Former running back Clinton Portis is one of 10 retired players facing federal charges for allegedly filing fraudulent claims against the NFL’s health care program.
The Justice Department filed charges Thursday morning in the Eastern District of Kentucky, accusing the players of filing $3.9 million in false claims. The health plan paid out more than $3.4 million on those claims from June 2017 to December 2018, according to court records.
The players allegedly submitted fraudulent claims to the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan seeking payments for expensive medical equipment, including hyperbaric oxygen chambers, cryotherapy machines and ultrasound devices. The equipment claims ranged from $40,000 to $50,000.
Four of the other players charged — Robert McCune, John Eubanks, Carlos Rogers and Ceandris Brown — were arrested Thursday morning, per The Washington Post. The others — Portis, Tamarick Vanover, James Butler, Fredrick Bennett, Correll Buckhalter and Etric Pruitt — were expected to surrender later in the day. The government said it also intends to file charges against former wide receivers Joe Horn and Reche Caldwell.
—Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston worked with tennis balls, with the idea that he’ll progress to throwing footballs once his right thumb feels more comfortable. Winston sustained a hairline fracture of the thumb late in the second quarter last Sunday against Indianapolis. The Bucs hope Winston can play this Sunday against Detroit.
—Indianapolis wide receiver T.Y. Hilton practiced on a limited basis for the first time in more than two weeks, though it remains unclear if he’ll be ready to play Monday night at New Orleans. Hilton is recovering from a calf injury that has limited him to just one game since Oct. 27.
—Pittsburgh wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was downgraded to limited in practice — a day after being a full participant — though it’s unclear if that will affect his status for Sunday night against Buffalo. He is attempting to work his way back from a three-game absence due to a knee injury. Running back James Conner was a full participant for the second day in a row on Thursday after sitting out three games with a shoulder injury.
—New England wide receiver Julian Edelman was also limited in practice, dealing with knee and shoulder injuries. He did not practice on Wednesday. Fellow wideout Mohamed Sanu (ankle) was listed as limited while left tackle Isaiah Wynn say out with an eye injury.
—Philadelphia officially placed wide receiver Alshon Jeffery on injured reserve with a right foot injury, which NFL Network reported as being a Lisfranc injury that is expected to need surgery. That would leave Jeffery with a lengthy recovery.
—San Francisco placed tight end Garrett Celek on injured reserve with a back ailment, and starting nose tackle D.J. Jones will also land on IR this week due to an ankle injury, coach Kyle Shanahan said.
—The New York Jets placed tight end Ryan Griffin on season-ending injured reserve with an ankle injury and activated offensive lineman Brent Qvale from IR to fill the slot.
—Former NFL MVP Cam Newton, Pro Bowl wide receivers Mike Evans and Jarvis Landry, and veteran defensive stars Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner are among the 32 nominees for the 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year award, which celebrates one player each year for going above and beyond in performing community service away from the field. ... Carolina owner David Tepper said in an interview that whether Newton is the team’s quarterback with next season will depend largely on his health ... Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson apologized and said he was “totally out of line” when he criticized the team’s defensive play-calling after Sunday’s loss in Atlanta.
—Tennessee linebacker Cameron Wake, out for the season with an undisclosed injury, told the team’s website he plans to play again in 2020 at age 38, and he hopes to remain in Nashville.
—Jarvis Landry told reporters he believes fellow Browns receiver and good friend Odell Beckham Jr. does not want to leave Cleveland, despite recent reports that Beckham has told opposing players and coaches to “come get me.”
—Jacksonville quarterbacks coach Scott Milanovich will be the next head coach of the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League, TSN reported.
—Cincinnati first-round pick Jonah Williams has been cleared to practice for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery in June. The 6-foot-4, 305-pound offensive tackle from Alabama was the 11th overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft.
—The NFL is giving the Oakland Raiders permission to exceed the league-mandated debt limit of $350 million to help the club as it moves to Las Vegas for next season, Sports Business Daily reported.
—Field Level Media