TODAY'S TOP STORIES
Jags beat Texans to end home game losing streak
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 6, 2013 | 12:01AM
Chad Henne threw two touchdown passes, Jordan Todman scored on some trickery and the Jacksonville Jaguars held on to beat the Houston Texans 27-20 on Thursday night.
The Jaguars (4-9) won their third straight -- their fourth victory in five games since a bye -- and continued to show signs of progress under first-year coach Gus Bradley.
They also won at home for the first time since Nov. 25, 2012, against Tennessee.
Houston (2-11) extended its franchise-record losing streak to 11 games, a stunning stretch of futility that could lead the franchise to fire coach Gary Kubiak.
Kubiak and the Texans looked as if they would end the streak after a quarterback change, but Geno Hayes intercepted Matt Schuab's pass with 2:08 remaining to seal Jacksonville's first series sweep since 2009.
Peyton Manning doesn't think he's a different QB in cold weather
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 5, 2013 | 9:47PM
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning insisted Wednesday he's not a different player in wintry weather despite a track record that seems to show otherwise.
Asked whether he thinks he's a different player in cold weather, Manning simply said, "I don't."
Asked why he thought he wasn't a different quarterback in cold weather, he added only, "That's not how I feel, so did I miss the question?"
Manning is 3-7 in the regular season and postseason combined when the game-time temperature is 32 degrees or colder, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
He's thrown for 11 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions in those games and his completion percentage is 59.4 percent, well below his career average of 65.4. His 214.1 passing yards per game in those 10 outings are also well below his career average of 269.5.
Coach John Fox also doesn't buy the notion that Manning is a different player in the cold, saying that 10 games is not a sufficient sample size for a player in his 16th season.
Manning has made one visible concession to cold or inclement weather with the Broncos since returning from multiple neck surgeries. He now wears a fitted glove on his throwing hand in rain or cold and snow. He wore gloves on both hands in New England when he threw for 150 yards, and a glove on his throwing hand this past weekend in Kansas City when he finished with 403 yards and five touchdowns.
"It's just part of the adjustment I've kind of had to make," Manning said. "I've said that I've had to make a lot of changes at this point in my career. I'm kind of coming off an injury and different team. It's just been part of the adjustment ... and still working through it kind of each time that I wear it."
Manning experimented with gloves previously in his career, including during his time with Indianapolis, but said he "never just quite found a pair that I liked."
With the Broncos, Manning's overall sample size is 28 regular-season games and a postseason loss to Baltimore. He is 23-6 as a starter in those games with 80 touchdown passes and has averaged more than 300 yards per game.
However, the Broncos' loss at home in last season's playoffs and last month's collapse in frigid Foxborough, Mass., when the Broncos led 24-0 at halftime but ended up losing in overtime, were confirmation for some that the phrase "cold shoulder" means something else entirely for Manning.
But Fox said in those instances that a defensive breakdown late in regulation against the Ravens and a bouncing punt against the Patriots were at the root of the losses.
"I don't think where you're located that you ever really get used to really cold weather," Fox said. "I don't think you grow thicker skin because you live in it. I don't think it's a physiological thing. I think a lot of it is mental, just dealing with the elements. That could be a torrential downpour, it could be a snowstorm. And if we won those games, we wouldn't be talking about the weather right now."
Jaguars lead Texans 7-0 after 1st quarter
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 5, 2013 | 9:06PM
Chad Henne hooked up with Marcedes Lewis on a 1-yard touchdown strole, giving the Jacksonville Jaguars a 7-0 lead after the first quarter Thursday night.
The Jaguars took the opening kickoff and drove 80 yards for a score, the team's fourth opening-drive touchdown in its last five games.
Maurice Jones-Drew did most of the work, running five times for 25 yards. Henne completed 4 of 6 passes for 23 yards on the drive, the last one a quick fade pass to Lewis, who out-jumped 5-foot-10 cornerback Kareem Jackson in the corner of the end zone.
Houston punted on its first two possessions, creating more momentum for the home team.
The Jaguars (3-9) have won three of four games since their bye, a modest turnaround under first-year coach Gus Bradley after starting the season 0-8. One of the victories came against Houston, a 13-6 punt-fest 11 days ago. (Photo: John Roaux/Associated Press)
Cowboys want to finish in December this time
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | December 5, 2013 | 8:32PM
Jerry Jones sees a healthy and productive Tony Romo taking the Dallas Cowboys into December in playoff contention — same as the past two years.
If the Dallas owner gets another ending without a postseason trip, he's going to feel as if someone is piling on.
Jones says few things in his career match the disappointment of 2011 and 2012, when the Cowboys had control of their playoff fate and lost the last two games both years.
Dallas (7-5) and Philadelphia are tied atop the NFC East, and those teams play the season finale on the Cowboys' home field.
The Cowboys get December started Monday night in Chicago, where Jay Cutler is sidelined again and Dallas should see the return of linebacker Sean Lee.
Thomas, Rodgers-Cromartie both return to Broncos practice
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | December 5, 2013 | 7:47PM
Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas (knee) and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were both full participants in practice on Thursday, Mike Klis of the Denver Post reports
Thomas has missed two games, as the Broncos handle him carefully. And with multiple receiving threats (as evidenced by Eric Decker's outburst last week)
Rodgers-Cromartie was inactive last week after injuring himself diving for a Hail Mary against the Patriots. His absence coincided with the Patriots' comeback in the second half, and getting him back on the field will help stabilize a secondary that's looked shaky at points. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)
Ed Reed doesn't listen to critics, wants to play two more years
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | December 5, 2013 | 7:19PM
New York Jets safety Ed Reed hopes to play another two years in the NFL, and doesn't worry about critics who say he isn't playing up to his usual high standards.
Reed, signed by the Jets last month after he was released by the Houston Texans, has started his first three games with New York. While he hasn't made any game-turning plays, both coach Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman say his impact behind the scenes with the team's young defensive backs has been immeasurable.
Reed says he is being judged on the field for a standard that he created himself during a dominant 11 years in Baltimore. He adds that he believes he's still "effective" despite being only a few months removed from a second hip surgery. (Photo: Associated Press)
Pack CB Williams fined for contact with official
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | December 5, 2013 | 6:36PM
Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams has been fined $26,250 for contact with an official, per NFL guidelines.
Williams told reporters Thursday that he planned to appeal. He said he didn't realize he had made contact with the official, and meant no harm.
The contact occurred after a Lions touchdown early in the fourth quarter of Green Bay's 40-10 loss to the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day. A replay appeared to show Williams looking away while walking forward, just behind Lions center Dominic Raiola, when the official crossed in between the two players. Williams received a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Williams said he had been shoved by Raiola just after the touchdown. He said he was frustrated on the play.
Jets WR Jeremy Kerley fully practices, expects to play Sunday
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | December 5, 2013 | 5:54PM
New York Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley fully participated in practice for the first time since dislocating his left elbow last month and is expected to play Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.
Kerley was injured against New Orleans on Nov. 3 when he was on the ground and the Saints' David Hawthorne slammed into his elbow. Coach Rex Ryan says Thursday that Kerley "looked outstanding" in practice. Kerley leads the Jets with 28 catches, despite missing four games this season.
Fellow receiver Santonio Holmes (hamstring) and tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. (knee) were both limited, but Ryan expects them to play. The Jets haven't had all three on the field together since Week 4.
Cornerback Antonio Cromartie (hip) and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (wrist) also were limited, but will play.
Bears Briggs, Cutler both out vs. Cowboys Monday
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 5, 2013 | 5:13PM
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and linebacker Lance Briggs will miss Monday night's home game against Dallas.
Cutler has been out since suffering a high ankle sprain Nov. 10 and practiced on a limited basis Thursday. He has been ruled out for the game by coach Marc Trestman.
Briggs suffered a shoulder fracture Oct. 20 and remains out. He did not practice Thursday, but did run on the sidelines.
Josh McCown will make his fifth start of the season in Cutler's place for the Bears.
Martin meets with NFL investigator for second time
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 5, 2013 | 4:44PM
Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin is meeting in Los Angeles with NFL special investigator Ted Wells for a second round of questioning about the team's bullying scandal.
The person with knowledge of the situation confirmed the meeting Thursday to ESPN on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
Martin was first interviewed by Wells for nearly seven hours Nov. 15 in New York. Wells then spent the week of Nov. 18 interviewing Dolphins players, coaches and staff in South Florida, and he also met with suspended guard Richie Incognito.
Martin alleges he was harassed daily by teammates, including Incognito. Last week the Dolphins put Martin on the reserve/non-football illness list, ending his season. (Photo: John Minchillo/Associated Press)
Patriots CB Alfonzo Dennard's jail sentence extended to 60 days
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | December 5, 2013 | 4:01PM
New England Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard had 30 days added to his jail sentence and received other penalties for violating probation, the Lincoln Journal Star reports.
Dennard's original 30-day sentence for assaulting a police officer was extended to 60 days — which he will begin serving March 1 — as the result of a DUI arrest in July, which violated the terms of his probation. The jail sentence could be reduced to 38 days with good behavior.
In Lancaster County Court, Judge Stephanie Stacy also extended Dennard's probation a year, added 100 hours of community service, and imposed a no-alcohol condition.
Dennard's troubles began in April 2012, when he was involved in a late-night scuffle outside a Lincoln bar. In February of this year, he was found guilty of assaulting a Lincoln police officer and resisting arrest. After being sentenced in April to 30 days in jail, to be served after the football season, and put on probation, Dennard was arrested on the DUI charge in July.
Dennard also is scheduled to appear in court Friday on that DUI charge. (Photo: Elise Amendola/Associated Press)
Bears QB Jay Cutler returns to practice
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 5, 2013 | 3:36PM
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler returned to practice Thursday and participated in the portion that was open to reporters, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
It's a significant milestone in his recovery from the sprained left ankle he suffered on Nov. 10.
However, Cutler's status remains uncertain for Monday night's game against the Dallas Cowboys at Soldier Field. Josh McCown was the first quarterback to perform throwing drills during Thursday's practice, a place usually reserved for the starter.
Cutler said on Nov. 25 he targeted the Cowboys game for his return. He has not finished a game since a win over the New York Giants on Oct. 10. He suffered a torn groin muscle against the Washington Redskins on Oct. 20 and was sidelined for the Nov. 4 game against the Green Bay Packers. The ankle injury has kept him out of the Bears' last three games.
The Bears have won two of the four games Cutler has missed this season.
Aaron Rodgers practiced in pads, but limited
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | December 5, 2013 | 3:00PM
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers put on his pads for the first time since he broke his collarbone Nov. 4.
The Packers were in full pads Thursday, and so was Rodgers. Practicing for the second straight day, Rodgers again looked sharp during individual drills.
No 11-on-11 drills were conducted during the portion that was open to reporters. However, Matt Flynn appeared to be taking the starter's reps for the second straight day.
The Packers have not ruled out Rodgers yet, but it seems unlikely he will return for Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons at Lambeau Field.
Italian league offers Tim Tebow a 4-month contract
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | December 5, 2013 | 2:24PM
Tim Tebow has been offered a four-month contract by the Italian federation for American football, and the Milano Seamen are hoping to sign the free agent quarterback.
Excerpts of an offer sent by federation president Leoluca Orlando to Tebow's representatives were posted on the federation's website Thursday.
"The offer has been made to his agent and now we're waiting for a response," Seamen president Marco Mutti told The Associated Press. "We would be more than happy to have him."
A federation spokesman, James Dewar, told AP that the offer is for $200,000 and that it was sent Wednesday on the recommendation of a sponsor.
The 26-year-old Tebow was cut by the New England Patriots before this NFL season. He would be the most prominent player to appear in the Italian league — by far.
The eight-team Italian league is divided into two divisions. The other teams are located in Ancona, Bologna, Bolzano, Parma, Reggio Emilia and Rome, while Milan has two teams.
The season begins in March and concludes with the Italian Super Bowl in July.
In last season's title game, the Parma Panthers beat the Seamen 51-28.
The Seamen have the league's largest stadium, with 8,000 seats. Fashion designer Giorgio Armani is a former owner of the team.
Tebow won the Heisman Trophy in 2007 with the University of Florida and tasted NFL success with the Denver Broncos, leading them to the playoffs in 2011 before his pro career faded with the New York Jets. He was released in the last cut by the Patriots before this season began and has not been picked up by anyone, even though many teams have had problems at quarterback.
Browns QB Jason Campbell cleared to practice
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 5, 2013 | 1:38PM
Browns quarterback Jason Campbell practiced for the first time since sustaining a concussion and could start Sunday at New England.
Campbell returned to the field on Thursday, the next step in his recovery from a head injury sustained on Nov. 24 when he was hurt on a blindside hit by Pittsburgh's William Gay. Campbell must still be cleared by an independent neurologist — per NFL rules — before he is allowed to play against the Patriots.
Campbell took part in all drills and threw to his receivers during the portion of practice open to media members.
Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said he was "very encouraged" by Campbell's progress, and offensive coordinator Norv Turner said he was glad to have the veteran back. Campbell has started four games this season.
"Well, just getting him back in the walk-through, I think everyone felt a sense of relief in terms of continuity," said Turner, who in all his seasons as a coach couldn't recall many times when he didn't know who would start this late in the week.
"There's a lot of firsts this year for a lot of us," Turner said. "When you really think about it, obviously, three guys have played, but we've had six different games where we've had a different starter. That's a challenge."
Campbell, Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer, who suffered a season-ending knee injury, have started for Cleveland in 2013.
Campbell had to sit out last week's loss to Jacksonville and was replaced by Weeden, who started and was concussed at some point against the Jaguars. Weeden has not yet been given permission to practice.
The Browns signed free agent Caleb Hanie earlier this week in case Campbell or Weeden can't play. Alex Tanney was signed last week off Dallas' practice squad, and he and Hanie split the plays with Cleveland's starting offense in Wednesday's practice.
Turner said both young quarterbacks have made progress and can be counted on in case Campbell is unable to play.
Kordell Stewart's divorce from his wife is final
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | December 5, 2013 | 1:04PM
Former Pittsburgh Steeler standout Kordell Stewart's divorce from his reality show wife is final.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge John J. Goger issued final a decree in the divorce case Thursday.
Stewart, who retired from the NFL last year, filed for divorce from Porsha Williams in March. He claimed his marriage to Williams was "irretrievably broken."
Williams' lawyer Randy Kessler says they are glad to amicably resolve the matter. The pair used to appear together on Bravo's "The Real Housewives of Atlanta." Williams is still on the show.
Stewart's initial filing said the two married on May 21, 2011, and have no children together.
Stewart was a sensation in Pittsburgh in the late 1990s and was nicknamed "Slash" for his versatility as quarterback, running back and wide receiver.
He is a sports talk show host in Atlanta.
Patriots bring back receiver Austin Collie
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | December 5, 2013 | 12:33PM
The New England Patriots have decided to bring back wide receiver Austin Collie, according to the teams' official website.
The Patriots released Collie in November after spending five weeks with the team, playing three games.
The 28-year-old wideout had a minor knee injury during his previous stay with the Patriots, during which he caught three passes. Of course, he had a major knee along with numerous concussions with the Colts, which led to the end of his run there.
Collie has bounced around through a series of workouts this year, with a number of teams willing to take a look. So far, the Patriots have been the only ones to put him back in a game.
Peyton Manning is leading vote getter for Pro Bowl
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | December 5, 2013 | 11:45AM
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is the NFL's Pro Bowl leading vote getter. Manning leads all player's with 926,432 votes.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees is second with 793,685 votes. Running backs Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks and Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs are third and fourth in voting. And rounding out the top five is Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
Six through ten in voting are Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, Bengals receiver A.J. Green and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
The NFL has done away with the AFC-NFC format, so once the players are chosen, honorary captains Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will pick the Pro Bowl teams. The Pro Bowl will be played on January 26, a week before the Super Bowl.
Santana Moss: Officiating is worst I've ever seen
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | December 5, 2013 | 11:11AM
Washington Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss, who has been in the league since 2001, seems to think that NFL officiating has hit rock bottom this season.
"It's probably been worse this whole year as a total, not just this team," he said, via the Washington Post. "But I've watched a lot of football this year. It's been the worst that I've ever seen."
Moss also addressed an issue that has most of us confused this season: What is and what is not a catch.
"You've got guys catching balls and they take two steps and they get tackled," Moss said. "The ball come out after they hit the ground. It's no good. And you have another guy do it the next week, he gets the catch.
"Come on. Somebody have to change that rule. I hate the calls now where you see guys – and this is mostly receivers I'm looking at – catching a ball and you fall out of bounds, and you have a [defensive back], now you're out of bounds and the guy is still swiping at the ball. And now the guy hits the ball and it bobbles in your hand but you still have the ball on you — no catch. Someone has to change that.
"I understand [there are] so many things being changed," Moss continued. "But at the end of the day, some of that stuff is crap. So hopefully somebody who's in a higher position that can really watch this season alone and see some of the stuff that's being called and hasn't been called, they can go and try to critique that because it's been the worst by far since I've been in the league."
The good news is NFL Vice President of Officials Dean Blandino agrees. Last week, after officials blew a call in the Week 12 Panthers-Dolphins game, he conceded, "We've got to work and strive to be more consistent" when it comes to what does and does not constitute a catch. (Photo: Associated Press)
Funny but fruitful, Chip's signs working in Philly
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | December 5, 2013 | 10:24AM
Anyone unfamiliar with Chip Kelly's unique way of disguising play calls might confuse the Philadelphia Eagles' sideline for a commercial promoting the City of Brotherly Love.
There's the Liberty Bell, Rocky Balboa, the Phillie Phanatic, Benjamin Franklin, Will Smith as the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ... and even a cheesesteak.
Kelly has chosen some iconic Philadelphia figures — and foods — for those placards his staff hoists on the sideline to convey plays to those on the field. It's a system Kelly began using three years ago at Oregon. He borrowed the idea from Oklahoma State, which used the posters against Oregon in the 2008 Holiday Bowl.
Don't try to figure it out, though. The specifics are a mystery, and Kelly won't allow players or coaches to discuss it.
"They represent a lot of things," Kelly said when first asked about it by the inquisitive Philadelphia media, refusing to elaborate. "We could tell you what all our signals are, but that's not going to help us. I'm not going to explain why we go through that whole thing."
Well, it has a lot to do with the speed of the game. The Eagles don't huddle much, they run plays quicker than most others in the NFL — a strategy that Kelly has dubbed the "See Coast Offense" — and symbols from the sidelines are quick to pick up.
One assistant — sports science coordinator Shaun Huls — will hold up to two placards at a time, holding one up high and another low. They're used alongside traditional hand motions and other odd signals such as assistants karate-kicking or arm flapping to speed up the no-huddle offense.
But the signs don't necessarily identify plays. They could represent snap counts, formations, motions, routes or even nothing. That makes it nearly impossible for opponents to decipher. It's sort of Spygate-proof. Even the New England Patriots, who were caught illegally filming signals of opposing coaches several years ago, couldn't crack this code.
Besides some of the Philly-themed images, the Eagles also have used placards of Elvis Presley, Bart Simpson and the Oregon Duck, of course. Players can't say much, but they will reveal their favorites if pressed on the subject.
Several networks in bidding war for Tim Tebow
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 5, 2013 | 9:41AM
Tim Tebow has been out of work for nearly four months after being released by the New England Patriots in August.
With him being unable to land with a new team in NFL, three giant TV networks are rumored to be in a bidding war to get him to work for their network.
ESPN, CBS and Fox have all expressed their interest in hiring the Tebow according to several sources.
ESPN's SEC Network, which begins airing programs on Aug. 21, 2014 is developing its own edition of "College Gameday" and are wanting Tebow to co-host the show. He would join Rece Davis and another unnamed host.
However, ESPN is facing some heavy competition with CBS Sports – which provides the best SEC games every week. CBS reportedly wants to have Tebow on their pre- and post-game show. And apparently they're willing to make major changes to get aboard.
FOX Sports is reportedly eyeing Tebow for their pre-game show as well.
Tebow would be a great addition for any of these networks. His name recognition, along with his football knowledge and charisma, alone would have viewers tuning in. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)
Seahawks fans raise money to fly 'Go Hawks' banner over Candlestick
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | December 4, 2013 | 10:04PM
First, Seattle Seahawks fans came together to pay for a brick at the San Francisco 49ers' new Stadium.
Now, they are rallied and raise money to fly a Seahawks flag over Candlestick Park before the match up between the 49ers and Seahawks.
Two fans, Travis Platt and Cedric Morris, launched an online fundraiser totaling $1,300 to hire a banner plane for Sunday.
"It evolved really quick," Morris said.
So far, 112 people have donated more than $2,000 to Platt and Morris' campaign. In a post made three days ago, Morris said that payment had been sent.
"It's going to happen, weather permitting," said Morris. "It's on."
They plan to fly a banner reading "GO HAWKS-12" about an hour before kickoff. It will be in the air over the stadium for 10-15 minutes.
"We didn't realize we would have so many people support it," Morris said.
Vikings CB Chris Cook fined $26,250 for contact with official, plans to appeal
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 4, 2013 | 8:28PM
Minnesota Viking cornerback Chris Cook has been fined $26,250 by the NFL for contact with an official during Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears, the NFL Network reports.
According to the NFL Network report, Cook plans to appeal the fine.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Cook met with head coach Leslie Frazier on Wednesday and was scolded about the bump, which brought an ejection. Cook had just given up a touchdown pass for the second time to Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.
"It went pretty well," Cook said of the meeting with Frazier. "I know I have to keep my composure. I was just frustrated with some things that happened in the game and lost my composure. I can guarantee it won't happen again."
Cook was upset with side judge Laird Hayes for not calling offensive pass interference earlier on Chicago's drive. After Jeffery outmuscled Cook for Josh McCown's 46-yard pass in the end zone, Cook jumped up and confronted Hayes.
"I kind of touched his arm," Cook said via the Star Tribune. "I just got up and said, 'That was bull,' about the play two plays before. But I can't do anything about the calls they make during the game. I've just got to be a man about it and move on to the next play.
"I let my emotions get the best of me. I know I can't react like that, especially towards an official."
Cook, a 2010 second-round pick out of Virginia, has had a rocky tenure with the team. He has been beaten in one-on-one coverage several times this season and does not have an interception in his career. He also has been at the center of controversy.
As a rookie, Cook had to be restrained on the sidelines following a confrontation with veteran linebacker Ben Leiber during a blowout loss to Green Bay at the Metrodome.
