EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Two of the Minnesota Vikings' most prominent players -- linebacker Chad Greenway and running back Adrian Peterson -- were scheduled to miss most or all of practice on Wednesday.

Peterson was away from the team on Wednesday because of a personal matter, coach Mike Zimmer said. The coach added that he was going to back Chad Greenway down on Wednesday because the linebacker is dealing with a "little wrist" issue.

Greenway, who sprained his right wrist last season and later broke it in two spots, had an X-ray and a MRI that showed no serious issue, Zimmer said, but the coach didn't want to risk irritating the injury further.

Defensive end Brian Robison, who was gone for personal reasons the past two days, was back at the Vikings' morning walk-through on Wednesday and was expected to be at practice during the afternoon. Cornerback Jabari Price, linebackers Brandon Watts and Gerald Hodges, and defensive tackle Linval Joseph were all scheduled to miss practice again because of injury.

Sebastian Vollmer absent once again

August, 20, 2014
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer was not spotted at the start of the team’s practice Wednesday, as he missed his third practice in a row for an undisclosed reason.

Vollmer’s situation bears monitoring as he has not been seen on the practice field since playing 22 snaps in Friday’s preseason win against the Eagles. His injury history is well documented, which includes a broken ankle that landed him on injured reserve in the eighth week of the 2013 season

In other injury news, defensive tackle Sealver Siliga has progressed to the point that he is doing rehabilitation work with other players coming back from injuries. He was wearing a black protective cast/brace on his left hand Wednesday as he passed by reporters en route to practice. Siliga’s presence adds context that his injury, sustained Aug. 5 in a joint practice with Washington, is probably not of a season-ending nature.

Tight end D.J. Williams (right lower leg, Aug. 5), defensive tackle Chris Jones (left ankle, Aug. 7) and offensive tackle Chris Martin (non-football injury list) were injured players not spotted at practice again.

The Patriots were practicing in shells and shorts.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- When St. Louis Rams offensive lineman Rodger Saffold played a preseason game in his hometown of Cleveland last season, he suffered a shoulder injury.

As Saffold and the Rams head back to Saffold's old stomping grounds for their third preseason game this year, Saffold looks poised to return from another shoulder injury.

"Of course I plan on playing," Saffold said. "I’ve felt good for awhile. I know they want to be super cautious and that’s fine but I’ve been working since I got hurt, so really I just hope this transition back onto the field won’t be that big of a transition. I feel in shape, I feel rested. I’m good all the way around."

[+] EnlargeRodger Saffold
AP Photo/G. Newman LowranceRodger Saffold is expected to start at right guard for the Rams.
Saffold suffered what he and the Rams call a "stinger" in his left shoulder in a training camp practice on Aug. 1. The stinger has been enough to keep Saffold on the sidelines since, and kept him out of the team's first two preseason games against Green Bay and New Orleans. He did return to practice on a limited basis Tuesday, taking part in individual drills but sitting out the 11-on-11 portion of the workout.

Although Saffold and the team have insisted it's a minor injury, all parties have opted for a cautious approach. Rightfully so, given Saffold's extensive injury history. And his shoulder was such a point of contention in the offseason that the Oakland Raiders backed out of a lucrative multi-year contract with Saffold when their doctors failed him on a physical because of it.

In no small part because of that history, the Rams made it clear to Saffold soon after the injury that they were in no hurry to get him back in the preseason. Saffold is entering his fifth season in the league and his third in Brian Schottenheimer's offense, so keeping up with the mental part of his job should be little problem.

"It was nowhere near as bad as last time, but as a coach you want to make sure you take care of your players," Saffold said. "They’ve seen me play so they know what I can do, so they say 'Why don’t you just sit this one out? Let’s just make sure you’re good so we don’t have any future problems that could really be a problem.' I just said OK."

It remains unclear whether Saffold will get to play against the Browns as the Rams continue to monitor him day to day. Saffold joked Tuesday that he's the only Ram who has yet to hit somebody in a different uniform and that he intends to test the willpower of head athletic trainer Reggie Scott this week in an effort to get back on the field.

Getting Saffold back would give the Rams a chance to have their projected starting offensive line together for the first time in a game. It would also give Saffold some needed reps at right guard.

Although Saffold showed well at his new position for the last part of the 2013 season, the sample size remains small. He is comfortable at the position. but spent the early parts of camp playing left tackle and both guard spots, rather than settling at his projected position.

The chance to get some work in preseason games should allow things to slow down for Saffold inside.

