In case you’re wondering … Case Keenum, not Jared Goff, is still the Rams’ QB

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Yes, Los Angeles Rams coach Jeff Fisher was asked Monday about replacing Case Keenum with Jared Goff at quarterback.

Yes, Keenum remains his guy.

“I don’t want to be a broken record here,” Fisher said of Goff, “but we’re going to play him when he’s ready.”

Goff, taken No. 1 overall in the 2016 draft, was promoted from an inactive third-stringer to the Rams’ primary backup Sunday and watched from the sideline as his team snuck out a 9-3 win over the division-rival Seattle Seahawks in front of more than 91,000 fans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It was the first regular-season NFL game there since Christmas Eve of 1994.

Fisher called it “a great experience” for Goff.

“He loved it,” said the coach. “I talked to him this morning. I said, ‘This is going to be your home for a long time.’ He was excited about that.”

Keenum, who had struggled in Week 1, played better on Sunday, going 18 of 30 for 239 yards without committing a turnover. But the Rams remain the only NFL team that has yet to score a touchdown, and Keenum’s QBR through the first two weeks (20.7) was easily the worst among the 31 qualifying quarterbacks when Monday began.

By the end of Week 3, as many as four quarterbacks drafted after Goff will have started an NFL game. Carson Wentz of the Philadelphia Eagles (second overall) and Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys (135th) have started each of the first two games. Cody Kessler (93rd) is expected to start for the Cleveland Browns next weekend, with Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown both dealing with shoulder injuries. And Jacoby Brissett (91st) could start for the New England Patriots Thursday now that their backup, Jimmy Garoppolo, has suffered a sprained AC joint.

To be fair, three of the aforementioned names will have become the main guy under center because of injuries to a starter. The other, Wentz, was named the starter after the trade of Sam Bradford and has played brilliantly, completing 61 percent of his passes for 468 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Broncos extend Emmanuel Sanders’ contract through 2019

The Denver Broncos on Wednesday agreed to a three-year extension with wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

Terms were not disclosed, but a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Sanders’ contract is worth $33 million, with $27 million fully guaranteed.

We’ve crunched the numbers using our projections of Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings, which account for general statistical trends and specific personnel changes. The numbers here come from an updated set of projections that account for preseason injuries and suspensions. For major injuries that don’t have a definite timetable, we assumed Tony Romo would be back by Week 12 with a 50 percent chance of returning between Week 8 and Week 11, and we assumed Justin Houston would return to the Kansas City Chiefs sometime between Week 7 and Week 10.

Of course, the strongest projected schedule for 2016 is only about half as strong as the hardest schedule from 2015, because our team projections are naturally conservative. Going into a new season, no team is guaranteed to be as good as last year’s best team or as bad as last year’s worst team.

Here are all 32 teams ranked in order from the hardest projected schedule to the easiest. You can read the full file or skip directly to your team using the links below.

This is what happens when you play in a division with the two of the best teams in the NFL. In fact, Seattle and Arizona are the two best teams going into 2016, according to our projections, and the Rams are about average. It doesn’t help that the two teams the 49ers play by virtue of finishing last in 2015, Dallas and Chicago, are both expected to improve this season. At least the 49ers’ game against the Cowboys comes in Week 4, long before Tony Romo has any hope of returning.

“It’s why we drafted him where we drafted him,” he said. “It’s why we [traded for] DeMarco. DeMarco is as good as I thought he was, too. So we’re pretty fortunate. Nobody’s shown that they are not capable of being pretty darn good for us.”

The Titans don’t plan to designate anyone as the third-down back, and feel comfortable with either player being on the field when he is more likely to be asked to block or run a route.

Trevor Siemian wasn’t handed QB job, he won it

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Trevor Siemian is the Denver Broncos starting quarterback. Some may be surprised by that, but let it be known Chris Harris Jr. tried to warn you.

