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NFL roundup: Sanchez avoids controversy

The SportsXchange

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Mark Sanchez, the man at the heart of the New York Jets' most recent turn of events in an ongoing quarterback drama, is doing his best to shoulder whatever it takes to be the team's starter.

Or, in the alternative, at least be able to play. And in the interim, he does not want to discuss whether head coach Rex Ryan's unusual behavior recently is impacting the coach's relationship with the players.

Sanchez is sidelined by a shoulder injury, incurred under bizarre circumstances Saturday night in a preseason game against the New York Giants.

Sanchez, the Jets' starting quarterback since he was drafted in 2009, was inserted in Saturday night's game in the fourth quarter after rookie Geno Smith, who is arguably the heir apparent, made too many apparent errors -- three interceptions and a safety when he stepped out of the back of the end zone.

Rather than replace Smith with backups Matt Simms or Greg McElroy, Ryan put Sanchez in with the backups. Sanchez was brutalized and after being leveled on two consecutive plays, left the game with an injured right shoulder.

Ryan said after the game that the reason Sanchez was put in the game was because the team wanted to win. Given another chance Monday to explain that unusual move, Ryan instead said he already explained his actions after the game and wanted to move on.

And so does Sanchez. Move on, that is. He is focused on being ready for the season opener.

Interestingly, especially to aggressive the New York media at least, Sanchez would neither confirm nor deny that Ryan was "losing the locker room."

"I'm not going to speculate on that," Sanchez said. "I know he's our head coach. We play our butts off for him. He knows how to motivate us. He's doing his very best and that's what we expect of him, just like he expects out of us. He expects our best."

Although Ryan has not decided who will be the starter in the season opener against Tampa Bay, Sanchez says he just wants to be ready. For now he is listed as "day-to-day" by Ryan and is definitely out of the final preseason game, Thursday against the Philadelphia Eagles. But he clearly wants to be ready for the season opener.

"That's the goal, so (we will) just keep our fingers crossed and take it day-to-day," Sanchez said Monday. "That's in all of our plans. I'm trying to get back as soon as possible and be able to practice as soon as possible."

---Jeff Tuel went undrafted in April. Four months later, the former Washington State quarterback is in line to start the Buffalo Bills' regular-season opener against the New England Patriots.

While saying that he hopes rookie EJ Manuel will return in time from knee surgery to face the Patriots, Bills head coach Doug Marrone said the team is preparing for Tuel to be under center Sept. 8.

Buffalo's quarterback situation has been thrown into disarray with injuries to Manuel and Kevin Kolb, whose future is uncertain due to another concussion. That led the team to sign Matt Leinart and trade for Thaddeus Lewis on Sunday.

Also, Bills running back C.J. Spiller has been excused from the team for personal reasons. Spiller's step-grandfather is accused of killing two men and wounding two others before shooting himself in Landover, Md. on Saturday.

---The NFL Players Association filed a grievance against the New England Patriots in an attempt to collect an $82,000 workout bonus from Aaron Hernandez's terminated contract.

Hernandez was scheduled to receive the $82,000 workout bonus on Aug. 1 per terms of his rookie contract. But the Patriots have withheld the bonus as Hernandez remains in jail after being charged with first-degree murder in the June 17 slaying of Odin Lloyd.

The fight over the $82,000 bonus is seen as the beginning of a bigger battle over the payment of a $3.25 million bonus that is due to be paid to Hernandez in March, 2014.

---New Orleans Saints linebacker Will Smith is out for the year with a knee injury, according to Pro Football Talk.

Smith was injured during Sunday's preseason game against the Houston Texans. The exact injury was not immediately known.

Smith, a first-round pick in 2004, was preparing to move from defensive end in the 4-3 alignment to outside linebacker in the 3-4.

--- Montee Ball was expected to eventually take over the featured back role in the Denver Broncos' offense after Willis McGahee was cut loose before training camp, but the Wisconsin rookie first had to convince the coaching staff he could handle blocking assignments.

Just how far he has progressed with his blocking is still up for debate, but Ball practiced with the first-team offense Monday.

"I've been getting reps with them prior to today. Today, I got a little bit more," Ball said. "There are just some things that I need to work on that I'm really looking forward to attacking right now."

---Running back Joe McKnight and wide receiver Braylon Edwards were among 15 players cut by the New York Jets.

McKnight was expected to make the team this year considering his return skills and the Jets' relative lack of depth in the backfield - Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell are the top two backs, with Mike Goodson yet to report. However, McKnight, who was arrested over the offseason on outstanding warrants for two unpaid traffic tickets, has dealt with migraines and was carted off the practice field after collapsing last week.