"You want to be able to be under control but still be able to play fast and physical," Saffold said. "Sometimes you can get too excited or overly excited and you move too fast and get yourself in bad positions. I’m able to recover some of those things, but I want to get my technique down pat to the point where it’s kind of easy when it comes to the game."
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions took in their final day of open-to-the-media preparation for their third preseason game against Jacksonville on Friday.
  • Safety DeJon Gomes was in attendance Wednesday but continued to sit out of practice as he recovers from an injury suffered against Oakland last Friday. He was absent from the viewing portion of practice Tuesday.
  • Receiver TJ Jones remains on the PUP list, so he is at practice but not practicing.
  • Otherwise, the Lions remain remarkably healthy so far this preseason.
  • One other note: Reggie Bush, according to a press release, is donating $2,500 per touchdown he scores this season to a Boys & Girls Club.
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Until Wednesday, Buffalo Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin appeared to be on track to make his preseason debut Saturday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

That might have changed Wednesday when he left practice with a groin injury. His status for Saturday's game is unclear.

"I have no idea. They haven't told me that yet," coach Doug Marrone said.

McKelvin had been limited throughout organized team activities, minicamp, and training camp as he recovered from offseason hip surgery. He practiced fully Tuesday, lining up on the first team across from Stephon Gilmore.

If McKelvin can't go Saturday, the Bills could turn to either Corey Graham or Ron Brooks as their starter. Graham began to see time at safety this week upon McKelvin's return.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions are already preparing to unleash wide receiver Calvin Johnson on Friday for the first time this preseason.

Now, another player might be joining him.

Ansah
Lions coach Jim Caldwell said Wednesday that he is hopeful defensive end Ezekiel Ansah will also make his preseason debut against Jacksonville at home on Friday night.

Ansah was activated from the PUP list last week and was immediately ruled out for last week’s game at Oakland. Now, he’s played a little bit more and is closer to being on the field.

"He’s responded well. We got him in a little bit more scrimmage plays in practice," Caldwell said. "We increased him on a daily basis. Hopefully, we’ll check with the doctors to see after today’s practice where he is, and hopefully he’ll be able to get some snaps."

Ansah missed spring workouts and the beginning of training camp as he recovered from offseason shoulder surgery. He practiced for the first time last Tuesday night.

When Ansah does return to the lineup, he is expected to play the open defensive end position in coordinator Teryl Austin’s new scheme. Ansah was a surprise as a pass-rusher during his rookie season for Detroit, when he led all first-year players with eight sacks.

Expect him to fill a similar role this season with the Lions.

"We’ve only had him back for a week or so but when you look at him, he’s extremely talented. Explosive. Big. Fast," Austin said. "So for him, it’s just going to be a matter of technique, continuing to work on his technique, because he’s still pretty young as a football player, but work on his technique and knowing how to apply that to offensive tackles and the guy that he’s going to attack and being able to use that in a game.

"But he has a chance to be an outstanding rusher."

No decision on Sammy Watkins' status

August, 20, 2014
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PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins (ribs) was limited in Wednesday's practice.

For a second consecutive day, Watkins was dressed in full pads but only participated in warm-up drills and stretching. Coach Doug Marrone said the Bills' medical staff hasn't made a decision on Watkins' status for Saturday's preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"They told me they have not made a decision on him yet," Marrone said. "I'm kind of like you [reporters]. I ask the same questions."

Watkins watched team drills from the sideline Wednesday.

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IRVING, Texas -- For the second straight time the Dallas Cowboys have given Rolando McClain first-team snaps in practice, health has caught up to the linebacker.

McClain
Romo
McClain is not practicing on Wednesday after he was unable to finish Tuesday’s practice because of cramps. He had a case of knee tendinitis flare up in Oxnard, California, two weeks ago when he received his first work with the No. 1 defense.

The Cowboys tinkered with McClain at middle linebacker with Justin Durant at the weakside spot and Kyle Wilber on the strong side. With DeVonte Holloman missing practice because of a neck injury, rookie Anthony Hitchens is once again seeing time at middle linebacker.

Also not practicing is quarterback Tony Romo. He practiced on Tuesday, but the Cowboys are continuing to monitor his work as he returns from back surgery. The Cowboys will have one more full practice before traveling to take on the Miami Dolphins on Saturday. Romo has yet to practice three straight days in camp.

Sterling Moore (groin) is also missing his second straight day of practice. Henry Melton (groin) and Amobi Okoye are working on their conditioning off to the side.
This wasn’t quite the type of scenario the Arizona Cardinals were preparing for, but they were ready if they needed to replace Darnell Dockett.

