NFL news roundup: Eagles fight in practice; Mark Sanchez isn't going anywhere

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL regular season kicks off Thursday night, but off-field news dominated the day.

If there are remaining hostilities in the Philadelphia Eagles' locker room towards Riley Cooper, at least one member of the team isn't doing a good job hiding it. A scuffle broke out between Cooper and defensive back Cary Williams following an incomplete pass during the Eagles' practice Thursday. Video of the incident shows Cooper shoving Williams, before the defensive back grabbed Cooper by the facemask and threw several punches. Teammates and coaches broke up the fight, but Williams continued to yell at his teammate.

Cooper became the source of controversy in July when video leaked of the former Florida receiver using the N-word while attending a Kenny Chesney concert. Several Eagles players publicly accepted Cooper's apology for his actions, but Williams was one of a few who continued to speak about his negative feelings over the incident.

Reports from practice describe Cooper's demeanor as "distraught" after the fight. He elected to sit out the remainder of one-on-one drills.

Mark Sanchez's future is secure

A quarterback battle this offseason was solved by a shoulder injury to Mark Sanchez, as rookie Geno Smith will start his first NFL game this week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There was speculation that the switch could result in Sanchez being phased out of the team altogether, but Jets owner Woody Johnson denied the speculation today.

Johnson confirmed that Sanchez will be on the team, while following up with a strange comment that seemed to blame the quarterback for his shoulder injury. The owner said, "I wished he hadn't gotten hurt, but you've got to protect yourself, too," a bizarre notion given that Sanchez was hit on a routine throw.

Jairus Byrd wants to be traded

A new era in Buffalo is being ushered in with head coach Doug Marrone, but All-Pro safety Jairus Byrd doesn't want a piece of it. Byrd and the Bills have been unable to reach terms on a long-term deal first discussed last year.

If a trade were to happen, the most likely compensation would be a mid-round pick. However, this scenario is complicated by injury as Byrd continues to deal with plantar fasciitis.

T.J. Yates wins backup job in Houston

The Texans have named their backup quarterback, with T.J. Yates beating out Case Keenum for the job. Typically a backup job is of little consequence, but for Houston it is a vital concern to the team. Matt Schaub has only played a full 16-game slate three times since arriving in 2007. The oft-injured quarterback was healthy in 2012, but that's not very reassuring for the organization.

Yates spent significant time as the Texans' starter in 2011, when he finished with 949 passing yards and a 80.7 quarterback rating.

Patrick Willis ready for Packers

The San Francisco 49ers will have their defensive leader when they face the Green Bay Packers in a critical NFC matchup to open the season. Inside linebacker Patrick Willis will start for the 49ers, just five weeks since having surgery to repair a broken hand.

Reports indicate that a full recovery should take eight weeks. In order to protect the hand, Willis will wear a glove on his right hand this week.

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