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Hue Jackson tells Cleveland Browns that winning starts now



BEREA, Ohio — Hue Jackson’s message at the first team meeting for the offseason program wasn’t new, but it had added emphasis for a Cleveland Browns team coming off an 0-16 season.

“Winning starts here,” Jackson said on a video shown on the team’s social media account. “It starts today. It starts right now.”

Jackson said that a winless 2017 and a one-win 2016 had built toughness and determination, but that it’s not enough.

Jackson elaborated at a Tuesday session with the media.

“You go into every year wanting to win,” Jackson said, “but I think, let’s just be honest: This is where we are. We’re a 1-31 organization over the last two years. I think it’s time to win. I think our fans deserve to see something different. I think our organization deserves to do something different. I think our players should expect to be different and play different.

“So I think it’s time.”

“I think every offseason there’s a goal to win, but I think with us, coming the last two seasons where we came from, there’s a little bit more urgency in it,” guard Joel Bitonio said.

Jackson’s emphasis on the word “win” was not by accident. They have lost at least 11 games in nine of the past 10 seasons. Since 1999, when they returned to the NFL as an expansion team, they have had two winning seasons and been in one playoff game. Anyone who has been involved with the Browns for the past few years has known only losing.

To change the vibe, the Browns acquired via trade a new quarterback in Tyrod Taylor, a new receiver in Jarvis Landry (and signed him to a $75 million extension) and a new safety in Damarious Randall. They then signed 10 players in free agency and added offensive coordinator Todd Haley from the Steelers.

“They were strategically picked to be a part of this because they can help get this organization to winning as fast as we can,” Jackson said.

Bitonio remembered the day when the trades for Taylor, Landry and Randall leaked.

“My phone was blowing up, and I was taking a nap and all this stuff was happening, and I was like, ‘I got to stay up now,'” Bitonio said.

Taylor recognizes the challenge. He and Landry got together with tight end David Njoku to work out and throw together in Miami in March. The group worked for five days on the field to generate chemistry. Landry even put together a video on the workouts and posted it on Twitter.

Taylor was in Cleveland last week, so he got to know some of his teammates then. On the first day of the offseason program, he said he was in the building between 6 and 6:15 a.m. A little less than two hours later, he was listening to Jackson.

“Everyone is zero and zero right now, and we control what happens in the future,” Taylor said.

“The excuses have to go,” Bitonio said. “It’s time.”

The Browns also look forward to the draft on April 26, when they will have the first and fourth overall picks. Jackson said the team is still undecided on which quarterback it will draft, likely with the first pick, and that Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield are all still in the discussion.

“I think it’s going to be pretty crystal clear at the end what’s the best player for us,” Jackson said.

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Ex-Seattle Seahawks WR Jermaine Kearse announces retirement



Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse announced his retirement from the NFL on Tuesday, writing on Instagram that he was “leaving the game feeling extremely grateful and content with what I was able to accomplish.”

Kearse, who grew up in Washington and scored a touchdown in the Seattle Seahawks‘ Super Bowl XLVIII victory over the Denver Broncos, wrote that it was a “complete honor” to play for the team and that he was “grateful I was able to help bring our first Super Bowl home!”

The 30-year-old Kearse, who signed with the Lions last season as a veteran who knew offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s offense, broke his left leg and injured his left ankle in Detroit’s preseason opener against New England in 2019. The Lions then placed him on injured reserve, ending his season.

The 6-foot-1 Kearse spent the first five seasons of his career with Seattle before being traded to the Jets on Sept. 1, 2017 as part of a deal for Sheldon Richardson. He had signed with Detroit last season to try and resurrect his career after a down year with New York in 2018, where he had 37 catches for 371 yards and a touchdown.

Kearse was a productive receiver in Seattle, playing 69 games (starting 51), while catching 153 passes for 2,109 yards and 11 touchdowns.

In his career, he had 255 catches for 3,290 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also had 31 catches for 493 yards and six touchdowns in the postseason.

ESPN’s Michael Rothstein contributed to this report.

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Source — Philadelphia Eagles’ Dallas Goedert has small ankle fracture



PHILADELPHIA — Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert has a small fracture in his ankle, a league source confirmed.

He is out indefinitely, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, stripping quarterback Carson Wentz of yet another weapon.

Goedert limped off the field in the first quarter of Sunday’s 23-23 tie with the Cincinnati Bengals following a short completion and did not return. He entered Week 3 as the team leader in targets, catches, receiving yards and yards after the catch. The offense clearly missed him the rest of the way against Cincinnati, as Wentz managed just 225 passing yards on 47 attempts (4.8 average).

“Losing a guy like Dallas that has a huge role in protections [and the] run game, but he’s a playmaker with the ball in his hands and down the field. He’s a big part of our game plan every week, and so losing him, we obviously had to make some adjustments on the fly, [which] makes it tough,” coach Doug Pederson said.

The Philadelphia Inquirer was first to report Goedert’s fracture.

The Eagles also lost DeSean Jackson to a hamstring injury Sunday. He is considered day-to-day, and the team is optimistic he’ll be able to play Sunday night at the San Francisco 49ers, according to Pederson.

Rookie receiver Jalen Reagor, meanwhile, remains sidelined with a UCL tear in his thumb.

Philadelphia could get some relief in the form of Alshon Jeffery (Lisfranc), who is expected to ramp up his participation in practice this week in hopes of returning sometime in the near future.

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Tennessee Titans, Minnesota Vikings close facilities after Titans players test positive for COVID-19



The Tennessee Titans have closed their facilities until Saturday after three players and five team personnel members tested positive for COVID-19, the NFL announced Tuesday.

The eight new positive tests have been confirmed after additional testing, a source told ESPN’s Kevin Seifert.

The Titans, citing an “abundance of caution,” issued a statement saying they’ve halted in-person work Tuesday. The Minnesota Vikings, who played the Titans on Sunday, did the same, though the team said there were no positive tests through Tuesday morning.

“Out of the abundance of caution, the organization has decided to work remotely today as we follow NFL protocols related to the COVID-19 virus,” the Titans’ statement said.

For the Vikings, league contact tracing identified 48 close contacts with the eight members of the Titans who tested positive, sources told ESPN’s Dan Graziano, and the Vikings will not return to their facility until all of their test results are in. Contingency and rescheduling plans are being discussed, sources told ESPN.

The NFL issued a statement saying both the Titans and VIkings are working with the league and the NFLPA and medical officials “to evaluate close contacts, perform additional testing and monitor developments … with health and safety as our primary consideration.”

The Titans were without outside linebackers coach and defensive playcaller Shane Bowen for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings due to the COVID-19 protocol. Bowen was placed in protocol after getting test results back Saturday before the team left for Minnesota.

The team was already without offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson, who was placed into the COVID-19 protocol earlier this month. Coach Mike Vrabel had said he hoped Wilson could return to the practice field this week.

No decision has yet been made about Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Nashville, a source told ESPN.

Players who test positive for COVID-19 and remain asymptomatic can return 10 days after the test or after five days with two consecutive negative tests within a five-day period. Those who show symptoms can return 10 days after the symptoms first appear and 72 hours have passed since any symptoms have ended.

All players who test positive must be cleared by the team’s physician and undergo cardiac testing.

ESPN’s Turron Davenport and Courtney Cronin contributed to this report.

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