There’s no preseason games so a scrimmage at the stadium is about as good as it gets for NFL teams right now. And several teams got in on the action on Saturday as they prepare for Week 1, which begins Sept. 10.
The Kansas City Chiefs kicked off their practice at Arrowhead Stadium by raising their Super Bowl LIV championship banner in front of a few thousand fans. In Chicago, the competition between Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles will continue after Bears coach Matt Nagy said after a scrimmage that he won’t announce a starting quarterback until Week 1.
The dialogue on social justice continued for many teams, including the Bengals, who marched to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center to deliver a statement against racism.
And in Green Bay, a Packers tradition returned with the rookies getting their chance to ride kids bikes to practice, although with no fans in attendance, the kids themselves didn’t get to participate.
Here’s what you need to know from camps across the league:
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Fitzpatrick misses scrimmage after mother dies
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Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was a late scratch for Saturday’s scrimmage at Hard Rock Stadium after his mother died earlier in the morning, coach Brian Flores said. Fitzpatrick went out to stretch with the intention of playing, but as they broke to begin individual drills, Flores approached Fitzpatrick. They had what appeared to be an intimate and emotional conversation. “Fitz has tried to work through this. He’s always wanted to practice. He tried to go out there today,” Flores said. “… It’s a tough situation. Our hearts go out to him as a team. He’s a competitive guy. He tried to go out there. But some things are more important than football.”
Sources: NFL plans Week 1 social justice content
The NFL is planning extensive content around social injustice for Week 1 of the regular season, sources told ESPN. Among options discussed by the league and players union, according to a source involved: Players reading personalized poems and delivering first-person vignettes based on experience with social injustice. These stories could be incorporated into game-day broadcasts.
Chiefs raise Super Bowl LIV championship banner
The Kansas City Chiefs received one of the spoils of their Super Bowl LIV championship on Saturday when the team raised the banner in front of a couple of thousand fans at an Arrowhead Stadium practice. The Chiefs will repeat the ceremony on Sept. 10 in front of 16,000 fans when they open the NFL season against the Houston Texans.
Bengals march to deliver anti-racism message
Bengals players, coaches and ownership marched to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center on Saturday to delivered a statement against racism. Center Trey Hopkins and rookie quarterback Joe Burrow delivered the team statement in front of the steps of the center in downtown Cincinnati, which is less than a third of a mile away from Paul Brown Stadium. “It is each of our responsibility to effect change in our communities, not only for us but for those yet to come,” Burrow said in a video released by the team. “We cannot turn a blind eye to the racism still experienced in this country.”
Trubisky or Foles? Bears won’t say until opener
Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy wants to keep the Detroit Lions guessing as to who his starting quarterback will be. Nagy on Saturday said he will not publicly announce Mitchell Trubisky or Nick Foles as the team’s starter prior to the Bears’ season opener at Detroit on Sept. 13.
Reflection, discussions continue
Panthers coach Matt Rhule and his players have been talking about doing something “meaningful” regarding social injustice since the latest shooting of a Black man in Wisconsin. On Saturday, a scrimmage Rhule compared to the third preseason game was cancelled so players could meet and come up with a plan. Sunday is a scheduled day off so it remains to be seen what will happen moving forward. Backup defensive lineman Zach Kerr seemed to sum up on Friday what many players felt, that it was a time for “action” and not just talk. He said this was a “human issue,” not an athletic issue. “If we all decide we’re not going to practice, OK, what are you going to do now?” Kerr said. “That’s kind of where I’m at with it.” — David Newton
Statement from the Cincinnati Bengals pic.twitter.com/4bGZWXo9OW
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) August 29, 2020
A day after breaking camp with a practice at Allegiant Stadium, the Raiders were given Saturday and a “portion” of Sunday off by coach Jon Gruden “to research what’s really going on and educate themselves on where we are” on social justice issues. “There’s a lot of hatred out there and it really concerns me,” Gruden said. “And I pray that everybody can open their heart and get on the same team — politically, socially — in all ways.” The Raiders were busy on Saturday, though, in acquiring linebacker Raekwon McMillan and a 2021 fifth-round pick for a 2021 fourth-round selection. — Paul Gutierrez
The morning after Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin stood in front of his players and staff and spoke about racial injustice and inequality, Vince Williams and Cameron Heyward shared their thoughts. In a zoom call Saturday morning, the two team leaders spoke passionately about the need for action beyond statements.
“We want something attainable that’s going to be long-lasting, constant and provide a better way for our children as Black men as you see today,” Heyward said. “When we see these injustices happen, day in and day out, we see ourselves, we see our children, we see our fathers, we see our sons, we see our friends being shot and killed. For us to stay idly by and not make a difference, that’s a responsibility we can’t give up.”
They said the Steelers haven’t discussed a possible demonstration during the national anthem, but would feel free to express themselves because of the organizational support.
“There’s always room for it,” Williams said of demonstrations. “We’ve never been hindered in any way. Nobody has ever told us what we couldn’t do. That’s just not how we get down. I’m sure we’re going to come together as a team, collectively, and talk about it, because that’s more in line with how we do business here.”
