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Friday, August 23, 2019

Football

George Kittle tells fantasy owners not to worry about his health

George Kittle

George Kittle returned to practice with the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday and delivered a reassuring message to fantasy football owners.

Kittle told fantasy football players not to worry about him because he would “be ready.”

Kittle has been missing practice time due to a calf injury that also kept him out of their preseason game on Monday night. Regardless, he does not see it as a concern.

The 25-year-old emerged last year as one of the best tight ends in the league. Kittle, a former 5th-round pick out of Iowa, had 88 catches for 1,377 yards and five touchdowns in 2018. He looks to remain a focal point in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, which has added some new weapons like rookie wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd.

Jon Gruden defends Antonio Brown: ‘It’s not been a distraction’

Antonio Brown has made headlines for all the wrong reasons during his first offseason with the Oakland Raiders, but head coach Jon Gruden insists none of that has been a detriment to the team.

Brown practiced on Tuesday amid his latest grievance against the NFL, and Gruden said the star receiver wore a certified helmet and is “all-in.” Gruden was later asked if Brown’s highly publicized helmet dispute or unfortunate foot injury have become a distraction for the Raiders, and he defended the Pro Bowler.

It would appear that Gruden and Raiders GM Mike Mayock are playing good cop, bad cop with Brown, and Gruden is clearly the former. Mayock essentially gave Brown an ultimatum last week and told him he needs to decide where his priorities lie, while Gruden is saying publicly that the receiver’s helmet grievance is an important issue.

Brown is doing everything he can to keep wearing the same helmet he has had since his rookie year despite already losing one grievance over it. He’s even reportedly gone as far as to try to trick the Raiders by wearing a bootleg helmet, but apparently Gruden isn’t concerned.

Marshall Faulk to help train Ezekiel Elliott in Mexico during holdout

Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott has been away from the Dallas Cowboys for several weeks as he prepares for the upcoming season, but he is going to get some help from a more experienced personal trainer than most running backs around the NFL have the pleasure of working with.

Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk revealed on “The Rich Eisen Show” this week that he is planning to travel to Cabo to train with Elliott.

“I’ve got some drills and some stuff that I used to do. I’ve challenged him with his conditioning, and trying to get him closer to football ready, not just being in good shape,” Faulk said, as transcribed by Joey Hayden of the Dallas Morning News. “So, I’m going down to try and make him throw up. That’s my job.”

Faulk met Elliott when Zeke was 16, and he has been mentoring the former Ohio State star ever since. They also share the same agent, Rocky Arceneaux, and Faulk said Elliott has a right to be angry about the way the Cowboys have handled his contract negotiations.

“These holdouts, they affect teams,” Faulk said. “They actually affect the nucleus of your team. And I’ll be honest with you, if I’m Zeke and I sit down and I saw that they signed Jaylon Smith – I’m pissed.”

Faulk also criticized the system that is in place with NFL contracts, which allows teams to have a fifth-year option on a first-round draft pick. He would not say either way whether he believes Elliott will return to the Cowboys before Week 1, but he admitted there’s “a lot of risk on both sides.”

There’s no reason to think Elliott will be at anything less than full speed when he eventually returns, as he took the same training approach when he was suspended in 2017. For what it’s worth, there has been talk that Elliott and the Cowboys are closer to an agreement than people think. If one comes together quickly, Faulk may have to cancel his flight to Mexico.

Cardinals OL Justin Pugh responds to criticism from Lamarcus Joyner, Rex Ryan

Rex Ryan

The Arizona Cardinals have an entirely new look on offense this year under first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury, and some people around the NFL have been openly skeptical about the chances it has of succeeding. Veteran offensive lineman Justin Pugh does not seem too concerned.

Oakland Raiders cornerback Lamarcus Joyner called Arizona’s up-tempo offense “pretty boy football” during his team’s preseason game against the Cardinals last week. Pugh joked that he didn’t mind the remark because “we’ve got some good-looking guys, man.” Joyner sacked Kyler Murray during the game, but Pugh didn’t think that was anything to feel proud of.

“If you want to troll, you better make sure you come correct, because I will correct you,” Pugh said, via Shane Dale of ABC 15 in Arizona. “It’s easy to talk smack when it’s third and 17 and you’re a (defensive back) and you know things are going to happen in your favor. I would love to see those same things be said when it’s third and (short) and we can run right at them. But when you don’t put yourself in a good situation to succeed, obviously people are going to have negative comments.”

Rex Ryan has been another critic of the Cardinals during the preseason, calling their offense boring and predicting that they will “get whipped” in Week 1. Pugh isn’t sweating that, either.

“I think we’ve seen through Rex Ryan’s career, he always says things to grab your attention,” Pugh said. “He’s on TV now. You have to say things to kind of get people riled up, so I get that. … That’s something that is part of this league — guys are going to talk. And if you don’t have success, guys are going to keep talking, so we’ve got to go out there and we’ve got to shut them up.”

The results for Murray have been mixed in the preseason, and he was called for a couple of controversial penalties that he may have to watch out for. Still, a lot of people believe he and Kingsbury are a perfect fit for each other. There will be some growing pains, but it’s too early to judge whether or not Kingsbury’s air raid offense will work at the NFL level.

Report: Ex-Dolphins coach Chris Foerster from cocaine video resurfaces with 49ers

49ers logo

A former Miami Dolphins assistant who quit his job after video of him snorting cocaine went public is reportedly getting back into coaching.

According to Jenna Laine of ESPN, Chris Foerster has taken a job with the San Francisco 49ers. Foerster reportedly took the job during the offseason, though it was not announced by the team. He will reportedly aid the coaching staff in game-planning efforts.

Foerster was last seen in October 2017 when he resigned as the Dolphins’ offensive line coach after video surfaced of him snorting white powder. Foerster confirmed that he had a cocaine addiction and checked into rehab.

The 49ers clearly believe that Foerster has cleaned up his life if they are giving him even a minor role on their staff. He was once one of the highest-paid assistants in the NFL, but he’ll have to prove he can handle this sort of job before moving back to a bigger one.

Field conditions for Packers-Raiders preseason game in Winnipeg called into question

Green Bay Packers logo

The field conditions for Thursday night’s preseason game between the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers in Winnipeg were called into question prior to the game.

The two teams were set to kick off at 8:00 pm ET on Thursday night. However, an hour before kickoff, questions were raised. The Raiders reportedly were already planning on sitting out key players due to concerns over the field conditions. The Packers apparently were considering the same thing.

Additionally, NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo mentioned there was consideration to using a shortened field to avoid the end zones where patches of grass filled in where the goal posts usually stand for CFL games.

The site of the game is IG Field, which is on the University of Manitoba campus. The field is the home of the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Former No. 1 NFL draft pick Mario Williams arrested for alleged trespassing

Houston Texans logo

Former NFL defensive lineman Mario Williams was arrested this week for allegedly trespassing.

Williams, who was drafted by the Houston Texans with the first overall pick in the 2006 draft, was accused of entering a woman’s home without permission on Tuesday, according to court records reviewed by Julian Gill of the Houston Chronicle. He was charged with a Class B misdemeanor charge of criminal trespassing and posted $100 bond.

TMZ reports that Williams and the woman have a child together, though it’s unclear if they are still in a relationship. Williams allegedly broke into the woman’s home and began yelling, and she became extremely emotional and told him to leave.

A judge has ordered a mental health and intellectual disability assessment for Williams.

Williams, 34, played 11 seasons in the NFL. He made the Pro Bowl four times and recorded 97.5 sacks.