The Latest: Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski injures ankle

The Latest on Week 4 in the NFL (all times EDT):

3:05 p.m.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has headed to the locker room with an ankle injury.

Gronkowski left the Patriots matchup with the Dolphins in the third quarter and limped off the field favoring his right leg.

Just moments before the injury, Gronkowski hauled in his fourth catch of the day, the 491st of his career. It marked a franchise record for catches by a tight end, passing Ben Coates.

The Patriots lead the Dolphins 31-0.

— Kyle Hightower, reporting from Foxborough, Mass.

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3 p.m.

Jameis Winston has replaced Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback for Tampa Bay.

Winston entered the game to start the second half with the Buccaneers trailing the Bears 38-3 and promptly got intercepted by Danny Trevathan.

Khalil Mack appeared to tip the ball on a pass rush as he released the pass.

Winston rejoined the team following a three-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. His punishment stemmed from the league’s investigation of an accusation that the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner groped a female Uber driver during a ride in Arizona in March 2016.

Fitzpatrick was 9 of 18 for 126 yards and got sacked two times.

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2:57 p.m.

Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert was carted off the field after going down with a lower right leg injury early in the third quarter at Atlanta.

Eifert caught a 2-yard pass and was tackled by De’Vondre Campbell and was also hit by Jack Crawford as he crumpled to the turf.

Eifert, the Bengals’ third-leading receiver this season, immediately was on his back in pain. The medical staff stabilized his leg and lifted him onto the cart.

His teammates came over to offer encouragement, and Eifert appeared emotional as he left the field.

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2:46 p.m.

The Bears’ Khalil Mack had a strip-sack in the first half against Tampa Bay.

That made him the first player with a sack and forced fumble in four straight games since Robert Mathis in 2005.

A two-time All-Pro, Mack got traded to the Bears by Oakland on Sept. 1.

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2:45 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have ruled out two starters for the rest of the day against the New York Jets, including running back Leonard Fournette.

Fournette left the game with tightness in his right hamstring in the second quarter. He returned for a few plays, but was ruled out at halftime.

Fournette missed the previous two games with the same injury, making his setback concerning.

Center Brandon Linder also was ruled out at the break with a back injury.

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2:44 p.m.

The Buffalo Bills are having a miserable day at Lambeau Field.

Mason Crosby kicked a 52-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to give the Green Bay Packers a 16-0 lead.

The Bills look nothing like the team that beat the Vikings 27-6 on the road last week in Minnesota. Rookie quarterback Josh Allen is 5 of 19 for 58 yards and an interception late in the first half. He made an ill-timed pass under pressure outside the pocket that was picked off in the end zone by rookie cornerback Jaire Alexander.

The Packers’ defense has contained the mobile Allen, who made the highlight reel last week for hurdling over Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr on a first-down run.

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2:42 p.m.

Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky threw for five touchdowns in the first half, helping the Bears build a 38-3 lead over Tampa Bay.

The only NFL player with more in a single half was Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers with six against Chicago in the first two quarters of a romp at Lambeau Field on Nov. 9, 2014.

Sid Luckman holds the Bears’ record for TD passes in a game with seven against the New York Giants in 1943.

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2:40 p.m.

Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri made a 42-yard field goal with 2 seconds left in the first half to break the NFL’s career record.

The 23-year veteran has 566 field goals — one more than Hall of Famer Morten Andersen. And he achieved the feat on his home turf, just a short drive from where Andersen played high school football.

After the kick, Vinatieri celebrated briefly with holder Rigoberto Sanchez, long snapper Luke Rhodes and the rest of the kicking unit. But that was the extent of the celebration for the 45-year-old Vinatieri, who is the league’s oldest active player.

He has moved within 31 points of breaking Andersen’s career scoring record of 2,544 points.

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2:30 p.m.

Chicago Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks has been ejected from the game against Tampa Bay for pushing an official.

Hicks was scuffling with a Buccaneers player when he shoved the official. The incident occurred on the other side of the field after Eddie Jackson intercepted a pass by Ryan Fitzpatrick late in the first half.

Also, Bears linebacker Sam Acho left the game with a pectoral injury. Acho was injured in the first half.

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2:05 p.m.

Aaron Rodgers has thrown his first interception of the year. It came on a pass over the middle that was deflected by linebacker Tremaine Edmunds that ended up being high and slightly behind tight end Jimmy Graham.

Rodgers is 7 of 11 for 98 yards with a score. Safety Jordan Poyer picked the ball out of the air for the interception. The Bills though were unable to take advantage on the rare turnover by Rodgers and were forced to punt. It was Buffalo’s fourth three-and-out in five drives. Green Bay leads 13-0 midway through the second quarter.

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2 p.m.

An unnamed stadium security guard was taken off the field on a stretcher late in the first quarter during the Texans-Colts game.

Team officials said he was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Colts spokesman Matt Conti said no other updates will be given because of privacy rules.

The security guard was injured when a player ran into him on a punt. It came just about the same time Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton received a rousing ovation after returning to the sideline with what the Colts described as a chest injury.

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1:45 p.m.

Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham has his first official Lambeau Leap.

Graham caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers with 5:15 left in the first quarter, though the Mason Crosby missed the extra point to keep the score at 6-0.

