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Packers’ Geronimo Allison has ‘pretty big injury’; Kevin King likely to miss game


GREEN BAY, Wis. — Wide receiver Geronimo Allison likely will need surgery, and cornerback Kevin King isn’t likely to play Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

That’s the outlook a day after the Green Bay Packers lost their second straight road game and fell to 3-4-1 at the halfway point of their season.

Allison did not play in Sunday’s 31-17 loss to the New England Patriots after he suffered a groin injury in practice Thursday. The third-year receiver was in Philadelphia on Monday to visit Dr. William Meyers, a core-muscle specialist who has operated on Packers players with groin and sports hernia injuries in the past.

“We’ll work through the final prognosis, but it’s a pretty big injury,” coach Mike McCarthy said.

Allison could miss more than a month. Rookie Marquez Valdes-Scantling took Allison’s spot as the No. 3 receiver on Sunday and caught three passes for 101 yards — his second 100-yard game in his past three outings.

King’s hamstring injury, which forced him out in the middle of Sunday’s game, isn’t as big, but McCarthy said King would be “challenged to play this week.”

The Packers made several adjustments in the secondary against the Patriots. They started the game with cornerback Tramon Williams at safety in place of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who was traded to the Washington Redskins last week. Bashaud Breeland started at cornerback in his first game action since the Packers signed him in December. King started at the other corner spot, and rookie Jaire Alexander played in the slot. Fellow rookie Josh Jackson played 41 of the 71 defensive snaps, most of them after King dropped out 24 snaps into the game. The Packers also finished the game without safety Kentrell Brice, who left with a knee injury.

The Packers on Monday added a safety, former fourth-round pick Ibraheim Campbell, off waivers from the Jets. Campbell played for Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine during the 2015 season with the Cleveland Browns.

He took punter Drew Kaser‘s roster spot. Kaser was signed on Saturday as an emergency in case JK Scott‘s wife went into labor and he had to leave New England. He would have done so with the blessings of McCarthy and general manager Brian Gutekunst, who had a plane waiting to take Scott back to Green Bay if needed. Kaser instead was inactive.

Right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) and linebacker Blake Martinez (ankle) both have a chance to play against the Dolphins after getting injured against the Patriots. Bulaga didn’t finish the game but avoided a serious injury, while Martinez returned but had significant swelling on Monday. Martinez said tests showed no significant structural damage.

“Once I taped it up and did a bunch of stuff and tried to run around, it started to kind of loosen up and I was getting ready to go,” he said.



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J.J. Watt of Houston Texans, T.J. Watt of Pittsburgh Steelers relish NFL sack race: ‘It’s pretty wild’


HOUSTON — Before the Houston Texans‘ game on Sunday night, defensive end J.J. Watt had the chance to watch his younger brother T.J., an outside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, deliver another impressive three-sack performance.

J.J. also knew that with those three sacks, T.J. had taken the lead in the family with six on the season and that he was tied with Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins for the NFL lead.

“I knew he had six sacks, so I knew I had to get at least one otherwise I couldn’t go back to my phone after that,” J.J. said. “Then, I missed the one, so I was really p—-d off.”

J.J.’s sack came late in the fourth quarter and ensured that there would be a tie atop the family and NFL sack leaderboard for at least one more week.

T.J. also had a three-sack performance in Week 1 against the Browns and J.J. had three sacks in Week 3 against the Giants.

According to T.J., the back-and-forth is just “healthy competition.” J.J. called he and his brother “each other’s biggest fans.”

“It’s also been competitive,” J.J. said. “It’s always been like that. This is just the first time in the league we’ve gotten a chance to both be healthy and do it the same time. But, no, we’re each other’s biggest fans. We each root for each other as much as we can, whenever we can. I want to see him get as many sacks as he can possibly get, just the same way he wants to see me. We compete and there’s definitely a little bit of underlying competition there, but at the end of the day, if he gets 500 sacks I’d be happy as hell.”

Still, the fact that the brothers share the lead is cool for his mom, Connie.

“I’m sure my mom thinks it’s a lot cooler than I do,” T.J. said. She’ll take a picture of it and our names will be next to each other and it will be cool for her.” J.J. said he’s always known what his brother is capable of, “and it’s fun for the rest of the league to be able to see it.”

“It’s pretty wild when you go and you look at the sack sheet and you see our names next to each other,” J.J. said. “We used to beat up on each other in backyard and now we get to see our names at the top of the NFL sack charts. So, it’s incredible and I’m lucky. I have two incredible brothers [T.J. and Chargers fullback Derek Watt] and I’m very fortunate.”

