Eagles

NFL Notes: Fights break out in several training camps

NFL Notes: Fights break out in several training camps

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- As the weeks progress in NFL training camps, it's not unusual to see players grab each other by the jersey, wrestle, yell a few profanities and then get separated by teammates as the coaches repeatedly blow their whistles.

It's the old boys-will-be-boys approach, and the New York Giants have been going through it lately as camp stretches into its second week and players don shoulder pads.

Coach Ben McAdoo doesn't mind it. He wants his team to be physical. He wants his players to know what it is like to hit and be hit.

What the second-year head coach doesn't want is the prolonged scrums. Invariably, someone gets stepped on or knocked down and an injury happens.

"The extracurricular stuff after the whistle is something that irritates the vets, and those are the things we need to put an end to," McAdoo said Thursday. "You can be physical and you can be heavy-handed; you can fit your pads in and you can finish, but when that whistle blows, that extra stuff after the whistle is unnecessary."

Seahawks: Clark ejected for punching Ifedi
RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark was tossed from practice Thursday after punching teammate Germain Ifedi in the face during a heated skirmish between offensive and defensive linemen.

Defensive tackle Malik McDowell also reported to the team after missing the first three practices of training camp after injuring himself in an ATV accident.

Clark was sent off for the final half hour of practice after his punch dropped Ifedi to the ground. Ifedi also left practice as he was being attended to by trainers after the incident.

"Disappointed we had a couple guys get after it today," coach Pete Carroll said. "There's no room for fighting in football. It is not part of this game. It's not supposed to be part of this game, and we frown upon that very heavily. Real disappointed that that happened today. We have to learn and get better and be right."

Dolphins: Tannehill reinjures left knee
DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill reinjured his left knee in practice Thursday when it buckled as he scrambled and fell without being hit.

Tannehill walked slowly off the field accompanied by trainers. He underwent an MRI, but results weren't definitive regarding the extent of the injury, and further assessment was expected Friday.

"You see your quarterback go down, you think the worst," tight end MarQueis Gray said. "He's in all of our prayers, and we hope he's back on the field."

Tannehill missed last season's final four games, including a playoff loss at Pittsburgh, after spraining two ligaments in the same knee. He decided against surgery and took part in all offseason drills.

He was wearing a brace when his knee gave out near the right sideline while running full speed to escape tackle Ndamukong Suh. Tannehill stayed on the ground at least 15 seconds surrounded by teammates before rising and leaving the field.

"I saw him buckle and go down. There was no contact on the play," offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said. "The initial reaction is, `OK, next man up.' That's football. It's going to happen somewhere in this season. The game doesn't stop. You go on to the next play. And then, obviously, my personal thing is, `Boy, I sure hope it isn't serious'" (see full story).

Patriots: Fans’ adoration highlights Brady’s 40th birthday
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tom Brady was already the oldest player on the Patriots roster before he stepped out on the practice field for training camp Thursday.

He spent the abbreviated workout being constantly reminded he's now a 40-year-old quarterback.

From a sculpture spelling out "G.O.A.T." that was erected near the entrance of the practice field gate to multiple chants of his name to sporadic "Happy Birthday" serenades from spectators -- everything revolved around No. 12 and his 40th birthday.

"It's fun. It reminds you that Tom's old. Very old," Patriots safety Devin McCourty said. "But I think he has a lot of fun with it. A lot of guys sung `Happy Birthday' in the locker room. But it's also a reminder of how good he's been. Forty years old and still our best player" (see full story).

NFL: Goodell says Kaepernick not being blackballed
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says teams aren't blackballing Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the national anthem last year.

"No, teams make decisions (based) on what's in the best interest of their team ... and they make those decisions individually," Goodell said Thursday following his appearance at a forum with about 200 fans at the Denver Broncos' indoor practice facility.

Kaepernick, who opted out of his contract with the 49ers on March 3, has drawn interest from Seattle and Baltimore but remains unemployed a year after throwing for 16 touchdowns and four interceptions in 11 games. Several teams have signed lesser backups without giving Kaepernick a call.

Goodell demurred when asked if he thought Kaepernick should be in the league based strictly on his talent.

"There are other people who make those evaluations and that's a decision that those teams all make individually," Goodell said. "It's not one that I would make as a commissioner" (see full story).

Eagles hoping no-risk, high-reward veteran signings can rekindle past success

Eagles hoping no-risk, high-reward veteran signings can rekindle past success

When you’re in salary cap hell, you have to be creative when building a roster.

And one tactic Howie Roseman used when putting together the Eagles team that begins training camp Thursday is signing a handful of no-risk, high-reward guys.

Players trying to revive their careers. Players trying to reclaim past glory. Players running out of chances.

These are no-risk, high-reward guys. They could become contributors, but if it doesn’t work out? The Eagles can release them before the season with modest or no cap ramifications.