Graham had a touchdown catch wiped out a couple of weeks ago by a penalty. He joined the Packers in the offseason as a free agent.

Rodgers is moving a little better in his third game since injuring his left knee. He is 5 of 7 for 72 yards.

For the Bills, safety Micah Hyde is questionable to return with a groin injury. Hyde is returning to Lambeau Field for the first time since leaving the Packers as a free agent after the 2016 season.

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1:40 p.m.

Patriots’ Tom Brady has thrown his third interception of the season. This one was a deep, third down pass over the middle that was picked off by Dolphins cornerback Bobby McCain at the 1:36 mark of the first quarter.

Brady didn’t throw his third interception last season until Week 11 against Miami.

The Patriots lead 3-0 at the end of the first quarter.

— Kyle Hightower, reporting from Foxborough, Mass.

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1:30 p.m.

Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard has hurt a shoulder in the first quarter against Philadelphia and is questionable to return.

Woodyard is the Titans’ leading tackler this season. The 11-year veteran was hurt tackling Eagles tight end Zach Ertz at the end of a 17-yard reception on Philadelphia’s opening series of the game.

Woodyard walked to the sideline on his own and was evaluated inside the tent behind the bench.

Jayon Brown replaced Woodyard and pressured Carson Wentz into an incompletion on third down, forcing a punt.

— Teresa M. Walker reporting from Nashville, Tennessee

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1:15 p.m.

Indianapolis Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton walked straight to the locker room after landing hard on his shoulder following a 40-yard catch-and-run against Houston.

It was unclear what Hilton’s injury was and there was no immediate announcement.

The four-time Pro Bowler’s big play set up Indy’s first score, a 4-yard TD pass from Luck to Zach Pascal. Luck extended his streak of consecutive games with a TD pass to 27, tying Peyton Manning for the second-longest total in franchise history.

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1:05 p.m.

Dolphins running back Frank Gore has become the eighth running back in NFL history to appear in 200 NFL games.

Gore took the field in the first quarter of Miami’s matchup with the Patriots.

With 14,124 rushing yards, Gore entered the game ranked fourth on the NFL’s all-time rushing list behind only Emmitt Smith (18,335), Walter Payton (16,726) and Barry Sanders (15,269).

— Kyle Hightower, reporting from Foxborough, Mass.

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1 p.m.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are sticking with Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starting quarterback over Jameis Winston.

Fitzpatrick started against the Chicago Bears on Sunday after Winston rejoined the team following a three-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

Fitzpatrick has thrown for a league-leading 1,230 yards and 11 TDs. He is the first player in NFL history to top 400 yards passing in three consecutive games.

The discipline against Winston stemmed from the league’s investigation of an accusation that the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner groped a female Uber driver during a ride in Arizona in March 2016.

Defensive tackle Vita Vea, the No. 12 overall draft pick this year, is active for the first time after being sidelined by a calf injury.

___

1 p.m.

Dolphins receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson both kneeled during the national anthem before their team’s game against the Patriots and defensive end Robert Quinn raised his right fist.

All three have staged similar demonstrations during the anthem before their team’s other games this season.

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Giants WR Beckham misses practice Wednesday

Giants WR Beckham misses practice Wednesday

Giants WR Beckham misses practice Wednesday

Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. did not practice Wednesday due to the quadriceps strain that forced him to miss New York’s win over the Washington Redskins last week.

Beckham caught a touchdown pass and threw another against the Chicago Bears in the Giants’ overtime win in Week 13. New York won without him, 40-16, over the Redskins last Sunday when Beckham was ruled out due to the leg muscle issue.

“We’ll try and get him back as quickly as possible,” Shurmur said Wednesday on a conference call with Tennessee media. “He is feeling better each day. I don’t think he is going to practice today, but we’ll see as the week progresses.”

Beckham has 77 receptions for 1,052 yards and six touchdowns in 2018, a bounceback year from his injury-shortened 2017 season during which he played four games and recorded 25 catches due to an ankle injury.

–Field Level Media

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Bills’ RB McCoy misses practice Wednesday

Bills' RB McCoy misses practice Wednesday

Bills’ RB McCoy misses practice Wednesday

Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy won’t practice Wednesday and his status is uncertain for Sunday’s matchup against the Detroit Lions.

“We’ll just take it one day at a time right now,” said head coach Sean McDermott when asked if he expects McCoy will be able to practice this week.

McCoy hurt his hamstring in Sunday’s 27-23 loss to the New York Jets. The 30-year-old running back left the game after nine plays — he had one yard on two carries — on Buffalo’s opening drive and has struggled with leg muscle strains in recent seasons.

Chris Ivory served as the Bills’ primary ballcarrier and finished the game with 42 yards on 12 carries.

McDermott said Ivory will practice Wednesday, and also the team signed running back Keith Ford from the practice squad, indicating the Bills aren’t certain whether McCoy will see action Sunday.

“Keith, for a rookie, has worked extremely hard since Day 1. He continues to earn the right,” said McDermott.

–Field Level Media

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Flacco returns, Ravens stick with QB Jackson

Flacco returns, Ravens stick with QB Jackson

Baltimore Ravens

Flacco returns, Ravens stick with QB Jackson

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh announced Wednesday that quarterback Lamar Jackson will be the starter vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, with veteran starter Joe Flacco dressing as his backup.

