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Cleveland's Mike Pettine isn't ready to name a starting QB

Cleveland Coach Mike Pettine not ready to name starting QB after Hoyer and Manziel play poorly
Steelers plan to re-sign Brett Keisel to bolster defensive line

Cleveland first-year Coach Mike Pettine still hasn't chosen his Week 1 starting quarterback, and that's not his fault. Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel haven't convinced him — or anyone, really — that they deserve the job.

Pettine had been expected to announce during a teleconference on Tuesday whether Hoyer, the inexperienced veteran and hometown hero coming back from knee surgery, or Manziel, the hyped rookie and former Heisman Trophy winner, would start the Sept. 7 opener at Pittsburgh.

But the decision has been delayed and could carry through Cleveland's third preseason game on Saturday, Pettine said.

Cleveland's coaching staff will meet Wednesday night and could then choose a starter.

Pettine's choice grew tougher after Hoyer and Manziel played poorly in a 24-23 exhibition loss at Washington on Monday night. Manziel also made an obscene gesture toward the Redskins' sideline, an act that Pettine called "extremely disappointing" and will probably result in a fine from the NFL.

Pettine said Manziel's actions on national TV will be factored into the decision on a starter.

Manziel said he was taunted by Redskins players and he responded by holding up his middle finger. After the game, Manziel acknowledged "I should've been smarter."

Pettine has preached to his players about staying poised, and Manziel didn't show any in responding to the trash talk he was hearing from Washington's defenders and bench.

"I know it's something that will be addressed by the league and will be addressed internally," Pettine said of Manziel's gesture.

Steelers to re-sign Keisel

The Pittsburgh Steelers are planning to re-sign defensive end Brett Keisel to bolster a reconfigured line that has struggled to produce much of anything in the first two weeks of the preseason.

The Steelers decided not to re-sign Keisel in the off-season after the 35-year-old finished with four sacks in 12 games in 2013. Pittsburgh drafted Stephon Tuitt in the second round and signed Cam Thomas as a free agent as part of a youth movement to change an aging defense.

Though Tuitt has been solid in the preseason, Thomas has yet to make an impact.

Keisel, who turns 36 on Sept. 19, was effective when healthy last season. But with the team up against the salary cap he wasn't going to command anywhere near the $4.9-million cap number he received last year. It's unclear how much of a pay cut Keisel will receive.

Meantime, the Steelers and offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert have reached agreement on a new six-year contract that runs through the 2019 season.

Gilbert, 26, a second-round pick in the 2011 draft, has started 34 games in three seasons. He was selected as the team's outstanding rookie after making 13 starts at left tackle in 2011. He missed the last 11 games of the 2012 season with an ankle injury and switched to right tackle last season.

Cardinals' Mathieu comes off PUP list

Arizona Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu came off the physically unable to perform list Tuesday. The club said nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu, who tore his ACL in the final game last season, has also come off the list.

Mathieu is coming back from surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament and lateral collateral ligament in his left knee. He was having a standout rookie season when he tore the ligaments against St. Louis on Dec. 8.

Larger practice squads OKd

NFL teams can carry 10 players on their practice squads for the next two seasons.

The league and the players' union agreed Tuesday to increase the number of practice squad members from eight to 10.

"It's the No. 1 way for teams to develop players because … once the season starts, those guys are a part of the team," New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton said in support of the change. "They're involved in drills. They're involved in every element. All you have to do is look at the past five years, practice squad players that are now on the 53-man rosters, and there's a ton of them."

Criteria for practice squad eligibility has been expanded in two categories.

A player must have a minimum of six games on a practice squad — increased from the previous three games — for that year to count as one of three permissible seasons on the squad.

And each team now can sign a maximum of two practice squad players who have earned no more than two NFL seasons toward free agency. Aside from that exception, a player with one or more accrued seasons can't go on a practice squad unless he spent fewer than nine games on a club's 46-player active list in each of his pro seasons.

Vikings, Kluwe reach settlement

The Vikings and former punter Chris Kluwe said they have reached a settlement averting a lawsuit over Kluwe's claim that the team wrongfully released him last year because of his outspoken support for same-sex marriage rights.

Under the deal, the Vikings will donate an undisclosed sum of money to five gay-rights charities over the next five years. Kluwe said he won't receive any money as part of the settlement.

The Vikings said in a statement that the deal resolves all issues related to Kluwe's departure from the team and his accusations that a coach made anti-gay comments.

Under the settlement, the Vikings also agreed to require all team employees to undergo sensitivity training four times a year. The team will also host a national symposium in Minneapolis next spring that will address LGBT issues and professional athletics, said Kluwe's attorney, Clayton Halunen.

Jerome Simpson appeals suspension

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson has appealed a pending three-game suspension for a repeat violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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