Minnesota Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell announced on Friday that starting quarterback Kirk Cousins has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not travel with the team for Sunday's preseason opener at the Las Vegas Raiders.

Cousins will be required to isolate for at least five days before being allowed to rejoin the team at training camp, provided he tests negative.

The 2021 Pro Bowl selection missed Thursday's practice and was sent home from camp with what the Vikings initially termed an illness.

O'Connell did not reveal who will start under center Sunday, but did say both veteran Sean Mannion and second-year pro Kellen Mond will see extensive action.

"No matter who starts, they'll both play a ton," O'Connell remarked.

Cousins was in the NFL's protocols for unvaccinated players last season and missed the Vikings' Week 17 game at Green Bay on January 2 following a positive diagnosis. Mannion started in his place and threw for 189 yards and a touchdown in a 37-10 Minnesota loss to the Packers.

The NFL has lifted coronavirus protocols for this season, though all players must adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines if they test positive.

The Baltimore Ravens extended the NFL record for longest preseason winning streak with their 21st consecutive victory Thursday night, 23-10 over the visiting Tennessee Titans. 

No team has ever been better in the preseason than the Ravens. What exactly that means in the grand scheme of things is open to debate.  

Backup Tyler Huntley was 16-for-18 with a touchdown pass and Justin Tucker kicked three field goals for Baltimore, which last season eclipsed the Vince Lombardi-coached Green Bay Packers, who won 19 straight preseason games from 1959-1962. The Ravens last loss an exhibition game on September 3, 2015.  

Baltimore’s streak is in no danger of being matched anytime soon, with the Buffalo Bills owning the second-longest active preseason winning streak at eight in a row.  

With starter Ryan Tannehill getting the night off for the Titans, rookie quarterback Malik Willis played the entire first half and went 6-of-11 for 107 yards while rushing five times for 38 yards and a touchdown.  

The third-round draft pick out of Liberty scored on seven-yard run early in the second quarter. After running towards the right side on a designed sprint-out concept, Willis felt pressure and spun away from danger, slipping between two defenders before reaching the end zone.  

In need of help on an offensive line that recently lost one projected starter due to injury, the New York Jets have reportedly agreed to a two-year contract with veteran tackle Duane Brown.

Brown, who earned a fifth career Pro Bowl nod last season with the Seattle Seahawks, can earn up to $22million over the duration of the deal, according to ESPN.

The Jets’ interest in the 14-year veteran increased after expected starting right tackle Mekhi Becton sustained a season-ending knee injury during Monday’s training camp practice. The 2020 first-round pick missed all but one game last season after dislocating his right kneecap in the team’s opener.

Brown, who turns 37 later this month, has been a more durable player over the course of his lengthy career, having played in every game in three of the past four seasons and missing just four over that span. His 203 career starts are the most of any active offensive lineman.

All of those starts have come at left tackle, where Brown could remain if the Jets opt to move starter George Fant back to the right side.

Fant, a team-mate of Brown with the Seahawks in 2018, began last season as the Jets’ right tackle before switching positions following Becton’s injury. The Jets decided to keep the six-year veteran at left tackle this offseason while moving Becton to the right side.

Brown broke into the NFL as a first-round pick of Houston in 2008 and earned first team All-Pro honours with the Texans in 2012. He spent nine-plus seasons in Houston before being traded to Seattle during the 2017 campaign following a contract dispute.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles announced Thursday that quarterback Tom Brady has temporarily left training camp to "deal with some personal things" and is expected to return following the team’s second preseason game on August 20th.

Bowles told reporters Brady's absence was planned prior to training camp and will not affect the seven-time Super Bowl champion's availability for Tampa Bay's season opener at Dallas on September 11th.

"This is something we talked about before training camp started," Bowles said. "We allotted this time because [Brady] wanted to get in and get chemistry with the guys and go through two weeks of training camp."

Brady, who turned 45 last week, is entering his 23rd NFL season after re-signing with the Buccaneers in March following a 40-day retirement after the 2021 campaign.

The legendary quarterback was not slated to play in Saturday's preseason opener against Miami or the Bucs' game at Tennessee the following week. Veteran Blaine Gabbert and 2021 second-round pick Kyle Trask are expected to receive the majority of practice reps during Brady’s absence. 

"Knowing he wasn’t going to play the first two games, he didn't want to take away reps from Blaine and Kyle, as well as [Ryan Griffin], as far as going into these next two games," Bowles said. 

