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Cowboys lose Marcus Spears for 4-6 weeks

The Cowboys don’t really need an excuse to take defensive end Marcus Spears out of the starting lineup now.

The 2005 first-round draft pick by Bill Parcells will miss 4-6 weeks with a sprained MCL.  We first mentioned the possibility of the injury last night, and the Cowboys’ fears were confirmed by further tests.

Jason Hatcher looks like the next man up in Dallas, and Stephen Bowen should also pick up snaps.  Spears could find playing time hard to come by when he returns.

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Tomlin says Roethlisberger has a concussion

Ben Roethlisberger AP

Ben Roethlisberger suffered a concussion on Sunday. Unless he didn’t.

More specifically, he says he didn’t. His head coach says Roethlisberger did.

In his weekly press conference, Tomlin said that Roethlisberger indeed suffered a concussion against Seattle. Regardless of whether Roethlisberger calls it a concussion, he’s in the concussion protocol. Which means that someone believes he suffered a concussion, and that he won’t be playing until he passes the various steps — culminating in clearance from an independent neurologist.

Roethlisberger, who self-reported the concussion symptoms, has no reason to lie about his diagnosis. It’s possible he’s confused.

Regardless, the player never has the final word on injuries of this nature. If the coach says Roethlisberger has a concussion, then he has a concussion.

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NFL says Ravens were not offside on blocked field goal

Shareece Wright, John Harbaugh AP

Another Monday night, another controversial call from the officials. But this time the NFL says the officials were right.

On the last play of Monday night’s game in Cleveland, the Ravens blocked the Browns’ field goal attempt and returned it for a touchdown. It looked like a great play by the Ravens and another rough break for the Browns, but by Tuesday morning, fans and members of the media were asking whether it was actually a blown call: Ravens defensive back Anthony Levine may have had his hand in the neutral zone at the snap.

However, the league office tells PFT that the play has been reviewed, and the officials got it right. Although Levine’s hand was over the line of scrimmage superimposed on the ESPN broadcast, that line is not official, and the league says Levine got back behind the actual line of scrimmage.

“The ball was spotted at the 33-and-a-half yard line for the kick,” NFL spokesman Michael Signora told PFT via email. “The center moves the ball up slightly to get in position for the snap. The black line you see, which television uses to denote the line of scrimmage, appears to be at the 33, not the 33-and-a-half. So when the ball is snapped, the defensive player is not at the 33-and-a-half yard-line and he appears to be in a legal position.”

The NFL also said Ravens defensive back Will Hill did not step out of bounds on his touchdown return, contrary to some images suggesting that he might have.

This season has been full of missed calls by the officials, and Monday Night Football has been particularly affected by. We’ve already had an official miss an illegal bat on the Seahawks in the final moments of a win over the Lions, and an official miss a mistake by the clock operator late in the Steelers’ comeback win over the Chargers. The NFL admitted those two mistakes but says that on this Monday night in Cleveland, the officials properly called the final play.

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Jerry Jones bristles at questions about Tony Romo’s longevity

Tony Romo AP

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett thinks quarterback Tony Romo has a lot of football left in him. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has a specific number in mind: four or five years.

That’s what Jones said in one of his twice-weekly appearances on 105.3 The Fan. Romo, who turns 36 in April, who has had multiple back surgeries, and who has broken the same collarbone three times, will play, in the opinion, of the team’s owner four or five more years.

Pressed on the point, Jones eventually bristled.

“This is not a debate,” Jones said. “I don’t know if he’s got 4 or 5 years — you asked me my opinion.”

Jones’ opinion traditionally lands in the glass-half-full category, regardless of what he truly believes. And based on what we’ve seen from Romo the past few years, it’s hard to imagine him remaining healthy enough to play at a high level at age 36, 37, 38, 39, and/or 40.

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Report: Browns signing Terrelle Pryor

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 03: Terrelle Pryor #87 of the Cleveland Browns runs around end against the Chicago Bears during a preseason game at Soldier Field on September 3, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Browns 24-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Browns couldn’t find a spot on their roster for Terrelle Pryor in September, but it appears they’ve got one in December.

Mary Kay Cabot of reports that the Browns will be signing Pryor on Tuesday. Per Cabot, Pryor was set to meet with the Bears but has opted to return to the Browns instead.

Pryor was with the team through camp despite a hamstring injury that kept him off the field much of the time, but he was released days before the start of the season when they claimed Robert Turbin off of waivers. He’s worked out for several teams over the last few months without landing another job in the NFL.

