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Waiver Wire: Week 1 (Rotoworld)
(Mon, 01 Sep 2014 20:08:00 PDT)
Adam Levitan has notes on 31 players to consider adding to your squad, including Packers WR Jarrett Boykin.

NFL Preview Week: Which teams have the toughest first four games? (Shutdown Corner)
(Mon, 01 Sep 2014 12:25:00 PDT)
The NFL regular season officially kicks off on Thursday when Green Bay travels to Seattle to take on the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks. Shutdown Corner will be previewing everything to come all week, capped off by our awards and Super Bowl predictions on Thursday. You can’t earn or lose a playoff spot in the first month, but you don’t want to dig a deep hole you’ll spend the last three months of the season trying to get out of. Ask the Steelers and Giants. Both teams were popular playoff picks last year, but Pittsburgh started 0-4 and the Giants started 0-6. It didn’t matter that Pittsburgh won six of its last eight or New York won seven of its last 10. Neither one made the playoffs because of the slow starts. Remember, all 16 games count the same, so the ones starting this week have the same weight in the standings as the ones in the final weeks. These teams have the toughest (and easiest) first four game stretches to start the season:

NFL Preview Week: 12 second-year players ready to break out (Shutdown Corner)
(Mon, 01 Sep 2014 06:45:25 PDT)
Coaches often say that the biggest growth in an NFL player occurs between the first and second season. Rookie confusion can lead to second-year clarity and a sense of being unencumbered. In this rush-to-judgment league, it's easy to forget last year's draft class. But here are some of the second-year players who might be ready to remind everyone just how good they still are: Cleveland Browns pass rusher Barkevious Mingo — When you listen to him talk this preseason, the words "comfortable" and "confident" are used a lot. That's because Mingo, who was always seen as a work in progress entering the league, now has his body and mind properly shaped to be an impact player. The Browns will have a strong top three edge rushers with Paul Kruger, Jabaal Sheard and Mingo and can rotate them and keep them fresh. Mingo likely will be an open-side rusher (the offense's left side) and will be his best to use quickness and length to distract and disrupt quarterbacks. He had three of his five sacks in his first three NFL games but wore down. Now, in Year 2, Mingo should have the stamina to put up double digits in that category. [Smack talk season is back at Yahoo Sports: Sign up and play free Fantasy Football! ]

Jaguars awarded TE Shuler off waivers from Falcons (The Associated Press)
(Sun, 31 Aug 2014 15:13:33 PDT)
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- The Jacksonville Jaguars have been awarded second-year tight end Mickey Shuler off waivers from the Atlanta Falcons.

Three-Down Linebackers (Rotoworld)
(Sun, 31 Aug 2014 12:27:00 PDT)
Jeff Ratcliffe gives you a heads up on which linebackers play three downs for all 32 teams.

Falcons claim LB Stupar, sign 8 to practice squad (The Associated Press)
(Sun, 31 Aug 2014 12:24:28 PDT)
The Atlanta Falcons have claimed linebacker Nate Stupar off waivers and released linebacker Tim Dobbins. Stupar was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday. Stupar was a seventh-round pick by Oakland in 2012 and also has spent time with Philadelphia and San Francisco. The Falcons also signed eight players to their practice squad who were with the team in the preseason.

