Aug 19, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) before a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

QB Cam Newton out of COVID protocols, returns to Patriots

New England Patriots QB Cam Newton was back at practice Thursday after missing five days as required by league COVID-19 protocols.

Newton’s hiatus resulted from a trip he made Saturday to a “club-approved medical appointment that required him to leave the New England area,” the team said Monday. “Due to a misunderstanding about tests conducted away from NFL facilities, and as required by the NFL-NFLPA protocols, Cam will be subject to the five-day entry cadence process before returning to the facility.”

Coach Bill Belichick said Thursday, per NFL Network, that Newton “didn’t go against team rules” and added, “All the QBs will get work today.”

In Newton’s absence, first-round draft pick Mac Jones ran with the first team on Tuesday and at Wednesday’s joint practice with the New York Giants.

Belichick hasn’t named a starter for the Sept. 12 season opener against the Miami Dolphins in Foxborough, Mass.

The Patriots conclude their preseason slate on Sunday vs. the Giants.

As the Patriots starter last season, Newton — the 2015 NFL Most Valuable Player — completed 65.8 percent of his passes for 2,657 yards with eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He ran for 592 yards with 12 scores.

–Field Level Media

Aug 18, 2021; Thousand Oaks, CA, USA;  Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Malcolm Koonce (51) is defended by Los Angeles Rams lineman A.J. Jackson aka Alaric Jackson (68) during a joint practice. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rams-Raiders brawl, ending joint practice early

Thursday’s joint practice between the Las Vegas Raiders and host Los Angeles Rams ended 45 minutes early after a brawl broke out on the field. Punches reportedly were thrown.

After the prolonged donnybrook finally ended, the Raiders boarded their team buses and headed back to their hotel. The practice was supposed to last two hours.

The teams will square off Saturday night in a preseason game at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.

“Sickening … it was two guys in a special teams period and then it was a lot of trash talking that escalated,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. “I’m done with that. It’s just child’s play.”

Raiders Wire reported that Yannick Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby were at the center of the fight for the Raiders.

Individual skirmishes had broken out Wednesday during that practice. Things got heated after the Rams’ Jalen Ramsey put a hard hit on Raiders running back Josh Jacobs.

–Field Level Media

Aug 14, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) looks on during the third quarter against the Houston Texans at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Packers hold Jordan Love out of joint practice with Jets

The Green Bay Packers kept quarterback Jordan Love out of Wednesday’s practice, a joint session with the New York Jets, but did not rule Love out when the two teams meet in a preseason game Saturday.

Love, a 2020 first-round draft pick and backup to Aaron Rodgers, reportedly had an MRI exam on his injured throwing shoulder come back clean Sunday.

He missed Monday’s practice and partook in a light throwing session Tuesday, according to Packers coach Matt LaFleur.

LaFleur said the Packers will give Love “every opportunity” to play in Saturday’s exhibition.

“We just don’t ever want to put him in a situation where it could make it worse,” LaFleur said.

If Love is ultimately held out of that game, Green Bay would turn to third-stringer Kurt Benkert to start. The team also re-signed free agent quarterback Jake Dolegala on Tuesday for depth. Dolegala spent part of the summer on the Packers’ roster.

–Field Level Media

Jun 8, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) works out during mini camp at AdventHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bruce Arians, Bucs happy to have Tom Brady back

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians delivered a concise summation when asked what impressed him most about quarterback Tom Brady’s activity on Tuesday.

“Went full speed,” Arians said after the team’s first minicamp practice, adding that Brady was typically eager for more work.

“He looked fine. I had to pull him out a couple (of times). The first period I said, ‘OK, you can have four,’ and he kept begging to go back in.”

A seven-time Super Bowl champion, Brady had minor surgery on his left knee after leading the Buccaneers to the title in February over the Kansas City Chiefs, but he seemingly believes he’s close to 100 percent.

Brady, who will turn 44 in August, posted a video of himself working out and had organized a workout with teammates last Friday.

Still, it was somewhat surprising that he was cleared fully.

“Yeah, the doctors and him – they both said he was good to go,” Arians said. “We’ll still be careful with what we’re doing with him, but trying to stop him from playing is pretty tough.”

Whether Brady can duplicate his 2020 regular season — 4,633 passing yards, 40 touchdowns, 65.7 completion percentage — is up for debate, but what’s one more year when he did what he did at age 43.

He’ll have an even better grasp of Tampa’s offense.

“It’s that second, third, fourth read, where the guys are going to be, knowing (where to throw). …

“All that verbiage isn’t new now, so he can spit it out, he knows what it means, he knows where they’re going to be,” Arians said.

With an increased level of comfort in Year 2 with the Bucs, Brady and his receivers could be more dangerous.

“I think the biggest difference is that the timing is a little bit better,” receiver Chris Godwin said. “Like you said, the difference in him knowing the playbook, knowing what he likes and what he doesn’t like, and us knowing what to expect in terms of ball placement, velocity on the ball. All those things really do help. I would say that’s the biggest difference.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2021; Glendale, AZ, USA; Detailed view of an Oregon Ducks logo on an official football on the field during the Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

NCAA Division I lowers limit on preseason contact practices

Preseason gridiron contact will be reduced after the Division I Football Oversight Committee enacted new limits Wednesday.

The number of contact practices was cut from 21 to 18, and only nine full-pad days will be permitted.

Teams won’t be allowed to hold full-contact practices on more than two days in a row. Each practice session is limited to only 75 minutes of full contact, while a limit of two preseason scrimmages was established.

The “acclimatization period,” previously five days, will increase to seven days.

In a rule change that will apply all year, not just in the preseason, the committee banned “drills that encourage or create straight-line contact.”