Pryor was playing wide receiver for the Browns this summer and that’s presumably where he’ll be playing this time as well. They played without Taylor Gabriel and Andrew Hawkins because of concussions on Monday night and Dwayne Bowe has given the team nothing since signing with them as a free agent during the offseason.

With Josh McCown getting hurt again on Monday, there’s a chance they may also like the prospect of Pryor serving as further depth at quarterback. Austin Davis and Johnny Manziel are already on the roster at the position.

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Bills add three, and of course one of them’s an ex-Jet

Anthony Dixon, T.J. Barnes AP

The Bills made some moves to replenish their injury thinned defensive line.

And yes, of course, they went out and found a former Jet among them.

The Bills announced they had signed defensive tackle T.J. Barnes and defensive end Lavar Edwards, along with linebacker LB Kevin Reddick, while placing veteran defensive tackle Kyle Williams on season-ending injured reserve because of a knee problem.

The 6-foot-7, 364-pound Barnes came from the Jets practice squad. He was with them last year when Bills coach Rex Ryan was coaching the Jets, hence the requisite familiarity. He’s bounced between the practice squad and active roster in New York, playing in six games this season.

Reddick has bounced among five teams, and was on the Bills practice squad earlier this year. Edwards was signed off the Cowboys practice squad.

The Bills were short up front, with Williams not able to come back from a year-long knee issue, and defensive tackle Alex Carrington going down with a knee injury last week. They don’t know whether defensive end Mario Williams is going to be able to go this week, hence the need for depth there.

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PFT Live: Broncos talk with Vic Lombardi, Colts talk with Bob Kravitz

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The Broncos became the first team to beat the Patriots this season with last Sunday night’s overtime victory, leaving them with a 9-2 record ahead of this weekend’s trip to San Diego.

That game will mark Brock Osweiler’s third start at quarterback and we’ll spend some time on PFT Live talking about Osweiler’s play when Vic Lombardi of CBS4 in Denver joins Mike Florio. In addition to looking at Osweiler, they’ll discuss the Broncos rushing performance against New England and Peyton Manning’s injury.

Bob Kravitz of WTHR will join the show as well for a chat about the 6-5 Colts. That conversation will also have a lot to do with quarterbacks and injuries, specifically the one that is keeping Andrew Luck out of the lineup.

As always, we also want to hear what PFT Planet thinks. Email questions at any time or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk to let us know what’s on your mind.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen to all three hours live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app.

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Ben Roethlisberger: “I’ll play through any injury but brain”

Ben Roethlisberger AP

When rules were tightened up to reduce high hits, many players complained that it would result in defenders diving at their knees.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger apparently values another part of his body slightly more.

After self-reporting concussion symptoms during last week’s game and taking himself off the field, Roethlisberger said today on his weekly radio show on 93.7 The Fan that “I’ll play through any injury but brain.”

“I feel like I made the right [decision],” he said, via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-GazetteI think more guys should do it.”

Roethlisberger said he thinks he’s cleared the concussion test he took this morning, saying it was more of a migraine. During the game, he told team doctors that his peripheral vision wasn’t normal, and that’s when they shut him down for the day. But he said those symptoms went away shortly after the game.

Roethlisberger has played through a number of injuries, often coming back well before he should. And while it’s certainly easier for a star with financial and positional security to raise his hand and ask out of a game, perhaps his being willing to do so will help others take the necessary steps for self-preservation.

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Lions: To stop Packers, we have to stop run

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When the Lions and Packers met in Week 10, the Lions held the Packers to 47 yards on the ground and Green Bay’s 61 pass attempts couldn’t generate enough offense to avoid an 18-16 loss.

The Packers were missing Eddie Lacy in that game, but he’s returned with 205 yards on 39 carries in the last two games to provide some more balance to their offense. The Lions expect to see a heavy dose of Lacy in their rematch with the Pack on Thursday night and safety Glover Quin says that the team is focused on making sure that the Packers don’t run their way to victory.

“Even though Aaron Rodgers is a super, super great, talented quarterback, they got great running backs in Eddie Lacy and James Starks,” Quin said, via the Detroit Free Press. “And if you let those guys get going, that’s going to make Aaron Rodgers even better. So you’ve got to make sure you stop the run game.”

Coming into the season, it was hard to imagine too many people would predict that teams would propose that making Rodgers and the Packers beat them through the air would be a good way to wind up with a victory. Things haven’t played out as expected for the Packers offense, however, and it’s hard to argue with a goal of making Green Bay one-dimensional on Thursday night.

