Even if the team enters the season without its All-Pro running back, the Pittsburgh Steelers are not planning to change their position in the ongoing standoff with Le’Veon Bell.
While rumors circulated that a trade could be the only solution in Bell’s holdout, NFL Network reported Thursday the Steelers will not rescind the franchise tag or trade Bell.
Bell has not signed a $14.5 million tender as the team’s designated franchise player, and it’s unclear when he plans to return to the team.
Bell’s agent, Adisa Bakari, suggested in an appearance during ESPN’s “NFL Live” on Wednesday that Bell’s holdout could continue past this week, saying that his client “is going to do the things necessary to protect his value long term.”
—Kansas City safety Eric Berry missed practice again, and NFL Network reports the Chiefs are concerned about the right heel issue that has kept him out since mid-August.
Ian Rapoport said on NFL Network the injury is “kind of related” to the Achilles tear that kept Berry out for all but one game in 2017. “It is something that is concerning,” Rapoport said. “No timetable on when he will back, but from those who have watched him work out, he seems a little different. He seems not quite right.”
Berry, 29, did not play in the preseason and hasn’t practiced since Aug. 14. His current issue is in his right heel, as opposed to the left Achilles he tore in the 2017 opener, but Berry also had soreness in his right heel last preseason, which could have factored in the season-ending injury to the other foot.
—Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa missed practice, putting his availability for Sunday’s season opener against the Chiefs in doubt.
Head coach Anthony Lynn told reporters before practice that Bosa was no sure thing for Sunday, saying, “It’s a possibility that he might not be with us. We’re hopeful, but you know, it’s possible.”
Bosa suffered a left foot injury during an Aug. 7 practice, but Lynn said in mid-August that Bosa would “absolutely” be ready for Week 1. However, the third-year pro was limited on Wednesday, his first session back on the field since the injury, before being downgraded to a DNP on Thursday.
—The Dallas Cowboys became the first NFL team to have an official casino designation, announcing a partnership with WinStar World Casino and Resort.
WinStar is located in Oklahoma, where sports betting remains illegal, but the NFL has relaxed its rules against gambling associations and content this offseason. Teams may now accept advertising money from casinos, although direct relationships with sportsbooks are not permitted.
“We are excited about the future of gaming as it relates to the NFL,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.
—A group of retired NFL players who claim they suffered permanent damage or addiction from the team-aided use of opioids and painkillers had their lawsuit against the league reinstated by an appeals court.
A federal judge had dismissed the proposed class-action lawsuit filed by former Chicago Bears stars Richard Dent and Jim McMahon and others in 2014, finding that the collective bargaining agreement between NFL owners and players preempted the players’ complaints and provided other avenues for resolution.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco disagreed and overturned that ruling, saying “the district court erred in holding that the players’ claims were preempted.” The 30-page opinion issued by the three-judge panel means the players will have another shot to have their claims heard in court.
—Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey was added to the injury report with an ankle injury, getting in a limited practice.
He is not expected to be in danger of missing Sunday’s opener against the New York Giants. The team said Ramsey’s ankle was sore, but that he did not injure it during practice.
—The Cleveland Browns claimed defensive end Anthony Zettel off waivers from the Detroit Lions, the Browns announced.
Zettel, 26, was waived by Detroit on Wednesday to make room for defensive end Romeo Okwara, who the Lions claimed from the Giants. Offensive lineman Aaron Neary was waived by Cleveland to make room for Zettel.
Zettel 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.
—The New England Patriots placed second-round pick Duke Dawson on injured reserve with a hamstring injury, the team announced.
Dawson, a cornerback, must sit out at least eight weeks before being eligible to be recalled from IR. Wide receiver Riley McCarron was promoted from the practice squad to take his place on the roster.
The Patriots took Dawson, who turns 22 next month, 56th overall in April’s draft, and he was expected to compete early for snaps in the slot. He played 17 snaps in New England’s preseason opener, making two tackles, but sat out the final three games.
—Patriots running back Sony Michel, who the team took 31st overall in April, was limited for the second day in a row. He is returning from a minor knee procedure, and his status remains unclear for Sunday.
—The Miami Dolphins placed starting tight end MarQueis Gray on injured reserve with a torn Achilles tendon, and he is expected to miss the entire season.
Gray, 28, suffered the injury during practice on Wednesday. He appeared in all 16 games in each of the past two seasons with Miami, catching 14 passes for 174 yards in 2016 and one pass for 10 yards in 2017. He also rushed five times for 14 yards last season.