New England Patriots trade QB Ryan Mallett to Houston Texans (Shutdown Corner)
(Sun, 31 Aug 2014 10:37:19 PDT)
A long-rumored trade finally has happened. The New England Patriots have dealt quarterback Ryan Mallett to the Houston Texans, which was first reported by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Rapoport reports the Patriots will receive a conditional seventh-rounder in 2016 in return. Terms: The #Texans traded a 2016 conditional 7th round pick for #Patriots QB Ryan Mallett, source said. — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 31, 2014 There had been talk up to and during the draft in May that Mallett, who becomes a free agent after this season, could wind up with the Texans and new head coach Bill OBrien, especially after the Texans only signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to start and drafted fifth-rounder Tom Savage as their developmental project. [ Smack talk season is back at Yahoo Sports: Sign up and play free Fantasy Football! ] O'Brien was the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator with the Patriots when the team drafted Mallett in the third round in 2011. Although Mallett has a mere four regular-season passing attempts as Tom Brady's backup the past three seasons, he reportedly has come a long way since entering the league. Mallett rebounded from a so-so first performance in the preseason to post strong numbers in the second and third contests with the Patriots. The Patriots drafting of Jimmy Garoppolo in Round 2 — and his strong preseason play — alowed the team to send Mallett to the Texans. Now the question becomes if the Patriots sign a third quarterback to the active roster. They worked out Cornell's Jeff Matthews on Saturday after he was cut by the Atlanta Falcons. For the Texans, it's likely that Fitzpatrick will remain the starter for now and that Savage is third in the pecking order, with Mallett likely to come in and challenge Fitzpatrick if he falters over time. It appears Case Keenum will be cut. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Falcons cut 2014 draft picks Allen, Robertson (The Associated Press)
(Sat, 30 Aug 2014 13:53:32 PDT)
ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Falcons have reached the roster limit of 53 by cutting 10 players, including 2014 draft picks Ricardo Allen and Travian Robertson.

Friday's Sports In Brief (The Associated Press)
(Sat, 30 Aug 2014 01:53:06 PDT)
Tony Stewart took his seat on the podium - unshaven, his eyes glassy - and unfolded a sheet of paper. His voice quivered as he read, pausing to maintain his composure as he described the death of a driver he hit as ''one of the toughest tragedies I've ever had to deal with.'' Ninety minutes later, he climbed into his No. 14 car and sped toward the high-banked oval at Atlanta Motor Speedway, drawing a cheer from the crowd gathered around his garage. He missed the last three races, going into seclusion after the sprint car he was driving struck and killed 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr., who had stepped on the track to confront him during a race. FONTANA, Calif. (AP) - Rookie IndyCar driver Mikhail Aleshin was hospitalized in serious but stable condition after a frightening crash in the final practice session for the series season finale.

Green-Ellis, Moorman among early wave of NFL cuts (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 29 Aug 2014 18:06:53 PDT)
The Law Firm has closed up shop in Cincinnati. Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis was released by the Bengals on Friday, among a handful of players out of jobs - for now - as NFL teams started to trim their rosters to get down to the mandatory 53 players by Saturday afternoon. Green-Ellis was Cincinnati's top rusher the past two seasons, but the running back with the amusing nickname was made expendable once the Bengals drafted LSU's Jeremy Hill in the second round in May. Cincinnati also waived linebacker Brandon Joiner, defensive tackle LaKendrick Ross and quarterback Tyler Wilson. Also among the announced cuts: Buffalo punter Brian Moorman and quarterback Jordan Palmer, Tampa Bay kicker Connor Barth, Jacksonville center Mike Brewster, Atlanta linebacker Pat Angerer and Chicago running back Jordan Lynch, a former Heisman trophy finalist as a quarterback at Northern Illinois.

Jaguars cut C Brewster, QB Stanzi in roster moves (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 29 Aug 2014 14:47:00 PDT)
Jacksonville Jaguars center Mike Brewster went from the starter to the street in a matter of weeks. The Jaguars waived Brewster, third-string quarterback Ricky Stanzi and others Friday - one day before the NFL's deadline for reducing rosters to 53 players. The team also placed receiver Tandon Doss (ankle) and cornerback Rashaad Reynolds (hand) on injured reserve following injuries sustained in Thursday's preseason finale against Atlanta. Offensive tackle Cody Booth, receiver Chad Bumphis, defensive lineman DeAndre Coleman, defensive tackle Ricky Havili-Heimuli, fullback Eric Kettani, safety Craig Loston, quarterback Stephen Morris, guard Drew Nowak, kicker Kasey Redfern, defensive end Gerald Rivers, guard Tyler Shatley, tight end D.J. Tialavea and linebacker LB Marcus Whitfield also were waived.