When you’re in salary cap hell, you can’t sign all the free agents you want. So you sign the free agents that you can. And you do that by signing players nobody else wants. Guys with no leverage.

One tool Roseman likes to use is the NFL’s minimum-salary benefit, which gives teams some salary cap relief when they sign veteran players to certain deals.

The minimum-salary benefit can be used only for veterans with at least four years of experience who sign one-year minimum-wage deals with combined bonuses equalling $90,000 or less. 

Here’s a look at four of these no-risk, high-reward players the Eagles added this offseason.

Markus Wheaton

The Eagles signed Wheaton to a one-year deal with a $790,000 base salary (sixth-year minimum) with a $45,000 signing bonus, a $45,000 workout bonus but a cap number of $720,000, thanks to the minimum-salary benefit.

If the Eagles release Wheaton before the season, he would count just $90,000 against the cap, the value of his two bonuses.

Wheaton is only 27 and should be in his prime but has done nearly nothing the last two seasons after two very good years.

In 2014 and 2015, he combined for 97 catches for 1,393 yards, seven touchdowns and a 14.4 average. He had seven catches of 40 yards or more during those two years. Pretty good production.

But the last two years, Wheaton had just seven catches for 102 yards and one TD for the Steelers and Bears.

If he’s healthy and can be even half the player he was in 2014 and 2015, he could really help as a fourth receiver.

Matt Jones

The Eagles signed Jones to a two-year, $1.51 million deal that includes base salaries of $705,000 this year and $805,000 next year with no bonus money, which means no dead cap money if he’s released.

Even though Jones’ deal is not subject to the minimum-salary benefit, his base salaries of $705,000 and $805,000 are minimum wage for a third-year veteran in 2018 and a fourth-year vet in 2019.

Jones was one of the NFL’s best running backs the first half of 2016. Through seven games, he had 460 yards and a 4.6 average with three TDs. In a mid-October win over the Eagles at FedEx Field, he ran for 135 yards, the most rushing yards against the Eagles the last two years.

But he hurt his knee and never got his job back, then was released before last season. He resurfaced with the Colts but had only five carries all year.

Jones is only 25 and is a good enough receiver that he caught 19 passes for 304 yards and a TD as a rookie reserve.

With LeGarrette Blount gone, Jay Ajayi on a pitch count because of chronic knee soreness, Corey Clement’s role still undefined and Darren Sproles likely to be limited on offense at 35 years old, Jones will have a chance to work his way into the mix.

And if it doesn’t work out? No cap hit.

Richard Rodgers

The Eagles signed Rodgers to a one-year, $880,000 contract that includes a $790,000 base salary, a $45,000 signing bonus, a $45,000 workout bonus and a $720,000 cap figure, courtesy of the minimum-salary benefit rule.

If the Eagles release him, he’ll count $245,000 in dead money, the amount of guaranteed money in his one-year deal.

As recently as 2015, Rodgers caught 58 passes for 510 yards and eight touchdowns, which ranked him 12th among all NFL tight ends in catches and fifth in TDs. But he dropped to 30 catches in 2016 and just 12 last year.

Rodgers is only 26 and should be in his prime, but he’s reached only 30 yards twice in his last 31 games.

With Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, the Eagles have a potent 1-2 punch, but if Rodgers can regain his form of 2015, it would give Doug Pederson even more options in a ridiculously talented array of skill players.

LaRoy Reynolds

The Eagles signed Reynolds to a one-year, $880,000 contract that includes a $790,000 base salary, a $90,000 roster bonus and a reduced $720,000 cap figure.

Because there’s nothing guaranteed in his contract, the Eagles would not absorb any dead money under the cap if they release him before the season.

Reynolds, now with his fourth team in four years, has played in 68 games with seven starts. He’s only 27 and is considered an above-average special teamer and adequate depth linebacker.

The Eagles have some big question marks at linebacker, with Paul Worrilow (Reynolds’ former teammate) out for the year, Mychal Kendricks now with the Browns, Nigel Bradham suspended for the opener and Jordan Hicks able to finish one of his first three seasons.

Reynolds will have a chance to work into that mix. If not? No harm done.

More on the Eagles

Eagle Eye: When does a contract negotiation become a problem?

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Eagle Eye: When does a contract negotiation become a problem?

In the latest edition of Eagle Eye, John Clark and Barrett Brooks are pumped for the start of training camp. Following MLB Commissioner's comments on Mike Trout's marketability, the guys discuss if it's on the player or the league to market an athlete? The Falcons said they will not give Julio Jones a new contract. At what point does a public contract negotiation become a distraction in the locker room?

1:00 - Guys are excited for the start of training camp.
4:45 - Is it on a player or a league to market an athlete?
11:00 - When does a Julio Jones contract situation become a locker room distraction?
18:00 - When money starts dividing a locker room.

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