Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette is ready for a fresh start ahead of the NFL season.

While he is still with the Jaguars, Fournette is hoping the upcoming campaign will serve as a reboot after an injury and suspension kept him off the field for half the year.

"I'm happy, especially the way I'm here working with my team right now," Fournette – the fourth pick in the 2017 draft – said Friday after organised team activities.

"It's a new year. We have a new team. We're focused and we have new players. It's a new year for us. So it's a new everything. It's a clean start for a lot of us guys.

"We're not focused on the past. The past's the past. Some things I did, whether it was offseason and I admitted to, yeah, I was wrong. We moved on. We're in a good place right now."

The offseason incident Fournette referred to was an arrest in April. The 24-year-old was cited for knowingly driving with a suspended license stemming from a separate incident in November 2018.

Fournette is coming off a disappointing 2018 season. In eight games, he only logged 439 rushing yards and six total touchdowns.

"I kind of put a lot on myself this offseason, like getting my body right," Fournette said. "Just mentally coming back ready to play football. No distractions. Leaving the outside stuff where it's at. I think that's one of the biggest things that us players have a problem with.

"We face a lot of problems, you know what I mean? We have a lot of issues ourselves. And if we're not right with ourselves and then we come out on this field, we're not going to be right in the game."

Long-time NFL defensive back Adam 'Pacman' Jones, whose 12-season career was marked as much by controversy off the field as contributions on it, has announced his retirement.

Jones, 35, posted a video on his Instagram story on Friday that purports to show him signing a document with an NFLPA-backed organisation, "The Trust," whose goal is to provide retired players with the support in life after football.

The video was posted with the all-caps caption "LOL."

"This is an official letter," Jones says in the video. "It's official that I'm done with the NFL, cuz."

Jones most recently featured for the Denver Broncos, playing in seven games in 2018 before being released.

"I'm content. I had a hell of a run doing it. I'm at the point where I didn't feel I would be top level if I tried to play now. I'm happy and I'm looking forward to spending more time with my family and the kids," Jones told ESPN on Friday.

Jones was taken in the first round (number six overall) by the Tennessee Titans in the 2005 NFL Draft out of West Virginia.

Over the course of 12 seasons across 14 years - he was suspended one season and sat out another - Jones recorded 508 total tackles (421 solo) and had 17 interceptions, returning two for touchdowns.

He played most of his career, eight seasons from 2010-17, with the Cincinnati Bengals.

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is happy his team added Le'Veon Bell.

New York signed the star running back to a four-year, $52.5million deal in mid-March.

Darnold, 21, was asked about Bell when he met with reporters on Thursday during OTAs.

"Obviously, we know what Le'Veon is capable of," Darnold said.

"Once we signed him I was pumped, just super stoked to have him on our team and for me to have him as a weapon. To be able to check the ball down, get him out in space, have him running routes, there's so many things we can do. So, I'm really pumped about it."

New Jets coach Adam Gase reportedly did not want the team to sign Bell, who missed all of 2018 after holding out from the Pittsburgh Steelers over a contract dispute.

Gase, however, denied that was the case when he met with reporters on Thursday.

Gase was promoted to interim general manager after New York fired Mike Maccagnan last week.

"We signed him," Gase said. "I'm excited we have him. I've been in constant communication with him."

Darnold, meanwhile, completed 57.7 per cent of his passes and threw for 17 touchdowns, along with 15 interceptions, in 13 games as a rookie for the Jets last season. He said he was excited to learn Gase's offense.

"It's been really fun to learn a new offense, kind of understand what coach Gase wants to do, how aggressive he wants to be," Darnold said.

"But [we've been] really making sure that we take a step back and realise it's not going to be perfect day one or day two or day three. This week [at OTAs] it was definitely a process – that's the word I would use to describe it."

The Jets finished 2018 with a 4-12 record and missed the playoffs for an eighth straight season.

They fired former coach Todd Bowles in late December and hired Gase to replace him.

The Golden State Warriors will not have a key piece of help to start the NBA Finals, though they do not really need any.

In New York, a Yankees slugger suffered a setback and in the NHL, the Stanley Cup Finals are set.

All that and more this week in US Sports.