Falcons cut 7th-round draft pick Yawin Smallwood (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 29 Aug 2014 14:08:55 PDT)
ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Falcons have cut 12 players, including linebacker Yawin Smallwood, a seventh-round pick from Connecticut, and running back Josh Vaughan.

Preseason Blitz: Michael Vick gets nice ovation in Philadelphia (Shutdown Corner)
(Thu, 28 Aug 2014 22:26:25 PDT)


Yates states case to be Falcons' backup QB (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 28 Aug 2014 19:25:57 PDT)
Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith is waiting to select a backup quarterback. Watching a replay of the preseason finale at Jacksonville might make his decision an easy one. T.J. Yates made a strong case to be Matt Ryan's backup Thursday night, throwing for 243 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-14 win over the Jaguars. Yates had shown little in the team's first three exhibitions, completing 39.4 percent of his passes, with no touchdowns and two interceptions.

Blake Bortles did it again, forcing Jaguars to question their own approach (Shutdown Corner)
(Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:59:17 PDT)
If the Jacksonville Jaguars stick to the plan they laid out in early May, we might not see Blake Bortles again for a while. If Thursday was the last time for, oh, at least a month, then it was pretty darned fun, Blake. Bortles started and played three offensive series in Thursday's preseason loss to the Atlanta Falcons and got beat up in the first two of them. Bortles' second-team offensive line was manhandled by the Falcons' first-team defensive front, taking two sacks and a third hit that affected his throw. [ Smack talk season is back at Yahoo Sports: Sign up and play free Fantasy Football! ] But Bortles was unfazed. He stepped up in the third drive, stared down the gun barrel amid a collapsing pocket and delivered a strike nearly 50 yards in the air (off his back foot, mind you) to Marqise Lee, splitting the Falcons safeties in the process, for a 57-yard touchdown pass. With a dropped pass by tight end Brandon Barden, Bortles finished the game 4-for-6 passing for 86 yards and a touchdown. Through four preseason games, Bortles completed 34-of-53 passes for 521 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. We swoon. Bortles has impressed with his calm amid pressure, ability to throw on the move and command of the passing game. He looked like a third-year pro when I saw him in person a few weeks ago. But Chad Henne is starting. He, too, has played well in the preseason. But Bortles is tantalizing. How long can Gus Bradley and Jedd Fisch keep him shackled?  Jaguars QB Blake Bortles: "A lot of work left to do, but I think everybody is happy w/preseason we’ve had and is looking forward to Week 1” — John Oehser (@JohnOehser) August 29, 2014 Bortles and the Jaguars have looked good, and I'll be interested to see how not just Henne will do out of the chute, but also the defense and the complementary parts on offense. Why? Well, if everything else looks solid and the Jags are, say, 2-3 through a tough opening five-game stretch, the coaches might realize that they could be way ahead of schedule and ready to compete in the uneven AFC South this season. Yes, this season. And maybe with Bortles. He'll be put on ice for a bit, and Bortles still has barely had any run with the first-team offense. But we can't wait to see what he'll do when he gets his chance. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Manning gets fine after taunting Texans safety (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 28 Aug 2014 15:20:50 PDT)
Peyton Manning has been docked a reported $8,268 for taunting Houston Texans safety D.J. Swearinger in a preseason game last week. The Denver Broncos quarterback laid into the safety for hitting Wes Welker in the head, which left the slot receiver with his third concussion in 10 months. The penalty was reported by ESPN. Manning told ESPN's Chris Mortensen: ''I accept it.

