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New York Jets put C.J. Mosley on IR; linebacker to have surgery



New York Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley, who signed a record-setting free-agent contract last offseason, is done for the season after playing in only two games.

Mosley, who suffered a severe groin injury in Week 1, was placed on injured reserve Tuesday. He will have surgery to repair what he described as a groin/abdominal issue.

“It gives us a chance to get him back in the spring and get him going in the offseason program,” coach Adam Gase said on The Michael Kay Show on ESPN New York radio.

Mosley told ESPN 10 days ago that his hope was that a recent platelet-rich plasma injection would heal the injury, with surgery a last resort. His goal was to test the groin this week by resuming football activities, but the plan was aborted.

Mosley became the 15th Jets player on injured reserve.

After sitting out four games following the initial injury, Mosley returned Oct. 21 against the New England Patriots and aggravated it. At the time, the Jets called it a six-week injury, so they gave him a chance to rehab instead putting him on IR.

This will go down as one of the most disappointing moves in recent free-agent history. The Jets lured Mosley away from the Baltimore Ravens with a five-year, $85 million contract — then a record-setting deal for an inside linebacker. It included a franchise-record $43 million in guarantees.

They anointed him as the “quarterback” of their defense and expected him to galvanize the unit. Without Mosley, the defense has played well; the Jets are ranked sixth in yards allowed.

Mosley got off to a terrific start, scoring the Jets’ first touchdown of the season on an interception return in the opener. He was dominant in that game, an eventual 17-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills, but injured his groin in the third quarter.

His stat line for the season: two games played, 108 defensive snaps, nine tackles, one interception and one fumble recovery. His 2019 compensation is $19 million.

Mosley isn’t going anywhere because his 2020 salary ($6 million) is fully guaranteed. So is $8 million of his $16 million salary in 2021.

The Jets claimed safety Bennett Jackson off waivers from the Ravens in a corresponding move Tuesday.

The Jets went into the preseason thinking they had one of the better inside-linebacker tandems in the league, but Avery Williamson also suffered a season-ending knee injury in a preseason game.

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When it comes to winning, Cam Newton and the Patriot Way are a perfect fit



We’re about to find out if Cam Newton can handle the Patriot Way, the vaunted and storied and universally glorified method of running a professional football team in the 21st century. But prepare yourself: In the months before it happens, there will be content to consume.

We’ll breathlessly debate the pressures that await Newton: the steely gaze of Bill Belichick; the swirling fumes of the Tom Brady legend; the expectations brought upon by two decades of reliance on the entire spectrum of strategies and tactics — the legal, the sorta legal and the definitely illegal.

The Patriot Way allegedly demands the individual bury within himself each of the deadly sins — except maybe wrath — in the pursuit of collective success. It’s not just a job, after all; it’s an obsession. Everywhere and everything surrounding the New England Patriots signifies a monklike devotion to the game. There is no music in the locker room, no televisions beaming the latest news from around the league, no frivolous distractions such as pingpong or cornhole.

“I’ve had some moments where it was pretty tense, and there’s a lot of sacrifice,” Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers told me in December. “I’ve had to tell my family, ‘I can’t do anything with you right now, because I’ve got to focus.’ The expectations are something you feel as soon as you get here.”

Can Newton handle it? He has been NFL MVP more recently than Aaron Rodgers, and he has been to the Super Bowl more recently than Russell Wilson. Newton appears to be healthy for the first time in two years. He spent last year on the sideline for a Carolina Panthers team that assured the world as recently as February he was in its plans, then released him two weeks later. After months of silence, he was signed to a low-risk contract to quarterback a team that was otherwise left with second-year signal-caller Jarrett Stidham, who has significant promise but no experience.

Brady in Tampa is a cute aside, but this is the most remarkable and potentially shape-shifting move of the offseason.

“You almost wonder, Why would the league allow this?” says George Whitfield, a private quarterback coach who has worked extensively with Newton. “From a competitive standpoint, Cam and Belichick is a natural fit. It literally takes a shark to recognize another shark.”

It might not work, for reasons both football-related and not. Nine years of hits — a preposterous 922 of them, 307 more than Wilson in second place, according to ESPN Stats & Information — with Carolina could render him incapable of returning to his peak. On the surface, the Patriots’ offense looks similar to the groups that surrounded Newton with the Panthers: deficient at wide receiver, average at running back. However, New England has allowed the second-fewest sacks in the league over the nine years Newton has been a pro.

