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NFL NOTEBOOK

No competition, Jimmy Garoppolo remains San Francisco starting quarterback -- for now

Trey Lance (5) may be the San Francisco 49ers quarterback of the future, but for now incumbent Jimmy Garoppolo (10) will remain the unquestioned starter.Josie Lepe/Associated Press

Jimmy Garoppolo’s future with the San Francisco 49ers immediately became a bit cloudy when the San Francisco 49ers traded up to draft Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick.

Kyle Shanahan did his best to clear things up as the 49ers reported for training camp Tuesday.

“There’s no open competition right now in terms of getting equal reps with the same group,” the coach said. “Jimmy is coming in as the (No.) 1 and Trey is coming in as the 2.”

Shanahan knows it must have been discouraging for Garoppolo to see his team draft a player who is considered his eventual replacement, but he made sure to let the 29-year-old QB know that it’s still his job.

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“Jimmy’s a very good player,” Shanahan said. “And when Jimmy’s at the top of his game, I told him this back when we made the trade: ‘There’s no rookie that’s going to just come in here right away and take your job if you’re at the top of your game.’”

Jimmy Garoppolo is still considered the starter in San Francisco.Josie Lepe/Associated Press

Garoppolo is coming off a difficult season marred by a lingering ankle injury, but he’s also just two years removed from leading San Francisco to a Super Bowl appearance. Healthy again, the veteran impressed coaches and teammates with a strong performance during organized team activities last month.

“Ever since Jimmy’s been here, I think he’s played at a very high level for us, especially practice, the way that he conducts himself on a daily basis,” tight end George Kittle said. “That guy still has full control of the huddle and I know he has the whole team that believes in him.”

Added Shanahan: “He’s our best quarterback in the building right now, so he’ll start out training camp that way and we’ve got three other guys behind him. We’re going to give Trey the first chance, obviously, as the backup.”

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Aaron Rodgers reports to Packers camp

Aaron Rodgers has made it to Green Bay on the eve of the Packers’ first training-camp workout.

Rodgers was seen arriving at Lambeau Field the day after NFL Network and ESPN reported the reigning MVP was closing in on a deal that would keep him with the Packers this season. The Packers later tweeted a photo of Rodgers at Lambeau Field — wearing oversize sunglasses and a novelty T-shirt referencing “The Office.”

The Packers open training camp Wednesday. Under terms of the collective bargaining agreement, Rodgers would have been subject to a $50,000 fine for every day he held out during camp.

Rodgers didn’t participate in organized team activities this spring — a change from his usual offseason routine — and skipped the Packers’ mandatory minicamp.

His future with the Packers had seemed tenuous after ESPN reported in the hours leading up to the draft that he didn’t want to return to Green Bay. Rodgers has spent his entire career with the Packers, who selected him with the 24th overall pick in the 2005 draft.

Xavien Howard reports to Dolphins camp, but now wants trade

Miami Dolphins All-Pro cornerback Xavien Howard reported for the start of training camp to avoid being fined, and then said he doesn’t feel valued or respected by the team and has requested a trade.

Howard skipped mandatory minicamp in June and is unhappy with the $75.25 million, five-year extension he signed two years ago. He decided not to sit out training camp, but posted a statement on social media saying he wants to play elsewhere.

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“I’m not happy, and have requested a trade,” Howard’s statement said. “Until that trade happens I am just here so I don’t get fined, and will handle myself like professionals do.”

Xavien Howard wants out of Miami.Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

Last year, Howard had 10 interceptions, the most in the NFL since 2007. He also led the league with 20 passes defended.

But Miami’s other starting cornerback, Byron Jones, has a bigger contract — an $82.5 million, five-year deal reached last year.

“I signed an extension that I’ll admit I didn’t completely understand or feel comfortable with,” Howard said. “Everyone knows I’ve significantly outperformed that deal. I’m one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. ... Yet, I’m the second highest paid cornerback on my own team, and it’s not even close.”

Howard said he hasn’t asked for a completely new contract, but has made salary cap-friendly proposals such as more guaranteed money.

“The Dolphins refused everything we proposed,” Howard said. “I don’t think the organization has dealt with me in good faith.”

Coach Brian Flores declined to talk about any negotiations or trade possibilities regarding Howard.

Deshaun Watson cleared to practice with Texans

The NFL said that it has no immediate plans to place Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson on paid administrative leave. That leaves Watson eligible to participate in the Texans’ opening practice of training camp scheduled for Wednesday.

“At this time, there are no restrictions on Watson’s participation in club activities,” the league said in a written statement issued through a spokesman.

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Watson, who faces accusations by women of inappropriate sexual conduct made against him in 22 active civil lawsuits, reported to training camp Sunday with other Texans quarterbacks.

The NFL said that its investigation continues. The league did not rule out taking future action against Watson under its personal conduct policy.