 

1. Kevin Durant still not cleared to play

The Warriors have a long layoff between their Western Conference Finals sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers, but it does not look like that helped them all that much with the return of their best player.

Golden State announced Kevin Durant has still not been cleared for on-court activities and is unlikely to play in the NBA Finals opener next week.

While the Warriors have looked incredibly good since Durant went out, going 5-0 in that time span, the team would still love to get Durant back for the Finals for obvious reasons.

At this point the question may need to be: will Durant come back and play at all?

 

2. Giancarlo Stanton suffers setback

The Yankees are still without one of their best sluggers and will be for even longer now.

Giancarlo Stanton suffered a setback in his recovery from an injury in the first week of the season and will not pick up a bat for at least another week and probably 10 days.

New York are still dealing with the injury bug as seemingly every player has been out for some amount of time this season, and Stanton is not coming back to help any time soon.

 

3. Stanley Cup Finals set

When the Blues were last in the Western Conference in early January, the city of St Louis all but wrote them off.

Now, they are playing in their first Stanley Cup Finals since 1970 as they beat the San Jose Sharks in the conference finals in six games this week.

The Blues will match up against the same team, the Boston Bruins, they faced in 1970 and will be looking for their first win in the Stanley Cup Finals.

And with this team it would be hard to believe they do not get just a win, but they compete for a championship admirably if not win it outright.

The Bruins are also in an interesting spot as they swept the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Finals and will have a layoff of 11 days before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. That is tied for the longest layoff ever for a team coming off a conference final win.

 

4. NFL drama continues

Did you think that because Antonio Brown was traded to the Oakland Raiders and Le'Veon Bell signed with the New York Jets that drama would not still follow them and the Pittsburgh Steelers? Because it has followed and created some of the biggest – and dumbest – storylines of this week in the NFL.

First with Bell, it was reported that new Jets interim general manger and head coach Adam Gase did not want to sign the running back to a long-term deal. It was then rumoured that the Jets would trade Bell if they found a suitor before the season.

Gase called that rumour ridiculous, but it was still a fun little moment in the early days of OTAs.

Then with Brown, Ben Roethlisberger told reporters earlier this week he tried to apologise to his former wide receiver, before Brown tweeted "two face".

Just another entertaining day in the world that used to be the talented offense of the Steelers.

Dak Prescott expects to get a contract extension with the Dallas Cowboys done by the start of the upcoming season.

Quarterback Prescott, who is entering the final season of his four-year rookie contract, said agent Todd France is hoping to finalise a deal that will net around $30 million a year after Russell Wilson signed a four-year extension worth $140m with the Seattle Seahawks earlier this offseason.

Behind Wilson are the Pittsburgh Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger and the Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers, who boast average salaries of $34m and $33.5m respectively.

"It's one [proposal] from each side," said Prescott. "It's my first time doing this. Ask me in a few years and I'll be able to tell you, 'Okay, we sent this one, they've sent that one, we're about to get it done'. Right now, I'm learning the process too and just letting my team handle their business.

"When you look at the numbers, a lot of it's about the market. So I don't really pay attention to any of that. It'll get done eventually."

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, speaking from the league's spring meetings in South Florida, told NFL Media that negotiations with Prescott are progressing.

"I'd generally say going well," said Jones. "These things never have a definitive answer. Because you never know if you've done it until you've done it."

Another player due to get a new deal is running back Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys picked up the fifth-year option of his rookie contract last month, which will pay him $9.1m for the 2020 season after he earns $3.9m in 2019.

Kyle Rudolph confirmed he has been offered a five-year contract extension by the Minnesota Vikings.

Rudolph is set to earn $7.5million this season in the final year of his current contract and the two-time NFL Pro Bowler is unwilling to take a pay cut.

When the Vikings picked tight end Irv Smith in the second round of the NFL Draft last month, there was immediate speculation that Rudolph would be on the trading block.

Those rumours intensified after contract talks broke down, and Rudolph told the Minneapolis Star Tribune there was "no way" he would take a pay cut to stay in Minnesota.

Pro Football Talk reported, and Rudolph confirmed, that the Vikings have offered the 29-year-old a contract extension.

According to ESPN, the contract would make Rudolph among the highest paid tight ends in the NFL.

