NFL Roundup: RGIII to start for Redskins in season opener

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Robert Griffin III will be the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins in their Monday Night Football season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 9, ESPN reported Wednesday.

That appeared to be a foregone conclusion after Griffin practiced without any problems with his surgically repaired knee the past two weeks.

He will meet with Dr. James Andrews on Thursday night in Tampa, Fla., before the Redskins' last preseason game against the Buccaneers for final medical clearance.

Andrews has compared Griffin's recovery from torn ligaments in his right knee to Adrian Peterson's comeback with the Minnesota Vikings last season. Griffin first injured the knee on Dec. 9 in a game against the Baltimore Ravens and then tore the ligaments in a playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Jan. 6.

Griffin feels like he's fully recovered and ready to begin his second year in the NFL after an impressive rookie season.

---Aaron Hernandez was a heavy drug user during his days with the New England Patriots and his behavior angered head coach Bill Belichick to the point that his job was in jeopardy, according to Rolling Stone magazine.

In story excerpts from "The Gangster in the Huddle" published online Wednesday at rollingstone.com, Hernandez was portrayed as a frequent user of PCP (angel dust) who carried a gun wherever he went and often was surrounded by gangsters.

Hernandez, 23, is in a Massachusetts prison while facing a first-degree murder charge in the June 17 death of former semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd.

According to the Rolling Stone piece, Hernandez missed practices, angering Belichick and leaving the tight end close to being cut from the team.

The story also revealed his parents, Dennis and Terri, and other family members had criminal records and that Hernandez had cut off relationships with family and teammates. Terri allegedly cheated on her husband with Jeffrey Cummings, a violent drug dealer, and after Terri's husband died, Cummings moved into the house she shared with Aaron.

The article also alleges that Hernandez's coach at the University of Florida, current Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, might have assisted in covering up failed drug tests, an assault and a drive-by shootout.

The story broke one day after the NFL Players Association filed a grievance against the Patriots on Hernandez's behalf, attempting to collect $82,000 in workout bonuses from Hernandez's terminated contract. Hernandez signed a five-year, $40 million contract extension in 2012.

Hernandez hung out with such a rough crowd that he flew to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February to let Belichick know that he feared that the people he hung out with would kill him, according to the story. Belichick reportedly told him that he should distance himself from that group and avoid more trouble or risk being cut from the team.

Hernandez responded by renting an apartment away from his mansion in an attempt to escape their influence. He began carrying a rifle in his gym back and had an extensive surveillance system installed at his mansion.

Partying was a big part of Hernandez's life, friends told the magazine. He often smoked marijuana after games, they said, and he missed rehab workouts in the spring while in California.

Friends described Hernandez as becoming paranoid because of the drugs and the emotional toll of losing his father.

Hernandez is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 6 in Fall River (Mass.) Superior Court on a first-degree murder charge. He has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail at a county jail.

---With Mark Sanchez's status in doubt for the season opener and the quarterback position a question mark, the New York Jets added Graham Harrell to the mix, according to multiple reports.

Harrell was cut by Green Bay earlier this week after the Packers decided to go with Vince Young as their backup quarterback. The 28-year-old Harrell went unclaimed on waivers Tuesday and the Jets signed him.

Sanchez is recovering from a bruised shoulder suffered in the fourth quarter of last week's 24-21 preseason victory over the New York Giants and will not play in Thursday's preseason finale against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Rookie Geno Smith has battled Sanchez for the starting job in training camp but has struggled and has been slowed by an ankle injury. The Jets will hold Smith out of the last preseason game mindful of what happened to Sanchez.

The Jets also have Greg McElroy and Matt Simms as backups. Simms will start Thursday against the Eagles in the last preseason tune up, the New York Post reported.

Harrell, 28, was with the Packers for the past three seasons and backed up Aaron Rodgers. The former Texas Tech quarterback threw only four passes last season but is familiar with the West Coast schemes that Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg runs.

---The big Joe Flacco banners placed in Denver by the NFL to promote the season opener are not going over well with Broncos fans.

The large banners featuring the Ravens quarterback are part of the league's marketing campaign for its "Kickoff" game. The defending Super Bowl champion Ravens play the Broncos in Denver next Thursday to begin the 2013 regular-season schedule. The Broncos were eliminated in the AFC playoffs last season by the Ravens.

One of the Flacco banners is displayed next to a similar one of Broncos quarterback Payton Manning.

A large Flacco banner is displayed on Sports Authority Field and several smaller ones hang in downtown Denver.

Some Broncos fans have started an online petition to have the Flacco banners removed.

---Linebacker Aaron Curry announced his retirement from the NFL on Wednesday via Twitter.

Curry, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks, was cut by the New York Giants on Sunday as the team reduced its roster to 75 players. He had two tackles in three preseason games.

The 27-year-old Curry was considered a can't-miss prospect when he came out of Wake Forest, but he never lived up to that billing.

Curry played in 35 games for the Seahawks before he was traded to the Oakland Raiders in 2011 for a seventh-round draft pick. In Oakland, he started nine games in 2011 and had a career-high 80 tackles. But he played in just two games last season after battling a knee injury. He was cut in November.

---The Jacksonville Jaguars announced they have signed cornerback Will Blackmon and waived defensive back Marcus Burley.

Blackmon was out of the NFL in 2012 while recovering from a knee injury. He was waived by the Seahawks on Tuesday after spending the 2013 preseason in Seattle.

The 28-year-old Blackmon began his career in Green Bay as a fourth-round draft pick in 2006 and played in 32 games, including two starts, in four seasons with the Packers. He signed as a free agent with the New York Giants during the 2010 season.

In 43 NFL games, Blackmon has 21 tackles, five fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles. He also has returned punts (9.5-yard average) and kickoffs (20.7 yards per return).

Burley was an undrafted free agent from Delaware.

---Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall is taking a four-day excused leave from the team.

Marshall will miss the Bears' preseason finale on Thursday against the Cleveland Browns. He will return to the team Sunday and practice Monday, coach Marc Trestman said.

On Tuesday, Marshall had expressed his frustration with his recovery from offseason hip surgery. But Trestman declined to say whether the absence was related to Marshall's health.

Marshall said earlier this week he thought the Bears might be asking him to do too much in preparation for the season opener against Cincinnati on Sept. 8.

Marshall has had three hip surgeries since 2009, including the latest in January, and was cleared for training camp after sitting out most of the offseason.

Last season, Marshall set a Bears record for receptions with 118 in his first year with the team.

---The wife of Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Lawrence Tynes disputed coach Greg Schiano's assessment that her husband is responding well to treatment for a serious staph infection.

"I hear my husband is responding "well" to treatment. LOL! He's NOT responding at all yet. This is our #bucslife," Amanda Tynes said in Twitter while posting a photo of her husband with an IV in an arm.

Tynes and Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks both are being treated for MRSA, a bacterial strain that is resistant to antibiotics. The Buccaneers treated their training facility last week to prevent a further outbreak of the infection.

Tynes, a 10-year veteran who has kicked for the Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Giants, underwent surgery last week to scrape an infected toe and bone that doctors originally diagnosed as an ingrown toenail. With his return uncertain, the Buccaneers signed kicker Rian Lindell. As a result, Tynes' job could be in jeopardy.

NFL.com reported that Nicks is out for the rest of the preseason and doubtful for the regular-season opener.
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