Tom Brady misses practice for ‘DeflateGate,’ Peyton Manning will get snaps in Saturday’s preseason game

Tom Brady missed practice on Tuesday to be in New York for settlement talks relating to DeflateGate, but those negotiations yielded no progress as it appears more and more likely that Brady and the NFL are not going to be able to reach a settlement in this case.

Instead of staying in the Big Apple to attend Wednesday’s federal court hearing, Brady has decided to join his teammates in West Virginia, where the New England Patriots are scheduled to hold joint practices with the New Orleans Saints in advance of their preseason matchup on Saturday night.

While Brady was away, Jimmy Garoppolo took all the reps at quarterback as the Patriots held an unpadded walk-through at Gillette Stadium this afternoon. According to NESN.com’s Doug Kyed, the second-year signal caller completed 9 of 14 passes with two interceptions during the hour-long practice session.

Peyton Manning will get his first taste of preseason football in 2015, as Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak told reporters after Tuesday’s practice that the 39-year-old quarterback will play Saturday against the Houston Texans. Manning, who sat out the opener last week, is expected to be on the field for “a quarter-and-a-half to a full half.”

It is not unusual for Manning to get a bunch of reps during the preseason. In 2013 and 2014, he played in each of the Broncos’ first three preseason games before sitting out the finale. This will be Manning’s first live game action in Kubiak’s zone-blocking offense, so it will be interesting to see how he fares in the new scheme.

While Manning’s anticipated debut might get the headlines, a couple kickers stole the show at the Broncos’ practice on Tuesday. Brandon McManus and Connor Barth, who are battling for one of two kicking spots, engaged in a kick-off and didn’t disappoint the fans watching at Dove Valley. They must love that mile high air.

The 49ers’ investment in Tank Carradine is finally paying off

On paper, the San Francisco 49ers defense is in shambles. Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis, Justin Smith, Chris Borland and Ray McDonald are all gone. They added Darnell Dockett in free agency, but he’s coming off a serious knee injury.

This year’s first-round pick, Arik Armstead, looks to be more of a long-term project rather than a day one starter. It’s going to be vital that Tank Carradine and last season’s backups step up big-time in 2015 if that defense has any chance of living up to the high standards of play they’ve set for themselves.

Carradine was one of those luxury draft picks that the 49ers have been so adept at accumulating lately. This kid was a fucking terror his last season at FSU, coming home with 11 sacks on the year. Unfortunately, he tore up his ACL at the end of the season, so it wasn’t likely he would play right away, if at all, during his rookie year.

So I flew into Hartford the evening before the big meeting of the minds and made the 40 minute drive into Bristol so that I could take in the sites and do some tourism in Bristol. The thing is, as it turns out, theres not a whole lot to do there. Out of the top 10 things to do in Bristol on Trip Advisor, 7 are restraunts. The other three are Lake Compounce water park, the clock museum, and the museum of fire. So obvously I made a bee line for the water park.

Unfortunately it had rained earlier that day so the Water Park was closed down which is like a prostute taking a day off on Valentines Day. But Bristol is the type of small town America where people still trust each other, no one locks there front doors, even the people that own the Water Park. So I let myself into Lake Compounce and went on a little tour of the place:

In fact, First Take is the highest rated show on ESPN2 by far despite the fact that it airs at 10 AM Eastern on weekday mornings when many of our nations employed elite are at there office jobs.

Matt Moore leveled by brutal helmet-to-helmet hit that almost started fight

The Miami Dolphins’ Wild Card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers hasn’t gone their way so far, and things appeared to be getting worse after quarterback Matt Moore took a vicious hit from the Steelers’ Bud Dupree.

Dupree was called for a personal foul, roughing the passer. He hit Moore square in the chin on the hit. After the play, unsportsmanlike conduct on Jay Ajayi was called as he pushed Dupree for the hit.

T.J. Yates started warming up, and came out for for the Dolphins at quarterback. It was his first time being on the field since Dec. 2015 when he was with the Houston Texans.

After going through some tests on the sideline, Moore came back into the game after missing just one play.

Postgame, Moore described the hit and how it affected him:

Matt Moore: “I just got popped. I just needed a second there. It was more my jaw than anything else. He got me pretty good.”

The Browns are trying to get a fresh start on a defense that utterly collapsed this year, ranking 31st in yards allowed per game and 30th in points given up per game.

“It’s very exciting for me to become part of the Cleveland Browns organization and join Hue Jackson’s coaching staff,” Williams said. “I have so much respect for Hue having competed against him in this league for so many years. We’re looking forward to getting to work.”

Williams will likely be tasked with coaching up that side of the ball while the Browns try to rebuild through the draft. His ugly history with the Saints will always follow him around, but Williams is a decent hire for a Browns team searching for credibility.

