Cam Newton was not on the field this weekend as the Carolina Panthers returned to practice after their third preseason game.

Newton was inside of Bank of America Stadium during Saturday's practice receiving treatment after suffering a sprained foot in Carolina's preseason loss to the New England Patriots on Thursday.

However, Panthers quarterback Newton – who made his first appearance since undergoing shoulder surgery in the offseason – could be back under centre "pretty soon," according to head coach Ron Rivera.

"The doctors feel the more we keep him off of it, the more we keep it elevated, we're expecting it to take care of itself quickly,'' Rivera told reporters.

There is no clear timeline on Newton's return but the team remains optimistic the 2015 MVP will be ready for week one. 

"There really isn't any timetable, but we're going to do everything we can to make sure it's right and ready to roll,'' Rivera said.

"What we're going to do is take it day by day because there is no timetable. So we'll begin to focus in on what we need to as time progresses. There is no timetable.''

Rivera also said there were no plans to bring in a quarterback from outside the organisation for a workout. The Panthers are happy with the work backup Kyle Allen has done while he still has some room for improvement.

"The one thing that has stood out, when we get in some practice situations and watch the things Kyle really knows and handles really well, you feel, 'OK, this is the guy,''' Rivera said. "He hasn't been as steady as we would have liked him in the preseason games.

"His decision-making has been good. He just hasn't delivered a good ball at times, but he is quick on his feet, he's shown some cool under pressure in the past and that's one thing that really weighs in his favour.''

 

The Carolina Panthers are "cautiously optimistic" over the fitness of quarterback Cam Newton, who sustained an injury on Thursday.

Newton left the Panthers' game against the New England Patriots with a foot injury, and underwent further tests on Friday to ascertain the extent of the issue.

The 30-year-old had also undergone an x-ray on Thursday, with those scans coming back clean.

Panthers' general manager Marty Hurney offered a further update on Friday, describing Newton's injury as a "mid-foot sprain".

"Cam Newton has a mid-foot sprain in his left foot, and we are cautiously optimistic he will be ready for week one," Hurney said, as reported by The Athletic.

Even though the Panthers are cautiously optimistic, there has to be concern about how quickly Newton, who was sacked twice by the Patriors, can be back to 100 per cent fitness.

Speculation has mounted over whether the Panthers could make a move for Colin Kaepernick, who has been without a team since opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in 2017.

Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury expects Michael Crabtree to be a major contributor following his arrival.

The Cardinals signed wide receiver Crabtree to a one-year deal, reportedly worth $5.5million on Wednesday.

First-year Cardinals coach Kingsbury discussed the team's decision to sign Crabtree – who swapped the Baltimore Ravens for Arizona – when he met with reporters on Thursday.

"I think he's been a very productive player in this league," Kingsbury said at his news conference. "Very savvy, mentally tough player, plays physical, brings a lot for our young receivers to learn from and be around.

"We're excited about him. ... Super competitive. Still has a real desire to play and play at a high level."

Crabtree, spent last season with the Ravens, catching 54 passes for 607 yards and three touchdowns. He has also played for the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders during his 10-year career. 

"We like what we've seen on tape," Kingsbury said. "[Cardinals general manager] Steve [Keim] feels really good about it, talking to other coaches and how he's continuing to get better and we think he comes in and provides depth right away. So, we're looking forward to getting him here and getting him out there."

Crabtree will be competing for the second spot on the Cardinals' depth chart behind veteran Larry Fitzgerald.

"I know he'll bring some value to our group," Fitzgerald said.

The Cardinals have two preseason games remaining before they host the Detroit Lions in week one action on September 8.

 

The Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders played their preseason matchup on a shortened 80-yard field because of poor conditions at IG Field in Winnipeg.

IG Field typically serves as a Canadian Football League (CFL) venue and when the field's goalposts were moved to accommodate an NFL game, a hole was left in the end zone. 