“The starting quarterback will be Lamar (Jackson). Joe (Flacco) will be the No. 2 quarterback,” Harbaugh said Wednesday.

Jackson missed the final two plays of Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs after hurting his ankle but X-rays taken at the stadium postgame were negative.

“My brain, and my heart, and my experience says this is the way to go,” Harbaugh said.

Robert Griffin III was the backup and finished out the game as Flacco was inactive, but Harbaugh said afterward that Flacco was medically cleared from his hip injury and could have played.

Harbaugh has been cagey about his plans at quarterback once Flacco is healthy enough and prepared to play. He has repeatedly declined to answer questions about who will start moving forward, though he has not ruled out the possibility of Flacco and Jackson playing for stretches.

For his part, Flacco has been supportive of Jackson and said Wednesday he would embrace the role of backup. Flacco declined to delve further into his future plans, or what this decision means for him or the Ravens.

“I thought Lamar has done a great job,” Flacco said.

Sunday’s game will be the first time Flacco has ever dressed as the backup for an NFL game.

Jackson finished 13 of 24 for 147 yards and two scores while rushing 13 times for 71 yards in Sunday’s loss.

He is now 59 of 101 for 687 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions this season in four starts and other scattered snaps, while rushing 95 times for 475 yards and three scores on the ground.

However, Jackson has fumbled eight times (six as a rusher), including a strip-sack that set up the Chiefs for a would-be game-winning field goal late in regulation Sunday. Harrison Butker missed from 43 yards, leading to overtime.

–Field Level Media

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Broncos, Browns on playoff fringe ahead of matchup

Broncos, Browns on playoff fringe ahead of matchup

Broncos, Browns on playoff fringe ahead of matchup

The Denver Broncos were high on quarterback Baker Mayfield long before he was taken first overall in the NFL draft in April.

They plan to keep him from beating them on Saturday night.

Mayfield, the brash, outspoken Cleveland Browns rookie, visits Denver for a Week 15 showdown with both teams clinging to their slim postseason hopes. The Browns (5-7-1) are having their best season in years and are coming off a 26-20 win over Carolina.

The Broncos (6-7) had their three-game winning streak ended at San Francisco on Sunday in a game they desperately needed. Denver was feeling good after getting back to .500 and into the thick of the wild-card race, but as has been the case this season, it struggled against a young quarterback.

The Broncos have lost to rookies Sam Darnold (New York Jets), Nick Mullens (49ers) and second-year star Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City). They did they beat Josh Rosen of Arizona and Jeff Driskel of Cincinnati, and they have another chance against Mayfield on Saturday.

“He’s got a neat personality,” Denver coach Vance Joseph said after practice Tuesday. “It’s kind of a — it’s loose, but it’s tight. Very, very intelligent, but a very, very confident person.”

Mayfield could find success against a banged-up secondary that will be without Pro Bowl cornerback Chris Harris Jr., who suffered a fractured left fibula against the Bengals on Dec. 2. Harris said he is improving, but he won’t be ready for Saturday.

Without him, and the status of Tramaine Brock (ribs) and Isaac Yiadom (separated right shoulder) in question, Denver is vulnerable on the back end. The Broncos signed rookie safety Trey Marshall off the practice squad Tuesday to add to the depth.

The Browns have the weapons to take advantage, with Mayfield showing plenty of poise and wide receiver Jarvis Landry running routes. They can mix things up with running back Nick Chubb.

The biggest turnaround for Cleveland has come after the firings of head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Gregg Williams is now the interim head coach, and Freddie Kitchens was promoted to offensive coordinator.

With Kitchens calling plays, Mayfield has thrown 11 touchdown passes in five games, and his quarterback rating is 114.4 compared to from 78.9 under Haley.

With the short week, both teams practiced Tuesday instead of having a regular day off. For Denver, linebacker Shaquil Barrett (hip), Harris, wide receiver Courtland Sutton (quadriceps), Yiadom and defensive tackle Derek Wolfe (concussion) did not practice.

Joseph said Sutton should play Saturday but didn’t have an update on Wolfe.

Tight end Orson Charles (ankle), tackle Austin Corbett (foot), defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (biceps), cornerback Denzel Ward (concussion) and center J.C. Tretter (ankle) did not practice for Cleveland. Tretter has been dealing with the ankle injury for two months but has battled through the last seven games. He is normally held out of practice to stay ready for games.

“From a guy who barely practices all week to have the game plan down and then fight through it on Sundays for everybody else, it is great to have,” Mayfield told The Cleveland Plain Dealer after Sunday’s game. “He is a very, very important piece out there to have to be able to make calls and direct guys the right way and lead.”

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Roethlisberger expects to start Sunday

NFL notebook: Roethlisberger expects to start Sunday

Pittsburgh

NFL notebook: Roethlisberger expects to start Sunday

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is banged up, but sore ribs won’t keep him out of action when the Steelers play host to the New England Patriots on Sunday.

