Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas is ending his holdout, but his announcement posted to Instagram on Wednesday made it clear reporting to the team was not his first choice.
“I worked my whole life for this..... I’ve never let me teammates, city or fans down as long as I’ve lived and don’t plan on starting this weekend,” he wrote, his words accompanied by a photo of him sitting on a weight bench. “With that being said, the disrespect has been well noted and will not be forgotten. Father Time may have an undefeated record but best believe I plan on taking him into triple overtime when it comes to my career.”
Thomas, a three-time first-team All Pro, held out from all offseason activities and didn’t report to training camp. He wanted a new multi-year deal, and if the Seahawks didn’t accommodate his request, Thomas wanted to be traded. He singled out Dallas as his preferred destination, but that didn’t happen.
The Cowboys had been offering a third-round draft pick, and ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Wednesday that the Cowboys upped their offer to a second-round pick in the last week. However, the Seahawks rejected the offer.
—Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is preparing to play Sunday’s season opener against the Cleveland Browns without All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell behind him, but he doesn’t sound worried.
“Football’s the ultimate team sport. One guy doesn’t make or break you,” Roethlisberger said. “So I’d like to say that the linemen are more important than any skill position player, including myself, on this team. This offense is more than one guy.”
Left guard Ramon Foster had harsher words for Bell, telling reporters, “What do you do? Here’s a guy who doesn’t give a damn, I guess, so we’ll treat it as such. I just hate it came to this. ...He’s making seven times what I make, twice as much as (left tackle) Al (Villanueva) is making and we’re the guys who do it for him.”
—New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. told reporters he isn’t going to let trash talk from opposing players get to him this season.
Last week, Beckham became the NFL’s highest-paid wide receiver when he signed a five-year contract worth $90 million, with an additional $5 million available through incentives. Part of the reason the Giants agreed to the contract was that they believed Beckham had shown a new maturity.
“I think I learned my lesson,” said Beckham, who was baited by Josh Norman in a game in December 2015 season and was called for three personal fouls, then suspended for a game. Beckham doesn’t expect things to be “friendly” when he faces Jacksonville’s Jalen Ramsey on Sunday, but he anticipates a good, clean battle.
—President Donald Trump might not consider the 2018 NFL season opener Thursday appointment television, especially after core sponsor and uniform provider Nike announced an agreement with out-of-work quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Trump, who described the renewal of Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign with Kaepernick as a “terrible message,” dug in again via Twitter, writing, “Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way? As far as the NFL is concerned, I just find it hard to watch, and always will, until they stand for the FLAG!”
The NFL Players Coalition released an essay to The Players’ Tribune on Wednesday, the eve of the 2018 regular season, asking fans and media to focus on the player initiatives and not players peacefully protesting by kneeling during the national anthem.
—Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry’s availability for Sunday’s regular-season opener remains in doubt after he missed practice with a sore heel.
Head coach Andy Reid has labeled Berry, who is returning from a ruptured Achilles suffered in the 2017 season opener, as day-to-day, while saying “we’ll see” when asked if he’ll play Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers. Berry did not play in the preseason and hasn’t practiced since mid-August.
“It is literally day-to-day,” trainer Rick Burkholder reiterated to reporters. “He won’t practice today, but he’s spent a lot of time with us, he’s improving, he’s getting better every day. And so we’ll continue with that process.”
—New York Giants tight end Evan Engram is out of concussion protocol and can play in the season opener Sunday against Jacksonville, head coach Pat Shurmur announced.
Engram sustained the concussion in the team’s third preseason game when he was sandwiched between two New York Jets. He missed practice last week and took part on a limited basis on Monday.
Shurmur also said defensive end Olivier Vernon is “making great progress” in his recovery from a high-ankle sprain that happened more than a week ago, but Shurmur did not discuss Vernon’s availability for Sunday.
—Indianapolis Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo was limited and running back Marlon Mack remained absent from practice, putting their availability in doubt for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Both players are battling hamstring injuries. After hurting his hamstring during the offseason, Castonzo aggravated the issue in early August and had not participated before getting light work in on Wednesday. Mack was hurt in the team’s preseason opener.
Le’Raven Clark, a 2016 third-round pick, has been working in Castonzo’s place on the left side. At running back, the Colts have rookies Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines along with veteran Christine Michael. Robert Turbin is suspended for the first four games after a PED violation.
—The Detroit Lions waived former starting defensive end Anthony Zettel after claiming defensive end Romeo Okwara off waivers from the New York Giants.
Zettel, 26, started all 16 games for the Lions last season, recording 6.5 sacks, 16 quarterback hits and 43 tackles (11 for loss), but he lost his starting job this offseason to Kerry Hyder, who missed all of 2017 with a torn Achilles. A sixth-round pick in 2016, Zettel played in 13 games as a reserve that year, notching 1.0 sack.