Or there’s always the chance he chafes at Belichick’s humorless managerial style, like so many before him. But there’s nothing in Newton’s professional history that indicates he can’t play through a few caustic mumbles and disappointed-dad glares. Outspoken personalities such as Chris Long and the Bennett brothers (Michael and Martellus) might not have loved their time under Belichick, but they certainly didn’t hinder the cause. Two of them won Super Bowls there. If Newton doesn’t revive his career in Foxborough, it isn’t going to be because the organizational philosophy can’t withstand a guy who wears fancy hats.

“Suggesting that Cam can’t adapt to Belichick is a lazy narrative,” Whitfield says. “Cam recognizes this as a singular opportunity. I can imagine Belichick telling him, ‘You have goals, and you have a chip on your shoulder. We have goals, and our shoulders look the same as yours — just not as big.'”

Belichick’s somnolent public persona has so overwhelmed the image of the Patriots that they’ve become one and the same.

“I think because of Bill, the whole Patriot Way has a little bit of a myth to it,” New England cornerback Jason McCourty told me. “The guys who are here and part of it don’t really see it like that.”

In reality, the Patriot Way can be explained by six Super Bowls and in four words: Win at all costs. This is a team that signed mid-meltdown Antonio Brown and late-stage Randy Moss, after he trudged through two seasons in Oakland. One didn’t work, and one did; they paid Brown more than $9 million for one game, but Moss rediscovered greatness in Foxborough. Long was outspoken, and he might have felt constricted under Belichick, but he said he learned more in one year as a Patriot than he could have imagined. The only mystery with the Newton signing is the timing. What took them so long?

(There was one plausible reason for the Sunday night announcement: It served as a tsunami to wash away the wake created by the NFL’s announcement that New England was punished for illegally filming the Bengals’ sideline — part of a series hilariously called “Do Your Job” — during a CincinnatiCleveland game in December. I have no idea if every team engages in this type of shadiness, but the Patriots are without question the worst at getting away with it.)

Whatever outlandish beliefs or personality quirks Newton possesses, it seems unlikely that any could stunt the Patriots’ ability to conform to their established ways. Get this one out of the way first: He once failed to dive into a pass rush in the hopes of recovering his own fumble in the Super Bowl. Beyond that, his interactions with the media can be difficult — he is routinely dismissive, occasionally condescending — but that will be a problem only if Belichick bristles at someone edging into his territory.

I spent considerable time around the Patriots last season, and around Newton in the past, and if there’s one thing he and Brady have in common, it is their ability to retain their superstar aura by steering clear of the daily grind of the locker room. NFL quarterbacks are the league’s protected class: They exist in an environment that is close to hermetically sealed, emerging publicly once during the week and once after a game to fend off questions while standing at a podium. Newton, like Brady before him, knows how to follow the script.

What does the Newton signing say about the Patriots? For once, they head into a season accompanied by intrigue, vulnerability and unpredictability. To replace Brady with Newton is not a matter of retooling the offense; this is Belichick snapping a dry branch over his knee. In 124 career starts, Newton has rushed for 50 yards 42 times — roughly once every three games, and second in NFL history to Michael Vick. Belichick has coached 400 regular-season games, and just once has one of his quarterbacks — Matt Cassel in 2008 — run for 50 yards in a game. Brady had nine seasons with fewer than 50 rushing yards.

Josh McDaniels right this moment is pivoting from devising an offense for the torpid Brady to the large and mobile Newton, and I can’t help but envision his face illuminated by a stack of burning playbooks.

“I cringe every time I hear people ask, ‘Can he do it from the pocket?'” Whitfield says. “Cam’s extremely bright. He’s nuanced. There aren’t going to be any coverages where he looks up and says, ‘I’ve never seen this before.’

“He can play in the pocket — it’s what he’s been doing — but he also has the world’s biggest and baddest parachute on his back, and when he’s in trouble, he can just reach out and pull it.”

If he is healthy, of course. The current state of the world prohibited teams from bringing Newton into their facilities for a physical or a workout, and it should also prohibit anyone from getting too giddy about Dolphins-Patriots on Sept. 13. (Sorry, just a reminder that all of this prognosticating could end up being meaningless as we continue along in the age of the eternal pregame show.)