Roethlisberger required a pain-killing injection to deal with a rib injury sustained in the second quarter last week in Pittsburgh’s loss to the Oakland Raiders. He returned to the game late in the fourth quarter.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Roethlisberger is dealing with bruised ribs. Roethlisberger said during his weekly radio spot on Tuesday that he required X-rays in the locker room, but the tests were inconclusive.

–The Minnesota Vikings fired first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.

The move comes after the Vikings’ 21-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday, the team’s third defeat in its past four games. Minnesota has finished with fewer than 300 yards of total offense four times in the past five games.

Quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski has been elevated to interim offensive coordinator and will take over play-calling duties.

–Injured running back Melvin Gordon is not expected to be in uniform Thursday when the Los Angeles Chargers visit the Kansas City Chiefs, the NFL Network reported.

However, Gordon was officially limited in Tuesday’s practice, noteworthy progress considering he was unavailable entirely since the original knee injury.

NFL Network reported that Gordon and his primary backup, Austin Ekeler (neck, concussion), likely would miss the showdown at Arrowhead Stadium. Specifically, coach Anthony Lynn told the network that the team isn’t optimistic either player would suit up.

–The Titans placed right tackle Jack Conklin and tight end Jonnu Smith on injured reserve due to knee injuries. Both starters were hurt during Tennessee’s 30-9 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Thursday.

Veteran Dennis Kelly is expected to replace Conklin, and Anthony Firkser will step in for Smith.

–The Detroit Lions placed veteran defensive end Ziggy Ansah on injured reserve because of a shoulder injury. The team did the same with tight end Michael Roberts, who also has an injured shoulder.

To replace them on the roster, the Lions signed tight end Jerome Cunningham and offensive lineman Leo Koloamatangi from their practice squad.

Ansah, 29, has had a lost season while playing on the franchise tag. He hurt his shoulder after 19 snaps in Week 1 and did not play again until Week 9.

–The Los Angeles Rams placed running back Malcolm Brown and cornerback Dominique Hatfield on injured reserve.

Brown injured his collarbone earlier this month. Hatfield, primarily a special teams player, needs surgery after injuring his left ankle Sunday.

–The Philadelphia Eagles’ pursuit of a playoff spot grew more difficult when they placed running back Corey Clement (knee) and defensive end Josh Sweat (ankle) on injured reserve.

The Eagles signed running back Boston Scott and defensive end Daeshon Hall to fill the voids on the roster, and they added cornerback Josh Hawkins to the practice squad.

–Two years after tearing both patellar tendons on the same play, former Houston Texans offensive tackle Derek Newton is back in the NFL after signing a two-year deal with the New Orleans Saints.

Newton, 31, spent the entire 2017 season on the Texans’ physically unable to perform list and was released by Houston eight months ago after failing a physical. With the Saints, he replaces tackle Michael Ola, who went on injured reserve due to a high ankle sprain.

–The Buffalo Bills placed starting linebacker Matt Milano and rookie cornerback Taron Johnson on season-ending injured reserve. Milano had surgery Monday to repair a broken left fibula. Johnson had surgery last week for a shoulder injury that bothered him most of the season.

–The city of Oakland, Calif., filed a federal lawsuit against the Oakland Raiders, the NFL and all other teams in the league. Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker announced the suit, which alleges antitrust violations and breach of contract.

While the city does not demand that the Raiders be forced to remain in Oakland, the seven-count filing in district court does seek restitution in the form of lost revenue, remaining debt on renovations to the Oakland Coliseum, court costs and fees, plus punitive damages.

The Raiders received league approval to relocate to Las Vegas in March 2017. They are expected to begin playing in Las Vegas when a new stadium opens in 2020. The team still does not know where it will play in 2019.

–The NFL announced that the salary cap will rise to about $190 million in 2019, a jump from $177.2 million this season.

The league informed teams that the projected range is from $187 million to $191.1 million. That marks a 40 percent increase since the 2014 season ($133 million) and the sixth consecutive year the cap has climbed by at least $10 million.

–Field Level Media

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Eagles place RB Clement, DE Sweat on IR

Eagles place RB Clement, DE Sweat on IR

Eagles place RB Clement, DE Sweat on IR

The Philadelphia Eagles’ pursuit of a playoff spot grew more difficult Tuesday when they placed a pair of players on injured reserve, including running back Corey Clement.

Both Clement and defensive end Josh Sweat were injured Sunday in Philadelphia’s 29-23 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Clement hurt his knee, and Sweat sustained an ankle injury.

The Eagles announced that they signed running back Boston Scott and defensive end Daeshon Hall to fill the voids on the roster, and they signed cornerback Josh Hawkins to the practice squad.

Clement went from undrafted rookie to Super Bowl star last season, picking up 100 receiving yards and a touchdown grab in the title game. He has 259 yards and two touchdowns on 68 carries, along with 22 catches for 192 yards, in 11 games this season.

Sweat was a fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft and has one tackle in nine games as a rookie.

The New Orleans Saints drafted Scott in the sixth round this year but cut him just before the season opener. They signed him to their practice squad the following day.

Hall was a third-round pick by the Carolina Panthers in 2017. He played in one game last season before a knee injury ended his rookie campaign. He was cut before this season began.

