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Packers plan to have Rodgers back on field Sun.

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers, who was a last-minute scratch from Thursday’s preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens because his back tightened up, is expected back on the field the next time the Green Bay Packers practice.

That session is scheduled for Sunday.

“Yeah, that’s the plan, but you know, a lot of it is going to be predicated on how he feels,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said Friday. “I think he feels better, but we’ll see Sunday.”

LaFleur had planned to play Rodgers “about a quarter so” with the starters in what would have been his debut in the Packers’ new offense, but LaFleur said the team held out Rodgers as a precaution. Rodgers did not play against the Texans in the preseason opener, when almost all of the starters were held out.

Given that Rodgers hasn’t played in a preseason finale since 2012, that would leave next week’s third exhibition game against the Oakland Raiders as the most likely time for him to play, if does at all, before the Sept. 5 season opener against the Chicago Bears. The issue is the game next Thursday is in Winnipeg, Canada, at IG Field, which has a FieldTurf and has never hosted an NFL game.

The Packers will send their football logistics/team travel manager to Winnipeg early next week, but LaFleur did not anticipate any issues with the field.

“No, we’ll evaluate the surface obviously before we play the game,” LaFleur said. “Matt Klein’s going up there a couple of days early, so he’ll be able to evaluate it as well. It seems like it’s a relatively new stadium. It looks pretty nice, but I guess until we get there, we won’t know.”

Without Rodgers, the starting offense played two series with DeShone Kizer at quarterback in the 26-13 loss at Baltimore. They turned the ball over on downs and managed a field goal.

Last summer, Rodgers played just seven snaps in the preseason, but LaFleur was hoping to get Rodgers more work than that given that it’s a new offense.

“I just think those guys all going out together prior to the Chicago game just to work the kinks out, if there are any, but just to try and get into a flow of the game,” LaFleur said. “Having him hear the play calls when he’s actually the guy out there, get in and out of the huddle. I thought he’s definitely helped stress that urgency to the other 10 in the huddle and I thought last week was better. It’s more or less just getting into that flow.”

The only other injury update LaFleur provided was about himself. He conducted both his postgame news conference Thursday and Friday’s briefing without the walking boot he has worn on his left foot since he under surgery in June to repair his ruptured Achilles.

Asked whether he’s done with the boot, LaFleur said: “I’m trying to be. I told ‘Flea’ [head athletic trainer Bryan Engel], I’m not wearing that boot this week. So we’ll see.

“I’ve been pretty good up to this point. I’ll just tell you, you’re not used to standing for that period of time in that boot. By the end of the game, my heel is on fire. So I’m ready to get out of it.”

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Bears kicker Pineiro questionable with knee injury

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The Chicago Bears thought their kicking problems had finally ended when Eddy Pineiro made a 53-yard field goal to beat Denver last week.

No such luck.

Pineiro will go into Monday night’s game in Washington questionable on the injury report because of right knee trouble.

Pineiro was hurt Friday, with coach Matt Nagy saying it happened during weightlifting. Pineiro didn’t practice Friday, but did kick on a limited basis at Saturday’s practice.

“Especially after what just happened with us and what we’ve been through (with kickers), and what he just did this past weekend, it’s like we’re on a roll here and then all of a sudden something crazy like this happens,” Nagy said. “But I try to stay positive with it, and I think we’ll be OK. We’ve just got to see how it goes the next couple days.”

The Bears had one other player who was a surprise on the injury report. Safety Eddie Jackson came up with a knee injury in Friday’s practice and was able to go Saturday only on a limited basis. He also is questionable.

The Bears conducted a massive offseason kicking search after Cody Parkey double-doinked a 43-yard field goal miss to end the 16-15 playoff loss to Philadelphia. Parkey was waived.

Chicago brought in nine kickers at one point in the spring, traded a seventh-round draft pick for Pineiro, and then he beat out Elliott Fry to win the kicking job. Pineiro is 4 for 4, including last week’s winner and another 52-yarder against Denver.

“I’m going to be on the cautious side with him, and we’ll just kind of feel out the pain part and if it’s something that’s going to affect him, then we’ll have a decision to make,” Nagy said.

Pineiro didn’t think it was serious at first, according to Nagy.

