Saints CB Lattimore gets another shot at Bucs WR Evans

Saints CB Lattimore gets another shot at Bucs WR Evans

Atlanta Falcons: Quarterback Matt Ryan has been sacked 36 times and taken a lot of punishment this season, which worries the Falcons. Ryan was knocked down eight times in last Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens to raise his season total to an NFL-leading 91. “I’m concerned about it because if we’re not protecting him in the way that we can, then that gets hard,” Atlanta coach Dan Quinn said in a press conference. “There are some games that the score is out of whack and it turns into a dropback game, there are going to be more chances for a defense to go after them, you know that. But at the end of it, yeah, I’m concerned, but I’m as concerned about us playing as well as we can.” Considering the abuse, Ryan has a stellar touchdown-to-interceptions rate of 25 to 5.

Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton continues to have shoulder woes and the quarterback admits he may need further surgery in the future. He had his throwing shoulder repaired following the 2016 season but he is again experiencing issues. “I would not have expected me to still have things lingering from that (surgery), but at the end of the day it is what it is,” Newton told reporters. “It’s about managing pain and understanding you have a job to do, a responsibility to put your best product out on the field, and I want to do that for myself and this team.” Coach Ron Rivera suggested the injury could lead to someone else — Taylor Heinicke is the backup — on the field if it worsens. “We just have to be ready to do something different if we have to,” Rivera said. “I think that’s probably where we are going to get to. I’m not sure yet, but we’ll see how it goes.”

New Orleans Saints: One of the team’s two losses came in Week 1 when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers notched a 48-40 victory. The teams clash again on Sunday and cornerback Marshon Lattimore will be under the microscope after having troubles with Tampa Bay receiver Mike Evans (seven receptions for 147 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown). Lattimore has bounced back from that contest to enjoy a solid season and Saints coach Sean Payton doesn’t think the focus should be on the 22-year-old. “It wasn’t just about Mike and Marshon that day,” Payton said on a conference call. “The quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick) was comfortable in the pocket and in this league you have really good football players. A quarterback that’s throwing it extremely well, we turned the ball over offensively. There were a number of things, but yes, Marshon we feel like is one of the better corners in this league and I’m glad we have him.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Coach Dirk Koetter isn’t sure he wants to get into a second shootout with the explosive Saints but also thinks what happened in Week 1 has no bearing on the rematch. “That was a shootout in Game 1,” Koetter said. “Their offense has been on fire all season and the thing that jumps out at me is how well their defense is playing and I’m not saying they didn’t play well before, but they’re No. 1 in the league in rush defense and the pressure they’re getting on quarterbacks (is impressive). I just think that was a day in Week 1 where we were fortunate to win the turnover battle (New Orleans committed the only two) and both teams were making a lot of plays and we made just enough.”

–Field Level Media

Reports: Cleveland police reviewing Hunt incident

Reports: Cleveland police reviewing Hunt incident

Reports: Cleveland police reviewing Hunt incident

Police in Cleveland have launched an internal investigation to determine how the NFL got the police report for the Feb. 10 incident involving ex-Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt, according to multiple reports Wednesday.

News of the fight between Hunt and a 19-year-old woman gained renewed attention last Friday when TMZ posted surveillance video from a downtown Cleveland hotel that shows Hunt shoving the woman and then kicking her while she is on the ground. The Chiefs released Hunt hours after the video was made public.

The city released records that show the NFL didn’t ask for police reports until the video surfaced. But Wednesday, the city said that an unidentified Cleveland police offer gave the report to the NFL, according to TMZ.

“Following an internal review, it has been determined that in February 2018 a member of the Cleveland Division of Police provided a copy of the police report involving the February 10, 2018 assault incident at The 9 to a representative from the National Football League,” per a statement to TMZ. “The report did not go through the official public records request process.”

The city also said it is reviewing the “overall response” by the police department regarding its handling of the incident.

Hunt was not arrested or charged. Nevertheless, he went unclaimed on waivers on Monday after his release from the Chiefs.

–Field Level Media

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Mayfield won’t lobby Browns to hire OU coach

Mayfield won't lobby Browns to hire OU coach

Mayfield won’t lobby Browns to hire OU coach

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield can see Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley getting a head coaching position in the NFL one day, but doesn’t plan on pushing his pro team to hire his former college mentor.

“Lincoln’s been ready,” Mayfield said Wednesday. “Just who he is, how he coaches, the respect level he’s had from all of his players. How detailed he is. He’s ready. But that’s his decision. He’s got something special there (at Oklahoma). I don’t think anybody’s going to blame him if he stays there for the next 20 years.”

