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NFL Notebook: Dolphins Could Suspend Players For Anthem Protests

FILE PHOTO: Miami Dolphins vs New Orleans Saints - NFL International Series
FILE PHOTO: NFL Football - Miami Dolphins vs New Orleans Saints - NFL International Series - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - October 1, 2017 Miami Dolphins players kneel during the U.S. national anthem before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
July 20, 2018
The Miami Dolphins have classified violations of the league’s new national anthem policy as “conduct detrimental” and could fine or suspend players who do not follow the policy, according to multiple reports Thursday.
Like all NFL teams, the Dolphins are required to provide an annual discipline schedule to the league when players report for training camp. Miami’s rookies reported Thursday. According to multiple reports, the one-sentence anthem policy is included under a long list of “conduct detrimental to the club” in Miami’s nine-page discipline document.
Per the collective bargaining agreement, any violations of rules classified as conduct detrimental — which includes all kinds of rules including those relating to curfew and punctuality, for example — can be punished by anything from a fine to a four-game suspension. Punishment is not required for a conduct-detrimental violation, and it is entirely at the team’s discretion.
According to multiple reports, the Dolphins have not made any decisions about how — or if — they will discipline players who violate the league’s anthem policy. ESPN’s Jeff Darlington reports the team does not intend to suspend violators. The MMQB’s Albert Breer reports the team put anthem language under the conduct-detrimental section “as a placeholder, basically,” giving the team more time to decide how it will handle violations.
–One day after Jurrell Casey voiced he would continue to protest against social injustices during the national anthem before games, the Tennessee Titans said they plan to sit down with their star defensive tackle.
Casey told CNN during a promotional stop in London that he intends to continue protesting despite the new NFL edict that players are to show respect while the anthem is being played. Teams will be fined if one of their players doesn’t follow the policy.
“In the case of Jurrell Casey, I think our head coach (Mike Vrabel) and general manager (Jon Robinson) are interested in having a conversation after he gets back from the United Kingdom,” Titans CEO and team president Steve Underwood said at a sports authority meeting in Nashville on Thursday, according to the Tennessean. “We think there may be some misunderstanding on his part. Because the new league policy does not provide anywhere that fines are made against players. If a player doesn’t stand, the teams can be fined, but not the players.”
–Julio Jones has been informed the Atlanta Falcons are not in position to address his contract in 2018, according to multiple reports.
According to a report by The Athletic, the Falcons discussed their financial situation and the need for Jones to wait in line.
The All-Pro wide receiver has been away from the team during the offseason, which began with Jones causing consternation in Atlanta by deleting references to the team on his social media accounts. Jones, who signed a five-year, $71 million deal in 2015, could become a priority after the upcoming season.
–First-round pick Roquan Smith was absent as the Chicago Bears reported to training camp.
The linebacker, selected eighth overall in the NFL draft, is expected to be an immediate contributor after winning the Butkus Award at Georgia last season as college football’s top linebacker. He has yet to sign a contract that will pay him about $18.5 million over four years.
“We’re optimistic he’ll be here soon,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace said at the camp-opening news conference on Thursday, adding that there’s “no time frame” for signing Smith. “We know it’s a process.”
–Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith returned to practice for the first time since Achilles surgery, after being limited to individual drills during last month’s minicamp.
The Ravens will closely monitor the 29-year-old Smith, coach John Harbaugh said, and provide him extra rest as he ramps up workouts.
Baltimore took the cautious approach with offensive guard Marshal Yanda by placing him on the physically unable to perform list on Wednesday. Yanda, 33, is recovered from ankle surgery but an offseason operation on his shoulder will limit his participation over the next 4-6 weeks. The six-time Pro Bowl selection is expected to be ready for the regular season.
–Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles led all NFL players in merchandise sales from March to May, according to the quarterly report released by the NFL Players Association.
Foles clipped his counterpart from that Super Bowl, New England Patriots signal-caller Tom Brady, for the top spot, with fellow Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz ranking third.
New York Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley finished fourth, though he ranked first in jerseys sold. Teammate Odell Beckham Jr. finished ninth on the overall merchandise list.
–The Minnesota Vikings signed first-round cornerback Mike Hughes to a contract, the team announced.
Terms were not announced, but Hughes’ four-year deal will pay him around $9.3 million with a signing bonus approaching $5 million, based on his 30th overall draft slot. Like all deals for first-round picks, his contract includes a fifth-year team option.
Hughes, 21, was considered one of the draft’s top cornerback prospects, but he slid a little due to off-field concerns. Hughes is expected to rotate into a deep cornerback group that includes Xavier Rhodes, 2015 first-rounder Trae Waynes, 39-year-old veteran Terence Newman and 2016 second-round pick Mackensie Alexander.

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