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Rumors swirl that Lions want to trade down

Most mock drafts have the Rams selecting Sam Bradford first overall and the Lions taking Ndamukong Suh second. But Detroit fans shouldn’t get too excited about Suh wreaking havoc in the middle of their defensive line just yet, because rumors that the Lions want to trade down are picking up steam.

Until the NFL adjusts its rookie salary structure, there will always be rumors that teams at the top of the draft want to trade down, because teams don’t want to guarantee $30 million or so to any rookie. But the rumors surrounding the Lions seem to be more than just the garden variety “of course they’d consider trading down” fare.

I think they’d like to trade out of there,” NFL Network analyst and former Cowboys executive Gil Brandt said, per the Detroit Free Press.

Meanwhile, Peter King of SI.com writes in today’s Monday Morning Quarterback column that the Lions trading down is “the best draft rumor at this point.”

King says that the Lions might not view defensive tackle as their biggest need, especially if they acquire Saints restricted free agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove before the draft. In that scenario, the Lions would look to move down, pick up some extra picks and take the best offensive tackle they can get later in the first round.

Of course, it’s all moot unless the Lions can find a team that wants to put together a package and move up for the right to guarantee an unproven rookie $30 million or so. But if there’s a team out there that’s absolutely in love with Suh (or Gerald McCoy or Russell Okung or anyone else), the Lions would like to talk to that team.

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Telvin Smith is the AFC defensive player of the week

Telvin Smith, Ben Tate AP

Wednesday’s announcement of the league’s players of the week features some big names in Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning, but not every recipient is a regular visitor to the headlines.

Take Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith, for example. Smith is a fifth-round rookie who has only started one game for the Jaguars this season and that start didn’t even come in Week Seven, but he is still this week’s choice as the AFC defensive player of the week.

Smith stuffed the stat sheet during Jacksonville’s first victory of the season. He had four tackles, two pass breakups, a sack, an interception and a forced fumble to help the Jaguars defense hold the Browns to just six points.

Smith should get plenty of opportunities to build on his big day. Paul Posluszny is done for the season because of a torn pectoral muscle and the Jags could use the kind of playmaking that Smith displayed against Cleveland as they try to shorten the interval before their next victory.

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Keenan Robinson named NFC defensive player of the week

Washington Redskins v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

Washington linebacker Keenan Robinson was all over the place Sunday, and was rewarded for it Wednesday.

Robinson had a career-high 14 tackles in the win over the Titans to earn NFC defensive player of the week honors.

That was part of a defensive effort that limited the Titans to 236 yards, a season-low.

He’s the first Washington player to win the defensive weekly award since DeAngelo Hall in 2011.

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Record breaking night adds to Peyton Manning’s pile of player of the week awards

Peyton Manning AP

As you likely heard, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning set a record last weekend.

Manning threw the 509th touchdown pass of his career, making him the NFL’s all-time leader in that category and giving the league plenty of reason to name Manning the AFC’s offensive player of the week. It’s the 27th time that Manning has been so honored, which makes him the all-time leader in that category as well.

Manning completed his night’s work against the 49ers with four touchdown passes, leaving him at 510 for his career and 19 on the season. He completed 22-of-26 passes for 318 yards to go with the touchdowns that propelled the Broncos to a 42-17 victory.

With Manning playing at as high a level as he’s ever played in the NFL, his lead in both touchdown passes and player of the week awards will likely continue to grow before the year is out.

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Blocked field goal earns Chris Jones AFC special teams honors

New York Jets v New England Patriots Getty Images

Usually the special teams awards go to kickers or return men.

But this week’s AFC special teams player of the week doesn’t run fast or hit the ball with his feet.

Patriots defensive tackle Chris Jones won the weekly award for his game-saving blocked field goal at the end of New England’s win over the Jets last week. He said it was the first blocked kick he had at any level, and he picked a good time.

A year ago, his penalty on another field goal attempt gave the Jets an extra chance to win in overtime, and they made that one, so last week’s gave him a bit of redemption.

And now the second-year defensive tackle from Bowling Green has some hardware to prove it.

