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Lewand says Lions will be on the phone at 12:01

Few teams are as desperate to add talent to their roster as the Detroit Lions, and team president Tom Lewand says he won’t beat around the bush in free agency.

“We’ll be ready to be on the phone after midnight,” Lewand said, per Tom Kowalski of “We’ll see where it takes us. We’re prepared. We’ve done a good job of getting ready and we’re looking forward to it starting.”

Of course, the reality in the NFL is that if the Lions are really waiting until “after midnight,” they’re going to be well behind the many other teams that have already started communicating with players and agents.

Kowalski writes that the Lions are likely to pursue a defensive end such as Green Bay’s Aaron Kampman or Tennessee’s Kyle Vanden Bosch. Lewand can’t come right out and say he’s interested in either player because that would violate the league’s tampering rules. But if either player signs with the Lions in the wee hours of Friday morning, it’s likely that the first contact between the player and the team came before 12:01.

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Eric Berry moves toward another payday

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 04:  Eric Berry #29 of the Kansas City Chiefs walks off the field after their 29-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on December 4, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  Berry returned an interception from a failed two-point conversion for two points and the go-ahead score.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Eric Berry’s big year is laying the foundation for another big payday.

The Chiefs safety, to whom the team applied the franchise tag after his prior contract expired, didn’t sign a long-term deal before July 15. It means that the Chiefs soon will have to decide whether to apply the tag to Berry again, or to sign Berry to a long-term deal.

The tag won’t be cheap. At $10.806 million for 2016, Berry will be owed a 20-percent raise under the tag for 2017. That’s $12.96 million for one season at the safety position, nearly $500,000 more per year than safety Tyrann Mathieu is getting under his top-of-the-market deal.

It becomes even harder to negotiate a long-term deal, since Berry can force his way to the market in 2018, unless the Chiefs plan to give him the quarterback version of the franchise tag to keep him in place for another year.

Berry, who turns 28 later this month, showed on Sunday how important he is to the Chiefs defense. Apart from his contributions on the field, his leadership and personal story of overcoming serious adversity make him even more valuable.

The challenge becomes attaching the right value to his contract, and ultimately finding a way to bridge the gap between what he wants and what the Chiefs will pay.

Here’s the simple reality: If the Chiefs won’t pay him what he wants, someone else possibly will. Like, for example, the team in his home state of Georgia that Berry singlehandedly defeated with a pick six and a game-winning pick two.

Berry gets another chance to demonstrate his value to the Chiefs tonight, in a prime-time matchup with the Raiders. Which only happens to have the AFC West crown essentially hanging in the balance.

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Trevor Siemian practices, “progressing in the right way”

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 27:  Trevor Siemian #13 of the Denver Broncos is pressured by Chris Jones #95 of the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 27, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Broncos didn’t hold a full practice on Wednesday, opting for a walkthrough and estimated participation levels on the injury report instead.

Quarterback Trevor Siemian, who missed last Sunday’s victory over the Jaguars with a foot injury, was estimated to be a limited participant in that non-existent practice and he was listed the same way after the Broncos actually got on the field Thursday. Coach Gary Kubiak said that Siemian did everything the team asked of him on Thursday.

“He’s progressing the right way,” Kubiak said, via the Denver Post. “A big test today. He had this orthotics in, so we’ll see how he comes in here tomorrow morning. … It’s very encouraging. We’re where we thought we would be today. We didn’t do much [Wednesday] and our expectation [Thursday] was for him to take half of what was going on and we were able to do that.”

Siemian split reps with rookie Paxton Lynch, who started in his place against Jacksonville and went 12-of-24 for 104 yards. Friday’s injury report should give more of an idea about which one will play against the Titans.

Linebacker Brandon Marshall and long snapper Casey Kreiter did not practice for the Broncos.

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Mathis, Geathers still absent from Colts’ practice

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 27: T.Y. McGill #67 and Robert Mathis #98 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrate sacking Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins during a game  at Sun Life Stadium on December 27, 2015 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Getty Images

Colts defensive end Robert Mathis and safety Clayton Geathers missed practice again Thursday and could miss a second consecutive game Sunday.

Geathers has a neck inury and Mathis has a bicep injury. Those two and starting cornerback Patrick Robinson missed last Monday’s rout of the Jets. Robinson has been a limited participant this week due to the same groin injury that kept him out of the Jets game.

If Robinson returns Sunday against the Texans but Geathers doesn’t, the Colts could be free to use cornerback Darius Butler at safety in some situations. The defense will again be shorthanded with usual signal-caller and inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson serving a four-game suspension.

That suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy was announced earlier this week. Jackson would be eligible to return for the postseason if the Colts qualify.

