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Houston Texans sign Jeff Driskel to one-year deal worth up to $2.5 million

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HOUSTON — The Houston Texans have signed quarterback Jeff Driskel to a one-year deal worth up to $2.5 million, according to his agents at National Sports Agency.

Driskel is now the fifth quarterback on the Texans’ roster, joining Deshaun Watson, Tyrod Taylor, Davis Mills and Ryan Finley.

Adding Driskel gives Houston more depth given the uncertainty around Watson’s future with the team. Watson, who asked for a trade in January, is facing 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault and inappropriate behavior.

Driskel spent the 2020 season with the Denver Broncos but was released by the team earlier this month.

Driskel’s one-year deal has a $1 million base salary with a $250,000 signing bonus and bonuses for playing time and for being on the Texans’ 46-man game-day roster, according to his agents.

Last year with Denver, Driskel made three appearances, completing 54.7% of his passes for 432 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.

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Arizona Cardinals put J.J. Watt on PUP list with sore hamstring

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GLENDALE, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinals pass-rusher J.J. Watt was put on the physically unable to perform list Wednesday after experiencing soreness in his hamstring after Tuesday’s conditioning test that kicked off his first training camp.

The injury kept Watt out of Wednesday’s practice, the Cardinals’ first of camp, and he said he didn’t expect to practice Thursday, as well. He later said he didn’t know when he’d be back on the field.

“We’re gonna take it very slow and be very smart about it,” Watt said. “I mean, it’s a hamstring, obviously, so you want to be very smart. Take your time.”

Watt said his goal is to be healthy for the Cardinals’ Week 1 game at the Tennessee Titans.

“Being in the league 10 years and the biggest thing that I know is that it’s all about Week 1, so it’s all about being ready for Sept. 12 and just making sure that we’re taking a smart, smooth approach to that day,” he said.

Watt, 32, signed with the Cardinals in early March after playing the first 10 years of his career with the Houston Texans.

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Receiver Kelvin Benjamin critical of New York Giants coach Joe Judge after his release

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Kelvin Benjamin was released Wednesday by the New York Giants and didn’t appreciate how it all went down for everybody to see. He was especially critical of coach Joe Judge, who he thought was doing everything to “kind of sabotage the situation.”

Benjamin explained his side of the story in a phone conversation Wednesday night with ESPN. He was in good spirits despite the spirited on-field confrontation earlier in the day.

“I’m good,” Benjamin said. “A little disappointment.”

Mostly about how the situation unfolded. It all began with Judge calling Benjamin over on the field prior to the first practice of training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. It was then that he told the converted wide receiver there would be a fine incurred for reporting to camp overweight.

Benjamin, who was trying to resuscitate his career as a tight end, said the Giants wanted him to report to camp at 251 pounds. He was 265 pounds in the spring and came in at 268 pounds for camp.

A Giants source confirmed Benjamin was going to be fined for reporting overweight, despite passing the conditioning test on Tuesday.

“First thing [Judge] said is I came in 15 pounds overweight,” Benjamin said. “So I’m like ‘How did I come in 15 pounds overweight when I was 265 for minicamp?’ And he said you left at 265 and came back at 268. Of course. I lift weights. I got more muscle.

“I’m basically smaller than I was as a wide receiver. I was like how is that possible? I’m a tight end now. How does that make sense?”

From there the situation continued to downward spiral, according to Benjamin. He claimed to be cursed out by Judge, who also brought up incidents that occurred during the spring.

But most of all, Benjamin was confounded by being confronted on the field prior to the start of the first summer practice rather than the situation being handled before practice behind closed doors.

“It was awkward,” Benjamin said. “It didn’t even make sense.”

At that point, general manager Dave Gettleman intervened. Gettleman had drafted in 2014 with the Carolina Panthers.

Benjamin walked off the field and into the locker room. He was followed by Gettleman.

