools for recovering and maintaining brain health after concussions. But Swearinger’s point was a larger one, echoed by Weddle. They want to make their own decisions. Weddle said he was upset to learn that his previous helmet, which he liked and wanted to continue using, was banned. He compared it to regulatory obstacles he faced building a house in San Diego.

“I had to pass through so many hoops and hurdles to get my house built as far as restrictions,” he said. “Finally, I was like, ‘Look, I own this land. If I want to build my house on this land, it’s my choice. If it burns up, it’s my choice. So why do I have to do all of this for you, to protect you, when it’s not your money?’ It’s my head. It’s the helmet I want, that’s done well for me.

“How does [an engineering firm] know what’s best for me?” he asked.

‘It just depends on how they’re going to call it’

There are plenty of veterans who think the intensity of the current angst will pass, as it has with previous controversial rule changes.

“Eventually I’m sure it will get resolved,” Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Anthony Hitchens said. “I know I like my money, and I like spending it on other things than giving it to the NFL for fines. I’m going to work to keep my head up and make it safer. There is life after football. We can’t play football until we’re 60 years old. There’s life afterward. So if you want to play with your kids and your grandkids, that’s the best way to get there.”

Said Detroit Lions safety Glover Quin: “It’ll be like everything else. We have to adjust and play the game.”

In a worst-case scenario, however, NFL players will have been told that their brain health is dependent on their complying with a rule that can’t be followed. Much will depend on whether officials call every instance, including in interior line play, or just the obvious and blatant examples.

“… I don’t know how much you can take away from this game before it stops being football.”

David DeCastro, Steelers offensive lineman

Ravens coach John Harbaugh appreciates what he considers a return to the old-school techniques of tackling with shoulders and keeping the head away from first contact. He also knows players well enough to empathize with their position.

“It just depends on how they call it,” he said. “If you hold them accountable for something that is physically impossible to be held accountable for, then that would probably not be good.”

And what if that happens? What if all of this is an exercise in confirming that concussions cannot be materially reduced in this game? More players than you might think are braced for that possibility, and that was perhaps the biggest takeaway from these interviews.

“I hope they are trying to protect us and are hoping that we come out of this game in our right minds,” the Redskins’ Thompson said. “But I think with football there are going to be things that happen that you can’t stop from happening. You can tell guys not to put your heads down. But that’s what you’ve done forever. I get it with this CTE stuff that is going on. None of us want that issue. But some things we understand as players come with the game of football. I’ve had all these injuries and surgeries. I wouldn’t have them if I didn’t play football.

“I know it’s going to happen.”



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Jalen Ramsey, Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback, ready to face Odell Beckham


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jalen Ramsey may have been at training camp for less than only eight hours, but the Jacksonville Jaguars All-Pro cornerback already is looking forward to the Week 1 matchup with Odell Beckham Jr.



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Kellen Winslow II to face trial on multiple felony counts


Former NFL tight end Kellen Winslow II will face trial on two felony counts of rape, two felony counts of kidnapping with intent to commit rape, and one count of forcible sodomy, and other charges, a judge ruled during the second day of his preliminary hearing Thursday in Vista, California.

Winslow’s bail was set at $2 million by Superior Court Judge Harry M. Elias, according to The San Diego Union Tribune. He also faces one misdemeanor count of indecent exposure and two misdemeanor counts of trespassing. The trespassing counts were initially felonies, but Elias knocked them down to misdemeanors, the Union Tribune reported.

Winslow had been held without bail since his arrest last month.

Two criminal counts of attempted burglary were thrown out.

Deputy District Attorney Dan Owens, during closing arguments of the preliminary hearing on Thursday, said DNA linked Winslow to a 54-year-old hitchhiker who alleges Winslow raped her after picking her up while she was hitchhiking. The woman failed to identify Winslow in court on Wednesday, identifying his attorney instead.

Two other women also failed to identify Winslow in court on Wednesday.

Winslow has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which prosecutors allege happened in Encinitas, California, where he lives. He was arrested in June.

Winslow, 34, played 10 seasons in the NFL and was a 2007 Pro Bowl selection. His final season was 2013, his lone season with the New York Jets.



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Clay Matthews of Green Bay Packers hit in face by line drive during charity softball game


Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews took a line drive off his face Saturday during a charity softball game near Appleton, Wisconsin.

Video of the incident was captured by WBAY-TV.

Packers players have put on a softball game annually at the home of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, a minor league affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. The game has been hosted by Brett Favre, Donald Driver and Jordy Nelson over the years. Matthews and Davante Adams took over as co-hosts this year after Nelson was cut.

Adams told spectators that Matthews “got a little boo-boo on his nose.” The game resumed without Matthews, who was pitching at the time.





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