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."

Jimmy Garoppolo's preseason return to action did not go exactly to plan.

The San Francisco 49ers quarterback played his first game back from his season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury last September in Monday's 24-15 win over the Denver Broncos.

But Garoppolo failed to impress as he went one-for-six for zero yards and an interception, with a lousy 0.0 passer rating.

Garoppolo was replaced by CJ Beathard after three drives, but he was at least able to get his nerves out the way early.

"Obviously there was a lot of excitement," he said. "I was anxious to get out there and everything but nothing too crazy.

"It's something I haven't done in a year, obviously, so I got to knock the rust off and everything and thankfully we have a short week this week so we can bounce back quickly. But it's the first step of getting back into it.

"Obviously I'm a little frustrated but it's the NFL. Unfortunately, we don't get to play the whole game right now so I only get so many plays.

"You wish you could be out there for more so we could bounce back. But it is what it is. It's preseason right now, so we just have to take it in stride."

Although the outing was not pretty, Niners coach Kyle Shanahan believes the experience did Garoppolo good.

"He's had a year off football," the coach said. "And before that, he only played about eight games total. The more he can play, the better.

"I wish we could have kept him out there longer today but you risk everyone else, too, so I had to get those guys out of there."

Garoppolo, 27, was traded from the New England Patriots to San Francisco in 2017 and then signed a five-year contract worth $137million with the Niners last year before his early season injury.

San Francisco will visit the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday before wrapping up their preseason at home next Thursday against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Ezekiel Elliott did not appreciate Jerry Jones' jab at him after the Dallas Cowboys' pre-season game against the Los Angeles Rams.

Elliott returned to Texas late last week after holding his own personal training sessions in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, as he continues to hold out from taking part in the Cowboys' pre-season due to an ongoing dispute over his contract.

Running back Tony Pollard came in for Saturday's clash with the Rams in Hawaii, and put in an impressive display in a 14-10 win.

Cowboys owner Jones was so impressed by Pollard's performance that he joked, "Who? Now Zeke who?" following the match.

Jones later motioned to the camera and said he was just making an innocent joke, but according to Elliot was not amused, according to his agent.

"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.

Previous reports stated that Elliott will not return to the team until he has a new extension, although there have been conflicting reports on if he will sit out for the regular season.

The Cowboys are dealing with several contract situations, including potential extensions for quarterback Dak Prescott and wideout Amari Cooper. 

As Elliott continues to hold out, he has racked up more than $900,000 in fines for not reporting to camp. 

Arceneaux offered no further progress update on Elliot's contract negotiations. The running back currently has two years and $12.95 million left on his rookie deal.

The Seattle Seahawks have announced D.K. Metcalf requires knee surgery, though head coach Pete Carroll is confident the setback will not "derail" the wide receiver for too long.

Selected in the second round of the 2019 draft, Metcalf was with the team for Sunday's preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings but did not play.

Carroll confirmed afterwards that the former Ole Miss standout will have an operation when the Seahawks return home, possibly as early as Tuesday.

However, it is hoped the 21-year-old may recover in time for the start of the regular season. Seattle open their campaign against the Cincinnati Bengals on September 8.

"DK's got an injury to his knee that we found; it happened two days back," Carroll told the team's official website.

"It's something we've got to do some work on, probably Tuesday, and get him back in a hurry. We're disappointed for him, because he was off to a fantastic start, but I don't think this is going to derail him for long.

"But he does have to have some work done. We'll know more about that when we get back into town.

"The docs really have a clear look at the MRI already, what it is, and it's a really quick recovery. That still all has to happen. We're going to keep him in town and get the work done right away, and be very optimistic about the way he can get back."

Carroll also offered an update on rookie safety Marquise Blair, who was carted off the field during the 25-19 loss to the Vikings. 

"He had back spasms in the second half," Carroll said. "I don't know what that means, but he had a play and his back got tight, and it kept getting tighter and he couldn't go back."

Meanwhile, back-up quarterback Paxton Lynch will have to clear concussion protocol after taking a heavy hit from Vikings cornerback Holton Hill, who was ejected.

Le'Veon Bell will not be on the field until the games count for the New York Jets.

The Jets will hold the 27-year-old running back out for the entire preseason, coach Adam Gase told reporters after the team's Green and White scrimmage on Sunday.

"I was about 99 per cent sure heading into the season, it was all based off how he practised, conditioned, those types of things," Gase said.

"We talked about it before we started. I told him, 'We wanted to increase the reps last week', and we're going to do the same thing this week where we just get him as game-ready as possible because he's not really going to know until we get in a real game."

Bell missed all of 2018 after holding out from the Pittsburgh Steelers over a contract dispute. He then signed a four-year, $52.5million deal with the Jets this offseason.

"I feel like he's in great shape, he's been contacting about as good as anybody on the practice field. I feel confident that he'll be ready to go week one," Gase said.