In 2011, he was charged with felony domestic assault following a confrontation with his then-girlfriend. A Hennepin County jury acquitted Cook, whom the Vikings suspended six games while his trial was pending.
With four games remaining, Cook is a pending free agent with an uncertain future in Minnesota.
Browns DE Desmond Bryant placed on NFI list with irregular heartbeat
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 4, 2013 | 7:12PM
Browns defensive end Desmond Bryant's season has ended because of an irregular heartbeat that will require surgery.
Bryant, who signed a five-year, $34 million contract as a free agent with Cleveland in March, reported symptoms on Monday morning, a team spokesman said. Bryant played in Sunday's game against Jacksonville and was credited with four pressures on Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne.
The Browns said Bryant will undergo "a minor heart procedure" this week. He is expected to make a full recovery and resume his playing career.
Bryant was taken out of an Oct. 3 game against Buffalo in the third quarter complaining of shortness of breath. He was hospitalized overnight at The Cleveland Clinic with an irregular heartbeat. It was the second such episode for Bryant, who left a game last year with Oakland and was hospitalized for an irregular heartbeat. Both times Bryant returned to play in the next week's game.
"It's a pretty scary feeling," Bryant said after returning to practice in October. "Your heart won't calm down. Fortunately, we've got a great staff on hand and they've got me doing the right things I need and I'm now back to normal."
Bryant indicated he had made some changes to guard against a recurrence.
"We're doing some things to prevent it from happening again," he said. "I need to try to cut out anything that may start this up, as well as taking some medication to help prevent it."
The 27-year-old Bryant started all 12 games this season for the Browns and made 45 tackles with 3 1-2 sacks. He had a career-high 10 tackles and two sacks in the season opener, but his production has steadily dropped and he has not had a sack in nine games.
The Browns placed him on the reserve/non-football illness list. Bryant played the previous four seasons with the Raiders, who signed the 6-foot-6, 310-pounder as an undrafted free agent from Harvard in 2009.
Bryant was not on the practice field Wednesday and coach Rob Chudzinski did not disclose why he would not be participating before the workout. (Photo: Chuck Crow/The Cleveland Plain Dealer)
Bills sign former Chiefs TE Tony Moeaki
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | December 4, 2013 | 6:33PM
Tight end Tony Moeaki will get what's essentially a four-week tryout in Buffalo to show he's healthy after being signed by the Bills on Wednesday, according to the teams' official website.
The former Chiefs player has been out since breaking his shoulder in Kansas City's preseason win over Pittsburgh on Aug. 23. He was then released by the Chiefs after reaching an injury settlement in October.
At 6-foot-3, 252 pounds, Moeaki first gained prominence during his rookie season in 2010, when he had 47 catches for 556 yards and three touchdowns. His career has since been slowed by injuries, including a torn left ACL that forced him to miss the entire 2011 season.
Overall, Moeaki has 80 catches for 1,009 yards and four touchdowns in 30 games. He was Kansas City's third-round draft pick out of Iowa.
The Bills (4-8) play at Tampa Bay (3-9) on Sunday. Buffalo made room to sign Moeaki by cutting running back Tashard Choice earlier in the day.
Saying it's too early to tell when he might play, Moeaki added he was still getting accustomed to his new setting after spending much of the past few months rehabbing in Chicago.
"Yes, it all happened pretty quickly. I'm just trying to catch my breath here and get started," he said.
Moeaki signed after working out with the Bills a day earlier. The move comes with the Bills starting to look ahead to next year to determine their tight end position.
Starter Scott Chandler, who ranks second on the Bills with 491 yards receiving, is in the final year of his contract. And he's coming off a tough outing during which his fumble in overtime led to Matt Bryant hitting a 36-yard field goal in Atlanta's 34-31 win on Sunday.
Moeaki is reunited with Chandler after the two spent two seasons playing together at Iowa. (Photo: Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
Rodgers limited as QB questions linger for Packers
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 4, 2013 | 5:38PM
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers expects a decision to be made by Friday — or Saturday tops — whether he'll be cleared to return to face the Atlanta Falcons.
Rodgers has missed a month with a fractured left collarbone. He is back at practice on a limited basis, but doesn't want to speculate if he'll be medically cleared this week.
He also says it wouldn't be fair to Matt Flynn for the backup to wait until game time to determine whether he'll start. Rodgers says Wednesday he thinks the decision on his status would come the day or two before Sunday's game.
At least one man thinks Rodgers is a go: Falcons coach Mike Smith says he's preparing as if Rodgers is playing. (Photo: Duane Burleson/Associated Press)
Rams OG Harvey Dahl returns to practice
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | December 4, 2013 | 5:38PM
Offensive guard Harvey Dahl has returned to St. Louis Rams practice after missing four games with a left knee injury and expects to play Sunday at Arizona.
Dahl was injured in the third quarter of Week 8 against Seattle. The Rams (5-7) lost a starting lineman when center Scott Wells broke his left ankle Sunday at San Francisco.
Running back Zac Stacy (foot) did not practice Wednesday along with offensive tackle Jake Long and backup linebacker Darren Bates, both with concussions.
Defensive end Eugene Sims (neck) was limited.
Vikings QB Cassel on track to start for Ponder
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | December 4, 2013 | 4:55PM
Matt Cassel is on track to start this week at quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings, with Christian Ponder recovering from a concussion, according to an ESPN report.
Head coach Leslie Frazier said Wednesday that Cassel "more than likely" will start instead of Ponder when the Vikings play at Baltimore on Sunday. Cassel took over late in the second quarter last week when Ponder was hit in the head and passed for 243 yards in half of a game to help the Vikings beat Chicago in overtime.
Frazier said Ponder had yet to pass all of the post-concussion tests. Even if he can practice Thursday, that's not much time for a quarterback to properly prepare. Frazier said Josh Freeman will be the backup to Cassel, who has started two games and relieved Ponder in three others.
London NFL game to start early next season
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | December 4, 2013 | 4:19PM
London is getting its first NFL day game, creating a new morning time slot for viewers in the United States.
The NFL says Wednesday that the game between the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions at Wembley on Oct. 26 will start at 1:30 p.m. local time, making it a 9:30 a.m. ET kickoff in the U.S.
The league said the switch will make it easier for a large global audience to tune in, and create an unprecedented fourth game window for American viewers that Sunday.
The Wembley games have traditionally started at the same time as the 1 p.m. kickoffs in the U.S. The other two London games scheduled for next season — Dolphins-Raiders on Sept. 28 and Cowboys-Jaguars on Nov. 9 — will both start at 6 p.m. local time.
Arrowhead parking lot death ruled a homicide
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | December 4, 2013 | 3:39PM
The Jackson County medical examiner on Wednesday determined the death of a Missouri man in an Arrowhead Stadium parking lot during a Kansas City Chiefs game a homicide, the Kansas City Star reports.
The medical examiner's office did not provide a cause of death, but told police that the manner of death would be ruled homicide, meaning the death was caused by the hands of another. The ruling does not necessarily mean murder charges will be filed. Homicides can be justified, considered self-defense or charged as voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.
Police are still investigating. When they are finished, they will present their findings to prosecutors, who will decide whether to file criminal charges.
But Kansas City police say the cause of 30-year-old Kyle Van Winkle's death is still unknown.
Van Winkle, who was attending the game with his father and a group of friends and relatives, told his father he was going to the restroom in the first quarter of the game against the Denver Broncos. But he never returned to his seat.
Instead, he walked into the parking lot for unknown reasons and got into an apparently unlocked green Jeep that was similar to a vehicle in his tailgating convoy. The Jeep also was parked in the same row where his group had parked earlier, but just about 10 vehicles closer to the stadium.
When the Jeep owner returned to the vehicle and found Van Winkle sleeping inside, the owner tried to get him out. The owner's 10-year-old son called for help from bystanders who were watching the game in the parking lot.
The bystanders — but not the vehicle owner — struggled with Van Winkle, who later collapsed and lost consciousness. He later died at a hospital. (Photo: Orlin Wagner/Associated Press)
Cleveland restaurant offering 'Weeden Burger'
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 4, 2013 | 2:57PM
A Cleveland-area barbeque restaurant is offering a burger special on Sunday inspired by Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden, who ranks 33 out of the 35 passers qualified for the NFL's QB rating statistic.
Briquettes Smokehouse posted on its Facebook page that next Sunday's special will be the Weeden burger.
"A tender all beef patty, cooked perfectly, and smothered in toppings which we systematically pick off right before your eyes while you watch helplessly; all before dropping the burger on the ground right before it is set down in front of you."
Briquettes said the burger is served with a half full glass of beer.
Owner Nick Rockwell added that it's all in fun and that he just wants to see the Browns do well.
"We took a little heat about it from one guy but we're just having fun," he said. "If you can't have fun with it you probably shouldn't be watching professional sports."
Briquettes later added the staff is made up of Browns fans.
"We cooked pig's heads before the Pittsburgh game at Burk last year, chewing on squealer face meat in front of their fans." (Photo: Zimbio.com)
Bucs place LB Jonathan Casillas on IR
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | December 4, 2013 | 2:31PM
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have placed linebacker Jonathan Casillas on the season-ending injured reserve.
Casillas, who signed with Tampa as a free agent before the season, made appearances in all 12 games for the team this season, starting four of them. He suffered a knee injury and was unable to finish the game during Sunday's loss to the Carolina Panthers.
Casillas finishes this season with 24 total tackles and a forced fumble on defense as well as a team-high nine tackles in kick coverage.
The Bucs signed Danny Lansanah off the New York Jets practice squad to replace Casillas' roster spot. Lansanh hasn't played in an NFL regular season game since 2008. So look for them to rotate Dekoda Watson and Adam Hayward in Casillas' strong side slot in his absence. (Photo: Zimbio.com)
Dolphins DE Olivier Vernon named AFC Defensive Player of the Week
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | December 4, 2013 | 2:05PM
Miami Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon has been named the AFC's Defensive Player of the Week for his excellent performance during the Dolphins 23-3 smash-mouth victory over the Jets Sunday.
Vernon racked up 10 total tackles and 2.5 sacks while a defensive attack which allowed just 177 yards of total offense.
Vernon has 5.5 sacks in the last three games, giving him 10.0 for the season. And his progression in his second year has allowed the Dolphins to bring rookie Dion Jordan along slowly this year, since Vernon and Cameron Wake are playing at a high level. (Photo: Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
Eagles Punter Donnie Jones named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | December 4, 2013 | 1:40PM
For the second time in three weeks, Philadelphia Eagles punter Donnie Jones was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
Jones was as dominant as a punter can be during the Eagles' 24-21 win over the Cardinals at Lincoln Financial Field. He landed seven punts inside the 20-yard line, setting a team record and tying for the third-highest total in the NFL since the stat became official in 1976.
Jones also booted a 69-yard punt, two weeks after sending one 70 yards against the Redskins.
He's placed 29 punts inside the 20 this season, which is already tied for the second-most in Eagles history, behind Jeff Feagles' 31 in 1993.
Jones has the third-highest career gross punting average (45.3 yards) and the best net punting average in Eagles history (41.3). (Photo: Ron Cortes/Philadelphia Inquirer)
Mike Tomlin wants to pay his $100K fine and move on
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | December 4, 2013 | 1:04PM
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, who was fined $100,000 by the NFL for standing on the field in the path of Ravens kickoff returner Jacoby Jones on Thanksgiving, issued a statement confirming that he accepts the punishment and that he will not talk about it any longer.
"As I stated yesterday, I take full responsibility for my actions, and I apologize for causing negative attention to the Pittsburgh Steelers organization. I accept the penalty that I received. I will no longer address this issue as I am preparing for an important game this Sunday against the Miami Dolphins," Tomlin said.
Unfortunately this isn't the end of it for Tomlin, the NFL has announced they are also considering stripping draft choices from the Steelers as part of Tomlin's punishment. (Mitch Stringer/USA TODAY Sports)
Jerry Jones say's December is what people remember
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | December 4, 2013 | 12:41PM
Though December marks a time of celebration for many, the holiday season carries a different meaning for Dallas Cowboys fans — one of disappointment.
The Cowboys have won two straight games to push their November record to 3-1 and grab the NFC East lead, but Jerry Jones admits the season will ultimately be judged on the team's performance in the final month.
"We've always known that what they remember is what you do in December," Jones said via KRLD-FM.
And unfortunately for Dallas, Decembers haven't been kind to the Cowboys in recent years.
In 2011, Dallas dropped three of four December contests and a Jan. 1 date against the Giants to miss the playoffs. The team improved in 2012, going 3-2, but lost a de facto NFC East championship game to Washington in week 17.
The Cowboys have stumbled to an 11-15 December record with Tony Romo behind center, leading many to perceive the 11-year veteran as a choker who struggles on the biggest stage.
So what does Jones think of Romo's sub-.500 December record?
"I think it's real," said Jones. "You can probably tie that to why we have had disappointment in December. It's hard to build up enough edge to play at that level during December. You better have your arrow going up rather than going down."
The team's arrow is definitely pointing up coming off consecutive wins for just the second time in 2013. But the NFC East will yet again come down to the season's final month.
The team travels to Chicago, hosts Green Bay and visits Washington before closing the season at home against the Eagles, who are also 7-5.
Jones expects the Dallas defense to improve, saying definitively that linebacker Sean Lee will return to the field Monday night after missing two games with a hamstring injury. Cornerback Morris Claiborne is "questionable" to return, according to Jones.
But will Lee's return be enough to help Dallas overcome its December demons?
"We can't expect to be where we all want to be unless we play better than we've played the last two years." (Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Browns can't name starting quarterback
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 4, 2013 | 12:07PM
Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski has four quarterbacks. He just doesn't know which one of them will Sunday at New England.
Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell are both recovering from concussions and have not yet been cleared to practice. The Browns signed Caleb Hanie on Tuesday and brought in Alex Tanney last week after Campbell sustained a head injury. Chudzkinsi said Hanie and Tanney will split time with the first-team offense in practice on Wednesday.
Chudzinski said he would like to pick a starter as soon as possible but the decision could go right up until game time on Sunday.
Chudzinski called his quarterback situation "very fluid" and "unique" and he's keeping all options open as the week progresses.
Weeden was injured in Sunday's loss to Jacksonvillle. He passed for a career-high 370 yards and threw three TD passes.
Bengals Punter Kevin Huber named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 4, 2013 | 11:41AM
Cincinnati Bengals punter Kevin Huber is the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after tying a franchise record with a 75-yard punt against San Diego.
On the punt, which happened after the Bengals' first series, Chargers returner Keenan Allen misjudged the kick and it went over his head. It got a bounce and was downed by Dre Kirkpatrick at the Chargers 4. The only other 75-yarder in team history was by Kyle Larson, on Oct. 9, 2005 at Jacksonville.
On the day, Huber finished career game-highs for gross punting average (55.5) and net average (also 55.5). He raised his net average for the season by more than a full yard, from 40.5 to 41.6, and he moved up from ninth to fifth in the NFL net rankings.
Of the four punts by Huber, two were inside the 20. For the season he has 23 inside-20s against just two touchbacks, for a differential of plus-21.
Giants DE Justin Tuck name NFC Defensive Player of the Week
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | December 4, 2013 | 11:36AM
New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck's banner week concluded with an announcement today that he's been named NFC Defensive Player of the Week.
Tuck's four sacks in Sunday night's win over the Washington Redskins vaulted him into the top 30 among sack leaders (he now has 6 1/2).
It's the second time in Tuck's career that he's won the award, and he becomes the third Giants defensive player to win it in the team's last five games. Cornerback Terrell Thomas won it for his performance in Week 8 against the Eagles, and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul won it for his interception/touchdown in Week 11 against the Packers. (Photo: Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post)
Eric Decker named AFC Offensive Player of the Week
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | December 4, 2013 | 11:25AM
After his four-touchdown, 174-yard afternoon in Kansas City Sunday, Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker has been named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week.
Decker's four touchdowns in the Broncos' 35-28 win over the Chiefs were a franchise record, and three of his scores came in the second half of the game as the Broncos overcame an early 14-point deficit.
Decker's four receiving touchdowns tied Cincinnati's Marvin Jones for the most by a player in the NFL this season, and they're the highest total in a road game in more than six years. The last player to score four touchdowns in a road game was Randy Moss with the Patriots in 2007.
Decker is the third Bronco to win Offensive Player of the Week honors this season. Peyton Manning earned the recognition in Weeks 1 and 3, Demaryius Thomas in Week 10. (Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Russell Wilson earns NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 4, 2013 | 11:19AM
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week Wednesday.
Wilson threw for 310 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in Seattle's 34-7 win over the New Orleans Saints Monday night. He also ran eight times for 47 yards.
Since the Seahawks' only loss in Indianapolis, Wilson has thrown 14 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions, and in Seattle's last two games, Wilson has posted the top two passer ratings of his career -- 151.4 against Minnesota and 139.6 Monday.
Wilson is the third-highest rated quarterback in the NFL at 108.5. His 22 touchdowns are four shy of the 26 he threw all of last season. (Photo: Associated Press)
Mike Tomlin fined $100,000, Steelers still could lose draft pick
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 4, 2013 | 11:02AM
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has been fined $100,000 for interfering with a play in progress during last Thursday night's game against the Baltimore Ravens. In addition, because the conduct affected a play on the field, the Steelers could lose a draft pick. That will be considered after the final order of the 2014 draft has been determined.
The discipline was issued by NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Ray Anderson
With 6:26 remaining in the third quarter, Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones returned a kickoff 73 yards to the Pittsburgh 27. During the return, Tomlin – in violation of Rule 13, Section 1, Article 4 of the NFL rule book – was in the restricted white border that surrounds the playing field and nearly collided with Jones in the field of play.
Tomlin's positioning in the white border during play should have resulted in a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, but no flag was thrown.
Tomlin says he's "embarrassed" about his ill-timed venture onto the field, but stressed the move was not intentional. He apologized at length on Tuesday, saying he did not want to jeopardize the integrity of the game by defending his "inexcusable" actions.
Pete Carroll, Seahawks not satisfied with just being in playoffs
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | December 4, 2013 | 10:39AM
Pete Carroll gathered his team in the locker room and finally offered some congratulations.
For the first time all season, Carroll felt he could acknowledge the Seattle Seahawks earning something tangible when they routed New Orleans 34-7 on Monday night to become the first team in the NFL to clinch a playoff spot.
And as Carroll described on his weekly radio show Tuesday morning, the accomplishment was met with a collective "golf clap."
Even at 11-1, with the best record in the NFL and a 14-game home winning streak, the Seahawks remain unsatisfied, at least until they have clinched what's most important to them: Home-field advantage in the playoffs.
"We accomplished something; we're a playoff team, which is great to know that," Carroll said. "But that's not our goal, and we don't talk that way. You never hear these guys say, oh boy, we want to get into the playoffs. That's not the goal we set. We want to win this division, and that division gets us a chance to play at home, and that's what we're after. And then we'll talk about what comes next."
Will home-field advantage equate to a Super Bowl trip? Not necessarily.
The NFC playoffs have been rife with upsets in recent seasons. Only twice since the Seahawks' lone Super Bowl trip in 2005 has the No. 1 seed in the NFC reached the Super Bowl — the 2009 Saints and 2006 Bears.
History may not be on Seattle's side, but then few teams have the kind of home-field advantage the Seahawks enjoy.
What Seattle is accomplishing is not lost on its players.
After Monday's win, defensive end Red Bryant recalled his first two seasons in the league, when the Seahawks won a combined nine games.
"Everybody that is on this team understands that we are in a great position to do something that will last longer than our playing days and we're trying to take advantage of that every opportunity that we have," Bryant said.
Bills release RB Tashard Choice
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | December 4, 2013 | 10:14AM
The Buffalo Bills have cut little-used veteran running back Tashard Choice.
The team announced the move in a one-sentence release issued on Wednesday before the Bills (4-8) returned to practice to prepare for their game at Tampa Bay (3-9) on Sunday.
Choice is a six-year NFL veteran, who was in his third season in Buffalo. He ranks third on the team with 126 yards rushing behind co-starters C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson.
Choice's best outing came in a 35-17 loss at New Orleans on Oct. 27, when he had seven carries for 35 yards. He also has four catches for 10 yards.
5 former Chiefs sue team over head injuries
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | December 4, 2013 | 9:45AM
Five former Kansas City Chiefs players who were on the team between 1987 and 1993 filed a lawsuit Tuesday claiming the team hid and even lied about the risks of head injuries during that time period when there was no collective bargaining agreement in place in the NFL.
The lawsuit was filed in Jackson County Circuit Court on behalf of former players Leonard Griffin, Chris Martin, Joe Phillips, Alexander Louis Cooper and Kevin Porter, all of whom played on defense. It seeks more than $15,000 in actual and punitive damages. All five players have opted out of a multimillion-dollar settlement announced this summer that would compensate former players for their head injuries.
The Kansas City plaintiffs claim to be suffering from post-concussion syndrome and latent brain disease because of multiple concussions they sustained while playing for the Chiefs. They all claim also to be suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which can only be definitively diagnosed by examining the brain after death.
Martin, a Kansas City resident who played linebacker for the Chiefs from 1988 to 1993, said at a news conference he didn't know that continuing to play in games after sustaining a head injury would cause permanent damage.
"I would have liked to have the opportunity to know that going back on the field would cause me to have severe disabilities later in life," he said. "I didn't know that. That's what the lawsuit is about."
The lawsuit says the Chiefs ignored decades of research indicating that concussions cause long-term brain damage, instead referring to the injuries as "getting your bell rung" or a "ding." It accuses the team of lying to players in saying concussions are not serious injuries.
"Every time I would get a head injury I would stay in or come to the side and get smelling salts and go back in," Martin said. "The pressure was there. If you were first team, you got all the reps."
Plaintiffs' attorney Ken McClain called the proposed $765 million settlement between the NFL and former players insignificant and said it provides compensation only to the former players with the most severe brain injuries.
None of the five plaintiffs will get monetary compensation under that deal, he said.
"All they're going to be is monitored over time, but no relief will be offered to them," McClain said. "It's really a very small amount of money if you do the math. It's paid out over 20 years, it's $765 million total. It's a little under $20 million a year the teams are contributing to these very severely injured people. It's not very much money." (Photo: Associated Press)
Saints travel woes impact practice for Carolina
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 4, 2013 | 9:19AM
A long night on the field in Seattle got even worse off of it, and now the Saints are operating on a compressed time-frame as they brace for surging Carolina with first place in the NFC South at stake.