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Morelli should be glad to avoid another Colts-Steelers game

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After making a series of mistakes that included not properly counting the downs in Sunday’s game between the Cardinals and 49ers, referee Pete Morelli and his crew have been yanked from Sunday night’s game between the Colts and Steelers.

The crew isn’t happy, but maybe the chief of the crew should be.

A decade ago, Morelli presided over a playoff game between the Pittsburgh and Indianapolis. The sixth-seeded Steelers upset the Colts, who finished the season as the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

The game included a significant error from Morelli, who incorrectly overturned via replay review an interception made by former Steelers safety Troy Polamalu.

Despite the fact that the Steelers won the game, someone was sufficiently upset with the outcome to throw a rock through a window in Morelli’s California home. Via Deadspin, the authorities were stumped: “There was no way to determine if this had anything to do with his NFL job. . . . There was no note on the rock.”

By avoiding the Sunday night game between the Colts and Steelers, Morelli has less reason to worry about more rocks, with or without notes on them.

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Dolphins sign center as Mike Pouncey insurance

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 01:  Mike Pouncey #51 of the Miami Dolphins in action against the New York Jets  during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 1, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Dolphins coach Dan Campbell said Monday that Mike Pouncey’s foot injury wasn’t as serious as the team initially feared, but that there was a good chance that they’d bring in another center in the event Pouncey doesn’t come around in time to play in Week 13.

They signed that center on Tuesday morning. The team announced that they have signed Jacques McClendon to their 53-man roster.

McClendon has had two other stints with the Dolphins this year. He spent training camp with the team before being released ahead of the opener and then returned to the team to play one game in September. McClendon played in 18 games for the Jaguars in 2013 and 2014 and has also spent time with the Lions, Steelers and Falcons since entering the league as a Colts fourth-round pick in 2010.

Jamil Douglas replaced Pouncey in the loss to the Jets and had some issues with low snaps in the shotgun. Linebacker James-Michael Johnson was released to open a spot for McClendon.

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Davante Adams trying to shake off poor Thanksgiving performance

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 15: Davante Adams #17 of the Green Bay Packers tries to make a cacth over Quandre Diggs #28 of the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on November 15, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Lions defeated the Packers 18-16. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

Packers wide receiver Davante Adams didn’t have much to feel thankful about on the field on Thanksgiving.

Adams dropped more passes than he caught in Green Bay’s loss to the Bears, including one on a post pattern that might have gone for a touchdown if Adams had been able to reel in Aaron Rodgers’s pass. Adams also caught blame from coach Mike McCarthy for the route he ran on a Rodgers interception in a performance that continued a trend that has the Packers finding little success when they look in Adams’s direction.

Adams says he’s trying to shake off the poor game, but he’s still “pissed off” about the way he played in the loss to the Bears and that’s making it difficult to completely turn the page.

“It’s hard to let it go,” Adams said, via the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “You really want to have that, they call it, the DB [defensive back] mentality. Just let it go, and go to the next play. Forget about it. But it’s hard.”

In other seasons, a game like that might lead to extended time on the bench for Adams. As the 11 passes thrown his way last Thursday illustrate, however, the Packers aren’t filled with options at receiver at the moment and that means he’ll likely get more chances against the Lions this Thursday. If he doesn’t do more with them, the Packers’ chances of avoiding a Lions sweep of the season series will be more difficult.

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Pete Morelli’s crew yanked from Week 13 Sunday night game

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 30:  Referee Pete Morelli walk out of the tunnel towards the field before a game between the Oakland Raidersand Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on September 30, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) Getty Images

After dispensing no additional discipline beyond the grading process in response to multiple errors made by the officials during the Week 11 Monday night game, the NFL has decided to take action in response to mistakes made during one of the two late-afternoon games from the twelfth Sunday of the regular season.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL has removed referee Pete Morelli’s crew from the Colts-Steelers game to be played on Sunday night. Morelli’s crew has been reassigned to another game.

It’s the third time this season the NFL has taken specific action in response to officiating errors. Side judge Rob Vernatchi was suspended with pay after a clock error in the Steelers-Chargers Monday night game, and back judge Greg Wilson was assigned away from a Sunday night game between the Colts and Patriots after missing the illegal bat at the end of the Lions-Seahawks game.