Riley, who spent three years working with Mayfield at Oklahoma as quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator and head coach, could still be a contender for the Browns job that was vacated when Hue Jackson was fired in October. And the Green Bay Packers have a position open after they sent Mike McCarthy packing on Sunday following a loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

“Obviously, you guys can take it how you want,” Mayfield added. “I have a relationship with Lincoln. It’s been great. We had success. But whatever decision is made here I’m going to make the most of it. Obviously, there’s been a level of comfortability with him in the past that I’ve had. But whatever happens, happens.”

Mayfield, though, doesn’t plan to consult with Browns general manager John Dorsey or Riley about the opening. “It’s not my decision,” he said.

Yet the rookie believes Riley has a promising future awaiting in the NFL.

“Like I said earlier, some of those coaches that are so successful, they have a standard and they live by that standard every day,” Mayfield said. “He does it with football, family. He’s just a great human being. Wants the best for everybody. Always encouraging.”

The 4-7-1 Browns will host the 6-6 Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Riley will lead Big 12 Conference championship game winner Oklahoma (12-1), which secured the fourth and final College Football Playoff spot, to the Orange Bowl, where the Sooners will play No. 1 Alabama (13-0) on Dec. 29.

–Field Level Media

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49ers’ Shanahan glad Broncos didn’t hire him

49ers' Shanahan glad Broncos didn't hire him

Arizona Cardinals: With left

49ers’ Shanahan glad Broncos didn’t hire him

Arizona Cardinals: With left tackle D.J. Humphries (knee) placed on injured reserve, the Cardinals are now without all five of their original offensive line starters entering training camp. Center A.Q. Shipley (knee) was lost in August, and right guard Justin Pugh (knee) followed in November. Left guard Mike Iupati (knee) went on IR on Tuesday, a week after right tackle Andre Smith was released. Humphries had a setback with his knee last week, coach Steve Wilks said, and was shut down with hopes of avoiding major surgery, which will be determined sometime in the future. A first-round pick in 2015, Humphries has played in just 27 games in four years. The team picked up his fifth-year option, which is worth $9.625 million and guaranteed only for injury, in April.

Los Angeles Rams: With backup running back Malcolm Brown (broken collarbone) likely headed to IR, coach Sean McVay told reporters second-year back Justin Davis and rookie sixth-rounder John Kelly will share the role moving forward, depending on the situation. Neither has played an offensive snap all season, and Kelly has yet to play in an NFL game as he’s been inactive all year. “I think it’s going to be more anxiousness than anything,” Kelly said when asked about nerves. “I don’t really do nervous.” Kelly ran for 197 yards and three scores on 46 carries in the preseason, while Davis had seven carries for 41 yards.

San Francisco 49ers: As he prepares to face the team his father, Mike Shanahan, led to two Super Bowl titles, Kyle Shanahan told reporters Wednesday he’s glad the Denver Broncos didn’t hire him as their head coach in 2017. “Definitely thought it was a much better situation for myself (in San Francisco), not that that was my choice or anything,” said Shanahan, who had a four-hour interview in Denver before the Broncos hired Vance Joseph. Kyle Shanahan was later hired by the 49ers. “I’d like to say I made the decision pretty hard on them,” he added. “I definitely am happy where I am, and I think it’s definitely a better situation not being there with my dad. Also, that’s my wife’s home. That’s my home. I enjoy going back there to visit, but I like living where I’m at.” Mike Shanahan also won a Super Bowl with the 49ers, as their offensive coordinator in 1994.

Seattle Seahawks: Bobby Wagner has been to four consecutive Pro Bowls and named first-team All-Pro three times in that span, but he had never won NFC Defensive Player of the Week in his seven-year career until Wednesday. The honor was well deserved, as Wagner stuffed the stat sheet about as full as possible against the 49ers on Sunday, posting 12 tackles (two for loss), one sack, two QB hits, two passes defensed, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception, which he returned 98 yards for a touchdown. Wagner has 97 tackles this season despite, according to Pro Football Focus, not missing one all year.

–Field Level Media

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Seeking Salvation? Cowboys’ Elliott appeals fine

Seeking Salvation? Cowboys' Elliott appeals fine

The NFL is looking to

Seeking Salvation? Cowboys’ Elliott appeals fine

The NFL is looking to take more money out of Ezekiel Elliott’s pocket in response to the Dallas Cowboys running back’s Thanksgiving celebration.

Elliott said he would appeal the $13,369 fine the league handed him for his touchdown celebration on Nov. 22, when he dropped $21 into the oversized Salvation Army kettle behind the end zone in Arlington, Texas.

“I mean, I didn’t really expect a fine, really don’t care about the fine,” Elliott said Wednesday. “It’s all for a good cause and we’re trying to bring awareness to the Salvation Army, and if the NFL doesn’t like that, then, I mean, that’s on them. I’ll pay their little fine.”