Bowles added that he wasn’t concerned about the missed practice time impacting Brady's preparation for the regular season, or any effects his departure may have on Tampa Bay's offence.

"Obviously, there's always going to be doubt, but I have a pretty high level of confidence, yes," he stated. 

James White, a member of three Super Bowl champion teams with the New England Patriots, announced his retirement after eight NFL seasons Thursday.

White, who set a Super Bowl record with 14 receptions and scored the winning touchdown in New England’s memorable overtime victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51, has been battling a hip injury that limited him to three games in 2021. The veteran running back has been on the physically unable to perform list during training camp.

The 30-year-old spent his entire career with New England after being selected in the fourth round of the 2014 draft.

"It has been an honour to represent my family, my teammates and the people of New England as a Patriot!," White wrote in an Instagram post.

"Thank you to [team owner] Mr. [Robert] Kraft, Coach [Bill] Belichick and the entire Patriots organisation for giving me the opportunity to live out my childhood dream. To be able to play my entire career with one franchise, in front of the best fans in the NFL, has been a tremendous blessing and honour.

"To say that Foxboro will always hold a place in my heart is an understatement. It's been the most significant chapter of my adulthood; my kids were born here; it’s the place we know best as adults and where I have grown and created my family."

White established himself as one of the NFL's top pass-catching running backs during his time in New England and further cemented himself in the franchise’s lore with his performance in the 2016 season title game. The Wisconsin product totalled 110 yards on 14 receptions and tied a Super Bowl record with three touchdowns to help the Patriots overcome a 28-3 deficit and defeat the Falcons 34-28 in the only Super Bowl decided in overtime. 

White later set franchise season records for receptions (87) and receiving yards (751) for a running back in 2018, the season the Patriots capped with a win over the Los Angeles Rams for their sixth Super Bowl win under coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.

The Patriots named White to their All-Dynasty Team in 2020 as well as their All-2010s team. He ends his career eighth in franchise history in receptions (381) while recording 3,278 receiving yards, 1,278 rushing yards and 36 total touchdowns in 95 career regular-season games.

"James defines the term consummate professional," Belichick said in a statement. "His dependability, consistency, unselfishness and performance under pressure are elite. Combining great intelligence, quickness and elusiveness, James was a perfect fit for our pass offence.

"While soft spoken, he brought exceptional leadership and competitive toughness to the team. He was a multi-year team captain and one of the most respected, best team players I have ever coached."

The Patriots re-signed White to a two-year, $5 million contract in March, though only $500,000 of that amount was guaranteed. 

Tua Tagovailoa and Tom Brady shared the same field on Wednesday for the first time since the NFL punished the Dolphins for tampering with the seven-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback.

They are bound to be linked for much longer.

Tagovailoa was asked for his reaction to the Dolphins’ interest in Brady that resulted in Miami being disciplined by the league.

"Yeah, I mean, I’m still here," he said. "To me, that’s all noise at this point."

Wednesday was the first of two joint practices between the Dolphins and Buccaneers before the teams meet in the preseason opener Saturday at Raymond James Stadium.

Just over a week ago, the NFL suspended Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and fined him $1.5 million for tampering with Brady and former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton following a six-month investigation stemming from Brian Flores' racial discrimination lawsuit against the league.

The investigation found that the Dolphins had impermissible contact with Brady and his and Payton’s agent, Don Yee. The Dolphins will forfeit a first-round selection in the 2023 NFL draft and a third-round selection in the 2024 draft. Ross is suspended through Oct. 17.

Tagovailoa was more succinct on Wednesday after giving a longer reaction in last week's media session about his team’s interest in another quarterback.

"I would say the only thing that gets frustrating is if you hear it every day or if you see it every day," he said.

"For me, I eliminate all of that. Don’t hear it. Don’t see it. I go home, go to my family, study, wake up the next day, come back and enjoy football.

"I hear everything obviously from the media and then when [the communications staff] preps me for whatever you guys are going to say, then I’m like 'Ah, I’ve got to answer this. All right, let me figure out something politically correct to say'."

Brady has yet to speak on the Dolphins’ interest and punishment and did not speak to reporters on Wednesday.

First-year Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel did speak to the media on the subject.

"For me, nothing happened," he said. "Everyone else is the one making it awkward. It doesn’t occupy a single iota of space with anybody.