Team and league representatives examined the hole alongside officials before deciding on the modified conditions for Thursday's game.

They ultimately decided to eliminate kick-offs from the contest. Both teams will start with the ball at the 25-yard line instead.

An NFL spokesman said in a statement: "Tonight's game is being played on a reconfigured field. The field met the mandatory practices for the maintenance of surfaces for NFL games based on an inspection yesterday.

"Concerns arose today surrounding the area where the Blue Bombers' goal posts were previously located. The 10-yard line will function as the goal line at this game. In lieu of kick-offs, the ball will be placed at the 15-yard line."

Some thought star Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers would make his preseason debut against Oakland. 

However, the Packers announced their decision to hold Rodgers and 32 other players out of the contest prior to their start, likely because of the field conditions.

Multiple players have yet to report to their respective teams just two weeks before the NFL regular-season opener, but one could be nearing a resolution.

Meanwhile, another player may not be available for at least a few weeks, and maybe more, after getting into some legal trouble.

 

Three things that matter

Chung indicted on cocaine possession charge

The New England Patriots safety was summoned by a New Hampshire grand jury on the charge, a Class B felony in the state that carries a fine of up to $2,000 and a potential prison term of up to seven years. Even if Patrick Chung is found not guilty of the charge, which stems from June, he will likely face discipline from the NFL for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

"We are aware of the reports regarding Patrick Chung. We will not be commenting while his judicial proceedings take place," a statement from the Patriots read.

Chung was absent from practice Wednesday ahead of Thursday's preseason meeting with the Carolina Panthers after previously wearing a red non-contact jersey throughout training camp as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery.

He is scheduled to be arraigned August 28, one day before New England wrap up exhibition play against the New York Giants.

Cowboys offer to make Elliott among highest-paid RBs

The question is: will he take it? The contract, rumoured to be worth more than Todd Gurley's but less than Le'Veon Bell's, would reportedly net Ezekiel Elliott between $13.135million and $14.375m per year with the Dallas Cowboys.

Elliott has remained a holdout throughout the preseason over his contract dispute and racked up more than $900,000 in fines for not reporting to training camp. He recently returned to Texas after training in Mexico, but the situation soured this week as Cowboys owner Jerry Jones joked about his absence.

We will see what Elliott's agent has to say about the proposal.

Arizona swap with Philly in rare player-for-player trade

The Arizona Cardinals dealt safety Rudy Ford to the Philadelphia Eagles for defensive tackle Bruce Hector. Ford, a sixth-round pick out of Auburn in the 2017 draft, has played 23 games with Arizona over his first two seasons. Hector signed for Philadelphia as an undrafted free agent in 2018 before earning a spot on the team's practice squad. He played eight games as a rookie last season.

Two things that don't matter

Steelers name Sherman interim WR coach

The move comes in the wake of the unexpected death of former wide receiver coach Darryl Drake earlier this month. Drake, who was 62, was in his second season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and his passing took a toll on his players.

Sherman has not coached since he retired following the 2015 season, but the 67-year-old brings four decades of coaching experience at both the college and professional level to the table. He even served as offensive coordinator for the Steelers in 1998.

Detroit doubles down on Harrison

The Detroit Lions signed the defensive tackle to a one-year extension worth a reported $11m, which would bring Damon Harrison's guaranteed money to $12 million between 2019-20. 

The All-Pro defender was traded from the Giants to the Lions midway through last season, bringing his total to 17 games played in 2018. He had 31 tackles with New York before adding 50 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 10 games for Detroit.

One video you have to see

Ryan Shazier is getting ready to go back to school next week but found time to give an update on his spinal rehabilitation. He has progressed to box jumps!

Thursday's tweet of the day

Antonio Brown could not help but take a shot at his former fan base after a report claimed HBO's "Hard Knocks" ratings in Pittsburgh were triple the national average.

It is the dog days of summer in the United States which means two things — MLB teams are just trying to get to the playoffs healthy and unnecessary drama is being drummed up in the NFL.

