NFL deflates preseason PSI controversy in Philadelphia

NFL deflates preseason PSI controversy in Philadelphia

One football from Thursday’s preseason game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia was found to be defective and under-inflated in the second half, the NFL said Friday.

“All footballs were in compliance with NFL rules following the pregame inspection process and all proper procedures were followed,” NFL vice president of football communications Michael Signora said in a statement. “In the third quarter, a football that was found to be defective was removed from play, will be sent back to Wilson for review.”

Pittsburgh beat the Eagles 31-14 in the preseason opener for both teams and during the broadcast, Eagles sideline reporter Howard Eskin reported one ball appeared to be severely deflated and looked “like a marshmallow.”

–Field Level Media

NFL notebook: Friction growing between Redskins coaches, Norman?

NFL notebook: Friction growing between Redskins coaches, Norman?

The source of Washington cornerback Josh Norman's benching at the start of the second half of the Redskins' Monday night loss to New Orleans has reportedly been revealed, and it could be a sign of growing tension between the star player and the coaching staff.

NFL notebook: Friction growing between Redskins coaches, Norman?

The source of Washington cornerback Josh Norman’s benching at the start of the second half of the Redskins’ Monday night loss to New Orleans has reportedly been revealed, and it could be a sign of growing tension between the star player and the coaching staff.

Norman wasn’t benched for his play, but rather for refusing to take off his headphones as Washington coach Jay Gruden spoke to the team at halftime, according to Redskins pregame show host Kevin Sheehan, who discussed it on his podcast Friday.

“At halftime, according to my source, [Norman] put his headphones on while the coaches were addressing the team. Jay Gruden told him to take them off. He either didn’t hear Jay or he ignored him, but with that, I was told, the headphones were removed. By whom? My source says that he believes it was Gruden who removed the headphones from Norman’s head. But regardless, Gruden benched him to start the third quarter, and that was the reason why,” Sheehan said, according to a Washington Post transcript.

Sheehan also said there seems to be some tension between Norman and several of the team’s coaches. Norman was benched for five plays and allowed two touchdowns on two targets, good for a 158.3 passer rating, per Pro Football Focus.

Norman also got into a short-lived Twitter beef with Saints No. 1 wide receiver Michael Thomas following the game, after Thomas caught four passes for 74 yards in the Saints’ lopsided 43-19 win. Thomas was fined $10,026 by the NFL on Saturday for his unsportsmanlike conduct during the game.

–Former Green Bay fullback Jim Taylor, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, died Saturday morning at age 83, the team announced.

Known for his bruising running style, he played in Green Bay from 1958-66 and exceeded 1,000 rushing yards each season from 1960-64. He ran for a league-high 1,474 yards in 1962 when the Packers won the NFL championship. The Associated Press named him the league MVP that season — before he ran for 85 yards in the title game, a bruising defensive battle against the New York Giants.

A contemporary of fellow Hall of Fame member Jim Brown, Taylor played second fiddle to the faster Brown. He took it personally and viewed each of the games between Brown’s Cleveland team and his Packers as a personal match. In their three head-to-head games, including the 1965 NFL Championship Game, the Packers won all three, with Taylor outgaining Brown in two of them.

Taylor led the Packers in rushing in seven seasons, and he started at fullback on six of Vince Lombardi’s seven NFL championship teams. He entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio in 1976 — the first member of Lombardi’s team to receive the honor.

–The Cleveland Browns will sign former Baltimore Ravens receiver Breshad Perriman to bolster a receiver corps with only four healthy players, according to multiple reports.

The Ravens drafted Perriman in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft but released him in September. His career has been marred by injuries and dropped passes. Since entering the league, the 25-year-old Perriman has 43 catches for 576 yards and three touchdowns in 27 games. He never has gained more than 65 receiving yards in a game.

–The Green Bay Packers are listing starting wide receivers Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison as questionable with hamstring injuries for Monday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Cobb has missed the previous two games, while Allison has sat out one game. Cobb has 17 receptions for 194 yards and one touchdown, and Allison has 19 catches for 289 yards and two scores. Both players were limited practice participants on Saturday for the third consecutive day.

The 49ers are hopeful that running back Matt Breida (shoulder, ankle) will be available. He returned to practice on Saturday in a limited role. He was listed as questionable, and his availability will be decided on Monday.

–Field Level Media

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Packers WRs Cobb, Allison questionable for 49ers

Packers WRs Cobb, Allison questionable for 49ers

The Green Bay Packers on Saturday listed starting receivers Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison as questionable with hamstring injuries for Monday night's game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Cobb has missed the previous two games, while Allison has sat out one game. Cobb

Packers WRs Cobb, Allison questionable for 49ers

The Green Bay Packers on Saturday listed starting receivers Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison as questionable with hamstring injuries for Monday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Cobb has missed the previous two games, while Allison has sat out one game. Cobb has 17 receptions for 194 yards and one touchdown, and Allison has 19 catches for 289 yards and two scores.

Both players were limited practice participants on Saturday for the third consecutive day.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers (knee) was a full participant on Saturday and was taken off the injury report.

Six other Packers also were listed as questionable: cornerbacks Jaire Alexander (groin) and Bashaud Breeland (hamstring); offensive tackles Bryan Bulaga (knee) and Jason Spriggs (ankle); guard Justin McCray (shoulder); and safety Jermaine Whitehead (back).

The 49ers are hopeful that running back Matt Breida (shoulder, ankle) will be available. He returned to practice on Saturday in a limited role. He was listed as questionable, and his availability will be decided on Monday.

Breida ranks sixth in the NFL with 369 rushing yards and leads the league with an impressive 7.5 yards per carry.

San Francisco’s Dante Pettis (knee) was ruled out and fellow receiver Trent Taylor (back) is doubtful. Another wideout, Pierre Garcon (shoulder, knee), is questionable.

The 49ers also listed tight end George Kittle (knee), offensive lineman Mike Person (knee), center Weston Richburg (knee), tackle Joe Staley (knee) and cornerback K’Waun Williams (illness) as questionable.

–Field Level Media

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Steelers’ Watt among several fined by NFL for QB hits

NEW YORK (AP) — Pittsburgh's T.J. Watt has been fined $20,054 by the NFL for his hit on Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, and the Steelers linebacker says he will appeal it.

Watt rolled into the right leg of Ryan during the Steelers' 41-17 victory last Sunday and was called for roughing the passer.

NEW YORK (AP) — Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt has been fined $20,054 by the NFL for his hit on Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, and the Steelers linebacker says he will appeal it.

Watt rolled into the right leg of Ryan during the Steelers’ 41-17 victory last Sunday and was called for roughing the passer. Watt, who had three sacks and was named the AFC defensive player of the week, said earlier in the week that he pulled his hands off the quarterback and that can be seen in the film.

Houston’s J.J. Watt, T.J.’s older brother, tweeted “That is insanity” and “$20,000 for this?!?!?” on Friday when news of the fine began to leak.