"It’s hard enough to be good in this league. As the Miami Dolphins, all of our energy is very coordinated and only has to do with us getting better and everything else would be an opportunity cost that we’re not willing to expend."

The Dolphins and Buccaneers are not scheduled to play in the regular season.

While his regular-season debut as a Cleveland Brown will not come until at least October, Deshaun Watson's first game with his new team is now just days away.

The Browns announced Wednesday that Watson will start Friday's preseason opener against the Jaguars in Jacksonville, though it is unclear how much the embattled quarterback will play in his first appearance since being acquired from the Houston Texans in March.

Watson is facing a suspension of at least six games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy but is eligible to play in the preseason. The three-time Pro Bowler had been facing 24 civil lawsuits filed by female message therapists alleging sexual misconduct between 2020 and 2021 during his time with the Texans.

He was not charged by two grand juries and has strenuously denied any wrongdoing. Watson settled 20 of the lawsuits in June, with a further three settlements reported at the start of August ahead of the verdict of his NFL hearing.

The NFL announced last week it will appeal arbiter Judge Sue L. Robinson's ruling in hopes of extending the ban. The league was seeking a minimum one-year suspension as well as a fine of at least $5million.

"We decided it was the right thing to do," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday at the league's owners meetings in Bloomington, Minnesota.

"We've seen the evidence. [Judge Robinson] was very clear about the evidence. She reinforced the evidence, that there was multiple violations here and they were egregious, and it was predatory behavior. Those are things that we always felt were important for us to address in a way that's responsible."

The Browns signed Watson to a five-year, $230m fully guaranteed extension following the trade and structured the deal so he would face lesser financial penalties in the event of a suspension. He is due a base salary of only $690,000 in 2022.

Watson has not appeared in an NFL game of any kind since the 2020 season finale. The Texans held him out of all of their 2021 games while a criminal investigation into the allegations was conducted.

A grand jury ultimately dropped all criminal charges in March, and Watson's attorneys have since settled all but one of the civil cases.

Cleveland coach Kevin Stefanski did not reveal his quarterback plans for the preseason when speaking to reporters Tuesday. The Browns held a closed practice Wednesday and were set to fly to Jacksonville later in the evening.

"We have a framework for how we are going to handle this preseason," Stefanski said Tuesday. "As you know, you always reserve the right to change your mind based on how practice goes and those types of things, but we are pretty confident in the plan we have."

Veteran Jacoby Brissett, who is 14-23 in 37 career starts, will serve as the Browns' quarterback during Watson's suspension. The journeyman started five games for the Miami Dolphins last season and finished the campaign with 1,283 passing yards, five touchdown passes, four interceptions and a 78.1 passer rating. 

Cleveland Browns standout return specialist Jakeem Grant will miss the 2022 season with a torn left Achilles tendon, head coach Kevin Stefanski announced Wednesday. 

Grant, a second team All-Pro as a punt returner in each of the last two seasons, was hurt during Tuesday's practice and underwent an MRI that confirmed the injury. 

"I really feel awful for Jakeem," Stefanski said in a statement. "We've witnessed how hard the young man has worked since he got to our team. 

"We all realise injuries are a part of our game, but that doesn't make it any easier to accept, especially for someone that works as hard and carries himself like Jakeem."

The Browns signed Grant to a three-year contract worth up to $13.8million in March to be their primary return man and compete for snaps at slot receiver after the team released Jarvis Landry. 

One of the game's premier returners, Grant has averaged 10.3 yards per punt return with four touchdowns and 24.5 yards per kick return with two touchdowns over six NFL seasons. His six combined touchdowns on kick and punt returns since 2016 are tied with Jacksonville Jaguars' Jamal Agnew for the most in the league over that period. 

As a receiver, Grant has totaled 100 catches for 1,140 yards and seven touchdowns for his career. The 29-year-old had career highs of 36 receptions and 373 receiving yards with the Miami Dolphins in 2020. 

A sixth-round pick of the Dolphins in 2016, Grant had spent his entire career with Miami before being traded to the Chicago Bears in October.  

Grant's injury gives rookie David Bell, a third-round pick in this year's draft, the inside track to be Cleveland's No. 3 receiver behind Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones. Second-year pro Demetric Felton will likely take over on returns barring any additional roster moves.  

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has explained the league appealed the advised six-game ban for Deshaun Watson because a disciplinary hearing found "egregious" violations and "predatory behaviour".

Watson faced 24 civil lawsuits following sexual assault and misconduct allegations. He was not charged by two grand juries and has strenuously denied any wrongdoing.