Rucker
It was impossible for the Cards to predict that Dockett would tear his ACL in Monday’s practice and face season-ending knee surgery, but waiting in the wings is a trio who’s ready to fill his void.

As of Monday afternoon, the threesome included Arizona’s immediate answer to Dockett’s injury as well as the future.

Veteran defensive end Frostee Rucker will step into Dockett’s spot in the starting lineup beginning Wednesday. Entering his ninth season, Rucker is two years removed from starting all 16 games for Cleveland in 2012, when he had four sacks and 48 tackles. A year earlier, he had 60 tackles and four sacks while starting 11 of 16 games for Cincinnati.

Rucker’s been playing well in camp, and, at 30, is capable of being an every-down lineman. He’s had three quarterback hurries, two tackles and two stops in 40 plays this preseason, according to Pro Football Focus.

Behind Rucker will be a pair of rookies drafted in May with the idea that they'd be the future of the defensive line.

Ed Stinson is the better-prepared of the two to replace Dockett. He’s similar in size at 6-foot-4 and 287 pounds and is stronger in the interior. He was Rucker’s backup Monday when the Cardinals resumed practice after Dockett’s injury. At Alabama, Stinson had just 1.5 sacks along with 42 tackles while playing all 13 games for the Crimson Tide in 2013. He’s flourished against the run during the preseason while playing in 64 snaps, according to PFF.

Kareem Martin is the other rookie defensive lineman who could see a few snaps in place of Dockett, but Martin is built to be a defensive end rather than an interior defensive lineman. He has long arms, and his versatility will land him on the field quickly. Through the first two preseason games, Martin has played at nose tackle and on the edges, including three plays in between Dockett and Calais Campbell.

Added depth may be coming soon.

The Cardinals are expected to meet with free-agent defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga, according to a source. And earlier Tuesday, they were briefly linked with Brett Keisel, who reportedly declined an invitation to meet with Arizona before re-signing with Pittsburgh.

Free-agent pickings are slim for now, but if Sopoaga doesn’t work out, the Cardinals may wait until the market is flooded with cuts both on Aug. 26 and 30th to restock their depth.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- There has been much speculation of whether oft-injured 2013 first-round pick DJ Hayden will start the regular season on the physically unable to perform list because of an injured foot.

Hayden
Tuesday, Oakland coach Dennis Allen said the team has not decided what to do with Hayden. The team has to make a decision by Aug. 30 when the 53-man roster is set. They can also place Hayden on the PUP next Tuesday when teams are required to pare down to 75 players. If he is placed on the PUP, Hayden will have to miss the first six weeks of the season.

"We're going to see how the rehab process goes over the next few days and get a better feel for exactly when we think he's going to be available," Allen said. "I think you've got to look at are you rushing the guy back, or is he going to be ready. He's not ready right now. Could he be ready in the next few days? That's a potential. If he's not then obviously the reserve/PUP is an option for us."

Hayden was running and cutting on the field Monday. But he was not seen during the 30-minute window media members were allowed on the practice field Tuesday.

Oakland defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said he feels for Hayden because he hasn't been able to stay on the practice field. He missed practice time last year because of complications in his recovery from a serious heart issues that ended his 2012 season at Houston. He was then placed on injured reserve after eight games last season because of a sports hernia.

Tarver said the Raiders have high hopes for Hayden, the No. 12 overall pick last year, but he will have to earn his way back to the field once he is cleared to practice.

"I feel for DJ in that the only way to get better at playing football is to play football and he just needs practice reps," Tarver said. "Hopefully, his body allows him to do that and we'll practice him as much as he can and see how far he can go. DJ's going to be a fine football player. There is a time element and as soon as the doctors and everybody say he's ready, then we're excited to get him practice reps. He was explosive in the spring and you could see it starting to happen before his latest one happened. So we expect him to get back to that and we'll practice him as long as it takes. We'll get as many reps as we can with the young man."
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins (ribs) returned to practice Tuesday, taking part in individual drills before watching the remainder of practice from the sideline.

It was an apparent step forward for Watkins, who was in pads Tuesday after spending part of Monday's practice on an exercise bike.

"I'm fine, I could go out there and practice if I need to," Watkins said after Tuesday's practice. "But the thing is doing it without pain, but I could play a full game right now. It's just being safe."

Coach Doug Marrone did not indicate whether Watkins will play in Saturday's preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"Obviously he wasn't fully cleared today," Marrone said. "I appreciate the player saying that, but I'm going to watch the tape and see what we see. We'll go from there. That's normally what we do with anyone."

