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DENVER — Aqib Talib’s 103-yard interception return for a touchdown with 53 seconds left was the final indignity for the Cowboys in the Denver Broncos’ 42-17 blowout of Dallas and its vaunted offence on Sunday.
It was Talib’s 10th pick-6, just two shy of Darren Woodson’s NFL record.

“No. 10,” relished Talib. “It’s just mind-boggling.”
Sort of like Denver’s defensive dominance of Dallas and its vaunted offence.
Ezekiel Elliott had the worst game of his career with nine carries for 8 yards, Dallas managed just 40 yards rushing and one first down on the ground. The Cowboys (1-1) went 3-for-14 on third downs and failed three times on fourth down, looking nothing like the team that dominated the Giants in their opener.
“I want to emphasize today, this is not what we’re about in my view,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “I feel strongly about that. On the other hand, this is what Denver is about.”
The only big blemish in Denver’s fifth straight 2-0 start was the apparently serious injury to their top draft pick, left tackle Garett Bolles, who left the stadium on crutches and with a boot on his left foot after getting hurt in the third quarter.
With the stadium still rocking in the final minute, Talib stepped in front of Dez Bryant, who had earlier beaten him for a TD, snared Dak Prescott’s fourth-down pass and raced up the Dallas’ dejected sideline.
He slipped Cole Beasley’s tackle and followed linebacker Brandon Marshall’s beautiful block of Prescott into the south end zone, where he jumped into the stands, exhausted by enjoying every last bit of what he called “an all-around complete ballgame from the Broncos.”
Trevor Siemian tied a career high with four touchdown passes in a game that included an hour-long lightning delay that did nothing to slow Denver’s rolling offence.
“We knew they were sound in the secondary,” Jones said. “We were a little taken aback by how well they did offensively. “They seemed to really have our number. There’s no excuses here. Their quarterback played outstanding.”
Elliott, who’s playing while his appeal of a six-game suspension for domestic violence works its way through the courts, came into the game averaging 108 yards rushing per game and more than 5 yards a carry in his career.
“We just were getting dominated up front,” said Elliott, whose previous worst game was a 51-yarder in his NFL debut against the Giants last year. “We couldn’t get any movement off the ball.”
The star in the backfield on this day was C.J. Anderson, who rushed for 118 yards and a score and also caught a TD pass.
Thanks in part to Von Miller, who had two sacks, the Cowboys lost for the sixth straight time to the Broncos.
Siemian threw scoring strikes of 10 and 6 yards to Emmanuel Sanders as the Broncos built a 21-10 halftime lead. The Cowboys were lucky to be that close after a first half in which they managed just five first downs, converted one third down and were outgained 246 yards to 97.
The only touchdown for Dallas came on a 3-yard drive after DeMarcus Lawrence’s strip sack of Siemian after beating right tackle Menelik Watson. Bryant beat Talib for the score two plays after Maliek Collins scooped up the loose ball at the Denver 3.
SUSPECT SECONDARY: The Cowboys began the day without their top cornerback, Orlando Scandrick, who broke his left hand last week, and they lost rookie Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring) and Nolan Carroll (concussion) in the first half.
Denver scored on its first drive when Siemian found Sanders for a 10-yard strike , and the Broncos were driving for another score but Brandon McManus pushed a 49-yarder wide right, his second miss in three attempts since signing his contract extension Monday.
LIGHTNING DELAY : The game was delayed by lightning for 62 minutes in the first quarter. The Cowboys were at midfield with 33 seconds left in the first quarter when the teams were told to head to their locker rooms and fans retreated to the concourses.
Broncos coach Vance Joseph said they turned off the air conditioning and turned on the TVs to watch some football during the delay.
Miller joked that they spent it dancing and playing games.
“Connect Four, we had some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” Miller said. “We had a couple of rock-paper-scissors in there, turned on the music for a dance contest. … Just came in, danced around.”
Actually, Miller didn’t even do any of his usual dances after his sacks, but he did raise his arms after ending his career-high five-game sackless streak, which came after he’d been flagged twice for jumping offside.
“You think he was getting antsy?” Joseph said.
SPLIT ALLEGIANCES : DeMarcus Ware was the honorary alumni captain for the coin toss between the game pitting his former teams. He said he was thrilled to have played for both teams, but would always root for Miller.
Ware retired in January after nine years in Dallas and three seasons in Denver because of chronic back problems. He acknowledged he considered coming out of retirement when Broncos linebacker Shane Ray injured a wrist early in training camp but decided to stick with his new gig working for the NFL Network.
“I’ve played enough football,” he said.