The Eagles are 6-7 and two games behind the NFC East-leading Cowboys. The defending champs are still in the thick of the playoff race, however, tied with Carolina and the Washington Redskins, one-half game behind the Minnesota Vikings for the final playoff spot in the conference.

Philadelphia finishes the season with games against the Rams in Los Angeles this weekend, then at home against the Houston Texans and at the Redskins in Week 17.

–Field Level Media

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OL Newton returns to NFL with Saints

OL Newton returns to NFL with Saints

Two years after tearing both patellar

OL Newton returns to NFL with Saints

Two years after tearing both patellar tendons on the same play, former Houston Texans offensive tackle Derek Newton is back in the NFL after signing a two-year deal with the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday.

Newton, 31, suffered the devastating double injury while attempting to block All-Pro pass rusher Von Miller during a game against the Denver Broncos on Oct. 24, 2016.

He spent the entire 2017 season on the Texans’ physically unable to perform list and was released by Houston eight months ago after failing a physical.

The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Newton started 68 of his 82 games with the Texans from 2011-16 after being selected in the seventh round of the 2011 draft out of Arkansas State.

The Saints had a roster vacancy after placing tackle Michael Ola on injured reserve Tuesday with a high-ankle sprain suffered in Sunday’s win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

–Field Level Media

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Bills place LB Milano, CB Johnson on injured reserve

Bills place LB Milano, CB Johnson on injured reserve

Bills place LB Milano, CB Johnson on injured reserve

The Buffalo Bills placed starting linebacker Matt Milano and rookie cornerback Taron Johnson on season-ending injured reserve Tuesday.

Milano had surgery Monday to repair a broken left fibula, suffered in the final minutes of Sunday’s 27-23 loss to the New York Jets.

The second-year player finished the season with 78 tackles, three interceptions, three fumble recoveries and one sack.

Johnson, a fourth-rounder in 2018, had surgery last week for a shoulder injury that bothered him most of the season. He had 42 tackles and one interception in 11 games.

–Field Level Media

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Lions put Ansah (shoulder) on IR

Lions put Ansah (shoulder) on IR

Lions put Ansah (shoulder) on IR

An injury-plagued season is now an injury-shortened season for Ziggy Ansah.

The Detroit Lions on Tuesday announced they have placed the veteran defensive end on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. The team did the same with tight end Michael Roberts and his injured shoulder.

To replace them on the roster, the Lions signed tight end Jerome Cunningham and offensive lineman Leo Koloamatangi from their practice squad.

Ansah, 29, has had a lost season while playing on the franchise tag. He hurt his shoulder after 19 snaps in Week 1 and did not play again until Week 9, though he has been effective (four sacks, seven quarterback hits) during his seven games on the field. Ansah is scheduled to hit free agency in March.

Roberts, 24, has nine catches for 100 yards and three touchdowns in eight games this season, his second since being drafted in the fourth round in 2017 out of Toledo.

The Lions are 5-8 and in last place in the NFC North. They play at Buffalo this Sunday before closing out the season at home against Minnesota on Dec. 23 and at Green Bay on Dec. 30.

–Field Level Media

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NFL hikes salary cap to $190 million in 2019

NFL hikes salary cap to $190 million in 2019

NFL hikes salary cap to $190 million in 2019

The NFL announced Tuesday that the salary cap will rise to about $190 million in 2019, a jump from $177.2 million this season.

The league informed teams that the projected range is from $187.0 to $191.1 million.

That marks a 40-percent increase since the 2014 season ($133.0 million) and the sixth consecutive year the cap has climbed by at least $10 million.

“Total projected player costs, including benefits, will be more than $7.3 billion in 2019,” the league said in a statement.

The exact salary cap figure will be determined before free agency opens on March 13.

–Field Level Media

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Titans place RT Conklin, TE Smith on injured reserve

Titans place RT Conklin, TE Smith on injured reserve

Titans place RT Conklin, TE Smith on injured reserve

The Tennessee Titans placed right tackle Jack Conklin and tight end Jonnu Smith on injured reserve with knee injuries on Tuesday.

Both starters were injured during the Titans’ 30-9 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Thursday.

Smith, who took over for injured three-time Pro Bowl selection Delanie Walker, finishes his second NFL season with 20 catches for 258 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games.

Conklin, the Titans’ first-round pick (eighth overall) in 2016, was limited to nine games this season after starting all 16 games in each of his first two campaigns.

Veteran Dennis Kelly is expected to replace Conklin, and Anthony Firkser will step in for Smith. Tennessee also signed free agent offensive lineman Austin Pasztor and added tight end Cole Wick from the San Francisco 49ers’ practice squad.

With three games remaining, the Titans are one of four AFC teams tied at 7-6 and chasing a wild-card berth in the playoffs.

–Field Level Media

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Oakland sues Raiders, NFL over Vegas move

Oakland sues Raiders, NFL over Vegas move

Oakland sues Raiders, NFL over Vegas move

The city of Oakland, Calif., gave the Raiders a going-away present on Tuesday.

A federal lawsuit.

Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker announced the suit, which alleges antitrust violations and breach of contract, and names the Raiders, the NFL and every other team in the league.

While the city does not demand that the Raiders be forced to remain in Oakland, the seven-count filing in district court does seek restitution in the form of lost revenue, remaining debt on renovations to the Oakland Coliseum, court costs and fees, plus punitive damages.