Watkins said it was an "awkward hit" from Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier in last Saturday's preseason loss that led to him exiting the game with what the team initially called a rib contusion. He deferred his status for the Buccaneers game to Marrone.

"I don't know if I'm going to miss the game or not," Watkins said. "I might play and I might not, that's up to the coach."
METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints have never specified the nature of fullback Erik Lorig’s leg injury. But clearly it’s not a minor issue, since Lorig hasn’t even watched a practice in street clothes since first suffering the injury during a scrimmage on Aug. 2.

Jones
The fact that the Saints immediately went out and signed veteran fullback Greg Jones was another indicator that they didn’t expect Lorig back quickly.

It’s still unknown when or if Lorig is expected back this season. But coach Sean Payton said the team will prepare as if he’s not going to be ready for Week 1, with Jones and third-year pro Austin Johnson competing to serve as Lorig’s replacement.

"Our preparation's got to be with the idea that, as Erik's rehabbing, we've got to be ready to have a fullback Week 1, with the chance it's not going to be Erik," Payton said. "And so both of those guys are competing.

“Greg’s a veteran player. Austin's been with us now for the better part of a year and a half. And so I think, No. 1, Austin's had a good camp. Greg's been here for two weeks. Both of them will play a lot again this weekend [Saturday night at Indianapolis].”

Payton later added that Johnson is “doing real well.” The 6-foot-2, 240-pounder spent most of last season on the Saints’ practice squad after signing with the team in January 2013. Johnson was actually a linebacker in college at Tennessee, and he signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2012. But he didn’t find a permanent home that season.

Johnson has shown potential as a blocker and receiver out of the backfield, and he could also be used on special teams.

Meanwhile Jones, 33, is a 10-year veteran who spent last season with the Houston Texans and his first nine years with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 6-1, 251-pounder has primarily served as a lead blocker in 131 career games played. He also has a total of 272 carries for 913 yards and 10 touchdowns in his career, plus 73 receptions for 471 yards and three touchdowns.

Last season, Jones played in all 16 games for the Texans with five starts, with a total of two rushes for 2 yards and five receptions for 34 yards.

The Saints could also use their tight ends as fullbacks in certain situations. Second-year tight end Josh Hill has made some cameos in that role.

Cowboys trio reports progress

August, 19, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- With the Dallas Cowboys' defense needing all the help it can get, three core members of the unit were at different stages of their comeback on Tuesday.

Cornerback Brandon Carr was in pads for the first time all summer. Cornerback Morris Claiborne was in pads, but was kept out of competitive drills because of a shoulder injury. Defensive tackle Henry Melton did resistance training off to the side as he comes back from a groin strain.

All three reported progress.

Carr missed most of the team’s time in Oxnard, California, due to the death of his mother. He returned for the final week of practice, but the coaches kept him out of drills so he could work on his conditioning. Carr went through the whole practice Tuesday and has designs on playing Saturday against the Miami Dolphins.

“I’ll play as much in the game as they want me to and I’ll take reps in practice next week and just get ready for the home opener,” Carr said. “I feel like I’m in pretty good shape. I’m going tax my body this week as far as putting it on myself to get myself in condition for those four quarters and those long drives, but just whatever the coaching staff and trainers is suitable for me to go out there and do I’m all in. So whatever it takes for me to get myself going and whatever they believe it takes for me to get going, I’m going to do it.”

Claiborne also wants to play against the Dolphins but the team might opt to keep him out of his third straight preseason game. He didn’t play against the San Diego Chargers because of a sore knee and did not play last week against the Baltimore Ravens because of the shoulder injury.

“At this point, I feel like I’m in a good place, the coaches are in a good place with how things are going,” Claiborne said. “I know we both wish things will speed up with the recovery and I can get back on the field faster, but where we’re at right now, I have to say I haven’t had no bad talks or nothing with none of the coaches or none of the people around here. Everyone seems to be on the same page with where we’re at with the rehab going forward.”

Melton could return to practice by the end of the week but is doubtful to play against Miami. Coach Jason Garrett mentioned Melton could play in the preseason finale on Aug. 28 against the Denver Broncos.

Like Claiborne, Melton has no doubts he will be ready for the Sept. 7 regular-season opener against the San Francisco 49ers.

“I would like to [play in the preseason] but I’m not going to push it to where I can have any setbacks or something,” Melton said. “It’s pretty much just what they want me to do and I’d like to go out there for a preseason game even if it’s just a couple of plays or a series or something. Just knock some of the rust off for a regular game.”

