NFL: Patriots cut veteran reciever Kenny Britt
New England waived Kenny Britt on Wednesday, ending the wide receiver’s underwhelming stay with the Patriots.
Despite losing Danny Amendola in free agency and knowing Julian Edelman will be suspended for the first four games of the regular season, the Patriots let go of the 29-year-old Britt, who was with his fourth team. New England also had released Jordan Matthews and Malcolm Mitchell from its receiving corps.
Britt caught two passes in three games for New England after joining it last December. He did not dress for any of the postseason games, including the team’s 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII.
The 30th overall draft pick in 2009 hurt his hamstring in June during minicamp and barely was a presence in training camp for New England this summer.
Britt’s inability to stay on the field this offseason limited his training time with 41-year-old quarterback Tom Brady during camp.
“It’s just different stages at different times whether it’s Kenny or other players,” Brady said Wednesday prior to Britt’s release. “You have set-backs with injuries and so forth and you don’t get the work but when you are out there you just try to get up to speed as best you can, so spending extra time when you’re available, I think that’s important.”
Brady said his scheduled permitted him from working with Britt during the offseason.
Britt spent the first five of his nine pro seasons with the Titans, then played with the Rams for three years, and both the Browns and Patriots last season.
The former Rutgers standout has eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards in a season once in his career, totaling 1,002 with the Rams in 2016.
New England has 10 receivers remaining on its active following Britt’s departure, two of them are newly-acquired veterans Cordarrelle Patterson and Eric Decker.
Cowboys center Travis Frederick has neurological disorder
Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick says he has been diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder that causes weakness in various parts of the body and isn’t sure on a timetable for his return.
Frederick said in a statement issued by the team Wednesday that he has received two treatments for Guillain-Barre Syndrome over the past 48 hours and that the treatments will continue for several days.
The four-time Pro Bowl player says “doctors have told me that it is not possible to determine a timetable for a return to the field right now.”
According to the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke , Guillain-Barre causes the body to attack a network of nerves around the brain and spinal cord.
The 27-year-old Frederick has started all 83 games, including three playoff games, since the Cowboys drafted him late in the first round in 2013.
Colts’ longtime announcer retired after using racial slur
An off-the-air racial slur prompted the immediate retirement of longtime Indianapolis Colts radio voice Bob Lamey last weekend, team officials and Lamey’s attorney confirmed Wednesday.
Local attorney James Voyles issued a statement acknowledging the 80-year-old Lamey used “inappropriate” language during a conversation with a friend at a local radio station and apologized immediately.
“Bob does want to acknowledge that while repeating a story while off-the-air last week to a friend at a local radio station, he used an inappropriate word that had been used in the story,” Voyles’ statement read. “Bob immediately apologized to the people involved for the comment and would hope that this error in judgment would not tarnish his long-held reputation in the sports community where he has been known as an accurate and passionate reporter.”
A report on a local television’s station website, WTHR.com, claimed an employee at Emmis Communications heard the comment and reported it to the radio station’s human resources department, which then contacted the Colts.
Initially, the Colts attempted to paint his departure as the celebration of a Hall of Fame broadcasting career that spanned five decades. But after word leaked about the conversation and Voyles issued his public statement Wednesday morning, the Colts immediately took a different tack.
“In regards to Bob Lamey first and foremost, the Colts deplore and do not tolerate the use of any racial slur — in any context,” Colts chief operating officer Pete Ward wrote in an email. “Bob has had a long and storied history in our community, but he made a serious mistake. The Colts are deeply disappointed the incident took place and offer our sincerest regrets to all who were impacted by Bob’s lapse in judgment.”
Ward went on to say that the Colts only decided to comment after Lamey made his account.
Previously, there had been praise for Lamey as his retirement was announced on the weekend.
“Bob Lamey is a legend and icon,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said in Sunday’s release. “(His) name is synonymous with Indianapolis Colts football.”
Giants may not let Barkley play until season opener against Jaguars
The next time Saquon Barkley carries the ball in a game for the New York Giants may very well be the season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The No. 2 overall pick in the draft returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since straining his left hamstring more than a week ago. The halfback took a few handoffs and caught a few passes in situational drills as the Giants prepared for Friday’s annual preseason game against the Jets at MetLife Stadium.
Nothing was full speed. There was little hitting, if any.
Coach Pat Shurmur refused say whether Barkley will play Friday, but his chances seem remote after being off the field since Aug. 13.
“We’re going to be smart,” Shurmur said.
Barkley wants to play. He also knows hamstrings can be tricky injuries. His goal is to be ready when called, whether it’s this week, next week, or the season opener on Sept. 9.
“Personally, the way I feel, my body feels, I’ll be honest, I feel good, feel pretty good,” Barkley said. “I’ve been moving pretty well, but that’s what the trainers get paid for. They tell me stories all the time and I talk to other guys, even guys like O (Odell Beckham Jr.) that hurt their hamstring before. It’s when you feel 100 percent and that’s when you give it that push, boom, and it happens again as a setback.”