This is the kind of week where there is serious news coming out but said news is hard to take seriously.

Do not know what we mean? Read what is going on this week in US Sports.

 

1. Astros injuries piling up

The Houston Astros have the best team in baseball on paper. They also are competing for the best team in MLB on the injured list. As of right now the New York Yankees undoubtedly hold that title with Luke Voit, Edwin Encarnacion, Giancarlo Stanton, Luis Severino and Dellin Betances all on the shelf, but Houston are doing their best to catch up.

Houston lost Carlos Correa (back), Aaron Sanchez (pectoral) and Ryan Pressly (knee) to the injured list this week. That is while they were also without Gerrit Cole for a start after he sustained a hamstring injury before his scheduled appearance against the Chicago White Sox last week.

Fortunately for the Astros, Cole starts against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday. Unfortunately, Houston are once again dealing with injury woes for 2012 number one pick Correa. The 24-year-old has now spent significant time on the injured list with thumb, back and rib issues over each of the last three years and his back injury completely derailed his 2018 season and is now threatening to do the same in 2019.

This is a concern for Houston not just this year, but in regard to the shortstop's long-term future.

 

2. Elliott, Jones getting in their feelings

Should Ezekiel Elliott be holding out right now? The answer is almost certainly yes. After leading the league in rushing two of his first three years in the NFL while accumulating more attempts than any other back in that span, the Dallas Cowboys picked up his fifth-year option in a means of avoiding paying him in the short term while racking up wear and tear for the long term.

With a running back's average NFL career being about two and a half years, yeah Elliott should want to get paid and he deserves it. But should he be getting offended when Jerry Jones jokes about him? Probably not. But he and his camp were apparently very ticked off when hearing Jones joke about Elliott after Saturday's game, referring to the back as "Zeke who?"

Now, Jones has always had Elliott's back. He fought tooth and nail to help Elliott avoid a suspension for an alleged domestic violence incident two years ago. He loves Elliott. However, he probably could have proved that better than how he reacted to hearing Elliott was annoyed at the joke he made.

"I've earned the right to joke with Zeke," Jones said in a news conference on Tuesday. "Let me be real clear about that. I've earned the right to joke with Zeke."

Has he earned the right? Probably. Should he have shown his outrage in news conference to a reporter asking a legitimate question? Probably not.

 

3. Brown loves the limelight

For anyone watching Hard Knocks with the Oakland Raiders this year, it is easy to see what is going on. Antonio Brown loves attention and he is getting it. From a hot air balloon flight, to frostbitten feet, an obsession with Gatorade and multiple helmet issues, the cameras are constantly trained on Brown and will be until the show ends.

And while all of this is happening, we are getting a great glimpse into the constant drama around Brown. The wide receiver's helmet saga which featured him reportedly threatening to quit if he were not allowed to use his old helmet to general manager Mike Mayock telling reporters Brown is either in or out has been complete stupidity.

Brown is not going to quit over a helmet, but everyone is going to report on it for a couple of reason — one it is Brown, so it is news. And two, people love to watch car accidents, it is why traffic backs up every time a motorist is stuck on the side of the road after a collision.

This is sports in the US during August. Nothing is going on so more is made out of things than should be and Brown has been the absolute beneficiary.

 

4. Corey Kluber suffers a setback

The Cleveland Indians' trade of Trevor Bauer to the Cincinnati Reds at the deadline was made a lot more comfortable with the assumption that the former would be getting ace Corey Kluber back from a broken arm by the end of the season.

Well, that plan has hit a snag as Kluber suffered an oblique injury and has been shut down for two more weeks. While that does not sound so bad, let us tell you this, it is not just a two-week injury.

While he may be shut down for two weeks that just means he cannot throw in that time. So, when he does return, he has to ramp up his throwing again, face live hitters again and get his rhythm back on a mound hopefully in time for the postseason in October.