Melton’s rust is a little different because he played in only three games last year before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament. Melton said the knee has not given him any trouble this summer.

“If I played a whole season it wouldn’t be that big of a deal if I just played in the regular season,” Melton said, “but since I haven’t played in pretty much almost a year, going back out there would be beneficial to me if I’m ready.”
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A few takeaways from Tuesday's New York Jets practice:

Training-camp approach: The Jets conducted practice as if they were in Cortland, New York, splitting offense and defense and using two fields. In other words, it was a training camp-style practice in pads -- a departure from Monday, which had a regular-season feel. Rex Ryan explained the change by saying they wanted to "take advantage of the numbers," meaning a 90-man roster. On Tuesday, it'll be slashed to 75.

One thing they haven't done since leaving Cortland is pit starters versus starters in team drills. As a result, the intensity is toned down and the focus has shifted to mental preparation. That's why you haven't been seeing our unofficial quarterback stats the last two days. They closed practice with a full period of third team versus third team in contact drills.

Injury news: A few key players returned from injuries, so that's the big news here. Cornerbacks Dimitri Patterson (leg) and Ras-I Dowling (groin), center Nick Mangold (toe) and Chris Ivory (ribs) returned on a limited basis. Patterson, who sat for more than a week, said he hopes to play Friday night against the New York Giants, adding that he's a definite for Week 1. He's a projected starter, so, yeah, the depleted secondary needs him. ... One player not all the way back is tight end Jeff Cumberland (Achilles tendon), who returned to positional drills, but that's it. ... Rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders, four days removed from his car accident, came out late and watched from the sideline. He won't play against the Giants. Once again, Rex Ryan declined to comment on the "medical event" that led to his accident. Saunders is expected to speak Wednesday with the media. ... Rookie wide receiver Shaq Evans underwent shoulder surgery, Ryan confirmed. ... Cornerback Dee Milliner (high-ankle sprain) was spotted without his walking boot. That's a good sign.

Quarterback rotation: After practice, Ryan confirmed the obvious, saying Geno Smith start will against the Giants. He's slated to play two-plus quarters, followed by Michael Vick. There's a chance Matt Simms could get mop-up duty. Ryan said he's not married to the idea of keeping three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, as he has done in the past.

Catch a rising receiver: This was a terrific practice for David Nelson, who caught everything and made an arms-extended, fingertips catch on a pass from Vick. Nelson is competing for a prominent role, along with Stephen Hill. After Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley, the competition is wide open, according to Ryan. Removing Decker and Kerley from the equation, the most consistent receivers on a day-to-day basis are Nelson and Greg Salas. Hill has good days and bad days. On Tuesday, he dropped a long pass from Vick, causing the crowd to groan. Hill isn't a fan favorite.

Odds and ends: Rookie tight end Jace Amaro drops an inordinate number of balls in one-on-none drills -- against air. Midway through practice, he suffered a finger injury, requiring a tape job from the trainers. He kept practicing. ... Antonio Allen and Ellis Lankster continued to work as the starting corners. Ryan said Darrin Walls will get more reps after an impressive showing against the Cincinnati Bengals. ... Andrew Furney ended practice with a 55-yard field goal. ... Wide receiver Jacoby Ford made a couple of nice grabs, as did Kerley and Clyde Gates.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Alterraun Verner was back on the practice field Tuesday, but that doesn’t mean the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback will be in action with the Bucs at Buffalo on Sunday.

Tuesday marked the first time Verner went through any team drills since he injured his hamstring on the third day of training camp. Coach Lovie Smith said Verner was given a few reps in each period.

Verner
Listening to Smith and Verner, it sounds like the Bucs are going to proceed with caution.

“This is his first work in a long time so we’ll kind of ease him back into the mix," Smith said.

Verner said he would like to play this week, but realizes that might not be in his best interest.

"I think they’re going to build up to it," Verner said. "It would be kind of negligent if you went straight full bore. You've got to work in slowly. But I’m looking forward to getting back up to speed with everybody else."

Verner said the missed practice time frustrated him.

"Just as a competitor, I want to be out there with the guys," Verner said. "You spend so much time together and you see things happen and you know what they want from us. You can get a lot of mental reps. But there’s something different about being in a game and making the tackle and hitting somebody. It’s definitely been frustrating."

Even if he doesn’t play against Buffalo, Verner made it sound as if he'd like to test the hamstring in the final preseason game.

"I want to be able to do some stuff in this defense," Verner said. "No matter how many mental reps I have, this is something new for me too. I definitely want to get out there."

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