Forced to stay overnight in Seattle because of a delay of their charter flight, the Saints didn't get back to New Orleans until after 3 p.m. local time on Tuesday, nearly 12 hours after they had planned to return.
Players were sent home to get some rest and an afternoon of film study and conditioning at club headquarters was essentially wiped out.
Even before the flight delay, coach Sean Payton expressed concerned about not having his usual Monday-through-Saturday timeframe to prepare for the Panthers, who were able to start their preparations on Monday and will arrive in New Orleans riding an eight-game winning streak.
"One of the things that we discussed was just the quick turnaround," Payton said after Monday night's loss. "It's a setback and now you're on a short week, but we have to make the corrections. We can't just say it didn't happen. But that being said, we have to quickly get focused on Carolina. They're playing as good football as anybody in the league right now."
Team officials did not specify what caused the flight delay but confirmed the Saints did not take off until a little after noon EST.
The Saints will return to work Wednesday as they try to bounce back from a 34-7 drubbing that dropped them into a tie with Carolina atop the NFC South at 9-3 and set new marks for futility in the Payton era.
The seven points matched the fewest scored by the Saints since Payton became coach in 2006 and the 188 total yards were the fewest in his coaching tenure
Titans sign FB Quinn Johnson, TE Visanthe Shiancoe
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 3, 2013 | 10:02PM
The Tennessee Titans have signed fullback Quinn Johnson and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, and have placed fullback Collin Mooney on injured reserve with a knee problem.
The Titans also announced Tuesday they had waived linebacker Zac Diles and safety Shann Schillenger.
Johnson played 16 games for the Titans last season, but he was placed on injury reserve Sept. 7 and later was released with an injury settlement.
Shiancoe has caught 243 passes for 2,677 yards and 27 touchdowns in 10 NFL seasons. He played four games for the New England Patriots last year after spending four seasons with the New York Giants and five seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)
Packers aren't ruling out Rodgers for Sunday
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | December 3, 2013 | 9:25PM
The Green Bay Packers aren't ruling out Aaron Rodgers for Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons even though the star quarterback hasn't yet been medically cleared to play since breaking his left collarbone a month ago.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said that Rodgers will practice Wednesday in a limited fashion but that backup Matt Flynn would take the snaps with the starters.
"Aaron wants to play, there's no question about it," McCarthy said Tuesday. "But it's a medical situation. He has a clear understanding where he is as far as the process of getting back on the field. He feels good, and we're going to see what he can do tomorrow."
Speaking on his weekly radio show Tuesday night, Rodgers confirmed that he had an X-ray and CT scan earlier in the day and acknowledged that the outlook wasn't as promising as he'd hoped when he met with team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie.
"I saw the X-rays and scan," Rodgers said. "We're now four weeks and one day from my fracture. I've made a lot of progress. A lot of it is just the bone healing. Bone takes three to six weeks to heal. We all hoped we'd be on the short end of that.
"I trust Doc McKenzie. When I'm ready to play and everyone is on board, then I'm going to play," he added. "After we sat down Tuesday, I haven't had that full clearance. I'm not ruling myself out. I know there's a rush to get back out there. I feel it internally, but also externally. I desperately want to be out there, but it has to look good."
The Packers enter Sunday's game at 5-6-1 and are 0-4-1 since Rodgers was injured on the opening series of their loss to the Chicago Bears on Nov. 4. They've gone from 5-2 and on a four-game winning streak to needing to win their final four games and get some help to qualify for the playoffs for the fifth straight year.
"Ultimately, I'm not going to be able to play if I don't get medically cleared," Rodgers said.
Amid reports the team might shut Rodgers down if the team was out of playoff contention, McCarthy denied such a discussion has occurred.
"There has been no internal conversation about shutting Aaron Rodgers down," McCarthy said. "Aaron wants to play. When he's healthy, he'll be given the opportunity to play."
If Rodgers is not medically cleared to face the Falcons, Flynn is set to make his second straight start. (Photo: Andrew Weber/USA TODAY Sports)
Lions sign LB Stanford after Lewis suspension
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 3, 2013 | 8:43PM
The Detroit Lions say they signed linebacker Julian Stanford to fill a spot left by the suspension of linebacker Travis Lewis for using of performance-enhancing drugs.
The Lions announced the signing after Lewis's punishment became public Tuesday.
Stanford was with the Jacksonville Jaguars last year and played college ball at Wagner.
Lewis was suspended for the final four games of the regular season for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances. (Photo: Associated Press)
Kickoff Coverage Week 13 Power Rankings
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 3, 2013 | 8:05PM
1. Seattle Seahawks
2. Denver Broncos
3. Carolina Panthers
4. New England Patriots
5. New Orleans Saints
6. San Francisco 49ers
7. Cincinnati Bengals
8. Kansas City Chiefs
9. Indianapolis Colts
10. Philadelphia Eagles
11. Dallas Cowboys
12. Detroit Lions
13. Arizona Cardinals
14. Baltimore Ravens
15. Chicago Bears
16. Miami Dolphins
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
18. San Diego Chargers
19. St. Louis Rams
20. New York Giants
21. Green Bay Packers
22. Tennessee Titans
23. New York Jets
24. Buffalo Bills
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
26. Minnesota Vikings
27. Cleveland Browns
28. Oakland Raiders
29. Jacksonville Jaguars
30. Atlanta Falcons
31. Washington Redskins
32. Houston Texans
Chiefs sign DT Powe, release Love
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | December 3, 2013 | 7:36PM
The Kansas City Chiefs signed defensive tackle Jerrell Powe on Tuesday and released defensive tackle Kyle Love.
The 331-pound Powe was the Chiefs' sixth-round draft pick (199th overall) out of Ole Miss in 2011. He played in 10 games in 2011-12, recording six tackles, before he was released Sept. 1, 2013.
Love, a three-year NFL veteran, played in 42 games with the Patriots and Chiefs, playing in one game for Kansas City this season.
The Chiefs also said they had added rookie fullback Toben Opurum to the practice squad. The former University of Kansas defensive player was on the squad until his release Nov. 20. (Photo: Zimbio.com)
Jets place KR-WR Cribbs on IR, sign KR Reynaud
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | December 3, 2013 | 6:58PM
The New York Jets have placed kick returner-wide receiver Josh Cribbs on injured reserve and signed former Tennessee kick returner Darius Reynaud to replace him.
Cribbs injured his right shoulder in the Jets' 23-3 loss to Miami on Sunday. Coach Rex Ryan said Monday that the injury appeared "pretty serious."
Cribbs, signed by the Jets in October, averaged 24.5 yards on 20 kick returns and returned eight punts for a 12-yard average.
Reynaud was cut by the Titans in October after muffing a punt that resulted in a touchdown by San Francisco. He has two career punt returns for scores, and also has returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Reynaud, averaging 22.5 yards on kickoff returns and 9.7 on punts, has also spent time with the Giants and Minnesota Vikings. (Photo: Lee Weissman/Newsday)
Lions LB Lewis suspended for PED's
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | December 3, 2013 | 6:33PM
Detroit Lions linebacker Travis Lewis was suspended Tuesday for the final four games of the regular season for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances, according to several reports.
The 25-year-old Lewis is in his second season after being drafted in the seventh round in 2012. He has played 25 games for Detroit, with no starts, and his contributions have been mostly on special teams. Lewis is eligible to return on Dec. 30, one day after Detroit's regular-season finale against Minnesota.
"All NFL players know they are responsible for their actions, and they also know there are consequences when their actions are not consistent with league policy," Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said. "While we are disappointed that Travis violated league policy and will miss the next four games, we expect that Travis will learn from this experience and not repeat it."
In a statement released by the team, Lewis apologized to his coaches, teammates, fans and team.
"I have let my team down and there's nothing worse than that," he said. "I will not make the same mistake again. I look forward to returning to the team after I serve my suspension."
The Lions are 7-5 and have what is in effect a two-game lead in the NFC North after beating Green Bay 40-10 on Thanksgiving and the Chicago Bears lost to Minnesota over the weekend. They will face the Eagles, also 7-5, on Sunday. (Photo: Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports)
Colts promote Kenyan player to active roster
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 3, 2013 | 6:09PM
Linebacker Daniel Adongo could get his first real chance to play American football Sunday at Cincinnati.
Indianapolis (8-4) promoted the Kenyan rugby star to the 53-man active roster Tuesday along with offensive lineman Xavier Nixon from the practice squad.
At 6-foot-5, 257 pounds, Adongo was such an intriguing prospect the Colts signed him just before training camp opened even though he had never played American football. When the season began, the Colts stashed him on the practice squad, giving him more time to adapt to his new sport.
To make room for Adongo and Nixon, the Colts put linebacker Mario Harvey and running back Daniel Herron on season-ending injured reserve.
Indy also signed fullback Robert Hughes and defensive tackle Jeris Pendleton to the practice squad. (Photo: Colts.com)
Bengals bring back OT Dennis Roland
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 3, 2013 | 5:53PM
The Bengals have brought back offensive tackle Dennis Roland, adding to their depth on their injury-depleted line.
Left guard Clint Boling tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a 17-10 victory in San Diego on Sunday. The Bengals put him on injured reserve Tuesday.
Cincinnati is considering sliding left tackle Andrew Whitworth into Boling's spot and using Anthony Collins at left tackle, his best position. The Bengals (8-4) host the Colts (8-4) on Sunday. Indianapolis can clinch the AFC South championship with a win on Sunday or a Tennessee loss.
Roland has played for the Bengals since 2008. He played in the first three games this season and was released on Sept. 25. He re-signed with Cincinnati as a free agent. (Photo: bengals.com)
Fan pleads not guilty in stadium fall
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | December 3, 2013 | 5:27PM
A football fan who slid down a stadium railing during a Buffalo Bills game and fell onto a spectator below pleaded not guilty Tuesday to misdemeanor charges, according to an ESPN report.
Robert Hopkins, 29, was released without bail following his appearance in Orchard Park Town Court on charges of assault and reckless endangerment.
He declined to speak with reporters.
"This was an accident, plain and simple," Hopkins' attorney, Jeffrey Bochiechio, said after the hearing. "My client already apologized to the other man involved in the incident. There's really nothing more to say."
The charges carry a maximum one-year jail term.
Hopkins was charged three days after being caught on video sliding down a 300-level railing at Ralph Wilson Stadium and then toppling backward and falling about 30 feet into the 200 section during the Bills' Nov. 17 game against the Jets.
Hopkins and the fan he landed on were taken to a hospital and released later that day.
The Bills then permanently banned Hopkins from Ralph Wilson Stadium. The fall also apparently cost him his job at a public relations firm. With the video widely circulating online two days after the fall, his former employer issued a statement saying Hopkins no longer worked there.
Hopkins is due back in court on Jan. 28. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)
New details in Arrowhead Stadium death
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | December 3, 2013 | 4:59PM
A Missouri man who died Sunday after a struggle in the parking lot of Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium had gone to the game between the Chiefs and Broncos in a similar vehicle parked nearby, police said via the Kansas City Star Tuesday.
Police released the additional details in the death of Kyle A. Van Winkle, 30, of Smithville. Police have said it could take four to six weeks before authorities can determine how Van Winkle died after the altercation outside Arrowhead Stadium during Sunday's game. Police have said Van Winkle's body did not show obvious signs of trauma.
A man who owned a Jeep returned to the vehicle during the game and found Van Winkle inside, leading to a fight between the owner and Van Winkle, police said. Officers responding to a disturbance call found Van Winkle on the ground unconscious. He died later at a hospital. Three people were taken into custody Sunday evening, but all were released Monday with no charges filed.
Police have said investigators are awaiting autopsy and toxicology reports before deciding whether Van Winkle's death was the result of a crime.
Police spokesman Officer Darin Snapp confirmed Tuesday that the Jeep that Van Winkle was found in was similar to vehicle he had arrived in, and that the Jeep that Van Winkle arrived in was parked nearby. The Jeep that Van Winkle was found in also showed no signs of a break-in and was unlocked when Van Winkle climbed in, according to Snapp. (Photo: Associated Press)
Peyton Manning responds to fan's wedding invitation
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 3, 2013 | 4:22PM
Just because Peyton Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time doesn't mean he's forgotten about the regular folk -- for instance, when a bride-to-be sent him a random wedding invitation, he actually took the time to reply.
Anna and James mailed the Broncos quarterback a wedding invite. Manning "regretfully declined" because he was raised right.
According to Joan Niesen of the Denver Post, this is nothing new, Manning is known for diligently responding to fan mail.
Reddit user LackadaisicalRomp posted a picture of Manning's RSVP Monday, with the caption, "My sister sent a wedding invitation to Peyton Manning."
One reddit user responded with, "Eli replied too, but his response was intercepted."
You have to love the way NFL fans always have a way making a competition out of anything. (Photo: Reddit)
Bills sign OT Johnson-Webb to practice squad
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | December 3, 2013 | 3:40PM
The Buffalo Bills have shuffled their practice squad depth at offensive line by signing Jamaal Johnson-Webb and releasing Manase Foketi.
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 306 pounds, Johnson-Webb spent part of this season on the Chicago Bears' and Minnesota Vikings' practice squads. He played 45 games at Alabama A&M and went undrafted in April before signing with Arizona.
The Bills announced the moves during their day off, Tuesday. Buffalo (4-8) returns to practice Wednesday and will travel to play Tampa Bay (3-9) on Sunday.
Dome owners fight to keep Rams in St. Louis
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | December 3, 2013 | 3:03PM
The owners of the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis remain hopeful the Rams won't leave after city leaders rejected $700 million in upgrades sought by the team.
The Rams can break their lease after the 2014 season but have said little about their plans.
The lease requires the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority to provide the team with a "first-tier" stadium by 2015, which is 20 years after the building opened.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has taken over negotiations with Rams owner Stan Kroenke after arbitration between the team and the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission failed. The commission operates the dome.
Board chairman Jim Shrewsbury said Tuesday that dome officials haven't given up on keeping the team. (Photo: Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press)
Mike Tomlin says his on-field venture was 'inexcusable'
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | December 3, 2013 | 2:37PM
Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin says he's "embarrassed" about his ill-timed venture onto the field in last Thursday night's loss to Baltimore but stressed the move was not intentional.
Tomlin apologized at length on Tuesday, saying he did not want to jeopardize the integrity of the game by defending his "inexcusable" actions. Tomlin nearly collided with Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones after lingering too close to the field of play in the third quarter of a 22-20 Baltimore win.
Tomlin says he spoke with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday and will accept any punishment from the league. The coach added he was "mesmerized" watching Jones' long return and didn't realize he was in danger of interfering with the play until it was too late. (Photo: Nick Wass/Associated Press)
Jerry Jones says Sean Lee with return and play vs. Bears on MNF
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | December 3, 2013 | 1:42PM
Cowboys middle linebacker Sean Lee said Monday that there was a good chance that he'd return from a hamstring injury this week in the match-up with the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football.
On Tuesday morning, owner and general manager Jerry Jones confirmed the news, telling 105.3-FM The Fan that Lee would be back in the starting lineup in Chicago after missing the past two games, a pair of wins over the Giants and the Raiders, with the injury. Lee was originally given a three-to-four week timetable to return after he suffered the injury in New Orleans on Nov. 10.
Jones added that cornerback Morris Claiborne remains a question mark going into this week's match-up. This isn't all that surprising, given that Claiborne himself said earlier in the week that he would test the hamstring this week, but he didn't sound terribly optimistic.
Despite missing two games, Lee leads the team in interceptions (4) and is second in tackles (93). The 27-year-old is currently ranked as the sixth-best inside linebacker by Pro Football Focus. (Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Broncos DE Derek Wolfe released from hospital
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 3, 2013 | 1:11PM
Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe was released from a hospital Monday. So far, a battery of tests have not specifically determined why he suffered a seizure-like episode on a team bus Friday afternoon, Mike Kils of the Denver Post reports.
According to Kils, Wolfe had been experiencing weight loss and stress this season before his episode.
He's the second Broncos' starting defensive player in two years to experience seizure symptoms. Cornerback Tracy Porter had an episode as the Broncos were getting ready to fly to San Diego last season. Porter was out 11 weeks before he played again.
Wolfe is not expected to be out that long, but he won't be rushed back, and he probably won't play Sunday against Tennessee.
"They're still running tests," Broncos coach John Fox said Monday on his first day back from a four-week medical leave. "I think they're still trying to get a handle on what happened and compare it. I'm not saying it's nearly the same, but some of the same things we went through with Tracy Porter a year ago.
"Right now we're not thinking about his availability or any of that stuff. We're just concerned about his health, and medical people are working through that as we speak." (Photo: Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY Sports)
Mike Tomlin: Anyone who thinks I did it on purpose is crazy
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | December 3, 2013 | 12:44PM
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is being accused of intentionally positioned himself on the field in an effort to slow the Ravens' Jacoby Jones' clear path to the end zone during their Thanksgiving night matchup. Instead of Jones scoring six, he was tackled by Cortez Allen and the Ravens had to eventually settle for a field goal.
On Monday, Tomlin told FOX Football Daily's Jay Glazer, "If anybody thinks I or anybody else would do this on purpose they are crazy."
"I always watch the returns on the Jumbotron. It provides better perspective for me," Tomlin said after the game at M&T Bank Stadium. "Obviously, I lost my placement as he broke free and saw at the last second how close I was to the field of play. I do it quite often, like everybody else in the National Football League. I was wrong. I accept responsibility for it."
FOX Football Daily's Howie Long said, "It's a brain fart. That's what it is."
But the court of public opinion seems to think otherwise -- Tomlin deliberately tried to impede Jones' progress and should be punished severely because of it.
Meanwhile, Tomlin told his players that they don't need to defend him.
"I was advised that he didn't need any help in this situation and I shouldn't say much," safety Ryan Clark said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
"He didn't advise us not to speak, but coach 'T' said he didn't need any help," Clark continued. "He was like, he understands the situation, he understands the process that has to happen. He was like, 'So I don't need you guys speaking up for me and trying to defend me.' He'll be fine."
Cowboys looking for help at running back
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | December 3, 2013 | 12:31PM
After losing Lance Dunbar for the rest of the season, just as he was starting to put up good numbers, the Dallas Cowboys are hurting at the running back position.
According to former personnel man Bryan Broaddus of the Cowboys' official website, the team will be working out a couple of running backs on Tuesday.
Running backs Armando Allen, Curtis Brinkley, Delone Carter and Shaun Draughn and fullback Tyler Clutts, will all be auditioning for the Boys at Valley Ranch.
Reliant Stadium security guards fired for taking pictures with Tom Brady
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 3, 2013 | 12:24PM
Two security guards working Sunday's Houston Texans game claim they were fired after taking a picture with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Joel Williams, who was working security at Reliant Stadium, said he took his part-time job very seriously.
"When you are at your post and you're doing your job, you're not supposed to take pictures with anybody because your job is to secure that area," Williams said Monday.
But after the game, Williams said he was ready to clock out when he had a chance run-in with Brady.
"I said, 'Hey Tom Brady, good job, good game man.' He looked at me and smiled," Williams said. "He was very polite, very nice guy, humble. Sometimes I see players and say hello, and they just keep walking."
The interaction led to a picture of the two posing together.
"Immediately after I took the picture, I got ran down by a supervisor," Williams said. "They didn't' really give a reason, they said you know you're wrong and you're fired."
Williams' co-worker Christopher Moore also took a picture with the Patriots star quarterback.
He wonders why they were targeted, especially since he says he has seen other employees do the same.
"What they say and what they practice are two different things," Moore said, "What we see on a daily basis, whether it be Reliant or CSC employees, is them taking picture and asking for autographs from players."
But Williams thinks it was pettiness after a tough loss and fraternizing with the enemy that got him canned, but CSC stood by the decision. They sent KHOU 11 News in Houston this statement:
"It is strictly against CSC policy for its employees to request photos or autographs from players. CSC stands by its decision to terminate the two employees who violated this policy."
However, Williams doesn't believe he did anything wrong since he had completed his duties for the day.
"Throw away all the trash from the sidelines, escort all the people out, then we're through." Williams said.
Aaron Rodgers to have test done on collarbone Tuesday
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | December 3, 2013 | 12:03PM
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is scheduled to have scans performed on his shoulder Tuesday that should determine how much healing has occurred since he fractured his collarbone, Ed Werder of ESPN reports.
Team doctors will evaluate the results, discuss them with Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy. A determination is expected to be made later Tuesday as to whether Rodgers will play Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
McCarthy has said he believes the Packers need to win out in their final four games for a chance at the playoffs and they're winless in five games without Rodgers.
"There's a lot riding on this decision,'' a source close to the situation told Werder.
Sources in the organization have noted that the Packers' medical staff tends to be extremely conservative and there's concern that Rodgers could easily be reinjured if he returns to the field prematurely. (Photo: Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports)
John Harbaugh unsure about Dennis Pitta's availability
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | December 3, 2013 | 11:42AM
The Baltimore Ravens have until Dec. 11 to activate tight end Dennis Pitta to the 53-man roster or they will be forced to leave him on the injured reserved for the remainder of the season.
Coach John Harbaugh was noncommittal when asked Monday whether Pitta will be activated prior to this weekend's game against the Minnesota Vikings.
"It will probably come down to the end of the week," Harbaugh said via ESPN. "I've got a pretty good idea that he is doing well. It's just a matter of how well. Is he feeling good enough that the doctors feel like he's ready to play?
"That's reality what it's going to come down to. He ran around well last week and we'll go through the week this week and see how he does. We want to get him up. That's our goal. But it's not 100-percent certain at this point."
The Ravens must activate Pitta by Saturday afternoon if they want to have him available for the Vikings. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
With 2 QBs concussed, Browns sign Caleb Hanie
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 3, 2013 | 11:20AM
With Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell recovering from concussions, the Browns signed quarterback Caleb Hanie, who could start this week at New England.
The Browns worked out Hanie last week, but decided to sign Alex Tanney off Dallas' practice squad. Tanney backed up Weeden on Sunday against Jacksonville. Weeden was diagnosed with a concussion following the loss to the Jaguars and is following the NFL's program for head injuries.
Hanie gives the Browns another option as a starter this week against the Patriots. Coach Rob Chudzinski may choose to start him over Tanney because he has started four regular-season games.
Hanie spent four seasons backing up Jay Cutler in Chicago and spent last season behind Peyton Manning in Denver.
