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HENDERSON, Nev. — While the Las Vegas Raiders activated right tackle Trent Brown, defensive back Lamarcus Joyner and running back Theo Riddick off the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday, coach Jon Gruden was not sure if Brown would play Sunday at the New York Jets.

Brown, who signed a record-for-an-offensive lineman four-year, $66 million free-agent contract with the Raiders in 2019, has played in just two games this year – three snaps in the season opener at the Carolina Panthers and at Kansas City on Oct, 11 — and has had two stints on the COVID list. He was slated to play at the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 11 but a scary pregame mishap with an IV being administered has sidelined him since.

“[Brown] did participate in individual periods, which is a good sign,” Gruden said of Wednesday’s practice. “I don’t believe he’s going to play in this game but hopefully, we can start talking about him returning to the lineup soon.

“There’s a ramp-up period, when you return off of Corona IR, whatever that thing is, so we ramped up Joyner. We’ll try to ramp up him up again tomorrow. We’ve been ramping up Cle Ferrell and I’m trying to ramp up Raider Nation right here today.”

Ferrell, the defensive end who was on the COVID-19 list from Nov. 17 through Nov. 26 and missed the Raiders’ losses to the Chiefs and Falcons, said he thought only he and Joyner had the virus.

“Whew, this thing is really real,” Ferrell said of the symptoms he suffered. “That was pretty crazy.”

Gruden also said defensive tackle Maliek Collins will be going on short-term Injured Reserve

Collins, who was one of the Raiders’ big-ticket free-agent signees this offseason, was called the “key” to the defense by Gruden in training camp. But Collins has not made much of an impact.

“I’m not going to get into the injury yet, I just know he’s had some shoulder problems,” Gruden said. “He’s had a number of issues. We’re going to shut him down for a few weeks, try to get him right and, hopefully, have him some point here before the season’s over.”

Defensive tackle Maurice Hurst also missed practice on Wednesday with ankle and calf injuries.

“We’ll have to find some help from someplace, Gruden said. “If you know somebody, call me.”

Collins, 25, signed a one-year $6 million contract, with $5.75 million guaranteed, with Las Vegas after four years with the Dallas Cowboys. He has started all 10 of the games in which he has played – he missed the Raiders’ win at Kansas City on Oct. 11 with a shoulder injury – and has just six tackles with no sacks and one stuff, for two yards.

He was expected to gel immediately with incoming defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, due to their previous relationship in Dallas.

“Three-technique, you got to be the dog,” Collins said in camp. “You got to be the key. He has to establish things with his get-off. I mean, Keith Millard, that was the first one that I was introduced to from Marinelli. And then John Randle, of course, Warren Sapp. After that Marinelli went to Chicago, so he had Tommie Harris and Henry Melton and then Dallas with Tyrone [Crawford] and then I came in.

“Not to say that I’m on their level yet or anything like that, but those are the people that I strive to be like or be more like.”

After the Raiders (6-5) play at the Jets (0-11), Las Vegas has three straight home games, against the Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Chargers and Miami Dolphins before closing out at the Denver Broncos.

Collins should be eligible to return for the Raiders’ final two games. –

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Madden NFL 22 teases cover athletes with goats



The Madden NFL 22 game cover will be released later this week. The day when we see which superstar nabs the cover is another big date on the NFL’s offseason calendar.

To promote this year’s cover release, EA Sports is teasing the identity of the athlete with literal goats. Former cover athlete Peyton Hillis interacts with the animals and reacts to the cover.

The video seems to promise two GOAT (greatest of all time) athletes. Given his Super Bowl win last season and his untouchable status as the NFL’s greatest QB, it’s safe to assume that Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady will be one of the athletes featured.

But who could join him? Could it be Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, who lost to Brady in Super Bowl LV? Maybe it’s a former or current Brady collaborator. Whomever it is, the ungulate ad men in the video aren’t saying.

Who do you think will be joining Brady?

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WR Jamison Crowder agrees to pay cut to remain with New York Jets, source says



FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder, the team’s leading receiver the last two seasons, avoided the possibility of being released by agreeing to a pay cut, a source confirmed Monday.

Crowder was due to make a non-guaranteed $10 million in base pay for 2021, the final year of a three-year, $28.5 million contract. Details of the renegotiated contract weren’t immediately available, but the new deal is expected to significantly lower his $11.4 million cap charge.

The Jets are among the league leaders in cap space (about $27 million), but they approached Crowder recently about a reduction. Crowder, who turns 28 on Thursday, skipped the voluntary portion of the offseason as the two sides haggled over the contract. NFL Network first reported the agreement.

The Jets’ mandatory minicamp starts Tuesday, and Crowder is expected to attend.

Coach Robert Saleh was optimistic that a deal would get done, saying 10 days ago that “Jamison’s definitely got a role here and we’re excited to have him.”

After signing receivers Corey Davis and Keelan Cole in free agency, and drafting Elijah Moore in the second round, the Jets had the leverage in talks with Crowder. He led the team with 59 catches and 699 yards in 2020, but his production was down because he missed four games due to leg injuries. The Jets also finished 32nd in total offense for the second straight year.

Even though Crowder is back, it will be interesting to see if his role diminishes in the regular season. Moore, selected 34th overall, has impressed the coaches in offseason practices. Like Crowder, he’s a slot receiver.

In another contract-relation development, safety Marcus Maye reported to the facility Monday ahead of the minicamp. Maye, who signed his franchise-tag tender ($10.6 million) earlier in the offseason, skipped the voluntary practices as the two sides attempt to negotiate a long-term deal. The deadline is July 15. If they can’t agree to a deal, Maye will play the 2021 season for the amount of the tender.

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Cam Newton expected to practice at New England Patriots minicamp after hand injury during OTAs



FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Ten days after sustaining a minor injury on his right throwing hand, New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton is expected to take part in the team’s mandatory minicamp beginning Monday, according to coach Bill Belichick.

Newton had not been present at last Thursday’s practice when reporters were present, but returned the following day. The hand apparently responded well.

“He practiced last week. I’d expect him this week too,” Belichick said Monday.

Newton has been taking top repetitions in spring practices, with Belichick having previously declared him the team’s quarterback. Belichick previously left open the possibility that Newton could face a challenge for the starting job when the team shifts from a spring teaching mode to more of an evaluation mode at the start of training camp in late July.

In Newton’s absence last Thursday, third-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham was the first player to take snaps, followed by veteran Brian Hoyer and then first-round draft pick Mac Jones.

Jones was complimentary of Newton, noting that he gave him the nickname “Mac and Cheese” while calling him a “good mentor.”

Another notable storyline at Patriots mandatory minicamp surrounds cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Gilmore is scheduled to earn a base salary of $7 million in 2021, which is below market value for a player of his caliber, and Belichick deflected a question when asked if he’s seen Gilmore at camp.

Gilmore is not present, according to the Boston Globe.

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