Among other players fined $20,054 on Saturday for illegal hits on quarterbacks include: the Jets’ Brandon Copeland, San Francisco’s K’Waun Williams, Indianapolis’ Najee Goode, Oakland’s Bruce Irvin and Baltimore’s Tony Jefferson.

Oakland’s Arden Key was docked $26,739 for unnecessary roughness in the Raiders’ loss to the Los Angles Chargers.

Several players were fined $10,026 by the league for various infractions, including: Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt (unsportsmanlike conduct), Dee Ford (unsportsmanlike conduct) and Chris Jones (unnecessary roughness); Atlanta’s Foyesade Oluokun (unnecessary roughness); Green Bay’s Tony Brown (unsportsmanlike conduct); Cincinnati’s Michael Johnson (unnecessary roughness); Miami’s Martrell Spaith (unsportsmanlike conduct); and New Orleans’ Michael Thomas (unsportsmanlike conduct).

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Report: Redskins CB Norman was benched for ignoring Gruden

Report: Redskins CB Norman was benched for ignoring Gruden

Cornerback Josh Norman's benching at the start of the second half of the Washington Redskins' Monday night loss to New Orleans led to a Twitter spat with Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas, but a new report suggests Norman's aggravation didn't end there.

Report: Redskins CB Norman was benched for ignoring Gruden

Cornerback Josh Norman’s benching at the start of the second half of the Washington Redskins’ Monday night loss to New Orleans led to a Twitter spat with Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas, but a new report suggests Norman’s aggravation didn’t end there.

Norman wasn’t benched for his play on the field, but for refusing to take off his headphones as Washington coach Jay Gruden spoke to the team at halftime, according to Redskins pregame show host Kevin Sheehan, who discussed it on his podcast.

“The reason Josh Norman was benched for the start of the second half against the Saints had very little to do with him getting lost in coverage,” Sheehan said, according to a Washington Post transcript. “At halftime, according to my source, he put his headphones on while the coaches were addressing the team. Jay Gruden told him to take them off. He either didn’t hear Jay or he ignored him, but with that, I was told, the headphones were removed. By whom? My source says that he believes it was Gruden who removed the headphones from Norman’s head. But regardless, Gruden benched him to start the third quarter, and that was the reason why.”

Sheehan also said there seems to be some tension between Norman and several of the team’s coaches.

Thomas, the No. 1 receiver for the Saints, called out Norman via Twitter in a back-and-forth that arguably was more competitive than the WR-CB matchup during the game.

Thomas caught four passes for 74 yards in the Saints’ lopsided 43-19 win.

Norman was benched for five plays and allowed two touchdowns on two targets, good for a 158.3 passer rating, per Pro Football Focus.

“I made that boy check out after the first half,” Thomas wrote, sparking the yo-yo exchange and the mother of all defensive back insults: zone corner.

Norman replied to the first tweet: “You clout chasing! 25-times Lined it up toe-toe (blocking decoy) out-come of that 0-0-0!! Drew didn’t even look yo damn way ‘Juice’ Waste of a tweet!”

Thomas replied: “Zone Corner, play your role. Lol you don’t have no clout to chase. I didn’t have to do nothing but punk you all day and watch you bust coverages all game and cost your team so who really a clown(?) And I’m going to bully you ever(y) time I see you just so you know #sis.”

The exchange continued for awhile before Norman began deleting his tweets, prompting one final dig from Thomas: “You corny for deleting your tweets @J_No24 we grown man walk it like you talk it. Goof ball con artist this my favorite part when we find out you not who you say you are.”

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Browns to sign WR Perriman

Reports: Browns to sign WR Perriman

The Cleveland Browns will sign former Baltimore Ravens receiver Breshad Perriman, according to multiple reports.

The Baltimore Ravens drafted Perriman, a product of Central Florida, in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft but released him in September. He was on the roster

Reports: Browns to sign WR Perriman

The Cleveland Browns will sign former Baltimore Ravens receiver Breshad Perriman, according to multiple reports.

The Baltimore Ravens drafted Perriman, a product of Central Florida, in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft but released him in September. He was on the roster of the Washington Redskins for less than a week later in September.

Cleveland is bringing him aboard to bolster a depleted group of wide receivers.

Derrick Willies broke his collarbone in practice on Friday and will go on injured reserve. Rashard Higgins suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in a knee last week in the Browns’ overtime win over Baltimore and is out this week. Only Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway, Rod Streater and Damion Ratley are healthy enough to play Sunday when Cleveland hosts the Los Angeles Chargers.

Perriman’s career has been marred by injuries and dropped passes. Since entering the league, the 25-year-old Perriman has 43 catches for 576 yards and three touchdowns in 27 games. He never has gained more than 65 receiving yards in a game.

–Field Level Media

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Green Bay legend Taylor dies at 83

Green Bay legend Taylor dies at 83

Former Green Bay fullback Jim Taylor, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, died Saturday morning, the team announced.

He was 83.

Known for his bruising running style, he played in Green Bay from 1958-66 and exceeded 1,000

Green Bay legend Taylor dies at 83

Former Green Bay fullback Jim Taylor, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, died Saturday morning, the team announced.

He was 83.

Known for his bruising running style, he played in Green Bay from 1958-66 and exceeded 1,000 rushing yards each season from 1960-64. He ran for a league-high 1,474 yards in 1962 when the Packers won the NFL championship. The Associated Press named him the league MVP that season — before he ran for 85 yards in the title game, a bruising defensive battle against the New York Giants.

“Taylor isn’t human,” Giants middle linebacker Sam Huff said after the game. “No human being could have taken the punishment he got today.”

He played his final NFL season, 1967, with New Orleans.

A contemporary of fellow Hall of Fame member Jim Brown, Taylor played second fiddle to the faster Brown. He took it personally and viewed each of the games between Brown’s Cleveland team and his Packers as a personal match. In their three head-to-head games, including the 1965 NFL Championship Game, the Packers won all three, with Taylor outgaining Brown in two of them.

Taylor led the Packers in rushing in seven seasons, and he started at fullback on six of Vince Lombardi’s seven NFL championship teams.

“Taylor may not be as big as some fullbacks, but he has balance and determination,” Lombardi said after Taylor received the league’s MVP award. “He is hard to knock off his feet and he fights for every yard.”

Taylor entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio in 1976 — the first member of Lombardi’s team to receive the honor.

“Jim Taylor lived life the same way he played football, with passion, determination and love for all he did,” said David Baker, Pro Football Hall of Fame president and CEO, in a statement Saturday. “While Jim’s spirit forever resides at the Hall, we will miss his smile that would light up a room.”

The Hall of Fame also posted a video on Twitter of Taylor’s teammate, Jerry Kramer, talking about him.

On the field, one of Taylor’s trademarks was his ability to hold on to the ball. He fumbled just 34 times in 2,166 touches.