Campbell sustained a concussion last week against Pittsburgh. He has been cleared for football activities but not practice. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)
Saints return to New Orleans delayed
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | December 3, 2013 | 10:39AM
A flight delay is forcing the New Orleans Saints to spend much of Tuesday in the air instead of starting preparations for Sunday night's pivotal NFC South clash with the Carolina Panthers.
Team officials did not specify what caused the delay but spokesman Doug Miller confirmed the Saints were still waiting to leave Seattle at around 11 a.m. EST.
With a flight of more than four hours crossing two time zones, the Saints were not expected to land until mid- to late-afternoon.
New Orleans lost 34-7 to the Seahawks on Monday night, and then was forced to spend the night in Seattle rather than fly home overnight.
The loss dropped the Saints into a tie with the Carolina Panthers atop the NFC South Division at 9-3. (Photo: Scott Eklund)
Ground about to be broken at Minn. Vikings stadium
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | December 3, 2013 | 10:04AM
Politicians, Vikings executives and possibly a few notable former players will be on hand at the groundbreaking ceremony for the team's new $1 billion stadium.
The Tuesday morning program inside the soon-to-be-demolished Metrodome is open to the public, but there are only a few hundred seats available. Tickets are one per person and first-come, first-serve starting at 9 a.m. in a tent near Gate D.
Speeches start at 10 a.m. Gov. Mark Dayton and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak will be there along with team owners Zygi and Mark Wilf. Officials from the sports facilities authority and the construction and design firms are also participating.
Following that, participants gather outside to toss the ceremonial dirt.
Metrodome demolition is due soon after the last Vikings home game on Dec. 29. (Photo: Minnesota Vikings/HKS)
Seattle fans set new stadium noise record
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | December 3, 2013 | 9:40AM
The Seattle Seahawks fans have set a new noise record for loudest outdoor sports stadium, taking back a mark they achieved earlier this season.
An official from Guinness World Records recorded the crowd noise at 137.6 decibels during the Seahawks victory over the New Orleans Saints on Monday night. The record came during the second quarter of Seattle's 34-7 victory and was announced on the Seahawks Twitter page.
Seahawks fans had set a record of 136.6 in a win over San Francisco in September. The mark was topped by Kansas City fans in October with 137.5 decibels.
To put that in perspective, a jet engine at 100 feet is about 140 decibels. (Photo: Associated Press)
Texans Antonio Smith sorry for "spying" comment about Patriots
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 3, 2013 | 9:22AM
Houston Texans defensive end Antonio Smith apologized Monday for using the word "spying" about New England, but didn't exactly back down from the accusations he made after the Texans' loss to the Patriots.
On Sunday after Houston's 34-31 loss, Smith told reporters that the Texans had some new wrinkles in their defense and it was "miraculous" how the Patriots changed their offense to key on the defense.
He said then: "Either teams are spying on us or scouting us. I don't know what it is."
On Monday, he said that he thought reporters in Houston knew him well enough to know that he could be joking and still be curious about something like this at the same time.
"I'm sorry I said the word spying because of a prior engagement of them being caught spying before," he said.
The NFL fined New England coach Bill Belichick $500,000 and the team $250,000 and took away a first-round pick in the 2008 draft for videotaping New York Jets signals during a game on Sept. 9, 2007. Belichick said he thought that was allowed and apologized for what he said was a mistake in his interpretation of the rule prohibiting it.
Smith said Monday that he was surprised his comments caused such a stir and wondered why no one had a sense of humor about what he said.
"Though it may be something I was curious about that kind of didn't seem right," he said. "Like how all of a sudden the change here? It wasn't a serious matter to where I was thinking: 'Aw man, they're spying on us. They're cheating. Things like that to the point where it gets to a big story about me accusing them of cheating. It's me being me, being funny." (Photo: Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports)
Wilson leads dominant Seahawks over Saints
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | December 3, 2013 | 12:04AM
Russell Wilson threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns, and the Seattle Seahawks became the first team to clinch a spot in the NFC playoffs with a 34-7 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Monday night.
More important than just wrapping up a spot in the postseason, the Seahawks (11-1) moved two games ahead on the rest of the NFC in the race for home-field advantage and now hold tiebreakers over New Orleans (9-3) and Carolina (9-3), the two closest pursuers.
Wilson was outstanding, picking apart the Saints' defense. He threw touchdown passes of 2 yards to Zach Miller and 4 yards to Doug Baldwin in the first half as Seattle built a 27-7 lead. He then added a pinball 8-yard TD pass to Derrick Coleman in the third quarter.
The seven points matched the fewest scored by the Saints since Sean Payton became coach in 2006.
Rams C Wells sidelined with broken left ankle
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | December 2, 2013 | 8:45PM
Rams center Scott Wells is likely out for the rest of the season after he broke his left ankle in the first half of Sunday's 23-13 loss at San Francisco.
Wells started the first 12 games of the year. Tim Barnes, in his second season in the NFL, replaced Wells against the 49ers and likely will get the start on Sunday at Arizona.
Wells spent his first eight seasons in Green Bay, where he started 100 games. He made seven starts last season in his first year with the Rams.
Percy Harvin inactive for Seahawks against Saints
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | December 2, 2013 | 7:51PM
Wide receiver Percy Harvin is inactive for the Seattle Seahawks two weeks after making his debut for the team.
Harvin was listed as doubtful on Saturday's final injury report as he continued to struggle with soreness in his surgically repaired hip. Coach Pete Carroll had said it was unlikely Harvin would make it back against the Saints after he sat out the entire week of practice.
With Harvin out, the Seahawks have only four healthy wide receivers on the roster for the showdown with the Saints.
New Orleans is without backup linebacker Keyunta Dawson (calf) and reserve defensive end Glenn Foster (knee). Both Dawson and Foster were listed as questionable. Foster did not practice all week, while Dawson's injury popped up during practice this week.
Trestman not backing away from field goal decision
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | December 2, 2013 | 7:34PM
A day later, Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman wasn't backing down.
He insisted he made the right move when he decided to go for a winning field goal on a second down in overtime at Minnesota on Sunday even if the decision did not pan out.
Trestman called on Robbie Gould for a 47-yarder that sailed wide right rather than run another play or two, and the Bears suffered a crushing 23-20 loss. Trestman acknowledged he second guesses himself "a lot afterward."
"I want to be perfect for the guys," he said. "And when things don't work, I hold myself accountable for it because I'm making every decision in the best interest."
He was adamant: Going for the field goal was the right call at that moment, that the decision did not fuel any second guessing in his mind.
"It does not. It really does not," he said.
The Bears were moving the ball after Minnesota's Blair Walsh had a 39-yard field goal wiped out by a holding penalty and missed a 57-yarder.
Chicago took over at its 47. Matt Forte ran for 24 yards over the next five plays to put the ball on the 29, and that's where Trestman decided it was time to end this thing.
So he called on Gould, one of the most accurate kickers in league history, but the plan backfired.
Minnesota went the other way for a winning 34-yard field goal by Walsh that dealt a serious blow to Chicago's playoff hopes and sparked a discussion about Trestman's decision.
Why didn't he call at least another play to try to get closer, particularly given how the offense has moved this season and the defense has struggled?
Trestman said the ball was in the middle of the field, the kick was within Gould's range and he didn't want to risk a penalty or a fumble.
But is the angle of the kick that important in a dome, where there's no wind?
Something else to consider: Although Gould is 6 of 7 on attempts from the 40 to the 49 this season, he's just 72.2 percent from that range in his career.
By comparison, he's converted 90.6 percent on attempts from the 30 to 39.
"I didn't do it from an analytics standpoint," Trestman said. "I did it from having been around Robbie the entire year and knowing how he kicks the ball and watching him kick in practice. I had no doubt that he was going to make the kick. You could say that about any kick. But there wasn't analytics involved as much as there was, we're clearly in his range. We're in the middle of the field. We don't know what's going to happen on the next play, but it has a chance of not being in the middle of the field. I thought that was well worth the risk."
He did not consider the possibility of fatigue playing a role in the miss, with Gould playing just hours after the birth of his son.
The decision to attempt a field goal also went against the grain of a coach who's been willing to gamble. Trestman's gone for it on fourth down several times this season, including a key fourth-and-1 conversion that helped seal a win at Green Bay.
"Every decision to do the things that we do, are based on this game," Trestman said. "So I didn't call on other experiences in other weeks, other than to make the decision that was best for our team yesterday."
Colts DT Ricky Jean Francois out 2-4 weeks
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 2, 2013 | 6:30PM
The Indianapolis Colts won a critical 22-14 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, but the team suffered a big loss on the injury front, Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star reports.
Head coach Chuck Pagano announced on Monday that starting defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois will be sidelined for two to four weeks with a partial tear of his plantar fascia. The injury is similar to one that sidelined rookie outside linebacker Bjoern Werner for three weeks earlier this season.
Pagano said Fili Moala will move into Francois' spot and be backed up by rookie Montori Hughes, who was a game-day inactive Sunday.
Jean-Francois has been a solid addition to the Colts after signing with the team in March. Without him, their depth will be tested, though his time frame should allow him back for the playoffs.
Arians: 'Many problems' in officiating in Philly
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 2, 2013 | 5:42PM
Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians says there "were obviously very many problems" with the officiating in the Cardinals' 24-21 loss at Philadelphia and he has sent video of "about 15" plays to the NFL for review.
Of particular concern were three plays near the end of the game.
One was a holding call on safety Tyrann Mathieu that negated Patrick Peterson's interception. Another was a holding call on linebacker Matt Shaughnessy on the Eagles' final possession. A third was a no-call when the Cardinals felt there was pass interference on a fourth-down incompletion to Michael Floyd the last time Arizona had the ball.
Arians says the calls possibly could cost his team a spot in the playoffs but he wants the Cardinals to abandon talk about officiating and concentrate on next Sunday's game against St. Louis.
Smith says he's been told he's still Jets starter
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | December 2, 2013 | 4:59PM
Geno Smith says he has been told by quarterbacks coach David Lee that he will remain the starter when the New York Jets play the Oakland Raiders.
Smith was benched in favor of Matt Simms at halftime of the Jets' 23-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins following another brutal performance. The rookie was 4 for 10 for 29 yards with an interception and an 8.3 quarterback rating in two quarters.
He has one touchdown — against New England on Oct. 20 — and 11 interceptions in his last seven games.
Smith will get the start against Oakland over Simms and veteran David Garrard, who hasn't played a regular-season game since 2010.
Coach Rex Ryan is expected to address the decision at his news conference later Monday.
Steelers RB LeVeon Bell feels 'lucky' after big hit
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | December 2, 2013 | 4:26PM
Le'Veon Bell knows it could have been worse.
The Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back considers himself "lucky" he sustained nothing worse than a concussion after taking a big hit from Baltimore defensive back Jimmy Smith at the goal line of Thursday's 22-20 loss to the Ravens.
Bell was attempting to bring Pittsburgh within a 2-point conversion late in the fourth quarter when he crashed into Smith. The collision jarred Bell's helmet loose. By rule, the play was ruled dead immediately, nullifying an apparent touchdown.
Turns out, not scoring was the least of Bell's worries. He acknowledged Monday he was "out of it a little bit" as trainers took him off the field and wasn't aware the touchdown was negated until much later. Pittsburgh scored on the following play but couldn't execute the 2-point conversion, falling to 5-7 with a month left in the regular season.
Bell was able to run on Monday but held out of full practice. He has taken the ImPACT test under NFL guidelines and it's unclear if he'll be available for Sunday's game against Miami (6-6).
Having 10 days between games could give Bell enough time to heal. But the 21-year-old is simply thankful he didn't leave the field on a stretcher.
"I'm glad that nothing seriously wrong happened," he said. "It was definitely an ugly hit. I don't remember the exact play. But once I seen the film, I know what it looks like now."
Bell leads the Steelers with 528 yards rushing and five touchdowns. He is also fifth on the team with 33 receptions. Taken in the second round of the 2013 draft because of his versatility, he has given Pittsburgh's struggling running game some needed stability.
If Bell can't play, the Steelers will turn to Jonathan Dwyer or Felix Jones when they face the Dolphins. Whoever is in the backfield will play behind an offensive line that can't seem to stay healthy.
NFL keeps Bengals-Steelers night game
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | December 2, 2013 | 3:44PM
The NFL will keep the AFC North matchup between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh as the prime-time game on Sunday, Dec. 15.
The Bengals (8-4) lead the division and will visit the Steelers (5-7), whom they beat in Week 2 at Cincinnati.
However, the league is moving the Saints-Rams game in St. Louis and the Cardinals-Titans game in Nashville to 4:25 p.m. ET.
Vikings start yet another week with QB unsettled
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 2, 2013 | 3:17PM
Another week has brought another quarterback quandary for the Minnesota Vikings.
Matt Cassel played well enough in relief of Christian Ponder to take over the job. Ponder left Sunday's win over Chicago with a concussion.
Coach Leslie Frazier declined Monday to declare Cassel the new starter. Frazier said there's no rush to decide.
The Vikings play at Baltimore this week.
Frazier also didn't directly answer a question about whether Josh Freeman will be considered for the job against the Ravens. He was inactive Sunday against the Bears. Ponder took a hit to the head in the second quarter and did not return.
Frazier said Ponder's injury is a "concern."
Chiefs unlikely to have Houston back for Redskins
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | December 2, 2013 | 2:31PM
Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid did not sound optimistic that he'll have leading pass rusher Justin Houston back for next Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins.
Houston dislocated his right elbow two weeks ago against San Diego and missed Sunday's 35-28 loss to Denver, a game in which the Chiefs failed to sack quarterback Peyton Manning.
Reid said Monday it would be "quite a feat" if Houston could play in Washington.
Left tackle Branden Albert hyperextended his left knee against the Broncos, while tight end Anthony Fasano sustained a concussion. Reid did not say with any certainty whether either of them will be available against the Redskins.
Fasano missed four games earlier this season with an ankle injury.
John Fox returns to work
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | December 2, 2013 | 1:50PM
Denver Broncos coach John Fox has returned to work, less than a month after undergoing open-heart surgery to have his aortic valve fixed.
Fox missed the toughest stretch of the season before coming back Monday morning. During his absence, defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio guided the Denver Broncos (10-2) into first place in the AFC West by winning three of four games.
They won at San Diego and swept Kansas City, and in Del Rio's words, came "within an eyelash" of going 4-0. They lost 34-31 at New England two weeks ago.
Executive vice president John Elway presented Del Rio with a game ball after Denver's 35-28 win at Kansas City on Sunday.
Fox has no restrictions, but it's likely that he'll coach from the booth and not the sideline this Sunday against Tennessee.
Tom Brady has moved on from Antonio Smith's accusation of spying
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | December 2, 2013 | 1:01PM
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady didn't seem too concerned on Monday about Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith's "spying" charges in the wake of New England's 34-31 victory over the Texans on Sunday.
"I don't really think much of it, truthfully," Brady said of Smith's comments on his weekly radio show on WEEI in Boston. "I just kind of have moved on."
"Execution is the name of the game. We did a good job there in the second half," Brady said.
Trailing 17-7 at halftime, Brady completed 18 of 23 passes for 263 yards in the second half and directed five scoring drives, including three touchdowns, to help the Patriots rally for the win.
After the game, Smith said, "Either teams are spying on us or scouting us . . . I don't know what it is."
Smith said it was "miraculous" that the Patriots were able to adapt their offense around what he said was a unique Texans' game plan. But Brady dismissed that.
"They definitely did some different things than we were expecting, but nothing that really blew our mind," he said.
As for Patriots coach Bill Belichick, he was his normally open self on matters in his meeting with the Boston media.
"Yeah, I saw them," Belichick told the Boston Globe in regard to the comments. "I don't have any comment on them. That's a league matter."
Harvin has cortisone shot into surgically repaired hip
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | December 2, 2013 | 12:19PM
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin has yet to be officially ruled out for Monday's game vs. the New Orleans Saints, but it's looking like he won't suit up and play, according to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports.
Garafolo reports that Harvin saw doctors on Saturday to get a cortisone injection into his surgically repaired hip. This is the second time the hip flared up since Harvin has returned to action. The first time was while he was practicing in October in advance of being added to the active roster. When that flare up occurred, Harvin had to have his hip drained.
Harvin's toughness was questioned while he was a member of the Minnesota Vikings and he doesn't want that label slapped on him to start his tenure with the Seahawks, so he's taking the injections and undergoing the procedures to play through the issues that are nagging him.
The problem is it doesn't seem like Harvin will be able to play a few weeks in a row without any issues, yet Monday's game and Sunday's matchup with the San Francisco 49ers are the biggest ones left on Seattle's schedule.
Champ Bailey benched on final drive vs. Chiefs
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | December 2, 2013 | 11:34AM
With the Denver Broncos leading the Kansas City Chiefs by just seven points in the fourth quarter, 12-time Pro Bowler Champ Bailey was benched in favor of rookie Kayvon Webster and veteran Quentin Jammer.
Bailey wasn't sat because he suffered an injury. It was a coaches decision.
"I've got to get my mind back right, got to get my body back right," Bailey said, per The Denver Post. "That combination, plus being 35, it's tough. It's a tough game. It's a young man's game."
Interim coach and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said the Broncos came in with a plan to keep Bailey on a pitch count because he'd missed the previous four games.
"We knew we weren't going to try to play him 80 snaps on the first day back," Del Rio said. "The plan was to rotate him through and not have him play too much in the first game back in (six) weeks."
It's smart for the Broncos to keep Bailey -- who's missed nine of 12 games this season -- on a snap count, but don't let Del Rio fool you. If Bailey were his old self, then he would have been on the field for the crucial drive.
There were questions in the offseason about Bailey moving to safety. Those questions will multiply this year, if the cornerback decides he wants to play a 16th season.
Browns' Weeden suffers concussion
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | December 2, 2013 | 10:47AM
Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden is following NFL protocol for a head injury, leaving Cleveland without a healthy starter for this week.
Weeden was injured in Sunday's loss at home to Jacksonville. Browns coach Rob Chudzinski does not know when Weeden, who threw three touchdown passes while filling in for the injured Jason Campbell, got hurt.
Chudzinski said Campbell has been cleared for football activities but not yet for practice. Campbell is still recovering from a concussion sustained last week on a blind-side hit by Pittsburgh's William Gay.
Chudzinski said all options are open until the team knows more about Campbell's status for this week's game at New England.
If Campbell can't play, Chudzinski said the Browns could start Alex Tanney, signed last week off Dallas' practice squad, or possibly sign a free agent.
End of Giants-Redskins game marred by mistake by officiating crew
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | December 2, 2013 | 10:01AM
The Washington Redskins were eliminated from playoff contention with their 24-17 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday night, and adding to their frustration was an officiating error that's sure to invite NFL scrutiny.
With two minutes to play and Washington trailing by a touchdown, the Redskins had a second-and-five at their 36. Robert Griffin III hit Pierre Garcon for a short gain that looked to be just shy of a first down.
Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said later that he asked officials for a measurement and was told by them, "You don't have to; it's a first down."
Sure enough, the crew moved the chains to indicate first down, and Griffin ran a first-down-type play, a long pass to tight end Fred Davis that was dropped.
As it turned out, however, that was third down. Although the chain gang had moved downfield, the officials never ruled it a first down. So, instead of, say, a short-yardage run to get the first, the Redskins -- believing they already had the first -- had tried a lower-percentage play.
"After I saw it was fourth down, I asked [the official], 'You already told me it was first down.' He didn't say anything," Shanahan said.
Said Griffin: "All I know is we had the pass to Fred, [and] we thought that was first down. The chains said first down. When we came back, we think it's second-and-10, and they're yelling out it's fourth down. ... No explanation, no measurement. They didn't stop the clock to allow the chains to move back. We decided to call the play and go for it on fourth down."
The Redskins would have gotten the first down anyway, as Griffin again connected with Garcon for a six-yard gain on fourth-and-1, but Giants safety Will Hill pried the ball out of the receiver's hands, ending Washington's last-gasp drive.
Afterward, referee Jeff Triplette defended the officials' actions during the sequence in question, telling a pool reporter: "I feel like we signaled third down. The stakes just got moved incorrectly."
Tuck's four sacks lead Giants over Redskins
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 1, 2013 | 11:51PM
Eli Manning completed 22 of 28 passes for 235 yards, and Justin Tuck had four sacks to help shut down Robert Griffin III in the second half Sunday night, leading the New York Giants to a 24-17 win over the Washington Redskins.
Andre Brown had a pair of touchdown runs, including a 1-yarder early in the fourth quarter that put the Giants ahead for good.
Griffin was 16 for 17 at halftime, but he went 8 for 15 in the second half, and the Redskins managed only 95 total yards after halftime.
The win keeps the Giants (5-7) two games behind NFC East leaders Dallas and Philadelphia with four to play, while the Redskins (3-9) were mathematically eliminated from the postseason for the 17th time in 21 years.
Two in custody after homicide in Arrowhead parking lot
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 1, 2013 | 10:14PM
One man is dead and two suspects are in custody following an altercation in an Arrowhead Stadium parking as the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos played each other on Sunday.
Kansas City police Chief Darryl Forte said via Twitter that police were on the scene investigating a homicide.
According to the Kansas City Star, the incident was reported after 5:00 p.m. CT. Officers were sent to Parking Lot A. When they arrived they found a white male in his 30s laying unconscious on the ground. The victim was rushed to an area hospital where he later died.
KCTV5 reports that sources informed them that a man and his son had gone to their vehicle during the game. When they arrived, they found another man rifling through the vehicle and a fight broke out. The man who apparently did not belong in the vehicle died.
Police officials did not say whether the two in custody were the father and his son or not. (Photo: David Eulitt/The Kansas City Star)
Texans' DE Antonio Smith thinks something's "fishy" with Patriots; maybe they're still spying on teams
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 1, 2013 | 9:11PM
Houston defensive end Antonio Smith questioned how New England knew what the Texans were going to do on defense after a 34-31 win by the Patriots on Sunday.
Smith told reporters after the game Houston had some new wrinkles in its defense this week and it was "miraculous" how the Patriots changed their offense to key on the defense.
"I'm very suspicious," Smith said via the Houston Chronicle. "I just think it will be a big coincidence if that just happened by chance. I don't know for sure, but I just know it was something that we practiced this week.
