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Monday, August 19, 2019

Football

Look: Stefon Diggs rocks awesome ‘Toy Story’ cleats for preseason game

Stefon Diggs touchdown

Stefon Diggs is obviously a man of high culture.

The Minnesota Vikings star showed up to Sunday’s preseason game against Seattle rocking an incredible pair of “Toy Story 4”-themed cleats. The multi-colored kicks featured beloved new character Forky. Take a look:

Diggs, who posted 1,021 yards receiving and nine touchdowns last season (both career-highs), only played sparingly on Sunday (as is tradition for the preseason). But the cleats still made for an impressive cameo nevertheless.

The 25-year-old wideout has been known to make statements with his cleats, but given that he was born two years before the first “Toy Story” film came out in 1995, this may be his nicest touch yet.

Sean Payton regrets playing sick Teddy Bridgewater in preseason game

Sean Payton

Teddy Bridgewater started the New Orleans Saints’ second preseason game Sunday and turned in a very discouraging performance that his coach is taking the blame for.

Bridgewater went just 5-of-12 for 40 yards and an interception in a 19-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, with backup Taysom Hill rallying New Orleans to a win. Coach Sean Payton, however, took the blame, stating Bridgewater was sick and probably shouldn’t have stayed in as long as he did.

Bridgewater won’t see much of the field in 2018 unless something disastrous happens to Drew Brees. However, for a guy who was pursued as a potential starter during the offseason, seeing him off that much was jarring. At least there’s a decent explanation.

Report: Newer version of Antonio Brown’s preferred helmet failed testing

Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown’s frustration with the NFL’s helmet regulations came to the forefront again Sunday when he skipped practice over the issue. Now we may know the reason for that.

According to Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle, there was hope in Brown’s camp that if a newer version of his preferred Schutt Air Advantage helmet could be located, it could be recertified and he would be allowed to play with it. However, Brown was informed last Monday that a different version would still have to undergo lab testing.

A 2011 model of the Air Advantage helmet was located and sent for testing, but it failed the test, meaning all versions of the Air Advantage are banned from play. Brown was informed of that on Saturday.

This may be the root cause of Brown abruptly skipping practice again on Sunday, an event which prompted his GM to essentially lay down an ultimatum. The bottom line is Brown’s preferred helmet is not going to be allowed, and it’s not up to him what he does about it. The Raiders — and the league — are eagerly awaiting his final verdict.

Antonio Brown still ‘upset’ over helmet issue

Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown lost the grievance he filed against the NFL and has accepted that he will not be able to wear his old helmet anymore, but apparently he is still not over the issue entirely.

Brown took part in a team walkthrough with the Oakland Raiders over the weekend, but apparently he has not returned to practice as a full participant. Mike Mayock said Sunday that Brown is still upset over the helmet dispute, and the GM said the team needs to know “if he’s all in or all out.”

That is the first time the Raiders have publicly admitted they are frustrated with Brown, but who can blame them? The NFL has safety standards in place for which helmets are allowed, and Brown’s old model doesn’t meet them. The fact that he is allowing the situation to drag out so long is almost hard to believe.

Brown claims he never actually considered retirement over the helmet dispute, so it’s unclear what he is trying to accomplish. He’s also dealing with a nasty foot issue, but Mayock’s comments indicate the helmet saga is the big problem.

Case Keenum likely to open season as Redskins’ starting QB

Case Keenum

Everything is lining up to indicate that Case Keenum will be the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins when the regular season opens.

Coach Jay Gruden admitted Sunday that Colt McCoy was no sure thing to be ready for the start of the season as he recovers from the broken leg he suffered in 2018. That, combined with the fact that the team does not appear ready to hand the reins to rookie Dwayne Haskins, indicates that Keenum will get the nod, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Many fans might have wanted to see Haskins win the role, but it’s pretty clear from how the team has discussed him that they want to refine him more. That likely means Keenum is the guy for the foreseeable future.

Marcus Mariota in danger of losing starting job to Ryan Tannehill?

The Tennessee Titans acquired Ryan Tannehill via trade this offseason in a move many viewed as injury insurance, but it would not be a surprise if he started games at some point this season even if Marcus Mariota is healthy. In fact, that could happen as early as Week 1.

While two preseason games isn’t exactly a large sample size, you could make the argument that Tannehill has outplayed Mariota. Mariota was 4-for-8 with just 24 passing yards in Tennessee’s first game against the Philadelphia Eagles, while Tannehill looked sharp and completed 12-of-16 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Neither was spectacular against the New England Patriots on Saturday night, with Mariota completing 6-of-9 passes for 63 yards and a touchdown and Tannehill connecting on 7-of-11 throws for 84 yards and a score.

Neither player has run away with the job, but ESPN’s Dianna Russini reported earlier in the week that Mariota is “not a lock” to start in Week 1. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, who was around the Titans this week while fulfilling his duties covering the Patriots, felt the same way, as he described the Titans’ quarterback position as “surprisingly wide open.”

Plenty of people would be surprised if Tannehill beat out Mariota, but should they be? The Titans used the No. 2 overall pick in draft on Mariota four years ago, and he has not taken the type of leap they have hoped for. Injuries are partly to blame for that, but he has also been inconsistent and thrown just 24 touchdown passes compared to 23 interceptions while playing in 29 games over the past two years combined. Those numbers leave a lot to be desired, and Tennessee’s coaching staff might want to start fresh.

At the very least, Mariota is going to be a on short leash. He made some changes this offseason that he hopes will help him shake off some of his past issues, but he probably won’t have much time to prove himself. If Mariota comes out struggling and the Titans’ offense needs a spark, it probably won’t be long before they give Tannehill a shot.

Eddy Pineiro only kicker left with Bears after they waive Elliott Fry

Eddy Pineiro has appeared to be in the lead to win the Chicago Bears’ kicking job throughout much of training camp, and he is now another step closer.

The Bears waived kicker Elliott Fry on Sunday, which means Pineiro is currently the only kicker remaining on their roster.

The Bears still have time to bring in another kicker before the regular season, and it would not be a surprise if they did that. Pineiro and Fry had been alternating kicker days during during camp, and Pineiro’s performance was more consistent.

Chicago is in desperate need of stability at kicker after Cody Parkey missed several key kicks last season, the most crucial of which wasn’t entirely his fault but ended the Bears’ season. Parkey, who was released not long after the season ended, made just 9-of-13 kicks from 40-49 yards in 2018. The Bears brought in several kickers during their rookie camp that were not impressive, but it’s possible they feel they have seen enough from Pineiro.