“The City will seek a resolution for the maximum amount of damages available,” Parker said in a news release shortly before filing the lawsuit. “The lawsuit will not ask the court to prevent the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas or keep the team in Oakland.”

The Raiders received league approval to relocate to Las Vegas in March 2017. They are expected to begin playing in Las Vegas when a new stadium opens in 2020. The team still does not know where it will play in 2019.

One of the main cruxes of the city’s argument is that the NFL’s relocation policy is “skewed” in the favor of cities looking to get a team and biased against current host cities because each team shares a part of the moving team’s relocation fee.

The suit also alleges the NFL uses its relocation policy to in essence strong-arm host cities into ponying up money for a new stadium, threatening to move a team out of that city should the funds not be raised.

“Threats of relocation are a central part of the NFL’s practice of demanding public financing for new stadiums, which significantly increase team revenues and ticket prices,” Parker said in the statement.

“Further, each time an NFL club moves, all NFL teams share in a ‘relocation fee.’ In the last several years, the NFL defendants have shared approximately $1.47 billion in these fees. The Raiders alone have agreed to pay over $370 million to the other NFL defendants for their ‘yes’ vote on the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas.”

The city is seeking a jury trial but makes no specific monetary demand other than amounts to be determined at trial.

–Field Level Media

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Steelers’ Roethlisberger expects to play vs. Patriots

Steelers' Roethlisberger expects to play vs. Patriots

Steelers’ Roethlisberger expects to play vs. Patriots

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is banged up, but sore ribs won’t keep him from playing when the Steelers play host to the New England Patriots on Sunday.

Roethlisberger required a pain-killing injection to deal with a rib injury sustained in the second quarter last week in Pittsburgh’s loss to the Oakland Raiders. He returned to the game late in the fourth quarter.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Roethlisberger is dealing with bruised ribs.

Roethlisberger said during his weekly radio spot on Tuesday that he required X-rays in the locker room, but the tests were inconclusive. He said he was not confident he would be helping the team by returning but opted to play.

“Let’s see how this plays out,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday of what he told Tomlin to be allowed back in the game.

During the game, Tomlin conferred with the team’s medical staff, which told the coach and general manager Kevin Colbert that the antiquated X-ray machine produced results that couldn’t be read.

Roethlisberger said team doctors cleared him to play anyway, and his performance indicated he was fine. Roethlisberger wound up completing 25 of 29 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns.

Asked if there’s any reason to think he wouldn’t play against the Patriots, Roethlisberger said, “No, no, I don’t think so.”

The Steelers have lost three consecutive games and at 7-5-1 hold a slim lead over the 7-6 Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North.

–Field Level Media

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Rams place RB Brown, CB Hatfield on injured reserve

Rams place RB Brown, CB Hatfield on injured reserve

Rams place RB Brown, CB Hatfield on injured reserve

The Los Angeles Rams placed running back Malcolm Brown and cornerback Dominique Hatfield on injured reserve Tuesday.

Brown injured his collarbone during the NFC West champions’ 30-16 win at Detroit earlier this month. He has rushed for 514 yards in four seasons as Todd Gurley’s backup, including 43 carries for 212 yards and five catches for 52 yards and a touchdown in 2018.

Hatfield needs surgery after injuring his left ankle in Sunday’s 15-6 loss at Chicago. The second-year player and Los Angeles native saw most of his action on special teams this season.

The Rams also promoted rookie linebacker Trevon Young from the practice squad. Young, a sixth-round pick out of Louisville, has played in two games this season.

Los Angeles (11-2) hosts Philadelphia (6-7) on Sunday night.

–Field Level Media

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Mahomes’ jersey from Rams classic reportedly fetches $36K for charity

Mahomes' jersey from Rams classic reportedly fetches $36K for charity

Mahomes’ jersey from Rams classic reportedly fetches $36K for charity

Patrick Mahomes may have come out on the losing end in the Kansas Chiefs’ wild shootout with the Los Angeles Rams last month, but one move he made with some memorabilia from that game is certainly a winner.

The second-year quarterback and NFL Most Valuable Player contender sent the jersey he wore Nov. 19 in the 54-51 classic to auction, where it reportedly sold for $36,150. What’s more, according to The Action Network’s Darren Rovell, the proceeds are going to aid in California wildfire relief efforts.

Both the Rams and Chiefs honored first responders to the fires throughout the Week 11 Monday night game, with the Rams handing out more than 3,000 complimentary tickets to first responders. The two biggest November fires, the Camp Fire in Northern California and Woolsey Fire in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, are responsible for nearly 90 deaths and the loss of 100,000 structures.

Mahomes has taken the league by storm in his first season as a full-time starter. His 4,300 yards and 43 touchdowns lead the league, and he also tops the NFL in touchdown percentage (8.9) and yards per attempt (9.7).

The Chiefs are 11-2 and hold a two-game lead in the race for the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. The biggest threat to Kansas City actually comes from its own division, as the Los Angeles Chargers sit at 10-3. The Chargers visit the Chiefs on Thursday night.

–Field Level Media

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Vikings fire OC DeFilippo

Vikings fire OC DeFilippo

The Minnesota Vikings fired first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, the team announced Tuesday.

