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Giants ban local 1st-rounder for season finale

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Giants ban local 1st-rounder for season finale

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A day after Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins referred to him as a cancer, cornerback Eli Apple was suspended Wednesday by the New York Giants for the season finale against the Washington Redskins.

The Giants announced the suspension hours after Apple had participated in the practice. Interim general manager Kevin Abrams and interim coach Steve Spagnuolo informed him of the suspension.

"We have suspended Eli for a pattern of behavior that is conduct detrimental to the team," Abrams said.

Collins never referred to Apple, the Giants' first-round draft pick in 2016, by name in a radio interview on Tuesday. However, he said only one cornerback on the team needed to grow up and later added, "But that first pick ... he's a cancer."

Collins apologized for the comments on Wednesday. He and Apple met separately with Spagnuolo and then all three talked.

Collins was not in the locker room after practice. Apple declined to speak with the media (see full story).

Chiefs: Rookie Mahomes to start regular-season finale
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Patrick Mahomes II snapped a 34-year streak in which the Chiefs eschewed drafting a quarterback in the first round when they traded up to pick him 10th overall earlier this year.

Now, he's set to snap an even longer streak.

Mahomes will make his regular-season debut for the Chiefs when they visit the Denver Broncos on Sunday in an otherwise meaningless game. It will be the first time since Steve Fuller in 1979 that Kansas City has started a rookie quarterback in a non-strike year.

"I'm ready to go," said Mahomes, who won the backup job to Alex Smith in training camp but hasn't seen the field since the preseason. "I'm ready to go out there and try the best I can to win a game."

The Chiefs (9-6) don't need to win it, though. They clinched back-to-back AFC West titles for the first time in franchise history with their victory last week over Miami. And with no way to improve their playoff positioning, it makes sense for coach Andy Reid to give Smith and a few others the week off.

Still, the decision adds some intrigue to a game that had precious little of it (see full story).

Vikings: Bradford could return to practice next week
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford could return to practice next week as he recovers from a knee injury from Week 1.

Bradford has been out since a brief return in Week 5 against Chicago, which Minnesota plays Sunday in the regular-season finale. Bradford was taken out at halftime and was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 8.

Coach Mike Zimmer said Bradford could return to practice next week when he's first eligible.

"He says he feels good," Zimmer said. "He's been working out and doing things. Getting on the field, he's throwing the ball and doing workouts."

Bradford was the NFC offensive player of the week after setting a career-high 143.0 passer rating in the opener with 346 yards passing and three touchdowns.

Bradford took a hit in the game which caused soreness in his surgically repaired knee. His only other game action this season was in the first half at Chicago when he went 5 of 11 for 36 yards passing and was sacked four times, his mobility limited by the injury (see full story).

Browns: Jackson stands by vow to jump in Lake Erie
CLEVELAND -- His team already sunk, Browns coach Hue Jackson is taking the plunge.

Jackson said Wednesday he'll make good on his promise to jump in Lake Erie because of his team's horrible record. After the Browns went 1-15 last year, Jackson vowed that if Cleveland was ever that bad again he would swim in the lake. Well, the Browns are 0-15 heading into Sunday's finale at Pittsburgh. A loss would make the Browns just the second team to lose all 16 games.

Jackson said he's not happy about having to make the swim, but "I have to make do on my word. I made a statement, I gotta back it up."

Jackson wants to turn his dip into a positive and raise money for his foundation, which raised awareness and fights human trafficking.

Reminded that the lake is frozen this time of year, Jackson said he'll make the swim at his convenience.

Browns fire GM responsible for passing on Carson Wentz

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Browns fire GM responsible for passing on Carson Wentz

CLEVELAND — One win in two seasons cost Sashi Brown his job with the Browns. Coach Hue Jackson is keeping his -- for now.

Winless with four weeks left in another dismal season, the Cleveland Browns fired Brown on Thursday, jettisoning their top football executive who was unable to improve the franchise enough to satisfy owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam.

Jackson, though, is safe and will return for the 2018 season despite a 1-27 record.

"We have great appreciation and gratitude for Sashi's commitment and leadership to our organization but believe transitioning to someone with strong experience and success in drafting and building consistently winning football teams is critical to the future of the Cleveland Browns," Jimmy Haslam said in a statement. "Today we informed Sashi that we were going in a new direction. The 2018 draft and offseason is pivotal for our franchise, we need to ensure that we maximize our opportunity for success; with our picks, free agency and building our roster.

Brown was named the team's top executive by the Haslams during an overhaul following the 2015 season. His firing is not unexpected since the Browns are 0-12 for the second straight season with Brown in charge. He gutted Cleveland's roster, electing not to re-sign some of the team's own free agents in favor of signing younger players and acquiring future draft picks.

However, the team's decision to pass up on drafting quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson in the past two drafts may have hastened Brown's demise and Cleveland has shown little sign of improvement since Brown took over. Brown had no experience in evaluating players as he served as the team's general counsel before handling the salary cap and contracts.

ESPN was first to report Brown's dismissal.

Brown and Jackson appeared to be at odds over several roster decisions and Haslam figured his best course of action was to end the relationship rather than attempting to repair it.

The Browns host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

Looks like Browns know they messed up with Carson Wentz

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Looks like Browns know they messed up with Carson Wentz

The Browns are the Browns.

And they're not going to act as if they were right to pass on Carson Wentz in the 2016 NFL draft.

Like, at this point, can you really claim there's no regret to that decision?

As just about everyone knows, Cleveland traded the No. 2 overall pick to the Eagles, who snagged Wentz and, well, it's working out right now for them.

To make matters worse, the Browns also dealt the 2017 12th overall selection to the Texans, who picked quarterback Deshaun Watson. Before suffering a season-ending knee injury, Watson had become an MVP candidate along with Wentz.

Cleveland, on the other hand, is 1-23 since the start of 2016. This season, it has played three different quarterbacks that have combined for seven passing touchdowns and 17 interceptions. The team's recent QB history is … ugly.

So, as you might expect, passing on Wentz and Watson has come up a bit lately to Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown.

He touched on the topic Monday in a news conference.

Yeah, he'd probably like Wentz or Watson right about now.

Here's some of what Brown had to say, courtesy of the Akron Beacon Journal's Nate Ulrich:

I don’t think trading down was the problem. I think it’s just purely evaluating.

You take your hat off to both those young players who are off to hot starts to their careers. … There’s going to be opportunities that you miss on [in the draft] to add talent to your roster. I think good organizations do go back and look at those decisions and those evaluations. What did we miss? We’re perpetually doing that here internally. What is all the information we had? How did we gather it? Was it accurate? How did we analyze the information and put it all together to come to a decision?

I don’t shy away from missed opportunities at all. There’s a lot of non-quarterbacks out there frankly that are playing well right now, too, we’d love to have on our team. But we’re not going to get every one right, and we haven’t and we won’t moving forward. We will get enough of them right, and we will solve the quarterback position here.

They're still trying to fix that problem.

The Eagles seem to be doing OK at the position.

And they probably thank the Browns every morning for it.