"That's what they're working at," Rudolph told ESPN. "We're in a tough situation. Everybody knows that.

"That's why we have the best salary-cap guy in the NFL and I believe I have one of the best agents. So, like I said, they're working really hard.''

Despite the rumours swirling about his future, Rudolph has participated in all voluntary offseason team activities, including the second day of organised team activities on Wednesday.

"I don't know what kind of example it would set if I wanted to be here and I wasn't here," Rudolph said. "And that's not the kind of person I am. If I was at home right now and everybody else was out here at practice, that would be really hard for me."

Rudolph had 64 catches for 634 yards and four touchdowns last season.

 

Cleveland finally got the call for the NFL Draft, while Kansas City will also host the event in the coming years.

The NFL announced on Wednesday that Cleveland will hold the 86th Draft in 2021, while Kansas City will get their turn two years later. A site has not been set for 2022.

Both cities had been finalists to host in 2020 before the honour went to Las Vegas ahead of the Raiders' first season in their new city.

"Cleveland has a passionate fan base and the city offers distinctive iconic locations and attractions that will bring the NFL Draft experience to fans in unique and exciting ways," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said.

"We look forward to collaborating with the Cleveland Browns, the City of Cleveland, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and Destination Cleveland to celebrate the achievements of the next generation of players and create a memorable fan experience.

"We are excited to work with the Kansas City Chiefs, the City of Kansas City, and the Kansas City Sports Commission to showcase the area for a week-long celebration of football that will be watched by millions of fans.

"We know Chiefs fans will come out to celebrate along with thousands of fans from teams around the country for an incredible experience as we welcome the next generation of NFL players."

A record-breaking 600,000 people visited Nashville to attend the 2019 Draft last month, while an average of 6.1 million viewers were tuned in at any given time for another all-time high.

Aaron Rodgers might have had a cameo in the final season of Game of Thrones, but the Green Bay Packers quarterback was less than impressed with how the hit television series concluded.

The hugely popular fantasy drama aired for the final time on Sunday and the polarising ending left many fans underwhelmed, including NFL star Rodgers.

He featured as an extra in the penultimate episode and offered a passionate response to reporters when asked whether he was pleased that Bran Stark was chosen to reign over the six kingdoms.

"No," Rodgers bluntly replied.

"I love the show and it was a great 10 years but no.

"You come down to the end and Tyrion says, 'The person with the best story is Bran'. Who, by the way, three episodes ago said he wasn't Bran Stark any more...no.

"Jon had a better story, Dany had a better story, Arya had a better story, Sansa had a better story, Tyrion had a better story, Varys had a better story. Bronn, lot better story. Jaime, better story. Cersei, probably a better story. Any Baratheon, better story."

While good might have trumped evil at the end, Rodgers added he wanted to see Daenerys Targaryen on the throne despite the blood-thirsty Mother of Dragons turning into the Mad Queen.

The Game of Thrones writers have faced fierce criticism for rushing the conclusion and a petition to remake the final season "with competent writers" has over 1.4 million signatures.

Rodgers suggested David Benioff and D.B. Weiss may have been distracted by their work with one of the upcoming Star Wars films.

"I loved the opportunity to be in the show - which, most people probably don't think I was, but I was there - I love the show but the writers were also doing Star Wars...so I think they might have been a bit busy this last season," Rodgers added.

There has been much debate about Rodgers' cameo in episode five and he said it was "true" that he was in a bell tower scene.

However, the Packers quarterback dispelled the notion that he was one of the characters that got burned alive.

"I'm disappointed in every person who would actually say that was me," he revealed.

"If you actually watch that person run, they're a total non-athlete!"

Nick Bosa, the second overall pick in the NFL Draft, tweaked his hamstring in practice for the San Francisco 49ers on Tuesday.

Coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed the injury occurred during one-on-one drills. While Bosa did not leave the field, he did not finish practice and walked with a limp following the incident.

"I know it was his hamstring, but I'm not sure of the severity of it," Shanahan said after practice concluded.

The former Ohio State defensive end entered 2018-19 as one of the top prospects in the country, but was sidelined with a core injury after playing just three games in his junior season. 

Bosa underwent core muscle surgery following the injury and elected to withdraw from school following the operation to prepare for the draft rather than finish the season with the Buckeyes.