After running for a 16-yard touchdown against the Washington Redskins with 10:02 left in the first quarter, Elliott pulled out $21 — the amount matching his uniform number — and dropped it in the bucket.

In the fourth quarter of the same game, a 31-23 Dallas win, Elliott lifted teammate Dak Prescott into the Salvation Army kettle after the Dallas quarterback scrambled for a 5-yard touchdown run.

Postgame, Elliott and Prescott both announced $21,000 donations to the Salvation Army, and the Cowboys said they would match the amounts.

The NFL gave Prescott a warning but did not fine him. Two years ago, Elliott jumped into the Salvation Army bucket following a touchdown, and he wasn’t fined in that instance.

Asked about the league’s different responses to the two celebrations, Elliott said, “A lot of things they do define ridiculous. But I mean, that’s not really any of my business, not really anything I can change so I’m just going to keep being focused on this season, keep being focused on leading this team and focused on going out there and winning ballgames.”

Fine money the league collects is earmarked for ex-players, but Elliott said in this case, he wishes the money would be given to the Salvation Army.

–Field Level Media

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Saints LT Armstead returns to practice

Saints LT Armstead returns to practice

New Orleans

Saints LT Armstead returns to practice

New Orleans left tackle Terron Armstead returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since injuring his pectoral muscle in the Saints’ Week 10 win at Cincinnati.

Armstead has missed three games, including last Thursday’s loss at Dallas when New Orleans gained only 65 rushing yards and saw its 10-game winning streak snapped.

Listed as a limited participant on the practice report, Armstead told reporters his recovery was “going pretty well” and that he could play Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Armstead, 27, has been an effective but oft-injured starter since New Orleans drafted him in the third round in 2013. He has missed 18 games in the past three seasons.

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs reward C Reiter with extension

Chiefs reward C Reiter with extension

Chiefs reward C Reiter with extension

Denver Broncos: Denver traded Demaryius Thomas to open up opportunities for rookie second-round draft pick Courtland Sutton, but fourth-round rookie DaeSean Hamilton will be leaned on heavily now as well with Emmanuel Sanders (torn Achilles) out for the season. “There’s a reason why I’m in the NFL,” Hamilton said of his confidence in himself. “I don’t expect there to be any downfall.” The team also will count on Tim Patrick and River Cracraft, both of whom were undrafted free agents in 2017. “We have capable guys and I’m very comfortable with that room,” head coach Vance Joseph said. “It’s young, but it’s a proven room.” Added Sutton, “We’ve all got to step up and step into these roles that we’ve been handed, and not look back into it.”

Kansas City Chiefs: After filling in admirably for starter Mitch Morse at center in Weeks 8-11, Austin Reiter was rewarded with a contract extension on Wednesday, the team announced. No terms of the deal have been reported, but the 2015 seventh-round pick was set to become a restricted free agent after this season. Depending on the size and length of the deal, it could mean the Chiefs view Reiter as the future starter at the pivot, as Morse will hit unrestricted free agency in March. The team gave left guard Cameron Erving a two-year extension worth up to $15.7 million in September. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz (signed through 2020), left tackle Eric Fisher (2021) and right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (2022) are each locked up for at least two years.

Los Angeles Chargers: In his final game before entering the NFL, Philip Rivers led his team to a 28-10 victory over Marvin Lewis, as the Bengals’ staff was coaching the North team in the 2004 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Rivers threw for 213 yards and two touchdowns to pick up MVP honors in the game, which came about three months before Rivers was traded to the Chargers — whose staff coached the South team — as part of the package for Eli Manning on draft day. “Obviously he’s continued to grow as a fine player, but he was there and he was a fine leader,” Lewis recalled Wednesday of the encounter. “Obviously, the Chargers’ staff was coaching the other side and had Philip on their team, so they saw great things in him which caused the move they made to get Philip. I don’t think he’s disappointed anybody there.”

Oakland Raiders: Head coach Jon Gruden is known for praising opponents’ top players, but he was particularly effusive about the guy the Raiders will have to contain on Sunday, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. “What’s the greatest thing about this man, I’ve told all of our receivers, if you get a chance to watch him practice, you’ll see what unlocks the greatness in him,” Gruden said. “He’s the hardest working man, I think, in football. Hardest working player I’ve ever seen practice. I’ve seen Jerry Rice, I’ve seen a lot of good ones, but I put Antonio Brown at the top. If there are any young wideouts out there, I’d go watch him practice. You figure out yourself why he’s such a good player.”

