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Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones pleaded no contest Wednesday to a marijuana-related charge stemming from a traffic stop last year.

Jones, the team’s second-leading rusher last season, was cited on Oct. 1, when he was stopped for speeding on Highway 172 in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin. A police officer smelled marijuana and said Jones’ eyes were red and bloodshot. Jones said he told the officer that he had smoked marijuana that morning. No drugs were found in Jones’ possession. Police administered a sobriety test and then took Jones to a local hospital for a blood test.

The fifth-round pick initially entered a not-guilty plea on Nov. 15 to operating a vehicle with a controlled substance in his system, speeding (24 mph over the posted speed limit of 55) and operating a vehicle without a valid license, according to Wisconsin Circuit Court records.

On Wednesday, he entered a no-contest plea to the citation for driving with a controlled substance in his system in exchange for dismissal of tickets for speeding and operating without a license.

Court records indicate Jones will be required to pay $1,047 in court costs and undergo an alcohol assessment. His license was also suspended for six months by Brown County judge Marc Hammer.

The Packers had no immediate comment, but coach Mike McCarthy previously said he had been aware of the situation since shortly after it occurred.

“I spoke to Aaron after the incident,” McCarthy said in November. “It’s been a while since, I don’t recall the date. He made a mistake, and I know it’s a pending legal situation. But yes, I am aware of it.”

Jones could still be subject to a suspension from the NFL, but the league wasn’t expected to act until the legal case was resolved.

Information from ESPN’s Rob Demovsky contributed to this report.

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Houston Texans hire Baltimore Ravens’ David Culley as head coach, sources say

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HOUSTON — The Houston Texans have hired Baltimore Ravens assistant David Culley to be their next head coach, sources told ESPN, confirming a report by the Houston Chronicle.

Culley, 65, who has spent the past three seasons in Baltimore, just completed his 27nd season as an NFL coach. Along with serving as the team’s assistant head coach, Culley was Baltimore’s passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach. The Ravens finished the 2020 season ranked last in the NFL in passing.

“It’s a great opportunity there,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said of the Texans’ opening in the week leading up to Baltimore’s divisional playoff game. “They have a heck of an organization. I do believe that David Culley would be a tremendous hire for any team; maybe, especially, the Texans with Deshaun Watson.”

Culley has never been an offensive coordinator at the NFL level. He was also an assistant head coach for the Kansas City Chiefs. When the Ravens hired Culley in 2019, Harbaugh said the coach was highly respected “as a teacher, game-planner and motivator.”

When the Texans fired head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien in October, Houston became the first team with an opening for either position. The Texans hired Nick Caserio as their new general manager earlier this month and gave him the reins to their head-coaching search.

Along with Culley, Houston interviewed Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, former Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Caldwell, Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and current Texans quarterback Josh McCown after Caserio took over. The Texans also interviewed Brandon Staley before he was hired by the Los Angeles Chargers.

Amid the Texans’ coaching search, sources told ESPN that Watson was not happy with the process the organization used to hire Caserio. And sources told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that regardless of whom the Texans hired as their next head coach, Watson’s desire to be traded was not expected to change.

The Texans are coming off a 4-12 season, one in which Watson played the best football of his NFL career. The fourth-year quarterback set career highs in touchdowns, passing yards and completion percentage. He also threw a career-low seven interceptions.

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Jason Witten retiring from NFL after 17 seasons, plans to do so with Dallas Cowboys

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FRISCO, Texas — After 17 seasons, Jason Witten is retiring from the NFL. He intends to sign a one-day contract and retire as a member of the Dallas Cowboys in March when his contract with the Las Vegas Raiders expires at the end of the league year.

Witten, 38, played 16 seasons with the Cowboys and spent 2020 with the Raiders. No tight end in NFL history has played more games than Witten’s 271, and only Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez has more receptions and yards at the position.

“A coach once told me, ‘The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example,'” Witten told ESPN. “As I hang it up, I walk away knowing that for 17 seasons I gave it my absolute all. I am proud of my accomplishments as a football player on the field and the example I tried to set off of it. Football is a great game that has taught me many valuable lessons, and I look forward to passing on that knowledge to the next generation.”

Witten first retired after the 2017 season and spent 2018 as an ESPN Monday Night Football analyst but opted to return to the Cowboys in 2019.

A third-round pick in 2003, Witten developed into one of the best tight ends in NFL history. He was named to the Pro Bowl 11 times, tied with Hall of Fame defensive lineman Bob Lilly for the most in Dallas history, and was considered a complete tight end because of his ability as a blocker in addition to his pass catching. In 2012, he was named the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year winner for the work he and his wife, Michelle, have done with their foundation.

Witten is the Cowboys’ all-time leader in receptions (1,215) and yards (12,977) and is second in touchdown catches (72). He had four 1,000-yard seasons, and in 2012 he set the record for catches in a season by a tight end (110) — a record that has since been broken (Zach Ertz, 116).

He played in a team-record 255 games, including a franchise-record 245 starts, missing just one game in his career because of a broken jaw as a rookie. He had 13 catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns for the Raiders but was lauded by coach Jon Gruden and fellow tight end Darren Waller for his mentorship.

Coaching has long been mentioned as a possibility for Witten’s next move. He has been linked to opportunities in the NFL and college levels immediately should he want to start down that path. Undoubtedly he will be inducted into the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor, and he will be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2026.

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Source — Green Bay Packers fire special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers have fired special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga after two seasons in that role with the team, a source confirmed to ESPN.

Mennenga was part of coach Matt LaFleur’s original staff when he was hired before the 2019 season.

There was no immediate word on the status of defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, whose contract expired after this season. Pettine was meeting with LaFleur on Wednesday to discuss his status.

Pettine opted not to sign an extension after last season, sources said. Most Packers’ coordinators and position coaches always have two years on their deals, but Pettine chose to go into the last year of his contract and see how things played out.

Despite the Packers’ 13-3 regular season and berth in the NFC championship, they struggled on special teams throughout the season.

Blocked kicks, long returns allowed and an ineffective return game overshadowed a near-perfect season by kicker Mason Crosby, one of the few bright spots on special teams.

The Packers ranked 29th in Rick Gosselin’s annual special teams rankings, widely considered the gold standard for special teams evaluation around the league. Green Bay was 26th last season.

Mennenga inherited the worst special teams unit in the league from 2018, when they ranked 32nd under former coordinator Ron Zook. The Packers also ranked last in the league in 2014 under then coordinator Shawn Slocum. The club’s highest ranking on special teams between 2014 and 2020 was 16th in 2017.

Among the Packers’ issues on special teams this season were:

  • Two punt returns allowed for touchdowns (a 91-yarder in Week 10 by the Jaguars and a 73-yarder by the Eagles in Week 13)

  • A fourth-quarter fumbled kickoff return by Darrius Shepherd in what as a tie game during Week 11 against the Colts that the Packers went on to lose in overtime

  • A blocked punt in Week 9 by the 49ers

  • A bad snap on an extra point in the divisional playoff game against the Rams that led to a scramble situation on which holder JK Scott panicked and threw the ball to Crosby, who suffered a shoulder injury

  • An inconsistent season punting by Scott

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst used draft picks in 2018 on Scott (fifth round) long snapper Hunter Bradley (seventh round), and neither has performed up to standards.

NFL Network first reported the news about Mennenga’s firing.

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