Tuesday’s deadline to report to training camp came and went as defensive end Aaron Donald’s holdout with the Los Angeles Rams continued, but general manager Les Snead hinted Wednesday that a deal could be getting closer.
Snead told reporters that the Rams and Donald, 27, were “in the same zip code, area code, ballpark” in their negotiations. Snead, who said the Rams have an offer on the table, clarified that “Zip code usually means you’re close, but we still haven’t agreed.”
Per NFL rules, Tuesday marked the deadline for players to report to training camp in order to accrue a season toward free agency, as it is 30 days before the NFL season opener. However, that deadline — which Donald missed last year when he held out for all of camp — wasn’t expected to spur any action to reach an agreement.
—Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, 30, revealed he recently expected to retire after the 2018 or 2019 season as a result of a chronic hip issue, according to NFL.com.
A ninth-year veteran and four-time Pro Bowler, Thomas said that as recently as the end of last season, he planned to retire after nine or 10 NFL campaigns because of a partially torn labrum in his hip that continued to worsen in 2016 and 2017. However, radical changes in his diet have changed his outlook.
Thomas has started every possible game over the past six seasons, but nagging injuries have kept him from playing more than 90 percent of the offensive snaps in four of those years, including the last three.
—Cleveland Browns rookie wideout Antonio Callaway had a gun part and ammunition in his car when he was cited for marijuana possession and a suspended driver’s license on Sunday, according to dash-camera footage obtained by multiple media outlets.
The Strongsville (Ohio) Police footage showed an officer asking Callaway to step out of the car so he could search the vehicle after smelling marijuana. The officer allegedly found a small amount of marijuana under the driver’s seat, as well as a backstrap for a Glock handgun and several bullets. The officer ordered Callaway to put his hands in the air and not move before patting down Callaway, who told the officer his gun is in Florida.
The officer later told his partner that he “got real nervous” when he saw the gun strap and ammunition in the car. Callaway, who allowed officers to search the car, said the vehicle had recently been shipped from Florida to Cleveland and that others had been using it in Florida. He said he did not know there was marijuana in the car.
—Carolina Panthers right tackle Daryl Williams will not have surgery to repair a dislocated right kneecap and torn medial collateral ligament, but he is expected to land on injured reserve, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Williams, who was hurt July 28, chose rehab instead of surgery and is hoping to return for the second half of the season, per the report.
Assuming he goes on IR, Williams must sit out eight weeks of the regular season before he would be allowed to return to the active roster. Because Carolina has a Week 4 bye, Williams would miss seven games and be eligible to return in Week 9 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
—Earlier in the day, the Panthers signed center/guard Tyler Larsen to a two-year extension.
Larsen was set to make $630,000 in the final year of his deal before becoming a restricted free agent in the spring. According to multiple reports, the extension is worth $4.4 million, with $1.4 million in guarantees and an additional $1 million available via incentives.
Larsen, 27, serves as backup to starting center Ryan Kalil, but could be used more elsewhere on the line with Williams out for the season and guard Amini Silatolu set for knee surgery.
—The Oakland Raiders are seeking a pay cut or contract restructure with left tackle Donald Penn, less than a year after signing him to an extension, according to a Las Vegas Review-Journal report.
Per the newspaper, the team would like to convert the $3 million of non-guaranteed money in Penn’s 2018 salary into bonuses or incentives.
Penn, who has yet to practice since suffering a Lisfranc fracture in Week 15 last season, signed a two-year, $21 million extension last September after holding out for almost all of training camp.
—Newly acquired Raiders wideout Martavis Bryant is struggling to pick up Jon Gruden’s playbook, according to former Oakland wideout and current NFL Network analyst James Jones.
Jones said he heard as much from offensive coordinator Greg Olson, who held the same position when Jones played in Oakland in 2014.
Jones added that to streamline the learning process, the coaches have had Bryant, 26, working at just one position, rather than moving around and learning the X, the Z and the slot as the team’s other wideouts have been doing.
—Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson is back in his happy place despite not having a coveted contract beyond this season.
“I wanted to be here for teammates, especially the younger guys, the new coaching staff — let them know I’m all in for the team,” Johnson said in an interview televised by NFL Network.
Johnson, 26, is entering the final year of his rookie deal but opted not to hold out of training camp because he’s viewed as a “veteran leader” in the locker room. He was on the field for a portion of offseason workouts and is recovered from a wrist injury that cost him 15 games last season.
—Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney remains mostly idle as the Houston Texans prepare for their preseason opener.
Clowney was not involved in on-field workouts throughout the offseason as he recovered from a knee injury. The Texans are also biding their time with three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt, who has been on the field for select drills in early August but might not play in preseason games.
Head coach Bill O’Brien said Clowney could join the fray as soon as next week.
—Dwight Clark — the San Francisco 49ers great made famous by “The Catch” of a pass from Joe Montana to beat the Dallas Cowboys in the 1981 NFC Championship Game — will be honored posthumously this season with a helmet decal worn by the players, the team announced.
A more lasting tribute will come in the form of a statue depicting “The Catch” outside of Levi’s Stadium. It will be unveiled alongside a statue of QB legend Joe Montana that will be 23 yards away, the distance between the two when they pulled off the iconic play.
The statues will be unveiled in an Oct. 21 ceremony. The Niners host the Los Angeles Rams in a nationally televised game that day. Clark died in June at age 61 after an extended battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He won two Super Bowls as a 49ers player and three as an executive.
—Field Level Media