–Field Level Media

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Jaguars RB Fournette aims to salvage tough season

Jaguars RB Fournette aims to salvage tough season

Jaguars RB Fournette aims to salvage tough season

Houston Texans: Running back D’Onta Foreman was activated Tuesday and figures to further bolster a rushing attack that is tied for second in the NFL at 140.8 yards per game. Foreman has missed the past 12-plus months since tearing his Achilles tendon and was removed from the Physically Unable to Perform list on Tuesday. “The reason why we brought him up is that we feel like maybe eventually, whether it’s this week, next week, some week, he can help us win a game, so we felt like it was a good decision for our team,” coach Bill O’Brien said during a press conference. Foreman returned to practice on Nov. 14 and is eager to help out a team that has won nine straight games. “I practice day in and day out,” Foreman said. “I’ve been getting a lot of scout team reps, just trying to take advantage of my opportunities.”

Indianapolis Colts: Center Ryan Kelly (knee) has missed the past two games and figures to be doubtful to return this Sunday against the Texans. Kelly missed his seventh straight practice on Wednesday and did rehab work off to the side. Indianapolis coach Frank Reich said the plan is to be cautious with Kelly’s recovery. “He’s doing great and making progress,” Reich said. “We want to get him back as soon as we can but we still want to be smart about it.” Reich also is downplaying the game against Houston while outsiders refer to it as a must-win affair. “We don’t put ourselves in must-win situations,” Reich said. “We put ourselves in must-get-better situations. That’s been our mantra the whole year.”

Jacksonville Jaguars: Running back Leonard Fournette will be back for Thursday’s game against the Tennessee Titans after missing last week’s game against the Colts due to a one-game suspension for fighting. Fournette said it was difficult not being with his teammates. “It was tough, knowing what I could have done to help the team,” he told reporters. “It was tough.” It was been a rough second season for Fournette, who rushed for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie. He injured a hamstring in Week 1 and reinjured it again in Week 4 and has just 314 yards and four touchdowns on 90 carries. However, Fournette showed life by rushing for 95 yards in consecutive games prior to serving the suspension.

Tennessee Titans: Tennessee saved its playoff hopes by rallying from a 16-point hole against the New York Jets last Sunday and is certainly in must-win mode against the Jaguars. Jacksonville isn’t going back to the playoffs after reaching the AFC title game last season and the Titans don’t want to join them as a 2017 playoff team that misses the postseason this time around. “That’s something we can’t allow to happen,” Tennessee defensive end Jurrell Casey said. “We want to keep them where they’re at — at the end of the division and leave them there. We got to make sure we take care of our part. At the end of the day, we can’t worry about them. We have to worry about ourselves because we ain’t played so hot this year ourselves.”

–Field Level Media

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Aikman says Jimmy Johnson deserves Cowboys honor

Aikman says Jimmy Johnson deserves Cowboys honor

Aikman says Jimmy Johnson deserves Cowboys honor

Dallas Cowboys: Former Cowboys executive Gil Brandt became the 22nd member of the team’s Ring of Honor last Thursday. Troy Aikman, one of the 22, wants a 23rd member to join the select company. That’s his former coach, Jimmy Johnson, who led the Cowboys to two Super Bowl titles in five seasons as the head coach. “I do know that not being in the Cowboys Ring of Honor is a major disappointment to him,” Aikman told radio station 1310 The Ticket. “It’s a major disappointment to me, for that matter. The guy turned the franchise around and brought back America’s Team and made the Cowboys relevant again. I ran into a lot of people when we began to win and they said they were big Cowboys fans, but that stadium was not selling out in 1989. It probably wasn’t in ‘88 the year before I got there either. Jimmy was a big part. He certainly was an architect of putting together those teams and drafting those players that you could argue was maybe the most talent in the history of our sport.”

New York Giants: The Giants might not listen to his opinion as they plan for 2019 and beyond, but one New York Super Bowl-winning quarterback had a strong endorsement of another New York Super Bowl-winning quarterback. “I’d have him on my team anytime, any game, any type of game,” New York Jets legend Joe Namath said to MSG about Eli Manning. “Between the lines on the grass or outside on the street — I think he’s a winner. I know he’s tough.” Namath added: “I think they need a team, they need more players. When you’re asking me about building around a quarterback … with Lady Luck on his side, you can get up into your 40s and still be productive. I still think Eli has a few more years left in him where he can be productive.”

Philadelphia Eagles: The brother of second-year defensive end Derek Barnett was killed in a hit-and-run in Nashville, Tenn., on Tuesday, The Tennessean reported. Police in Nashville said 33-year-old David Barnett died as a result of a crash at 3:25 a.m. Felipe Castelblanco, 47, was charged with vehicular homicide by intoxication in the head-on collision, the newspaper reported. Derek Barnett has been on the injured reserve list since he had shoulder surgery in late October. He had 19 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks on the season.