The NCAA Division I Council also announced Wednesday that it plans to plans to determine its course of action on players’ name, image and likeness as part of its June 22-23 meeting. The intent is to have a new policy in place before July 1, when various state laws on the subject will take effect.

The council also added new guidelines regarding transfer waivers for those student-athletes who weren’t permitted to use the current one-time transfer exception.

The new rules will start in January 2022, issuing waivers for student-athletes to be eligible for the 2022-23 season. Applicants making a second transfer would gain immediate eligibility if they can show they have an “education-impacting disability” or a “real and imminent health and safety” threat.

Jon Steinbrecher, commissioner of the Mid-American Conference and the chair of the NCAA Division I Council’s Working Group on Transfers, said in a statement, “These guidelines provide an opportunity for student-athletes with the greatest need to transfer and compete immediately. The delayed effective date is the fairest way to accommodate student-athletes who entered the Transfer Portal with the current waiver guidelines in place.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones (27) runs the ball in for a touchdown  against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs RB Ronald Jones returns to practice

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones returned to practice Thursday after missing last week’s wild-card game against Washington.

Jones (finger/quad) was limited after missing Wednesday’s practice.

Jones, 23, was active for Saturday’s wild-card game against the Washington Football Team, however he aggravated a quad injury prior to the contest.

Fellow running back Leonard Fournette stepped up in his absence, rushing 19 times for 93 yards and a touchdown in Tampa Bay’s 31-23 win over Washington.

Jones led the team in carries (192), rushing yards (978) and rushing touchdowns (seven) during the regular season.

Wide receivers Mike Evans (knee) and Chris Godwin (hip/quad) were listed as limited participants for the second consecutive day.

Cornerback Carlton Davis (groin) was also limited.

The Bucs visits the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in an NFC divisional playoff game.

–Field Level Media

Dec 19, 2020; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA;  Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Toe injury hampering Packers RB Jones

Green Bay running back Aaron Jones has been limited his practice repetitions as he recovers from a toe injury heading into Sunday night’s game against the visiting Tennessee Titans.

Jones is fourth in the league in rushing with 968 yards and also has eight touchdowns. He has amassed 298 yards receiving and two more touchdowns for the NFC North champion Packers (11-3), who are the top team in the NFC and closing in on a No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

Jones’ backfield teammate, Jamaal Williams, has missed the past two practices with a quad injury and is in danger of not playing against the Titans (10-4), who are tied with the Indianapolis Colts atop the AFC South.

Safety Will Redmond (concussion) and tight end Jace Sternberger (concussion, illness) are the only other Packers who haven’t practiced so far this week.

The Titans feature the NFL’s leading rusher, Derrick Henry, who has rushed for 1,679 yards and 15 touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Oct 25, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin talks with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) just prior to the start of the game against the Tennessee Titans during the first half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers cancel practice with Ravens game uncertain

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin called off Friday’s practice, pending “clarification from the NFL” as to the status of their home game Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, a Pittsburgh team spokesman said.

The game was scheduled for Thanksgiving night but moved to Sunday as the Ravens fight a COVID-19 outbreak. Quarterback and reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson is one of 10 players – eight of them starters – on Baltimore’s reserve/COVID-19 list. Placement on the list indicates a player has tested positive or is considered a high-risk close contact with an infected person.

The team said it “disciplined” a strength and conditioning coach for not following COVID-19 protocols, including not wearing a mask in the team facility, not reporting symptoms of the virus and failing to wear a required tracking device.

ESPN reported Thursday night that Ravens coach John Harbaugh told the players their facility will be shut down until Monday at the earliest.

The Steelers (10-0) earlier saw their game against the Titans rescheduled because of an outbreak affecting the Tennessee team. That moved forced the Steelers to have a Week 4 bye and gave them games in 13 straight weeks to end the season. Pittsburgh hoped to play on Thanksgiving to have the weekend off.

–Field Level Media

Aug 26, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA;  Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich smiles during colts training camp at the Farm Bureau Football Complex. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Colts, Jets won’t practice Thursday to focus on social justice

Two NFL teams announced Thursday morning they were canceling practice to use the time instead to invest in social justice change.

The Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets said their teams would address ways to make a lasting social impact in the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting by a police officer in Kenosha, Wis. Blake, an unarmed Black man, was shot seven times by uniformed officers while moving toward his vehicle.

The Detroit Lions canceled practice on Tuesday to join protests related to the shooting. The New York Giants delayed their practice on Wednesday before deciding to move forward with the workout.

“The Colts will not practice today,” a team-issued release read. “Instead, the team will use the day to discuss and work toward making a lasting social impact and inspiring change in our communities.”

–Field Level Media

Aug 20, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) during training camp at AdventHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs rookie LB knocks down Brady in practice

A Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie linebacker broke the cardinal rule of training camp on Monday: Don’t hit the quarterback.

That rule is underscored six times when the quarterback is 43-year-old Tom Brady, who has won six Super Bowl titles.

Cam Gill apparently didn’t get the memo, however, as the rookie knocked a backpedaling Brady to the ground on Monday, according to PewterReport.

PewterReport later revealed it was Gill who lowered the boom.

Brady didn’t seem the worse for wear after the exchange, however social media had a field day.

Former New England Patriots linebacker Matt Chatham, Brady’s teammate on three Super Bowl-winning teams, tweeted:

“I once accidentally knocked Tom down in a Friday practice before a Super Bowl on a double fake screen thing where I thought I was running past him, but he reversed out into the path I was on. In that instant, my life & career flashed before my eyes.”

Gill is an undrafted free agent from Wagner.

–Field Level Media