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Whether you won or lost, there’s no equal to the excitement of a brand-new fantasy football season.

Much of that is from following how your team gets to its outcome: That fourth-round pick who drops an NFL debut performance for the record books in the Thursday opener, that late-round sleeper whom you had to start in your 16-team league, or that “ironclad lock” you selected No. 2 overall who completely let you down.

Yes, they’ve all happened so far in Week 1, and right here, we’ll recap these winners and losers from a fantasy perspective, complete with applicable game and historical data. Check back after the conclusion of the 1 and 4 p.m. ET (and, when applicable, Sunday Night Football) games for our picks of the week’s best and worst.

Winners

Dazzling debuts by rookie running backs were the story of Week 1, as three of them — Kareem Hunt, Tarik Cohen and Leonard Fournette — managed to scale the 20-point PPR (point per reception) fantasy plateau. That makes this only the second week since 1950 during which as many as three running backs managed at least that many PPR fantasy points in their NFL debuts, joining 1980 Week 1 (Billy Sims, 41.7; Earl Cooper, 36.8; and Joe Cribbs, 28.1).

 

Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: Hunt’s 45.6 PPR and 40.6 non-PPR fantasy points in the NFL Kickoff game on Thursday night set new records for a player in his NFL debut, breaking Sims’ 37-year-old marks of 41.7 and 39.7. Hunt came within one point of setting a new mark in the NFL Kickoff game; he narrowly missed Peyton Manning’s mark of 46.5, set in 2013. Hunt also managed the third-most PPR fantasy points by a running back of any experience level, trailing only Jamaal Charles’ 59.5 (2013 Week 15) and Priest Holmes’ 55.7 (2002 Week 12), and the fourth-most non-PPR fantasy points by a Chiefs running back, trailing Charles (51.5, 2013 Week 15), Holmes (48.7, 2002 Week 12) and Larry Johnson (42.1, 2006 Week 8).

