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Brady sees ‘urgency’ in preseason game vs. Eagles

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady thinks his next game against the Philadelphia Eagles is a little like the last time he played them.

The reigning NFL MVP says he’s eager to get back on the field for the first time since the Super Bowl, and his next chance is in Thursday night’s exhibition game against Philadelphia. Brady did not play in the preseason opener against Washington last week.

“We’ve got a big one against the Eagles and we know the challenge they present,” Brady said on Tuesday. “So, (we’re) trying to put a lot into it and see if we can obviously get a lot out of it. You know, it’s a big test. They’re a good team and we’re going to have to play well.”

Philadelphia beat the Patriots 41-33 in February for its first Super Bowl title. The teams will meet again in New England this week, with considerably less on the line.

But you wouldn’t know if from listening to Brady, who said there is urgency even in the second game on the exhibition schedule, because the team needs to line up against an opponent to measure its progress.

“They’re important,” Brady said. “If it was a waste of time, we wouldn’t do it. I think there’s a lot of urgency, and you know we’re not where we need to be, got a lot of work to do and these practices are a part of it, (along with) the opportunities that we get in the game.”

Brady, who turned 41 this month, said he is feeling healthy and planning to play on Thursday night. The decision will be up to coach Bill Belichick.

“I certainly plan on being out there,” Brady said.

Also Tuesday, Brady repeated that his goal is to play “a long time.” He reportedly reached an agreement that could boost his pay this year by $5 million in 2018; he is signed through next season.

“You always have short-term goals and long-term goals, and this year’s the one I’m focused on,” he said. “Obviously, I want to play for a long time, so I’ve said that for a while. Feel like I’m a broken record.”

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STEELERS’ QB ROETHLISBERGER HURT IN PRACTICE

LATROBE, Pa. (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers plan to get a closer look at their two most recent draft picks at quarterback.

Rookie third-round pick Mason Rudolph and Josh Dobbs, Pittsburgh’s fourth-round selection in 2017, will see all of the playing time when the Steelers visit the Green Bay Packers for their second preseason game on Thursday.

“They’re going to play exclusively,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “(We) haven’t detailed the division of labor, but those two guys will be featured.”

On Tuesday, Tomlin ruled out veterans Ben Roethlisberger and Landry Jones for the game. The announcement came before Roethlisberger left Tuesday’s training camp practice with a possible concussion.

“Ben Roethlisberger sustained a hit today in practice,” Tomlin said through a team spokesman after practice. “He is being evaluated as part of the concussion protocol.”

Roethlisberger was face down on the turf, surrounded by his teammates, after throwing a touchdown pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster during a best-of-seven competitive 2-point conversion drill between the offense and defense.

Roethlisberger was helped to his feet and sat on a water cooler with a towel over his head as practice continued. He touched his head several times and eventually walked off the field under his own power with trainers and team doctors.

Right guard Marcus Gilbert said Roethlisberger rolled out and ran into him as he blocked linebacker Keion Adams (Former Salisbury High School star).

“It didn’t look too pretty,” Gilbert said. “But when he got up he seemed to be a little bit better. That’s my guy. I wouldn’t want to see anything happen to him, especially in a practice like this.”

Center Maurkice Pouncey was optimistic about Roethlisberger’s injury.

“No one really saw it, but I think he hit his head,” Pouncey said. “We were all in a nervous situation, but he got up fine, he looked totally good, and he walked off the field.”

Tomlin praised Roethlisberger’s work at training camp Tuesday morning.

“He’s been really sharp, not only in terms of what he does, but just how he’s communicating and helping in aiding the development of some people that are going to work alongside him,” Tomlin said. “It’s been a very positive experience.”

Rudolph and Dobbs both ended practice with touchdown passes during the two-minute drill. Rudolph, the former Oklahoma State star, said he is anxious to see additional playing time on Thursday.

“I’m going to be preparing to play well and execute our plan,” Rudolph said.

•••

CHICAGO BEARS SIGN LB ROQUAN SMITH AFTER HOLDOUT

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bears have signed first-round draft pick Roquan Smith after a holdout by the linebacker over his contract.

A person familiar with the situation said Smith has agreed to a four-year contract that guarantees $18.5 million and includes an $11.5 million signing bonus. The person spoke Monday night on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced. The Bears have not disclosed terms.

Smith was the No. 8 overall selection in April’s draft after starring at Georgia.

Smith is the final pick from this year’s NFL draft class to reach an agreement. He and the Bears disagreed over whether the team would be allowed to take back guaranteed bonus money if he was suspended for disciplinary reasons, including a violation of the league’s new rule preventing players from leading with their helmet.

Smith participated in offseason activities, but has been absent since Chicago reported to camp on July 19 and has missed two preseason games. The Bears visit Denver on Saturday.

Chicago has finished last in the NFC North four straight years and fired coach John Fox and replaced him with Matt Nagy after last season.

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For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.organd http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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