Miami also signed tight end Gavin Escobar, who the team added as a free agent in April before releasing him last week during final cuts.
—Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack returned to practice after missing nearly a month, and left tackle Anthony Castonzo practiced on a limited basis for the second consecutive day.
Both players have been battling hamstring injuries. Castonzo told reporters he is optimistic about his availability for Sunday’s opener against the Bengals.
Le’Raven Clark, a 2016 third-round pick, has been working in Castonzo’s place on Andrew Luck’s blind side. At running back, the Colts have rookies Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines along with veteran Christine Michael if Mack can’t go. Robert Turbin is suspended for the first four games after a PED violation.
— Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon sat out practice again as he recovers from a high-ankle sprain.
Vernon was hurt in practice in late August and appears doubtful to play Sunday against the Jaguars, but the team won’t officially label his status until Friday.
— Giants special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey announced he was diagnosed with cancer this offseason and is undergoing treatment, including chemotherapy.
McGaughey, 45, is in his first year with the team after spending the last two years holding the same post in Carolina. He has maintained his day-to-day position while going through the treatment process, though 2017 coordinator Tom Quinn — who was previously fired — returned as an assistant to help out McGaughey.
“I’m not going to let chemotherapy or cancer get in the way of what I do,” McGaughey told reporters. “I’m a father and I’m a football coach. That’s what I do.”
—Minnesota Vikings center Pat Elflein is expected to miss Sunday’s opener against the San Francisco 49ers, and veteran Brett Jones will start in his place, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Elflein was activated from the physically unable to perform list during roster trimming, but he is not ready to play after having offseason surgeries on his shoulder and ankle. Jones was acquired from the Giants last month for a draft pick, giving Minnesota a veteran option behind Elflein. The team reportedly tabbed Jones to start over second-year man Danny Isidora.
Elflein started 14 games as a rookie after the Vikings took him in the third round of the draft. Jones started 13 games last season for the Giants after starter Weston Richburg went down with an injury.
—The Atlanta Falcons promoted long snapper Jeff Overbaugh from the practice squad to the 53-man roster just hours before their season-opening contest against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The move indicates that regular long snapper Josh Harris will likely miss the game with a hip injury. Harris has played in 103 consecutive games (96 regular season, seven postseason) since reaching the NFL. Atlanta released linebacker Dewey Jarvis to open up a spot for Overbaugh.
—New York Jets safety Marcus Maye sat out practice again with a foot injury, while wideout Jermaine Kearse (abdomen) participated in individual drills but was designated as “did not practice.”
Maye, who had ankle surgery in January, played in one preseason game but has not practiced in nearly two weeks and now appears doubtful for Monday night’s opener against the Lions. A report earlier this week said Kearse would miss Monday’s game after having surgery on his abdomen.
The Jets also brought in free agent defensive end/outside linebacker John Simon for a visit, according to multiple reports. Simon, who turns 28 next month, has 11.5 sacks in 36 games over the last three seasons with the Houston Texans (2015-16) and Indianapolis Colts (2017), who released him during final cuts.
—The Eagles placed wide receiver Mack Hollins on injured reserve with a groin injury.
Hollins had already been ruled out of Thursday night’s season opener, but he will now miss at least eight weeks before being eligible to be activated. He had offseason hernia surgery but appeared to be healthy before the groin issue cropped up this week.
—New Orleans Saints guard Andrus Peat returned to a limited practice after missing Wednesday’s session with a quad issue, and head coach Sean Payton called him “day to day.”
The Saints brought back linemen Josh LeRibeus and Michael Ola this week, giving them depth if Peat cannot play Sunday against the Buccaneers.
— Steelers tight end Vance McDonald was downgraded to “did not practice” after participating on a limited basis on Wednesday, his first practice since he injured his foot during the preseason.
— Browns cornerback E.J. Gaines will likely miss Sunday’s opener against the Steelers due to a knee injury, head coach Hue Jackson told reporters.
Gaines, who joined the team as a free agent in March, took part in individual drills Thursday after sitting out Wednesday’s session. He sprained his knee in mid-August and was given a three-week timetable for a return.
—The Carolina Panthers signed quarterback Connor Cook to their practice squad.
Cook previously visited the Buffalo Bills after being released by the Oakland Raiders during final cuts. The 25-year-old has appeared in one regular-season game and one playoff game, going a combined 32 of 66 for 311 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions.
—Field Level Media