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No Wednesday practice for Calvin Johnson

Calvin Getty Images

Lions receiver Calvin Johnson has made the business trip to London.  But Lions fans will derive no pleasure from the news that Johnson still isn’t practicing.

According to Tim Twentyman of the team’s official website, Johnson has missed yet another practice with a sprained ankle that was aggravated in Week Five against the Bills.

Johnson’s absence is no surprise.  The real question is whether he’ll play against the Falcons on Sunday at Wembley Stadium.  Johnson has said he won’t play until he’s healthy.  So if he’s not healthy enough to practice, how will he be healthy enough to play?

Also absent from practice were defensive end Ziggy Ansah, tackle LaAdrian Waddle, and tight ends Eric Ebron, Brandon Pettigrew, and Joseph Fauria.

As to Johnson, the Lions have won both games he didn’t play.  Which will serve only to increase speculation that the Lions won’t be inclined to carry his $20 million-plus cap number for 2015.

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Philbin calls out kicker, punter

Philbin AP

The up-and-down Dolphins are currently up.  But the head coach is down on the kicker and the punter.

Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports that coach Joe Philbin called out kicker Caleb Sturgis in a team meeting for missing a field goal against the Bears.  For the year, Sturgis has made only 78.6 percent of his kicks, putting him at 28th among all kickers.

“We told him today, we were in the team meeting today and we said we’ve got to make those field goals,” Philbin said, via Salguero.  “We kind of went through that sequence where we took a sack and knocked ourselves back, and made the field goal more difficult.

“That being said, I said to him right there in the whole team meeting, we’ve got to make those field goals.  He knows that and I suspect that he will work at it and he’ll get better at it.”

Philbin also has concerns about punter Brandon Fields.

“Early on we got the punt blocked in Buffalo,” Philbin said. “He just hasn’t looked as comfortable quite yet back there, as he has in the two years that I’ve been here, the previous two years.  I’m confident he’ll work his way through it and he’ll get back to being the outstanding punter that we all know.

“For his standards, it’s not quite what we’re used to. I think he would acknowledge that, but I’m very, very confident that he’ll get back to that soon.”

As Salgueo points out, Fields gross punting average of 43.3 yards ranks 31st among all punters.  His net of 31.8 ranks last among all NFL punters.

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Stedman Bailey runs away with NFC special teams player of the week

Stedman Bailey, Jon Ryan AP

There wasn’t much doubt that the NFC special teams player of the week for Week Seven was going to go to a member of the Rams.

The only question was which one. Would it be Benny Cunningham, who had a 75-yard kickoff return to set up a score and caught the pass on the fourth quarter fake punt that helped ice the game? Would punter Johnny Hekker get it for delivering that pass? Or would it be wide receiver Stedman Bailey for taking a punt 90 yards for a touchdown while the Seahawks chased Tavon Austin on the wrong side of the field? The league went with option No. 3.

Bailey, typically a blocker for Austin on returns, was all by himself on the right side of the field when Jon Ryan’s punt settled into his hands and he sprinted down the sideline for a score that lifted the Rams to a 21-3 first half lead. Most of the rest of the players were on the left side because Austin and a crew of blockers went that way while the ball was in the air and the coverage team failed to notice that the ball failed to materialize anywhere near them.

There’s no award for assistant coach of the week, but it’s hard to imagine giving a fictional one to anyone but Rams special teams coach John Fassel given how much value the Rams got from those units in the 28-26 win

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Aaron Rodgers wins NFC offensive player of the week

Aaron Rodgers AP

Now it’s officially a big week for Aaron Rodgers.

Not only did he see Pearl Jam and meet lead singer Eddie Vedder Monday, he followed up by winning NFC offensive player of the week honors.

OK, that he’s done 10 times, and twice this season.

But his near-perfect game Sunday against the Panthers certainly deserved recognition. He had as many touchdown passes as incompletions (three), going 19-of-22 for 255 yards.

He pushed the Packers to a 21-0 first-quarter lead, and they cruised to an easy win.