Champ Bailey's role unclear as Saints host Ravens (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 27 Aug 2014 16:18:23 PDT)
After playing at an elite level for more than a decade, cornerback Champ Bailey enters the final game of the 2014 preseason with little certainty about what kind of role he might fill in the Saints' secondary. He is healthy enough to play against Baltimore on Thursday night, but coaches may still decide the Saints' long-term interests would be better served by sitting Bailey out to ensure he's healthy when the games start counting in the standings. Bailey probably needs more time in the field in the preseason if he wants a legitimate chance to start against the Falcons to open the regular season on Sept. 7, but even he acknowledged, ''I've just got to make sure my body feels good before I step out there in Atlanta.'' Either way, Bailey said his designation as a starter or backup won't affect his approach. Regardless of how much I'm playing, I'm always out there competing like I'm the starter or going to be.'' After Bailey was let go by Denver last offseason, the Saints brought him in, hoping his experience would help a young secondary, and they he'd be healthy enough to continue being effective for another season.

Falcons, Jaguars trying to settle O-line in finale (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 27 Aug 2014 13:45:43 PDT)
The Jacksonville Jaguars had few, if any, concerns at center for a dozen years. Brad Meester was Jacksonville's man in the middle every season since 2002, and he was arguably the most consistent and dependable player in franchise history. So it should be no surprise that the Jaguars have had a tough time replacing him. The Jaguars essentially benched center Mike Brewster after two preseason games, opening up the job to journeyman Jacques McClendon and rookie Luke Bowanko.

'Hard Knocks' ep. 4 recap: Keep your shirt on, Matt Ryan (Shutdown Corner)
(Wed, 27 Aug 2014 11:31:19 PDT)
The Atlanta Falcons are the subject of this year's "Hard Knocks" on HBO. No team has ever gone undefeated after appearing on "Hard Knocks." Will Atlanta be the first? Tune in to find out! Meantime, here's what happened in Episode 4. • Admit it. You wonder if, physical shortcomings aside, you'd have what it takes to make it in the NFL. Could you handle training camp, the pressure of fighting for a roster spot, the unrelenting scorn of your coaches? This year's audience stand-in is Ra'Shede Hageman, a rookie defensive lineman who's getting thrown around by both the opposition and the coaching staff. Houston had little trouble with Hageman in last week's preseason game, and that's where coach Bryan Cox steps in. In a visual equivalent of rubbing a dog's nose in his own filth, Cox forces Hageman to watch just how poorly he has played. "I want you to see how [freaking] pitiful you look," Cox says as tape runs . "They make you their jailhouse [girlfriend]." Accurate, if blunt. • Coaches are the surrogate dads for both the team and the audience, so it's with a cringe of recognition that we watch special teams coach Keith Armstrong light up his charges , including Hageman. He unleashes a profane rant that would fit in neatly in a Scorsese film, one which includes the gem "You ain't good enough to be an [a-word]." I plan to use that in my own parenting techniques. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today! ] • Matt Ryan may be one of the cover models of this week's Sports Illustrated and one of the NFL's new gunslingers (why, yes, I did pick him for my fantasy team, thanks for asking), but he knows full well that quarterback is a position in transition ... visually, if not procedurally. When asked about posing with his shirt off as part of that Sports Illustrated shoot, the lean Ryan declines, noting that Colin Kaepernick is in astonishing physical shape. • Joe Hawley did pottery, "Ghost"-style, and Devonta Freeman got a pedicure. Somewhere, Mike Ditka bites through an iron fence. • In order to be a good quarterback, you need smarts, skills and a good voice. Really. "Omaha" was a joke all last season, but quarterbacks' cadences serve an important purpose. Fourth quarterback Jeff Matthews has everything but the voice, and as a result, the Falcons send him packing. • Julio Jones' long touchdown against Tennessee is going to be running on replay in the Falcons' offices all year. The team had better hope it's harbinger and not the year's lone highlight. • Next week marks the season finale of "Hard Knocks," and the beginning of the year for Atlanta. It'll be fun to see if the cast of clowns we've come to know and love these last few weeks can put it all together for a run at a playoff berth. ____ Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Facebook or on Twitter. Follow @jaybusbee