Kluber may be ready by then but there is a solid chance he could not be.

Le'Veon Bell is not worried about preseason as the New York Jets star eyes week one of the NFL campaign.

Jets head coach Adam Gase announced on Sunday that running back Bell would not make his debut until the team's NFL opener, despite sitting out all of 2018 as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers amid a contract dispute.

Even though Bell has not played in more than a year, the three-time Pro Bowler believes he can return to play at an All-Pro level at the start of the new season.

"I don't think me getting four plays in the preseason is gonna help me in Week 1 for the game," Bell told reporters on Wednesday. "It's gonna be me just getting ready for playing and practice. When the game comes, then I'll be ready."

Bell, 27, signed a four-year, $52.5million deal with New York this offseason. 

"Each and every day I've been getting better, so I think the coaches see it," Bell said. "And they've been putting more reps on me, you know, in practice.

"I try to get a little contact in practice. I think the defensive players do a good job of giving me good contact but not really trying to hurt me or take me to the ground too much."

Bell will be second-year quarterback Sam Darnold's go-to guy this season and looks forward to working with the young signal-caller.

"I hate watching Sam play because I want to be in there with him," Bell said. "I just want to be in there because I know how special he is. ... Just watching him each and every week, he will continue to grow. The ball, it just comes out so crazy. I'm ready to play with him and it'll be fun."

Darnold threw for 2,865 yards, 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in his first year as a starter and led the Jets to a 4-12 record.

Meanwhile, Bell has totalled 5,336 yards on the ground and accounted for 42 total touchdowns in five seasons.

The New York Jets will be without Brandon Copeland for the first four games of the 2019 season after the outside linebacker was suspended for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy.

Copeland will be allowed to practice and participate in his team's final two preseason games, yet he will not be able to return to the Jets' roster until October 7, after their game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

His absence is a further blow for the franchise – they will be without inside linebacker Avery Williamson for the entire campaign due to torn anterior cruciate ligament.

After the suspension was announced, Copeland revealed on Instagram that he took a supplement that "was contaminated with a banned substance," though stated it was not listed on the label.

"Regardless of the reason, League policy says I am responsible for what is in my body. I've had a roller coaster ride of a career and all of my previous test results have been negative," Copeland wrote in the post.

"This is simply a chapter in my journey that is still being written. And as always, never let the obstacle become bigger than the OPPORTUNITY."

Copeland, who remained with the Jets by signing a one-year deal in free agency, is coming off his best year, having finished with a career-high five sacks.

A team are opting to sit the majority of their starters this week as squads prepare for their third NFL preseason game.

Another team, however, are in jeopardy of being without one of their star players into September as a contract issue continues to keep him off the field.

Those stories and more in Wednesday's edition of NFL News and Notes.

 

Three things that matter

Wentz confident in week one availability

After missing time in back-to-back seasons in 2017 and 2018, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is feeling more optimistic about his health heading into the regular season.

"I'm ready for week one," Wentz said at his news conference. "I'm really not worried about it, to be honest. Every year, coming in, it's always going to be that first hit, no matter if it's three months off, six months off, 10 months, 12 months. It doesn't really matter. That first hit wakes you up real quick and it's football mode again."

Wentz will look to play a full 16-game season for the first time since his rookie campaign in 2016 after dealing with knee and back injuries the last two years.

Gordon's holdout headed into regular season

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon could reportedly extend his holdout into September after contract talks failed to progress. Gordon, who is due to earn $5.6million in the last season of his five-year rookie deal, is seeking a new contract or to be traded from Los Angeles and has remained away from the team's facility for the entire preseason.

Gordon said earlier this week he is "just waiting on the call," though it seems the 26-year-old could be waiting a while.

Colts buck tradition and opt to rest starters

In a surprise move, Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich announced most of the team's starters will not play in Thursday's third preseason game against the Chicago Bears, noting the team are still finalising their roster.