The NFL fined New England coach Bill Belichick $500,000 and the team $250,000 and took away a first-round pick in the 2008 draft for videotaping New York Jets signals during a game on Sept. 9, 2007. Belichick said he thought that was allowed and apologized for what he said was a mistake in his interpretation of the rule prohibiting it.
The loss extended Houston's franchise-record skid to 10 games. The Texans were up 17-7 at halftime before New England rallied for the win.
"You can tell they changed their scheme in the second half," Smith said. "It's miraculous they changed some things on offense that keyed on what we put on this week to stop what they were doing. They did things they never did all year before. It was a specific thing that was important to what we were going to do today, as to how we were going to call the defense. We'd not ever did it before, and they never changed like that before. It just let me know that something wasn't right. It was kind of fishy."
Smith wouldn't offer specifics but he remained doubtful that is wasn't a coincidence nonetheless.
"I can't tell you an example because it's G-15 classified," Smith continued. "It's a defensive thing that we might continue to use. The way, I'm trying to say it without giving it away. When you watch film of the team do something a certain way all the time no matter what team they play -- it's been 12 games played and they always did it -- and then all of a sudden it's changed? It was pretty clever and pretty suspicious. Either teams are spying on us or scouting us," he said. "I don't know what it is."
The outgoing Smith then started joking and compared himself to Nostradamus before continuing.
"Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are among the best at their craft because they work so hard at their craft. But you have to be a descendent of 'Tones-tradamus' to know what we put in this week to be able to change that fast. I got the only crystal ball in existence. I don't know what it is. Either teams are spying on us or scouting us. Something's going on." (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)
Decker's four TDs carry Broncos past Chiefs
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | December 1, 2013 | 8:08PM
Peyton Manning threw for 403 yards and five touchdown passes, four of them to Eric Decker, and the Denver Broncos held off a furious rally to beat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-28 Sunday and seize control of the AFC West.
Decker had eight catches for a career-high 174 yards for the Broncos (10-2), who moved a game clear of the Chiefs (9-3) in the division. With four games left, Denver also holds the tiebreaker by virtue of two wins over Kansas City in the last three weeks.
Jamaal Charles had 93 yards rushing for the Chiefs, and capped a 17-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 6:32 left in the game to close within a touchdown.
After forcing a punt with 3:32 remaining, Kansas City used three long pass plays to move deep into Broncos territory. But Alex Smith's pass to Dwayne Bowe in the end zone on fourth-and-4 with 1:45 left fell incomplete, allowing the Broncos to run out the clock.
Falcons top Bills in Toronto, snap 5-game skid
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | December 1, 2013 | 8:02PM
Matt Bryant hit a 36-yard field goal 3 minutes into overtime to lift the Atlanta Falcons to a 34-31 win over the Bills in Buffalo's annual "home" game in Toronto on Sunday.
Falcons safety William Moore set up the decisive score in a back-and-fourth game by forcing a fumble on Buffalo's second play from scrimmage. He punched the ball out of the arms of Bills tight end Scott Chandler.
Cornerback Robert McClain also forced a fumble on the Bills' final possession of regulation, when he knocked the ball out of the hands of receiver Stevie Johnson at the Falcons 30 with 20 seconds remaining.
Steven Jackson scored twice, including the tying 1-yard plunge with 1:28 left for the Falcons (3-9), who snapped a five-game skid and won for the first time in six road games this season.
Fred Jackson scored twice for Buffalo (4-8).
Niners improve playoff chances with win over Rams
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | December 1, 2013 | 7:46PM
Anquan Boldin caught nine passes from Colin Kaepernick, Michael Crabtree made his long-awaited season debut six months after Achilles tendon surgery, and the San Francisco 49ers beat the St. Louis Rams 23-13 on Sunday.
Kaepernick threw for 275 yards and Frank Gore ran for a 3-yard touchdown as the reigning NFC champion Niners (8-4) boosted their position in the playoff picture. Crabtree had a 60-yard catch, while Vernon Davis hurdled into the end zone on a 17-yard reception.
With Hall of Famer Jerry Rice in the house, Boldin made six of his receptions in the first half on the way to his second-most productive game of the year behind his 13-catch performance in the opener against Green Bay.
Phil Dawson kicked three field goals, and San Francisco's swarming defense rattled Kellen Clemens and the Rams (5-7) all day.
Bengals top Bolts, take command of AFC North
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 1, 2013 | 7:27PM
Andy Dalton threw a go-ahead, 21-yard touchdown pass to wide-open A.J. Green late in the third quarter and the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals beat the San Diego Chargers 17-10 on Sunday.
The Bengals (8-4), coming off their bye, kept a two-game lead over Baltimore.
San Diego (5-7) lost the momentum it gained with a thrilling comeback win at Kansas City a week earlier and saw its playoff hopes dwindle after its fourth loss in five games.
With the score tied at 7, The Bengals got the ball after Dre Kirkpatrick ripped the ball away from tight end Antonio Gates after a reception at the Cincinnati 25, the Chargers' third turnover.
Ten plays later, Green split the defense for an easy touchdown, with safety Eric Weddle and cornerback Marcus Gilchrist only able to watch.
49ers left tackle Joe Staley injures knee, out
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | December 1, 2013 | 6:33PM
49ers left tackle Joe Staley injured his right knee early in Sunday's game against St. Louis and didn't return.
St. Louis left tackle Jake Long then went down late in the third quarter and was being examined for a head injury after being hit by teammate Zac Stacy.
Staley was hurt at the 11:13 mark of the first quarter when he landed awkwardly while grabbing his knee. Staley stayed on the ground for several minutes before walking off the field on his own. Trainers and medical staff examined Staley on the bench then he headed to the locker room. The team says he's done for the day.
Alex Boone moved into Staley's spot and Joe Looney came in after making his NFL debut Monday. San Francisco tight end Vance McDonald injured an ankle.
Peterson passes 10,000-yard mark for career
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 1, 2013 | 5:49PM
Adrian Peterson has become the third-fastest player in NFL history to reach 10,000 yards rushing for his career.
Peterson passed the mark for Minnesota in the fourth quarter Sunday against Chicago in his 101st career game. Eric Dickerson got there in 91 games, and Jim Brown reached the milestone in 98 games.
Peterson entered the afternoon needing 154 yards to reach 10,000.
Peterson also passed the 1,000-yard mark for the sixth time in his seven seasons with the Vikings. He fell 30 yards short in 2011, when injuries limited him to 12 games.
Walsh's field goal hands Vikes wild win over Bears
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | December 1, 2013 | 5:19PM
Blair Walsh's 34-yard field goal with 1:43 left in overtime gave the Minnesota Vikings a 23-20 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday after both teams missed kicks in the extra period.
Adrian Peterson rushed 35 times for 211 yards for the Vikings (3-8-1), who tied Green Bay the previous week. Peterson had two 11-yard runs on the final drive to get well within range for Walsh, who missed a 57-yard try earlier in overtime.
Walsh had to kick that one because Rhett Ellison was called for a 15-yard face-mask penalty to wipe out a 39-yard make by Walsh that would've ended the game.
The Bears (6-6) then reached the 29-yard line, but coach Marc Trestman called for a field goal on second-and-7. Robbie Gould's 47-yarder went wide right.
Colts defeat Titans for second time this season
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 1, 2013 | 4:53PM
Adam Vinatieri tied a career high with five field goals and Donald Brown scored on a 4-yard touchdown run with 1:56 left Sunday, giving the Colts a 22-14 victory over Tennessee.
Indianapolis (8-4) now has a three-game lead in the AFC South and the tiebreaker after sweeping the season series. The Colts can wrap up their eighth division crown in 11 seasons with one win, one Titans loss or if either team ties.
Indy's offense struggled again, failing to get in the end zone until Brown's late plunge sealed it. Until then, the Colts relied on Vinatieri's reliable right foot.
He made four field goals in the first half and gave Indy the lead for good with a 49-yarder with 2:33 left in the third quarter. That erased the 14-12 lead Tennessee (5-7) took with a 1-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Chris Johnson early in the half.
Eagles narrowly defeat Cardinals
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | December 1, 2013 | 4:44PM
Nick Foles threw three touchdown passes and the Philadelphia Eagles held on for a 24-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
Zach Ertz had two TD catches, LeSean McCoy ran for 79 yards and the Eagles (7-5) won their fourth straight game to remain tied with Dallas for first place in the NFC East.
Carson Palmer threw for 302 yards and three TD passes, but also had two interceptions and lost a fumble as the Cardinals (7-5) had their four-game winning streak snapped.
Foles picked up where he left off in November, when he was the NFC's Player of the Month and tied an NFL record with seven TDs in a game. Foles finished 21 of 34 for 237 yards against a defense that came in ranked eighth in the league.
Foles set a team record for most passes without an interception (233), breaking Michael Vick's mark of 224 set in 2010.
He also moved within one TD pass of tying Peyton Manning's record of 20 TD passes and zero interceptions to start a season
Jags win on late TD, overcome Gordon's big game
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | December 1, 2013 | 4:31PM
Cecil Shorts caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Chad Henne with 40 seconds left, rallying the Jacksonville Jaguars to a 32-28 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
On 3rd-and-9, Henne lofted a perfect pass to the left corner for Shorts, who had beaten cornerback Joe Haden to get open. Shorts got both feet down in the end zone before tumbling out of bounds. It was a dream moment for Shorts, who grew up in Cleveland.
Henne drove the Jaguars (3-9) 80 yards in nine plays for the winning TD.
The Browns (4-8) had taken a 28-25 lead on Brandon Weeden's 95-yard TD pass to Josh Gordon with 3:55 remaining.
Gordon returned from a head injury and finished 10 catches for a team record 261 yards. According to STATS, Gordon is the first player in NFL history to have consecutive 200-yard games. He had 237 in a loss last week against Pittsburgh.
Dolphins romp Jets behind Tannehill's 331 yards
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | December 1, 2013 | 4:16PM
Ryan Tannehill threw for 331 yards and two touchdowns, leading Miami to a 23-3 victory over the listless New York Jets on Sunday that kept the Dolphins' playoff hopes alive.
With the AFC East rivals approaching the game as a must-win, the Dolphins (6-6) played with more of a sense of urgency while sending the Jets (5-7) to their third straight loss.
New York also has a quarterback controversy on its hands as Geno Smith was benched in favor of Matt Simms after a dismal first half.
Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace had touchdown receptions for Miami, while Tannehill finished 28 for 43 with an interception.
Smith was 4 for 10 for 29 yards with an interception and an 8.3 quarterback rating before being replaced by Simms, who went 9 for 18 for 79 yards and an INT as New York's postseason hopes were severely damaged.
Panthers cruise past Bucs, win eighth straight game
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | December 1, 2013 | 4:09PM
Cam Newton threw for 263 yards and two touchdown passes and ran for another score, and the Carolina Panthers defeated Tampa Bay 27-6 Sunday for a franchise-record eighth straight regular-season victory.
Newton threw touchdown passes to Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn Jr. and "Superman" leaped over the pile for another score as the Panthers (9-3) outgained the Buccaneers 426-206.
The Carolina victory sets up a huge showdown next Sunday night with New Orleans with first place in the NFC South on the line.
Newton ran for 68 yards and overcame two interceptions. The third-year quarterback has thrown 13 touchdown passes and run for five scores during the Panthers' current win streak.
Carolina's defense, which came in allowing the fewest points in the league, forced two turnovers and sacked rookie Mike Glennon four times to snap a three-game winning streak for Tampa Bay (3-9).
Patriots rally for late win over slumping Texans
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 1, 2013 | 4:05PM
Tom Brady threw for 371 yards and two scores, and Stephen Gostkowski made two long field goals in the fourth quarter as New England Patriots rallied for a 34-31 win over Houston.
The Texans' franchise-record skid reached 10 games.
The Patriots (9-3) trailed by 10 at halftime, and who lead changed five times in a wild second half. New England tied it with a 53-yard field goal and took a 34-31 lead with another one from 53 with about three minutes left.
The Texans (2-10) had a chance late, but the offense stalled. On fourth-and-13, Case Keenum threw an incompletion as he was hit.
Ben Tate ran for 102 yards and three touchdowns for the Texans, who haven't won since Sept. 15.
Dunlap, Royal, Johnson out for Chargers
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | December 1, 2013 | 4:00PM
Left tackle King Dunlap, wide receiver Eddie Royal and outside linebacker Jarret Johnson are among the San Diego Chargers' inactives for Sunday's game against AFC North-leading Cincinnati.
Additionally, cornerback Derek Cox has been benched in favor of Richard Marshall. Cox had been benched three times in the previous four games after giving up big plays.
Rookie D.J. Fluker was to start for Dunlap, who has a stinger. Royal has toe and chest injuries, and Johnson a hand injury.
Bengals inactives are wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, running back Rex Burkhead, safety Tony Dye, guard Kevin Zeitler, guard Tanner Hawkinson, wide receiver Ryan Whalen and defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi.
Mike Pollak was expected to start for Zeitler at right guard.
Titans' Rob Bironas joins 1,000-point club
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 1, 2013 | 3:56PM
Tennessee kicker Rob Bironas joined the NFL's 1,000-point club Sunday at Indianapolis.
Bironas came into the game needing just two points to become the second player in Titans history to achieve the feat. Former kicker Al Del Greco finished his career with 1,584 points.
Bironas became the 51st member of the club when he made his second extra point to give Tennessee a 14-12 lead with 7:29 left in the third quarter.
Indianapolis kicker Adam Vinatieri is the scoring leader among active players. He started the day with 1,952 points, ninth all-time, and tied a career high with four first-half field goals to move within 36 points of becoming the seventh member of the 2,000-point club.
Bucs CB Darrelle Revis injured against Panthers
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | December 1, 2013 | 3:42PM
Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis was been taken to the locker room after injuring his shoulder and chest in third quarter of Tampa Bay's game against the Carolina Panthers.
Revis was injured Sunday when he attempted to intercept a Cam Newton pass near the sideline. He was attended to by the medical staff but was able to walk off the field under his own power. He was looked at briefly on the bench and then taken to the locker room for more observations.
The Bucs were trailing 24-6 at the time of the injury. Revis came into the game listed as questionable with a groin injury.
Panthers linebacker Jordan Senn has left the game with a hamstring injury and will not return.
Broncos, Chiefs missing starters
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | December 1, 2013 | 3:32PM
The Denver Broncos were without defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson, defensive end Derek Wolfe, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and tight end Julius Thomas for Sunday's game in Kansas City.
The Chiefs were missing outside linebacker Justin Houston.
Vickerson went on injured reserve this week with a dislocated right hip. Wolfe was hospitalized Friday after experiencing seizure-like symptoms on the way to Kansas City.
Rodgers-Cromartie jammed his right shoulder last week against New England, while Thomas was out with a knee injury.
Running back Knowshon Moreno (ankle) and cornerback Champ Bailey (foot) were active for Denver.
Houston dislocated his right elbow in the Chiefs' loss to San Diego last week. His running mate, Tamba Hali, was in the starting lineup despite a sprained right ankle.
Chiefs right guard Jon Asamoah and right tackle Eric Fisher, who both missed the Chargers game with shoulder injuries, were active but not starting.
Crabtree listed to start for Niners'
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | December 1, 2013 | 3:27PM
Michael Crabtree is listed to start for the San Francisco 49ers against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday in his season debut.
Crabtree, the 49ers' top wide receiver last season, has been sidelined all season since tearing his right Achilles tendon in a May workout and undergoing surgery.
Left guard Mike Iupati missed his second straight game for San Francisco with a sprained left knee, while cornerback Tarell Brown also sat out a second in a row because of a rib injury. Adam Snyder is starting in place of Iupati and Tramaine Brock for Brown.
Rams right guard Harvey Dahl missed his fourth straight game because of a knee injury.
Vikings CB Cook ejected for contact with official
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 1, 2013 | 3:21PM
Minnesota Vikings cornerback Chris Cook has been ejected against Chicago for making contact with an official.
Cook was in coverage on Alshon Jeffery when the Bears wide receiver jumped over Cook for a 46-yard touchdown pass at the front corner of the end zone. Cook confronted side judge Laird Hayes and appeared to inadvertently hit Hayes as he motioned with his arm. Cook was called for a 15-yard penalty and the automatic disqualification in the third quarter with the Bears up 20-10.
Cook was upset two plays earlier, lobbying for a penalty after a deep throw when Jeffery knocked a potential interception out of Cook's hands.
With Josh Robinson injured, Xavier Rhodes, Marcus Sherels and Shaun Prater were the only healthy cornerbacks left for the Vikings.
Jets bench Geno Smith after brutal first half
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | December 1, 2013 | 2:44PM
Geno Smith has been benched in favor of Matt Simms to start the second half of the New York Jets' game against the Miami Dolphins.
Smith had a brutal first half, going 4 for 10 for 29 yards with an interception and an 8.3 quarterback rating as the Jets trailed 6-0. Smith, who has one touchdown and 11 interceptions in his last seven games, overthrew receivers a few times and couldn't get the offense moving.
Simms jogged in to loud cheers from the MetLife Stadium crowd as the Jets opened the third quarter.
The Dolphins outgained the Jets 265 yards to 39 with 16 first downs compared to New York's two. Miami also held the ball for 24 minutes, 12 seconds, with New York having it for just 5:48.
Ponder out with concussion for Vikings
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 1, 2013 | 2:28PM
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was taken to the locker room prior to halftime and has been diagnosed with an concussion.
Ponder took a hit to the head late in the second quarter Sunday against Chicago during a rushed third-down throw. Ponder was pressured and knocked down by defensive end Shea McLellin and linebacker James Anderson. Ponder was slow to get up and looked a little woozy as he walked off.
Ponder took three sacks in the first half and completed just three of eight passes for 40 yards. Matt Cassel came in for the final drive of the second quarter, to a rousing cheer from the crowd. The Vikings announced Ponder's return to the game as questionable.
The Vikings again had Josh Freeman inactive.
Titans TE Delanie Walker being checked for concussion
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 1, 2013 | 2:15PM
Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker left Sunday's game at Indianapolis after his head hit the turf on an incomplete pass late in the first quarter
The Titans have announced that Walker is being checked for a concussion, and his return is questionable.
Walker has caught 45 passes for 454 yards and five TDs in 12 games for the Titans in 2013. He signed with Tennessee as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. Walker had spent the previous seven seasons with San Francisco
Cardinals RB Ellington inactive against Eagles
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | December 1, 2013 | 12:51PM
Arizona running back Andre Ellington is inactive against the Philadelphia Eagles because of an injured left knee.
He was hurt late in Thursday's practice and sat out Friday's workout. The loss of the dynamic rookie from Clemson is a significant blow to the Arizona offense because he provides speed the team's other backs don't possess.
Although he didn't carry the ball in the season opener, Ellington leads the Cardinals in rushing with 441 yards on only 73 carries, a 6-yard average. He also has 28 receptions for 247 yards.
Other inactives include quarterback Ryan Lindley, running back Ryan Williams, linebacker Dontay Moch, guard Earl Watford, tight end Kory Sperry and defensive end Ronald Talley.
Inactive for the Eagles: quarterback Matt Barkley, safety Earl Wolff, cornerback Curtis Marsh, running back Matthew Tucker, linebacker Emmanuel Acho and tackles Matt Tobin and Dennis Kelly.
Bears safety Wright (hamstring) out at Vikings
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 1, 2013 | 12:37PM
Chicago Bears strong safety Major Wright has been deactivated for the game at Minnesota because of a hamstring injury.
Wright was hurt in practice Friday. His absence Sunday brought the total of missing Bears defensive starters to five. Craig Steltz was the starter in his place. Backup safety Anthony Walters was also inactive with a groin injury. Defensive tackle Jay Ratliff was active for the first time since joining the team one month ago.
For the Vikings, quarterback Josh Freeman was inactive for the sixth time in eight games on the roster. Cornerback Josh Robinson (sternum) was out for the second straight game, and tight end Kyle Rudolph (foot) was out for the fourth straight game.
Audie Cole started for Erin Henderson at middle linebacker for the second straight game.
Patriots' Ridley scratched at Texans after fumbles
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | December 1, 2013 | 12:24PM
New England leading rusher Stevan Ridley has been scratched against the Texans after fumbling in three straight games.
Ridley was not listed on the injury report this week. He was benched last week after fumbling in the first half.
Patriots receiver Aaron Dobson is also out against Houston with a foot injury Sunday. Other inactives are cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, linebacker Steve Beauharnais, tackle Marcus Cannon and defensive end Jake Bequette.
Inactive for Houston are quarterback T.J. Yates, safety Jawanza Starling, guard Alex Kupper, tackle Andrew Gardner, guard Cody White, linebacker Ricky Sapp and defensive end Tim Jamison.
Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams inactive vs. Bucs
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | December 1, 2013 | 12:15PM
Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams is inactive against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because of a bruised quadriceps.
Jonathan Stewart will get the start Sunday for Carolina (8-3) in his place, and rookie running back Kenjon Barner is active and expected to play.
Other inactives for Carolina: defensive end Charles Johnson, linebacker Chase Blackburn, tight end Ben Hartsock, guard Chris Scott, and wide receivers Marvin McNutt and Tavarres King.
Cornerback Darrelle Revis is active and will start for Tampa Bay (3-8).
Inactive for Tampa Bay are wide receiver Skye Dawson, running back Lonnie Pryor, safety Bradley McDougald, guards Patrick Omameh and Carl Nicks, defensive tackle Derek Landri and defensive end Steven Means.
Cromartie, Holmes active for Jets; Kerley out
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | December 1, 2013 | 12:00PM
New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie and wide receiver Santonio Holmes are active and will play against the Miami Dolphins after being listed as questionable.
Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley is sidelined for the third straight game Sunday while still recovering from a dislocated left elbow.
All three warmed up about two hours before kickoff, with general manager John Idzik watching. Cromartie has been dealing with an ailing hip that limited him during the week, while Holmes didn't practice all week with a hamstring issue.
Linebacker Garrett McIntyre (knee) and third-string quarterback David Garrard were also inactive.
Dolphins center Mike Pouncey was active after missing two games with a stomach ailment. Nolan Carroll was starting for Dimitri Patterson (groin) at cornerback, while backup running back Daniel Thomas (ankle) was also out.
Broncos-Chiefs ready for round 2
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | December 1, 2013 | 11:37AM
The Kansas City Chiefs are stumbling home to Arrowhead Stadium off two straight losses. The Denver Broncos are hobbling in off a disheartening letdown in New England.
Much has changed in the two weeks since they played at Mile High Stadium.
Much has stayed the same, too.