“That son-of-a-gun is the toughest son-of-a-gun in the league,” backfield mate Paul Hornung once said of Taylor. “I’ve seen him run over guys 30 or 40 pounds bigger than he is like that (snap of a finger). Jimmy Brown may be the best all-around athlete I’ve seen, but he doesn’t have Taylor’s desire.”

A native of Baton Rouge, La., Taylor played his college ball at LSU and was selected in the second round of the 1958 NFL Draft. In his nine years with the Packers, Taylor gained his 8,207 yards on 1,811 carries for a 4.5 average. He played in 115 games and started 103 with Green Bay, missing just five games in all.

–Field Level Media

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49ers RB Matt Breida questionable for game vs. Packers

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida is questionable for Monday night's game against the Green Bay Packers because of shoulder and ankle injuries.

Breida was limited in practice on Saturday and will be a game-time decision at Green Bay. He is sixth in the league in rushing

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida is questionable for Monday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers because of shoulder and ankle injuries.

Breida was limited in practice on Saturday and will be a game-time decision at Green Bay. He is sixth in the league in rushing with 369 yards.

The 49ers will be without rookie receiver Dante Pettis for a second straight week because of a knee injury. Receiver Trent Taylor didn’t practice all week because of a back injury and is listed as doubtful.

Receiver Pierre Garcon (shoulder, knee), tight end George Kittle (knee), guard Mike Person (knee), center Weston Richburg (knee), tackle Joe Staley (knee) and cornerback K’Waun Williams (illness) are all questionable.

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Packers WRs Cobb, Allison questionable for game vs. 49ers

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers say starting receivers Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison are questionable for their game Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers.

Both wideouts have hamstring injuries. Cobb has missed the last two games while Allison has missed one. Cobb and Allison have been limited participants

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers say starting receivers Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison are questionable for their game Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers.

Both wideouts have hamstring injuries. Cobb has missed the last two games while Allison has missed one. Cobb and Allison have been limited participants in practice this week.

Without them, the Packers have had to rely more on rookies Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown in the receiving corps alongside top wideout Davante Adams.

Starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga is also listed as questionable, though coach Mike McCarthy says he is not concerned with that injury.

Among five other players listed as questionable are cornerback Jaire Alexander (groin) and safety Jermaine Whitehead (back).

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was a full participant in practice Friday after focusing on rehab on Thursday, is not listed on the injury report. He has been playing with a left knee injury suffered in the season opener.

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Jim Taylor, fierce fullback for mighty Packers, dies at 83

Jim Taylor, the ferocious Hall of Fame fullback who embodied the Green Bay Packers' unstoppable ground game during the Vince Lombardi era and helped the team win four NFL titles and the first Super Bowl, died Saturday. He was 83.

He died unexpectedly at a hospital in his hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana,

Jim Taylor, the ferocious Hall of Fame fullback who embodied the Green Bay Packers’ unstoppable ground game during the Vince Lombardi era and helped the team win four NFL titles and the first Super Bowl, died Saturday. He was 83.

He died unexpectedly at a hospital in his hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the team said.

Taylor played on the great Packer teams and was the league’s MVP in 1962. He scored the first rushing touchdown in Super Bowl history and was voted into the Hall in 1976.

Taylor spent 10 seasons in the NFL after being drafted in the second round out of LSU in 1958. He was part of a backfield that featured Paul Hornung and began to thrive when Lombardi took over in 1959.

“He was a gritty, classic player on the Lombardi teams and a key figure of those great championship runs,” Packers President Mark Murphy said.

“One of the best runners of his era, he later was greatly appreciated by multiple generations of Packers fans during his many returns to Lambeau Field with his fellow alumni.”

Lombardi devised the Packers’ “Sweep,” which featured pulling guards Jerry Kramer and Fuzzy Thurston clearing the path for Taylor or Hornung running around the end. The 6-foot, 216-pound Taylor best fulfilled the play’s punishing effectiveness, a workhorse charging forward no matter the surface underneath, dragging would-be tacklers along.

“He taught me lots of character, and virtues, and principles,” Taylor said of Lombardi, with whom he occasionally feuded, in a 2001 interview with the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “He established a caliber of football that he felt like would be championship.”

In 1960, Taylor ran for 1,101 yards, topping Tony Canadeo’s franchise mark of 1,052 yards in 1949. It was just the beginning. He Taylor ran for five straight 1,000-yard seasons from 1960-64 and led the Packers seven consecutive times in rushing.

In 1961, Taylor ran for 1,307 yards and scored an NFL-best 15 touchdowns as the Packers rolled to a 37-0 victory over the Giants in Green Bay for Lombardi’s first title.

The next year would be Taylor’s finest. He ran for 1,474 yards and 19 TDs in 14 games, and scored the only touchdown in the Packers’ 16-7 victory over the New York Giants for the second of his four titles.

Taylor said that season, when Green Bay finished 13-1 in the regular season, stood out for him.

“Being voted the MVP of the league in 1962 is something that I look back and cherish,” Taylor said. “I felt like I accomplished and achieved my goal.”

The 1962 title game pitted the Packers and the Giants, this time in New York, and was played in 40 mph winds and 13-degree temperatures at Yankee Stadium.

Taylor was at his toughest, picking up 85 yards on 31 carries against the vaunted Giants defense featuring linebacker Sam Huff. Taylor sustained a gash to his elbow that required seven stitches at halftime and cut his tongue during the game.

“If Taylor went up to get a program, Huff was supposed to hit him. Wherever Taylor went, Huff went with him,” Kramer told The Associated Press in 2008. “I remember sitting next to Jimmy on the way home and he had his topcoat on. He never took it off. He had it over his shoulder and the guy was shivering almost all the way home. He just got the hell beat out of him that day.”

That game was one of several that helped launch pro football into the television era, and Taylor’s contributions to the Packers endured.

Taylor, also a member of the 1965 title team, finished his Packers career after the 1966 season as the franchise’s all-time leading rusher and held single-season marks for yards and TDs. He also scored the Super Bowl’s first rushing touchdown when the Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in the inaugural championship game between the NFL and AFL.

But his yardage tailed off sharply in 1966 and he was openly resentful of the high salaries paid to newcomers Donny Anderson and Jim Grabowski. Taylor played his final season with the expansion New Orleans Saints.

His 1,474-yard mark from 1962 stood for 41 years until Ahman Green broke it in 2003. Green went on to break the franchise’s all-time rushing mark in 2009.

In college, Taylor stayed home to attend LSU, where he lettered in the 1956 and 1957 seasons. He was a first-team All-American during his second season, when he also became teammates with Jimmy Cannon, who died last May.

Taylor led Southeastern Conference in scoring with 59 points in 1956.

“With the ball under his arm, Jimmy Taylor is the finest player I have ever seen,” then-LSU coach Paul Dietzel said.

Taylor retired in Baton Rouge and remained close to the LSU football program. He was inducted in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 1974.

Taylor was often compared to his contemporary, Cleveland’s Jim Brown, but Lombardi had different views on two of the most punishing running backs in the league at the time.