Washington Redskins: Quarterback Colt McCoy had surgery on his broken right leg and already has been ruled out for the season. But is he really? Coach Jay Gruden announced the surgery and said it was successful, adding it was “wishful thinking” that he could be back in two to three weeks, with four weeks more likely, according to NBC Sports Washington. The Redskins sit 6-6 in the NFC East, just a game behind Dallas for the division lead, and haven’t been mathematically eliminated. If the QB combo of Mark Sanchez and Josh Johnson can get the Redskins to the playoffs, it isn’t impossible to think McCoy could be back. Until then, McCoy and starting quarterback Alex Smith, whom McCoy replaced when Smith suffered a devastating leg injury in Week 11, can offer guidance to Sanchez and Johnson.

–Field Level Media

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Packers place CB King (hamstring) on IR

Packers place CB King (hamstring) on IR

Packers place CB King (hamstring) on IR

The Green Bay Packers placed cornerback Kevin King on injured reserve with a hamstring injury Wednesday.

It’s the second straight year the 2017 first-round pick will finish the season on injured reserve, after a shoulder issue bothered him as a rookie. King had sat out the last four games after missing time with a groin injury earlier this season. He has played in just 15 games through two seasons.

King finishes the year with 17 tackles, one interception and two passes defensed in six games, all starts.

The Packers also placed running back Tra Carson (ribs) on injured reserve and claimed cornerback Natrell Jamerson (from the Houston Texans) and defensive lineman Fadol Brown (from the Oakland Raiders) off waivers.

Jamerson, who turns 23 on Dec. 15, was a fifth-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in April, but he failed to make the Week 1 roster and was claimed by the Texans in September. He played 78 defensive snaps in 10 games, totaling seven tackles and a pass defensed, before being waived Tuesday.

Brown, 25, spent the 2017 season on Oakland’s practice squad and played in eight games for the Raiders this season, tallying 17 tackles and two QB hits.

Carson, 26, played 83 of his 88 snaps this year on special teams.

–Field Level Media

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Raiders WR Bryant, S Nelson placed on IR

Raiders WR Bryant, S Nelson placed on IR

Wide receiver

Raiders WR Bryant, S Nelson placed on IR

Wide receiver Martavis Bryant’s rocky season with the Oakland Raiders came to an end Wednesday.

Bryant was placed on injured reserve with a posterior cruciate ligament injury after missing the previous three games. The Raiders also placed safety Reggie Nelson (shoulder) and defensive end Shilique Calhoun (neck) on IR.

Bryant was acquired from the Pittsburgh Steelers for a third-round pick during the 2018 NFL Draft and released before Week 1, but he re-signed with the Raiders two weeks later. He caught 19 passes for 266 yards and no touchdowns in eight games.

The 26-year-old struggled to stay on the field, starting with migraine headaches in training camp that forced him out of practice, before his knee injury. He is due to hit free agency in March.

Nelson, 35, had started all 64 games over the past four seasons but sat out Week 8 and ceded his starting job to former first-round pick Karl Joseph over the last four weeks. He finishes the year with 29 tackles and two interceptions.

The moves made room for the official signing of running back C.J. Anderson, which was reported Tuesday, and defensive end Kony Ealy.

–Field Level Media

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Broncos place WR Sanders (Achilles) on IR

Broncos place WR Sanders (Achilles) on IR

Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders tore his

Broncos place WR Sanders (Achilles) on IR

Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders tore his left Achilles during Wednesday’s practice, the team confirmed.

Sanders was helped off the field and appeared to be in significant pain after going down while running a route against air. An MRI confirmed the tear, leading the Broncos to place Sanders on injured reserve and claim wide receiver Andre Holmes off waivers, a day after he was cut by the Buffalo Bills.

Holmes, 30, had 12 catches for 157 yards in 12 games (three starts) with Buffalo this season. He played for Broncos offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave from 2015-16 with the Oakland Raiders.

Much of the receiving burden will be placed on rookies Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton this week against the San Francisco 49ers and cornerback Richard Sherman. Demaryius Thomas was traded at the deadline in late October.

Sanders, 31, was on pace for his fourth career 1,000-yard season with 71 receptions for 868 yards and four touchdowns in 2018. He has one year and $10.25 million remaining on his contract.

It is the third season-ending injury to a Broncos starter that occurred in practice this year, after tight end Jake Butt and guard Max Garcia each tore ACLs in practice. Joseph said Sanders’ injury was unrelated to a heel injury he battled last week.

–Field Level Media

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Bengals’ Lewis not seeking job assurances

Bengals' Lewis not seeking job assurances

Baltimore Ravens: Rookie offensive

Bengals’ Lewis not seeking job assurances

Baltimore Ravens: Rookie offensive tackle Orlando Brown has become a stabilizer up front for the Ravens during the switch from Joe Flacco to Lamar Jackson. While Brown was playing well in November as coach John Harbaugh assessed, his mentality is making him a great fit for a more grinding approach from Baltimore. On Wednesday, Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley said Brown has been nothing short of “great.” Harbaugh explained previously: “Brown has a real mentality about him – a real right-tackle mentality. He’s like his dad, and that’s the greatest compliment that I or anybody else could give him.”