Hunt was being drafted 35th on average (ADP: 36.5) in the seven-day period leading into Thursday’s kickoff, but by Sunday’s kickoff, his ADP for the seven-day period leading into the day had risen to 19.1 and 16th overall.
Tarik Cohen, RB, Chicago Bears: Though his 13 total touches were fewer than those of any of the four other running backs with at least 20 PPR fantasy points, Cohen made them count, with 25.3 PPR and 17.3 non-PPR fantasy points. The former earned him a place within the top 20 performances since 1950 in an NFL debut. Cohen had runs of 46 and 15 yards as well as a 19-yard touchdown reception that in the fourth quarter drew the Bears within three points of the visiting Atlanta Falcons, flashing the kind of shiftiness that earned him the nickname “The Human Joystick” during his days at North Carolina A&T. He is available in 97.7 percent of ESPN leagues and will be one of the top adds in PPR formats entering Week 2 — and rightfully so.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: The most familiar name from this year’s rookie class, Fournette was always forecast to be one of the — if not the — top fantasy rookies of 2017, and he made a great first impression on Sunday after missing a large chunk of the preseason recovering from a foot injury. He joined Hunt and Cohen as the 40th, 41st and 42nd running backs since 1950 to score at least 20 PPR fantasy points in an NFL debut, but much more important, Fournette’s 26 rushing attempts easily paced the position (through the 1 p.m. ET games, at least). He also received six rushing attempts in the Jaguars’ eight offensive plays within 10 yards of the goal line, and three of the four carries within three yards of the line, which were great signs in a game during which Chris Ivory was active that Fournette is this team’s every-down back.
Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: More fantasy points! More fantasy points! We fantasy players can be a greedy bunch, especially when we see stat lines like what Brown, the game’s best at his position, put forth in Week 1. For the sixth time in his career, he managed at least 10 receptions and 20 PPR fantasy points despite failing to score a touchdown, and five of them have occurred within the past three calendar years. Brown’s 29.2 PPR fantasy points were his 18th-best performance in his 102 career NFL games, and they were the second-best performance he has had while failing to score a touchdown (45.6 PPR, 28.6 non-PPR in 2015 Week 9).
Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs: Another standout from the Thursday NFL Kickoff, Smith managed 31.0 fantasy points as a visiting player against the New England Patriots, and that was nearly a new personal best for him. In fact, if not for Smith’s three kneels at game’s end — these totaled minus-6 rushing yards — he’d have exceeded the 31.2 fantasy points he scored in 2013 Week 15 at Oakland.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions: His was quite the comeback, as his first pass attempt of the season was a pick-six, returned 82 yards by Arizona Cardinals cornerback Justin Bethel, and he was unable to get anything going while his Lions fell behind by 10 points before he managed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Jones Jr. more than 26 minutes into the game. Stafford completed three more touchdown passes, however, en route to a 27.1 fantasy point performance, his most since Week 6 of last season and his 11th best in 110 career NFL games.
Jesse James, TE, Steelers: Vance who? Clearly sensing competition for targets following Vance McDonald’s acquisition, James made the most of a sizable opening-week opportunity, reeling in six of his eight targets for 22.1 PPR and 16.1 non-PPR fantasy points. Both were easily career highs, and they greatly increase the chance that he should remain the team’s go-to tight end in the Steelers’ passing game, at least for another week.
Mike Gillislee, RB, Patriots: His Patriots debut was an exceptional one, as he managed 22.5 PPR (and non-PPR) fantasy points on Thursday, easily setting new personal bests in both departments. More important, he received all four carries on Patriots plays within three yards of the goal line, cementing his status as the replacement for LeGarrette Blount in that role.
Kenny Golladay, WR, Lions: He was one of the reasons for Stafford’s comeback performance, and Golladay’s 22.9 PPR and 18.9 non-PPR fantasy points were the most by any wide receiver in an NFL debut since Allen Hurns’ 27.0 and 23.0 in 2014 Week 1 and the 19th- and 17th-most by a debuting wideout since 1950. Though there was some chatter that TJ Jones might cut into Golladay’s snaps to begin the season, Golladay squelched those worries, making him a likely top Week 2 pickup in the 95.4 percent of ESPN leagues in which he is available.
Austin Hooper, TE, Falcons: Though more than three-quarters of his fantasy production came on one play, that an 88-yard receiving touchdown on which he was left wide open in the middle of the field, Hooper’s 20.8 PPR (and 18.8 non-PPR) fantasy day was one of note. That lone play earned him more fantasy points than he had in any individual game during his rookie year of 2016, though it’d be nice to see his target total increase from two in the coming weeks.
Nelson Agholor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: With Josh Norman causing Alshon Jeffery some headaches on Sunday, Agholor found more room in the Washington Redskins’ secondary, kicking the scoring off with a 58-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter and finishing with 20.6 PPR fantasy points. It helped Agholor set a new career high — his 14.6 non-PPR fantasy points doing the same — and makes him likely to be one of the top pickups in the 98.9 percent of ESPN leagues in which he is available. That’s too low a percentage to make a “sell-high” case, and in fact he’s probably a viable matchup-play pickup, but this was probably a more matchup-driven output than the start of a true breakthrough.
Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams: In one sense, he was a winner, scoring 20.6 PPR fantasy points on Sunday, his best single-game performance since 2016 Week 3 and fifth best in his 30 career NFL contests. In another, he was rather ordinary, averaging 2.1 yards per carry, his third-worst single-game performance in his career, and 4.0 yards per touch, beneath his 4.4 average of 2015-16 combined, in a game that his Rams led handily and played against a mediocre Indianapolis Colts defense. Gurley snuck into the top 10 running backs in terms of ADP earlier in the week (before Ezekiel Elliott was granted his temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction that allows him to play and Hunt had his Thursday outburst), so let’s consider this a good start to his season yet not overreact.
Ty Montgomery, RB, Green Bay Packers: He scored 19.3 PPR fantasy points in his season debut, the third-best single-game performance of his career, but the greater takeaway was that he set a new personal best for rushing attempts (19) despite missing a handful of snaps due to a leg injury. Montgomery did return to the game and looked fine, so he’s locked in as a weekly RB2.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Rams: His debut performance wasn’t quite on par with Golladay’s, and Kupp was in fact started in more leagues than Golladay (1.3 to 0.7 percent), but a 17.6-point PPR fantasy score is still a clear win. That’s doubly so if you consider the vast difference in the reputations of their quarterbacks.
Rams defense: The Indianapolis Colts’ offense was widely expected to struggle through Andrew Luck’s absence, making opposing defenses well worth streaming consideration, but this was a heck of a performance by the Rams even considering the matchup. The Rams scored 29 fantasy points, their most since 2014 Week 13, when they scored the same number, thanks to limiting the Colts to nine points and 225 total yards while notching four interceptions, two sacks and a fumble recovery.
Jaguars defense: They matched the Rams’ 29 fantasy points for the week’s lead, mostly due to racking up the points in the first half while the Houston Texans had Tom Savage under center. In the eight quarters that Savage played in the Texans’ past four regular-season games, their opponents scored 54 fantasy points on defense. Deshaun Watson should give the Texans more of a fighting chance, however.