The Cleveland Browns quarterback settled 20 of the lawsuits in June, with a further three settlements reported at the start of August ahead of the verdict of his NFL hearing.

Former US district judge Sue L. Robinson oversaw those proceedings and concluded Watson should miss six games with no additional fine.

But the NFL felt, having reviewed that decision, the evidence uncovered by Robinson required a harsher punishment, and it has used its right to appeal.

It is widely reported the league believes Watson should be suspended for the entire 2022 season, and Goodell outlined why this is the case.

"We've seen the evidence," he said. "[Robinson] was very clear about the evidence, should we enforce the evidence – that there were multiple violations here, and they were egregious, and it was predatory behaviour.

"Those are things that we always felt were important for us to address in a way that's responsible."

Sean McVay has announced he signed a contract extension with the Los Angeles Rams over the offseason, but talks are ongoing with general manager Les Snead.

Head coach McVay guided the Rams to a Super Bowl win last season, and tying down his long-term future represents a major boost for the franchise.

Yet McVay revealed he and Snead were waiting until both men were committed to the team before formally confirming the deals.

"We are in a good place," McVay said at training camp. "I feel really good about the direction that's going in, and I think it'll be something where it'll be me and Les, and you guys will know when that is finalised for us.

"We wanted to be able to announce that when both of us got it done.

"It is something that we've been taking care of, but it is very important for Les and I to kind of have that represented as we're a partnership and a pair."

McVay has been Rams coach since 2017, with this his first head coaching role after holding various assistant positions in Washington.

Earning his first title against the Cincinnati Bengals at Super Bowl LVI earlier this year, McVay, 36, became the youngest coach to win the Super Bowl.

McVay has a 55-26 career record, with his winning percentage of 67.9 the seventh-best of all time among coaches to oversee 80 or more games.

Snead was the man who brought McVay to Los Angeles, having been the Rams GM since 2012, when the team were in St. Louis.

The Denver Broncos are looking forward to a new era after the team's record-breaking sale to the Walton-Penner family ownership group was confirmed.

The deal, worth $4.65billion, a record for any American sports franchise, was unanimously approved by NFL owners on Tuesday.

And the group, fronted by Walmart heir Rob Walton, could not wait to get started.

"We are just so excited to become officially a part of the Broncos," Walton said. "It's a big, big day for us. Really, really exciting.

"It's been a great process and I want to extend a thanks with all the owners we've been involved with. Their warm greeting and support as we've met them along the way – haven't met all of them yet, but we're getting close – has just been good.

"It's a very wonderful group to become associated with.

"We want to acknowledge [former owner] Pat Bowlen's outstanding legacy, also, as well as the family. Pat's leadership and commitment to build a successful team and business, and we'll continue to build on that.

"Putting a winning team on the field is our number one priority. We can't wait to get to Denver, join our new colleagues and get to work."

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell added: "This is a group that is going to be great for the Denver community.

"Their commitment to winning, but more importantly their commitment to making sure the Broncos franchise is an important part of the Denver community. We're thrilled about that."

The New England Patriots have not officially named an offensive coordinator and are installing a "new offense", but quarterback Mac Jones said he is not overly concerned. 

With longtime offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels now the head coach for the Las Vegas Raiders, the Patriots have not named anyone to fill his role. Instead, head coach Bill Belichick is spending more time with the offense and former Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia and ex-New York Giants coach Joe Judge are also working with the unit. 

"I’m going to figure it out. I always have. I always will," said Jones, entering his second NFL season. "At the end of the day, you’re going to have your ups and downs with anything new. I think we’re close on a lot of things. It’s just that 2 per cent we need to fix."

The notoriously tight-lipped Belichick has acknowledged that the Patriots have "streamlined" their offense this year, with multiple players saying the goal is to make it simpler so they can play faster.  

Jones and the new-look offense has struggled at times this preseason, with numerous breakdowns and rushers coming free too often. 

"It’s just getting the communication down," Jones said. "It’s different than what we’ve done in the past. It’s a little frustrating sometimes, but our offensive line – the players and coaches – are trying the best they can.

"I have all the trust in the world in those guys. It’s not going to happen overnight, but we’re trying to grow." 

Jones led the Patriots to a 10-7 record and a playoff berth in his rookie season, throwing 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.  

New England host the New York Giants in their preseason opener on Thursday night. 

