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HOUSTON — After the Houston Texans‘ nine-week offseason program, Deshaun Watson is right where he wants to be as he rehabs from a torn right ACL.

The second-year quarterback said Wednesday that he has met or surpassed the physical goals he set at the beginning of the Texans’ organized team activities in mid-April.

“The knee is doing good,” Watson said. “I’m able to do some things on the field with the team, physical-wise. For the nine-week goal that we put in from the beginning, I’m pretty much where I want to be. I’m kinda past it inside in the weight room, mentally, and also on the field. So everything’s going smoothly right now.”

Watson had surgery on his right ACL just seven months ago after he tore it in an early November practice. At the beginning of the on-field portion of OTAs that began at the end of May, Watson took the field with his teammates for the first time since his surgery.

One of the steps forward Watson was able to take this spring was practicing without a brace on his right knee, which he did this week for the first time in the practices that have been open to the media.

Watson said “it’s cool” to have surpassed his initial offseason goals, but his mindset is to never be satisfied with where he is.

“I feel like I can be better and will get better,” Watson said. “But like you said, those nine weeks, I’ve gained a lot on and off the field — mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually — and being able to take my game, and just me as a person, to another level.”

Watson was having a historic rookie campaign before his season-ending injury and was on pace to shatter the NFL record for passing touchdowns by a rookie quarterback (26). At the time of his injury, Watson was tied for the NFL lead with 19 touchdown passes. In seven games, Watson threw for 1,699 yards and eight interceptions.

This spring, Watson has participated in seven-on-seven drills but has sat out the Texans’ team drills involving players rushing the passer. Watson has said all offseason that he expects to be ready to go at full strength by training camp and be the starting quarterback for the Texans’ season-opener against the New England Patriots on Sept. 9.

Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said even though Watson is ahead of schedule, he and the coaching staff will make sure they’re being “intelligent” with the way they ease the young quarterback back in this summer.

“You can’t throw the kitchen sink at him when he comes back — just thinking that all of a sudden, snap a finger and he’s back to full go,” O’Brien said. “I think we’ll have a really good plan for how many reps he gets relative to practice, relative to the preseason games. We’re gonna talk a lot about that over the next couple of days here as a staff with everybody — with [general manager] Brian Gaine and our medical staff, everybody.

“But I do feel that — when it comes from a mental standpoint, I feel really good about what we’re gonna be able to throw at him from a playbook standpoint.”

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Attorney for Colin Kaepernick sees Panthers, Patriots as potential landing spots for QB

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The attorney for Colin Kaepernick said in an interview with CNN on Saturday night that the quarterback still “absolutely wants to play” in the NFL, and projected the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots as two of the best landing spots for him.

Mark Geragos spoke with CNN a day after Kaepernick and Eric Reid reached a settlement with the NFL concerning their collusion grievances against the league.

Geragos said he spoke with Kaepernick on Saturday about his desire to play.

“I think you’re going to see … within the next two weeks that somebody is going to step up and do the right thing, and you want me to predict who?” Geragos told ESPN. “Besides the Panthers, it would not surprise me if [Patriots owner] Bob Kraft makes a move.”

Geragos called the Panthers a “natural place” for Kaepernick to be, especially if quarterback Cam Newton struggles to return from offseason arthroscopic shoulder surgery. Joining the Panthers also would reunite Kaepernick with Reid, his former teammate with the San Francisco 49ers who joined him in kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustice.

Kaepernick filed a grievance in October 2017 under the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, alleging collusion against signing him to an NFL contract. The settlement the sides reached includes a confidentiality agreement that prevents either side from commenting further.

As such, Geragos told CNN that he couldn’t comment on anything about the settlement.

This isn’t the first time Geragos has mentioned the Patriots as a possibility for the 31-year-old Kaepernick. Kraft’s reputation as a bridge-builder in NFL circles could be the impetus for that, as well as 41-year-old quarterback Tom Brady having said publicly that his goal is to play until he’s 45, which means the club will be searching for a successor in the coming years.

But the Patriots appear to be a long shot for Kaepernick, as they already have a veteran backup in 32-year-old Brian Hoyer, one of Brady’s closest friends. The team also selected quarterback Danny Etling in the seventh round of the 2018 draft, and could potentially select another quarterback this year.

Geragos also said on CNN that he wouldn’t be surprised if one of the Patriots’ former coaches “makes a move” for Kaepernick.

He didn’t specify which team. Former Patriots defensive play-caller Brian Flores is now coach of the Miami Dolphins, while former New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is coach of the Detroit Lions and former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien is coach of the Houston Texans.

“He wants to compete at the highest level,” Geragos said of Kaepernick. “This is a competitive young man.”

Kaepernick has not been with an NFL team since severing his contract with the 49ers in March 2017. Reid, who played for the 49ers from 2013 to 2017, signed with the Panthers before the team’s fourth game of the 2018 season and received a three-year deal earlier this week worth more than $22 million.

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Antonio Brown addresses trade request with fans on Twitter

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PITTSBURGH — Antonio Brown is done being silent.

The Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro took Twitter questions from fans Saturday, and his answers revealed frustrations with the organization that have resulted in a formal trade request.

Brown told fans he would hold a 10-question #AskAB session to reveal the truth, and the first question was about his relationship with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He didn’t hold back.

Sources told ESPN in January that Brown was tired of being the scapegoat for the Steelers’ problems and was privately upset that Roethlisberger called out his route-running after a Week 12 loss to the Denver Broncos. Roethlisberger said after the season he considers Brown a friend and wanted him to return to the team.

Brown addressed what happened in Week 17, when the receiver frustrated the organization for missing a Saturday walk-through. He also “went off” in a team setting earlier in the week, a source said.

Brown first requested a trade in late January and issued a social media video Tuesday thanking fans for nine years in Pittsburgh.

The 30-year-old All-Pro is scheduled to meet with team president Art Rooney II next week, a source confirmed to ESPN. Rooney told local media last month he wanted to hear directly from Brown.

Brown owns the NFL record for most consecutive 100-catch seasons with six. Trading him would cost the Steelers $21.12 million in dead money, which would be offset by $22.165 million in cap savings. He is owed a $2.5 million roster bonus on March 17.

Asked about any chance he stays with the team, Brown tweeted: “Love Steelers Nation everything to my heart ❤️ no more !”



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Dolphins adding Reggie McKenzie as senior exec

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The Miami Dolphins are hiring former Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie as senior personnel executive, a league source told ESPN.

It’s unclear what McKenzie’s official title will be, but he will have notable influence helping general manager Chris Grier rebuild the Dolphins into a contender.

It wasn’t too long ago that McKenzie was considered one of the NFL’s top general managers. He won the Pro Football Writers of America Executive of the Year award in 2016 while playing a significant role in lifting the Oakland Raiders from 3-13 in 2014 to 12-4 in 2016.

McKenzie was fired by the Raiders in October after new Oakland coach Jon Gruden took a bigger role in football operation decisions.

The Dolphins hired former Buffalo Bills national scout Marvin Allen as assistant general manager earlier this offseason along with a number of internal promotions.

Grier was promoted to oversee football operations after the 2018 regular season when coach Adam Gase was fired and former executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum was reassigned.

McKenzie will help Grier and new coach Brian Flores steer the Dolphins out of mediocrity. Miami has finished between 6-10 and 10-6 in each of its last 10 seasons, and owner Stephen Ross has made it clear he wants that to change beginning in 2019.

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