What does the future hold for Deshaun Watson?Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

“The NFL’s review of the serious allegations against Deshaun Watson remains ongoing and active,” the league said in the statement. “We are working cooperatively with the Houston Police Department and ensuring that the NFL’s inquiry does not interfere with their investigation. As we continue to gather additional information and monitor law enforcement developments, we will make appropriate decisions consistent with the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Personal Conduct Policy.”

Watson has not been charged with a crime. He and his attorney, Rusty Hardin, have denied the allegations.

It remained unclear whether Watson actually will practice Wednesday. The Texans did not immediately respond to a request for comment following the NFL’s announcement. Watson was not available to comment and his football representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

Vikings shift unvaccinated coach to new role

The Minnesota Vikings said that they were moving veteran offensive line coach Rick Dennison into a new role, citing NFL protocols that prohibit an unvaccinated coach from working in proximity to players.

“Rick is a football coach and he’s got 40 years of experience doing what he’s doing,” Vikings Coach Mike Zimmer said at a news conference of Dennison, whose new title is senior offensive adviser. “And so I felt like it was important that we use him as a resource but we also give him the opportunity to continue to work, you know, with the way the protocols are, that you can’t be around the players in person. But he had so much knowledge and so much experience that I felt like he could be a big help.”

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Patrick Mahomes buys ownership stake in Kansas City MLS team

Patrick Mahomes has become part of MLS club Sporting Kansas City’s ownership group.

The Chiefs quarterback and 2018 NFL MVP had his stake in the soccer team announced Tuesday.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to join Sporting Kansas City’s ownership team and strengthen my connection to the fans and the city I love,” Mahomes said in a statement. “Sporting is a community-oriented club and I am excited to continue supporting the growth of soccer in Kansas City.”

Patrick Mahomes now owns a piece of Kansas City's MLS team.Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Mahomes also is a part owner of baseball’s Kansas City Royals and his fiancée, Brittany Matthews, is a co-owner of the women’s soccer club Kansas City NWSL. In 2019, Mahomes established the 15 and the Mahomies Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of children.

Ron Rivera frustrated with unvaccinated players

Ron Rivera opened Washington’s training camp by expressing frustration about a lack of vaccinations among players, which has caused the cancer survivor to practice extra caution.

Rivera said he believed Washington is now over half the players in camp fully vaccinated. The NFL last week said 80% of players have started the vaccination process and that 27 of 32 teams had at least 70% of players either receive one vaccination shot or both.

Washington is not one of them — actually closer to 60% — and it has caused Rivera to take precautions.

“I’m truly frustrated,” said Rivera, who was treated for skin cancer last year. “I’m beyond frustrated. One of the reasons I walked in with a mask on is I’m immune-deficient, so with this new variant, who knows? So when I’m in a group and the group’s not vaccinated or there’s a mixture, I put the mask on, and I do that for health reasons.”

Washington was one of two teams under 50% vaccinated in mid-July. Offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas was placed on the NFL’s COVID-19 reserve list Tuesday.

The league sent a memo to teams Thursday telling them that an outbreak among nonvaccinated players could lead to forfeits with players on both teams not getting paid.

“It could be a huge, huge disadvantage,” he said, citing Denver’s virus outbreak last season that caused the Broncos to start a rookie receiver at quarterback. “Based on the rules, you’re risking not just your paycheck but other people’s paychecks, too, if there’s no game played. I think that’s something that we all have to think about.”

Sam Darnold sheds mask in Carolina

Sam Darnold wasn’t willing to divulge whether he’s been vaccinated against the coronavirus as the Carolina Panthers reported to training camp.

Instead, Carolina’s new starting quarterback said his focus is on making “smart decisions” on the field as he tries to resurrect his NFL career after going 13-25 in three seasons in New York, prompting the Jets to trade him to the Panthers.

Sam Darnold is ready for the second act of his NFL career with the Panthers.Nell Redmond/Associated Press

“People outside looking in can say there is a lot of pressure on (me) and he’s got to win — and that’s true,” Darnold said. “But at the end of the day it’s me going out and doing everything I can today to get better.”

The 24-year-old Darnold said on a Zoom call last month that he hadn’t been vaccinated, adding that he “still has to think about all those certain things that go into it.”

He did not wear a mask as he stood a few feet from reporters answering questions.

Giants rookie off COVID-19 list, two added

Heading into his second season as coach of the New York Giants, Joe judge went out of his way to point out that this is a new season and a new team after players arrived for training camp.

One thing didn’t change as veterans reported. COVID-19 is still an issue.

The Giants removed first-round draft pick Kadarius Toney from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and added leading tackler Blake Martinez and safety Joshua Kalu to the list.

Toney, a wide receiver from Florida, had tested positive last week after reporting with rookies at the Giants’ team headquarters in East Rutherford, New Jersey.