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Lions QB Matthew Stafford says going on IR hasn’t been discussed

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Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said Wednesday that he has not had any discussions with the team’s coaching staff about potentially going on injured reserve for the rest of this season due to the fractured bones in his back.

Stafford was asked about the possibility of IR after missing his second straight game Sunday against Dallas — and again after his coach, Matt Patricia, said he is on a similar plan of being out there and watching practice but not participating this week.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported last week that Stafford’s back injury could take up to six weeks to heal.

Stafford said it’s important for him to return this season if he’s cleared to play, even if that comes in the final few games of the season. The Lions, while not mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, are 3-6-1 in an NFC where four teams, including two potential wild-card teams, already have eight wins.

“This is what I do,” Stafford said. “This is what I love to do. I love playing football. I appreciate all the hard work that all the guys in this locker room and in his organization put into going out there and trying to win games on Sunday, and I love being a part of that.

“It’s tough for me to sit there without the pads on and not being able to impact the game on the field the way I’m used to doing, so that’s driving me to get back out there, and whenever we all deem it’s the right time to be back out there, I’ll be out there.”

Stafford said “that’s a good question” when asked if at some point his health for the 2020 season becomes a larger factor, but he then reiterated that “if I’m healthy enough to go play, I’m going to go play.”

Patricia said earlier Wednesday that the record as the season goes along could play a factor in decisions on the future.

“For us, it’s probably, maybe a different conversation as you get closer toward the end of the season,” Patricia said. “Right now, where we’re at, we’re just focused on this week and just worried about kind of everything that affects us for this week.”

When asked if it was making progress, Stafford said, “We’re monitoring it, and it’s just going to be an ongoing situation.”

This is the second straight season Stafford is dealing with a back injury, although he played through the injury last season. He would not get into the details of what the difference is between this year’s injury and last year’s.

Stafford had been on pace to have one of the best seasons of his career before the injury, throwing for 2,499 yards, 19 touchdowns and five interceptions. Sitting against Chicago on Nov. 10 ended a streak of 136 straight starts for Stafford dating to the end of the 2010 season, and he said “it’s tough” to be sitting and watching for the first time in eight seasons.

Jeff Driskel, who signed in September to be Stafford’s backup, is expected to continue to start at quarterback with Stafford sidelined. The Lions have lost six of seven games, including the past two with Driskel under center.

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Patriots settle compensation grievances with Antonio Brown, Aaron Hernandez

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The New England Patriots have settled compensation grievances with Antonio Brown and Aaron Hernandez over the past week, which creates notable salary-cap space for the team, league sources told ESPN.

The Patriots had owed receiver Brown $9 million, and as part of the settlement, he will instead receive $5 million, per sources.

The settlement is notable, as some experts viewed the Patriots’ chances of recouping any money as low. The Patriots gave Brown a $9 million signing bonus on Sept. 7, and half of it was to be paid on Sept. 23, three days after they cut him. The other half was to be paid in January.

In addition to that $4 million credit on the Patriots’ cap, the club received a $2.25 million credit after settling a long-running compensation grievance with the late Hernandez, per sources.

The salary-cap space is significant for the Patriots, who have been tight to the league’s limit.

Earlier this week, prior to restructuring the contract of running back Rex Burkhead, the Patriots were down to less than $500,000 in space. The club now has $7.79 million in room under the salary cap.

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Sources — NFL, NFLPA expected to meet Monday about return terms

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Clarity is coming soon about whether NFL players will report to training camp and salvage a season.

Sources say the NFL and NFLPA management councils are expected to meet Monday in hopes of agreeing to terms on a return to work.

The players held a call Friday, during which leadership said they would have more answers early next week.

Negotiations and counterproposals between the league and players are happening frequently each week as training camp is a little more than two weeks away.

Players want frequent testing (every day) and no preseason games, while the league wants testing less frequently than the players (like every other day) and two preseason games.

A source told ESPN that players and the league were close on agreeing to working conditions and that momentum for at least some preseason action exists, with a one-game format also being discussed. The source added the players would likely get concessions as a result of preseason play.

But all that has not been finalized yet, and there are other issues to hash out.

  • Acclimation period: Players want a slow ramp-up from working out to taking the practice field to avoid unnecessary injuries and to get comfortable in the new working environment.

  • Opt-out clauses for players: What happens to a player’s contract if he decides to sit due to COVID-19 concerns, and does he get an accrued season?

  • Whether trimming the 90-man training camp rosters to avoid unnecessary contact is the right thing.

