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The Houston Texans have informed linebacker Brian Cushing that he will be released before the start of the new league year, which begins on March 14, The Houston Chronicle reported.

“It’s all good. It’s just part of the business,” Cushing told the newspaper in a text message when asked about the news.

Last season, before the Texans’ Week 2 game, Cushing was suspended for 10 games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. He was previously suspended four games for violating the same policy in 2010.

Cushing signed a six-year, $52.5 million contract in 2013, but all the guaranteed money in his contract was paid after the 2017 season. He was scheduled to be paid a base salary of $7.25 million in 2018.

With Benardrick McKinney and rookies Zach Cunningham and Dylan Cole taking over at middle linebacker, Cushing spent most of his time on the field playing on the outside after returning.

In five games last season, Cushing had 16 combined tackles, 1.5 sacks and one tackle for loss.

Before the Texans’ final game of the season, Cushing was asked if he expected to return to Houston in 2018. The linebacker said, “I don’t know. I’d like to.”

The 30-year-old said he wants to continue his career even if he isn’t playing for the Texans.

In nine NFL seasons, all with the Texans, he has 674 tackles, 13.5 sacks, eight interceptions and nine forced fumbles in 104 games.

ESPN’s Sarah Barshop contributed to this report.

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Deshaun Watson’s lawyer files motion for emergency hearing to get woman’s ID



HOUSTON — Deshaun Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, has filed a motion for an emergency hearing, asking a judge to rule that lawyer Tony Buzbee has to identify one of the women who filed a lawsuit under the pseudonym of Jane Doe.

Of the 22 civil lawsuits filed against Watson alleging inappropriate behavior and sexual assault, only two women have been publicly identified. The motion filed Thursday pertains to lawsuit 2021-15937, which was filed March 18. Because these lawsuits were filed individually, Hardin would need to file a motion for each of the lawsuits filed.

“When we asked Mr. Buzbee to identify his clients weeks ago, he refused and told us to file a motion,” Hardin said in a statement. “Today we filed that motion. As discussed in our filing, Mr. Buzbee’s use of anonymous lawsuits violates Texas law and the basic concept of fairness.

“While I understand that anonymity often is used as a shield for victims, Mr. Buzbee is using it as a sword. While shielding his clients from public scrutiny, Mr. Buzbee continues to use their anonymous allegations to destroy Mr. Watson. This is simply not right. And we look forward to resolving these matters in court.”

In the motion, Hardin writes that “because Plaintiff’s counsel filed the actions anonymously, Mr. Watson’s counsel can only speculate about Plaintiff’s identity.”

“Mr. Watson’s counsel cannot in good conscience publicly respond to the specific allegations being made because any response would be based on dangerous speculation about the identity of the accusers,” Hardin said in the motion. “It is easy to imagine the harm that would be caused if Ms. Doe was mistakenly identified.

“The only way to allow Mr. Watson to properly defend himself is for the Court to follow the law by requiring Ms. Doe to identify herself in her civil lawsuit.”

The motion for the emergency hearing is because Watson’s answer to the lawsuit is due on April 19, and “due to plaintiff’s counsel’s repeated refusals to identify for Mr. Watson’s counsel the real name of Ms. Doe, Mr. Watson’s counsel cannot fully evaluate or plead his defenses to her claims.”

In a statement Tuesday, NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy called the allegations against Watson “deeply disturbing,” noting, “we take these issues very seriously.”

McCarthy said that the league launched an investigation under its personal conduct policy last month after the first allegations and that the NFL is “continuing to closely monitor all developments in the matter.”

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Report — Former NFL player Phillip Adams kills 5 in South Carolina, then himself



COLUMBIA, S.C. — The gunman who killed five people including a prominent doctor in South Carolina was former NFL pro Phillip Adams, who killed himself early Thursday, according to a source who was briefed on the investigation.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, said Adams’ parents live near the doctor’s home in Rock Hill, and that he had been treated by the doctor. The source said Phillips killed himself after midnight with a .45 caliber weapon.

The York County Sheriff’s Office said they had searched for hours before finding the suspect in a nearby home.

The York County coroner’s office said Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, and his wife, Barbara Lesslie, 69, were pronounced dead at the scene along with grandchildren Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5.

A man who had been working at the home, James Lewis, 38, from Gaston, was found shot to death outside, and a sixth person was hospitalized with “serious gunshot wounds,” York County Sheriff’s Office’s spokesperson Trent Faris said.

Faris said deputies were called around 4:45 p.m. Wednesday to the Lesslies’ home in the Rock Hill area, and spent hours searching for the suspect before finding him in a nearby home.

“We have found the person we believe is responsible and we are with him at this time and that’s all I can say about the suspect,” Faris said.

The investigation is ongoing, he said.

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Dolphins’ 2021 NFL draft options at RB: Najee Harris at No. 18 or wait? – Miami Dolphins Blog



MIAMI — Since the moment Alabama running back Najee Harris leaped over a Notre Dame defender en route to a 53-yard run during January’s Rose Bowl, Miami Dolphins fans have been dreaming of the 6-foot-2, 232-pound playmaker wearing aqua on Sundays.