Losers
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers: Thirteen touches? Thirteen?! That was the second-lowest total of his 48-game NFL career, trailing only the 12 he had before he tore the MCL in his right knee in 2015 Week 8 — and even in that game, he scored more PPR (7.8) and non-PPR (5.8) fantasy points than he did on Sunday (7.7 and 4.7). This was an awful performance from a seemingly fully healthy player facing what was supposedly a standout matchup, which is sure to raise questions throughout the week about his holdout that lasted the entire preseason. (Hint: Don’t sweat it. He’s still an excellent player and this was just one bad game.)
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: A 10.7-point fantasy performance might not be a catastrophic outcome, but it was supremely disappointing compared to expectations and at best might have difficulty ranking among the week’s 15 top scores. Brady was started in 99.6 percent of ESPN leagues, most at the position. Smith, his opponent, started in just 2.9 percent of leagues, but managed 20.5 more fantasy points than Brady did, making this only the second time in his 236 career NFL starts that Brady’s opponent outscored him on the fantasy ledger.
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals: Now this one might’ve been a week-killer, if you were one of those in the 17.8 percent of ESPN leagues in which he was active. Dalton was intercepted four times, matching a career worst (2013 Week 17), and his minus-3.0 fantasy points were easily a new career low. Particularly disappointing was the fact that Dalton never scored fewer than 10.2 fantasy points in a single game in 2016.
Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals: Like Dalton, Palmer wasn’t started in a high percentage of leagues (14.1 percent), but if Palmer was to be hailed a potential bounce-back candidate this season, he sure didn’t make a good first impression. Palmer was intercepted three times on Sunday, one of them a game-sealing pick-six late in the fourth quarter, and finished with 9.0 fantasy points, his lowest score since 2016 Week 3 (3.5). It won’t be easy to make a case for him as a matchup play facing the Indianapolis Colts on the road in Week 2.
Rob Kelley, RB, Redskins: A disappointing preseason by backup Samaje Perine locked Kelley into the Redskins’ starting running back role, but Kelley can’t afford to put up weeks of just 3 PPR/non-PPR fantasy points if he wants to hold off the rookie. That was his worst score in any of the 10 games in which he played double-digit snaps, and it makes it potentially wise to spend one of your Week 2 waiver claims to pick up Perine, available in 31.5 percent of leagues, as insurance.
Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals: Fantasy players were smart about Mixon in Week 1, as despite his 100.0 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, he was started in only 33.1 percent, recognizing that he was likely to be used on a rotational basis in the Bengals’ opener. Still, Mixon’s stat line of 9 yards on eight attempts, resulting in 5.4 PPR and 2.4 non-PPR fantasy points, isn’t going to inch him any closer to a full takeover of the team’s rushing chores, after a preseason of chatter that Jeremy Hill remains this team’s starter.
Jamison Crowder, WR, Redskins: Those who roster Crowder were alerted to the prospect that he’d disappoint on Sunday after he was added to the team’s injury report unexpectedly on Thursday, due to a hip issue that popped up during practice. They weren’t expecting a mere 2.4 PPR (and minus-0.6 non-PPR) output on Crowder’s seven targets. He wasn’t used as much as he should be in his healthier weeks, however, as he was rotated in and out of the game in Week 1. Expect things to improve from here.
Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers: Where Brown shined, Bryant flopped in his return to the NFL, managing just 3.4 PPR and 1.4 non-PPR fantasy points on his six targets. It was only the fifth time in PPR and seventh in non-PPR that he was held beneath five fantasy points in his 22 NFL games, but as he continues to shake the rust off, his more characteristically big performances should return.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals: He’s Dalton’s go-to guy in the red zone, so understandably on a day when Dalton was held quiet, Eifert was held quiet too. Eifert’s 1.4 PPR fantasy points (and 0.4 non-PPR) on his lone target were his second-worst numbers, trailing only 2015 Week 3, when he was shut out in both formats.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Seattle Seahawks: He was started in just 20.7 percent of ESPN leagues, but for a player who is owned in 100 percent, Lacy was a total bust in Week 1. The Seahawks’ starter with Thomas Rawls inactive, Lacy managed just five carries and 0.3 fantasy points despite his team’s being in a competitive spot on the scoreboard for the majority of Sunday’s game. What’s more, Lacy rotated with Chris Carson, who managed 39 yards on his six rushing attempts, a sure sign that Carson and Rawls are a threat to the veteran’s workload come Week 2.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers: He was targeted five times, but managed to catch only one, resulting in 3.5 PPR fantasy points. That was his fourth-lowest output in his 33 career games, though Cam Newton’s mediocre performance as well as the Panthers’ early lead played a large part.