Texans try surprise onside kick, but don’t recover even with an offsides penalty

The Houston Texans have nothing to play for in Week 17 after securing the No. 4 seed in the AFC, regardless of the team’s result against the Tennessee Titans. So Bill O’Brien is a little more willing to roll the dice and take risks, but things haven’t worked out for the Texans so far.

After finally getting on the board with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Brock Osweiler to C.J. Fiedorowicz in the third quarter, Houston tried to keep the momentum going with a surprise onside kick after the Titans were called for unsportsmanlike conduct on the touchdown.

While the aggressive strategy is lower risk than most surprise onside kicks, it was still unsuccessful:

“We have to have competition at every position and if they’re not the best player, I’m certain they won’t be out there.”

Aguayo finished the year with a field goal percentage of 71 percent and his longest successful kick of the year was a 43-yard attempt in Week 1. Koetter defended his lack of long kicks, though, telling reporters that the team just didn’t provide him many opportunities to kick from long distance.

His field goal percentage was the lowest in the NFL, but Aguayo was 32 of 34 on extra points.

Competition in camp isn’t uncommon for kickers, though. If nothing else, teams need more than one kicker to give the rest of the special teams units reps. But Aguayo will still need to elevate his play if he hopes to stay with the Buccaneers long, second-round selection or not.

Bad memories for Lions fans

The Packers-Lions game was all but decided when the fourth quarter was winding down. The Lions were on offense and short on time, so they decided to bomb it to the end zone. They got it, but what transpired was probably the saddest Hail Mary.

It’s not that the pass and reception weren’t impressive. Anquan Boldin did an excellent job securing the football as he fell. It’s just that a Hail Mary at Ford Field feels awfully familiar.

The Packers shocked Detroit last year with one of their own, the longest Hail Mary in NFL history. This one — especially because the Lions still needed an onside kick recover and another Hail Mary — was false hope. Still, the Lions are in the playoffs! No need to carry that pessimism into the postseason. They should, however, keep that gunslinging going.

There was trouble brewing ahead of the season when quarterback Colin Kaepernick demanded a trade, before being benched for five weeks due to “arm fatigue” when he was forced to stay in San Francisco. Eventually, Baalke renegotiated his contract, removing his 2017 injury guarantee, but allowing for a postseason opt-out option — one the quarterback was reported to have expressed utilizing.

Former Niners head coach Mike Nolan spoke out in early December in Baalke’s defense, noting that some of the personnel turnover the past few seasons has been atypical, and that Baalke’s coaching choices might be the ultimate reason for his firing.

“I think they have the right guy in place to pick the players. But unfortunately for Trent, I think the choice of Tomsula hurt him, and currently right now you know, with Chip Kelly, it’s not helping him either. All of a sudden you say, “Look, we can’t keep him, he’s the one that picked the last two guys,” I guess is maybe what they’re saying.”

Durant looked like he was the best player on the floor in a game loaded with NBA superstars

Mike Montgomery and Miguel Montero get ready to celebrate the Cubs’ Game 7 win, because just like any kind of M&Ms you can’t have just one. Charlie Riedel/AP Photo
Here’s to the incomprehensible finish of the epic seventh game of a classic World Series. Now that you’ve had a couple of months to let it breathe, try to digest the degree of difficulty of all the nutty stuff that had to line up to make that finale the instant classic it became.

Let’s begin with Indians starter Corey Kluber. Game 7 was his 140th start in the big leagues, counting the postseason. He had never made any start in which he struck out nobody — so naturally, he whiffed zero in this start (on the way to digging the Indians into an early 5-1 hole). … But a few innings later, along came Jon Lester, ambling out of that Cubs bullpen for his first relief appearance in nine years. No National League pitcher threw a two-run wild pitch during the entire regular season — of course, Lester did in this game (to cut the Cubs’ four-run lead in half).

“I just tried to be me. Be aggressive, miss or make,” he said.

Durant looked like he was the best player on the floor in a game loaded with NBA superstars. He scored 11 points in the third quarter and earned two three-point plays early in the fourth to push the Warriors ahead 95-82 with 9:20 remaining.

“KD came out in that fourth quarter and was very aggressive,” said James, who had 31 points and 13 rebounds.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr put Durant on the bench for a breather with the Warriors ahead, 95-87, with 7:33 remaining in the game. While Durant was sitting, he watched the Cavaliers go on a 7-2 run with the aid of two Warriors turnovers to trim the visiting team’s lead to 97-94 after an Irving 3-pointer with 6:12 remaining. Cleveland ended up scoring 21 points off 20 Warriors turnovers in the contest.

“We had too many turnovers, that’s the thing,” Durant said. “That’s two games in a row. We have to control that.”

Durant returned to the game 26 seconds later hoping to give the Warriors a great Christmas story in the city where the 1983 movie A Christmas Story was filmed.

Owner Woody Johnson, who rarely misses a game, was conspicuously absent Saturday

Todd Bowles spent the night in a New Jersey hospital due to a bout with kidney and gall stones, but he made it to Gillette Stadium three hours before kickoff. To the surprise of some in the New York Jets organization, he decided to coach from the sideline in the cold and early rain, not in a comfy booth.