A hamstring injury caused Beckham to miss the first four games of his rookie season in 2014.
Barkley was impressive in the preseason opener against Cleveland, taking the opening handoff and running 39 yards to help set up a field goal. He did not play against the Lions last Friday after being hurt four days earlier. His only other opportunity to play would be against the Patriots in the preseason finale on Aug. 30. Most coaches don’t use their starters.
Barkley isn’t worried about the missed time because he has been at every practice taking the mental reps.
“In college I didn’t really practice that much, so I guess it’s kind of very similar,” the 21-year-old Penn State product said. “I’m just doing more stuff on my own conditioning, but in college I didn’t really take crazy loads in practice, so it’s kind of similar to me. So I guess that kind of helped me prepare for moments like this.”
The annual bragging rights game with the Jets will give Barkley a chance to talk with Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, the third pick overall. The two got to know each other during the draft process.
“I wasn’t a big Sam Darnold fan after they beat us in the Rose Bowl game my sophomore year, but that’s just a competitive thing,” Barkley said. “We joke around about that all the time. I got to know him a little more. Actually, we were on the whole flight together going to the rookie premiere, so definitely got to know him a lot more.”
Barkley also got a chance to know Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and Broncos linebacker Bradley Chubb, the fifth pick.
“I want to see those guys succeed,” Barkley said. “I don’t want to see Sam succeed much this week against us, but I wish nothing but success for all those guys. I hope they have great careers.”
Barkley’s regular-season career probably will start against the Jaguars, whether or not he plays another down in the preseason.
“Obviously I have to continue to get better with the mental part of the game,” he said. “I’m not going to sit here and lie to you and say I’m 100 percent perfect with the playbook like I’m some vet and I’ve been playing in the league for 10 years. No, I’m still a rookie, I still have to get better in that area, but I definitely have a lot more time on my hands to continue to get better with the mental part.”
Vikings sign ex-Bengals safety Iloka, former Zimmer pupil
George Iloka had just sat down to eat with his wife when the call came from his agent.
The Cincinnati Bengals were letting him go. So much for that quiet day off. So much for all that time in training camp perfecting the scheme. So much for the only NFL team he’d ever played for.
“But that’s the business. That’s what we kind of signed up for. Things happen. At the end of the day, you’re just a number for the most part,” Iloka said.
Fortunately for Iloka, his first defensive coordinator was interested in a reunion. The Vikings signed Iloka, a former pupil of coach Mike Zimmer, to a one-year contract on Wednesday to add yet another accomplished player to what was the best defense in the league last season.
“I’m comfortable with the system, the playbook. And this is a good team. They were real close last year. They were on the brink of making it to the Super Bowl,” Iloka said after his first practice, about five hours after boarding a plane for Minnesota. “I’m just here to help this team out anyway I can. My relationship with Zim, this facility, the kind of team that they have made it a no brainer.”
The Bengals released Iloka on Sunday to clear $5.3 million in salary cap space and make way for second-round draft pick Jessie Bates III to move into a starting role. Iloka was a fifth-round pick by the Bengals out of Boise State in 2012 and played two seasons in Zimmer’s defense before the coach was hired by the Vikings. Iloka became a starter in his second year and started 76 games for the Bengals, with nine career interceptions. Credited by the team with 230 tackles over that time, Iloka is 10th on the all-time Bengals list in that category.
“He’s very smart. He’s a good tackler. He’s going to be where he’s supposed to be all the time. He pretty much knows a lot of the things that we’re doing,” Zimmer said. “Most of the calls we went through today, he knew probably 85 percent of them.”
All-Pro Harrison Smith is entrenched at one of the safety spots. Andrew Sendejo has mostly manned the other slot for the last five years, starting 53 games plus three more in the playoffs. He’ll turn 31 on Sept. 9, when the Vikings open the season against San Francisco. Naturally, there’s a question now about whether Sendejo will celebrate that birthday in a purple uniform, considering he’s carrying a $3.5 million salary cap hit. With Anthony Harris and Jayron Kearse, the Vikings have two backups who’ve been in their system for two-plus seasons and contribute significantly on special teams.
“This wasn’t a move to replace anyone. This was a move to get as many good players as we can,” Zimmer said. “He became available, so we were fortunate.”
That could be more than just coach speak from Zimmer, who has said previously he’d like to use more of his best players in different positions more often this year to maximize their impact. Smith, for example, could be used in a linebacker spot in certain packages. Veteran cornerback Terence Newman, who played with Iloka with the Bengals, has taken turns at safety.
“Honestly, we’re just trying to add good football players,” Zimmer said, “and it’ll all sort out at the end.”
That’s just fine with Iloka, who was looking forward to working with the hard-driving Zimmer again.
“I grew up in Texas, and that’s how my high school coach was. The linebacker coach at Boise State was the same way,” Iloka said. “I’m used to that style. It doesn’t matter either way. He just has a good defense.”
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