NFL Roundup: Big changes for Pro Bowl, Lilja may come out of retirement

The SportsXchange

Big changes are in store for the Pro Bowl.

The NFL and NFL Players' Association announced Wednesday that the new format will no longer included AFC vs. NFC, replaced by captains randomly selecting 43 players for each team not based on conference affiliation.

Voting will no longer be done according to conference. Once the players are selected, the two leading vote-getters will be named captains and choose their teams with the assistance of Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders and two NFL.com fantasy football champions.

The draft for the 2014 Pro Bowl will be Jan. 22. The game is set for Jan. 26 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.

Among other changes are the elimination of kickoffs for safety reasons (possession will start at the 25-yard line after a score or quarter) and:

-- A two-minute warning for the first and third quarters, increasing the opportunity for two-minute drills. Possession will change after each quarter.

-- An additional defensive back will replace a kick return specialist on the rosters.

-- At the two-minute mark during each quarter, if the offense does not gain at least 1 yard, the clock will stop similar to an incomplete pass, forcing offenses to try to gain yardage.

-- The play clock will be shortened to 35 and 25 seconds from the current 40/25.

---Ryan Lilja has six years of experience playing with Peyton Manning from their time together in Indianapolis, the primary reason the Denver Broncos reached out to the retired 32-year-old interior lineman about joining the team.

The Broncos are in a serious bind at the center position, a critical communications element in the Manning-run offense which operates frequently without a traditional huddle.

Lilja played center last season with the Kansas City Chiefs, sliding over from his customary guard spot to replace injured Rodney Hudson.

With J.D. Walton and Dan Koppen injured, the Broncos moved guard Manny Ramirez to the pivot.

Lilja had also been approached by the Chiefs about coming out of retirement.

At the crux of his decision is whether toe and knee issues that required surgery after last season are behind him.

Lilja was a starter at guard with the Colts alongside Jeff Saturday, the Pro Bowl center whose name was bandied by media as a candidate to rescue the Broncos and act as the offensive line's rudder when Koppen was hurt. But Saturday quickly ended such speculation, saying he'd lost more than 50 pounds since his career ended with the Packers in 2012.

---The Miami Dolphins re-signed wide receiver Julius Pruitt and rookie wide receiver Keenan Davis, who was released by the Cleveland Browns on July 24.

Pruitt is entering his third season and made the 53-man roster with Miami in 2011 out of Ouchita Baptist, playing nine games on special teams. He was back with the Dolphins in training camp last summer but was released August 28 in the mandatory roster cutdown to the 75-player limit.

Davis was undrafted out of Iowa, where he played for current Miami wide receivers coach Ken O'Keefe. He caught 97 passes, including five touchdowns, for 1,284 yards in his final two seasons with the Hawkeyes.

They'll compete for roster spots created when Armon Binns tore multiple knee ligaments in Sunday's practice.

Binns and wide receiver Jasper Collins were waived/injured Wednesday. They're eligible to revert to the Dolphins' reserve/injured list if unclaimed.

---Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams attended practice on Wednesday after sitting out Sunday's workout with an injured foot and leaving the team on Monday for an examination.

Williams received a second medical opinion that confirmed rest was the best possible treatment for his injured foot, the NFL Network reported. He returned to training camp on Tuesday night and was with the team on Wednesday morning, the team announced via Twitter.

Williams is entering the second year of his six-year, $96 million contract. He had 10.5 sacks for the Bills last season.

---Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert returned to practice after going down with an ankle injury on Monday.

Gabbert was in full pads and wearing a wrap on the ankle during the Jaguars' Wedneesday morning session, the team announced.

The third-year quarterback is competing with Chad Henne for the starting job.

---The Seattle Seahawks are hoping wide receiver Percy Harvin will be recovered from hip surgery around Thanksgiving, NFL.com reported Wednesday.

The team and Harvin announced Tuesday night that Harvin will undergo surgery on Thursday in New York for a labrum tear suffered during a preseason workout. The recovery time is estimated at three to four months,

That would put Harvin on course for a possible return in Week 13 for a Monday night game against the New Orleans Saints, according to NFL.com. The Seahawks have a bye in Week 12 and play the Minnesota Vikings, Harvin's former team, in Week 11.

--Chicago Bears middle linebacker D.J. Williams was taken off the practice field on a cart after suffering a calf strain on Wednesday morning during training camp.

Williams was signed by the Bears in March to replace longtime standout Brian Urlacher. The nine-year veteran saw limited action last season with the Denver Broncos, missing seven games because of suspensions and starting once.

But the Bears are counting on Williams to fill a void this season in the middle of their defense after Urlacher was not re-signed. It is unknown how long Williams will be sidelined, but the NFL Network reported his status as week to week.

With Williams out indefinitely, the Bears are left with rookies Jon Bostic, the team's second-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft from Florida, and Khaseem Greene as candidates for the middle linebacker spot.

---Defensive tackle Myles Wade signed with the Oakland Raiders.

Wade, a 6-foot-1, 300-pounder from Portland State has previously spent time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks. He was waived by Seattle in June and originally entered the league as an undrafted rookie signed by the Bucs in 2012.

The 6-foot-1, 300-pound lineman previously spent time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks. Wade was waived by Seattle in June after being signed by the Seahawks as a reserve/future free agent. He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012.

---Wide receiver Riley Cooper apologized in a statement issued through the Philadelphia Eagles for incendiary remarks made at a concert.

Video of his remarks were posted on the website Deadspin on Wednesday.

Cooper, who is getting his first chance to start in the NFL after veteran Jeremy Maclin suffered a season-ending knee injury, was shown in a video taken at a Kenny Chesney concert shouting "I will fight every n----- here."

"I am so ashamed and disgusted with myself. I want to apologize," the statement read. "I have been offensive. I have apologized to my coach, to Jeffrey Lurie, to Howie Roseman and to my teammates. I owe an apology to the fans and to this community. I am so ashamed, but there are no excuses. What I did was wrong and I will accept the consequences."

During the June 9 concert at Lincoln Financial Field, Chesney welcomes Cooper, center Jason Kelce and head coach Chip Kelly to the stage for a song called "Boys of Fall."

Following the concert, Cooper was also caught on video in an altercation in the parking lot.

---Free agent quarterback Nathan Enderle signed with the San Diego Chargers.

Enderle signed a one-year deal Wednesday and will compete with seventh-round pick Brad Sorensen, who has size and ability comparable to Enderle.

The 6-4, 240-pound product of the University of Idaho was a fifth-round draft pick in 2011. He was identified by then offensive coordinator Mike Martz as a prototype pocket passer, but he was never active for a game with the Bears.

Waived by the Bears in 2012, Enderle spent training camp with the Jacksonville Jaguars but was released. He was released by the Tennessee Titans after a stint in Nashville this offseason.

---Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall injured his right ankle in Monday's practice and could miss the rest of training camp.

Coach Mike Shanahan said Tuesday, when Hall appeared at practice in a walking boot, that the injury was "that serious right now."

But Hall later said he'd be keeping the immobilizing boot and not sporting cleats for about two weeks, when the Redskins break camp in Richmond and return to their Ashburn, Va., facility.

Hall said tests on his Achilles showed no damage and the ligaments in his right ankle weren't torn.

---Denver Broncos cornerback Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie left Wednesday's practice on a cart after his left leg was injured in a one-on-one drill in training camp practice.

He was able to walk off the field with an exaggerated limp before sitting near the sideline and waiting for medical attention. He appeared to have his knee and ankle examined.

Rodgers-Cromartie was participating in a coverage drill, matching up one-on-one with rookie Quincy McDuffie.
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