PITTSBURGH — Steelers linebacker James Harrison is willing to meet with the NFL to discuss an alleged link to performance-enhancing drugs – but only five days after a deadline the league has imposed while threatening him and three other players with indefinite suspensions.

NFL Players Association attorney Heather McPhee sent a letter to the NFL on Thursday, accusing it of trying to “bully and publicly shame” Harrison without offering evidence beyond a brief mention in a television interview last year that was recanted by the accuser.

Green Bay’s Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, and free agent Mike Neal also were threatened with suspensions. It was not immediately known if a similar meeting was being proposed by the union.

The league’s deadline for cooperation from the four players is Aug. 25. McPhee’s letter says Harrison would meet with the NFL at 5 p.m. on Aug. 30 at the team’s facility, and would only discuss the portion of the Al-Jazeera interview that mentioned the 14-year veteran.

In the report, Charlie Sly, who worked as an intern at an antiaging clinic, made claims of PED use against several athletes, including the four linebackers. Sly later recanted his claims.

“Is the NFL aware of any credible evidence – other than the recanted remarks by one individual shown by Al-Jazeera – that indicates that there is any validity to the remarks about Mr. Harrison?” McPhee wrote to Adolpho Birch, the NFL’s senior vice president for labor policy and league affairs.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league has yet to respond to the letter.

Retired quarterback Peyton Manning was also cited in the report, but the NFL cleared him after a separate investigation in which the Broncos’ star granted interviews and provided all records sought by league investigators.

Harrison is a longtime leader for the Steelers. Matthews and Peppers are key cogs in the Packers’ defense, and Neal spent the past six seasons with Green Bay.

Birch’s memo to the union said suspensions would start the day after the Aug. 25 deadline, and would end at the discretion of Commissioner Roger Goodell once interviews had been completed. The four players have steadfastly refused to be interviewed without what they call credible evidence.

49ERS: Colin Kaepernick threw dozens of passes on the side during a joint practice with the Broncos, signaling the quarterback’s return from a sore passing shoulder. The throws were his first on the practice field in a week.

BRONCOS: Trevor Siemian, locked in a battle with Mark Sanchez for the team’s starting quarterback job, will get his turn to start on Saturday night, when Denver plays a preseason game against San Francisco.

Sanchez, acquired in a trade with Philadelphia, started last week’s game.

GIANTS: Kicker Josh Brown has confirmed that an arrest on a domestic violence charge in May 2015 led to his one-game suspension by the NFL for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

Brown said the woman whose wrist he grabbed in Woodinville, Washington, during a disagreement was his wife. He said the couple has since divorced.

JAGUARS: Defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. was kicked out of a joint practice following a skirmish with Tampa Bay Buccaneers guard Ali Marpet.


EAGLES 17, STEELERS 0: Pittsburgh quarterback Landry Jones threw four interceptions and Philadelphia capitalized in a preseason road victory.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was held out for the second straight week along with running backs Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams and wide receiver Antonio Brown.

BENGALS 30, LIONS 14: Jeremy Hill ran for a 9-yard touchdown on Cincinnati’s first possession, and the Bengals went on to win at Detroit.

Hill hurt his left hand in Cincinnati’s preseason opener last week, but he had three carries for 16 yards against the Lions and also caught a pass.

FALCONS 24, BROWNS 13: Robert Griffin III threw two touchdown passes in the first half in his home debut for Cleveland, a loss to Atlanta.

Griffin found wide receiver Terrelle Pryor for a 50-yard scoring strike and tight end Gary Barnridge for a 22-yard touchdown pass.

PACKERS 20, RAIDERS 12: Eddie Lacy’s powerful running early on helped propel host Green Bay past Oakland.

Lacy had nine carries for 45 yards, capped by a 1-yard touchdown dive on third-and-goal, to highlight a 14-play, 74-yard drive to start the game.