“Jim Brown will give you that leg (to tackle) and then take it away from you,” Lombardi said. “Jim Taylor will give it to you and then ram it through your chest.”

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AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in Baton Rouge contributed to this report.

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Jim Taylor, Hall of Fame fullback for Packers, dies at 83

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Hall of Fame fullback Jim Taylor of the Green Bay Packers has died at 83.

The team says a family friend told the Packers he died early Saturday.

Taylor played on the great Packer teams and was the league's MVP in 1962. He won four NFL titles and

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Hall of Fame fullback Jim Taylor of the Green Bay Packers has died at 83.

The team says a family friend told the Packers he died early Saturday.

Taylor played on the great Packer teams and was the league’s MVP in 1962. He won four NFL titles and scored the first rushing touchdown in Super Bowl history.

Taylor spent 10 seasons in the NFL after being drafted in the second round by Green Bay in 1958 out of LSU. He joined a backfield that featured Paul Hornung and began to thrive when Packers coach Vince Lombardi took over in 1959.

Lombardi came up with the concept of the Packers Sweep, which featured pulling guards and Taylor or Hornung running around the end. But it was 6-foot, 216-pound Taylor who showed the play’s punishing promise.

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Browns signing WR Breshad Perriman after rash of injuries

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Browns are signing free agent Breshad Perriman to address their shortage at wide receiver.

Perriman worked out for Cleveland on Saturday, a day after rookie Derrick Willies broke his collarbone during practice. Willies was going to be the Browns' No. 3 receiver on Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Browns are signing free agent Breshad Perriman to address their shortage at wide receiver.

Perriman worked out for Cleveland on Saturday, a day after rookie Derrick Willies broke his collarbone during practice. Willies was going to be the Browns’ No. 3 receiver on Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers because Rashard Higgins is out with a knee injury.

But with Higgins’ status unknown and Willies going on injured reserve, the team is signing Perriman, who was released before the season by Baltimore and spent time with Washington.

Perriman was the No. 26 overall pick in 2015. But injuries and inconsistency have slowed his career. He missed his rookie season with a knee injury. Perriman caught 33 passes for 499 yards and three touchdowns in his second season.

Rookie Damion Ratley will move into Willies’ spot on Sunday and Rod Streater is expected to be active.

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Undefeated Chiefs, Mahomes await major test in New England

There can be no better measuring stick for the Chiefs and young quarterback Patrick Mahomes than what they face Sunday night.

Beat the Patriots in Foxborough and all that excitement in Kansas City might be validated.

Remember, though, that the Chiefs, with Alex Smith, went into Gillette Stadium and won the 2017 kickoff

There can be no better measuring stick for the Chiefs and young quarterback Patrick Mahomes than what they face Sunday night.

Beat the Patriots in Foxborough and all that excitement in Kansas City might be validated.

Remember, though, that the Chiefs, with Alex Smith, went into Gillette Stadium and won the 2017 kickoff to the season. They went on an up-and-down ride the rest of the way, lost in the wild-card playoff round, while the Patriots straightened out and made the Super Bowl before losing to Philadelphia.

Mahomes, of course, has looked immune to any sort of high-stakes pressure in leading the Chiefs (5-0) to the top of the AFC. He embraces this challenge and trying to outdo Tom Brady.

“It is going to be a great opportunity,” says Mahomes, who has a league-best 14 touchdown passes. “He is one of the greatest quarterbacks, if not the greatest to ever play. I am going against their defense, but as a team we are going to go in and try to compete. They are a good team in the AFC every single year. Just to compete against one of the best teams in the league is going to be an awesome opportunity.”

How familiar is Mahomes with three-time league MVP Brady, whom he has never met?

“I definitely watched a good amount of him in college (at Texas Tech),” he says. “Coach (Kliff) Kingsbury actually played with Tom at one point. He liked to show me some things that he did where he was in the pocket, his pocket movements and things like that. I have definitely taken some things from him. He does it at such a high level, it’s something you have to strive to be like.”

New England (3-2) is striving to be, well, New England. After a 1-2 start, the Patriots appear to have gotten back on their usual winning path.

The weekend began with Philadelphia’s 34-13 road victory over the New York Giants. Carson Wentz threw a season-high three touchdown passes for the Eagles (3-3). They beat the Giants (1-5) for the fourth straight time and seventh in eight games.

Off this week are Detroit (2-3) and New Orleans (4-1)

Pittsburgh (2-2-1) at Cincinnati (4-1)

One of the NFL’s most vicious and yellow-tinted rivalries . As in:

—These teams combined for four penalties for unnecessary roughness, one for unsportsmanlike conduct, one for taunting, one for roughing the passer, and two 15-yard penalties for grabbing a facemask in their previous meeting.

—Cincinnati set a club record with 173 yards in penalties in that messy affair, when the Steelers overcame a 17-0 deficit to win.

More numbers of note:

—The Steelers have won the past six games in this series, nine of 10 and 14 of 17.

—The Bengals are 8-24 vs. the Steelers under coach Marvin Lewis

—Lewis is 2-15 at Paul Brown Stadium against Pittsburg.

— Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is 24-4-1 in his native Ohio, including the postseason. He’s 13-2 at Paul Brown Stadium with 23 TDs, 10 interceptions.

Los Angeles Chargers (3-2) at Cleveland (2-2-1)

When last they met in Cleveland, the Browns won in their 15th game to avoid a perfect season on the wrong side of the ledger. So they lost every game in 2017, including at the Chargers.

“Not to speak too much of last year, but I could not believe and I did not feel like they were an 0-16 team or 0-14, whatever they were when we played them last year,” says Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. “It was a good football team. They just did not find ways to win and so many (games) they had opportunities.”

They’ve got two wins already and lead the NFL with 15 takeaways, two more than in the entire 2017 season.

Baltimore (3-2) at Tennessee (3-2)

Two clubs coming off down weekends: Tennessee was punchless at Buffalo, Baltimore was inept offensively at Cleveland.

Both can play D, though, so don’t expect a lot of end zone activity in Music City.

The Ravens are playing a third straight road game, then have four of the next five at home. They lead the NFL in scoring defense, allowing 15.4 points per game, with no TDs in a second half.

The Titans have allowed seven points in the first quarter and lead in red zone defense, allowing three TDs in 13 possessions for a 23.1 percent success rate by opponents.

Chicago (3-1) at Miami (3-2)

The Bears have won three in a row and come off a bye. They haven’t earned four straight wins since 2012.

With Khalil Mack revitalizing the defense, Chicago ranks No. 1 against the run and second overall. If second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky truly has found the passing rhythm — his six TD throws in a rout of Tampa Bay tied for second most in an NFL game — the Bears needs to be taken seriously.

Miami was taken seriously until it laid eggs at New England and Cincinnati, where it blew a 17-0 lead. The Dolphins rank third worst in yards and fifth worst in points. They have been outgained by 94 yards per game, which ranks third worst.

