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Green Bay Packers sign QB Kurt Benkert after minicamp tryout



GREEN BAY, Wis. — Last week, the Packers had only two quarterbacks on the roster.

Now they have four.

Less than a week after signing Blake Bortles, they signed Kurt Benkert — one of the two arms they had in for this weekend’s rookie minicamp.

Benkert tweeted a picture of him signing his contract, and a source confirmed the transaction.

Benkert is a former undrafted free agent with the Atlanta Falcons in 2018. He spent the 2018 and 2020 seasons on the Falcons’ practice squad and was on injured reserve (toe) in 2019. He was released by the Falcons in February.

The Packers did not draft a quarterback or sign one in the initial rookie free-agent period but brought in Benkert and Chad Kelly for the rookie camp.

Jordan Love is expected to take part in this week’s rookie development program. While Love was not eligible to take part in the rookie minicamp, he can join the rookies this week because of a rule that allows second-year quarterbacks who played less than 25% of the snaps as a rookie to participate. Love did not play a single snap as the inactive third-string quarterback last year.

Other veterans can come to the team facility beginning Monday for Phase 2 of the offseason program, but Aaron Rodgers is not expected to report for the voluntary program. Organized team activities, which also are voluntary, begin May 24.

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Pittsburgh Steelers shoring up defense with Melvin Ingram addition



PITTSBURGH — The Steelers are signing edge rusher Melvin Ingram, his agent confirmed on social media Monday.

Ingram is signing a one-year contract, according to NFL Network.

The 32-year-old Ingram fills a major hole in the Steelers’ defense left by the free-agency departure of Bud Dupree to the Tennessee Titans.

“I met with Coach [Mike] Tomlin,” Ingram told NFL reporter Josina Anderson. “You can tell he’s very involved and a players’ coach. That’s what stood out to me. He wants to win, and that is what I am on.

“My role is my role. He just told me to come in and be me. Everyone knows how I play.”

Ingram, who had interest from other NFL teams and visited the Steelers on Monday, will compete for the spot opposite T.J. Watt that is currently occupied by second-year outside linebacker Alex Highsmith.

With Dupree’s exit, the depth behind Watt and Highsmith was perilously thin. NFL journeyman Cassius Marsh and sixth-round draft pick Quincy Roche were projected to be the primary backups.

Ingram, a 2012 first-round pick, had spent his nine-year career with the Chargers, racking up 49 sacks — fourth in franchise history — en route to three consecutive Pro Bowl nods from 2017 to 2019.

He played in just seven games last season because of a nagging knee injury that landed him on injured reserve twice, and he failed to record a sack for the first time in his career. The Chargers opted not to re-sign him after his four-year, $64 million deal expired following the 2020 season.

Information from ESPN’s Shelley Smith was used in this report.

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Peyton Manning, Eli Manning to headline alternate Monday Night Football broadcast



Former NFL quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Eli Manning will take part in an alternate Monday Night Football broadcast over the next three seasons, ESPN announced Monday.

The Monday Night Football MegaCast will air on ESPN2 for 10 games in each of the next three seasons and will include current and former NFL players and celebrities joining the Manning brothers on the broadcast. A host has not been named.

“This partnership with ESPN and The Walt Disney Company reflects an ongoing, shared commitment to offering fans fun, innovative content,” Peyton Manning said in a statement. “ESPN+ has been a terrific partner for Omaha Productions [Manning’s production company] as we built out The Places franchise and we’re excited to co-create a new MegaCast format that will have something for everyone.”

The MegaCast will debut the first three weeks of the 2021 season, including the Sept. 13 Monday Night Football opener between the Baltimore Ravens and Las Vegas Raiders, with the remaining seven weeks to be announced.

Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Louis Riddick, Lisa Salters and John Parry will remain on the traditional Monday Night Football broadcast for the second straight season in 2021.

“Offering multiple Monday Night Football viewing options for the next three seasons continues our innovation efforts and provides additional value for our fans,” Jimmy Pitaro, chairman of ESPN and sports content, said in a statement. “Peyton and Eli will bring a different approach, delving into conversation about broader, big-picture topics while also honing in on the game, much like fans do when watching with their family and friends.”

The Mannings each won two Super Bowls during their careers. Peyton Manning, who retired in 2016, is set for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame next month. Eli Manning retired in 2019 after 16 seasons with the New York Giants.

Peyton Manning’s working history with ESPN includes his Peyton’s Places series on ESPN+, which is in its third season. The franchise has expanded to include Places series involving Abby Wambach (soccer), Eli Manning (college football), David Ortiz (MLB), Ronda Rousey (combat sports) and Vince Carter (NBA). Wambach’s series premiered this month.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley coy on Week 1 status — ‘We’ll see’



NORTH CALDWELL, N.J. — New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley‘s knee is feeling “pretty good” after ACL surgery last year, but there is still uncertainty how much he will do at training camp and if he will be ready for Week 1.

Barkley said that is not a conversation he has had with coach Joe Judge. Quarterbacks and injured and rehabbing players are scheduled to report to camp Thursday, with rookies reporting Wednesday.

“I don’t know. We’ll see,” Barkley said with a smile at his annual Saquon Barkley Football ProCamp at West Essex High School when asked if he expected to be full-go at the start of camp.

How about Week 1?

“I don’t know. We’ll see,” he repeated. “Taking it day by day. Just listening to my body. Whenever I’m able to get out there, just make sure I’m 110%. Not just for … my well-being, but just so I go out there and compete at a high level and show the world who Saquon is.”

Barkley is not expected to be full-go for the start of training camp, a source told ESPN last month.

The running back was moving well and even competed against some of the 200 kids, grades 1-8, in attendance Monday in 1-on-1 drills. There appeared to be no restrictions.

This was, kind of, the plan.

“I’m a big kid at heart,” Barkley said. “We were talking to see about how much I could do. I said I’m just going to go with the flow. I said probably my kid at heart would take over. Just have fun. And it means a lot. I’m just happy these kids came out. I thank the families for making these kids come out. I want to make sure that I leave a lasting impression.”

Barkley was among a group of prep and college football coaches working with the kids. His involvement was evident, despite still rehabbing the injury.

Barkley and the Giants have been reluctant to put a timetable on his return ever since he suffered the injury in Week 2 of last season.

The Giants open the regular season against the Denver Broncos on Sept. 12, nearly 11 months after the major surgery on Barkley’s right knee. He also had MCL and meniscus damage.

Barkley seems OK with playing it cautiously.

“Kind of have to play that by ear,” Barkley said of his expectations. “When it comes to rehab, rehab is never a straight line. Just play that by ear. Listen to your body, and whatever your body is telling you, go with that.”

The Giants aren’t going to put Barkley on the field in live situations until he is 100%. It’s entirely possible that might not be until October.

“We are going to make sure that we take Saquon’s rehab at the correct rate for his individual body and injury,” Judge said during minicamp last month. “It’s not any mirror of anybody else’s injury out there. We have to make sure that we let him get it at his pace and put him on the field [when he] can play 100% aggressive and confident and he’s going to play safe and he can play effective.”

The idea is to bring Barkley along slowly to make sure he is healthy for the duration of the 17-game season and, hopefully, a postseason. It could be shortsighted to have Barkley take his usual 85% of snaps Week 1 against the Broncos or in the first few games.

Having Barkley, 24, return to his rookie season form and usage in the first few weeks of the 2021 season was never realistic, though the damage to his knee has healed according to plan, sources have insisted.

Now it’s a matter of getting on the field for practice. Or more aptly, when?

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