RG3 best choice to start for Redskins, though Cousins has momentum (NBC on Yahoo Sports)
(Wed, 27 Aug 2014 06:53:18 PDT)
An old saying demands that statistics not get in the way of a good argument. For the belligerent crowd that agrees, there's rarely anyway to change opinion. For others that look to advanced metrics for guidance, the evidence can paint a clear picture. In the case of the Redskins quarterback, the numbers show Robert Griffin III at a clear advantage over Kirk Cousins. Many have gotten caught up in Cousins' preseason play, where the third-year QB out of Michigan State has looked better than Griffin. But the preseason is hardly a fair barometer to measure regular season success. Defenses don't game-plan to stop specific players in the preseason, and the best players do not stay on the field the entire game. Looking at the 2013 season shows Griffin at a clear statistical advantage over Cousins, and reveals Cousins to be a highly erratic quarterback. Of all the signal callers with at least 150 pass attempts in 2013, Cousins ranked dead last in Passer Rating at 58.4. Behind Cousins came the Jets' Geno Smith at 66.5 and the Raiders' Terrelle Pryor at 69.1. Griffin came in at 82.2, not impressive, yet still significantly better than Cousins. [RELATED: Redskins make cuts to get to 75] For those that don't like the Passer Rating stat, there are other numbers that show Cousins was ineffective in 2013. Again only ranking quarterbacks with at least 150 pass attempts, Cousins ranked as the worst for Pass Completion Percentage at 52.2 percent, narrowly edging out Cleveland's Brandon Weeden 52.8. Cousins 52.2 percentage rate ranked lower than players like Case Keenum, Matt McGloin and former Redskins first-round pick Jason Campbell. RG3 completed almost 61 percent of his passes last season. Yards-per-Pass-Attempt has become a good measure to determine how explosive a quarterback runs his offense. Nick Foles led the NFL in the stat in 2013 at 9.12 yards-per-pass-attempt. Just behind Foles came Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning. On the opposite end of the spectrum? Kirk Cousins. He averaged just 5.51 yards-per-pass-attempt , lower than Tampa's Mike Glennon, Campbell and Baltimore's Joe Flacco. RG3 averaged 7.01 yards-per-pass-attempt, a better finish than Tom Brady and Eli Manning, but worse than Tony Romo and Matt Cassel. Of course it should be noted that Cousins started the final three games of the 2013 season as the team limped to the finish. What impact that had on the team is hard to note. In Cousins best game of the 2013 season, he completed 64 percent of his passes for 381 yards and three touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions in a 27-26 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. That marked Cousins first start of the season after Mike Shanahan decided to shut down Robert Griffin III to keep him healthy for the 2014 season. The Redskins final game of the 2013 season, a 20-6 loss to the New York Giants, marked Cousins worst outing. He completed just 38 percent of his passes for 169 yards and two interceptions. The weather was a factor that game, with sleet and freezing rain, and Eli Manning was not much better. Manning completed 41 percent of his passes for 152 yards with a touchdown and an interception. - JP Finlay, CSN Washington

Zimmer happy he found 'perfect fit' with Vikings (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 26 Aug 2014 18:33:15 PDT)
Mike Zimmer has waited a long time to be an NFL head coach, as a 58-year-old who has spent the past 20 seasons in the league as an assistant. When yet another team picked another candidate instead of him this winter, Zimmer was discouraged enough to consider skipping a second interview with Minnesota and giving up on his goal altogether. The Vikings were glad he didn't, and so was he. ''When I was thinking about not going on the visit, it had nothing to do with the Vikings.

Falcons look to bounce back from dismal season (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 26 Aug 2014 18:11:01 PDT)
This is new territory for the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons plummeted to 4-12 last season, a bitter disappointment for a team that nearly went to the Super Bowl the previous year. I can tell you that after this season.'' When general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Mike Smith arrived in 2008, the Falcons began a stretch of five straight winning seasons, which included four playoff appearances, two division titles and a trip to the NFC championship game. Atlanta, it seemed, had finally grown into one of those elite NFL franchises, so accustomed to winning that no other outcome even seemed plausible.