The Broncos and Chiefs are both 9-2 and tied atop the AFC West, so it's still a two-team race to the finish. But the Chiefs are no longer the NFL's lone undefeated team — in fact, they're the first to start with nine straight wins and then lose two in a row — while the Broncos squandered a chance to create some separation with their overtime loss to the Patriots last weekend.
"I think just playing is the best medicine," Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said, "but no question, when you're playing for your division, it raises the focus for sure."
The Broncos would have the tiebreaker over Kansas City and a two-game lead with four games to go with a win. The Chiefs would put themselves in position to win the division for just the second time in a decade, not to mention take a step toward home-field advantage in the playoffs.
So it's an easy argument that there's even more on the line than the first time they met.
"I don't think you can just say, 'Well, it was just a couple weeks ago that we played them,'" Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning said. "You have study them just as hard as you did the first time around. So from that standpoint, it doesn't get any easier to prepare because they are such a diverse team scheme-wise and they have such good players."
The Chiefs could be without two of their best players, though.
Leading pass rusher Justin Houston, who dislocated his elbow in a gruesome fall during the Chiefs' 41-38 loss to the Chargers last week, will likely watch from the sideline. His running mate Tamba Hali hopes to play despite spraining his right ankle against San Diego.
If neither of them can go, it doesn't bode well against the Broncos' high-scoring offense.
"I feel real optimistic about being out there," said Hali, who's missed just two games in his eight-year career. "I want to be out there with our guys. I can definitely be a force."
Even with their top two pass rushers, the Chiefs failed to get pressure on Manning in their first go-around. Manning threw for 323 yards and a touchdown without an interception or taking a sack, and the result was a reasonably comfortable 27-17 victory.
"We don't take anything for granted," Broncos interim coach Jack Del Rio said. "We go in, we prepare hard, we make sure we understand the things they want to get done and how can we keep that from happening, and make sure that we're attacking them with the things that we want to be good at.
"Again, it's basically approaching it very similarly," Del Rio added. "The difference is that we just did this a couple weeks ago."
Week 13 early game inactives
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 1, 2013 | 11:03AM
Buccaneers at Panthers
Buccaneers: G Carl Nicks, WR Skye Dawson, FB Lonnie Pryor, S Bradley McDougald, G Patrick Omameh, DT Derek Landri, DE Steven Means
Panthers: DE Charles Johnson, G Chris Scott, WR Tavarres King, WR Marvin McNutt, RB DeAngelo Williams, TE Ben Hartsock, LB Chase Blackburn
Jaguars at Browns
Jaguars: WR Stephen Burton, RB Justin Forsett, QB Ricky Stanzi, CB Jamell Fleming, G Jacques McClendon, DE Jeremy Mincey, WR Jeremy Ebert
Browns: QB Jason Campbell, LB Tank Carder, LB Craig Robertson, OL Martin Wallace, OL Garrett Gilkey, OL Reid Fragel, DL Ishmaa'ily Kitchen
Patriots at Texans
Patriots: CB Alfonzo Dennard, TE Michael Hoomanawanui, T Marcus Cannon, WR Aaron Dobson, RB Stevan Ridley, LB Steve Beauharnais, DE Jake Bequette
Texans: S Jawanza Sterling, T Andrew Gardner, DE Tim Jamison, G Alex Kupper, LB Ricky Sapp, G Cody White, QB T.J. Yates
Titans at Colts
Titans: TE Craig Stevens, WR Damian Williams, QB John Skelton, LB Zac Diles, C/G Kevin Matthews, T Byron Stingily, DT Mike Martin
Colts: CB Greg Toler, LB Kavell Conner, CB Josh Gordy, C Khaled Holmes, LB Cam Johnson, TE Weslye Saunders, DT Montori Hughes
Bears at Vikings
Bears: LB Lance Briggs, QB Jay Cutler, S Anthony Walters, S Major Wright, T Jonathan Scott, OL James Brown, DE Cornelius Washington
Vikings: TE Kyle Rudolph, CB Josh Robinson, DT Chase Baker, G Jeff Baca, T Mike Remmers, QB Josh Freeman, WR Rodney Smith
Dolphins at Jets
Dolphins: CB Dimitri Patterson, RB Daniel Thomas, CB Jamar Taylor, QB Pat Devlin, G Danny Watkins, G David Arkin, DT A.J. Francis
Jets: QB David Garrard, WR Jeremy Kerley, LB Garrett McIntyre, OL Will Campbell, T Ben Ijalana, T Oday Aboushi, TE Chris Pantale
Cardinals at Eagles
Cardinals: RB Andre Ellington, RB Ryan Williams, QB Ryan Lindley, LB Dontay Moch, TE Kory Sperry, DE Ronald Talley, G Earl Watford
Eagles: S Earl Wolff, QB Matt Barkley, CB Curtis Marsh, RB Matthew Tucker, LB Emmanuel Acho, T Matt Tobin, T Dennis Kelly
Steelers face big fine, could lose draft pick over Tomlin's sideline move
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | December 1, 2013 | 10:36AM
Mike Tomlin's blunder when he stepped onto the playing field during a kickoff return by the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night might cost the Pittsburgh Steelers big-time.
According to an ESPN report, Tomlin and the Steelers both could face big fines, and that the Steelers could lose a draft pick. ESPN reported that Tomlin and the Steelers could face six-figure fines.
Tomlin was on the white sideline stripe during a kickoff return by Jacoby Jones, and at one point stepped onto the field. The incident caused Jones to slow up, allowing Pittsburgh defensive back Cortez Allen to run him down and tackle him. Pittsburgh was not penalized for the incident during the game.
Tomlin apologized for the incident after the game and said he did not believe that he interfered with Jones.
The NFL is expected to review the incident on Monday.
ESPN reported Sunday that Tomlin is not likely to be suspended. But the NFL Network reported that the league might make an example of the Steelers in an effort to warn coaches to watch where they stand during games.
The Jets were fined $100,000 in 2010 when strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi stepped onto the field and tripped a Miami Dolphins player.
Tomlin is on the league's competition committee, and The NFL Network reported that the league may take that into consideration. The Ravens, who led 13-7 at the time of the incident, won the game, 22-20.
Mary Brown, Widow of Bengals' Founder, Dies at 84
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 1, 2013 | 9:56AM
Mary Brown, widow of the late Cincinnati Bengals founder and coach Paul Brown, has died. She was 84.
The Bengals organization reports Brown passed away Saturday at her Milford home. She was told in August that she had bone cancer.
Paul Brown died in August 1991, but Mary Brown still represented him at many events, including the 50th anniversary of the Pro Football Hall of Fame last summer.
The Browns were married in 1973, four years after Paul Brown's first wife, Katie, died of a heart attack.
Paul and Katie Brown had three sons, Robin, Mike and Pete. Mike succeeded his father as team president. Pete is senior VP of player personnel. Robin died of cancer in 1978.
Colts bench Trent Richardson in favor of Donald Brown
Submitted by Keith Clay | December 1, 2013 | 9:13AM
The Colts remain very much invested in running back Trent Richardson, especially after trading a first-round pick to acquire him in September.
But the Colts' recent rough patch, marked by an inability to run the ball consistently, has caused at least a temporary deviation from their plans for Richardson.
Donald Brown, the forgotten 2009 first-round pick who has been a steady contributor this season, will get the start at running back when the Colts host the Tennessee Titans today, a team source said.
Richardson, the No. 3 overall draft choice in 2012 by the Cleveland Browns, is averaging 2.8 yards a carry in his nine games since joining the Colts. His longest run: a 16-yarder against the Seattle Seahawks.
The momentum to give Brown more opportunities came after the Colts' first meeting against the Titans on November 14. In that game, he led the Colts in rushing with 80 yards, averaging 5.7 yards per carry as the Colts rallied from an early 17-3 deficit.
What a change at running back won't solve is the Colts' glaring issues on the offensive line. The ineffectiveness of the interior line to hold blocks has contributed greatly to Richardson's struggles.
It's too early to suggest what today's decision means going forward – Brown is in the final year of his contract and Richardson is guaranteed for another two seasons – but for now, the Colts believe a change is necessary.
Broncos DE Derek Wolfe alert after being hospitalized with seizure-like symptoms
Submitted by Keith Clay | November 30, 2013 | 8:32PM
Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe is alert and recovering at a Denver area hospital Saturday after suffering seizure-like symptoms at the airport on Friday, the team reports via their website.
Team doctors began treating Wolfe on the bus, then summoned an ambulance to take him to a hospital, where the second-year pro from the University of Cincinnati underwent several tests Friday night and Saturday.
It was determined that Wolfe didn't suffer a stroke or a full-blown seizure, but the Broncos didn't specify the exact cause of his symptoms, saying only that he was doing better Saturday evening and that he was alert and communicating with others.
It's not known when Wolfe will be released from the hospital or when he'll be cleared to resume football.
He was fine at Friday's practice and in the locker room afterward. It was only when the bus was pulling into the airport about 90 minutes later that he fell mysteriously ill.
Wolfe has had a tough second season in the NFL. He was whisked from the field in an ambulance in a preseason game at Seattle after a hit to his head and neck, the feeling to his extremities coming back after a few minutes. He then missed more than a week of practice. In September, he had a bout of food poisoning that led to problems keeping his weight up.
Steelers place center Velasco on IR
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | November 30, 2013 | 7:27PM
The Pittsburgh Steelers have placed center Fernando Velasco on injured reserve with a season-ending Achilles injury.
Velasco injured the Achilles in Thursday's 22-20 loss to Baltimore. Velasco is the second center to be lost for the season. Maurkice Pouncey tore the ACL in his right knee eight plays into the opener against Tennessee in September.
The Steelers signed center Eric Olsen and offensive tackle Rashad Butler to add depth to a depleted line. Olsen played in 16 games, with four starts, for the New Orleans Saints in 2012. He was released by the Saints in September. Butler has played in 50 games over the last seven seasons, most recently for the Cleveland Browns.
To make room for Olsen and Butler, the Steelers released cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke.
Chiefs place rookie DB Sanders Commings on IR
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | November 30, 2013 | 6:44PM
The Kansas City Chiefs placed rookie defensive back Sanders Commings on injured reserve Saturday, according to the teams' official website
Commings, a fifth-round pick from Georgia, appeared in two games this season, recording one tackle. He had already been ruled out of Sunday's game vs. Denver with a shoulder injury. Commings missed the first nine games of 2013 with a broken collarbone.
With a roster spot open, the Chiefs signed rookie linebacker / defensive end Josh Martin from their practice squad.
Martin (6-3, 245) had been on the Chiefs' practice squad since Sept. 26. He was on the Chiefs' roster for the first three games of 2013. He is an undrafted free agent from Columbia University.
Jonathan Martin's season over after Dolphins place him on non-football injury list
Submitted by Keith Clay | November 30, 2013 | 5:37PM
The Miami Dolphins have placed Jonathan Martin on the non-football injury list, which means the 2nd year offensive guard's 2013 NFL season is over.
The 24-year-old Martin has been absent from the team for the past few weeks since he was thrust into the midst of a bullying scandal involving teammate Richie Incognito.
Since he was placed on the non-football injury list, Martin is ineligible to return and play for the Dolphins this season. But most importantly, he doesn't count toward the teams' 53-man roster.
Also with today's move, the Dolphins will get to decide how much of Martin's base salary he will receive for the rest of the season.
According to an ESPN report, Martin signed a four-year rookie contract that includes a base salary of $607,466 for the 2013 season, and the Dolphins can choose to pay as little as none or the balance of his base salary for the remaining portion of the season. (Photo: Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press)
Seahawks WR Percy Harvin doubtful for Monday night showdown vs. Saints
Submitted by Keith Clay | November 30, 2013 | 5:02PM
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin is listed on the teams' injury report as doubtful vs. the New Orleans Saints on Monday night.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said Harvin still has not shaken the soreness in his surgically repaired hip after playing for the first time this season on Nov. 17 against the Minnesota Vikings.
The good news is there's no structural damage to Harvin's hip, Carroll said
"I thought from day-to-day we would have a chance to get him back," Carroll said. "He's been rehabilitating throughout the week. His hip was sore coming out of the game. We thought he would get back. He's still … we're going to list him as doubtful right now, he's had a lot of stuff done to help him, we'll go all the way to Monday with this."
The more Carroll spoke, the more it sounded like Harvin won't play this week.
"It's more important for us to get him back for the longer haul," Carroll said. "I thought with the days off, it would all work together. But it didn't work out quite right for us. Unfortunately, he didn't make it."
Carroll was asked if there was any further structural damage for Harvin.
"No. It's just responding from the load of the game," Carroll said. "He had 19 plays and 16 active plays in there, so it wasn't much. He's just sore, so we don't want to push it beyond that right now. It's not worth it.
"We have to go day-to-day. That's the facts. That's the only way we can go right now. We don't see anything big issue structurally, we've looked at everything, it's just him getting back and making sure he's balanced in that area so he can handle the workload."
Report: Patriots WR Aaron Dobson out vs. Texan with sprained foot
Submitted by Keith Clay | November 30, 2013 | 4:05PM
New England Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson will not suit up for Sunday's game against the Texans in Houston. He is officially listed on the teams' injury report with a foot injury. But Nick Underhill of MassLive.com reports that Dobson has a sprained foot.
According to Underhill, Dobson sprained the foot during last Sunday night's game against the Broncos. Though some foot sprains can caught extended absences, Underhill says the Patriots are being cautious with Dobson's injury.
The second-round rookie's absence likely means that undrafted rookie Kenbrell Thompkins will see more playing time against the Texans.
Broncos' Derek Wolfe ruled out for Sunday, hospitalized
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | November 30, 2013 | 2:17PM
Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe has been ruled out of Denver's game at Kansas City with a mysterious illness after getting sick on the team's bus ride to the airport Friday, the Denver Post reports.
Wolfe was transported to a Denver hospital by ambulance. The Broncos said Saturday that the defensive end was "continuing to be evaluated by doctors to determine the cause of his symptoms."
Wolfe is the second defensive starter who needed emergency medical attention in the last two weeks.
On Nov. 18, safety Rahim Moore underwent surgery to staunch bleeding in the muscle sheath in his lower left leg, a condition known as lateral compartment syndrome that can cost patients a limb or even their life.
Wolfe has had a tough year. He was whisked from the field in an ambulance in a preseason game at Seattle after a hit to his head and neck, then missed more than a week of practice. In September, he had a bout of food poisoning that led to problems keeping his weight up
Niners' hope Crabtree can make season debut Sunday
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | November 30, 2013 | 12:47PM
Michael Crabtree produced a career season a year ago and helped lead the San Francisco 49ers back to the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years as Colin Kaepernick's top target.
Now, the wide receiver is expected to make his long-awaited season debut Sunday against St. Louis, barely six months after he underwent surgery for a torn right Achilles tendon.
The reigning NFC champion Niners (7-4) made significant strides in their passing game during Monday night's 27-6 win at Washington, and now hope to build on that — with or without Crabtree back in the mix. He sure could provide a boost as San Francisco makes a push for the playoffs.
St. Louis certainly knows how dangerous Crabtree can be. He had five catches for 70 yards and a 14-yard touchdown the last time the Rams visited Candlestick Park in 2012 and left town with the NFL's first tie in four years.
Against the Redskins on Monday, Anquan Boldin made five receptions with two touchdowns, while Vernon Davis had four catches with a TD. Mario Manningham made four catches in his third game back after recovering from knee surgery late last season.
Boldin and Crabtree have yet to play together.
Incognito's suspension extended with pay
Submitted by Keith Clay | November 30, 2013 | 11:20AM
Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito will remain suspended with pay until the NFL investigation is complete according to an agreement reached between him and the team, NFL.com is reporting.
Incognito was suspended by the Dolphins on Nov. 3 for conduct detrimental to the team. He's been accused of bullying/harassing right tackle Jonathan Martin, who left the team on Oct. 28. The NFL is investigating that accusation as well as the Dolphins' workplace.
Under terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), Incognito could be suspended only four games for conduct detrimental to the team. Sunday's game against the New York Jets is the fourth game.
According to NFL.com, Incognito, under a deal approved by both the NFL and the NFL Players Association, will be paid until NFL special investigator Ted Wells has concluded his probe.
Incognito, a free agent at season's end, earns about $235,300 per game. He wasn't paid during his four-game suspension. It's not known if he'd pursue those lost wages if the NFL investigation absolves him of major wrongdoing.
Incognito filed a grievance with the Dolphins but agreed to postpone his expedited hearing until after the NFL investigation is completed.
Cowboys RB Lance Dunbar out for rest of season
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | November 30, 2013 | 10:01AM
Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar is expected to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury sustained in a Thanksgiving win over Oakland.
The Cowboys reported on their website Friday that Dunbar will have surgery for an injury to the joint in his left knee.
Dunbar got hurt Thursday after rushing for a career-high 82 yards. Starter DeMarco Murray ran for three touchdowns in the Cowboys' 31-21 win over the Raiders.
Dunbar showed flashes of potential but battled injuries all season. He was an undrafted free agent last year.
Vikings' Peterson returns, probable vs. Bears
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | November 29, 2013 | 9:16PM
Adrian Peterson returned to Minnesota Vikings' practice on Friday and is probable for Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears.
Peterson, second in the league with 997 yards rushing, has been limited for three weeks with a groin injury and was held out of practice Wednesday and Thursday. But the reigning MVP will be "ready to roll" when Minnesota hosts Chicago and its 32nd-ranked run defense Sunday.
Peterson was a full participant in Friday's practice.
Rookie cornerback Xavier Rhodes and receiver Joe Webb passed their concussion tests and fully practiced Friday and are listed as probable. The Vikings will be without tight end Kyle Rudolph (broken foot) and cornerback Josh Robinson (fractured sternum) on Sunday.
"We're pretty good health-wise," coach Leslie Frazier said. "All of those guys that we were counting on at this point are looking pretty good. We're not back to full strength, but we do have a lot of guys that are going to participate who we need to be on the field against a good football team on Sunday afternoon."
Coming off the second-highest, single-season rushing total in NFL history, Peterson has played through hamstring and groin injuries this season. He expressed some frustration Friday, but is just 3 yards from the sixth 1,000-yard season in his seven-year NFL career. Last week's 32-carry, 146-yard effort against Green Bay propelled Peterson into second in the league in rushing, just 12 yards away from Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy.
"It's been a little frustrating at times, dealing with the nagging tightness of the hamstring and the groin, and just being 2-8-1," Peterson said. "But you got to be resilient. You got to stay positive and make the best out of it. As far as my mindset, that's what I'm trying to do. You know, I just continue to put in work, take care of my body and just continue to fight."
Peterson has never backed away from making grandiose goals, entering this season with the intent of passing Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record set in 1984. Off the best day of his season last week and facing the league's worst run defense in the Bears, Peterson didn't want to make a prediction for Sunday.
"I'm not going to take it there," Peterson said. "We like to emphasize the run and that's what we're going to try and do, go out there and try to establish the run game. I'm not going to make any predictions, just go out and do what it takes to win. So if that's 150, then 150. Whatever it takes to win, that's what we're trying to do. I'm not trying to predict any number, any kind of stats right now."
Chicago allowed 258 yards rushing to St. Louis in a 42-21 loss last week. Peterson and Toby Gerhart — 91 yards on eight carries — combined to give Minnesota a season-high 232 yards rushing in a 26-26 tie at Green Bay.
Pierre-Paul, Jacobs out for Giants at Redskins
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | November 29, 2013 | 8:00PM
New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and cornerback Trumaine McBride havebeen ruled out for Sunday night's road game against the Washington Redskins.
Coach Tom Coughlin announced after practice Friday that backup running back Brandon Jacobs and cornerback Corey Webster also will miss the game.
Receiver Hakeem Nicks, who missed last week's game with Dallas, practiced fully and is probable for the game.
"I'm always eager to get on the field," said Nicks, who said he wanted to play last week but the coaches felt he was not ready to go because of an abdominal injury. "You all know, you've been covering me for five seasons now. That's just me being me. I always want to be on the field, I always want to help my team, I always want to make plays and contribute the best way possible."
Nicks is in the final year of his contract and has failed to catch a touchdown this season. He is the second-leading receiver on the club with 42 catches for 620 yards, a 14.8-yard average.
Pierre-Paul, the NFC defensive player of the week after a clinching interception return against Green Bay earlier this month, reinjured his shoulder. He took 24 snaps against Dallas and did not practice this week. Mathias Kiwanuka will start for him.
McBride aggravated a groin injury and did not practice. Jayron Hosley, who recently returned from a five-game absence with a hamstring injury, will start.
New York expects Peyton Hillis to play for Jacobs, who ran for 75 yards last week. Hillis has been inactive the past two weeks.
Steelers CB William Gay fined $15,750
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | November 29, 2013 | 7:09PM
Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback William Gay has been fined $15,750 by the NFL for his hit last Sunday that gave Browns quarterback Jason Campbell a concussion.
Gay was fined Friday for unnecessary roughness because he unnecessarily delivered a forcible blow to the head and neck area of Campbell.
Miami defensive end Cameron Wake drew the same fine amount for roughing the passer when he hit Carolina's Cam Newton in the head and neck area.
Also fined for Sunday was Saints defensive end Cam Jordan, docked $10,000 for a hit on Falcons QB Matt Ryan.
Lions DT Ndamukong Suh was fined $7,875 for motioning a throat slash in a game with Tampa Bay. Jets DT Kenrick Ellis was fined $7,875 for unnecessary roughness when he grabbed Baltimore QB Joe Flacco's face mask.
Bears guard Kyle Long was docked the same amount for unnecessarily striking a Rams opponent during a skirmish involving several players.
Jets' Cromartie 'better,' Holmes' status a concern
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | November 29, 2013 | 6:23PM
Antonio Cromartie has refused to blame his ailing hip for his struggles this season.
The New York Jets cornerback gave in — sort of — on Friday, acknowledging he has been trying to hide his pain the last few weeks.
"A little bit, but it still plays in here with technique and that's, I think, the biggest thing for me to understand," Cromartie said. "It's like, I'm never a guy to look for excuses, because if I'm on the field, I'm on the field and my teammates, myself, my coaching staff, they expect from me to be 100 percent when I'm on the field.
"I ask myself to be that way when I'm on the field also."
Cromartie returned to practice Friday on a limited basis after sitting out the previous two days. He sprinted along the sideline during the half-hour period the media are allowed to watch.