“My mental state was thrown. I didn’t know what to do,” Benjamin said. “I just went to the locker room to calm down. Gettleman came in there and I could here in his voice that they were going to release me.”

The Giants ultimately released Benjamin on Wednesday afternoon. It ended his potential comeback bid.

Benjamin, 30, last played in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs during the 2018 season. The Florida State product was originally a first-round pick by the Carolina Panthers in 2014 when Gettleman was the general manager.

Benjamin has spent time in his career with the Panthers, Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs. He has 209 career receptions for 3,021 yards and 20 touchdowns.

His biggest gripe with the Giants was undoubtedly Judge. Benjamin didn’t like the way Judge handled the situation and how he was treated.

“I think he was doing everything to kind of sabotage the situation,” Benjamin said. “I don’t know why.”

The Giants had Benjamin in for a workout during rookie minicamp in May. They signed him afterwards.

Judge and his staff coached Benjamin hard throughout the spring, much like they do all players. They were seen working with him constantly on finishing plays and protecting the football. It didn’t seem to be any different than the way they coach the rest of the team.

Somewhere, however, before the first practice of the summer, it all went wrong. Benjamin didn’t think it needed to go down this way.

“If anything they shouldn’t of had me come back to training camp,” he said. “It’s personal vendettas. That is what it is more than anything. They didn’t want to give me the opportunity to get on the field. [Judge] could’ve been a man about it.

“Of course they’re going to make it seem like I walked away. Where I quit. Anybody who went through a situation like that, I mean how can I practice at that point. At the end of the day right is right, wrong is wrong.”

And Benjamin is no longer a Giant, perhaps for the betterment of both sides.

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Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford says he feels like a rookie with his new team

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IRVINE, Calif. — He certainly did not appear the role during his first training camp practice with the Los Angeles Rams, but after the workout, quarterback Matthew Stafford said that part of him feels like a rookie.

“It’s brand new,” said Stafford, who was traded to the Rams this offseason after 12 seasons in Detroit. “I’m walking around trying to learn everybody’s name and who does what and all that kind of stuff. So trying to perform at a high level in that atmosphere is a challenge but I’m loving it.”

Stafford appeared a savvy veteran throughout Wednesday’s practice.

During team play, he zipped a pass to receiver Cooper Kupp on the far sideline, then later found receiver DeSean Jackson through a busted defense for a deep touchdown pass that sent fans in attendance wild.

“It seems like he feels very comfortable out here,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “There’s a lot of little nuances and we’re just still getting things figured out… but he definitely has great command and I think we could all feel that.”

Stafford joins an offense that returns seven starters, including tackles Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein, receivers Robert Woods and Kupp and tight end Tyler Higbee. Third-year pro Darrell Henderson will start at running back after Cam Akers ruptured his Achilles tendon prior to training camp.

“The best part for me is that when I step into that huddle, I call that play, I got 10 other guys that are going to do their job so as long as I can do my job,” said Stafford, who owns every all-time passing record in Detroit. “We’re going to be where we want to be and that’s a lucky feeling for me as a quarterback just knowing that I’ve got guys with great accountability, great experience in the huddle with me.”

McVay said Stafford has “seamlessly acclimated” himself with the Rams, but Stafford’s goal through the first few practices is to continue to learn his new surroundings.

“I can sit in the classroom with Sean and all the other quarterbacks and those guys and just talk about it ad nauseum, but at the same time we’ve got to go out here and play,” Stafford said. “I’m just trying to soak it all in and just trying to get as comfortable as I can, as quickly as I can.”

The Rams acquired Stafford by trading quarterback Jared Goff, two first-round picks and a third-round pick to the Lions only two weeks after their 2020 season ended in a divisional playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers.

The Rams hope that the 33-year-old Stafford will help turn around an offense that has been in decline since a Super Bowl LIII loss to the New England Patriots and that he can power the Rams to another Super Bowl run.

Stafford has two seasons remaining on a current five-year, $135 million contract.

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