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Raiders likely will focus on Derek Carr before Khalil Mack

GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 12:  Derek Carr #4, Khalil Mack #52 and Marquette King #7 of the Oakland Raiders and teammates get ready to run onto the field prior to the start of a preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 12, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. Raiders won 31-10. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Raiders emerged from the 2014 draft with great selections in round one and round two. By rule, both players (Khalil Mack and Derek Carr) are eligible for new contracts after the 2016 regular season ends.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Raiders are currently expected to focus on signing Carr before Mack.

The reason is simple; the Raiders have the ability to extend Mack’s four-year deal to five, given that he was a first-round pick. And they surely will do so before the May 3 deadline for exercising the fifth-year option.

Carr, as a second-round pick, has only one year remaining on his rookie contract. And so, without a new deal, the Raiders would be required to use the franchise tag on Carr to keep him off the open market in 2018.

So what will it take to sign Carr? Much of it depends on the outcome of the season, including the team’s playoff success and whether Carr, a league MVP candidate, wins the award. He could be able to leverage a top-of-the-market deal, which would represent an investment of the kind the Raiders haven’t had to make in the salary-cap era.

As for Mack, it’s currently believed he has no problem with waiting in line, in part because there’s really nothing he can do. Holding out technically is an option, but the daily fines and bonus forfeitures make it financially unwise.

The broader question is whether Mack eventually becomes frustrated with Carr, if Mack believes Carr is unreasonably refusing to sign a new deal so that the Raiders can then focus on Mack.

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Mario Williams out of practice on Thursday

FILE - In this Aug. 25, 2016, file photo, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) is pressured by Miami Dolphins defensive end Mario Williams (94) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Orlando, Fla. After racking up 38 sacks between 2012-14, Williams had just five sacks in 909 snaps last season. He was released by the Bills following a disappointing year playing linebacker in Rex Ryan's 3-4 system. Miami is banking on Williams being more comfortable in the 4-3, but Williams' best days could be in the past.    (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File) AP

Dolphins defensive end Mario Williams has been dealing with an ankle injury for some time and he was listed as limited in Wednesday’s practice due to the issue.

Thursday’s practice saw Williams take a step in the wrong direction. He didn’t practice at all as the team continued their preparations for Sunday’s game against the Cardinals.

Williams has missed one game this season and has seen limited playing time in several other games. He played on 50 percent of the team’s defensive snaps last weekend and has picked up 1.5 sacks on the year with the full sack coming in the season opener.

Linebackers Kiko Alonso and Jelani Jenkins were also out of practice for Miami. Alonso is dealing with a broken thumb and hamstring injury with the hamstring injury thought to be the bigger stumbling block to his presence in the lineup. Alonso said on Thursday, via Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, that he feels good, but doesn’t know if he’ll be able to play.

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Marcus Allen remembers having bullets thrown at him in Chiefs-Raiders rivalry

230922 Getty Images

No one knows the Chiefs-Raiders rivalry better than Hall of Fame running back Marcus Allen; he spent 11 seasons with the Raiders and five with the Chiefs.

Appearing on Wednesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio and NBCSN, the man who played for the L.A. (but not Oakland) Raiders recalled going to Oakland for a game with the Chiefs. Fans were given free admission in exchange for turning in guns.

The only problem? They kept the bullets — and then threw them at the Chiefs players.

But Marcus holds no grudge against Oakland. He said he prefers that the team stay there, with a second choice of returning to Los Angeles over moving to Las Vegas.

For the full interview, which includes Marcus forcing me to sing (if you can call it that) the Kay Jewelers jingle, click the thing in the thing.

And here’s where it gets fun. You can post a video of yourself singing the Kay Jewelers jingle with the #SingforStJudeDonation hashtag, and Kay Jewelers will donate $100 to St. Jude’s Children Research hospital for each video posted. There’s a limit of one video per person, but Kay Jewelers will donate up to $50,000 — so 5,000 of you should do it.

So do it. Trust me; your effort will be no worse than mine.

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Chiefs hoping Jamaal Charles is back for the playoffs

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 23: Running back Jamaal Charles #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs looks at the scoreboard on a official review at Arrowhead Stadium during the fourth quarter of the game against the New Orleans Saints on October 23, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jason Hanna/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Chiefs are playing for first place in the AFC West tonight despite not having the player who, when healthy, would be their best offensive playmaker. In the playoffs, they may have him on the field.

The Chiefs are expecting to have running back Jamaal Charles back for the start of the playoffs, if they make the playoffs, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

Charles played in just five games last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury. This year he has played in just three games and has had two more knee surgeries, although both of them were viewed as minor cleanup procedures.