In late May, the Broncos’ Pro Bowl cornerback strolled off the practice field and dropped this little bit of foreshadowing: “Trevor has a maturity to him. He’s kind of the sleeper, I would say. Of course Mark [Sanchez] and Paxton [Lynch] are going to be the headlines, but Trevor knows the offense. He’s very comfortable and can throw the ball, too. We’ve also seen him make big plays in the preseason games under the lights. I wouldn’t sleep on Trevor to win the job.’’

Well, hello Football America, because Siemian has won the job. Broncos coach Gary Kubiak made the announcement in a team meeting Monday morning that Siemian would start Sept. 8 against the Carolina Panthers.

“I’ve always got the itch to play,’’ he said. “I don’t like sitting out too long.

“It was tough just because I love my teammates. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. They were a part of me during the whole struggle [with cancer]. It was definitely hard not to be here and let alone [not] practice but just [not] being around them on a daily basis. That was kind of tough for me.’’

Harbaugh coached Kaepernick in San Francisco for four seasons before leaving for the Michigan job last year. Harbaugh benched Alex Smith in favor of Kaepernick in 2012, giving Kaepernick an opportunity to rise to a higher profile in the NFL.

Harbaugh’s brother — Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh — said Monday that he respected Kaepernick’s right to protest, even if he doesn’t agree with how he’s doing it.

“Voltaire so eloquently stated, ‘I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend it until death your right to say it,'” John Harbaugh said. “That’s a principle that our country is founded on. I don’t think you cannot deny someone the right to speak out or mock or make fun or belittle anybody else’s opinion.”

John Harbaugh, however, said it’s a fine line between standing up for what you believe in and not becoming a distraction to the team. He tells his players that you have to make sure you believe what you say publicly because you have to own it.

Jared Goff gets the hype, but Case Keenum remains Rams’ starter

IRVINE, Calif. — It was Thursday, which meant it was Jared Goff’s day to take questions from the assembled media. That’s how it has been every week since the start of training camp. Goff, the backup quarterback, has his own day to speak. Case Keenum, the starting quarterback, talks whenever somebody asks for him.

Keenum was asked if he currently feels like the starting quarterback.

“Yeah,” he said, “I do.”

And why is that?

“Because I am,” Keenum said. “And that’s the way I’m going to treat it. And even if I’m not, that’s how I’m going to treat it. To be ready to go. In my own mind. Maybe not in everybody else’s mind, but I’ve treated it like that ever since I was a kid.”

Based on this picture, it looks like the converted Navy quarterback is on the verge of sliding off the roster bubble. The Baltimore Ravens see it differently.

Coaches are raving about Reynolds’ aggressiveness on coverage teams, his work ethic, and his athletic skills.

“He is America’s finest in my view,” special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said. “You see him in the meetings, see him on the field. He is doing everything he can to get good at a lot of things, and we are practicing him at a lot of places. He has to find a place, and we have to find a place for him in the games. He is ready to roll.”

Reynolds was one of the most decorated players in Navy history as a triple-option quarterback, finishing as the FBS all-time leader in total touchdowns and winning more games than any other quarterback in school history. The Ravens were elated to draft him in the sixth round with the intention of switching him to a wide receiver and returner.

In two preseason games, Reynolds has struggled to get separation and has had only one pass thrown in his direction. He acknowledged the process has been “humbling.”

“This is the highest level and this is the best players in the world,” Reynolds said. “It’s definitely difficult no matter if you’ve been playing receiver position your whole life or a few months. I think I’ve gotten better throughout offseason workouts and [training] camp. I will continue to build on that.”

As a returner, Reynolds has had his troubles fielding punts. It seemed like he had one drop a day in training camp, and he has yet to return a punt in a preseason game (one fair catch). The Ravens didn’t give one opportunity to Reynolds for a punt return in last week’s preseason game.

Carroll has talked about Rawls and Michael forming a one-two punch. It’s unclear whether Rawls will see any action in the final preseason game next week against Oakland, but he’ll be ready to go when the season starts Sept. 11 against Miami.