Tough dude.

All it did was give him an up-close view to one of the most embarrassing and futile days in recent Jets history.

The outcome was expected — a 41-3 loss to the New England Patriots — but what happened along the way underscored what has become of the Jets, who fell to 4-11.

“It’s inexcusable,” Bowles said.

A sense of hopelessness has enveloped the Jets, a feeling straight out of the Rich Kotite era.

It sets up a grim scenario for the season finale next week at MetLife Stadium: Bowles, fighting for his job, will meet his predecessor, Rex Ryan, who reportedly could be fired by the Buffalo Bills. It doesn’t get any darker than that.

Owner Woody Johnson, who rarely misses a game, was conspicuously absent Saturday. A team spokesman said Johnson had a family obligation. Last week he left the stadium early, fuming. His team has lost the past two games to divisional foes by an aggregate score of 75-16, imperiling Bowles.

Actually, the Jets have been embarrassed in three of the past four games, losing by 31, 21 and 38 points. It’s a bad look, a really bad look, and now the spotlight shifts to Johnson. Will he sack Bowles, the way he did Ryan after the 2014 season?

On the day the owner was a no-show, so was his team.

“There’s no explanation, we’re playing bad,” Bowles said. “… We aren’t doing anything right right now.”

Continuing their Christmas Eve curse, the Jets went to Gillette and suffered their most lopsided defeat since a 49-9 loss to the Bengals in 2013. Afterward, several players said they were “embarrassed.” A couple of players questioned the effort.

How bad was this?

Jonez on Jonez: Gus Bradley should’ve never gotten on the Jaguars’ plane

Dragonfly Jonez is a full time tweeter, a part time podcaster and an aficionado of spicy Popeye’s drumsticks who will be offering NFL commentary this season.

Football is a sport that is inundated with clichés. However, one cliché always rings true in this competition of modern-day gladiators and ever escalating battle of wits: life comes at you fast.

And there were many who didn’t make it who probably should have. Below, we’re going to touch on a few of them, and we’ll start with the biggest snub this year.

Since 2013, the Texans have started nine different quarterbacks. Only one other team has done that over that span, and it probably won’t surprise you to learn that it was the Cleveland Browns, who actually rolled with Hoyer and Weeden for a time, too.

In 2014, O’Brien named Fitzpatrick the starter prior to the season, and he stuck with Fitzpatrick until Week 11. Fitzpatrick was replaced by Mallett, who tore his pectoral muscle, giving Fitzpatrick another shot as the starter. The Texans didn’t see the long-term potential of Fitzpatrick, though, and traded him to the New York Jets following the season.

Prior to the 2015 season, O’Brien named Hoyer the starter. Hoyer was benched during the Texans’ Week 1 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, so O’Brien’s confidence in Hoyer as the starter didn’t last long.

Hoyer was replaced by Mallett, and got another shot in Week 5 after consistently ineffective play from Mallett, who was later released for missing a team flight. Hoyer was then injured, and Yates got his turn at quarterback, but tore his ACL in a Week 15 win over the Colts.

The New York Giants can become the third NFC team — and the second NFC East team — to clinch a playoff spot with a victory or tie against the Eagles on Thursday Night Football.

Bryce Petty exits with chest injury vs. Dolphins

The hits keep coming for Bryce Petty and the fledgling Jets.

As expected, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (calf) will play against the Bears, Rapoport reported. Though the Packers will have three quarterbacks active just in case Rodgers can’t make it through the game.

Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant popped up on the injury report with a back injury late this week, but Rapoport reported the big wideout is expected to play against the Buccaneers.

“He didn’t win enough games, and the organization has a much bigger picture,” Fisher said of himself. “And I don’t think I was ever part of seeing the new stadium.”

Fisher’s jab about “beating the Rams” came in response to being asked what his “perfect scenario” would include if he winds up coaching again.

It’s fair to wonder, though, if that chance will ever arrive. Notched alongside Dan Reeves with an NFL-“best” 165 career losses, Fisher is no sure bet to land another job.

Of course, NFL coaches are recycled at a ridiculous rate. All it takes is another league owner willing to buy what Fisher is selling.

Of course, the Colts are not simply a team with a bad, oft-injured offensive line. They’ve invested heavily at the position over the years but have struggled to see their prospects grow beyond lofty rookie expectations. Luck has always had the propensity to hold on to the football longer than other quarterbacks in the NFL.

So where does that leave Indianapolis? Even if they back into the playoffs this year, are they going to be able to sustain the relentless level of blitzing which perfectly disrupts the tightrope ballet Andrew Luck and his five protectors have been performing for each of the last four seasons? This game has that disaster-scenario recipe should offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and Luck not significantly alter the game plan to force the ball out in two seconds or less.