Bosa posted 17.5 career sacks in 29 games at Ohio State and will be crucial to the 49ers improving upon last season's 4-12 finish.

Shanahan also confirmed running back Matt Breida suffered a slightly torn pectoral lifting weights and will be sidelined until training camp.

His fellow running back Jerick McKinnon is still recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered before the end of last season. When all are healthy the Niners should have a deep backfield, having signed Tevin Coleman to a two-year deal in free agency.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, whose September ACL tear derailed the 49ers' 2018 hopes, will remain restricted to seven-on-seven drills until training camp.

"Jimmy was threading it," cornerback Richard Sherman said. "He got the ball right where he wanted to.

"Obviously, he's been limited in the things that he can do, but he had a lot of reps, and he looked really good.

"He was putting the ball in some risky spots, where it seemed risky. It was real confident throws. He completed every single one of them."

Green Bay will have a new offense in 2019 and Aaron Rodgers is still trying to figure it out.

The Packers quarterback said on Tuesday the new formations are "different", but he was confident he can figure it out in the coming months.

"I've got to be honest, I don't know the whole offense yet," Rodgers told a news conference.

"I've been studying it but the difference between understanding it on paper and actually getting reps in it – the minicamp, those two days, and then the two days [of practice] that we've had so far is not a great sample size to tell you everything about the offense.

"It's going to be different. It's going to look different formationally and the motions and some of the things that we're doing. But I think it's an offense that I can infuse creativity and put my stamp on."

Green Bay brought in former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur after they fired Mike McCarthy last season. McCarthy had coached Rodgers since his rookie season in 2005.

LaFleur wants to be as hands on as possible to help his quarterbacks learn a new system.

"That's the approach that we're going to take right now," LaFleur said.

"It's hard for me to think too far in advance, but I just think that's what's the most beneficial at this stage."

LaFleur has also spent time with the Los Angeles Rams, Washington Redskins, Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons. He will call the plays for the Packers from day one.

Needless to say, Rodgers will likely need plenty of repetitions to warm up and make adjustments.

The two-time MVP has played limited preseason snaps in recent years, but acknowledged that could be subject to change soon.

"I think this is a year where I'm probably going to play more than 20 [preseason] snaps, I would assume," Rodgers said.

Rodgers struggled with a knee injury for the majority of last season, but he still threw for 4,442 yards and 25 touchdowns. However, the Packers finished the year 6-9-1 and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

The Buffalo Bills' have assigned their number 32 jersey to a player for the first time since O.J. Simpson wore it 42 years ago.

Running back Senorise Perry will wear the number once donned by Simpson, who played in Buffalo from 1969 until 1977, earning four rushing titles and becoming the first man to rush for more than 2,000 yards.

While the number was never officially retired by the Bills, the scandals attached to Simpson's name meant the Bills did not give it out to players that followed.

Simpson was acquitted of the double murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, in 1995. However, he was found liable for their deaths in a civil suit filed by their families.

In 2007 Simpson was arrested on felony armed robbery and kidnapping charges in Las Vegas. He was convicted of both charges in 2008 and served nine years in prison. He was released in October last year.

"Whatever they do is fine with me," Simpson, 71, told The Athletic of Perry taking his jersey.

"That's how I feel. When I played there, I tried to honour the team. Since I left, I always tried to honour the Bills.

"And, to be honest, it's not something I think about. There's too much else going on in life."

Perry, who spent the last two seasons with the Miami Dolphins, accepted wearing the number would bring extra attention but did not hesitate to pick it.

"I know the situation. I know that greatness comes with that number, playing in Buffalo. But I'm willing to take anything that comes my way," he said.

"I'm going into my sixth year, and I know what it takes to get in this league and stay here. With that number on my back, I know I'm doing well for my family.

"On one hand, wearing the number of a Hall of Famer creates a high expectation. I thought it was retired, but then I was told it was available. Boom, I took it."

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz will be a "full participant" in organised team activities (OTAs), the NFC East team announced on Tuesday.

Last week head coach Doug Pederson was non-committal about whether Wentz would be ready for OTAs, but on Tuesday he said his quarterback should be good to go.