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CHICAGO — The Bears waived former starting running back Jeremy Langford, the team announced on Sunday.

Langford’s roster spot went to undrafted running back Taquan Mizzell, who the team claimed off waivers from the Baltimore Ravens.

As Matt Forte’s primary backup in 2015, Langford — selected in the fourth round that year out of Michigan State — rushed for 537 yards and six touchdowns. Langford became only one of three Bears players in franchise history with 100 receiving yards, one rushing touchdown and one receiving touchdown in a single game.
Bears running back Jeremy Langford never regained his starting job after suffering an injury against the Cowboys in Week 3 last season. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
But Langford, 25, fell out of favor last season when he suffered an ankle injury in Week 3 at Dallas. With Langford out for four weeks, the Bears turned to rookie Jordan Howard, who rushed for 1,313 yards — the second-highest total in the league.

Langford returned for the final nine games but underwent ankle surgery in the offseason and had to rehab on the side during the Bears’ voluntary offseason program. Langford then reinjured the ankle at the beginning of training camp and missed a sizable portion of camp.

Langford carried the ball 10 times for 29 yards in the final weeks of the preseason.

The Bears also claimed receiver Tre McBride (Titans) and long-snapper Andrew DePaola (Buccaneers) off waivers Sunday and waived tight end Ben Braunecker and long-snapper Jeff Overbaugh.

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CINCINNATI – Bengals coach Marvin Lewis defended Vontaze Burfict’s style of play in the wake of a pending five-game suspension. Lewis said that Burfict has changed his style of play after getting a three-game suspension last year for violations of player safety.

