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SportsColumnistsBob Glauber

NFL hot reads: Brandon Jacobs still missing in action

San Francisco 49ers running back Brandon Jacobs is

San Francisco 49ers running back Brandon Jacobs is helped off the field by coach Jim Harbaugh in the first quarter an NFL preseason game against the Houston Texans. (Aug. 18, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

Jacobs still missing in action

The Giants chose not to re-sign veteran running back Brandon Jacobs, opting instead to draft Virginia Tech running back David Wilson in the first round, a move that will certainly benefit the Giants in the long term. And even the short term, considering how well Wilson has played in the preseason.

Jacobs? He suffered a sprained left knee Aug. 18 and hasn't been back since. There is guarded optimism for his return, though. Jacobs is now off crutches and has resumed some light running. Still no timetable for when he plays again, though. The expectation, however, is that he'll be ready by the time he faces his former team Oct. 14 in San Francisco.


London calling . . . again

Redskins linebacker London Fletcher shows no signs of slowing down at age 37. Getting ready to start his 15th NFL season, Fletcher has a remarkable streak of starting every single game for his last 11 seasons, 179 starts in a row. Among active players with the most consecutive starts, he's second to Bucs defensive back Ronde Barber with 199.

"It never gets old for me," Fletcher said. "I think the beauty of this sport is week to week there's a different challenge in competing against the opponent. That's what keeps you on top of your game, in the film room, doing whatever it takes to compete."

Fletcher said he couldn't have imagined lasting this long when he first got to the NFL with the Rams in 1998.

"Never had any idea in mind about how long I'd play, but I'm grateful to still be playing," he said. "I just keep plugging away."

How much longer will he go?

"As long as I'm still playing well," he said, "I'll just keep playing."


Breakout season for Torrey Smith?

Ravens receiver Torrey Smith had a solid rookie season with 50 catches for 841 yards and seven touchdowns, but the former second-round pick believes those numbers will increase dramatically this season.

"I expect a lot of improvement," he said. "I've seen a lot since last year. I've definitely benefited from having a whole offseason [after last year's lockout], and I'm excited about the season."

Smith struggled early last season, but when he did start catching the ball, he did so with a bang. His first three catches, all against the Rams in Week 3, went for touchdowns.

"I never doubted myself, but it got everybody off my back," Smith said of that game. "I would go on my Twitter page and people would say, 'You're a bust.' I was getting it bad. But after that game, everyone got off me."


Eagles backup race critical

It isn't often that the backup quarterback takes center stage, but when Michael Vick is the starter, who plays behind him could be vitally important. After all, Vick has missed a combined seven starts in his last two seasons, and has started all 16 games only once in his career. His scrambling style leaves him open to injury, although he has promised to slide as often as possible to avoid dangerous hits.

The big surprise to come out of the preseason was rookie Nick Foles, who held off Mike Kafka and Trent Edwards for the No. 2 job. Foles, a third-round pick out of Arizona, had a terrific camp and earned coach Andy Reid's trust early on. Edwards, the former Bills' starter, beat out Kafka for the No. 3 job.

Good work by the Eagles' front office to have a conviction on Foles. He had 14 interceptions at Arizona last season, but played behind an inexperienced offensive line. The Eagles saw through the numbers and projected him higher than most teams, taking him in the third round. It could wind up paying big dividends down the road, especially if Vick succumbs to further injuries.


Money for what?

Just because you invest a ton of money in a quarterback doesn't mean you've made the right decision. The two latest examples: The Cardinals traded for Eagles backup Kevin Kolb last season and gave him a six-year, $65-million contract, with $12 million guaranteed. Kolb struggled with performance and injuries last season, and lost a training camp battle this year with unheralded John Skelton, the former Fordham star who will be the No. 1 quarterback heading into Week 1.

And in Seattle, the Seahawks signed Packers backup Matt Flynn to a three-year, $19-million deal, including $10 million in guaranteed money, in the offseason. Flynn was expected to cruise to the No. 1 job, but it didn't happen. He was outplayed by third-round rookie Russell Wilson and will be the backup.

But Kolb and Flynn ought to be ready just in case. Neither Skelton nor Wilson is assured of remaining the starter, and struggles by either quarterback will see the highly paid backups in the lineup.


Ray Lewis: Baltimore is home

Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has seen other established stars move to different teams during their careers, but he said he could never have done the same. Lewis, 37, is entering his 17th season with the Ravens.

"I would never interrupt my legacy to play anywhere else," Lewis said. "Some people can, but not me. I was bred in Baltimore."


Quick hits

The Jets open at home for only the 15th time in their 53 regular-season openers. They host the Bills on Sept. 9.

The Giants have the hardest schedule (measured by opponents' records in 2011) of any team. Their opponents have a combined .547 winning percentage. The easiest schedule? The Patriots, who faced the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI. New England's opponents had a combined winning percentage of just .453.

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