But the risk of the signing is low and the potential reward astronomical. The doubts feel almost obligatory. Belichick spent most of the past 20 years watching the same guy play quarterback, and now he heads into his 21st year with someone who, if he’s anywhere near his prime, is a near antithesis of the last guy. But if Newton is healthy, he can win — and when you strip the Patriot Way of all its lore and varnish, that’s really all that’s left. Winning by whatever means necessary is the Way — the only Way, all of which is to say, whatever happens from here forward figures to tell us more about Bill Belichick than it does Cam Newton.

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Franchise-tagged Chris Jones tweets perhaps he ‘won’t play’ for Chiefs in 2020



Chris Jones is hinting at the possibility of holding out as the wait for a deal continues between the Kansas City Chiefs and their franchise-tagged defensive lineman.

Jones, replying to an NFL Network video regarding his contract situation, tweeted Tuesday night that not playing in 2020 was an option, bringing up running back Le’Veon Bell‘s 2018 holdout with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Chiefs used the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jones in March. They still have until July 15 to reach a long-term contract, but Jones has yet to sign the tag, which would pay him $16.1 million next season.

Barring a long-term deal with the Chiefs, Jones is set to be an unrestricted free agent after the season.

Bell missed the 2018 season after declining to play for the Steelers when they used the franchise tag on him for the second straight year. He signed with the New York Jets in the next offseason.

The running back showed support for Jones in a tweet Tuesday, writing “@StoneColdJones knows what he doin, trust.”

This isn’t the first time Jones has hinted about issues with his future in Kansas City. After the Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV, he said he wanted to be a “Chief for life” and planned “to stay here forever.” But days before the Chiefs used the franchise tag, Jones tweeted, “hope that they know that I love em but, all good things must come to an end….”

Jones didn’t participate in the Chiefs’ offseason practices and workouts in 2019, hoping to get a contract extension.

He reported to training camp on time and ranked third in the NFL last season with 15.5 sacks. Jones had a key play in the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LIV win, pressuring San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and forcing an interception.

Information from ESPN’s Adam Teicher was used in this report.

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Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher tested positive for the coronavirus



Former Steelers head coach and Hall of Famer Bill Cowher says he can be added to the list of sports figures who have battled the coronavirus.

Cowher told The Athletic that he and his wife, singer Veronica Stigeler — known by the stage name Queen V — weren’t tested for the virus when they were affected with symptoms in March but that they did test positive for antibodies a month later.

Cowher and Stigeler first realized something was wrong when they lost their sense of smell and taste after returning from a trip to Honolulu, a last-minute change from their originally planned trip to visit Cowher’s daughter, Lindsay, and son-in-law, Ryan Kelly, in Tokyo. Kelly a former NBA player, was playing in Japan’s B League when the league suspended play in early March.

On the way back, they flew through Newark Liberty International Airport and went to dinner in New York City before restaurants began closing. After that, Cowher told The Athletic, he and his wife began experiencing what would eventually be tell-tale coronavirus symptoms. In addition to the loss of smell and taste, both had shaky joints. Cowher had a slight fever, and his wife had a dry cough.

“I think I got it in New York and all the traveling, people coming into Newark airport at the same time,” Cowher told The Athletic. “That’s when the virus came from Europe and there was no shutdown. We were out in New York that weekend as well in a few restaurants. Who knows? There were people in Honolulu coming from China and in Newark they were coming from Europe.”

Cowher and his wife have recovered from the virus.

A member of the 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame, Cowher was set to be inducted in Canton next month along with Steelers safeties Troy Polamalu and Donnie Shell, a Centennial Class inductee, but those ceremonies and celebrations have been pushed back a year.

“I’m really kind of relieved,” Cowher told The Athletic of the delayed induction. “As much as you want to be reflective and talk about the people who were so instrumental in your life, now is not the time, not just with COVID but with the social justice issues. These are very transparent times and it’s so fluid. The Hall of Fame needs to be reflective. I’m glad it’s still going to be Dallas and Pittsburgh playing (next year), which is great. I think right now it’s just hard to really think about anything celebratory when the country is in the state it is.”

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