  • Equipment modifications: Players are lukewarm about wearing masks over their helmet bars, while the NFL has been working with Oakley on a yet-to-be-revealed design.

  • Economics: How to share lost revenue, with players knowing they have to take a loss somewhere to offset the lack of fans in the stands, but the league’s offer to place 35% of salaries in escrow is considered a non-starter.

Both sides want camp and want to play, so the goal is to get there and survive the probable initial wave of positive tests, then manage expectations from there.

“Get the 16 games on TV,” a source involved told ESPN. “That’s the main goal.”

If there are fans in the stands, the league standard for all 32 team will be for fans to wear face masks, while the league is hoping teams can have socially distanced fan days inside stadiums for training camp.

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16-0? Analytics and oddsmakers say Ravens on path to perfection – Baltimore Ravens Blog

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At this time last year, the Baltimore Ravens were considered a middle-of-the pack team in the NFL, the third best in their division, and in coach John Harbaugh’s estimation, an iceberg.

“Ninety percent of what we were going to be capable of was still underwater and people hadn’t seen it yet,” he said.

As the start of this year’s training camp nears, titanic expectations await reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.

Analytics and oddsmakers have the Ravens favored to win all 16 games this season. Baltimore looks just as strong or even better than last season, when it won its last 12 regular-season games to finish 14-2. The Ravens return all but one starter from the NFL’s highest-scoring offense and improved the front seven, the weakest part of the defense.

If that doesn’t set up the Ravens for success, they play teams whose combined 2019 winning percentage was .438 (worst in the NFL) and travel a total of 6,310 miles, the lowest of any team over the past four years. The Ravens play outside the Eastern time zone only once (a Week 2 game at Houston) and go a stretch of 47 days in which they won’t have to board a plane (three home games, short road trips to Washington and Philadelphia in addition to a bye).

As a result, Baltimore is projected to win 12 of its games by over a field goal, including eight by more than a touchdown, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index. The easiest game on the Ravens’ schedule is home against the Jacksonville Jaguars, whom Baltimore is predicted to beat by 15.9 points.

What does Harbaugh think about all this 16-0 talk?

“It really is just noise — it’s static, it’s background,” Harbaugh said. “You can’t let other people define you. You define yourself.”

The 2007 New England Patriots are the only team to record a perfect regular season since the NFL expanded to its 16-game schedule in 1978. Only three other teams — the 1934 and 1942 Chicago Bears and the 1972 Miami Dolphins — have completed undefeated and untied regular seasons in the 101-year history of the league. Only six teams have finished 15-1 and just two of them (1984 49ers and 1985 Bears) won a Super Bowl.

“At the end of the day, the only expectations that matter are the ones that we have for ourselves,” Ravens wide receiver Miles Boykin said. “If we go out there and say our expectation is to win a Super Bowl, we’ll have to start with Week 1. I think [Harbaugh] is great on talking about that and talking about how it starts at Week 1. It doesn’t start at Week 16; it doesn’t start at the Super Bowl. You have to build yourself a Super Bowl team.”

Jackson doesn’t lose many regular-season games that he’s expected to win, which is why Baltimore being favored in every game this season is so significant. The Ravens are 15-1 as the betting favorites with Jackson as their starting quarterback. Baltimore’s .938 win percentage as the favorite with Jackson is the best in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

According to Caesars Sportsbook, the Ravens’ toughest games are home on Sept. 28 against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and at the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 18. Baltimore is listed as a 2.5-point favorite in both games.

“We have the Ravens and Chiefs pretty much dead even on a neutral field,” said Jeff Davis, the director of trading at Caesars Sportsbook.

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Stephen A. Smith makes a case that Lamar Jackson hasn’t done enough yet to be considered one of the top two quarterbacks in the NFL.

Few saw Baltimore and Kansas City on equal footing last summer, when the Ravens were ranked No. 16 in ESPN’s preseason Football Power Index and had the third-best odds to win the AFC North, behind the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns.

Now, Jackson is on the cover of the Madden video game. The Ravens return a dozen Pro Bowl players. Baltimore is the consensus No. 2 team in the NFL, behind the Chiefs, in the Power Rankings.

There’s no ambushing teams this season.

“I think there’s always a challenge when you have a target on your back, and that just comes with the territory,” Ravens All-Pro offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley said. “Everyone’s going to bring their best game when they play you, so you just have to be ready for that. And, if you’re not ready for that, then you really don’t deserve to be the best. So, that just comes with the territory.”

ESPN’s David Bearman contributed to this article.

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