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DE Jordan faces 10-game ban for using Adderall

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Free-agent defensive end Dion Jordan told NFL.com that he is facing a 10-game suspension from the NFL for taking Adderall, a violation of the league’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs.

Jordan, who has been suspended three times in the past, including for an entire season, told NFL.com that he had a therapeutic use exemption to use the drug in the past, but it had expired. His past suspensions were for violations of the substance abuse (twice) and PED policies.

He said Tuesday an arbiter had denied his appeal of the 10-game suspension. Jordan was not disputing the results of his drug tests but was appealing the harshness of the penalty.

“I made a mistake,” Jordan told NFL.com in a telephone interview. “I feel like the person that I am, I’m ready to move forward, I’ve been ready to move forward, with this specific issue. I’ve been working really hard with myself outside of football, and I can see the progress as a young man, as Dion Jordan, I can see it.

“My whole lifestyle — it’s been a 180-degree change. I f—ed up, man. I can’t fix this s—. It is what it is. But I know what I can’t do and what not to do compared to the mistakes I’ve made in the past.”

He told NFL.com that he was aware his therapeutic use exemption had expired when he took Adderall in December and January, hoping it would help him “dial in” while he was dealing with the death of his grandmother, and when his sister, with whom is he is very close and thinks of more like a daughter, had serious personal issues.

Jordan’s agent, Doug Hendrickson, told NFL.com that 8-to-10 teams have expressed interest in signing Jordan. All the teams are aware of his suspension.

Jordan, the third overall pick in 2013, became one of the bigger draft disappointments in recent years when his career never got on track with the Miami Dolphins. He started only one of 26 games during his first two seasons while recording three sacks.

Then he was suspended for the 2015 season after another violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. He had previously been suspended twice in 2014, first for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances and then for a violation of the substance abuse policy. The Dolphins released Jordan after he missed the 2016 season with a knee injury.

He signed a one-year deal with Seattle in 2017 but then had knee surgery and didn’t make his Seahawks debut until November. He recorded four sacks in five games but missed three more with a neck injury. The Seahawks re-signed Jordan to a one-year deal as a restricted free agent. He spent all of last offseason on PUP while recovering from what coach Pete Carroll described as a stress issue in his leg. Jordan also had knee surgery on his other leg earlier in the offseason and has had knee problems dating to his time with the Dolphins, who drafted him third overall in 2013 and waived him last offseason with a failed-physical designation.

Jordan appeared in 17 games and recorded 5.5 sacks over the past two seasons with Seattle.

ESPN’s Brady Henderson contributed to this report.

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Sources — Chargers’ James to miss 3-4 months

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Los Angeles Chargers All-Pro safety Derwin James is expected to be sidelined three to four months, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

James will undergo on the stress fracture of his right foot next week week Dr. Robert Anderson, according to the NFL Network and confirmed by ESPN.

That timetable means James could be back for a playoff push or the postseason.

James suffered a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal of his right foot at practice on Thursday. He was seen with a walking boot on his right foot at his team’s second joint practice with the New Orleans Saints on Friday.

The Florida State product played in all 16 games last season. He led the Chargers in tackles (105) while posting 3.5 sacks, 3 interceptions and 15 pass breakups, earning All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors as a rookie.

James had not missed a training camp practice and played 11 snaps in the Chargers’ opening preseason game last week against the Arizona Cardinals.

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Sources — McCown unretiring to sign with Eagles

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Josh McCown, who announced his retirement this summer to spend more time with his family, is returning to play his 17th NFL season with the Philadelphia Eagles, sources told ESPN.

A source said McCown is signing a one-year deal with the Eagles.

McCown, 40, was planning to be an ESPN analyst this season but had wanted to play and told the network that if the right opportunity came along, he strongly would consider it. Now it has.

He plans to resume his broadcasting career with ESPN after the season, a source said.

The Eagles have lost two quarterbacks this preseason — Cody Kessler to a concussion this week and Nate Sudfeld to a broken bone on his left wrist last week — but Philadelphia was interested in McCown even before then.

Philadelphia will be McCown’s 11th NFL team and first NFC East team. He spent the past two seasons with the New York Jets, going 5-11 as a starter while throwing 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions overall.

The Eagles expect Sudfeld, who received a second-round tender during the offseason, to return this season.

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Behind the scenes of J.J. Watt’s Wisconsin homecoming

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — It’s less than two hours before the Houston Texans‘ preseason opener, and J.J. Watt is continuing his tradition of walking around the stadium and playing catch with kids in the stands.

But this time he’s doing it at Lambeau Field with his parents, Connie and John Watt, standing on the sideline. Watt makes it more than halfway around the stadium when his dad yells: “Hey, J.J., over here.” After faking a hard throw to his dad, Watt smiles and starts to play catch with him.