Healthy Romo key with Dallas defense in disarray (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 26 Aug 2014 17:42:52 PDT)
Even if Tony Romo's surgically repaired back holds up, the Dallas Cowboys could have a difficult time matching the 8-8 finish they've had for three years running. A beleaguered defense that gave up the third-most yards in NFL history last year is in disarray, and it won't be long before the season opens against San Francisco. More than likely, the Cowboys will simply have to outscore opponents to avoid matching the franchise record of five straight years without a trip to the playoffs. ''It's been a tough three years in a row, so you want to have that breakthrough that you talk about,'' said Jason Witten, who needs 201 yards receiving to join Tony Gonzalez and Shannon Sharpe as the only tight ends in league history with 10,000.

Should Jags rookie QB Blake Bortles hold clipboard for a season? (Yahoo Sports)
(Tue, 26 Aug 2014 17:35:21 PDT)
The Jaguars have an unexpected problem: rather than risking too much rookie-year playing time for Blake Bortles, is there a risk of too little? Bortles has responded so well to on-field action that his rapid progress could be slowed by standing on the sideline.

Chiefs trying to build on big bounce-back year (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 26 Aug 2014 16:19:33 PDT)
The ride Andy Reid took the Kansas City Chiefs on last season was fun while it lasted. The cash-strapped organization had to watch helplessly as three Pro Bowl players and several other key pieces departed in free agency, their big bounce-back seasons resulting in big-money deals elsewhere. Throw in the fact Kansas City is facing a much tougher schedule and is no longer going to sneak up on anybody, and the goal this season becomes simple: avoid a precipitous backslide. ''What happened in the past, you can't do anything about it,'' Pro Bowl pass rusher Tamba Hali said.

Titans sign QB Dominique Davis to roster (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 26 Aug 2014 13:27:54 PDT)
The Tennessee Titans have signed quarterback Dominique Davis to the roster, giving them depth for their preseason finale Thursday night at a position where Jake Locker is expected to play little and backup Charlie Whitehurst still is nursing a sore right pinkie. The Titans conclude the preseason Thursday against Minnesota before making their final roster cuts. They will be keeping Locker, Whitehurst and rookie Zach Mettenberger for the season. Notes: DL Ropati Pitoitua had surgery on his broken left hand Monday, and he said Tuesday he expects to be available for the season opener Sept. 7 in Kansas City.

Falcons looking for 'clarity' at RT, nickel back (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 26 Aug 2014 13:26:51 PDT)
The Atlanta Falcons are looking for starters to emerge at right tackle and nickel back in their final preseason game. Coach Mike Smith said there is no ''clarity'' at those spots, though he likes the contenders. Normally, the focus for the final preseason game is the competition for the final roster spots. Smith said this year's prolonged battles for starting jobs remind him of his 2008 debut season in Atlanta.

RB Steven Jackson returns to Falcons' practice (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 25 Aug 2014 15:19:01 PDT)
Steven Jackson practiced on Monday for the first time in almost a month, and Falcons coach Mike Smith said the running back is on schedule to be play in Atlanta's season opener against New Orleans. Because it was the preseason, the Falcons took a cautious approach to Jackson's recovery. In the NFL season, you don't get time. This time I had time to make sure I was right.'' Jacquizz Rodgers has started at running back in Atlanta's first three preseason games.

Falcons again place OL Johnson on injured reserve (The Associated Press)
(Sun, 24 Aug 2014 16:22:53 PDT)
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) -- Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman Mike Johnson will miss another season after going down with a foot injury.

Titans' defensive mistakes part of growing pains (The Associated Press)
(Sun, 24 Aug 2014 15:19:48 PDT)
The Tennessee Titans are making some painful mistakes on defense, and first-year coach Ken Whisenhunt chalks it up to growing pains. ''We're making progress, but the thing that really irritated me more so last night was what we gave up,'' Whisenhunt said.

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