Carolina (3-1) at Washington (2-2)

Washington was on the wrong end of the record-setting Brees blitz through the air in New Orleans, and was damaged as much by penalties as inefficient defense. The usually precise Alex Smith threw an interception and was generally off-target.

Now comes Carolina, which has seven picks, is plus-5 in turnovers, and has nine sacks. The Panthers also have the NFL’s top rushing offense, in part because quarterback Cam Newton is such a weapon on the ground. Newton is 4-0 with nine TDs and zero picks for a 115.4 passer rating vs. Washington, along with two rushing scores.

Washington has lost five straight to Carolina.

Los Angeles Rams (5-0) at Denver (2-3)

While Denver’s defense has been getting Orange Crushed recently, LA’s offense has looked unstoppable. Jared Goff leads the league with 1,727 yards passing and ranks second with a 119.7 passer rating. In the past month, Goff is averaging 374 yards per game.

Todd Gurley tops the NFL with seven TD runs and ranks second with 645 scrimmage yards. Of concern for the impressive receiving group is that Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp each left last week’s win at Seattle with concussions.

Denver star LB Von Miller has gone sackless the past three weeks. The Broncos yielded 323 rushing yards to the Jets, so, yes, that has caught Gurley’s attention.

Jacksonville (3-2) at Dallas (2-3)

Oddly, Dallas has never won its first three home games at Jerry World.

With RB Leonard Fournette still hurt, the showpiece matchup with Ezekiel Elliott disappears. Elliott has been the prime weapon for Dallas and is averaging 154 yards from scrimmage per game in the past three. But the passing game is 30th as Dak Prescott struggles without a topnotch receiver.

He’ll face the stingiest defense in the NFL.

Seattle (2-3) vs. Oakland (1-4) at London

Wonder if the Raiders will have as many fans in Wembley as they did in StubHub Center. They could really use the support as Jon Gruden’s return season spirals out of control.

“I’m going to continue to emphasize the good and do everything I can to fix the things that are bad, because most of the things that are bad, my fingerprints are all over,” Gruden said.

Such as a defense, minus the traded Mack of course, that ranks 30th. Oakland has the fewest QB pressures in the league (29), tied for fewest sacks (six), and is tied for third-fewest takeaways (five).

Seattle makes its first regular-season overseas appearance. Worth watching:

—Pete Carroll seeks his 91st win with the team to pass Mike Holmgren as winningest coach for the franchise.

—Russell Wilson is 25-6 after a loss, the best record of any quarterback since the merger.

—Seahawks kicker Sebastian Janikowski spent 18 seasons with the Raiders, holding the franchise record for points (1,799) and games (268).

Indianapolis (1-4) at New York Jets (2-3)

If any team needed the long layoff from a Thursday nighter it was the Colts. They went into New England undermanned and then got hammered with more injuries, giving them little chance against the Patriots.

Assuming they are somewhat healthier, this is a far better chance for Indy to straighten out its season. Andrew Luck’s arm looks strong, but who does he have to throw to if T.Y. Hilton isn’t in the lineup?

New York opened up its offense in a win over Denver, letting Sam Darnold occasionally fling the ball downfield and it led to some huge plays. The Colts are vulnerable to that.

Buffalo (2-3) at Houston (2-3)

Each team comes off a tight victory in which the offenses were stagnant, while the defenses and kicking games were decisive.

Houston wants things more open when it has the ball, with Deshaun Watson connecting on throws to DeAndre Hopkins. Buffalo’s solid second-year cornerback Tre’Davious White, will be tested.

Apparently fully healthy after two tough years, Texans DE J.J. Watt is tied for the NFL lead with six sacks. Watt had an 80-yard interception return for a score in his previous game against the Bills in Houston, a 23-17 win in 2014.

Arizona (1-4) at Minnesota (2-2-1)

What could be a mismatch — Arizona has the NFL’s worst offense and has scored all of 65 points — has one intriguing element. Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, a likely Hall of Famer, returns to his hometown for the sixth time in his 15-year career, with an average of 87.4 receiving yards and no touchdowns at Minnesota.

On the other side, wideout WR Adam Thielen leads the league in receptions (47) and is second in yards (589). He’s also first in third-down catches (14). Thielen is the third player in NFL history with five 100-yard games to start a season, the first since 1961.

San Francisco (1-4) at Green Bay (2-2-1), Monday night

Following a stinker at home to hand Arizona its first win, the Niners go to the prime-time showcase against Green Bay, which is following a stinker of its own at Detroit.

Both teams struggle to protect the ball, and the 49ers can’t find ways to take it away from opponents; they have a league-low one interception and have forced three turnovers.

Of special interest for the Pack: Mason Crosby went 1 for 5 on field goals and missed his only extra-point try at Detroit.

Tampa Bay (2-2) at Atlanta (1-4)

No one played worse the past two weeks than the Bucs. But the Falcons were close.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston gets back his starting job following a bye; he was suspended for the first three games, when Ryan Fitzpatrick was either magical or mediocre. Tampa’s defense has been dreadful.

Then again, so has Atlanta’s, which is ravaged by injuries. It ranks worst in points allowed and worst in third-down percentage. The offense struggles to protect Matt Ryan and to generate a running game.

___

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Week 7

Yard Rush Pass
Houston 2117 581 1536
Kansas City 2065 578 1487
Oakland 2056 476 1580
L.A. Chargers 2026 578 1448
Pittsburgh 2025 420 1605
Jacksonville 2022 555 1467
Baltimore 1997 472 1525
Denver