Vikings fire OC DeFilippo

The Minnesota Vikings fired first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, the team announced Tuesday.

The move comes after the Vikings’ 21-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night, the team’s third defeat in its past four games. The Vikings finished the game with 276 yards of total offense, managing just 61 in the first half. It was the fourth time in the past five games that the Vikings have finished with less than 300 yards total offense.

Quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski has been elevated to interim offensive coordinator and will take over play-calling duties for the Vikings.

The Vikings entered November with a top-10 offense but have dropped to 17th after Monday night’s loss.

Head coach Mike Zimmer had been critical of DeFilippo’s play-calling recently, saying that the Vikings have not been committed enough to the running game. Running back Dalvin Cook rushed 13 times for 55 yards against the Seahawks, just the second time this season Cook has had more than 10 carries.

The Vikings (6-6-1) are vying for a wild-card spot and play host to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

The Vikings hired DeFilippo in February to replace Pat Shurmur, who left to become the head coach of the New York Giants.

DeFilippo spent two seasons as quarterbacks coach with the Philadelphia Eagles and was previously offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Chargers RB Gordon unlikely vs. Chiefs

Report: Chargers RB Gordon unlikely vs. Chiefs

Report: Chargers RB Gordon unlikely vs. Chiefs

Injured running back Melvin Gordon is not expected to be in uniform Thursday when the Los Angeles Chargers visit the Kansas City Chiefs in a momentous AFC West matchup, the NFL Network reported.

Gordon sprained his medial collateral ligament on a hit by Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche in Week 13 and remains sidelined.

NFL Network reported Tuesday that Gordon and his primary backup, Austin Ekeler, would likely miss the showdown at Arrowhead Stadium.

Gordon has 802 rushing yards and 44 catches for 453 receiving yards and 13 total touchdowns on the season in 10 games played.

Ekeler (neck, concussion) would be replaced by rookies Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome if he’s also unable to return.

Chiefs running back Spencer Ware did not practice Monday due to a hamstring injury. Ware replaced Kareem Hunt, who was released by the Chiefs, as Kansas City’s top back two weeks ago.

Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (ankle) said he plans to play Thursday.

–Field Level Media

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Controversy surrounds Seahawks’ key FG block

Controversy surrounds Seahawks' key FG block

Controversy surrounds Seahawks’ key FG block

The Minnesota Vikings were deprived of three points Monday night when Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner apparently used illegal means to block a fourth-quarter field goal attempt.

Wagner put his hands on two teammates as he leaped over the offensive linemen en route to swatting down a 47-yard field goal try by Minnesota’s Dan Bailey.

Former NFL officiating chief Mike Pereira, now a TV analyst for FOX, tweeted, “Lots of talk about the Wagner block. The wording in the rule book is NEW this year and is clear. The new wording states, ‘May not place a hand or hands on a teammate or opponent in an attempt to jump through a gap to block an opponent’s kick or apparent kick.’ Case closed. Foul.”

Referee Brad Allen tossed a penalty flag on Wagner but subsequent changed his mind and said no foul had been committed.

Had the penalty been enforced, the Vikings could have chosen to take the three points, cutting their deficit to 6-3 with 5:46 remaining, or they could have taken a 15-yard gain on the fourth-and-9 play, giving them a first down at the Seattle 14-yard line.

Wagner didn’t admit to any wrongdoing after the game, which Seattle won 21-7.

“I tried to time it up; I got over it and made the block,” Wagner said, according to ESPN. “I’m an athlete, so I have just got to jump over people. It’s not that big of a deal.”

Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer said, “You’re not supposed to be able to pull guys down, if that’s what they did. Quite honestly, I didn’t see it. I didn’t see what happened. I was told what happened.”

Bailey also didn’t see Wagner’s leverage move.

“Obviously I was kind of out there in the middle of it,” Bailey said, according to the Saint Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press. “From my understanding of that rule, he can jump over, he just can’t use leverage or whatever they call it. Sometimes that’s the way it goes.

“Obviously the most disappointing thing was not getting three points there. That would’ve really helped our team. Just have to try to knock the next one through.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll praised special teams coaches Brian Schneider and Larry Izzo for Wagner’s successful block.

“They came to me and said, ‘Hey look, we think we have something,'” he said. “That was a great find by those guys. …

“We practiced all week with Bobby jumping over the guys; never touched anybody. I don’t know what happened in the game, but that’s the way he was doing (it). He was able to clear the line of scrimmage without touching anybody, and that was the plan.

“Very few people could do that, but he had pulled it off beautifully during the week, and that’s what the officials called. But I know that there’s some controversy about that.”

–Field Level Media

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Seahawks stop Vikings in defensive struggle

Seahawks stop Vikings in defensive struggle

Chris Carson rushed for

Seahawks stop Vikings in defensive struggle

Chris Carson rushed for a touchdown and Justin Coleman returned a fumble 29 yards for a score, both in the final three minutes, as the Seattle Seahawks defeated the visiting Minnesota Vikings 21-7 Monday night.