Michael, meanwhile, has put himself in position to fill a complementary role. And if Rawls suffers a setback or a different injury, Michael will be the primary ball-carrier.

“A one-two punch sounds great,” Michael said. “I’m here to help contribute, help contribute to Thomas, Russell [Wilson], this offense. Just try to fit in.”

Carroll was asked when he realized that Michael appeared to be a changed man.

“I think we’re still learning,” Carroll said. “We’re watching him. This is about consistency now. It’s about the long haul and all of that.

“The first time we talked when he came back to us, we talked to him in John [Schneider’s] office, greeting him back and all that, and he was very humbled by what had happened. He had the signs of a guy who wanted to see if he could turn this thing around, and that’s where our conversation started. We’ve only thought of that and spoken to him in that manner and expected him to make this turn in hopes that he would, and he’s done a great job.”

Even though Wilson led the NFL in passer rating last season, Carroll still wants the run game to shape the Seahawks’ offensive identity. And with the opener a little more than two weeks away, it looks like Michael will join Rawls as the backs to carry the torch from Lynch.

“This drill busts his butt every time,” Cooper said, “because he doesn’t run like this. He’s used to running a certain way, so this gets him out of it. That’s why this is so dynamic: It makes an old dog have to learn new tricks.”

Ravens WR Breshad Perriman drops 4 pounds by cutting off dreadlocks

Perriman, who returned to practice Tuesday and expects to play in the regular-season opener, likes his new haircut. In fact, he has just one complaint.

“It just gets cold sometimes,” he said with a smile.

Ever since the Cowboys drafted Elliott in April with the fourth overall pick, the expectations have been as high as those for Michael Phelps at the Olympics. Whatever the equivalent is to five gold medals on the football field, that’s what Elliott has to do as a rookie running back.

It’s not fair, but that’s part of the price of being picked so high and placed in an offense with quarterback Tony Romo, Bryant, tight end Jason Witten and the best line in football.

Elliott’s introduction has been largely low-key. On Aug. 2, he was unable to finish practice because of a sore hamstring. He missed the next eight practices in Oxnard, California, and did not play in the Cowboys’ first two preseason games.

Davis’ injury adds to a secondary that is dealing with a number of setbacks. Patrick Robinson, who is expected to start with Davis, has a groin injury. Nickel cornerback Darius Butler is working his way back from a hamstring injury.

Pagano described his current cornerback situation as being “scary.”

The biggest source of frustration during the first events at the stadium was with the entry and exit from the stadium, as most fans filed through the pivoting glass doors on the stadium’s west side, creating bottlenecks going to and from the light rail platform. The Vikings estimate 75 percent of fans will enter the stadium through the glass doors during its first season, and there’s little doubt the must-take-selfie-at-new-stadium impulse had a hand in clogging the lines as fans got their first taste of the new venue.

During his weekly interview on sports radio WEEI, Belichick didn’t specify when Brady would return, saying it would be when his personal situation “clears up.”

Comcast SportsNet first reported that Brady had an excused absence.

Brady also had an excused absence from the team’s first preseason game on Aug. 11 against the New Orleans Saints as the team said he was attending memorial services for a family member.

Pete Carroll excited about Thomas Rawls, Christine Michael one-two punch

The Seahawks drafted Prosise with the intention of having him be the third-down back, but Prosise has not practiced since injuring his hamstring on the first day of training camp. Fifth-round pick Alex Collins should also make the roster. He carried just three times for 5 yards Saturday, but one was a botched zone-read attempt where he didn’t have a chance.

In 2014, when Marshawn Lynch was healthy, he accounted for 72 percent (280 carries) of the attempts by Seahawks running backs. In 2013, that number was 74.9 percent (301 carries).

But with the variables in play now, it’s possible that the Seahawks don’t give as heavy a workload to their lead back. Rawls was great last season, totaling 830 yards and averaging 5.65 YPC, but he has to prove he’s the same guy physically as he comes off offseason ankle surgery.

And Michael has to continue to prove to the coaches that he’s had an awakening.