"He's in a good place right now. The way he's working in practice, the way he's running the ball in practice, I feel really good about him when we hit the regular season."

Bell has rushed for 35 touchdowns and made three Pro Bowls since he was selected by Pittsburgh in the second round of the 2013 draft.

"I want to do whatever coach Gase wants me to do," Bell said after a practice last week, via the team's official website.

"If he asks me to play, I'm going to go out there and play. If he tells me not to, tells me to rest, I'm going to do that ... I'm going to do whatever's best for my team."

The Jets have two preseason games remaining before they host the Buffalo Bills on September 8.

Le'Veon Bell will not be on the field until the games count for the New York Jets.

The Jets will hold the 27-year-old running back out for the entire preseason, coach Adam Gase told reporters after the team's Green and White scrimmage on Sunday.

"I was about 99 per cent sure heading into the season, it was all based off how he practised, conditioned, those types of things," Gase said.

"We talked about it before we started. I told him, 'We wanted to increase the reps last week', and we're going to do the same thing this week where we just get him as game-ready as possible because he's not really going to know until we get in a real game."

Bell missed all of 2018 after holding out from the Pittsburgh Steelers over a contract dispute. He then signed a four-year, $52.5million deal with the Jets this offseason.

"I feel like he's in great shape, he's been contacting about as good as anybody on the practice field. I feel confident that he'll be ready to go week one," Gase said.

"He's in a good place right now. The way he's working in practice, the way he's running the ball in practice, I feel really good about him when we hit the regular season."

Bell has rushed for 35 touchdowns and made three Pro Bowls since he was selected by Pittsburgh in the second round of the 2013 draft.

"I want to do whatever coach Gase wants me to do," Bell said after a practice last week, via the team's official website.

"If he asks me to play, I'm going to go out there and play. If he tells me not to, tells me to rest, I'm going to do that ... I'm going to do whatever's best for my team."

The Jets have two preseason games remaining before they host the Buffalo Bills on September 8.

Le'Veon Bell will not be on the field until the games count for the New York Jets.

The Jets will hold the 27-year-old running back out for the entire preseason, coach Adam Gase told reporters after the team's Green and White scrimmage on Sunday.

"I was about 99 per cent sure heading into the season, it was all based off how he practised, conditioned, those types of things," Gase said.

"We talked about it before we started. I told him, 'We wanted to increase the reps last week', and we're going to do the same thing this week where we just get him as game-ready as possible because he's not really going to know until we get in a real game."

Bell missed all of 2018 after holding out from the Pittsburgh Steelers over a contract dispute. He then signed a four-year, $52.5million deal with the Jets this offseason.

"I feel like he's in great shape, he's been contacting about as good as anybody on the practice field. I feel confident that he'll be ready to go week one," Gase said.

"He's in a good place right now. The way he's working in practice, the way he's running the ball in practice, I feel really good about him when we hit the regular season."

Bell has rushed for 35 touchdowns and made three Pro Bowls since he was selected by Pittsburgh in the second round of the 2013 draft.

"I want to do whatever coach Gase wants me to do," Bell said after a practice last week, via the team's official website.

"If he asks me to play, I'm going to go out there and play. If he tells me not to, tells me to rest, I'm going to do that ... I'm going to do whatever's best for my team."

The Jets have two preseason games remaining before they host the Buffalo Bills on September 8.

Doug Pederson believes Josh McCown will be an asset for the Philadelphia Eagles, even if he never steps on the field.

McCown came out of retirement at the age of 40 and signed a one-year deal with the Eagles after back-up quarterbacks Nate Sudfeld and Cody Kessler suffered injuries in NFL preseason.

Eagles head coach Pederson discussed the team's decision to add the 16-year veteran when he met with reporters on Sunday.

"It kind of falls in line with not only the injury situation, but also the fact that when we have an opportunity to add a little value, add a little depth, add a little competition to that spot, a veteran guy who has been around the league," Pederson said.

"I've said this all along, the quarterback position is not immune to any of this, so that's why we did it."

McCown spent the last two seasons with the New York Jets, appearing in 17 games and throwing 19 touchdown passes. He announced he was stepping away from football in mid-June but changed his mind when the Eagles became interested in signing him.

"It was an easy sell, to be quite honest," McCown said via the Eagles' official website. "More than anything, it was the comfort level I had talking with Doug [Pederson], where they're trying to take this thing and where they're trying to get back to and understanding the expectations that they have here.

"I've been in a lot of situations throughout my career — where I was helping a young guy or serving as a stopgap kind of guy or being part of a rebuilding situation — so to come to a situation where it was more established, where they've got the quarterback [Carson Wentz] and a veteran defense and a lot of good players on the offense, that to me was enticing."

The Eagles have two preseason games remaining before they face the Washington Redskins in week one action on September 8.

 

Antonio Brown was not with the Raiders on Sunday and Oakland general manager Mike Mayock told the wide receiver to decide if he was "all in or all out".