"Carson has no limitations," Pederson said. "He's been working with the guys all offseason and we're looking forward to these next 10 practices with him.

"I'm not going to hold him back."

Wentz, 26, suffered a stress fracture in his back last season, keeping him out of the final three games in 2018 and all of the playoffs. Wentz was expected to be out for three months, but that timetable was extended.

He was also absent for the first two games of 2018 as he recovered from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that caused him to miss the end of the 2017 regular season and all of that postseason, as well, including the Eagles' Super Bowl LII win over the New England Patriots.

The second overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Wentz's only fully healthy season was his rookie year, when he threw for 3,782 yards and 16 touchdowns with 14 interceptions.

Before the back injury in 2018, Wentz threw for 3,074 yards and 21 touchdowns with seven interceptions in 11 games.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers released defensive tackle and six-time Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy after nine NFL seasons.

Tampa Bay decided not to pay McCoy the $13million he was due for the upcoming season, it was announced on Monday.

It is another hit to the Buccaneers defense, who may be without sack leader Jason Pierre-Paul after he was injured in a car accident in May.

"These decisions are very difficult, personally and professionally," general manager Jason Licht said via the team's official website. "Over the past nine years, Gerald has been a cornerstone of this franchise and a leader in our community.

"Parting ways with a player and person such as Gerald is one of the toughest responsibilities of this job."

McCoy was selected by Tampa Bay as the third overall pick in the 2010 draft. The 31-year-old was First-Team All-Pro in 2013. 

"I know Gerald has done a lot of good things on and off the football field in Tampa during his time here," head coach Bruce Arians said. "You hate to see good football players go, but this is a decision that we felt needed to be made in order to allow us, and Gerald, the ability to move forward. Gerald is a class-act and I wish him the best.”  "

McCoy leaves the Buccaneers with 54.5 career sacks, 22 passes defended and 296 total tackles, including 140 quarterback hits.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger apologised for his criticism of former team-mate Antonio Brown.

Roethlisberger – a two-time Super Bowl champion – criticised Brown's route running after a Week 12 loss to the Denver Broncos during the NFL last season.

Brown was eventually traded to the Oakland Raiders in the offseason and Roethlisberger discussed his comments on Monday.

"I took some heat and deservedly so for some of the comments on that show and especially towards him," Roethlisberger told Pittsburgh radio station KDKA about Brown.

"I genuinely feel bad about that and I'm sorry. Did I go too far after that Denver game? Probably."

Brown was reportedly unhappy about Roethlisberger's criticism and he eventually requested the Steelers move him in mid-February.

The wide receiver was then sent to Oakland about one month later in exchange for two draft picks.

Roethlisberger and Brown played together in Pittsburgh from 2010-18.

"That's the thing about media and social media, as soon as you say 'sorry' it only goes so far," Roethlisberger said. "You can't take it back. And I wish I could because if that's what ruined our friendship and relationship, I'm truly, genuinely sorry about that."

Brown – a seven-time Pro Bowl player – finished with 1,297 receiving yards and 15 touchdown catches in 15 games for the Steelers last season. He has scored 74 times in 130 career games.

"I bring accountability," Brown said at his introductory press conference in Oakland in March. "I bring actions. Not what I say, what I do. How I approach things. Holding guys accountable in the receiver room.

"Pittsburgh will always be my family. Those guys gave me a chance when I was a 21-year-old kid. Obviously, people listen to the things that were being said and written, but at the end of the day, it's all about how you make people feel."

Roethlisberger, meanwhile, signed a two-year, $68million extension with the Steelers in the offseason.

Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long announced his retirement on Saturday.

The number two overall pick in the 2008 draft finished as a two-time Super Bowl champion.

Long, 34, announced on Twitter he was retiring after 11 seasons in the NFL with the Eagles, New England Patriots and the then-St Louis Rams.

"Cheers. Been a hell of a journey," Long wrote.

"Eleven years and I can honestly say I put my soul into every minute of it. Highs and lows. I've seen them both and I appreciate the perspective. Gratitude and love to those who lifted me up."

Long won the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2018 as a nod to his work in the community and in charitable causes.

His brother Kyle still plays for the Chicago Bears on the offensive line and his father, Howie, was an eight-time Pro Bowl player and Pro Football Hall of Famer.

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