Edwards was signed by the Jets on July 25 for his third stint with the team, but has been unable to fully overcome the knee issues that have plagued him in recent seasons.

---There was a reason massive defensive tackle Jesse Williams fell to the Seattle Seahawks in the fifth round in April. He has significant knee issues that caused many NFL teams to completely remove the second-round talent from their draft boards. And those knee issues have continued into his brief NFL career, with the Seahawks placing the former Alabama star on injured reserve Monday.

Nicknamed "Tha Monstar" at Alabama, the 6-foot-4, 323-pound Williams had an opportunity to have a major impact in the middle of a Seattle defensive line that continues to be thinned by injuries.

---Kansas City Chiefs tight end Tony Moeaki is out with a fractured shoulder, but coach Andy Reid said he is not sure how long.

Moeaki was injured during Saturday's preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Moeaki, in his fourth NFL season, has battled a series of injuries during his career. He played in 15 games in 2012 but made only 33 receptions for 453 with a touchdown. He missed several practices late in the season with a head injury.

---New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was activated from the physically unable to perform list and cleared to practice. Pierre-Paul had back surgery in June.

It is not clear if he will be ready to play the Giants' regular-season opener at the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 8.

Pierre-Paul is in his fourth season. Last year, he had 66 tackles and 6.5 sacks in 16 games (15 starts).

---The Washington Redskins waived veteran wide receiver Donte' Stallworth and fullback Eric Kettani, a Naval officer who was recently promoted to lieutenant.

The Redskins signed Stallworth in June, but the team has five receivers all but guaranteed roster spots in Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan, Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson and Leonard Hankerson. If Washington decides to keep a sixth wideout, Dez Briscoe is likely to get that spot.

---Minnesota Vikings fullback Jerome Felton was suspended without pay for the first three games of the regular season for violating the NFL's substance abuse program, the league announced Monday.

Felton's suspension starts Saturday. He is eligible to return to the Vikings' active roster Sept. 23, which is day after the team's game against the Cleveland Browns.

---The San Francisco 49ers waived five players Monday, including quarterback Scott Tolzien.

Tolzien served as the team's third-string quarterback the past two seasons. In two preseason games this year, he completed 18 of 34 passes for 188 yards with an interception.

The 49ers added Seneca Wallace last week, and coach Jim Harbaugh said Sunday he likes what he sees from Colt McCoy. The 49ers also B.J. Daniels in camp.

---The Arizona Cardinals expect running back Rashard Mendenhall to play in their season opener Sept. 8 at the St. Louis Cardinals, according to CBSSports.com.

The team is also looking to trade running back Ryan Williams.

Mendenhall injured his right knee in the Cardinals' 24-7 preseason loss to the San Diego Chargers on Saturday. An MRI taken Sunday reportedly revealed a mild sprain. He will likely wear a brace over the knee for the time being. He has also had tendinitis throughout training camp.

---Zach Ramirez impressed the Green Bay Packers enough during a tryout and practice on Sunday that the team released placekicker Giorgio Tavecchio.

Tavecchio had been the main competition for embattled incumbent Mason Crosby, but head coach Mike McCarthy clearly wasn't pleased with how the competition was playing out.

Crosby made a career-low 63.6 percent of his field-goal attempts last season and has experienced inconsistency in practice during training camp.

---Former NFL linebacker Jamie Winborn was reported missing in Atlanta on Sunday.

Winborn, 34, was last seen on Friday. His wife, concerned about his recent behavior, called police and told them he kept guns and drugs in the home, according to WSB-TV in Atlanta.

Winborn is reportedly batting cancer.

---San Diego wide receiver Malcolm Floyd was back on the practice field for the first time since injuring his knee two weeks ago.

At that time, the Chargers feared that their top wide receiver had suffered an ACL injury. But after going full speed on Monday, Floyd told U-T San Diego that he thinks he will be ready for the season opener against the Houston Texans.

Also, Diego Chargers outside linebacker Melvin Ingram will miss at least the first six weeks of the season after being placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list to open the season. He is recovering from knee surgery following an offseason injury.

---The Cleveland Browns placed running back Dion Lewis on season-ending injured reserve after Lewis had surgery last week to repair a fractured fibula.

Lewis had a firm hold on being the backup to Trent Richardson before being injured on Aug. 15. The Browns acquired Lewis from Philadelphia, where he averaged 4.75 yards per carry the past two seasons.

The Browns also waived wide receiver Jordan Norwood, who had spent the past three seasons with the Browns.
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