The Steelers bolstered their injury-plagued backfield Friday, acquiring running back Felix Jones from Philadelphia for linebacker Adrian Robinson. The deal is pending each player passing a physical.
The 26-year-old Jones gives the Steelers needed depth at running back. Rookie Le'Veon Bell is has a sprained right foot and is out indefinitely. Isaac Redman is dealing with a nerve injury and return specialist LaRod Stephens-Howling sat out last Monday’s exhibition game against Washington with a sprained knee.
Jones was the 22d overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft by the Cowboys, but never stayed healthy enough to become a feature back. He has rushed for 2,728 yards and 11 touchdowns in 64 games.
Jones’s versatility gives Pittsburgh options if Stephens-Howling remains limited. The former Arkansas star, considered one of the fastest players in the league when healthy, has worked part-time as a return specialist throughout his career.
It’s unlikely the Steelers consider Jones a short-term replacement for Bell, who sprained his foot against the Redskins. Bell said Thursday he is optimistic he'll return quickly and coach Mike Tomlin called early developments in Bell’s rehab encouraging.
Robinson made the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent last season, appearing in 12 games.
ESPN ends affiliation
ESPN ended its collaboration with PBS on an investigation of the NFL and players’ head injuries as public TV producers expressed surprise over the abrupt collapse of the 15-month partnership.
ESPN said its decision was based on a lack of editorial control over ‘‘League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis,’’ airing in October on PBS’ ‘‘Frontline’’ public affairs series. At ESPN’s request, its logo was being removed from websites related to the project and from the film itself.
‘‘Because ESPN is neither producing nor exercising editorial control over the ‘Frontline’ documentaries, there will be no co-branding involving ESPN on the documentaries or their marketing materials,’’ ESPN said in a statement. ‘‘The use of ESPN’s marks could incorrectly imply that we have editorial control.’’
The NFL denied a New York Times report that it had pressured ESPN to drop out of the project. The sports network has a lucrative contract to carry league games on ‘‘Monday Night Football.’’ ESPN denied that the NFL had any influence.
Raney Aronson, ‘‘Frontline’’ deputy executive producer, said she and others at ‘‘Frontline’’ were taken aback by ESPN’s decision and that they weren’t privy to details of why it was made.
Jets activate Holmes
Santonio Holmes was moved to the Jets’ active roster from the physically unable to perform list, a promising sign that he could be ready for the start of the regular season. The move means Holmes has been cleared by team doctors to practice and has passed his physical. The wide receiver is not expected to play in the team’s exhibition game against the Giants on Saturday night. Holmes has been sidelined since last September with a Lisfranc injury in his left foot. On Wednesday, Holmes said his foot bothers him every day when he wakes up and ‘‘this pain doesn’t go away.’’ The Jets also signed offensive tackle Jason Smith, the 2009 No. 2 overall pick who spent last season with the team. The lineman was waived by New Orleans on Wednesday . . . Houston coach Gary Kubiak said the NFL has upheld defensive end Antonio Smith’s appeal of a three-game suspension. Smith was suspended Wednesday for the last two preseason games and the season opener for hitting Miami guard Richie Incognito with the Dolphins player’s helmet . . . Christine Michael ran for 97 yards and a TD in the Seahawks’ 17-10 preseason victory over the host Packers.
Redskins QBs to sit
Redskins quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins will not suit up against the Bills on Saturday night. Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel also will not play. Griffin is making his way back from major knee surgery, but isn’t ready for game action. Cousins sprained his foot in Washington’s exhibition game Monday night against the Steelers. Manuel is nursing an injured knee . . . The public authority overseeing construction of a new Vikings stadium warned that the opening could be delayed if the team doesn’t quickly resume negotiations on lease and development agreements. Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen said the team unexpectedly broke off negotiations a day earlier, saying it wanted to wait until a review was completed on its ability to finance its $477 million share of the nearly billion-dollar stadium