“Just thought that it was something that was minor, and I think as the time has gone by and then going out there today he just felt it a little bit,” Nagy said. “So we’re just going to pull back and see where it’s at and be optimistic and try to do everything we can to make sure that we’re taking care of it, the pain.”

And if Pineiro can’t kick?

“That’s a good question,” Nagy said. “We’ve got to work through that. I know [punter] Pat O’Donnell has some experience. But we’ll see how this thing goes. I don’t want to rush to judgment yet. That’s not where we’re at.”

At least the Bears know a lot about some of the potential emergency kickers available.

“There are a lot of different scenarios that could happen, but I’m not going down that route,” Nagy said. “I feel good that things will be OK. If they’re not, then we just have to have a contingency plan when that time comes, and if that’s something that we’ve got to do something different, then we’ll do that.”

Jackson’s injury is different than the one he had earlier in the week to go on the injury report. He had a shoulder problem then, but went through a full practice on Friday and then suffered knee soreness afterward. He practiced only on a limited basis Saturday.

Defensive end Bilal Nichols is out for the game due to the broken hand suffered last week.

Also questionable for Monday are guard Kyle Long (hip) and tight end Trey Burton (groin). Long was held out of Saturday’s practice and Burton participated on a limited basis.

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Pats activate first International Pathway player

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Fullback Jakob Johnson became the first player to enter the NFL through the International Pathway Program to make a 53-man roster when he was promoted from the New England Patriots practice squad on Saturday.

The International Player Pathway Program was instituted in 2017 and aims to provide international athletes the opportunity to compete at the NFL level, improve their skills, and ultimately earn a spot on an NFL roster.

Johnson was born in Stuttgart, Germany and played in 47 games at the University of Tennessee, initially as a linebacker before switching to tight end. In 2018, he appeared in 12 games for the Stuttgart Scorpions of the German Football League.

The Patriots were assigned Johnson as part of the International Pathway Program on April 8. The three other teams in the AFC East were also assigned players as part of a random draw, and none of them counted against the 90-man roster limit.

In 2018, Efe Obada became the first player from the International Pathway Program to make a 53-man roster with the Carolina Panthers, but he didn’t initially enter the NFL through the program. He had signed as a free agent with the Cowboys in 2015 after playing only five games of amateur football with the London Warriors, then was on the Cowboys practice squad before spending time in the 2016 offseason with the Chiefs and Falcons. In 2017, Obada was part of the first class of players in the International Pathway Program, which gave him additional time to develop with the Panthers.

During the season, teams can carry an International Pathway Program player as an extra 11th member of the practice squad, but because of the roster exemption, the clubs could not promote the player to the active roster during the season. In the case of Johnson, the Patriots elected to forgo that option and make him a regular member of their 10-man practice squad, which gave them the option of promoting him.

“Jak came in with a great attitude this offseason,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said a few weeks ago. “He really put his head down and worked hard through our offseason program, and then continued to do that in OTAs and into training camp — good attitude, he’s been out there every day, toughness, willing to do the things that you need to do to play that position on offense, smart kid, studies hard, prepares well, knows what to do and is ready to go. And he’s competitive, so I think there’s nothing more you can ask of each player than to give your best and be ready to go when your number’s called.”

The 6-foot-3, 255-pound Johnson steps in for injured starter James Develin, who has already been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets with a neck injury.

The Patriots are one of the few teams in the NFL that still features the fullback, as Develin has played 41.5 percent of the offensive snaps through the first two weeks of the season. Develin also has an important role on the team’s punt coverage unit, which Johnson could also fill.

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Browns’ Garrett fined $42K for two Siemian hits

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Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett has been fined a total of $42,112 for a pair of hits on New York Jets quarterback Trevor Siemian.

The Browns pass rusher was penalized four times on Monday night, which included two roughing the passer calls. The second resulted in a season-ending ankle injury to Siemian.

“You do not want to put anybody out for the season,” Garrett said earlier this week. “That is their job. That is something that you do not do unless you love it, and you do not want to take that away from anybody. I hope [Siemian] comes back faster and stronger than he ever has. I wish the best for him.”

Garrett was also fined $10,527 in Week 1 for hitting Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker in the facemask.

Garrett currently leads the NFL with five sacks.



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