Sebastian Janikowski kicked two field goals as the Seahawks (8-5) won their fourth in a row and extended their lead in the race for the NFC’s first wild card to 1 1/2 games over the Vikings (6-6-1). Minnesota lost for the third time in four games.

The Seahawks rushed for 214 yards, including a 40-yard scamper by quarterback Russell Wilson on Seattle’s lone touchdown drive. Carson’s 2-yard run with 2:53 remaining gave Seattle a 14-0 lead. Carson finished with a game-high 90 rushing yards on 22 attempts.

On the Vikings’ second play from scrimmage after Carson’s touchdown, Jacob Martin sacked Kirk Cousins and the ball popped loose. Coleman recovered it and racing down the sideline for a score.

Minnesota’s only touchdown came on a 6-yard pass from Cousins to Dalvin Cook with 1:10 left.

The Vikings had 276 yards of total offense — 2 more yards than the Seahawks’ total. Cousins completed 20 of 33 passes for 208 yards, and Cook rushed for 55 yards on 13 carries.

Wilson connected on 10 of 20 passes for 72 yards.

After Janikowski kicked his second field goal of the game, a 35-yarder to make it 6-0 with 13:22 remaining in the game, the Vikings used a 48-yard pass from Cousins to Stefon Diggs to finally reach the red zone.

Minnesota got a first down at Seattle’s 4-yard line. Latavius Murray rushed for 2 yards before Cousins’ pass toward the back corner of the end zone was long. Cook rushed for 1 yard on third down, setting up fourth-and-goal. Cousins’ pass over the middle for tight end Kyle Rudolph near the back of the end zone was knocked away by Seattle safety Bradley McDougald.

The Vikings attempted a field goal on their next possession, but Dan Bailey’s 47-yard try was blocked by Bobby Wagner.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Seahawks got a 37-yard field goal from Janikowski with 14:11 left in the second, capping a 13-play, 70-yard drive.

Seattle moved into the red zone again in the final two minutes of the first half but came up empty, as Minnesota linebacker Eric Kendricks intercepted a pass that Wilson was trying to throw away after losing his footing.

The Seahawks played without their top wide receiver, Doug Baldwin, who was sidelined due to a hip injury.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Raiders fire GM McKenzie

NFL notebook: Raiders fire GM McKenzie

Reggie McKenzie is done as Raiders general

NFL notebook: Raiders fire GM McKenzie

Reggie McKenzie is done as Raiders general manager, reportedly eschewing the opportunity to maintain his role through the end of the regular season in Oakland.

The team said in a statement: “We are grateful for everything Reggie has done for this organization as a player, executive and member of the Raider family. … The Raiders will immediately begin a search for a new front office executive and will have no further comment until that process is complete.”

Coach Jon Gruden, in the first year of a 10-year, $100 million contract, and McKenzie reportedly have differed greatly in player evaluation and their vision for the roster going forward.

ESPN and NFL Network reported that McKenzie held a meeting with the Raiders’ scouting department on Monday morning to inform them he was fired and would not accept the offer to stay in the role until January.

–Journeyman quarterback Josh Johnson unseated Mark Sanchez for the starting job with the Washington Redskins.

Johnson will start this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars as the reeling Redskins look to avoid a fifth consecutive loss.

“We’ll get Josh ready to go,” said coach Jay Gruden, who worked with Johnson in 2008 with Tampa Bay and in 2013 with Cincinnati. “Fortunately he’s been around me for a while and can handle the terminology, and he did a good job moving around.”

–Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy is day-to-day with a hamstring injury, and linebacker Matt Milano had surgery to repair a broken fibula, coach Sean McDermott announced Monday.

McCoy was scheduled to undergo an MRI after getting hurt Sunday early in the Bills’ loss to the New York Jets, but he appears to have a chance to play in Week 15.

–Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is sore from the ankle injury he sustained just before halftime Sunday but appears to be OK, coach Adam Gase said.

Tannehill missed two plays after being sacked against the New England Patriots but returned in the second half.

–Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche is headed to injured reserve with a knee injury that will require surgery, coach Steve Wilks announced.

Wilks declined to offer more details on Nkemdiche’s injury, and it is unclear how serious the surgery is.

–Redskins tight end Jordan Reed has a toe sprain and might not play again this season.

Jay Gruden said there is “a level of concern” about Reed’s injury, which could keep him out a few weeks, with three games remaining in the regular season.

–Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill avoided serious injury on Sunday and is considered day-to-day, ESPN reported. Also, coach Andy Reid suggested safety Eric Berry (heel) could make his season debut on Thursday against the Los Angeles Chargers but added that the situation is very fluid.

Hill fought through a heel injury in the Chiefs’ win over the Baltimore Ravens, totaling eight catches for 139 yards, including a game-saving, 48-yard gain on fourth-and-9 to set up the tying touchdown in regulation.

–Leonard Fournette’s sideline spat with fans during Jacksonville’s Thursday night loss to the Tennessee Titans in Nashville came after a fan yelled a racial slur at Fournette, Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said.

A video released Monday morning by TMZ showed Fournette yelling at a fan, and Marrone said he asked Fournette about the exchange later Monday. Fournette told him a fan used a racial slur, Marrone said.

Asked if there were witnesses to support Fournette’s claim, Marrone replied, “I trust the player.”

–Field Level Media

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