Cincinnati Bengals: Marvin Lewis reportedly has an option in his contract for the 2019 season and media speculation on his status is picking up as the Bengals slip behind AFC North leaders and out of the playoff hunt. Has Lewis received any front-office assurance on his status for next season? “No,” Lewis said. “I wouldn’t expect any or ask for any. My job is to coach the football team.”

Cleveland Browns: Rookie cornerback Denzel Ward did not practice Wednesday due to a concussion, but cornerback Terrance Mitchell is set to return after missing eight weeks with a wrist injury. Head coach Gregg Williams said Ward has improved his tackling technique but is still prone to abandoning technique in heat of the battle. “It is one of those things that at that corner position, especially him, you have to be down,” Williams said. Mitchell has practiced the past two weeks.

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers haven’t won in Oakland since 1995 and while quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said the venue is “cool,” he also said it’s not an easy place to play because of the challenges that come with it. “The environment, the team, the travel. A little bit of everything,” he said. The Steelers, cognizant of the recent trend, are shifting travel to California for the first time in Roethlisberger’s career to arrive early in the day Friday. “I guess we are trying something different,” he said.

–Field Level Media

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Packers WR Adams wanted better for McCarthy

Packers WR Adams wanted better for McCarthy

Packers WR Adams wanted better for McCarthy

Chicago Bears: Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks said scoring a rushing touchdown was “super fun” having seen it several times from the other side of the ball. “I’m framing that. First time ever in my career. I’ve been playing defensive tackle since I was 15 years old,” Hicks said of his 1-yard plunge against the Giants. “I’m not a big celebration guy. I just like to get the job done.” Hicks said he will accept the label of “The Freezer” if it sticks, an homage for William “The Refrigerator” Perry. “I hope The Fridge is sitting at home and he can see me put one in the end zone, can see that and says ‘I did that and I did it better.'”

Detroit Lions: Given the first rookie quarterback on the schedule – Sam Darnold — put up a 116.8 rating and 48 points in Week 1 for the Jets, defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni will stress to his defense there are no rookies in the NFL this time of year. The Lions draw first-round QBs in Josh Rosen (Sunday vs. Arizona) and Josh Allen (Week 15 vs. Buffalo) the next two games. Darnold completed 76 percent of his passes in the surprising Week 1 blowout. Head coach Matt Patricia said Rosen is benefiting from a polished supporting cast. “They’ve got a lot of good players, Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson, they just give him an opportunity to get the ball to those guys in different ways, to allow him to control it,” Patricia said. “He’s obviously learning and going through the process right now.”

Green Bay Packers: Asking wide receiver Davante Adams how he feels about a fresh start on the heels of a coaching change brought a thoughtful, emotional response. “It’s tough. That insinuates I’m in favor of him being fired. There’s obviously a negative stigma lately. You mention Mike McCarthy’s name in a public setting and I’m sure it carries a negative connotation. Same time, he’s done amazing things for this town and obviously the football team, he’s been able to contribute a lot to us as men individually. It’s sad to see him gone. Like I said, I have a lot of respect for him. It’s sad to see him gone. … Hopefully things get better from here on out, and things get better for him as well.”

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings are passing the ball more than 67 percent of their offensive plays and head coach Mike Zimmer repeated Sunday his desire for offensive coordinator John DeFilippo to call more running plays. But with many insinuating there is a growing rift between the coaches, Zimmer tried Wednesday to diffuse that theory. ”I think Flip is doing a good job,” Zimmer said. ”We talk all the time. We talk about things, what I think are important, and I think he tries to do those.”

–Field Level Media

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Bears QB Trubisky ‘close to 100 percent’

Bears QB Trubisky 'close to 100 percent'

Rest has restored Chicago Bears quarterback

Bears QB Trubisky ‘close to 100 percent’

Rest has restored Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who said Wednesday he is “really close” to 100 percent.

Trubisky is expected to return to the lineup Sunday for the NFC showdown at Soldier Field against the Los Angeles Rams. He missed the past two games with a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder, the result of a hit from Vikings safety Harrison Smith in Chicago’s primetime win over Minnesota on Nov. 18.

“Arm feels really good. Just throwing as much as they’ll let me and taking care of it,” Trubisky said. “I’m just making sure I’m 100 percent when I get back out there.”

Trubisky remains on the injury report but practiced without limitation Wednesday for the first time since his injury. Chase Daniel, 1-1 in Trubisky’s stead, worked with the second team.