The Seahawks traded Michael to the Dallas Cowboys for a seventh-round pick last September, but he was released in November. Michael landed on the Washington Redskins’ practice squad before returning to the Seahawks down the stretch. Plenty can change between now and the opener, but Michael appears to have put himself in position to have a role in the backfield in 2016.

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Tony Richardson played with Darrelle Revis at the height of the cornerback’s dominance — 2008 to 2010, when “Revis Island” first appeared on the NFL map. In Richardson’s mind, it’ll be Revis Island 2.0 in 2016.

Richardson, a former New York Jets team captain, believes Revis — fueled by skeptics — is approaching the season with a massive chip on his shoulder.

“There’s been some chiming and chatting about how he’s too old, about how he’s lost a step,” Richardson said Sunday. “I think he hears it. I know what kind of competitor he is, and I think he’s going to have a really good year. I think the rest of the guys on the defense will feed off the kind of year he’s going to have.”

Richardson was one of 40-plus former Jets who attended the team’s annual alumni weekend. On Sunday, many of them watched practice from the sideline, mingling with the current players. Richardson, one of the most respected players on the 2009 and 2010 teams that reached the AFC Championship Game, sought out Revis and they talked. He immediately detected a laser focus.

“I took a picture with him at practice, and I could tell by the look in his eyes,” Richardson said. “He was in a different place, a different mode.”

Alex Boone and Terrelle Pryor: Ohio State teammates, but not exactly friends

“Unfortunately I had Terrelle Pryor, too,” Boone said. “I could not stand any minute with him.

“The kid was so arrogant at the time. I hated everything about him.”

On Monday, reporters brought up Boone’s comments to Pryor, who seemed surprised to hear how Boone felt about him.

“I heard about that. I don’t know where that came from. I don’t know,” Pryor said. “You know, when you’re young, and you guys know this, all of us — when you’re young, you’re different. You act different. Your mind’s wired completely different. I’m 18 years old meeting this guy. I wish him well and that’s all I’ve got to say.”

Boone admitted in his interview that as a younger player he was very immature and almost lost his career to a drinking problem.

While Pryor did his best to take the high road, Boone’s needling of his former teammate didn’t end with “I hated everything about him”; he also asked the show hosts – twice – if Pryor still plays in the NFL.

Yikes.

“I think he’s getting closer each and every day,” Jackson said.

When he does, though, Gordon will need to lose weight.

His college coach Art Briles noticed it last week when he visited Cleveland Browns training camp, and his coach with the Browns acknowledges it.

“He’ll be the first to tell you that,” Jackson said. “He does, and we’re working through that process too.”

Numbers on pounds or kilograms were not provided, but Gordon clearly is not where Jackson wants him. It’s not a reason for alarm, merely a reality.

Chicago Bears

The Bears will continue to monitor Alshon Jeffery’s progress Tuesday following the receiver’s limited return to practice Monday. Dressed in full pads, Jeffery did not participate in any team or individual drills but rather worked exclusively on a side field. Still, Jeffery’s limited participation is a good sign the wideout’s mild hamstring injury is improving. Jeffery is not expected to play in Thursday’s exhibition opener against the defending Super Bowl champion Broncos, but he could be cleared to practice in the near future. The Bears will also keep close eyes on receiver Eddie Royal and tight end Zach Miller, who are both sidelined with concussions. — Jeff Dickerson

Former Broncos RB Montee Ball sentenced to jail time

Ball was sentenced in Madison, Wis., where he was a star for the University of Wisconsin. He finished his college career as the FBS all-time leader in touchdowns.

“I know that you’ve received trophies and scholarships for pounding people on the gridiron,” Dane County Circuit judge William E. Hanrahan said in sentencing Ball, according to the Journal Sentinel. “But you have crossed the line. You’ve earned nothing but condemnation and scorn here for your actions.

“There is a difference between hitting big guys in helmets and protective gear and throwing around frail, young women that are vulnerable and depend on you.”