“We used to play catch in the backyard, pretending I was Brett Favre,” J.J. said. “So to be able to play catch at Lambeau with my dad on the field, it was pretty cool.”

When John thinks back to he and his three sons — J.J., T.J. and Derek — watching the Green Bay Packers together, he smiles. “Back then, I never thought I was going to get a chance like [this],” said John before the Texans-Packers game.

“It’s surreal.”

The Texans played at Lambeau Field in 2016, but three months before the game J.J. had season-ending back surgery. He said it hurt to miss that game, especially because it snowed — exactly the scenario he had dreamt of as a kid.

J.J. made up for it this preseason by spending almost a week in Wisconsin, the place where he not only grew up, but found himself returning to at the highest and lowest points in his life. Watt called his return to Green Bay “a dream come true.”

“I don’t think I’ve fully wrapped my head around what it means and how special it really is to be playing on a practice field where guys like Brett Favre and Reggie White have played,” J.J. said. “There’s not going to be too many days like this in my career. I’m very thankful and grateful that I got to have it.”

For J.J., coming home with the Texans, even though he did not get to play after tweaking his groin during Monday’s practice, was the latest of a series of homecomings that began after he left for Central Michigan in 2007.

First return

Connie Watt remembers sending her oldest son on the ferry across Lake Michigan to start college. She didn’t think he would be homesick, but when J.J. returned to Pewaukee for winter break, she could tell something was weighing on him. Several days before J.J. was supposed to go back for the spring semester, he sat down with his mother.

“He said, ‘I don’t want to go back,'” Connie said. “And I just said, ‘I know, I don’t want you to go back, either.’ I didn’t realize he was meaning, ‘I don’t want to go back and stay back.’ So then I was like, ‘Oh, this is a different conversation.'”

J.J. told his parents he wanted to leave Central Michigan and walk on at the University of Wisconsin.

“It was really hard for me, because I’d always told him, ‘Make your decision and stay there and work hard and do the best you can there,'” John said. “But when he came to us with that proposal, you could see it in his eyes that … his mind was made up.”

J.J. had his mind set on playing for the Badgers since attending his first game at Camp Randall Stadium in 2005. When Watt gave the commencement speech this past May at the very same stadium, he recounted the game in great detail. He says he remembers everything, including when Wisconsin beat Michigan on a last-minute touchdown.

“I thought to myself, ‘This is it. This is my dream,'” Watt said in his commencement speech. “‘This is where I want to be. I’m a Wisconsin Badger.’

“Unfortunately the coaching staff didn’t quite agree. They said I was too small to play tight end here. They didn’t have a scholarship for me.”

Two years later, after J.J. had signed with Central Michigan, Pewaukee High School was playing nearby Catholic Memorial in the state basketball tournament. One of Catholic Memorial’s players, Patrick Butrym, had a scholarship to play on the Badgers’ defensive line.

The principal of Pewaukee at the time, Marty Van Hulle, calls it one of his fondest memories of Watt because that game “exemplified kind of what was in him and what we were going to see down the road.”

“The fans in the stands were chanting, ‘Badger Reject’ every time I went to the free throw line because I didn’t have an offer, and Pat did,” J.J. said. “But I ended that game with like 25 points and 17 rebounds, and we won.”

J.J. enrolled at Wisconsin in 2008 with the chance to earn his scholarship. After making an agreement with his folks, he saved to buy a scooter and pay his own tuition, by delivering pizzas that spring and working maintenance at the very stadium he hoped to play in that summer.

“I was sitting there on my break,” J.J. said, “and I was looking out at the empty field and I thought to myself: Imagine running out of that tunnel. Imagine being on that field wearing that uniform. That is my dream.”

It didn’t take J.J. long to make it happen. Charlie Partridge, then the defensive line coach for the Badgers, said J.J. was so good if it weren’t for NCAA transfer rules, he’d probably have been playing right away. But it took work.

J.J. played tight end at Central Michigan, and although he played on the defensive line in high school, he credits Partridge for teaching him how to play defensive end. J.J. was on the scout team, so every night after Partridge “was done with the starters, after he was done with his coaches’ meetings, long after everybody went home,” the pair sat in his office to go over J.J.’s scout-team tape.

When Partridge left the Badgers’ coaching staff meeting around 9:30 or 10 p.m., he’d see Watt sitting in his office. By then, Watt had already watched most of his film himself. “So then he’d watch it again with me, and we’d pause and play and pause and play and the exact details of where your hands should be,” Partridge said. “There are a few people that come through your career that make you better as a coach. That’s what he did.”