If Charles returns and looks like the Jamaal Charles of old, that would be a huge boost to the Chiefs’ Super Bowl aspirations. Unfortunately, Charles wasn’t able to do much of anything during the three games he played this year, and it seems like a stretch to think he could get back on the field in January and be the kind of impact player he once was.

The Chiefs would save $7 million on their 2017 salary cap if they cut Charles in the offseason, so there’s a good chance that he’s going to be moving on from Kansas City after the season. It would be nice to see him get a playoff swan song.

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John Fox: I love saying Jim Bob Cooter’s name

Detroit Lions Training Camp Getty Images

Bears coach John Fox is just like us.

Fox’s team will be playing the Lions this weekend, which meant he did a conference call with Lions media on Thursday to discuss the game. As you’d imagine, the subject of the Detroit offense came up during the call and he praised the work that offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter has done since being bumped up into the top job last season.

As you’d also imagine, Fox gets the same kick out of saying and/or thinking about Cooter’s name as everyone else who has had the good fortune to come across it.

“I love the name,” Fox said, via the Detroit Free Press. “He and [Vikings cornerback] Captain Munnerlyn. I recruited Captain way back when I was in Carolina. Those two are right up there, player and coach. But I love saying Jim Bob’s name.”

Fox had Cooter on his staff in Denver and tried to hire him with the Bears when he took the Chicago job in 2015, but the Lions blocked the move. Cooter was promoted to his current job later in the year and the Lions are 14-7 since that point, which goes to show that the coach brings more than just a good name to the table.

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Jets place Nick Mangold on injured reserve

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 02:  Brandon Marshall #15 of the New York Jets celebrates a second quarter touchdown with teammates Nick Mangold #74 and Brent Qvale #79 of the New York Jets against the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium on October 2, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

A report on Thursday morning had the Jets shutting center Nick Mangold down for the season after he got a second opinion on the ankle injury that’s kept him out of four games this season.

The Jets confirmed that’s the case later in the day by placing Mangold on injured reserve. Wesley Johnson is expected to start in Mangold’s place and the Jets signed safety Doug Middleton off the practice squad to take his place on the roster.

The eight games Mangold played this year are by far the least he’s ever played during an NFL season. Mangold played at least 14 games in each of his first 10 years with the team and he started all of them to become a fixture under three different Jets coaches.

Some have suggested that the Jets may look to bring in another coach after this disappointing season comes to an end, but the Jets will have a decision to make on Mangold whether they part ways with Todd Bowles or not. Mangold is set to make $8.475 million in salary and bonuses next season, which is a lot for a player turning 33 in January who plays for a team in need of widespread improvements to their personnel.

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Jadeveon Clowney practiced Thursday, considered day-to-day

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 16: Robert Turbin #33 of the Indianapolis Colts dives for extra yardage as Brian Cushing #56 of the Houston Texans makes the tackle in the fourth quarter during the NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on October 16, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Texans practiced without defensive end Jadeveon Clowney on Wednesday because of the elbow and wrist injuries that kept him from playing against the Packers last Sunday, but the news from Thursday’s practice was more positive.

Clowney was able to get on the field with his teammates, a development that brightens his chances of playing against the Colts in a game that quarterback Brock Osweiler said the Texans “must win.” Coach Bill O’Brien isn’t ruling Clowney in or out of the game at this point, however.

“He practiced today. I would still put him in the day-to-day,” O’Brien said.

Clowney started the first 11 games of the year for the Texans, a number that’s equal to the amount of starts he made during his first two injury-filled seasons. He has been a key part of their defense against both the run and pass and was missed as the unit broke down late in Green Bay.

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With injured finger, Derek Carr no longer lining up under center

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 04:  Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders looks to pass against the Buffalo Bills during their NFL game at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on December 4, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Two weeks ago, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr dislocated his right pinkie finger while taking a snap from under center. He briefly left the field to get his finger checked out, and hasn’t taken a snap from under center since.

Carr operated exclusively out of the pistol and shotgun formations after returning to that game two weeks ago and all of last week, and Bob Holtzman of ESPN reported today that the Raiders are expecting to operate exclusively out of the shotgun and pistol tonight against the Chiefs.

There was a time when a quarterback playing a full game without taking a single snap from under center would have been unthinkable. In today’s NFL, that’s actually not all that noteworthy. It’s not at all unusual for a quarterback to take most of his snaps out of the shotgun, and Carr taking all of his snaps out of the shotgun won’t dramatically affect the offense.