"Right now, the best thing is we’re looking to figure out who are the guys that are going to be on this roster," he said, per the team's official website. "There's spots open. This is very competitive."

It had already been determined that quarterback Andrew Luck will not practice this week. But given he is only practiced three times since April and still has not seen any preseason action, it is becoming more likely that backup Jacoby Brissett will be named the starter for week one.

Two things that don't matter

Cooper dealing with foot injury

The Dallas Cowboys receiver admitted he is dealing with plantar fasciitis in the heel of his left foot but is optimistic he will be able to resume practice at full strength this week. Amari Cooper has not been ruled out for the remainder of the preseason but it is unlikely he will take the field before the team's September 8 opener against the New York Giants.

"I'm not worried about it at all, because I know if it does linger it doesn't matter," he told reporters. "I had 1,000 yards on plantar fasciitis. I'm not really worried."

Cooper clearly is not panicked, and neither are the Cowboys, but it is certainly an injury worth monitoring.

Lewis to compete on "DWTS"

Retired linebacker Ray Lewis is set to take his famous swag to the dance floor, as it was announced he will be featured on the 28th season of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." He joins fellow athlete and retired NBA star Lamar Odom as the only professional athletes to compete this season.

It is a safe bet that Lewis will break out his classic intro shuffle during the first episode.

One video you have to see

Retired defensive end Chris Long, a two-time Super Bowl champion and the 2018 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year recipient, is encouraging players to continue protesting.

Wednesday's tweet of the day

The XFL is back, as the league teased its February 2020 return by announcing team names and unveiling logos for each of its eight franchises.

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is concerned about only one thing amid pressure on Cincinnati.

Cincinnati have missed the playoffs in three straight seasons with Dalton under center, but he said he is not focusing on the past. 

"I don't feel like there's any extra pressure," Dalton said, via Cincinnati.com. "I think we have high expectations for ourselves. I'm not worried about any added pressure. I'm just worried about winning.

"Win games. Win games in the playoffs. Win the Super Bowl. That's what it comes down to. The ultimate goal is to start off by winning the division and go from there. Those are the big goals. For us, we want to play sound football in all phases of the game. That's the biggest thing going to Seattle week one into a tough environment."

Dalton will be playing for a new coach this season as the Bengals parted ways with Marvin Lewis in late December and hired Zac Taylor to replace him.

Dalton said he was "really comfortable" playing in Taylor's offense. 

"I think I understand everything we're doing," Dalton said. "I know exactly how we're trying to attack certain defenses, why he's calling certain things. I really enjoy what we've been running and what Zac's implemented into this team."

Taylor praised Dalton and said he has "been impressive" during training camp and the preseason.

"He sees protections very well, so you always feel like he's going to protect play calls that you're not fired up about once you get to the line of scrimmage," Taylor said. "He's going to find his man and get us to the next play. He has good touch, good accuracy, and he knows where the ball should go. I'm very happy that he's our quarterback."

Dalton was limited to just 11 games last season because of a thumb injury. He threw 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while the team registered a 5-6 record in his starts. 

The Bengals have two preseason games remaining before they face the Seahawks on September 8.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones seems a little bit annoyed about how his "Zeke who?" comment was taken.

When asked if Tony Pollard's solid performance in Saturday's game was the Cowboys' best bargaining chip against Ezekiel Elliott's contract holdout, Jones answered: "Who? Now Zeke who?"

He followed that up by saying into the camera directed at Elliott: "We're having some fun, not at your expense."

That second comment, though, clearly did not smooth things over because the running back and his camp were not thrilled.

"I didn't think it was funny and neither did Zeke. We actually thought it was disrespectful," Elliott's agent Rocky Arceneaux told ESPN on Monday.

As one might expect, though, Jones was unhappy he had to address the backlash to his comment.

"I've earned the right to joke with Zeke," Jones told a news conference on Tuesday. "Let me be real clear about that. I've earned the right to joke with Zeke."