I guess you could say the NFC couldn’t have found a “Better Man” to give the award to this week.

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Jamaal Charles: I didn’t want to go through the concussion protocol

charlesflowers AP

When Jamaal Charles scored a touchdown Sunday against San Diego, he had a violent collision with Chargers cornerback Brandon Flowers, sending both of them to the turf. Flowers left the game with a concussion, but Charles kept playing.

Maybe he shouldn’t have. Charles said on ESPN Radio that he was seeing flashing lights afterward, which is one of the symptoms of a concussion.

“It definitely hurt,” Charles said. “It’s like, I woke up — I mean, like, a couple plays later I was seeing light bulbs, like, light bulbs around my eyes, and I was trying to catch them. But I was in the game so I was like, ‘Alright, let’s get the ball and run again.'”

So why wasn’t Charles removed from the game? Charles said he tried to avoid having to go through the league’s concussion protocol. Charles previously suffered a concussion in January, in the Chiefs’ playoff loss to the Colts, and his absence from the rest of that game may have been the difference between the Chiefs winning and losing in Indianapolis. As a result, Charles said he doesn’t want to go through the concussion protocol because he wants to be able to keep playing to help his team.

“I didn’t have a concussion but it definitely was a hit that shocked me. But I don’t think I had to go through the concussion protocols and all that. I didn’t want to go through that again because of what happened in the playoffs. I was definitely fine, I think I came out pretty good,” Charles said.

It’s admirable that Charles wants to help his team, but it’s worrisome that NFL players still try to avoid a concussion diagnosis. Charles may think he was “definitely fine,” but that determination should have been made by a doctor.

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Pounceys won’t be charged for birthday party brawl

Pouncey Getty Images

NFL offensive linemen Mike and Maurkice Pouncey have been sued by a trio of plaintiffs who claim they suffered injuries as a result of a brawl that occurred at a Miami nightclub where the Pounceys were celebrating their birthday in July.

Despite a report that Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey will be charged with battery, neither he nor his brother, Dolphins center/guard Mike, will face prosecution.

“As expected, the Miami-Dade Office of the State Attorney has determined that the Pouncey brothers should not be charged in connection with an altercation that occurred at the Cameo Nightclub on July 12, 2014,” lawyer Jeff Ostrow tells PFT.   “This confirms that the previous claim that the brothers were involved was false and fabricated by individuals seeking notoriety and monetary gain.”

The lawsuit won’t be affected by this decision, and the case will proceed with a much lower standard of proof than the one that would apply in a criminal case.

Quite often, prosecutors decide not to pursue charges due to concerns that, ultimately, the evidence won’t overcome the very high standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  In civil cases, responsibility is assessed based on a “preponderance of the evidence,” with the plaintiff prevailing simply by showing it’s more likely than not that the plaintiff’s version of the events if the right version.

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Patriots officially welcome Akeem Ayers to New England

Kansas City Chiefs v Tennessee Titans Getty Images

Linebacker Akeem Ayers is officially a member of the New England Patriots.

The Patriots formally announced that they have acquired Ayers in a trade with the Titans, which means that Ayers passed his physical with the team. That probably wasn’t a foregone conclusion given Ayers’s recent knee troubles, but the Pats didn’t find anything to make them rethink the deal.

Ayers arrives at a moment when the Patriots are a bit shorthanded on defense. They lost Jerod Mayo for the season and Chandler Jones is reportedly going to miss several weeks after injuring his hip against the Jets last Thursday. Ayers, who played only two games for Tennessee, has played on the outside during his career and his arrival could lead to more time inside for Dont’a Hightower.

The Patriots signaled their displeasure with their depth options at linebacker in that game by playing safety Patrick Chung as a linebacker and they released Ja’Gared Davis to make room for Ayers on the roster. The team is also reportedly planning to sign defensive lineman Alan Branch, although nothing’s been made official there.

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L.A. survey focuses on how much people will pay for PSLs, tickets

Seats Getty Images

On Tuesday, Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times reported that the NFL has commissioned a survey of roughly 2,000 residents regarding the viability of the L.A. market for the relocation of a team.