Brown, 31, skipped practice because he continues to be unhappy about his ongoing dispute with the NFL over his helmet, Mayock revealed when he met with reporters.

"Here's the bottom line," Mayock said.

"He's upset about the helmet issue. We have supported that, we appreciate that. At this point, we've pretty much exhausted all avenues of relief.

"So, from our perspective it's time for him to be all in or all out. We're hoping he's back soon."

The helmet Brown wore with the Pittsburgh Steelers is no longer on the NFL's approved list. He lost an arbitration appeal to use the old model, and reportedly threatened to retire if he could not use the helmet.

The Raiders acquired Brown from the Steelers in March in exchange for draft picks. He caught 74 touchdown passes and made seven Pro Bowls during his nine seasons with Pittsburgh.

"We've got 89 guys busting their tails," Mayock said.

"We’re really excited about where this franchise is going and we hope A.B. is going to be a big part of it, starting week one against Denver. End of story."

Mayock declined to take questions from the media on Sunday. Brown has also dealt with frostbitten feet, an injury caused by a cryotherapy equipment mishap, in training camp. 

The Raiders have two preseason games remaining before they host the Denver Broncos on September 9.

Former Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers running back Cedric Benson has died at the age of 36.

The fourth overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft was killed in a traffic accident in Austin, Texas.

Benson was a four-year starter at the University of Texas before becoming the fourth overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.

He spent the first three years of his career with the Bears, featuring in the Super Bowl XLI loss to the Indianapolis Colts, and had four seasons as a Bengal before finishing his career with the Packers in 2012.

"Our condolences to the friends and family of former Bears running back Cedric Benson, our fourth overall draft pick in 2005 and member of the 2006 NFC Champions team," the Bears said in a statement.

Bengals president Mike Brown added: "Cedric was a fine football player for us. He played a principal role for several years here, including a couple of playoff runs. He was from Texas, and he showed his Texas toughness in leading us to a Division Championship in just his second season with us.

"His three consecutive 1000-yard seasons displayed the talent he possessed. Our organisation is deeply saddened by his sudden and tragic passing. The Bengals extend our deepest condolences to Cedric’s family."

Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden believes star wide receiver Antonio Brown will fully participate in practice soon.

The start to Brown's first year with the Raiders has already been shrouded in turmoil. After he arrived to camp in a hot air balloon, the seven-time NFL Pro-Bowler was quickly placed on the non-football injury list.

It was later reported Brown was dealing with frostbitten feet after a cryotherapy equipment mishap.

Asked about Brown, Gruden told reporters on Saturday: "He took all the reps today in our walkthrough.

"He showed great retention and we'll see what happens here with this afternoon. 

"We're going to have a walkthrough today as well ... so we'll pick it up tomorrow."

Brown ran routes and caught passes on Thursday in Arizona ahead of the team's second exhibition game and also was part of Oakland's walkthrough back in California over the weekend.

The 31-year-old has also been embroiled in controversy surrounding his helmet. First, the NFL told Brown he could not use his old helmet because it was not approved anymore.

Brown showed up at practice with an old Pittsburgh Steelers helmet he had crudely repainted with colours approximating the Raiders design.

More recently, Brown refused to play without his old helmet. Now, the league will allow Brown to wear the specific model of Schutt helmet he loves, provided it is less than 10 years old.

While Brown is certainly keeping everyone on their toes this early in the season, his team-mates are focused on the football aspect and quarterback Derek Carr is already impressed in Brown's limited showing.

"The man's recall is unbelievable," Carr said. "He came in and, no mental errors, and in this offense, that's not easy to do. Especially, whenever you have a day off ... you come back and you're like, you've got to stay on coach Gruden's offense all the time. You can tell Antonio's been studying because he came out and didn't miss a beat. He was a part of everything we did today."

Quarterback Josh McCown has come out of retirement to join the Philadelphia Eagles on a one-year deal.

The 40-year-old has put his plans for a career in broadcasting on hold to sign for the Eagles, who required additional cover at the position behind starter Carson Wentz.

After Nate Sudfeld broke his wrist earlier in preseason against the Tennessee Titans, Cody Kessler suffered a concussion less than three minutes into Thursday's fixture against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Kessler's misfortune left Clayton Thorson, a 2019 fifth-round pick from Northwestern, to finish the game. He completed 16 of his 26 pass attempts for 175 yards, including one touchdown and an interception in a 24-10 win.

Head coach Doug Pederson said after the game the team will evaluate Kessler going forward, but he was clearly concerned about the depth chart considering he had just one healthy arm behind Wentz, who has his own unfortunate injury history.

McCown's contract could reportedly be worth as much as $5.4million, while the Eagles will be his ninth NFL team.

He has completed 60.2 percent of his passes for 17,707 yards and 98 touchdowns with 82 interceptions in 99 career games (76 starts) since the Arizona Cardinals selected him with the 81st pick in the 2002 draft.

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