Yard Rush Pass
Houston 2117 581 1536
Kansas City 2065 578 1487
Oakland 2056 476 1580
L.A. Chargers 2026 578 1448
Pittsburgh 2025 420 1605
Jacksonville 2022 555 1467
Baltimore 1997 472 1525
Denver 1969 685 1284
Cleveland 1880 723 1157
Cincinnati 1838 477 1361
New England 1787 565 1222
Indianapolis 1787 372 1415
N.Y. Jets 1669 675 994
Tennessee 1470 536 934
Miami 1441 480 961
Buffalo 1106 497 609
DEFENSE
Yard Rush Pass
Jacksonville 1461 506 955
Baltimore 1519 442 1077
Buffalo 1654 481 1173
Tennessee 1666 616 1050
Houston 1821 475 1346
L.A. Chargers 1829 478 1351
New England 1830 570 1260
N.Y. Jets 1858 525 1333
Miami 1913 545 1368
Indianapolis 1947 534 1413
Cincinnati 1974 591 1383
Denver 1979 698 1281
Cleveland 1990 583 1407
Pittsburgh 2006 525 1481
Oakland 2022 636 1386
Kansas City 2309 594 1715
NATIONAL FOOTBALL CONFERENCE
OFFENSE
Yard Rush Pass
L.A. Rams 2342 656 1686
Philadelphia 2198 662 1536
New Orleans 2120 516 1604
N.Y. Giants 2090 525 1565
Green Bay 2005 506 1499
Atlanta 1967 446 1521
Minnesota 1936 329 1607
San Francisco 1890 681 1209
Detroit 1826 486 1340
Tampa Bay 1731 278 1453
Seattle 1581 612 969
Dallas 1539 679 860
Carolina 1459 616 843
Washington 1432 452 980
Chicago 1364 486 878
Arizona 1054 323 731
DEFENSE
Yard Rush Pass
Chicago 1178 256 922
Washington 1281 370 911
Carolina 1502 380 1122
Green Bay 1569 525 1044
Dallas 1687 479 1208
L.A. Rams 1707 534 1173
San Francisco 1742 473 1269
Seattle 1775 645 1130
Tampa Bay 1783 351 1432
Detroit 1839 729 1110
New Orleans 1845 357 1488
Minnesota 1890 497 1393
Arizona 1955 712 1243
Atlanta 1993 607 1386
Philadelphia 2117 479 1638
N.Y. Giants 2148 730 1418
AVERAGE PER GAME
AMERICAN FOOTBALL CONFERENCE
OFFENSE
Yards Rush Pass
Houston 423.4 116.2 307.2
Kansas City 413.0 115.6 297.4
Oakland 411.2 95.2 316.0
L.A. Chargers 405.2 115.6 289.6
Pittsburgh 405.0 84.0 321.0
Jacksonville 404.4 111.0 293.4
Baltimore 399.4 94.4 305.0
Denver 393.8 137.0 256.8
Cleveland 376.0 144.6 231.4
Cincinnati 367.6 95.4 272.2
New England 357.4 113.0 244.4
Indianapolis 357.4 74.4 283.0
N.Y. Jets 333.8 135.0 198.8
Tennessee 294.0 107.2 186.8
Miami 288.2 96.0 192.2
Buffalo 221.2 99.4 121.8
DEFENSE
Yards Rush Pass
Jacksonville 292.2 101.2 191.0
Baltimore 303.8 88.4 215.4
Buffalo 330.8 96.2 234.6
Tennessee 333.2 123.2 210.0
Houston 364.2 95.0 269.2
L.A. Chargers 365.8 95.6 270.2
New England 366.0 114.0 252.0
N.Y. Jets 371.6 105.0 266.6
Miami 382.6 109.0 273.6
Indianapolis 389.4 106.8 282.6
Cincinnati 394.8 118.2 276.6
Denver 395.8 139.6 256.2
Cleveland 398.0 116.6 281.4
Pittsburgh 401.2 105.0 296.2
Oakland 404.4 127.2 277.2
Kansas City 461.8 118.8 343.0
NATIONAL FOOTBALL CONFERENCE
OFFENSE
Yards Rush Pass
L.A. Rams 468.4 131.2 337.2
Tampa Bay 432.8 69.5 363.2
New Orleans 424.0 103.2 320.8
Green Bay 401.0 101.2 299.8
Atlanta 393.4 89.2 304.2
Minnesota 387.2 65.8 321.4
San Francisco 378.0 136.2 241.8
Philadelphia 366.3 110.3 256.0
Detroit 365.2 97.2 268.0
Carolina 364.8 154.0 210.8
Washington 358.0 113.0 245.0
N.Y. Giants 348.3 87.5 260.8
Chicago 341.0 121.5 219.5
Seattle 316.2 122.4 193.8
Dallas 307.8 135.8 172.0
Arizona 210.8 64.6 146.2
DEFENSE
Yards Rush Pass
Chicago 294.5 64.0 230.5
Green Bay 313.8 105.0 208.8
Washington 320.2 92.5 227.8
Dallas 337.4 95.8 241.6
L.A. Rams 341.4 106.8 234.6
San Francisco 348.4 94.6 253.8
Philadelphia 352.8 79.8 273.0
Seattle 355.0 129.0 226.0
N.Y. Giants 358.0 121.7 236.3
Detroit 367.8 145.8 222.0
New Orleans 369.0 71.4 297.6
Carolina 375.5 95.0 280.5
Minnesota 378.0 99.4 278.6
Arizona 391.0 142.4 248.6
Atlanta 398.6 121.4 277.2
Tampa Bay 445.8 87.8 358.0

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NFL notebook: ‘We believe in Eli,’ Giants coach says

NFL notebook: 'We believe in Eli,' Giants coach says

New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur told reporters Friday that the team is not considering benching quarterback Eli Manning.

"No," Shurmur said firmly when asked if a change at quarterback is on the table. "We believe in Eli."

NFL notebook: ‘We believe in Eli,’ Giants coach says

New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur told reporters Friday that the team is not considering benching quarterback Eli Manning.

“No,” Shurmur said firmly when asked if a change at quarterback is on the table. “We believe in Eli.”

Manning, 37, threw an interception on the second play from scrimmage in Thursday night’s 34-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and finished 24 of 43 for 281 yards. Much of his yardage came in garbage time or on short throws to running back Saquon Barkley (nine grabs, 99 yards), and 11 of his completions were behind the line of scrimmage.

“I know I can play better. I didn’t play well last night and I’ve got to make better decisions, just get back to doing my job,” said Manning, who was sacked four times and hit 13 times. Per ESPN, Manning posted a QBR of 9.0 (out of 100) when not pressured, compared to 0.7 when pressured.

— Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is officially questionable with a chest injury after being limited in practice all week, though most expect him to suit up against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

“Do I think he will play? I’ll let the injury report give you the most updated information, but he’s been able to do some things in practice,” head coach Bill O’Brien told reporters.

–Los Angeles Rams wideouts Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp each practiced in full and remain on track to clear concussion protocol in time to play Sunday at the Denver Broncos.

Cooks and Kupp each left Week 5’s game against the Seattle Seahawks with a concussion, but both returned to limited practices on Thursday before going full on Friday.

–Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook said his ailing left hamstring is improving after being listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.

The second-year pro has played in just three of the Vikings’ five games due to the ailment, averaging just 2.7 yards per carry while rushing for 98 yards on 36 carries.

–New York Jets running back Isaiah Crowell is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, while cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson (quad) and Buster Skrine (concussion) are doubtful and out, respectively.

Crowell, who set a Jets record with 219 rushing yards (on just 15 carries) last week, has an ankle injury that kept him out of Wednesday’s and Thursday’s practices before a limited session on Friday.

–Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey is officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys with knee soreness, and head coach Doug Marrone said he is legitimately “50-50” to play.

Marrone also told reporters that running back Leonard Fournette — who was ruled out for Sunday earlier this week with a hamstring injury — has a chance to play in Week 7 after running on a side field Friday.

–The Atlanta Falcons will be without running back Devonta Freeman and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett this Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, head coach Dan Quinn confirmed.

Freeman missed Weeks 2-4 with a knee injury and returned for Week 5, but he did not practice this week while battling a bone bruise in his foot and a groin injury. Jarrett will miss his second straight game with an ankle injury.

–The Carolina Panthers should have tight end Greg Olsen back on the field for their Week 6 matchup against the Washington Redskins, barring a setback.

Olsen has been out since suffering a fractured right foot in Week 1 and had participated in a limited practice on Wednesday.

— Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston is doubtful to face the New England Patriots on Sunday night, and wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas re-fractured his left leg during Thursday’s practice, the team announced.

Head coach Andy Reid told reporters earlier in the week it was “a stretch” for Houston to play in Foxborough after he pulled his hamstring in Week 5. Also listed as doubtful is safety Eric Berry — who hasn’t played or practiced since early August due to heel soreness — while outside linebacker Tanoh Kpassagnon is questionable with an ankle injury.

— The Indianapolis Colts’ injury list remains long, as five active players were ruled out for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets and six more were listed as questionable on the team’s injury report.

Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (chest, hamstring) will miss his second consecutive game, and joining him will be tight end Jack Doyle (hip, out since Week 2), defensive lineman Denico Autry (hamstring), safety Clayton Geathers (concussion, neck) and right tackle Denzelle Good (away, death in family).

Among those questionable is Eric Ebron (shin, quad, ankle, knee), who leads NFL tight ends with five touchdowns this season. He practiced in full on Friday after missing Wednesday and Thursday.

–Miami Dolphins left tackle Laremy Tunsil cleared the concussion protocol and is expected to play when the team hosts the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

Tunsil was listed as questionable on Miami’s injury report, as was quarterback Ryan Tannehill (passing shoulder).

–Philadelphia Eagles left tackle Jason Peters is believed to have torn a biceps muscle after leaving Thursday night’s game and not returning, according to an NFL Network report.

–The Jacksonville Jaguars signed former New York Giants offensive tackle Ereck Flowers and placed left tackle Josh Wells on injured reserve, the team announced.

— The San Francisco 49ers apologized for initially leaving former quarterback Colin Kaepernick out of a photo gallery that displayed exploits of previous games against the Green Bay Packers.

–The NFL fined Pittsburgh Steelers pass rusher T.J. Watt $20,054 for a hit on Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in Week 5, according to ESPN.

–Field Level Media

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Cowboys’ Lawrence says he has torn labrum

Cowboys' Lawrence says he has torn labrum

Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence told reporters Friday he has been playing through a torn labrum in his shoulder the past two seasons.

Lawrence is questionable for Dallas' game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday as a result of the injury. He

Cowboys’ Lawrence says he has torn labrum

Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence told reporters Friday he has been playing through a torn labrum in his shoulder the past two seasons.

Lawrence is questionable for Dallas’ game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday as a result of the injury. He aggravated the shoulder hitting Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson early in the Cowboys’ 19-16 loss last week.

“This is the first time it popped out on me last week,” Lawrence said. “I was about to cry on the sidelines if y’all didn’t notice. It was hurting bad. It feels better now.

“I’ll work through it just like every other injury. It’s very frustrating. If I’m out there, that’s my whole purpose and I’m determined to get after the quarterback and I don’t feel like I did that to the best of my ability.”

Despite the injury, Lawrence played in every game last season, totaling a career-high 14.5 sacks and earning his first Pro Bowl selection. He has played in all five games this season and has 5.5 sacks.

Lawrence, who is practicing with a shoulder harness, said he could have surgery in the offseason to repair the labrum tear.

“Strap it up and see how it feels before the game, if it’s not able to go, I won’t go,” Lawrence said, “but if I’m able to go I’ll be out there. It’s holding up for the most part.”

Lawrence, 26, is making $17.1 million this season playing under the franchise tag. He said he isn’t worried about the injury having an effect on his next contract.

“I do want my contract taken care of, but I don’t feel like this is a major injury that’s going to hold me back from getting my contract,” he said. “Really, at the end of the day, how things are going, I keep putting up my numbers and they ain’t got no choice but to make moves. We’re just going to let that [expletive] play out.”

–Field Level Media

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Gordon comfortable with Brady, Patriots

Gordon comfortable with Brady, Patriots

Wide receiver Josh Gordon says he is settling in nicely with the New England Patriots, who acquired him on Sept. 17 after five seasons with the Cleveland Browns.

Gordon, who led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,646 in 2013 but is in only his

Gordon comfortable with Brady, Patriots

Wide receiver Josh Gordon says he is settling in nicely with the New England Patriots, who acquired him on Sept. 17 after five seasons with the Cleveland Browns.

Gordon, who led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,646 in 2013 but is in only his fifth season on the field after missing two seasons because of drug problems, including a season-long suspension in 2015, talked about how easy it has been to talk football with quarterback Tom Brady.

“Most of the day, we end up talking football, whether it be in the locker room here briefly or in most of the meeting rooms or time after practice. We carve out time, and we make it happen,” Gordon told reporters Friday.

Gordon has four catches for 82 yards and a touchdown since arriving in New England. He scored on a 34-yard play against the Indianapolis Colts last week.

He has been on the field for 18 plays in each of his two games with the Patriots.

Gordon said that he and Brady “make sure if there’s something that might be a concern for him or me, or he wants to know how I like to do something, or I want to know how he wants to do something, I just ask and he’s open about it. It makes it easy for me to communicate with him and makes it a real natural type of relationship.”

Gordon’s career numbers include 184 receptions for 3,188 yards and 17 touchdowns.

The Patriots (3-2) host the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs (5-0) on Sunday night.

–Field Level Media

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Jets’ Crowell questionable; Johnson, Skrine likely out

Jets' Crowell questionable; Johnson, Skrine likely out

New York Jets running back Isaiah Crowell is questionable for Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts, while cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Buster Skrine are doubtful and out, respectively.

Crowell, who set a Jets record with 219 rushing yards (on just 15 carries) last

Jets’ Crowell questionable; Johnson, Skrine likely out

New York Jets running back Isaiah Crowell is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, while cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Buster Skrine are doubtful and out, respectively.

Crowell, who set a Jets record with 219 rushing yards (on just 15 carries) last week, has an ankle injury that kept him out of Wednesday’s and Thursday’s practices before a limited session on Friday. He ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards (390), second in yards per carry (6.8) and tied for second in rushing touchdowns (five).

Johnson, who joined the team on a five-year, $72.5 million deal in March, missed last week’s game with a quad injury and appears likely to miss his second contest Sunday. Skrine was concussed against the Broncos last week and will not clear protocol in time to face Indianapolis. Darryl Roberts would join Morris Claiborne as a starting cornerback if Johnson can’t play, with Parry Nickerson and Juston Burris in line for nickel snaps.

Joining Crowell as questionable are safeties Marcus Maye (ankle/foot) and Doug Middleton (hamstring), with linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis (foot) doubtful.

Maye has been limited and questionable each of the last two weeks, but he has played in both games, his first contests of the year. He notched a half-sack and a 104-yard interception return against Denver on Sunday.

–Field Level Media

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Colts’ Hilton out; Ebron, Leonard, Hunt questionable

Colts' Hilton out; Ebron, Leonard, Hunt questionable

The Indianapolis Colts' injury list remains long, as five active players were ruled out for Sunday's game against the New York Jets and six more were listed as questionable on Friday's injury report.

Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (chest, hamstring) will miss his second

Colts’ Hilton out; Ebron, Leonard, Hunt questionable

The Indianapolis Colts’ injury list remains long, as five active players were ruled out for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets and six more were listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report.

Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (chest, hamstring) will miss his second consecutive game, and joining him will be tight end Jack Doyle (hip), defensive lineman Denico Autry (hamstring), safeties Clayton Geathers (concussion, neck) and right tackle Denzelle Good (not injury related). Doyle has not played since Week 2, while Geathers’ injury could be serious, according to head coach Frank Reich. Good has been away from the team since the death of his brother in South Carolina last Tuesday.

Questionable for Sunday’s game are tight end Eric Ebron (shin, quad, ankle, knee), center Ryan Kelly (calf), linebacker Darius Leonard (ankle), defensive tackle Margus Hunt (knee), newly signed safety Mike Mitchell (pectoral) and cornerback Arthur Maulet (hip). Ebron, who leads NFL tight ends with five touchdowns this season, practiced in full on Friday after missing Wednesday and Thursday.

Leonard, a rookie second-round pick, dressed last week because the Colts did not have 46 healthy players but did not play. He got in a full session Friday after being limited on Thursday. Leonard leads the NFL in tackles and is tied for third in tackles for loss (seven), two back of the league leader, Hunt (nine).

Hunt and Kelly each sat out Wednesday and Thursday before getting a limited session on Friday.

One player who will be playing is left tackle Anthony Castonzo, who will make his season debut after missing nearly two months with a recurring hamstring injury. Castonzo joined Leonard in dressing but not playing last week.

The Colts also placed safety Matthias Farley (shoulder, groin, wrist) on injured reserve, elevating tight end Mo Alie-Cox from the practice squad to fill his roster spot.

A former VCU basketball player, Alie-Cox was on the active roster earlier this season and notched one catch for 17 yards against the Houston Texans in his only game of action.

–Field Level Media

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Vikings RB Cook taking patient approach with injury

Vikings RB Cook taking patient approach with injury

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook said his ailing left hamstring is improving after being listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals.

The second-year pro has played in just three of the Vikings' five games due to the ailment.

Vikings RB Cook taking patient approach with injury

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook said his ailing left hamstring is improving after being listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.

The second-year pro has played in just three of the Vikings’ five games due to the ailment.

He certainly has learned to be patient while dealing with the situation.

“That’s the tricky thing with these hamstrings,” Cook told reporters. “It’s more of a ‘feel’ thing, and I’m just trying to feel through it each and every day.”

Cook has averaged just 2.7 yards per carry while rushing for 98 yards on 36 carries.

He was hopeful of enjoying a productive campaign after a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee ended his rookie season after four games.

But not being healthy has changed his mindset.

“I think at this point, it’s not a ‘prove’ thing,” Cook said. “We’re winning games and we’re getting better each and every week. It’s just about me getting healthy and going out there and being able to help my team. Going out there 80 percent, 70 percent, I’m not going to be able to help my team like that.

“We have a bunch of guys at 100 percent that can help my team win football games. At this point, it’s just me getting 100 percent so I can be out there and be who I am so I can be explosive.”

Minnesota ruled out left tackle Riley Reiff (foot) and three other players — defensive end Tashawn Bower (ankle), safety Andrew Sendejo (groin) and defensive end Everson Griffen (mental health).

Not having Reiff is a big blow, but Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was pleased with how things went after the standout exited last Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Rashod Hill moved over to left tackle, and second-round pick Brian O’Neill entered at right tackle.

“I thought they did pretty well,” Zimmer told reporters. “O’Neill battled really well, did some good things and then honestly Rashod when he went over there, his technique was probably a little bit better.”

–Field Level Media

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Packers kicker Crosby looks to bounce back after awful game

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Mason Crosby survived one of the worst seasons of his career by putting together five of his best.

The veteran Green Bay Packers kicker isn't looking at what happened in 2012, when he made just 21 of 33 field-goal attempts, as a pathway to bouncing back from a

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Mason Crosby survived one of the worst seasons of his career by putting together five of his best.

The veteran Green Bay Packers kicker isn’t looking at what happened in 2012, when he made just 21 of 33 field-goal attempts, as a pathway to bouncing back from a nightmarish performance last week at Detroit.

Crosby missed four field goals and an extra point, those 13 lost points looming large in a 31-23 loss Sunday. He had never missed more than two kicks in a game in his 12-year career.

“I look at what happened on Sunday as I’m lumping it into one kick, one entity,” Crosby said Friday. “That was a game, that was a moment, that I couldn’t have ever imagined happening, but it did happen and I can learn from it. I don’t reset, I don’t go looking for things. It’s more, all right, get back into it. What am I going to do better this week? How am I going to improve?

“So far this week, it’s been good getting out at practice, hitting the ball, trusting that I’ve done this for 12 years in the NFL and a long time before that. What went down on Sunday is unacceptable for the career I’ve had, but it did happen and I’m going to be better off because of it.”

That’s what the Packers are counting on heading into Monday night’s game against San Francisco.

The Packers didn’t bring in any veteran kickers for a workout this week. Just like in 2012, they’re banking on Crosby’s body of work.

“You talk about hitting a bump in the hit, I mean, he hit a boulder, for God’s sake,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “He’s the same guy. He’s working at it. Personally, you root for a guy like Mason because he exemplifies what a Green Bay Packer is. He’ll be back to normal.”

Change has become the new normal for Crosby.

From 2010 through 2015, Crosby had the same snapper (Brett Goode) and holder (Tim Masthay). This marks the third consecutive season with a new operation, with Green Bay drafting JK Scott in the fifth round to handle the punting and holding and Hunter Bradley in the seventh to handle the snapping.

Bradley has had a few off-target snaps, but the snapper-holder combination wasn’t to blame on any of Crosby’s five missed kicks.

“I just couldn’t find the line,” Crosby said. “The ball wasn’t going through. I’m not going to overreact, overthink on it. The biggest disappointment for me was not doing my job in helping this team win. I need to make those kicks to help this team win. Honestly, whenever that happens, that’s what I feel the most is letting my teammates down.”

Special teams coordinator Ron Zook likes what he has seen this week.

“I think he’s probably a little bit more zoned-in,” he said. “Mason has always been a pro since I’ve been around him. I’m not one bit worried about him.”

NOTES: QB Aaron Rodgers was a full participant in practice after aggravating his injured left knee when tackled by Lions LB Christian Jones on the opening possession. “Kind of a step back to last week, the beginning of the week,” Rodgers said. He wore a new, lighter brace in that game and hopes he’ll be able to wear it again against the 49ers. … RT Bryan Bulaga (knee) and backup Jason Spriggs (ankle) were added to the injury report as limited participation. If Bulaga plays against San Francisco, he’ll line up next to RG Byron Bell, who has taken over that position for Justin McCray, who started the first three games. “Been consistent. He has a lot of experience,” coach Mike McCarthy said.

___

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