Since then, PFT has obtained from a reader the screen shots of all questions asked.

Much of the survey focuses on whether folks want the NFL to return to L.A. and which teams they prefer (with the survey pointing out that “a number of NFL teams that have existing, long-term stadium leases and well-established fan bases, and are not candidates to relocate to the Los Angeles area”), many of the questions focus on the various permutations of PSLs and ticket prices.

The proposed PSLs are as high as $50,000, with payment options including 10 years at eight percent interest, or annual installments beginning three years before the stadium opens.

The survey also extends an invitation to participate in focus groups regarding seating options, pricing and potential amenities.

Perhaps most importantly, the survey asks, “Would you like to be contacted regarding various seating options you showed interest in?”

In other words, “Get your checkbook ready.”

Click the “continue reading” link to see all of the questions.

“Are you a fan of the National Football League?”

“Which NFL team is your favorite?”

“Do you attend NFL games on an annual basis?”

“How would you describe your (your company’s) attitude towards an NFL team in the Los Angeles area?”

“If a current NFL team relocated to the Los Angeles area, would the identity of the team change your attitude towards a NFL team in the Los Angeles area?”

“If a new stadium is constructed in the Los Angeles area to serve as the home of an NFL team, how would you describe your (your company’s) interest in attending the team’s home football games?”

“On a scale of 1 to 7, with ‘1’ being Not Important and ‘7’ being Very Important, please indicate the importance of the following stadium features in your (your company’s) decision to attend future NFL games in the Los Angeles area.”  (Categories are:  Stadium Location, Stadium Accessibility from Freeways, Availability of On-Site Parking, Stadium Proximity to Public Transit, Stadium Proximity to Entertainment District (i.e., restaurants, bars, hotels, etc.), and Ability to Tailgate.)

“Do you have general season tickets to any professional or collegiate sports team(s) in the Los Angeles area?”

“Do you have a luxury suite for any professional or collegiate sports team(s) in the Los Angeles area?”

“How would you characterize your (or your company’s) interest in purchasing tickets at a new NFL stadium in the Los Angeles area?”

“Should an existing NFL team relocate to the Los Angeles area, to what degree would the identity of the team impact your interest in purchasing tickets?”

“Please specify which existing NFL team you would most prefer to relocate to the Los Angeles area  (Please note that there are a number of NFL teams that have existing, long-term stadium leases and well-established fan bases, and are not candidates to relocate to the Los Angeles area.)”

“If the relocated NFL team was not your most preferred team, how would that impact your interest in purchasing tickets?”

“If the relocated team was not your most preferred, please specify which team you would want to relocate to the Los Angeles area.”

“On a scale of ‘1’ to ‘7’ with ‘1’ being ‘Not Important’ and ‘7’ being ‘Very Important,’ how would you rate the importance of the following amenities at a new NFL stadium in the Los Angeles area?” (Categories are:  In-seat food/beverage service, All-inclusive food & non-alcoholic beverages, High quality food/beverage options, Close proximity parking, Premium seating options (club seats, loge boxes, luxury suites, etc.), Special ticket holder events (team meet & greet, watch practice), Option to purchase tickets to other events at the stadium.)

“Seat Location Preference” (including a seating chart with general and club seating at three levels, and a request to identify the top three preferred locations, “understanding the most prime locations would be more expensive”).

“Over the past decade, most new NFL stadiums have utilized the sale of Personal Seat Licenses (‘PSL’) to help fund construction.  Do you know what a PSL is and how it works?”

“Upper Level Sideline” season-ticket interest with a suggested seat license of $6,500 and annual cost of $1,500 for season tickets and PSL financing options including three interest-free installments and 10-year financing at 8 percent interest.

“Upper Level Sideline” season-ticket interest with a suggested seat license of $6,500 and annual cost of $1,250 for season tickets and PSL financing options including three interest-free installments and 10-year financing at 8 percent interest.

“Upper Level Sideline” season-ticket interest with a suggested seat license of $3,250 and annual cost of $1,250 for season tickets and PSL financing options including three interest-free installments and 10-year financing at 8 percent interest.