Added T.J.: “That’s something I’ll never take for granted is to be able to sit on the couch and watch them play. It’s pretty special.”

But although J.J. and T.J. may be tied for the lead in sacks, the older brother pointed out on Wednesday that he is ahead in another category.

“Today he got his second AFC Player of the Week or whatever, but, I mean, I got the Player of the Month last month,” J.J. said. “So, I think that’s a little cooler.”



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Pat Shurmur of New York Giants — Odell Beckham Jr. ‘pretty close’ to being cleared


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Odell Beckham Jr. has been running, jumping, cutting and even catching some passes in half-speed individual drills in recent weeks.

Even though he wasn’t at the New York Giants‘ organized team activity on Tuesday following Memorial Day weekend, the time has almost arrived when he’s going to get medically cleared from that broken right ankle he suffered in October.

“Pretty close,” coach Pat Shurmur said of how close Beckham is to being cleared.

Beckham has looked good running and working at Giants OTAs and minicamps, even if it’s come mostly on the side under the watchful eye of a trainer.

Beckham fully intends to be ready for the start of the season. Training camp even seems likely at this point.

The dilemma will be what happens if he’s cleared and he doesn’t have a new contract. Beckham would be putting a lot at risk if he partook in live drills, scrimmages or preseason games. His desire for a new contract isn’t a secret, especially with most of the receivers from his 2014 draft class having already been paid.

But Beckham has attended a good chunk of the Giants’ offseason workout program while others in similar positions (Khalil Mack, Aaron Donald and Zack Martin) have decided to remain home until their deals are done. It’s a goodwill gesture that he hopes will lead to meaningful contract talks.

There hadn’t been any serious negotiations as of last week, a source told ESPN.

Shurmur explained Tuesday that he’s part of all personnel decisions along with general manager Dave Gettleman, including the Beckham situation.

“Dave said it already, contracts will get done when they get done,” Shurmur said. “We’re not worried about [there being an issue if negotiations take time]. My experience with Odell has been that he wants to play football and he’s looking forward to get out here. He’s isn’t quite ready with his … he hasn’t quite finished his rehab yet. So he can’t do everything totally.”

Beckham didn’t participate on the first day of the second week of voluntary OTAs. Neither did cornerback Janoris Jenkins. They were the only two players that weren’t on the practice field on a steamy Tuesday morning.

Shurmur said he was aware that both players weren’t going to attend.

The Giants coach was complimentary of defensive tackle Damon Harrison, who attended his first OTA of the spring.

“He was here today and he did a good job,” Shurmur said.



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Jim Irsay: With healthy Andrew Luck, Colts a ‘pretty formidable team’ – Indianapolis Colts Blog


INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has rarely had to worry about any of this.

The rebuilding. The overhaul of the coaching staff. A general manager change. The franchise quarterback saddled with injuries for three seasons. The losing.

Irsay’s patience — rightfully so — has been tested the past three seasons. The Colts have gone from being a playoff regular to currently being in the longest postseason drought — three years — since he took over as owner of the team more than 20 years ago.

“It’s been disappointing obviously,” Irsay said. “You’re at .500 and there are a lot of teams that are trying to promote and say we’re good enough to be .500 this year. That’s unacceptable here. This is a place where champions are walking these halls. We have a great alumni base that’s been built here that have come to our aid.”

It’s anybody’s guess when the Colts will get back to the playoffs — so much will depend on Andrew Luck‘s health — but Irsay believes his franchise is finally “back on track” in its not-so-subtle rebuilding project that started with the firing of general manager Ryan Grigson in January 2017.

“There’s still holes in the roster, still areas we have to strengthen up and we don’t question that, but man oh man, I tell you, we’re a lot better of a football team,” Irsay said on the final day of the draft on April 28. “It’s going to be interesting to see how much better we are. Look, I’ll be honest with you, if Andrew Luck, if he’s healthy and we think he will be, we’re going to have a pretty formidable football team. That’s just the bottom line.”

Receiver Chester Rogers said, “This is what a real organization feels likes.”

General manager Chris Ballard has spent the past 15 months working to reshape the roster the way he envisions it. There are only 21 players from Grigson’s reign currently still on the roster. Ballard has been a thrifty free-agent spender while focusing on the draft, where he addressed both lines early on before skill position players. The Colts selected a franchise-record 11 players, including guard Quenton Nelson at No. 6.