Elliott remains a holdout from camp as he is looking for a new contract. The Cowboys picked up his fifth-year option and he is locked up with the team for another two seasons.

The 24-year-old is a two-time rushing champion and led the league in carries in 2016 and 2018.

The drama appears to be cooling off in Oakland, but things could really start heating up in Dallas.

With one player nearing the end of his equipment dilemma, another is only digging himself into a deeper hole as he likely prepares to extend his contract holdout into the regular season.

Three things that matter

Antonio Brown 'helmetgate' could be nearing an end

Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden told reporters the star receiver participated in Tuesday's practice at the team's facility with a certified helmet, which is a step in a positive direction considering Brown's other headgear has either been removed from the NFL's approved list or failed testing in recent weeks.

"He's all in and ready to go," Gruden said. "That's my understanding. Really happy to have him out here. He's a great player."

If there are no further setbacks with his latest helmet, Brown could be ready to make his Oakland debut next month when the Raiders open the regular season against the Denver Broncos.

Cowboys extend Jaylon Smith

Turns out, the first lucrative deal that Dallas are willing to give out ahead of the 2019 season will not be to Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott or Amari Cooper. Instead, the Cowboys agreed to an extension with Smith, who was in the final season of the four-year, $6.49million contract he signed when he was drafted by Dallas in the second round in 2016. It is worth noting the linebacker missed all of 2017 with a leg injury but Smith has since bounced back and started in 22 of his 32 career games, including all 16 in 2018.

Still, the news cannot be sitting well with Elliott amid his holdout.

Andrew Luck won't practice this week

The Indianapolis Colts quarterback has been limited to just three practices since April and he will not be getting any extra work this week, as coach Frank Reich said Luck will continue to be held out. Reich noted the issue remains a matter of "full speed movement versus pain threshold", though it does not bode well for Luck considering the team want to decide by the third preseason game whether he will be able to start. Given Luck's latest setback, it is looking like backup Jacoby Brissett will assume the opening-game starting role.

Two things that don't matter

Demaryius Thomas activated from PUP list

The New England Patriots wide receiver took a big step in his rehab from an Achilles tear in December as he took the practice field on Tuesday in a jersey and helmet. Thomas' season was cut short after he was traded to the Houston Texans from the Broncos last year, but he appears ready to turn around his production decline after reportedly being moved off the physically unable to perform list and onto the active roster.

Julio Jones could finally be on the verge of getting paid

The wide receiver's agent, Jimmy Sexton, is in Atlanta to reportedly try to nail down a deal for his client this week. Jones, who is set to earn $9.6m in 2019, has two years left on the five-year contract worth $71m he signed in 2015.

"Yeah my agent is in town," Jones said, per the Falcons' official website. "There's nothing for me to report, just front office business with my agent."

Jones had sat out amid his contract holdout in 2018 but took a different approach this year, and it seems to be paying off.

One video you have to see

Carli Lloyd stopped by Philadelphia Eagles practice and showed Jake Elliott how it was done.

Tuesday's tweet of the day

Troy Polamalu is back, and he took down Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes with two fingers.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield says the New York Giants' selection of Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick of the NFL Draft "blows [his] mind".

Mayfield, the starting quarterback at the Browns, suggested the Giants were "overthinking" when they selected Jones, who was projected much lower.

The Cleveland star was similarly a slightly surprising selection last year with the first pick, but he hinted at a clear difference between himself and Jones.

Mayfield came into the NFL with a winning reputation after Oklahoma went 34-6 in his three years as a starter, while Jones was 17-19 as a starter at Duke.

"I cannot believe the Giants took Daniel Jones," he told GQ. "[It] blows my mind.

"Some people overthink it. That's where people go wrong. They forget you've got to win.

This is Mayfield's second run-in with the Giants this off-season.

Last month, Mayfield said of new Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr, formerly of the Giants: "He's here to play in front of fans who actually care, who will actually show up to every game and pack the stadium and love him for who he is."

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