If he’s on the field for the Bears, he’ll be staring down his summer roommate, Rams quarterback Jared Goff, in what sets up as an exciting, offense-heavy affair. They trained together in Southern California over the offseason.

Trubisky said Wednesday he viewed Goff as a reason to believe in himself. Both struggled as rookies, but Goff found his footing last season and is having an MVP-caliber campaign in Year 3. Goff was the No. 1 overall pick in 2016.

“It was fun,” Trubisky said. “It was a good time. We were just out there relaxing in the offseason. Training a little bit. Got to know him. We are pretty tight, good friends. He’s an awesome dude. We pushed each other in the offseason. We work with the same quarterback coach out there and trainer. Just getting better in the offseason and enjoying some downtime. Just enjoying each other’s company.

Goff tossed 28 touchdowns in his second season; Trubisky has 20 touchdowns in his first year with head coach Matt Nagy.

“It just shows me anything is possible,” Trubisky said. “Just because everybody writes you off one year doesn’t mean you can’t come out and have a really good year the next year. Especially with a great coach coming here and helping this organization. Just being a lot different on offense as far as scheme and philosophy. I think it gives you a lot of confidence as a quarterback. You can never dwell too much on the past, especially if you have a bad year before. You just have to work hard in the offseason, come back, believe in the plan, believe in yourself and just go out there and play ball like you know how.”

–Field Level Media

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Cardinals put LT Humphries on injured reserve

Cardinals put LT Humphries on injured reserve

The Arizona Cardinals put left tackle

Cardinals put LT Humphries on injured reserve

The Arizona Cardinals put left tackle D.J. Humphries on injured reserve with a knee injury.

Humphries has been battling a right knee injury since it swelled during the Cardinals’ loss at Kansas City on Nov. 11 and missed the last three games.

Last week, coach Steve Wilks said he was “very hopeful” that Humphries would play Sunday in Green Bay, but the 24-year-old suffered a setback that made him inactive.

With Humphries out, Arizona (3-9) is down all five members of the offensive line who started the season: left guard Mike Iupati (knee), right guard Justin Pugh (knee) and starting center A.Q. Shipley (knee) are on IR, and right tackle Andre Smith was released last week for poor performance.

Joe Barksdale, who was released by the Los Angeles Chargers this week, will replace Humphries on the roster. The Cardinals also signed offensive lineman Rees Odhiambo off the Colts’ practice squad Wednesday.

Rookie Korey Cunningham will remain at left tackle. He has played in Humphries’ place the past three games.

–Field Level Media

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Recovering Amendola angling to play against Patriots

Recovering Amendola angling to play against Patriots

Recovering Amendola angling to play against Patriots

Buffalo Bills: Head coach Sean McDermott told reporters Wednesday that the team released veteran wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin because the player-team pairing “obviously didn’t work.” He added: “The important (thing) … for us, is that we continue to take swings and we did. You step up to the plate and you take a swing and some of those are going to work and some aren’t.” All but out of the playoff picture at 4-8, the Bills will look at younger players and start building for 2009. “We’ve got some younger receives that have stepped up and showed some signs of their potential and flashed,” McDermott said. “Our commitment to them is to give them more opportunities and to see them build a relationship with Josh (Allen) to see them continue to develop and that’s important moving forward.”

Miami Dolphins: Receiver Danny Amendola missed last Sunday’s game against the Bills but practiced Wednesday. Head coach Adam Gase said he was unsure of Amendola’s status for their upcoming game, although the wideout is eager to meet his former teammates and the New England Patriots. “He wants to play in this game as bad as anybody,” Gase said. “I’m trying to give him a little bit of the ability to show that he can go, but at the same time just try to make sure that we get through the week the right way. We don’t [want to] lose him for any longer than we already have.” Amendola left the Patriots after the 2017 season, lured by a two-year contract that can be worth as much as $12 million. He had two catches for 21 yards in a Week 4 game at New England.

New England Patriots: As NFL teams look to fill head-coach openings (Cleveland, Green Bay) and other teams anticipate coaching vacancies, the name of Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is being thrown around. He accepted the Indianapolis Colts’ job after last season but backed out at the last minute. Owner Robert Kraft didn’t sound worried about the possibility of McDaniels leaving New England again, after he left the Patriots before the 2009 season to coach the Denver Broncos and returned in 2012. “I care about winning Sunday. That’s what really what I care about,” Kraft told the Boston Herald. “Whatever happens … you know, we have good people. I’m actually flattered that people are after our people.”