After a fall and winter of putting the work in on the scout team and with Partridge, J.J. had reached his goal.

“He called us and said, ‘Mom and Dad, guess what?'” John said. “‘What did I tell you I was going to do?’ And we said … ‘You must be doing good, you’re going to be in the two-deep or something next year.’ He said, ‘No. I’ve already got a scholarship for next year.’

“He did everything he promised us he would do when he came back.”

Second return

In the fall of 2016, J.J. returned home again, but this time it wasn’t planned. After playing with a broken hand, two torn abdominal muscles, three torn adductor muscles, a staph infection and a herniated disc during the 2015 season, J.J. needed several offseason surgeries.

He made it back on the field to start the 2016 season, but played in three games before needing to have another surgery on his back. As part of his rehab, J.J. was required to walk five miles twice a day. He knew it would be difficult in Houston, so he asked the Texans if he could go back to Wisconsin to recover.

“I remember him talking to the team and me praying, just saying, ‘Please let him come home,'” Connie said. “I knew that mentally it would also be good for him.

“It was just peaceful. … People would say, ‘I saw J.J. walking down this street.’ And they would just honk or wave to him, but nobody bothered him. It was just a respectful thing, knowing he was doing what he had to do.”

J.J. was home, but he still had to deal with missing games. That hadn’t happened during the first five years of his NFL career, when he had not only played, but started, all 16 games.

“It was the first time I’ve known the kid that I saw a little bit of fear,” longtime trainer Brad Arnett said. “A little bit of doubt. [He seemed to be thinking] ‘I don’t know if I can come back from this. I don’t know how I’m going to come back from this.'”

J.J. and his friend Taylor Jannsen went on long walks around Oconomowoc, Waukesha and Pewaukee. Jannsen says they had “real conversations that didn’t revolve around football or sports or anything like that.”

“And it gave him a lot of time to reflect,” Arnett said. “‘Is this really what I want? Is this truly important to me?'”

J.J. later said it was during that time while he was recovering from that second back surgery that he first thought about retirement.

“Everybody had their thoughts during that time,” Jannsen said. “People were saying, ‘Is his career over?’ And I’m sure in a lot of ways, he thought that, too. Whenever you’re back home and you’re with the people that you’ve known forever, it just helps ground you.

“It humbled him to know that his football life maybe has a shorter shelf life than what he thought and this really could end at any time. He kind of remembered what was truly important to him.”

Third return

Last Monday morning, before the Texans began their first joint practice at Ray Nitschke Field, J.J. rode on a small blue bike. And although he broke the seat of the bike and had to switch to a bigger model, J.J. celebrated being able to take part in the tradition of riding a kid’s bike to practice, at the site where he had visited training camp in middle school.

“[I’m] obviously very grateful for the reception and the way that they treat me here and the amount of love and support they’ve shown for me,” J.J. said. “I stood outside of those fences and I watched practice through the fence, and I watched the bikes be ridden, and I stood over by the player’s parking lot and tried to get autographs. It’s a pretty special thing.”

Through all the success Watt has enjoyed on and off the field since being drafted by the Texans in 2011, those around him believe he has always stayed grounded. His roots have remained strong.

“He still remembers all the people that were a part of his life when he started going through this process,” Arnett said. “He’s never forgotten. He’s always included them and I think that’s what makes him so special … is that he never forgets things that happened in his life, and why he got where he’s at and what it’s done for him now.”

John smiles when asked whether he thinks J.J. will live in Wisconsin again after he retires. In 2016, J.J. told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he envisions returning to coach high school football.

“I can’t promise that’s exactly what’s going to happen because my career could go 100 different ways when I’m done playing,” Watt said at the time. “But in my ideal world, the way I see it happening, I see myself coming back to Wisconsin and settling in there.”

Connie says she hopes J.J. and his brothers will all come back to Wisconsin eventually, but points out that she doesn’t know where J.J.’s life will take him now that he’s getting married. Watt’s fiancée, Kealia Ohai, is a forward for the NWSL’s Houston Dash, and because her season overlaps with Watt’s offseason, he hasn’t spent as much time at his house in Oconomowoc as he had in past years.

It’s clear, regardless of where he ends up, coming home to Wisconsin will always be meaningful.

“The state of Wisconsin has always supported me, even since I left,” Watt said. “I always try and do my best to make everybody proud, both back here in Wisconsin and in Houston.

“Everything I’ve ever accomplished in my life has not been by myself. Everything I’ve ever accomplished has been with the help of other people, with the support of other people, with other people believing in me and propping me up.

“I’m very fortunate that I get to play this game and I get to get all these accolades and awards and do these great things, but at the end of the day, it’s so many people behind the scenes that helped make it happen.”

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