"Feeling a lot better with the rest and the treatment and everything I've been doing during the week," he said. "It felt good. We'll see how it goes Sunday before the game and we'll go from there."
Cromartie, who indicated he didn't do any cutting during practice, will be a game-time decision against the Miami Dolphins, as will wide receivers Santonio Holmes (foot, hamstring) and Jeremy Kerley (elbow), and linebacker Garrett McIntyre (knee). All were listed as questionable, as was safety Antonio Allen, who missed practice with an illness.
Holmes did not practice all week while dealing with a hamstring issue. He said he's feeling good, but Ryan wasn't as positive.
"He did not practice today," Ryan said, "so I'm concerned."
Cromartie's right hip has bothered him at times throughout the season since reinjuring it in Week 2 of the preseason. The hip issues stem from a 2008 injury in which he actually played through a dislocated hip while with the Chargers.
Cromartie has had varying degrees of pain the last few years related to the hip, but said he hasn't felt the sharp pains he has been dealing with until recently. It has appeared at times to have sapped some of Cromartie's speed, with the cornerback getting beat on some plays he normally wouldn't have in the past.
"It just restricts me from being explosive," he said. "I can't open up my stride as much as I've wanted to. But, it's just something that I try to deal with, with myself, and go through the treatments and just try to get myself better from that way.
"But, today just running around, I felt more explosive."
That's a good thing since the Jets need a healthy Cromartie against the Dolphins' speedy Mike Wallace. If Cromartie can't go, it might be rookie Dee Milliner, Kyle Wilson and Darrin Walls taking turns trying to cover Wallace.
The fact he wasn't feeling any pain in the hip this week is an encouraging sign for Cromartie, who has missed only one game in his NFL career — when the Jets rested their starters in the regular-season finale in 2010.
"If he comes up and it's a game-time decision and he can't play, then obviously, it's a major deal," Ryan said. "He's just a tough guy."
Holmes missed five games with a hamstring injury earlier this season before returning against Buffalo two weeks ago. He had two catches for 71 yards, but just a 12-yard reception last Sunday at Baltimore.
Titans to face Colts without Williams, Stevens
Submitted by Keith Clay | November 29, 2013 | 5:33PM
The Tennessee Titans will be without receiver Damian Williams and tight end Craig Stevens on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.
Neither player practiced all week. Williams will miss his third consecutive game with a hip injury. Stevens sustained a concussion against the Oakland Raiders last week, leaving Tennessee with only Delanie Walker and Taylor Thompson available at tight end.
Offensive tackle David Stewart (shoulder) returned to practice Friday and is questionable. Receiver Kendall Wright (ankle) and center Brian Schwenke (ankle) practiced fully and are probable. Safety Bernard Pollard, who missed Thursday's practice with an illness, returned to practice and is probable.
Defensive tackle Sammie Hill (back) practiced Friday and is questionable.
The Titans will be without safety Michael Griffin, suspended for a hit Sunday on Oakland tight end Mychal Rivera.
Panthers DE Johnson out, RB Williams questionable
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | November 29, 2013 | 5:02PM
Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson will miss his second straight game with a sprained knee, and DeAngelo Williams and two other Carolina running backs are questionable for Sunday's game against Tampa Bay.
Of the three running backs, Williams remains the biggest concern with a thigh contusion. He has not practiced all week.
Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert are also questionable, but both practiced Friday on a limited basis. If Williams can't play, rookie Kenjon Barner from Oregon likely would be activated.
Also, guard Chris Scott (knee) is listed as out, tight end Ben Hartsock (knee) is doubtful and linebacker Chase Blackburn (foot) is questionable for Sunday.
Wide receiver Steve Smith, who was given Thursday off to rest his knee, returned to practice Friday and is probable.
Chiefs' Hali to play vs Denver; Houston out
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | November 29, 2013 | 5:02PM
The Kansas City Chiefs will have one half of their fearsome pass-rushing duo available when they face Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
Tamba Hali pronounced himself close to 100 percent after spraining his right ankle in last week's loss to San Diego. Meanwhile, fellow linebacker Justin Houston is considered "week to week" after dislocating his right elbow against the Chargers.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid also said that right guard Jon Asamoah and right tackle Eric Fisher, who missed last week's game with shoulder injuries, will be available against Denver.
It's a crucial game between 9-2 teams that are tied atop the AFC West. The Broncos won their first meeting two weeks ago at Mile High Stadium.
"Asamoah, Fisher, Tamba all practiced today, they all practiced yesterday and they moved around great," Reid said, "so we'll see how they do."
Hali initially thought his injury was more serious when he limped off the field. He was helped into a cart and driven to the locker room, where he watched the rest of the Chiefs' 41-38 loss.
He did work in a pool earlier in the week, and then worked out on a stair climber, and only then did he start to think that there was a chance he'd play against the Broncos.
"With the pain I had on Sunday, it was like, man, I should probably just great ready for the playoffs," Hali said Friday. "Tuesday, I came in trying to baby it, but I could move more. That's when I knew that I was going to be able to play."
Hali said he doesn't like to say he's "100 percent," but after spending Friday's practicing cutting and changing directions, "I'm to the point where I can do what I like doing."
Chiefs trainer Rick Burkholder said Friday that Houston had an MRI exam, which was delayed until Wednesday because of swelling, revealed ligament and muscle damage in his elbow. Burkholder said those injuries tend to be common when there is a dislocation.
"He's going through the process right now," Burkholder said. "We're just trying to get his range of motion, get the swelling down. He's in a brace. He's truly week to week. He won't play this weekend, and we'll treat him, rehab him, and Monday we'll regroup and see where he's at."
Reid said he does not believe Houston's injury will be season-ending.
In other news, defensive tackle Mike DeVito was absent from Friday's practice for what Reid characterized as personal matters — "All good," Reid added. DeVito missed last week's game with a knee injury, but he's practiced this week and Reid said he should play against Denver.
Reserve defensive back Sanders Commings is listed as out with a shoulder injury.
Mike McCarthy says Packers must win out to make playoffs
Submitted by Keith Clay | November 29, 2013 | 4:22PM
Still trying to make sense of one of the toughest losses in his successful tenure as Green Bay Packers coach, Mike McCarthy made it clear what his struggling team must accomplish.
Speaking Friday morning, a day after the Packers were embarrassed 40-10 by the Detroit Lions, McCarthy feels the Packers must win their remaining four games.
"I would think so, yes," McCarthy said.
Even that might not be enough to get the two-time NFC North champions back in the playoffs. Winless in its last five games (0-4-1), Green Bay is in a big bind going into the final month of the regular season. The Packers have tumbled from the top of the division to third place with a 5-6-1 record.
Not only is Green Bay trailing NFC North leader Detroit (7-5) by 1½ games, the Packers have never reached the playoffs with a sub-.500 record after 12 games since the NFL expanded the schedule to 16 games in 1978.
McCarthy didn't downplay the predicament facing his team.
"Oh, we're in a hole," he said. "We felt like we were in the hole going into the Detroit game. We've got two division losses and a tie. That's not where you want to be."
The Packers are in danger of missing the postseason for the first time since 2008, when they had a five-game losing skid late in the season and finished 6-10. That was Aaron Rodgers' first year as the team's leader on offense.
"It's pretty hard to get any lower than right now after a terrible loss on national television, but we have to keep going," linebacker Clay Matthews said after Thursday's game. "We still have four games left — a whole quarter of the season. We've got to finish strong. We'll take some time to reflect on this loss and get away for a few days and come back and have an Atlanta team at home."
Green Bay doesn't play again until it hosts the last-place Falcons on Dec. 8, but McCarthy isn't sure if Rodgers will resume playing then. The star quarterback has missed the last four games because of a broken left collarbone.
Rodgers was cleared to practice on a limited basis earlier this week and did some throwing on the field Tuesday and Wednesday.
When asked Friday whether Rodgers has a chance to play against Atlanta, McCarthy replied, "I don't know that."
"I just know when we came off the field Wednesday that he wasn't ready to play yet," McCarthy added. "So, we'll see how the testing goes. But it needs to be the right thing. I know he wants to play, I know he's trying to gear up each and every week to play, but we'll see what happens next week."
Feeling the sting of the Packers' most lopsided loss since they fell 35-0 at home against New England in McCarthy's first season as coach in 2006, at least one frustrated player commented on how much Rodgers has been missed.
Green Bay didn't have a victory in its five November games after Rodgers went out after the first series of the loss to Chicago on Nov. 4. The last time the Packers were winless in a full month of games was December 1990, when they went 0-5.
"It definitely made things a lot more difficult without Aaron," left guard Josh Sitton said Thursday. "I think we all know that. There's no denying that. You can't say, 'Hey, we can go and play just as good without Aaron.' We haven't won a game without him in five weeks. He's the best player on this team. Yeah, we need him, but there's a lot more going on than just that."
Kyle Shanahan say's RG3 definitely healthy
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | November 29, 2013 | 3:18PM
After his team's victory over Robert Griffin III and the Redskins on Monday night, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks said that in his opinion, Washington's quarterback isn't yet fully healthy, and that he shouldn't be playing.
Griffin himself declined to respond to Brooks' comments when given the opportunity on Wednesday. But the following day, Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said health isn't an issue with his quarterback. Shanahan said the struggles that have manifested themselves are more-so growing pains more than anything.
"Robert is definitely healthy. Not from my opinion of studying X-rays, but from guys who know more than just football – doctors. They say he's healthy and he looks healthy to me," Kle Shanahan aid. "I think it's just natural. Anybody playing with a knee brace and coming off their first year on the ACL, he might not be quite as explosive, or quite as fast – just like anybody who's torn their ACL. But in terms of health, when the doctors say somebody's healthy, I definitely feel like he's healthy."
Early in the year, Griffin clearly wasn't yet 100 percent. He lacked explosiveness when trying to take off running. He also appeared to favor his surgically repaired knee and didn't consistently plant on that back leg and drive the ball downfield.
Since the bye week, Griffin has looked more explosive. He appeared to be improving as a passer, but then encountered struggles in each of the last two weeks. Shanahan said that Griffin, however, is still working his way back into form – more of a mental standpoint than physical – and that his transition from college to the NFL remains on going.
"It's just a feel – when to stay a passer , when to stay a runner, guys who have an option to make plays with their legs, they get caught in between a lot," Shanahan explained. "Yeah, there's a time and pace for it. Sometimes the defense gives it to you, and sometimes they don't. And when they don't, you've just got to get more comfortable as a passer, stay looking downfield and get rid of the ball."
The coordinator believes that even if the quarterback isn't quite as lightning fast this season, Griffin still poses a legitimate threat to defenses because of his legs, and that he will continue to improve in the drop-back passing game.
"We're talking a 4.31 to maybe a 4.35. I don't think Robert's all of a sudden turned into a guy that can't run," Shanahan said. "Robert can still make some plays and can still do both. He just has to pick his times he can do it, and sometimes he doesn't have an option. Sometimes, the pocket breaks down, sometimes somebody doesn't get open. And, it's nice to have a quarterback where the play is not over when that happens. That happens a lot in games and a quarterback has to throw it away or take a sack. And with Robert, weather he's as explosive or not, he still has an option to do something else with the ball."
Bills DT Kyle Williams questionable vs. Falcons
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | November 29, 2013 | 2:39PM
Buffalo defensive tackle Kyle Williams is questionable for Sunday's game against Atlanta with a lower back injury.
Williams says he woke up with spasms in his lower back Friday morning. He did not practice Friday.
The 30-year-old Williams has been one of Buffalo's best players this season, posting a career-high seven sacks through 11 games. Williams also has 48 tackles, one forced fumble and one pass defensed.
Williams says the training staff will aggressively work on the injury and he plans on playing, but doesn't know if he'll be able to suit up.
If Williams is unable to play, reserve DTs Corbin Bryant and Stefan Charles will see more playing time along the defensive line.
Andre Ellington injures knee, still hopes to play Sunday
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | November 29, 2013 | 1:40PM
Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington popped up on Thursday's injury report with a knee injury, as opposed to the indigestion or familial frustration that led many others to their own compromised states on Thanksgiving. There aren't many details about the nature of Ellington's injury, which he appears to have suffered during practice as he wound up as just a limited participant.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reports that Ellington had his knee wrapped on Friday morning, but that he said he was hopeful of playing against the Eagles. The team will release its final injury report of the week later in the day, which will give us a better idea of whether to share that hope.
Ellington has run for 262 yards over the course of the Cardinals' winning streak, which has vaulted them to a 7-4 record and a spot in the NFC playoff race.
Incognito decision to come in three days
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | November 29, 2013 | 12:03PM
The Miami Dolphins have a big decision they need to make on Monday regarding offensive guard Richie Incognito.
Should they keep or release him?
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, a suspension for conduct detrimental to the team can last a maximum of four games. Game four comes Sunday. After that, the Dolphins must either reinstate or release Incognito.
At first, it seemed inevitable that Incognito would never play again for the Dolphins. Since then, however, a sense has surfaced that the Dolphins possibly would keep him for the rest of the season.
Last Sunday, Chris Mortensen of ESPN reported that owner Stephen Ross and coach Joe Philbin had met to discuss the situation. Ross, who has said he was appalled by the voice message Incognito left for tackle Jonathan Martin, presumably wants to see his team get to the playoffs. Keeping Incognito could aid that effort.
In turn, cutting Incognito could make it easier for another team competing with the Dolphins for the sixth seed in the AFC to secure the berth.
Then there's the potential impact of cutting Incognito on a locker room that seems to want to keep Incognito on the team. If Incognito goes, there could be further dysfunction, making it even harder to continue the push toward an unlikely playoff berth.
Either way, Incognito's days with the Dolphins likely are diminishing. His contract expires this year, and it's unlikely that the General Manager who'll be running the show in 2014 (likely not Jeff Ireland) will want to bring Incognito back.
Before that decision can be made, the Dolphins have to decide whether to welcome Incognito back for the final four games of the 2013 season.
Tramon Williams thought official he shoved was a Lion
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | November 29, 2013 | 10:36AM
Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams said he was not paying attention to who he shoved as he walked back to the sideline after a Detroit Lions touchdown Thursday at Ford Field.
After Joique Bell's 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter, Williams stuck his arm into the back and arm area of back judge Dino Paganelli and received a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty.
Williams called it "a total misunderstanding" but admitted it was born of frustration from the Packers trailing the Lions by more than three touchdowns. He said there was more to it than just shoving an official.
"It was an accident," Williams said. "One of the offensive linemen, after they scored, just kind of ran up into (me) and gave me a shoulder celebrating. I was walking, actually walking toward that way, going off the field.
"The referee must have come and just walked right in front of me and grazed me. I don't know if he was trying to hold me or what. He just grazed me and I kind of knocked his arm off me. I was already frustrated. It was just an emotion thing."
Williams said he was not upset about anything that happened on the field other than the Lions scoring and had not singled out Paganelli for any reason.
It's likely that Williams will receive a fine from the NFL, since touching an official is not tolerated. However, since Williams wasn't in a dispute with Paganelli, the fine might not be as substantial as it could be.
The replay showed Lions center Dominic Raiola as the one Williams said ran into him. Williams appeared to be staring at Raiola as he was walking off the field, but he clearly shoved Paganelli in the back as he headed for the sideline.
"I wasn't paying attention who it is and knocked the guy's hand off me," Williams said. "It was an emotional thing. It wasn't anything."
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin disrupts Jacoby Jones' kickoff return
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | November 29, 2013 | 8:22AM
The season has been a bust for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but you'd like to hope Coach Mike Tomlin wouldn't consider purposely interfering with a play in order to help his struggling squad.
During the Steelers' 22-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving night, Baltimore's Jacoby Jones appeared to be on his way to a 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown before a close encounter with Tomlin on the sideline led to him immediately being tackled at the Pittsburgh 27-yard line.
Replays showed Tomlin standing inches from the field of play, facing away from the action, as Jones approached him. Tomlin then looks over his shoulder and jumps out of way, briefly stepping onto the field of play with his right foot, just as Jones sprints by. Jones changes direction slightly as he passes Tomlin, moving away from the sideline just as Pittsburgh's Cortez Allen tackles him.
No penalty was called on Tomlin on the play, but it's obvious that he affected Jones during his return. Tomlin was caught smiling on camera after the play.
After the game, Tomlin told reporters he simply lost track of where he was on the sideline.
"I always watch the returns on the JumboTron; it provides a better perspective for me," Tomlin told the Baltimore Sun. "I lost my placement as he broke free and saw at the last second how close I was to the field of play.
"I do it quite often, like everybody else in the National Football League. I was wrong, I accept responsibility."
Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, who surprised some when he "joked" about possibly interfering from the sideline on a kickoff return during the Super Bowl, said Tomlin knew what he was doing.
"I took some flak kind of joking around at the Super Bowl saying that I was going to run out onto the field and tackle somebody if this guy breaks it," Flacco told the Sun. "That's exactly what [Tomlin] just did. He was looking at the big screen the whole entire time. He knew where he was. He knew where Jacoby was. He pulled my move."
It's debatable as to whether Jones would have made it to the end zone, but it'll be incredible if Tomlin isn't fined by the NFL.
Ravens barely hold on to beat Steelers
Submitted by Keith Clay | November 29, 2013 | 12:06AM
Justin Tucker kicked five field goals, and the Baltimore Ravens stopped a 2-point conversion with 1:03 left to survive a comeback bid by the Pittsburgh Steelers and escape with a 22-20 victory Thursday night.
After Pittsburgh scored on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Jerricho Cotchery to get within two points, Roethlisberger's conversion pass slipped through the hands of Emmanuel Sanders, who was screened by Chykie Brown.
The victory provided the Ravens (6-6) with their first winning streak since September and pushed them ahead of the Steelers (5-7) and four other teams in the race for the final wild-card slot in the AFC. It also avenged a 19-16 loss to their division rivals last month.
Tucker connected on kicks of 43, 34, 38, 45 and 48 yards after Joe Flacco threw a first-quarter touchdown pass to Torrey Smith.
Cowboys get the best of Raiders on Thanksgiving
Submitted by Keith Clay | November 28, 2013 | 8:14PM
DeMarco Murray ran for three touchdowns, backup Lance Dunbar had a career-high 82 yards rushing and the Dallas Cowboys overcame Oakland's fumble return for a score on the opening kickoff to beat the Raiders 31-24 Thursday.
Murray had 63 yards rushing, but his highlight was the finishing work, including a 7-yard score to put Dallas ahead for good early in the fourth quarter.
Dunbar, who went out with a left knee sprain, sparked the tying and go-ahead touchdown drives in the second half, highlighted by a 45-yard run that led to a 4-yard scoring pass from Tony Romo to Dez Bryant.
The Cowboys (7-5) moved two games above .500 for the first time since late last season. The Raiders (4-8) guaranteed an 11th straight season without a winning record.
Matt McGloin had a strong first half for the Raiders, leading consecutive TD drives that put Oakland up 21-7.
Bengals-Chargers to be 1st NFL blackout of year
Submitted by Keith Clay | November 28, 2013 | 6:28PM
The first NFL game to be blacked out locally this season will be Sunday's matchup between the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals and the San Diego Chargers.
The Chargers say more than 5,300 tickets were still unsold at Thursday's deadline, meaning the game won't be televised in Southern California.
The Chargers had four blackouts last season, including a loss to the Bengals.
The Chargers were spared the embarrassment of a local TV blackout of a Monday night game against the Indianapolis Colts earlier this season after ESPN and some local sponsors guaranteed the purchase of approximately 8,500 tickets. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)
Lions end Turkey Day streak with Packers' defeat
Submitted by Keith Clay | November 28, 2013 | 4:11PM
Matthew Stafford made up for some mistakes with three touchdown passes, including one to Calvin Johnson, to help the Detroit Lions score 37 straight points after an awful start to beat the Green Bay Packers 40-10 on Thursday.
The Lions (7-5) had lost their last two games, five consecutive against Green Bay and a franchise-record nine straight in their annual showcase on Thanksgiving.
The Packers (5-6-1) have a five-game winless streak for the first time since 2008, showing how valuable Aaron Rodgers is for the franchise. Rodgers has missed four-plus games since fracturing his left collarbone.
Matt Flynn became the fourth starting quarterback for Green Bay this year and was sacked seven times, once by Ndamukong Suh for a safety.
Cowboys to wear blue uniforms at home for first time
Submitted by Keith Clay | November 28, 2013 | 3:33PM
For the first time since the Dallas Cowboys' Cotton Bowl days in the 1960s, they will be wearing their rarely-worn navy blue away uniforms during a home game instead of the typical throwback jerseys the team usually wears on the holiday game.
The team was forced to make a change to their Thanksgiving Day look to comply with a new NFL rule for this season which no longer allows teams to wear an alternate colored helmet, yet still wanted a different look for the holiday.
Instead of going with the throwback jersey paired with the modern-day helmet, the Cowboys are opting to go with the blue away jersey that is only seen once or twice a year when Dallas goes on the road and the home teams opt to wear white.
The tradition of the Cowboys wearing their white jerseys at home started in 1964 when GM Texas Schramm thought it would be good for fans to see the opponents' colors, instead of just blue and white every week. Also, since the Cowboys' home used to be the outdoor Cotton Bowl, team officials thought it would be an advantage to force away teams to wear typically dark home colors in the hot Texas sun in the early season.
Since switching to wearing white at home, it has become a common for fans to believe the navy blue jerseys are "cursed" due to a number of bad-luck incidents when forced to wear the darker colors.
According to legend, the curse started during the 1968 NFL playoffs when the Cowboys were upset by the Cleveland Browns, ending what was one of their best seasons at the time. In 1971, the jinx gained popularity among fans when Dallas lost Super Bowl V to the Baltimore Colts after the team was forced to wear its blue jerseys due to being the designated home team after wearing the white jerseys all throughout the regular season and the playoffs.
Other incidents include the Cowboys' loss in the 1981 NFC Championship game when the home-team Eagles chose to wear white to "unlock the hex" and most recently, Dallas lost to the Chargers in Week 4 this season while wearing the blue jerseys in San Diego.
NFL announces dates of 3 London games in 2014
Submitted by Keith Clay | November 28, 2013 | 2:24PM
The NFL announced the dates of its three regular-season games in London next year, with the Dallas Cowboys playing the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 10 on Nov. 9.
The first game will be played in Week 4 on Sept. 28, with the Oakland Raiders facing the Miami Dolphins.
A month later, in Week 8, the Atlanta Falcons will play the Detroit Lions on Oct. 26.