“In my opinion Vontaze has changed,’ Lewis said. “He’s learned, he’s changed, but in my opinion he’s a 250-pound man that hits like a dynamite. It’s like getting hit by a cement truck. That’s just the way he plays. He’s got great hip explosion; that’s why he’s the player he is. … The dynamics of his body are such that it’s like getting hit by a 300-pound person.”
While Vontaze Burfict has changed his style, his tackles are “like getting hit by a cement truck,” according to his coach, Marvin Lewis AP Photo/Gary Landers
Burfict has a conference call Tuesday to potentially appeal the suspension. The NFL appointed James Thrash as the appeals officer, a league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Lewis said the play in question, which occurred in the Bengals’ preseason game against the Chiefs, was within the rules.

“Sometimes in interpretation things got lost, and hopefully Vontaze will prevail,” Lewis said.

Burfict is on the NFL’s repeat offender list, which is likely why he got an unprecedented five-game suspension after the Chiefs game. He has been fined numerous times by the league for plays it has considered questionable.

The play in question was a hit to Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman, who was not the intended receiver on the play.

The league recently added a new rule emphasizing hits on defenseless receivers, but Lewis said this particular play was not one of the examples listed when the NFL explained the new rules to players in the preseason.

“It’s within the rules,” Burfict said. “You can hit the receiver in 5 yards; you just can’t hit him in the helmet or neck area. I hit him in the chest area. I guess they just have it out for me, I guess. It’s whatever.”
Lewis said the league’s issue with the hit was that it came from the side, where the receiver could not see him. Lewis said that wasn’t possible

“The interpretation is that it’s away from the play, does Vontaze hit him from the back, or from the side, or does he put his shoulder into the number of the Kansas City Chiefs player?” Lewis said. “Obviously I would have to be facing you to put my number there. That seems pretty obvious.”

Lewis said he was surprised when the suspension came down, because Burfict did not lead with his helmet to try to make the tackle. The NFL is also emphasizing helmet-to-helmet hits.

“His head was out to the left, as you can see in every single angle,” Lewis said. “Behind, front, television, All-22, it’s always out to the side and in front of the player. There’s no contact whatsoever. And if you have to slow down things in high definition and go frame by frame, and you’re still not sure, we don’t officiate the game that way. … I don’t see how the players can be held to that standard as well.”

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NFL Players Association president Eric Winston agreed with DeMaurice Smith’s recent comments that a work stoppage in 2021 is likely, given the current relationship between the union and the league.

But Winston took it a step further Monday in an interview with WCPO in Cincinnati, suggesting that players shouldn’t care that a strike or lockout “might kill the goose that laid the golden egg.”

“Honestly I don’t care and I don’t think the guys in this locker room care whether [the NFL] is going to be around in 20 years because none of us are going to be playing,” Winston, an offensive tackle for the Bengals, told WCPO. “So if these guys [the owners] want to own for a long time, then they can own for a long time. But another work stoppage might kill the golden goose.”

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A work stoppage in 2021 is “almost a virtual certainty,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told Sports Illustrated in a video interview posted Thursday.

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Smith, the union’s executive director, said last week that “the likelihood of either a strike or a lockout is almost a virtual certainty.”

Speaking at a fan forum hosted by the Detroit Lions, commissioner Roger Goodell said he hopes the two sides can come to an agreement before a work stoppage.

“I think projections of whether there’s going to be a work stoppage are really not the point,” Goodell said. “The point should be let’s sit down and figure out our differences and get it solved and do what’s right for our fans and the game and try to make this an even more popular game collectively. And that’s what I hope will happen.”

The NFL’s current collective bargaining agreement, which is set to expire in 2021, was finalized after a 132-day lockout in 2011.

Winston, 33, said the union is preparing its players for another prolonged labor dispute but emphasized that the long-term health of the NFL is not a concern of his.

“I’m certainly not worried about it,” he said. “I’m not going to be around that long. I don’t care if even if there are rookies in here — they’re not going to be playing that long.

