(The Sports Xchange) - Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice has been suspended for the first two games of the regular season by the NFL after his offseason arrest on an assault charge stemming from an incident with his fiancee.
Rice stands to lose more than $470,000 in base salary and will also be fined $58,000, per the report.
Rice can practice with the team and play in preseason games, with the suspension beginning Aug. 30. He is eligible to be reinstated Sept. 12, meaning Rice will miss key home games against division rivals - the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals and a Week 2 tilt against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night.
Bernard Pierce is expected to start in Rice’s absence. However, he was only medically cleared Wednesday after an idle offseason. He averaged 2.9 yards per carry last year and underwent offseason shoulder surgery.
The Atlanta Falcons agreed to terms with Roddy White on a four-year contract extension that runs through the 2018 season and could set the wide receiver up to finish his career with the franchise that drafted him in the first round in 2005.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but ESPN reported the deal includes $10 million in guaranteed money for the four-time Pro Bowler. White was scheduled to enter the final year of his six-year, $48 million contract signed following a training camp holdout in 2009. White, 32, was set to earn a $5 million base salary in 2014 before the extension, ranked No. 11 among NFL wide receivers.
Jay Gruden’s first training camp as an NFL head coach got under way in the rain in Richmond, Va..
Of course, nothing can dampen the 47-year-old’s enthusiasm, and that energy appears to have revitalized quarterback Robert Griffin III. After a trying second season under former coach Mike Shanahan, Griffin has received nothing but praise so far from Gruden and new offensive coordinator Sean McVay.
”It’s really just a good thing to have two coaches that believe in you,“ Griffin said.”
The Redskins backslid from 10-6 NFC East champions in 2012 to 3-13 division cellar-dwellers in 2013.
New England Patriots veteran nose tackle Vince Wilfork was on the field for the first time in team workouts since he tore his Achilles at Atlanta four games into last season. There was a time in the offseason when it appeared Wilfork, entering his 11th season at age 32, might not be back with the Patriots.
“Hopefully I‘m picking up where I left off. I don’t know,” Wilfork said. “Like I said, I try not to think about it. That’s me. The future, you never know what happens in the future. Like I said, I‘m not going to dwell over the past. Right now I feel good, I‘m practicing, I‘m excited about being here and I‘m going to keep that excitement.”
All-Pro linebacker Aldon Smith was back on the field with the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday, and hopes to keep the focus there after repeated off-field issues.
Six days after he received three years probation and was ordered to do 11 days work crew service during sentencing for drunken driving and weapons charges. Smith said he was pleased with the outcome. But there’s still a looming meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the prospect of a suspension.
Smith, who has 42 sacks in 43 career games, said he has been sober since he went to rehab last September during a leave of absence from the team.
Rookie offensive tackle Taylor Lewan signed a four-year deal with the Tennessee Titans, closing the book on contract negotiations for the 2014 NFL Draft class.
Lewan was the last player selected in May to sign his rookie deal.
Despite not really having a guaranteed starting spot for Lewan to make an immediate impact as a rookie, the Titans pulled the trigger with the future in mind when he was surprisingly on the board with the 11th overall pick. Tennessee already has veteran left tackle Michael Roos, a starter since his rookie year of 2005, and the team recently signed right tackle Michael Oher to a four-year, $20 million contract. That could leave Lewan waiting in the wings until 2015.
Three months and six days after ankle surgery, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was medically cleared to participate in training camp when the team opens with a Friday night workout.
Newton was ahead of schedule and participated in on-field sessions in June. Head coach Ron Rivera said questions about the quarterback’s mobility are moot until he is on the field in “live situations.” Game situations are not expected to be simulated this week and Newton will not be exposed to contact in scrimmages.
The Panthers are taking no disciplinary action against defensive end Greg Hardy, who was convicted on two counts of domestic violence last week and is expected to be suspended by the NFL. However, the NFL could wait to bring any punishment until after his appeal is heard at trial, which might not occur until after the season ends.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon will appeal a pending one-year suspension in a meeting with NFL officials on Aug. 1, according to an ESPN report.
Gordon has a string off off-field incidents since entering the NFL as a Supplemental Draft pick in 2012, and is facing a yearlong suspension after another failed drug test this offseason. The suspension was reported leading up to the NFL Draft in May, two months before Gordon was charged with a DWI in North Carolina.
The Browns open training camp Saturday, and will not know Gordon’s status for at least another week. However, coach Mike Pettine made it clear the franchise has no intention of giving up on Gordon.
Also on Thursday, the Browns signed linebacker Edgar Jones, an eighth-year veteran was originally signed by Baltimore as an undrafted rookie in 2008 and has appeared in 64 career games as a reserve.
The Browns added offensive linemen Chris Faulk and Jeremiah Warren, defensive lineman Jacobbi McDaniel and running back Terrance West to the active roster. All four were designated as active/non-football injury Wednesday. Running back Jourdan Brooks and wide receiver Kenny Shaw were waived.
The Dallas Cowboys placed guard Ronald Leary and defensive end Anthony Spencer on the active/physically unable to perform list on Thursday.
Spencer continues to rehab from the microfracture surgery he had on his knee last October. Leary reportedly strained his hamstring during the team’s conditioning test earlier this week.
The Cowboys also placed defensive tackle Amobi Okoye on the non-football illness list. He was out of football last season but the former first-round pick, just 27 years old, is hoping to contribute under defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon was arrested in Edmond, Okla., and charged him with possession of marijuana, according to multiple reports.
Blackmon was reportedly stopped for a traffic violation, and police officers smelled the odor of marijuana coming from his car. A search found marijuana and Blackmon was taken into custody.
Owner Shad Khan said the Jaguars will not cut ties with Blackmon despite the ongoing off-field issues. It is the third arrest for Blackmon, who is currently suspended indefinitely by the franchise. following his third violation of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
Former Buffalo Bills great Jim Kelly, who is recovering from cancer treatments, will take part in the coin toss for the Hall of Fame game to kick off the NFL season.
Kelly will represent Buffalo as an honorary captain, while former linebacker Harry Carson will be the New York Giants’ honorary captain to open the NFL’s 95th season at Pro Football Hall of Fame Field in Canton, Ohio, on Sunday, Aug. 3 at 8 p.m. ET.
The Green Bay Packers swapped linebackers on their 90-man roster, signing Korey Jones and releasing Shaun Lewis.
Jones is a 6-foot-1, 232-pound first-year player who went undrafted out of Wyoming in 2013. He signed with the Arizona Cardinals as a rookie and spent training camp with the team before being released on Aug. 25 and playing for the B.C. Lions in the CFL last season. Lewis signed with the Packers on June 10 after being invited to the team’s rookie orientation camp in May on a tryout basis.
Luke Butkus will be interim offensive line coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, filling in while George Yarno battles cancer near his family in Spokane, Wash.
Butkus, nephew of Hall of Fame Chicago Bears linebacker Dick Butkus, played football at University of Illinois and is in his seventh season in the NFL.
Yarno, 56, will be away from the team for “some months,” head coach Gus Bradley said Thursday.
Editing by Steve Keating in Toronto.