All the games will be played at Wembley Stadium.
The teams and matchups had been previously announced. The Raiders, Falcons and Jaguars are the designated home teams.
The NFL has been playing regular-season games at Wembley since 2007.
There were two games in London this year, with Minnesota beating Pittsburgh 34-27 on Sept. 29 and San Francisco defeating Jacksonville 42-10 on Oct. 27.
Report: John Fox to return to work Monday
Submitted by Keith Clay | November 28, 2013 | 12:57PM
Denver Broncos head coach returned to Denver on Wednesday after spending the past few weeks in North Carolina recovering from heart valve replacement surgery on November 4.
Now we've learned – according to FOX Sports' Jay Glazer – that Fox plans on returning to work on Monday
According to Glazer, Fox plans on coaching the Broncos when the Tennessee Titans visit Sports Authority Field December 8. It's still unknown if Fox will coach the team from the sidelines or from the press box. (Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Trestman confident Forte will play Sunday
Submitted by Keith Clay | November 28, 2013 | 11:59AM
Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte didn't practice on Wednesday.
But head coach Marc Trestman isn't concern about Forte's availability this Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.
According to Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com, Trestman is confident Forte will be available this week.
"I feel pretty good that he'll start getting some work tomorrow. We'll see where he is at, but I'm going in optimistic," Trestman said.
Forte suffered a hyper-extended right knee last week against the St. Louis Rams but managed to finish the game. He carried 16 times for 77 yards and caught seven passes for 40 yards.
Forte has missed just five games over the course of his six-year career with the Bears. (Photo: Brett Duke/Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
Report: Justin Houston will miss 2-3 weeks with elbow injury
Submitted by Keith Clay | November 28, 2013 | 10:33AM
Earlier this week the Kansas City Chiefs reported that linebacker Justin Houston suffered a dislocated elbow against the San Diego Chargers last Sunday.
Houston finally had a MRI on the injury and the news isn't great according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, who reports that Houston will be sidelined 2-3 weeks due to some sprained ligaments and a torn muscle that happened when the elbow popped out of place.
The good news is that Houston's injury will not require any surgery on his elbow, which would have ended his season.
The timing of the injury is not good, the Chiefs have a big game Sunday against their AFC West rivals, the Denver Broncos.
NFL fines Long $7,875 for kicking episode
Submitted by Keith Clay | November 28, 2013 | 9:41AM
The NFL has fined Chicago Bears right guard Kyle Long $7,875 for kicking Rams defensive lineman William Hayes during a melee in the second quarter of Sunday's loss, Long said Wednesday.
The fine was expected, and stuck to the league's schedule of fines for a first offense for kicking an opponent.
After the game, Long and Hayes embraced at midfield and shared calm words. Long later expressed his remorse to media.
Long's kick did not connect with Hayes because Long's brother, Rams defensive end Chris, raced off the home sideline and pulled him back just in time. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)
Packers place RB Johnathan Franklin on IR
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | November 27, 2013 | 8:25PM
The Green Bay Packers have placed rookie running back Johnathan Franklin on season-ending injure reserve, Tom Pelissero of USA Today reports.
Franklin – who didn't see much playing time behind fellow rookie Eddie Lacy – suffered a concussion last week while returning the opening kickoff against the Minnesota Vikings.
Franklin, a fourth-round pick out of UCLA, finished the season with 107 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown. A 103 yards came against the Bengals in Week Three.
The Packers filled the roster spot by promoting linebacker Victor Aiyewa from the practice squad. (Photo: Bob McGinn/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal)
Seattle release Perrish Cox, signs DeShawn Shead
Submitted by Keith Clay | November 27, 2013 | 7:53PM
Cornerback Perrish Cox was released by the Seattle Seahawks a day after he was signed by the club, replaced on the roster by DeShawn Shead.
Seattle made the roster moves on Wednesday. Coach Pete Carroll had indicated on Tuesday that Shead would be promoted from the practice squad to the active roster, but waiving Cox came as a surprise.
Seattle signed Cox on Tuesday after cornerback Walter Thurmond was suspended four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Cox started the season with San Francisco, but was waived by the 49ers in early November.
Shead was on the Seahawks 53-man roster at the end of last season but was never active for any games. He's spent this entire season on Seattle's practice squad.
Aaron Hernandez takes Fifth in Florida lawsuit
Submitted by Manual Avila Jr. | November 27, 2013 | 7:00PM
Lawyers for Aaron Hernandez say their client won't answer accusations in a federal lawsuit filed by a man who says the former star NFL tight end shot him in the face outside a Miami strip club.
In the response filed Wednesday to the complaint by 30-year-old Alexander Bradley, attorneys say the former University of Florida player is invoking his Fifth Amendment right that protects people from incriminating themselves.
According to court records, Bradley claims Hernandez shot him after they argued at the club in February. Bradley seeks at least $100,000 in damages.
A judge in Miami denied Hernandez's request to delay the Florida proceedings until a murder charge against him in the shooting death in Massachusetts of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd is resolved.
The New England Patriots released Hernandez soon after he was accused in the killing.
Redskins' RG3 defends father over locker room project
Submitted by Manual Avila Jr. | November 27, 2013 | 5:47PM
RG3 stood up for RG2 on Wednesday, saying that anyone criticizing the quarterback's father for being in the Washington Redskins locker room "needs to back off."
Robert Griffin III said there was no underlying meaning behind his father's locker room visit following Monday night's 27-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The two chatted at Griffin's locker both and after Griffin's news conference, fueling more questions about the father's influence on the team.
"My dad came to check on me," Griffin said. "He came to check on me to make sure I wasn't injured. My mom was upset. He wanted to do his fatherly duties and he stepped in there to see if I was OK."
Griffin was sacked four times by the 49ers and was briefly in agony after getting kicking in the groin area on one play, but he never left the game and is not listed on the Redskins' injury report.
"Yeah, I was a little shocked that he was there, but he meant no harm," Griffin said. "And anybody out there that's going after my dad needs to back up. That is my father. I will protect my family. He served 21 years in the military — I know that's not an excuse for anything that he does — but he's not overstepping any bounds, so I hope people respect that and back off."
While it's not the norm, it's also not unprecedented for family members to be in the locker room following a game, especially if a player has been injured. The room is supposedly off-limits to anyone without proper credentials, but the NFL leaves it up to the individual teams to decide how to regulate the flow of people.
Robert Griffin Jr.'s appearance was noteworthy because he has been vocal about his son's role in the Redskins offense, saying in the spring that he wants his son throwing more and running less. It also came after his son played poorly in a loss that dropped the Redskins to 3-8, far removed from their division title season of a year ago.
Asked about the father-son chat, coach Mike Shanahan said only the father thought the son was injured. The coach did not elaborate further. (Photo: John McDonnel/The Washington Post)
McFadden expected to play vs. Cowboys
Submitted by Keith Clay| November 27, 2013 | 4:39PM
Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden went through a light practice Wednesday and will play against Dallas on Thanksgiving Day.
McFadden has not played since straining a hamstring early in the first half against Philadelphia on Nov. 3. He has missed four games total this season and 27 overall in five-plus years since being the fourth-overall draft pick in 2008.
The Raiders have run the ball much more effectively since McFadden has been out.
Rashad Jennings has rushed for 413 yards and two touchdowns over the last four weeks. The veteran backup has piled up more than 100 yards of total offense in each of the four games while helping fuel the league's fifth-ranked running game.
Coach Dennis Allen plans to use both against the Cowboys.
"The guy that's in there and being the most effective will be the guy that gets the opportunity," Allen said. "But I see them both getting a chance to carry the ball. We'll see how it goes. We'll play it out as the game plays along."
McFadden said he is still sore from the hamstring injury — his second this season — and added that he needed the extra time off as a precaution.
"To me, I could have been back last week but I just have to take my time with it," he said. "I don't want to. I know if I rush it back again this time it will probably be over for the season. So I want to just be able to make sure it's all the way back right before I get out there again."
Even if he remains healthy the remainder of the season with Oakland, it's questionable whether the 26-year-old running back will be invited back next year.
Slated to hit the free agent market in 2014, McFadden was penciled in as the centerpiece of the Raiders' offense. Injuries and ineffectiveness have dampened expectations, however.
McFadden is third on the team in rushing behind quarterback Terrelle Pryor and Jennings. He's on pace to finish with fewer than 615 yards for the fourth time in six years and is averaging just 3.6 yards a carry.
That could hurt his value in the offseason when McFadden tries to secure a new contract. For now, he'll have to settle for sharing playing time with Jennings in the Raiders' backfield.
Giants O-Line on move, Boothe to C, Brewer LG
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | November 27, 2013 | 4:09PM
The New York Giants' offensive line is once again doing the injury shuffle.
For the sixth time in 12 games, an injury will force the Giants to field a new starting combination on the line in front of quarterback Eli Manning.
The latest lineman to go down was third-year center Jim Cordle. He injured his left knee in Sunday's loss to Dallas and was placed on injured reserve, the second center lost for the season.
Kevin Boothe, who started the season opener at center, will move there from left guard for Sunday's road game against the Washington Redskins. Third-year pro James Brewer, who has a start at each of the guard positions this season, will take over for Boothe at left guard.
Vikings LB Erin Henderson returns to team after DUI arrest
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | November 27, 2013 | 3:31PM
Minnesota Vikings middle linebacker Erin Henderson has returned to the team after a drunken-driving arrest a week ago.
Coach Leslie Frazier said Henderson would practice Wednesday and play Sunday against Chicago. He will not start.
According to police in suburban Eden Prairie, Henderson was arrested Nov. 19 for probable cause driving while intoxicated and possession of a controlled substance. Henderson did not practice with the Vikings last week or play at Green Bay because of what the team described as a personal matter.
The Vikings have had three players arrested in the last three weeks. General manager Rick Spielman issued a statement declaring the situations "unacceptable and disappointing."
Henderson told reporters he's sorry for his teammates and the organization and that his arrest was "a wakeup call."
Broncos place Vickerson on IR
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | November 27, 2013 | 3:06PM
The Denver Broncos have placed defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson on season-ending injured reserve with a dislocated hip and have signed Sione Fua.
Vickerson was injured in the Broncos' loss at New England Sunday night. He's the second Denver defensive starter to get hurt this month, joining safety Rahim Moore (leg), who was put on recallable IR.
Vickerson was in the midst of a solid season, helping Denver rank fourth against the run and collecting 22 tackles and one sack, which came against Tom Brady in the first quarter Sunday night before he got hurt.
Fua is a third-year pro who played in 27 games, including a dozen starts for Carolina, over the last three seasons. He was waived by the Panthers Nov. 12.
Titans sign S Schillinger with Griffin suspended
Submitted by Keith Clay | November 27, 2013 | 2:33PM
The Tennnessee Titans have signed veteran safety Shann Schillinger to replace Michael Griffin during his one-game suspension.
The NFL upheld Griffin's suspension Tuesday as a repeat offender of the league's safety rules with hits to the head and neck of defenseless players, which will keep him out of Sunday's game at Indianapolis.
The Titans announced the deal Wednesday with Schillinger.
The 6-foot Schillinger played 36 games with Atlanta over the past four seasons mostly on special teams. He missed 2012 with a foot injury and played five games this season with the Falcons before being released in October.
The Titans also added offensive lineman Tyler Horn to the practice squad and waived offensive lineman Oscar Johnson from the practice squad.
Bucs' QB Mike Glennon named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | November 27, 2013 | 2:10PM
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month for November on Wednesday.
Glennon finished the month completing 62-of-88 passes (70.5 percent) for 785 yards, seven touchdowns and only one interception. He also had a 119.7 passer rating. He posted a passer rating of at least 120 in three of his four games during the month of November.
Glennon joins Shaun King (December 1999) as the only Buccaneers quarterbacks to be named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month.
Tavon Austin named NFC Special Teams Player of the Month
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | November 27, 2013 | 1:51PM
St. Louis Rams wide receiver and kick returner Tavon Austin, has been named NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for a November in the National Football League.
Austin, scored four touchdowns including one punt return (98 yards), two receiving (81 and 57) and one rushing (65). Austin averaged 75.3 yards per touchdown, the highest by a rookie in one calendar month in NFL history.
The No. 8 overall pick in the 2013 draft out of West Virginia, Austin is starting to give Rams fans hope, as they see his playmaking ability emerging.
Jets DT Richardson earns NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month honors
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | November 27, 2013 | 1:37PM
New York Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was named the league's Rookie of the Month for November.
Richardson, a first-round pick out of Missouri, has 72 tackles (10 for loss), 22 quarterback hurries, three sacks, one pass defensed and a forced fumble. Richardson's also a key member of the Jets' front seven, which is tops in the league in run defense.
Richardson's the first Jet to win a league Rookie of the Month honor since 2009, when quarterback Mark Sanchez received the honor for the first month of his Jets career. Richardson's also the first Jets defensive player to earn the award linebacker David Harris won it in 2007.
Vikings Blair Walsh named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | November 27, 2013 | 1:03PM
Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh earned NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors after scoring the majority of his teams points in a 26-26 tie with NFC North rivals the Green Bay Packers.
Walsh hit all four of his field goal attempts (29, 35, 36, 47 yards), hit two extra points and forced touchbacks on 5-of-8 field goals as Minnesota tied its division rival at Lambeau Field on Sunday.
Walsh has followed his Pro Bowl season of 2012 with another sparkling campaign. He has connected on 19-of-21 field goals in 2013, including 10 in a row entering Sunday's game vs. Chicago.
A sixth-round pick in 2012, Walsh has converted 54-of-59 field goals (91.5 percent) in his regular-season play for Minnesota.
Walsh, 23, is now a four-time winner of the NFC's weekly special teams award.
Jags GM says Maurice Jones-Drew has "realistic possibility" of returning in 2014
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | November 27, 2013 | 12:40PM
The Jacksonville Jaguars are currently sitting at 2-9 on the year and are in a race to earn the No. 1 overall draft pick. The rebuilding days are getting ready to be in full swing for the team and after trade rumors surrounded him for most of the season, Maurice Jones Drew could be a part of the team in 2014.
The running back's best days appear to be behind him, but that is not stopping the Jaguars for considering allowing the veteran to finish out his career with the same team it started with. Jones Drew has not rushed for over 1,000 yards since 2011 and recent injuries have his future in question. This season, Jones Drew has just 539 yards and five touchdowns as the lead back, averaging 3.2 yards per carry. Last season, he only put up 414 yards has foot injuries held him back.
In a recent interview with a local Jacksonville sports radio station, general manager David Caldwell spoke on the future of Jones Drew. Trade rumors were swirling around the running back prior to the NFL deadline approaching. Jones Drew is currently playing out the final games in a five-year contract, but Caldwell is optimistic about the idea of giving him an extension.
Caldwell said it was a "realistic possibility" that Jones Drew finishes out his career with the Jaguars. This has to be welcomed news to the veteran as the market for aging running backs is extremely weak. Just ask Michael Turner how things are working out after the Atlanta Falcons opted to not re-sign him. Jones Drew will turn 29 by the time next season approaches and considering he is averaging just three yards a carry.
His best option wold be to re-sign with Jacksonville and be a veteran presence on the reshaping of the roster. He will likely take a significant pay cut because the Jaguars are not going to invest money in an aging veteran. The issue will be whether or not Jones Drew wants to finish out his final years with a contending team. The Jaguars are still years away from making that happen.
Roddy White wants to remain a Falcon for life
Submitted by Keith Clay | November 27, 2013 | 12:02PM
Roddy White has made it clear that his intentions are to retire a member of the Atlanta Falcons. The team drafted the receiver in the first round back in 2005. He has been a leading receiver since he started and has only gotten better with the emergence of Julio Jones. White has no plans of leaving Atlanta anytime soon.
"I've been here my whole career and it's been good," White said, via ESPN.com. "I've basically brought my whole family around Atlanta. And I've basically based this as a place that I want to be for the rest of my life. Anytime you get an opportunity to play out your career with one team -- especially in this day and age of football where everybody is continuously moving around -- that would be great."
2014 is a contract year for White. He will be a $6.325 hit against the salary cap, something the Falcons would like to reduce in order to sign key players in the offseason to help an unexpected rebuilding process for the team. Reports have surfaced that White and Falcons front office have already agreed to a potential number, but right now the receiver says he is not concerned with worrying about things like that.
"I don't think about those kinds of things, man," White said. "Those kinds of things work out themselves as the season goes along or as the offseason goes along. I'm a football player. All that other stuff, I don't really get into those types of things. I just let my agent handle that situation."
An offseason extension is expected to be a high priority for the Falcons considering Jones will also be set to earn a top-dollar deal from the team in a year. White would not address the specifics of the upcoming deal, simply saying that it was nice that there was a mutual feeling of want between the two sides. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)
Bucs LB Lavonte David named NFC Defensive Player of the Week
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | November 27, 2013 | 11:23AM
Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors after his big game against the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
David registered 12 tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and a pass defensed against the Lions.
He has 5.0 sacks and two interceptions on the season, making him one of just six players in franchise history to post those totals in a season (along with defensive end Gaines Adams, cornerback Ronde Barber, defensive end Simeon Rice, defensive tackle Warren Sapp and linebacker Broderick Thomas.
Panthers LB Thomas Davis named NFC Defensive Player of the Month
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | November 27, 2013 | 11:11AM
Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for the month of November.
Davis racked up 35 tackles, including 17 in a Monday Night Football win against the Patriots, one sack, one interception, a forced fumbles and two passes defensed in November as the Panthers went undefeated.
The nine-year veteran has played both weakside and strongside linebacker for Carolina, and Sunday against the Dolphins he dislocated his finger and the bone broke the skin. He required stitches during and after the game but did not miss a single defensive snap.
Davis was also named NFC Defensive Player of the Week after a two-sack performance against Minnesota in Week 6.
Carson Palmer named NFC Offensive Player of the Week
Submitted by Victor DeMarco | November 27, 2013 | 11:05AM
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week Wednesday for his performance last Sunday in a 40-11 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Palmer completed 26-of-37 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns in the game for a passer rating of 114.
This is the third time that the 10-year veteran has won a Player of the Week Award, and the first since the 2009 season when he was a member of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Palmer joins Patrick Peterson as the only Cardinals to win a weekly award this season. Peterson was the NFC Defensive Player of Week 4 after he had two interceptions in a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Nick Foles named NFC Offensive Player of the Month
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | November 27, 2013 | 10:58AM
A day after being named the Eagles starting quarterback for the rest of the season, Nick Foles was named NFC Offensive Player of the Month for November.
The second-year quarterback went 3-0 as a starter in November, throwing 10 touchdowns and completing over 70 percent of his passes.
This isn't the first honor bestowed upon Foles since he came in for an injured Michael Vick over a month ago. Foles' jersey is now hanging in the Hall of Fame next to Peyton Manning's for throwing seven touchdowns in a game; he has twice been named NFC Offensive Player of the Week; and he set an NFL record for quarterback rating in one month.
Foles now joins Donovan McNabb, Randall Cunningham and Michael Vick as the only Eagles quarterbacks to ever win the award.
Patriots DE Chandler Jones named AFC Defensive Player of the Month
Submitted by Keith Clay | November 27, 2013 | 10:50AM
New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones has been named AFC Defensive Player of the Month for November.
Jones received the honor for the first time in his career after registering 16 tackles and four sacks in three games. He sacked Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger twice in New England's 55-31 win in Week 9, and sacked Cam Newton and Peyton Manning once in Weeks 11 and 12, respectively.
Jones is now up to 10.5 sacks on the season, and his 16.5 sacks over his first two years in the NFL ranks him third in team history for most sacks by a player in their first two seasons.
Steelers S Troy Polamalu named AFC Defensive Player of the Week
Submitted by Kat Kedzierski | November 27, 2013 | 10:46AM
Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu has been named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his Week 12 performance against the Cleveland Browns.
Polamalu registered four tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one pass defensed in the Steelers 27-11 victory. The two forced fumbles were a single-game career high, giving him three this season. His first forced fumble, which he also recovered, came with under two minutes remaining in the first half and led to a field goal that gave the Steelers a 13-3 lead heading into halftime.
This marks the seventh time Polamalu has been named AFC Defensive Player of the Week and the first time since 2011 (Week 17). Polamalu has now registered at least one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in the same regular season for the third time in his career (2005 and 2010).
Pats QB Tom Brady named AFC Offensive Player of the Week
Submitted by Jackie Quattro | November 27, 2013 | 10:31AM
New England quarterback Tom Brady has been named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in the Patriots' come-from-behind 34-31 overtime victory against the Denver Broncos last Sunday night.
Brady completed 34-of-50 passes for 344 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 107.4 passer rating against Denver. The 344 yards are Brady's second-highest total in 2013, trailing only his 432-yard performance against Pittsburgh on Nov. 3. Brady totaled 1,072 passing yards and eight touchdowns in his three November games, averaging 357 yards and 2.7 touchdowns per game.
The comeback against the Broncos marked the 39th time that Brady has led the Patriots to victory following a fourth-quarter deficit or tie (including playoffs).
It is the 24th time in Brady's career that he has received the AFC Offensive Player of the Week honor. (Photo: Jim Rogash)
"Big Ben" named AFC Offensive Player of the Month
Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | November 27, 2013 | 10:25AM
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been named AFC Offensive Player of the Month for November.
Roethlisberger completed 97-of-157 passes for 1,188 yards with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions for a quarterback rating of 100.5 in four games, leading his team to a 3-1 record. He was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Detroit Lions in Week 11, marking the ninth time in his career than he took home such honors.
This marks the first time that Roethlisberger has been named AFC Offensive Player of the Month. He is the first Steelers player to take home an AFC Player of the Month Award since linebacker LaMarr Woodley was named AFC Defensive Player of the Month in October of 2011.
Code Talker says Redskins name not derogatory
Submitted by Keith Clay | November 27, 2013 | 9:41AM
A leader of the Navajo Code Talkers who appeared at a Washington Redskins home football game says he considers the team name a symbol of loyalty and courage — not a derogatory slur.
Roy Hawthorne was one of four Code Talkers honored for their service in World War II during the Monday night game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Hawthorne says the Code Talkers met with team owner Dan Snyder but did not discuss the name. Hawthorne says the word redskins is a Native-American icon that has many positive meanings.
The brief ceremony came amid a "Change the Mascot" campaign by some Indians and civil rights leaders who regard the word redskins as a racial epithet.
Snyder has called it a badge of honor. (Photo: Associated Press)