New York Jets: Safety Jamal Adams is just in his second year but has become a vocal team leader. And this week, he talked about the seeming inevitability that head coach Todd Bowles will be fired after the season ends. Adams said on his regular weekly interview on WFAN that Bowles isn’t the problem with the Jets (3-9). “There are other problems in that building,” Adams said. “I feel for him. I really do. It’s not his problems that are going on right now. Hopefully, it’s going to change next year. We’ve got to change it. It needs to be changed, because to me, we’re running out of time.”

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Broncos WR Sanders has torn Achilles

Reports: Broncos WR Sanders has torn Achilles

Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders tore his

Reports: Broncos WR Sanders has torn Achilles

Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders tore his left Achilles during Wednesday’s practice, according to multiple reports.

Sanders was helped off the field and appeared to be in significant pain after going down while running a route versus air. Head coach Vance Joseph told reporters after practice Sanders was being evaluated for an Achilles injury, with an MRI coming shortly.

Per multiple reports, the MRI confirmed a torn Achilles, and Sanders will be placed on injured reserve. The Broncos reportedly claimed wide receiver Andre Holmes, who was cut on Tuesday by the Buffalo Bills, to take Sanders’ place on the roster.

Holmes, 30, had 12 catches for 157 yards in 12 games (three starts) with Buffalo this season. He played for Broncos offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave from 2015-16 with the Oakland Raiders.

Much of the receiving burden will be placed on rookies Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton this week against the San Francisco 49ers and cornerback Richard Sherman. Demaryius Thomas was traded at the deadline in late October.

Sanders, 31, was on pace for his fourth career 1,000-yard season with 71 receptions for 868 yards and four touchdowns in 2018. He has one year and $10.25 million remaining on his contract.

It is the third season-ending injury to a Broncos starter that occurred in practice this year, after tight end Jake Butt and guard Max Garcia each tore ACLs in practice. Joseph said Sanders’ injury was unrelated to a heel injury he battled last week.

–Field Level Media

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Agent Cook accused of funding McNair at Alcorn State

Agent Cook accused of funding McNair at Alcorn State

Agent Cook accused of funding McNair at Alcorn State

Steve McNair became a Heisman Trophy candidate at Alcorn State and was drafted in the first round by the Houston Oilers in 1995, who later relocated to Tennessee, where he was represented by agent Bus Cook.

According to multiple college teammates, McNair was being paid well by Cook even in college.

In the latest episode of Sports Illustrated’s series on McNair’s life, which ended in July 2009 when he was shot in a condo in Nashville, teammates detailed payments Cook made to McNair during his college playing days.

Cook represents several well-known players, including Russell Wilson and Cam Newton and was the primary sports agent for Brett Favre, Randy Moss, Ray Lewis, Calvin Johnson, Jay Cutler and McNair.

McNair’s backup at Alcorn State, Jerry Fletcher, said they visited Cook once a month for payment.

“Me and Steve used to disappear all the time and we’d just go to Bus Cook[‘s] office, all the time. You know? He’d pick up a little, some money or whatever, and then we used to leave and come on back to Alcorn. We did that numerous occasions,” Fletcher told SI. “[W]hen me and him was going down there he was getting exactly $5,000.”

Cook denied the allegations.

However, another Alcorn teammate who went on to hire Cook, told Sports Illustrated the claim was accurate.

Marcus Hinton was asked by SI’s Tim Rohan: “Was Bus giving Steve money, or … or you know, helping him out financially, back then?”

“I don’t know if he was in high school,” Hinton said. “But I mean in college, I mean he was all looking out for us, and doing stuff for us.”

–Field Level Media

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Dolphins CB Howard week-to-week

Dolphins CB Howard week-to-week

Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien

Dolphins CB Howard week-to-week

Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard is week-to-week with a knee injury.

The third-year cornerback has seven interceptions, including a pair against the Buffalo Bills, this season. Howard was hurt on his second interception of Bills quarterback Josh Allen according to coach Adam Gase, and didn’t practice Wednesday.

“He’s one of our best players, if not our best player on that side of the ball,” Gase said Wednesday.

Howard is fourth in the NFL with 12 passes defended and on Wednesday was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week.

The Dolphins (6-6) remain alive in the playoff chase and face the New England Patriots on Sunday.

–Field Level Media

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Raiders WR Bryant placed on IR

Raiders WR Bryant placed on IR

Wide receiver Martavis Bryant's

Raiders WR Bryant placed on IR

Wide receiver Martavis Bryant’s rocky season with the Oakland Raiders came to an end Wednesday.

Bryant was placed on injured reserve with a posterior cruciate ligament injury after missing the previous three games. The Raiders also placed linebacker Shilique Calhoun (neck) on IR.

Bryant was acquired from the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2018 NFL Draft.

He caught 19 passes for 266 yards and no touchdowns.

Bryant struggled to stay on the field, starting with migraine headaches in training camp that forced him off the field, before his knee injury.

–Field Level Media

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