Extra Points: UK, Steelers, 2013 Draft, CTE

A look at the latest from around the NFL as the seventh Sunday of the season inches closer:

  • The NFL’s commitment to play more regular-season games in the United Kingdom is stronger than ever and the league wants to expand from three contests per year there to 16, The Buffalo News’ Vic Carucci reports. First, the league has to increase its popularity in the UK – something it’s clearly in the process of doing. In fact, ratings for NFL programming doubled in the UK from 2013 to ’14 and participation in amateur American football has grown 15 percent each year since 2007, per Carucci. “My goal is to make sure we have a fan base in the UK that can support a full season of games,” said Mark Waller, the league’s executive vice president of international. “The biggest demonstration of fandom is if you have your own team. So, for me, the ultimate goal would be that at some point we have a team here, because I think that’s the best way the fans can express their passion.”
  • The Steelers placed Cortez Allen on season-ending injured reserve this week, leaving questions as to whether the 26-year-old has played his final game for them. Given the Steelers’ paucity of corners, Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review expects Allen to remain with the team in 2016. If not, the Steelers could cut him before June 1 and save $1.7MM. Allen, the Steelers’ top-paid corner, missed five games last year and will ultimately sit out 15 this season.
  • Linebacker Barkevious Mingo has been a significant disappointment since the Browns used the sixth overall pick on him in 2013. However, he’s hardly an unusual case when it comes to that year’s draft class, writes John Kuntz of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. “It’s one of the weakest (drafts) we’ve seen in the last 10 years,” added CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler.
  • The league will help fund new research beginning in January on the possible link between sports-related concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), an incurable brain disease, according to The Associated Press. The research will focus on retired jockeys, whose brain trauma rates are higher than ex-football players’. Michael Turner, medical director of the Concussion Foundation, stated: “Collaboration with the NFL will significantly accelerate the research we are doing with retired jockeys and help establish if there is any independent evidence that concussion has a long-term impact on health.”
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