Ball was a second-round pick in 2013 and was set to start for the Broncos in 2014. But injuries, including an emergency appendectomy, limited him to five games that season. He was cut at the end of the 2015 preseason and didn’t play an NFL regular-season game last season. Given his legal problems, it’s doubtful he ever resurfaces in the NFL.

Tom Brady’s decision to end his personal fight in the Deflategate saga was made simply to help everyone move forward.

That’s the point Brady stressed Friday when speaking to the media for the first time since deciding not to pursue further legal action in the appeal of his NFL-imposed four-game suspension.

“It’s just personal, and I’ve tried to move on from it,” Brady said Friday of his choice. “I try to focus on the positive, being here with my teammates and getting better. You don’t want to go out and do anything but try to be a great example for your teammates and we’ve got al ot of competitive guys that have been out here on the practice field, and I think that’s where the focus needs to be.”

Brady will be exiled away from the team over the first month of the season while serving his suspension, but he isn’t too concerned about how he’ll spend his time, instead focusing on preparing his teammates for life without him under center.

Seattle Seahawks

1 to 10 percent: Jimmy Graham suffered a ruptured patella last season, an injury that holds the league’s worst rate of long-term recovery. The injury has seemed to sap the athleticism of similarly scarred players. Graham’s outlook has drastically changed over the past two years; he has gone from the prime of his career as the focal point of the Saints’ offense to a question mark as just another part of the Seattle offense. … Bobby Wagner might benefit from playing on a legendarily successful defense, or the success of others might cause voters to punish Seattle’s middle linebacker. At this point, I’m not sure whether either is fair. … Michael Bennett finally got his due as a Pro Bowler in 2015, but he turns 31 this year. His four-year breakout run hasn’t been a historically notable peak, and Bennett won’t have a long enough career to accumulate huge counting stats.

Russell Wilson could lose it overnight — Colin Kaepernick seemed to — but he’s only getting better. He laid the running game arguments to rest last year, with Seattle’s attack only kicking into high gear after Marshawn Lynch was injured and the Seahawks moved to more of a pass-friendly attack. It’s far easier to imagine situations in which he keeps it up and makes the Hall of Fame than ones in which he slips and struggles to achieve greatness. 85 percent

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman could go from fifth-round pick to the Hall of Fame. Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Richard Sherman had four Pro Bowls and three first-team All-Pro awards in his back pocket before turning 28. He produces counting stats, having accumulated eight picks in consecutive seasons, and he has that legendary moment of picking off Kaepernick on the “sorry receiver” play in the NFC Championship Game. It would take a career-ending injury or a Nnamdi Asomugha-in-Philadelphia-esque sudden drop-off in play for Sherman to miss out on enshrinement. 90 percent

Earl Thomas is just that much better, having five Pro Bowls and three first-team All-Pro awards before turning 27. The competition at safety isn’t quite as intense as it is at cornerback, and Thomas is quietly more essential to what Seattle has done on defense in years past. It’s a good competition to have, and it’s the third guy on the Seattle roster who is all but guaranteed to make the Hall of Fame.

Adrian Peterson on aging: ‘My end is going to be better than my beginning’

Speaking of that final goal, AP is convinced that the Vikes are a legit Super Bowl contender this season. “We are going to have a good chance to win it this year — win everything,” he said. “Sit back and watch. Sit back and watch. You can be like, ‘I thought you guys were at least a couple of years away.’ Nope. You sit back and watch, this year.”

Minnesota finished last season 11-5, good enough to win the NFC North. They lost to the Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs, though. Apparently, adding Alex Boone in free agency, getting back Phil Loadholt and John Sullivan back from injury, and drafting Laquon Treadwell and Mackensie Alexander (among others) in the draft is enough to make Peterson think his team can get over the hump.

Dallas’ best fit: DE Charles Tapper, Oklahoma, No. 101 overall

With Greg Hardy no longer wanted and young edge rushers Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory facing four-game suspensions to start the season, the worst secret in the NFL prior to the 2016 draft was that the Dallas Cowboys needed help at defensive end.

