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Rex Burkhead agrees to deal with Houston Texans, joins crowded backfield, source says

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HOUSTON — The Texans have signed running back Rex Burkhead, adding another veteran running back to a crowded backfield, a source confirmed to ESPN.

Burkhead, 30, is the seventh running back on the Texans’ roster, joining veteran running backs Phillip Lindsay, David Johnson and Mark Ingram. Houston added Lindsay and Ingram in free agency after restructuring Johnson’s contract in March.

Burkhead, who spent the past four seasons with the New England Patriots, where Texans general manager Nick Caserio was director of player personnel, played in 10 games in 2020 before injuring his knee against the Texans. Burkhead is the ninth former Patriots player added by Caserio since he became the Texans’ general manager.

Before his injury, Burkhead ran for 274 yards and three touchdowns and caught 25 passes with three touchdowns.

Last season, the Texans ranked last in rushing DVOA, led by Johnson and running back Duke Johnson.

Burkhead’s agreement with the Texans was first reported by the Houston Chronicle.

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Source — Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley not participating in minicamp after minor foot surgery

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Atlanta Falcons top receiver Calvin Ridley had a minor foot surgery, explaining his reason for not participating in this week’s minicamp, a source confirmed to ESPN.

Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said Wednesday they had a few players, including Ridley, in different phases of the offseason.

“The entire objective here is to get these guys make sure they are in the best shape heading into training camp,” Smith said. “And ready to roll ultimately obviously for the regular season somebody in a guy like Calvin’s spot.”

Smith said Ridley has been “great” in walkthroughs and in meetings. He just hasn’t been on the field. He declined to say whether or not Ridley had surgery but did say the team has about six players dealing with “different things.” Smith mentioned the club is monitoring soft-tissue injuries because he wants no setbacks between now and camp.

Ridley became the team’s top receiver after Atlanta traded Julio Jones to Tennessee on Sunday.

Ridley had 90 catches for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns last year. The Falcons picked up his fifth-year option last month.

Ridley leads pass-catchers returning for quarterback Matt Ryan, along with Kyle Pitts, Hayden Hurst and Russell Gage.

The NFL Network was first to report news of Ridley’s surgery.

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Cleveland Browns chief of staff Callie Brownson suspended after DUI

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Cleveland Browns chief of staff Callie Brownson has been suspended by the team after being charged with drunken driving, but she won’t lose her job, coach Kevin Stefanski said Wednesday.

Stefanski notes that Brownson was “very remorseful.” Brownson, who has pleaded no contest and could face further discipline from the NFL, was not at Cleveland’s OTAs on Wednesday.

According to court documents, Brownson was charged with drunken driving on May 27 in Brunswick, Ohio. She reportedly was driving 55 mph in a 35 mph zone when she was stopped at 12:27 a.m. Police said her blood alcohol content was .215. The state’s legal limit is .08.

Brownson became the first woman to be a position coach on the sideline during an NFL game when she filled in for tight ends coach Drew Petzing, who was absent for the birth of his first child when the Browns played at Jacksonville this past November. Brownson is assisting running backs coach Stump Mitchell this season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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NFL wants to hold games in Germany, seeks partner city

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LONDON — The NFL wants to expand its international series by holding regular-season games in Germany, launching a process Wednesday to identify a partner city.

Germany boasts a strong NFL fan base and is one of the world’s largest economies, making the country an attractive partner.

The NFL has staged 28 regular-season games in London since 2007 and will play two more in October at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. German fans often travel to London to attend games, the league said.

“We are very excited about the development of our German fan base, and the time is right to identify a partner who can execute a game at NFL standards as part of our international growth strategy,” Brett Gosper, the NFL’s head of UK and Europe, said in a statement.

The NFL has hired London-based The Sports Consultancy to assist, including working with interested cities to develop their proposals.

“This process is designed to explore potential local partnerships, stadium suitability and game logistics,” Gosper said. “We need engaged and motivated host partners that span the public sector, venue, sport, community and major event spheres and can help us deliver a high-impact event and a long-term partnership. Identifying a preferred host city is a key step in bringing regular-season NFL games to our millions of German fans.”

The league said its weekly television viewership in Germany has grown by more than 20% annually since 2017.

German viewership of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ 31-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl on Feb. 8 set a record.

“Germany is a leading market outside North America for NFL Shop sales, fantasy football participation and sales of the Madden NFL video game,” the league said in its statement.

The NFL staged five preseason games in Germany between 1990 and 1994, and it had a professional team presence in Germany between 1991 and 2007 with the Berlin Thunder, Cologne Centurions, Frankfurt Galaxy, Hamburg Sea Devils and Rhein Fire playing at various times in the former World League/NFL Europe/NFL Europa.

NFL regular-season games have also been played in Mexico and Canada.

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