The fear over the severity of New York Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton's right knee injury have become a reality.

Jets coach Robert Saleh told reporters on Tuesday that Becton suffered a kneecap fracture during Monday's practice and his season is "more than likely" over.

Becton has been diagnosed with an avulsion fracture in the knee, according to NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo, and will see a surgeon on Wednesday.

''It's probably the inevitable,'' Saleh said of the severity of the injury.

The Jets were initially optimistic about the injury, with Saleh saying after Monday's practice that: "it doesn’t seem like it's a big deal," but the outlook changed later in the evening after the results of an MRI.

Saleh said he feels "sick" for Becton, who missed the final 16 games of the 2021 season after dislocating his right kneecap in the season opener, and defended the oft-injured 23-year-old after he arrived at training camp healthy and in acceptable shape after battling weight issues following surgery in September.

"His story's not over. He's got full support of this organisation," Saleh added. "And if you're a fan that wants to support him, you're more than welcome, otherwise just keep it moving."

The 11th overall pick of the 2020 draft, Becton started 13 games at left tackle as a rookie and began last season at the position before getting hurt.

In need of depth on the offensive line, the Jets signed veteran guard Caleb Benenoch and guard Chris Glaser on Tuesday.

Free-agent tackle Duane Brown, a five-time Pro Bowler, visited the Jets on Saturday and could be offered a contract.

All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith loves the Chicago Bears, but he does not believe the feeling is mutual.

Smith issued a statement requesting a trade on Tuesday, writing "the new front office regime doesn't value me here".

Set to make $9.735million in the final year of his rookie contract, Smith, who represents himself, had been holding out during training camp while working towards a new deal.

The 25-year-old, however, has become infuriated with negotiating with first-year general manager Ryan Poles and now wants out.

"The new front office regime doesn't value me here," Smith wrote in a statement posted by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

"They've refused to negotiate in good faith, every step of this journey has been 'take it or leave it'.

"The deal sent to me is one that would be bad for myself, and for the entire LB market if I signed it. I've been trying to get something done that's fair since April, but their focus has been on trying to take advantage of me.

"I wanted to be a Bear for my entire career, help this team bring a Super Bowl back to our city.

"However, they have left me no choice than to request a trade that allows me to play for an organisation that truly values what I bring to the table."

Selected eighth overall in the 2018 draft, Smith has been one of the league's top linebackers and was looking to be paid like one.

Smith was reportedly offended by Chicago's backloaded offer that included de-escalators that are not in the contract of any of the other 94 non-quarterbacks making at least $15m per year.

Smith ranked fifth in the NFL in total tackles last season with 163 to go with 12 tackles for loss to earn second-team All-Pro honours for the second straight year.

In 61 career games, he has 538 total tackles, 43 tackles for loss and five interceptions, making him one of just three defensive players with at least 300 tackles, 30 tackles for loss and five interceptions since 2018, along with Darius Leonard and Jamie Collins Sr.

Smith apologised to Chicago fans and implied he could possibly withdraw the trade request if team ownership can restore the fragmented relationship but said it is unlikely he will ever put on a Bears uniform again.

"I haven't had the chance to talk to the McCaskey family, and maybe they can salvage this," he wrote, "but as of right now I don't see a path back to the organisation I truly love."

With less than five weeks until the start of the NFL season, Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor isn't worried about when quarterback Joe Burrow will be back on the practice field. 

Burrow, the 2020 top overall draft pick, underwent surgery last month to remove his appendix. While he has been seen on the sidelines at Bengals practices, Burrow has yet to resume football activities. 

"He's starting to get better every single day," Taylor said of his star signal-caller. "Again, I don't want to put a timeline on when he gets out here and starts throwing and stuff, but it's been encouraging. He's back to himself in meetings so — looking good."

The Bengals' 2022 season opens on September 11 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, although Burrow is still expected to be healthy enough to start under center. 

"He knows himself way better than we do," Taylor said. "I trust the communications with him when we're going to get him back out here.

"We've got plenty of time before the opener and I trust that we'll have a good process in place."

Burrow cemented his place among the game's best young quarterbacks last season, bouncing back from the knee injury that ended his rookie campaign to lead the Bengals to a 10-6 record as a starter in 2021. 

The Bengals played in the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1988 season but lost to the Los Angeles Rams. 

Over his last eight games of 2021, including four playoff games, Burrow threw for 16 touchdowns and two interceptions while completing 72 percent of his passes. 

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