“So if this thing dies out in 20 years, it dies out in 20 years. That’s not really my concern, and I don’t think it’s any of these players’ concern in here, either.”

Smith, when asked about Winston’s comments during an interview Tuesday with ESPN’s Outside the Lines, said the veteran offensive lineman is “a person who understands the frame and business of football.”

“The owners locked us out the last time,” Smith said. “They took the decision to make sure that people didn’t have a place to work. They cut off the insurance to our families. They wanted to force an 18-game schedule. What are you supposed to do? Fight back, right?”

Winston is a 12-year veteran and has been the NFLPA’s president since March 2014. He acknowledged that there are “always going to be issues between labor and management,” but also said that a work stoppage will be the “inevitable outcome” unless serious progress is made in negotiations.

The NFLPA has clashed in recent years with the NFL over player discipline in such high-profile cases as Adrian Peterson’s suspension for child abuse, Tom Brady’s Deflategate suspension and, most recently, Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension for alleged domestic violence.

Goodell said he thinks that while neither side is getting exactly what it wants, the current labor deal does work for both sides.

“We believe that we have a labor agreement that is working well for the players, is working well for the NFL, and I think as a result is working well for our fans,” Goodell said. “We think we should continue that. Now, does that mean we think it’s perfect? No. Does that mean the players think it’s perfect? No. But this should be a basis for us to work together and get it solved.”

Winston also was asked Monday why he thinks fans tend to side with ownership in labor disputes.
“My personal theory is [fans] think they have a stake in the team,” he said. “I was as blindsided by it probably as anybody [in 2011]. … They don’t look at the issues the way we look at issues — wages, hours, working conditions, and health and safety. You could talk about the same thing in a coal miners’ union meeting as we do in our meetings.

“I think fans look at the team and say that that’s their team — they have an ownership in that. That’s why you always hear fans say, ‘Oh, the salary cap,’ and they think they’re kinda the general managers. Obviously fantasy football and things like that play into it.”

Information from ESPN’s Michael Rothstein was used in this report.

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Lost in the Colin Kaepernick-Ravens saga was the fact that the Ravens had someone they believed was a solid backup option in Ryan Mallett.

But during the team’s flirtation with the Pro Bowl free agent, the Baltimore Sun reported that Mallett hurled seven interceptions over the course of two practices on Friday and Saturday (five on Friday alone). As NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, Baltimore would likely only sign Kaepernick if they viewed him as an upgrade over Mallett and not just because they needed a camp arm while Joe Flacco recovers from a back issue.

This quickly became Mallett’s burden to bear. In the meantime, he doesn’t seem fazed by the competition coming from outside the facility.
“We’re worried about the Ravens right now,” Mallett said Sunday, via The Sun. “If he comes, cool. If he doesn’t, cool. We don’t really care about that right now.”

The Ravens have openly admitted to speaking with Kaepernick over the last few weeks. They’ve canvassed the fanbase for opinions and even polled some of the franchise’s more recognizable faces. If popularity is part of the equation, Kaepernick was revealed to still be on the NFLPA’s top 50 merchandise list on Good Morning Football Tuesday. At No. 39, Kaepernick is the only player on the list to not currently be on an NFL roster.

Thanks to a report from NFL Network’s Michael Silver, who cited someone familiar with Kaepernick’s thinking, we now know the quarterback is eager to return under any circumstance. Money is also not an issue.

Does that mean it is simply becoming a Mallett issue at this point?

“I’ve got to get better,” Mallett told the Sun. “This is what training camp is for. … It’s a long training camp, a long preseason, and that’s what this is for.”

It’s important to note in Mallett’s defense that training camp practice interceptions are largely meaningless. As Mallett himself noted, after inheriting starter’s snaps from Joe Flacco, he’s also getting a new group of wide receivers to work with after barely getting used to the second-string wideouts during his time in offseason workouts. Should that even out, we may be hearing less about outside competition in Baltimore.

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The Atlanta Falcons might have suffered the worst collapse in Super Bowl history, but there remains much to be excited about as a new season approaches.