What our NFL Nation reporters saw Saturday
It will be interesting to see what Washington does with linebacker Reuben Foster. He has mostly worked with the third defense in training camp as he recovers from multiple torn ligaments as well as nerve damage in his foot. Foster did get reps with the second defense Saturday, according to a pool report courtesy of Washington’s public relations department. If Washington only keeps six linebackers it could be tough for Foster to earn a spot as some others — such as rookie Khaleke Hudson and Kevin Pierre-Louis — can provide strong special teams help. Foster has not worked with the starters much if at all so he would need to help on special teams. — John Keim
The Jets finished practice with only six healthy wide receivers, continuing a problem that is throwing the entire offense out of sync. The latest player to get hurt was Jeff Smith (shoulder), who had been getting some reps with the starters but went down with a potentially serious injury. Their top receiver, Breshad Perriman, hasn’t practiced in a week due to knee swelling. The Jets signed journeyman Donte Moncrief, but it will be a few days before he gets on the field due to COVID-19 protocols. They’re in bad shape. — Rich Cimini
The Chiefs have finished the training camp portion of their preseason. After a day off on Sunday, they’ll turn their attention to the Sept. 10 season opener against the Houston Texans. As for all teams, the Chiefs had to make significant adjustments to camp because of COVID-19, one being staging it at their home facility rather than at Missouri Western State University. “It felt different,” offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said. “It was an adjustment to start with, especially with the ramping up phase . . . It’s been great because it helped us to grow. It’s helped us to remain flexible through it all and to learn how to improvise and adjust.” — Adam Teicher
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The star of Saturday’s controlled scrimmage was rookie receiver Collin Johnson. The fifth-round pick out of Texas has had an impressive camp and he capped that by catching five passes for 89 yards and two TDs in 11-on-11 work (some of that was drills before the actual scrimmage periods). Johnson out-fought CB C.J. Henderson for the ball on the sideline for his first catch and battled CB Tramaine Brock for the ball in the end zone on a 25-yard TD. He also caught a 30-yard TD pass over rookie CB Josiah Scott. The 6-foot-6 Johnson nearly had another TD catch late in the scrimmage but was unable to hold on to the ball after hitting the ground. Nothing is official until Sept. 5, but it appears Johnson has earned a spot on the 53-man roster. Now it’s just a matter of where he falls in the rotation with DJ Chark, Chris Conley, Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole and Laviska Shenault, all of whom are expected to make the roster. — Michael DiRocco
The Lions ran a fairly up-tempo scrimmage Saturday for the team’s final training camp practice. While a lot of it was devoted to trying to simulate special teams speed and situations, there were extensive offensive and defensive periods. Pro Bowl receiver Kenny Golladay in particular had a good day, including grabbing a touchdown from Matthew Stafford. Cornerback Amani Oruwariye was in almost perfect position, but there was nothing Oruwariye could do to stop a combination that’s becoming one of the better ones in the NFL. “He went off a little bit today and made some amazing catches,” backup quarterback Chase Daniel said. Stafford and Golladay have continued throughout camp to do exactly what’s expected of them — be sharp and dominant as they get ready for the regular season. — Michael Rothstein
Don’t blame the Packers rookies if they were looking ahead on Saturday. Because Sunday might be their biggest day of training camp 2020. Coach Matt LaFleur announced that Sunday’s session — the final full practice of camp — will be “our closest opportunity to a game-like experience.” The Lambeau Field session will feature players in full uniforms, coaches in their usual game-day positions either on the sideline or upstairs in the box, game officials (although not real NFL ones), tablets on the sideline to look at plays between series and unscripted periods.
Without any preseason games, it’s the closest they will get. “You can’t view it that way or you will put that pressure on yourself,” said receiver Reggie Begelton, who is trying to transition from the CFL to the NFL. “Go out there, it’s football. At the end of the day, it’s football. You’re here to play football. Just go have fun. I want to wake up in the morning and be like ‘You know what? It’s a good day to play football.’ I’m going to go out there and give it my best.” — Rob Demovsky
Bears veteran OLB Robert Quinn finally participated in team drills during Saturday’s practice at Soldier Field, according to head coach Matt Nagy. Chicago had held Quinn out of team drills for the majority of camp after Quinn recently dealt with what Nagy called a personal issue. The Bears signed Quinn to a free-agent deal that included $30 million in guarantees. “We like being able to see 52 (Khalil Mack) and 94 (Quinn) on the edges going after the quarterback,” Nagy said. The head coach added that veteran kicker Cairo Santos made every field goal and extra-point attempt at Saturday’s practice as last year’s starter, Eddy Pineiro, remains sidelined with a groin injury. — Jeff Dickerson
Tradition rolls on!
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) August 29, 2020
It’s on. 👀 pic.twitter.com/yrf9BuRDJq
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) August 29, 2020
Good to be back 🔥 pic.twitter.com/O8oQ15G7J4
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) August 29, 2020
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 29, 2020
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) August 29, 2020
We’ve missed hearing this…
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) August 29, 2020
“On behalf of my family, I want to thank everyone who has reached out with well wishes. It truly means a lot to us.”
-QB Ryan Fitzpatrick on the passing of his Mom, Lori pic.twitter.com/olb8E0L8O5
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) August 29, 2020
Flying high for the entire Kingdom to see! pic.twitter.com/wfGJRnvmaL
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) August 29, 2020
Wakanda Forever pic.twitter.com/y2PwSKt9BI
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) August 29, 2020
Wakanda Forever ❤️
Rest In Peace, Chadwick Boseman. pic.twitter.com/vAh1nqYQ2f
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) August 29, 2020
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 29, 2020