As such, Ohio State’s Joey Bosa was a frequently projected pick for Dallas with the No. 4 overall pick. When the San Diego Chargers pulled the year’s first big surprise by nabbing him one pick earlier, however, the Cowboys opted to fill other positions of concern first, waiting until their fourth selection of the draft to address arguably the biggest hole on the roster with Tapper.

The 6-foot-3, 271 pound Tapper earned All-Big 12 accolades from conference coaches each of the past three years with First Team honors coming after the 2013 and 2015 seasons. He started 38 of 39 games during that time, recording a total of 136 tackles, 26.5 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks, setting career-highs in each category (50-10-7) as a senior.

While some have criticized Tapper’s production at Oklahoma, it is important to note how the Sooners used him. Oklahoma frequently asked Tapper to take on two blockers to create playmaking opportunities for the Sooners’ speedy linebackers rather than allow him to truly pin back his ears and attack. Assuming veteran defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli sticks with the relatively traditional 4-3 alignment he has used in the past, Tapper will likely be given this freedom off the edge, where his exceptionally long arms (34 3/8 inches) and explosive speed (4.56 in the 40-yard dash) could help him prove more of a disruptive presence in the NFL than he was ever was in college.

Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett agrees.

“You could always count on Jerry Jones f–king things up,” the GM said. “That isn’t happening any longer. That’s a Super Bowl-caliber team now.”

OK, “Super Bowl-caliber” might be a bit much — the team is coming off a 4-12 record — but remember, 12 months ago, the Cowboys had finished 12-4, won the NFC East, and beat the Lions in a playoff game. The difference, of course: Dallas was without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant for much of 2015. But both will be healthy for training camp — and if it stays that way, there’s every reason to think the Cowboys will again be in the mix to win their division.

The GM agrees.

“Health is obviously the key for them,” he said. “If Romo can stay healthy, that’s an 11-win team.”

Meanwhile, Stephen, whose fingerprints are all over rebuilding the Cowboys’ offensive line into the league’s best — and who also kept Jerry from drafting Manziel two years ago — is earning respect from his peers.

“He was seen by a lot of people in football as a trust fund baby masquerading as a football guy,” the GM said. “Now he’s just an excellent football guy.”

Jerry Jones agreed. Here’s what he told the Associated Press in 2015.

Dorsett’s role to expand in Colts’ three-WR offense

Along with the coordinator change, the organization’s recent personnel moves dictate an adjustment. With receiving tight end Coby Fleener out of the picture and 2015 first-round draft pick Dorsett healthy, it behooves Chudzinski to take advantage with a three wide-receiver attack.

Around The NFL’s Making the Leap series had already identified Moncrief’s as the NFL’s most likely breakout candidate at wide receiver. The transition to three wide receivers as the base offense should allow Dorsett the opportunity for a featured role in his own right.

Chudzinki recently noted that Dorsett has the ability to be a “big-time playmaker,” a sentiment that was pervasive among the Colts’ offensive coaches last summer.

Don’t let Andrew Luck’s disappointing, injury-ravaged 2015 season obscure this offense’s potential. With Moncrief and Dorsett playing full-time snaps, Luck is fully capable of returning to the 2014 heights which saw him lead the NFL in touchdowns while finishing third in passing yards.

The Cowboys left Big D for Oxnard, Calif. on Thursday in anticipation for the start of training camp, but one notable player wasn’t with them.

Suspended linebacker Rolando McClain was not on the team’s charter to the Golden State, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday. The Cowboys do not yet have an explanation for his absence.

McClain was suspended 10 games in June for violating the NFL’s policy against substances of abuse. He was also suspended four games for violating the same policy to start the 2015 season.

The Vikings have built their organization the right way. Their general manager Rick Spielman has been with the team since 2006. Over the last two years, he’s helped transform the roster to fit coach Mike Zimmer’s feisty personality. They are cresting as a budding NFC superpower just in time to move into their new stadium.