“Upper Level Sideline” season-ticket interest with a suggested seat license of $6,500 and annual cost of $1,000 for season tickets and PSL financing options including three interest-free installments and 10-year financing at 8 percent interest.

“Upper Level Sideline” season-ticket interest with a suggested seat license of $3,250 and annual cost of $1,250 for season tickets and PSL financing options including three interest-free installments and 10-year financing at 8 percent interest.

“If you made the decision to purchase season tickets located along the sidelines of the upper level of a new NFL stadium in the Los Angeles area, how many would you purchase?”

“Multiple payment options could be available for Personal Seat Licenses associated with the purchase of tickers in a new stadium located in the Los Angeles area, including interest-free payment in installments for the three-year period prior to the stadium opening or financing the cost for up to 10 years with interest.  Which would you (your company) be most likely to choose?”

“Lower Level Club Seat” season-ticket interest with a suggested seat license of $50,000 and annual cost of $4,500 for season tickets and PSL financing options including three interest-free installments and 10-year financing at 8 percent interest.

“Lower Level Club Seat” season-ticket interest with a suggested seat license of $25,000 and annual cost of $4,500 for season tickets and PSL financing options including three interest-free installments and 10-year financing at 8 percent interest.

“Lower Level Club Seat” season-ticket interest with a suggested seat license of $50,000 and annual cost of $3,750 for season tickets and PSL financing options including three interest-free installments and 10-year financing at 8 percent interest.

“Lower Level Club Seat” season-ticket interest with a suggested seat license of $25,000 and annual cost of $3,750 for season tickets and PSL financing options including three interest-free installments and 10-year financing at 8 percent interest.

“Lower Level Club Seat” season-ticket interest with a suggested seat license of $50,000 and annual cost of $3,000 for season tickets and PSL financing options including three interest-free installments and 10-year financing at 8 percent interest.

“Lower Level Club Seat” season-ticket interest with a suggested seat license of $25,000 and annual cost of $3,000 for season tickets and PSL financing options including three interest-free installments and 10-year financing at 8 percent interest.

“Mezzanine Level Club Seat” season-ticket interest with a suggested seat license of $25,000 and annual cost of $4,500 for season tickets and PSL financing options including three interest-free installments and 10-year financing at 8 percent interest.

“Mezzanine Level Club Seat” season-ticket interest with a suggested seat license of $12,500 and annual cost of $4,500 for season tickets and PSL financing options including three interest-free installments and 10-year financing at 8 percent interest.

“Mezzanine Level Club Seat” season-ticket interest with a suggested seat license of $25,000 and annual cost of $3,750 for season tickets and PSL financing options including three interest-free installments and 10-year financing at 8 percent interest.

“Mezzanine Level Club Seat” season-ticket interest with a suggested seat license of $12,500 and annual cost of $3,750 for season tickets and PSL financing options including three interest-free installments and 10-year financing at 8 percent interest.

“Mezzanine Level Club Seat” season-ticket interest with a suggested seat license of $25,000 and annual cost of $3,000 for season tickets and PSL financing options including three interest-free installments and 10-year financing at 8 percent interest.

“Mezzanine Level Club Seat” season-ticket interest with a suggested seat license of $12,500 and annual cost of $3,000 for season tickets and PSL financing options including three interest-free installments and 10-year financing at 8 percent interest.

“Loge Boxes” season-ticket interest, with each box holding four to eight people.

“Among all of the seating options that may be available in a new NFL stadium in the Los Angeles area, please choose the single option you would most likely purchase.”

“A new NFL stadium in the Los Angeles area could host a variety of other events, including concerts, motorsports, other sporting events, etc.  Would you have interest in attending other events at a new NFL stadium in the Los Angeles area?”

“Please indicate which other events you would be interested in attending at a new NFL stadium in the Los Angeles area?” (Choices are NCAA Football, International Soccer, Concerts, Motorsports, other sporting events, religious events, and “other”.)

“What zip code is your primary residence?”

“What is your gender?”

“What is your age?”