“I’m stubborn in this now,” Ballard said about his free-agency and draft approach. “I mean I am, and I really believe that the majority of your team needs to be built through your own guys. Am I against free agency? No, I’m not, but we want to be able to get a core group of young players that really make up the locker room and really define what we stand for, how we play, how we work, that are good, successful players for the Colts. Then it makes it a little easier to plug a free agent in.

“Not that we don’t have a great young [core]. We need to add young talent, and it needs to grow up and be Colts for four or five years and that will help you when you eventually dive into free agency. It helps you assimilate those guys into your culture.”

Ballard, after being left at the altar at the 11th hour by Josh McDaniels, may have found a better fit in coach Frank Reich, who spent the past two years as Philadelphia’s offensive coordinator and shares the same vision as Ballard when it comes to the next steps to take on their path to becoming one of the NFL’s elite teams again.

Irsay knows the value of strong quarterback play. He watched as Peyton Manning threw for nearly 55,000 yards and 200 touchdowns while leading the franchise to the playoffs 11 times and the Super Bowl twice — winning one — in 13 seasons with the organization.

That’s why it’s important for the Colts to have Luck back. They’ve had three healthy seasons and three playoff appearances, including reaching the AFC Championship Game, with Luck. The quarterback has missed 26 games over the past three seasons and, to no surprise, the Colts have missed the playoffs in each of those seasons.

There’s plenty of optimism inside the organization that Luck, who didn’t play a snap last season, will be ready to go for the start of 2018 after they’ve handled his shoulder rehabilitation delicately to avoid any more setbacks. The magic man, as Irsay has called Luck, has repeatedly proven he has the ability to mask any of the team’s flaws when he’s healthy.

“I wish we could stay on top every year. I wish we could be in the playoffs every year,” Irsay said. “You’re always going to talk about your franchise quarterback when he’s got the excellence Andrew brings. And it was almost as if it was put on hold for a second. It was rolling out. But it was put hold. But look at it, he’s young and we believe he can play at least a decade.

“I feel like that having a great young general manager like Chris Ballard, being fortunate enough to turn this thing around and get this in the hands of Frank Reich, who is just ideal for what this franchise needs after having won a Super Bowl in Philadelphia and what Andrew needs being a quarterback, I couldn’t be more excited. It’s tough to lose. It’s very tough to lose.”



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Rob Gronkowski ‘pretty certain’ he’ll return to New England Patriots


As New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski weighs his future, sources close to him say he has recently expressed that he is now more likely to continue his football career rather than retire at 28 years old.

Gronkowski still hasn’t made a decision, but despite serious considerations since the end of the season to retiring because of physical and mental fatigue, sources say he is “pretty certain” he’ll come back as long as Tom Brady remains with the team.

However, this dose of good news for Patriots fans comes with some dilution: Lingering frustrations remain between Gronkowski and head coach Bill Belichick, along with others in the Patriots organization, according to sources close to each side. Whether those frustrations on either side will impact Gronkowski’s return to the team remains the final piece to this unfinished puzzle.

For Gronkowski, the physical anguish of the 2017 season, which led him late in the regular season to tell people he was likely going to retire, was paired with some mental fatigue from the high-strung culture within the Patriots organization, sources said. Nothing has occurred since the end of the season to convince him that’s going to change — and Gronkowski knows he’ll need to be ready for a similar toll on his mind and body if he returns in 2018.

For Belichick, since the season’s end, sources say he has expressed frustrations with those close to him about Gronkowski, specifically questioning whether he remains “all in,” a critical aspect of Belichick’s blueprint for success.

Examples of Belichick’s frustrations are as nuanced as his discontent with Gronkowski’s message in a recent Instagram post regarding former Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola, who left New England to sign a contract with the Miami Dolphins in the AFC East. Beneath a video Gronkowski posted on March 14 of him hugging Amendola, he wrote, in part, “Be FREE, Be HAPPY (sic).”

But should the offseason continue to create a sense within Gronkowski that he’s fully committed to football, many close to Gronkowski and Belichick say they believe the existing friction between the two will ease. While the discord should not be discounted, as one source explained, it also should not be viewed as irreconcilable.

So for now, the situation surrounding Gronkowski continues to percolate behind the scenes while all sides remain generally vague in public forums. With the NFL draft still more than three weeks away, there is time for the situation to rectify itself.

Should the silence linger deeper into April, however, all possibilities remain on the table.



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