There has been plenty of debate about the Dolphins’ No. 6 pick in the 2021 NFL draft, which is expected to be a pass-catcher with LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase, Alabama’s DeVonta Smith and Florida’s Kyle Pitts as Miami’s most likely options.

But let’s focus on running backs, which could be a target for the Dolphins’ other top picks at No. 18 as well as two second-round picks (Nos. 36 and 50).

The Dolphins are interested in drafting a feature running back, sources told ESPN, with added intrigue in bigger, complete backs.

Harris, who is listed by ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr., Todd McShay and Matt Miller as this draft’s top-rated running back, was connected to Miami when he was a late add to the Dolphins’ Senior Bowl roster. Harris seems likely to be available at No. 18, but much less likely to be there at No. 36. The dilemma is whether the Dolphins should take the plunge at No. 18, or see if there is better value in drafting a more premium position such as pass-rusher with Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari, Miami’s Jaelan Phillips and Michigan’s Kwity Paye among the top options.

We start by taking a deeper look at the draft’s top options. ESPN asked nine football analysts who their top-three prospects are in order, and the panel includes Kiper, McShay, Miller, three NFL scouts or personnel executives, a NFL running back and Running Back Academy draft prep coaches Jerry Seymour Jr. and Torri Harmon.

All nine listed the same three names, but in different orders — Harris, Clemson’s Travis Etienne, and North Carolina’s Javonte Williams. Beyond that, there was little consensus on order (see chart for full breakdown).

The results illustrate it is a pick-your-flavor type of running back class, so is Harris, Etienne or Williams worth the Dolphins’ mid-first round pick?

“I don’t think any of these backs are worth a first-round pick,” said the AFC scout, who listed Etienne as the top-rated running back. He had higher grades on Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor and LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire last year than the 2021 class.

Our ESPN draft analysts all selected Harris as the top running back, with Kiper noting, “he’s a complete running back. He’s good at everything — run, catch, block and he doesn’t fumble.”

Miller said Harris’ “ability to run with power is exceptional at 230 pounds, but the agility, ability to create laterally and make people miss inside the tackle box stands out more.” Miller also mentioned Williams “runs more violently than any back in this class.”

Etienne received the highest vote total among our panel, and those who favored him pointed to his superior speed and explosiveness. The NFC personnel executive worried how Harris’ lack of long runs would translate to the modern NFL, and noted Etienne could be effective in an Alvin Kamara-type of role.

Miami has done its homework. Dolphins co-offensive coordinator Eric Studesville led Etienne through drills at Clemson’s pro day. Etienne said he would love to be coached by Studesville. Dolphins general manager Chris Grier and Studesville watched Williams at North Carolina’s pro day. The Dolphins’ staff spent a week with Harris at the Senior Bowl.

If Miami misses out on one of the top three rushers, a couple of our evaluators mentioned North Carolina’s Michael Carter and Ohio State’s Trey Sermon as leading the next tier of running back prospects. Both have limitations, though Sermon is the better fit when paired in a two-headed backfield with promising receiving back Myles Gaskin. Sermon is likely a third- or fourth-round pick.

The Dolphins did significant evaluation last year with the idea of potentially selecting a feature back, sources said, but with Taylor, Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins (Ravens) and Florida State’s Cam Akers (Rams) on the board, they drafted developmental cornerback Noah Igbinoghene at No. 30 and right tackle Robert Hunt at No. 39. All three backs went in Round 2.

Taylor went No. 41 to the Indianapolis Colts, then finished third in the NFL in rushing with 1,169 yards and 11 touchdowns. Akers and Dobbins went No. 52 and No. 55, respectively, and both had successful rookie seasons. Igbinoghene struggled significantly as a backup outside cornerback and did not play much after September.

It’s too early to give a final evaluation, but the decision to bypass Taylor appears like an early mistake. The Dolphins cannot afford to make the same mistake again.

Last season Miami attempted to build up its backfield piecemeal by signing Jordan Howard to what amounted to a five-game, five-million deal and trading a fifth-round pick for Matt Breida. Both moves failed, though Gaskin, a 2019 seventh-round pick, had a surprisingly strong season (584 yards and three touchdowns).


The Dolphins should use one of their four top-50 picks on Harris, Williams or Etienne to help second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and complete the offense. Harris might be a bit of a reach at No. 18, but he’s worth the chance if the Dolphins love the player.

In our poll, there wasn’t a huge gap separating the players, so I’d opine that depending on how the draft board falls there might be better talent and positional value at No. 18 for the Dolphins to draft rather than use it on Harris there. Miami selecting Williams at No. 36 seems more like the ideal solution. Though if Miami is eyeing Williams or any running back early in Round 2, it needs to possibly trade ahead of the running back-needy New York Jets (No. 34) and Atlanta Falcons (No. 35).

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