When Carr hurt his finger two weeks ago, he returned to the game wearing a glove on his throwing hand. Last week he didn’t wear a glove but did have the pinkie heavily taped. Given tonight’s freezing temperatures, Carr might go back to wearing a glove, and it’s worth keeping an eye on his injured hand. But the shotgun formation probably won’t have a huge effect on the Raiders’ offense.

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Sheldon Richardson says he’s appealing fine for late hit on Andrew Luck

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 02: Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks makes a pass against Sheldon Richardson #91 of the New York Jets in the third quarter at MetLife Stadium on October 2, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

In Monday night’s blowout loss to the Colts, Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson didn’t have any tackles, sacks or any other positive plays that showed up on the stat sheet at the end of the night.

He did have one 15-yard penalty for hitting Colts quarterback Andrew Luck with what officials judged to be a late hit after a scramble down the sideline. Richardson didn’t specify the fine amount, but the NFL’s schedule of fines for this season calls for $9,115 penalty for a first offense.

Richardson said, via Brian Costello of the New York Post, that he plans to appeal the fine.

Richardson played a season-low 60 percent of the team’s defensive snaps against Indianapolis. Coach Todd Bowles chalked it up to the team’s game plan rather than his play, although the game continued a fitful season for Richardson either way. He was suspended for the opener and spent the first quarter of another game on the bench after being disciplined by Bowles.

Jets right tackle Breno Giacomini also said that he received a fine from the league after being penalized for unnecessary roughness in Monday’s loss.

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Jets shutting down Nick Mangold after second opinion

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 05:   Nick Mangold #74 of the New York Jets waits to be introduced against the Indianapolis Colts before their game at MetLife Stadium on December 5, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Apparently, the word from Charlotte was not what the Jets were hoping for.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Jets are shutting down center Nick Mangold, after he got a second opinion on his ankle today from Dr. Robert Anderson today.

Mangold came back after a four-game absence, but wasn’t able to finish Monday’s game against the Colts.

And while there’s a ceiling on how much a 3-9 team will miss any player over the last four, there is reason to wonder about Mangold’s future there.

He’ll turn 33 in January, and he’s due nearly $8.5 million next year ($6.075 million in base salary and a $2.4 million roster bonus). That’s a lot of money for an aging center, and it could put his future there in jeopardy.

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Carson Wentz trying to avoid frustrations that come with losing

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 4:  Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles throws a shovel pass during the third quarter of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on December 4, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

If you think it seems like forever ago when rookie quarterback Carson Wentz led the Eagles to a 3-0 start, imagine how it must be for Carson Wentz.

The No. 2 overall pick only saw five losses in college, so the fact he’s 5-7 at the moment may be wearing on him a bit, even though he’s trying to stay positive.

“It’s frustrating. Nobody likes losing. Especially in this business, as a quarterback, I’m wired to be a winner. I hate losing,” Wentz said, via Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News. “But at the same time, it doesn’t affect us going forward . . . We’re going to come in and prepare and be the same, win or lose, because I think that’s what it takes to be great. You can’t waver, you can’t change how you approach things, you can’t change how you go about your business, win, lose or draw.

“But at the same time, yeah, without a doubt, we don’t like losing around here.”

They’ve done too much of that lately, losing three straight during a stretch when Wentz has thrown six of his 11 interceptions. But even though this is the time of year when the rookie wall is a very real and tangible thing.

“I feel good,” Wentz said. “I think it comes down to, do you love it enough? I think if you love the game and you’re around it, you enjoy the grind. You attack it and it’s kind of part of the process.

“For me, there’s no more school to go to during the day, it’s just football, all day, every day, and I love that. It’s been a lot of fun, and by no means is it wearing on me in a negative way.”

Of course, he’s only been in Philadelphia a few months. There’s still plenty of time for that.


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Report: Falcons “optimistic” Julio Jones plays this week

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 3:  Wide receiver Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons hauls in a 3-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Matt Ryan in front of cornerback Vernon Hargreaves #28 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the third quarter of an NFL game on November 3, 2016 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) Getty Images

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is dealing with a turf toe injury he picked up in last Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs and it’s keeping him from his regular practice schedule for the second straight day on Thursday.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn said that Jones took part in the team’s walkthrough, but will only be working on the side when the team practices. Jones didn’t participate in Wednesday’s practice either, but his limitations don’t appear to be souring the team’s hopes of having him against the Rams this Sunday.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Falcons are “optimistic” about Jones’ chances of being on the field. Jones has not missed a game since the 2014 season.

Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu is also out of practice on Thursday and Quinn said earlier in the week that he’s further away from playing than Jones. Taylor Gabriel and Justin Hardy would be options to accompany Jones or fill in for him in the event the optimism fades in the next few days.

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