Like, for instance, the $1.2 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium, set to open its doors next month. Team owner Arthur Blank and the Falcons seem to have pulled off a neat trick here, constructing a facility that actually looks as impressive as the blueprints and artistic renderings that teased its arrival. This week, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan got a tour of the new stadium. The star was taken aback by the 360-degree video board that seems better suited for a U2 concert tour.
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“It’s pretty unbelievable.” #MattyIce❄️ was mic’d up when he got a first look of our new home, @MBStadium.

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Here’s Ryan’s first unofficial pass at his new field, if you’re into historic stuff.
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First pass for #MattyIce❄️ in @MBStadium: completion ✅

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Mercedes-Benz Stadium is huge. It’s a full 400,000 square feet larger than the Georgia Dome, which was the Falcons’ home from 1992 through 2016. The hot dogs and beer also are cheap, which is nice. More stadiums should have cheap hot dogs and beer.

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The man with the self-proclaimed “best motor” in the 2017 NFL Draft class now has a contract.

The Atlanta Falcons announced Thursday they have agreed to terms with first-round pick Takkarist McKinley, who was selected No. 26 overall last month.

A two-year starter at UCLA, McKinley logged 99 total tackles, 28 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, six forced fumbles and 10 passes defensed in his three years in Westwood. Atlanta traded up five spots to select him last month.

The Falcons also announced Thursday they have agreed to terms with three other draft picks: linebacker Duke Riley, running back Brian Hill and tight end Eric Saubert.

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Have the Eagles hit a bump in the road with Brandon Graham?

On the heels of a report by the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane that Graham is poised to hold out for a new contract, a source informed of the situation told NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo on Wednesday that the defensive end is expected back with the team soon for optional and mandatory workouts. Garafolo added there’s no sense that Graham is pushing for a new contract at this point, according to the source.
The eighth-year lineman inked a four-year, $26 million contract in 2015. The pact pays Graham $6.5 million both this season and next, an amount apparently not sitting well for a player making less than teammate Vinny Curry, who has never logged an NFL start.

Graham, meanwhile, was Philly’s top-performing end last season and said of his contract in January: “We’ll worry about that when it comes, I guess. But I’m just going to try and make sure I’m working hard and hopefully things happen.”

On Wednesday, Graham refused to comment on his absence, saying via text, per McLane: “Can’t talk about contract stuff right now.”

It ultimately remains to be seen if Graham will be the first of many players league-wide to play a game of chicken with their employer over new cash. Each of these players will find out by September what they truly mean to the teams they toil for.

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The assumption among the football world was the New York Giants selected Eli Manning’s heir when Big Blue snagged Davis Webb in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Giants CEO John Mara pumped the breaks on that supposition during a Tuesday appearance on The Rich Eisen Show.
“I am in the room with [general manager Jerry Reese] and I do give the final approval to everybody that we take,” Mara said of the Webb pick. “But I was hoping that we would take a quarterback at some point. I’ve always held the belief that you could never draft too many of them. I think it’s a little too premature to be anointing this guy as the heir apparent to Eli. [Webb] hasn’t set foot on the field yet. But he has a lot of talent and we’re looking forward to seeing what we’ve got when he gets here. But let’s not, as Bill Parcells used to say, let’s not get his bust ready for Canton just yet.”

The key for Mara is to let Webb develop before deciding whether he can be the future of the franchise.

“But no, listen, he’s a talented guy but let’s let him get on the field and let’s let him play in the preseason and develop,” Mara said. “If he’s the successor, that’s great, but if not, then we’ll find somebody else.”

The Giants admitted this year that Eli Manning is on the “back nine” of his career. With Manning turning 36 years old, New York is prudent to begin thinking about a successor.

Webb entered the draft with most analysts believing he needs time to mature into a starting-caliber quarterback. Learning behind Iron Man Manning could be the best education if Webb is to be the next torchbearer in New York. Of course, some Giants fans thought they had the next hot young project when they used a 2013 fourth-round pick on Ryan Nassib, who is now a free agent.