“What is your annual household income?”

“CSL in planning to conduct a series of focus group sessions in order to gain additional insights regarding seating options, pricing and potential amenities offered in a new NFL stadium in Los Angeles.  Would you be interested in attending a focus group session?”

“Would you like to be contacted regarding various seating options you showed interest in?”

“Your input is important to us.  Please include any thoughts or suggestions that you may have about the proposed NFL stadium in the Los Angeles area, or the survey, in the space provided below.”

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Saints bring Eric Olsen back to the team

New Orleans Saints v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

The Saints haven’t updated the condition of center Jonathan Goodwin since he was carted off with a leg injury during last Sunday’s loss to the Lions, but they made a transaction Tuesday that may signal their doubts about Goodwin making it back for this week’s game against the Packers.

New Orleans signed interior offensive lineman Eric Olsen to the active roster, giving them a player with experience at guard and center in their offense. Olsen, a sixth-round pick in Denver in 2010, signed with the Saints in 2011 and played all 16 games for them in 2012 while making four starts.

Olsen wound up on injured reserve at the end of the preseason in 2013 and the Saints eventually released him from that list, leaving Tim Lelito to become the primary backup up front. Lelito would likely start if Goodwin does miss time in the coming weeks and Olsen, who failed to make the Titans this summer, will provide some depth.

Goodwin has played all six games for the Saints this year, but his injury last weekend marked the second time this season that he’s been forced out of a game.

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Bill O’Brien: We’ll work both guys in practice, but Ryan Fitzpatrick is our quarterback

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brandon Brooks AP

The Texans have lost three straight games and four of their last five, which isn’t helping their chances of making the playoffs.

It also isn’t hurting Ryan Fitzpatrick’s chances of remaining the team’s starting quarterback. Texans coach Bill O’Brien was asked at his Wednesday press conference about the circumstances that would lead to Ryan Mallett overtaking the veteran on the depth chart. O’Brien didn’t spell them out, but suggested that no move is on the horizon in Houston.

“I think that Ryan [Mallett] has improved every week. He’s getting a better grasp of what we’re doing here. I think the things that he’s trying to work on — accuracy, just consistent accuracy, things like that,” O’Brien said, via the team. “I think he’s working hard to get those to a level where they need to be to be able to play a lot of football in this league. Fitzy is our quarterback and when you look at our tape, again, you cannot just point to one position and say that’s the position that is at fault. There are a lot of positions that need to play better; we need to coach better, all those different things. It all goes into why sometimes we stall offensively. It’s not one guy. So we’re going to continue to work with both of these guys in practice and we’ll see how it improves and hopefully it will get better and better and that will help our offense get better.”

Fitzpatrick is what he is as a quarterback at this point in his career and the Texans can’t be too unhappy with his solid completion percentage, net yards per attempt or overall play on an offense. Still, 3-4 is 3-4 and a failure to improve that record though the next stretch will leave them with little reason not to see what Mallett can do after trading for him this offseason.

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Brandon Marshall on Jay Cutler: We’re great

Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall AP

Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall’s locker room outburst last Sunday garnered a lot of attention, particularly part of it that many thought was directed toward quarterback Jay Cutler.

Marshall pointed out the talent on the offense without mentioning Cutler and said the “same mistakes” regarding protecting the football are holding the team back. Coach Marc Trestman said this week that Marshall’s words were directed more generally than that and Marshall dismissed any talk of issues with Cutler during his weekly appearance on Inside the NFL.

“I have a really nice condo. And guess what? Jay Cutler built that condo,” Marshall said. “We’re great. We’re great. You know, we’re like brothers. I think Coach Trestman said it the best. But if I have a problem with Jay Cutler, I’m going to go to Jay Cutler. If Jay Cutler has a problem with me, he’s going to come to me. We have that type of relationship.”

Marshall also said that he doesn’t regret anything he said Sunday, though he does regret saying it for those outside the team to hear. The Bears will get back to work on Wednesday and there are sure to be more questions about the temperature in the locker room, but the best answer anyone can give will come with a focused and winning performance against the Patriots in New England.

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