Okwara, 23, went undrafted in 2016 out of Notre Dame before joining the Giants. He played 20 games (four starts) over the last two seasons, totaling 28 tackles (two for loss) and 1.0 sack.
—New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead was not listed on the injury report and Marcus Cannon participated in full, putting both on track for Sunday’s opener against the Texans.
Burkhead has reportedly been dealing with a “slight tear” in his knee, deemed a minor injury the team has been overly cautious with. Cannon missed the whole preseason with a calf issue. Meanwhile, first-round running back Sony Michel was limited as he recovers from a knee procedure. His status for Sunday remains uncertain.
The Patriots also worked out wide receiver Kendall Wright and running back Kenjon Barner. The team currently has just three true wideouts on the team with Julian Edelman suspended, as Matthew Slater rarely plays offense.
—Tampa Bay Buccaneers left tackle Donovan Smith returned to a limited practice, and the team is optimistic he will be ready for Sunday’s opener against the Saints.
Smith, who has never missed a game in three NFL seasons, sprained his right knee in practice in mid-August, putting his availability for Week 1 in doubt. He had not practiced since the injury until Wednesday.
Rookie cornerback M.J. Stewart was also limited with a foot injury, while first-round pick Vita Vea remained out of practice as he battles a strained calf.
—Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker and wideout Rishard Matthews were not listed on the injury report, while right tackle Jack Conklin (knee) and linebackers Rashaan Evans (hamstring), Derrick Morgan (knee) and Harold Landry (ankle) were limited.
Walker missed all of the preseason with a toe injury, but he was always expected to be ready for Week 1, while Matthews (meniscus surgery) was activated from the PUP list less than two weeks ago. Conklin is returning from a torn ACL and could miss a few weeks of the regular season.
Evans missed the majority of training camp with an injury that was undisclosed until Wednesday’s report labeled it a hamstring issue. Morgan is returning from a reported knee procedure that could cause him to miss a game or two, while Landry sustained a reported high-ankle sprain while playing special teams in the preseason finale.
—Chicago Bears first-round linebacker Roquan Smith was not listed on the injury report after sitting out the second half of the preseason with a hamstring injury.
Between the hamstring and his holdout, Smith missed all but a week of training camp and the preseason. Head coach Matt Nagy has said the team will look to incorporate him in certain packages against the Packers on Sunday, but the rookie likely will not play the full game.
—Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker will miss Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans with a finger injury, according to a Miami Herald report.
Parker broke a finger during an Aug. 12 practice and has been sidelined since. Per the Herald, the team wants to be cautious with Parker to avoid any potential setbacks.
—As expected, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was not listed on the injury report, suggesting he has put his preseason quad injury behind him.
Tight end Vance McDonald (foot) returned to practice for the first time since being hurt in the preseason, getting in a limited practice.
—Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa was limited in practice, his second session back after missing the previous several weeks with a foot injury.
Head coach Anthony Lynn has said previously Bosa will “absolutely” be ready for the season opener against the Chiefs.
—Philadelphia Eagles running back Jay Ajayi was removed from the injury report and is fully expected to play in Thursday’s opener against the Atlanta Falcons.
Ajayi had been limited earlier this week with a foot issue but practiced in full on Tuesday before being removed from the report Wednesday.
—Baltimore Ravens rookie tight end Hayden Hurst remained absent from practice as he recovers from foot surgery he underwent two weeks ago to repair a stress fracture.
Hurst’s initial timetable for a return was three to four weeks, so he could miss the first game or two of the season. Defensive tackle Willie Henry (hernia surgery) is also expected to miss another week or two.
—The Saints waived running back Boston Scott in order to make room for offensive lineman Michael Ola on the 53-man roster.
A rookie sixth-round pick, Scott joined Alvin Kamara as the only two running backs to make the Saints’ initial roster, as Mark Ingram was placed on the suspended list, but the team later signed former Bills and Patriots back Mike Gillislee.
—Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins missed practice with a core muscle injury.
It’s unclear when Seferian-Jenkins was injured or if he will be available for Sunday’s opener against the New York Giants. He played in the team’s third preseason game on Aug. 25.
—Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller practiced after sitting out the entire preseason while battling a hamstring injury.
He is fully expected to be ready for Sunday’s season opener against the Patriots.
—The Jets worked out kicker Roberto Aguayo, the third kicker the team has worked out this week.
New York also brought in Dan Bailey — who was released by the Dallas Cowboys at final cutdowns — and Matt McCrane. Jason Myers is currently the only kicker on the roster.
—Field Level Media