UPDATE 10:20 a.m. ET: An earlier version of this item explained that Morelli’s crew had been reassigned from the Monday night game between Dallas and Washington. The crew had been assigned to work the Sunday night game between the Colts and Steelers, which actually will have a significantly larger audience given that it will be televised on a broadcast network, not cable.

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Sam Bradford to throw today as he comes back from shoulder injury

Sam Bradford AP

We can debate later whether it’s a good thing, but it appears Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford is closer to being back.

According to Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News, Bradford’s apparently been cleared from the left AC joint sprain that’s kept him out the last two weeks, along with the concussion which he was cleared from last week.

I just don’t know where we are from a throwing standpoint with him,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly said. “He threw a little bit on Thursday in Detroit, . . . The big test will be [Tuesday] in terms of him throwing the ball around and seeing if there is residual soreness.”

While the injury is to his non-throwing shoulder, Kelly still worried whether it will affect Bradford’s throws.

“If you have some instability in there, you’re susceptible to something if you get hit,” he said. “Can he handle that? Can he take a hit? It’s not something that’s going to affect him long-term.”

Of course, unless Bradford can play defense, it might not be enough to help things, as the Eagles have been rather porous in his absence (90 points in two games), knocking Mark Sanchez way down the list of concerns.

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NFL really is doing a better job of spotting concussions

Brian Hoyer AP

In Week 11, the NFL’s current system for spotting a concussed player and getting him off the field failed, badly. Rams quarterback Case Keenum, clearly in distress, remained in the game when he shouldn’t have, due in large part to a too-many-chefs system that allows the buck to be passed like the salt and pepper when it fails.

But despite the periodic mishaps (and even one mishap per season is far too many), the NFL has truly made strides when protecting players from themselves. Peter King of explains that, in the same game that saw Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger self-report concussion symptoms (a headache), Steelers coach Mike Tomlin ensured that linebacker Ryan Shazier would submit to the concussion protocol, against his wishes.

Richard Ellenbogen, the co-chair of the NFL’s head, neck, and spine committee, told King that the ATC spotter noticed that Shazier was woozy in the second quarter. Video showed a helmet-to-helmet hit, with Shazier’s head also hitting the ground. As doctors attempted to evaluation Shazier, he insisted he was fine. And then Tomlin intervened, telling Shazier, “You will listen to these doctors, and you’ll do it now.”

Shazier was later ruled out for the game, and he now resides in the league’s concussion protocol.

“This was a very good day for culture change,” Ellenbogen told King. “The team was all-in. The coach was involved, and he was fully supportive of what the medical people were doing. He couldn’t have been more supportive. Then we had a player self-report in the middle of an intense game, which is exactly what we want. He put health and safety over the competition. Concussions sometimes can take a few minutes to appear, as in this case. Today the system worked. The humans worked.”

It was a fortuitous turn of events for the NFL, which only six days earlier saw the ESPN Monday Night Countdown crew properly chastising the league for its handling of the Keenum situation — with a commercial for the new movie Concussion playing during a break later in the show. And it was smart for the league to ensure that a positive story regarding the handling of concussions has made it to light.

But even before Keenum, the system worked in Houston, where quarterback Brian Hoyer was removed from play not because of anything the ATC spotter saw or anything Hoyer said but because others noticed Hoyer wasn’t right.

“I think the guys just recognized on the sideline I wasn’t acting normal and then you get checked out,” Hoyer told PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio. “I think it was a little bit of everything teammates, coaches, trainers I mean it’s kind of a collective thing where I think for me you know I was lucky they spotted it. . . . [Y]ou’re kind of so used to playing and you get dinged a little bit. . . . [A]drenaline is carrying you, autopilot I guess you would call it. You can still function, but I think when you’re missing certain things some of those guys around kind of notice and did the right thing.”
It’s important that the league has plenty of eyes watching for signs of concussions. But unless the lines of responsibility and accountability are clear and unambiguous, it remains possible that a player from time to time will fall through the cracks.
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Rams owner Stan Kroenke meets with Missouri governor

Kroenke Getty Images

With increasing signs that his wish to move the Rams to Los Angeles lacks the support of the majority of owners, perhaps Stan Kroenke is looking at options closer to his current home.

According to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Kroenke met with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon at Rams Park Monday. The chair of the St. Louis stadium task force, Dave Peacock, was also at Rams Park but didn’t take part in the meeting. A spokesperson for Nixon would confirm the meeting but provided no other details.

The meeting might be the first face-to-face meeting between Kroenke and the Governor regarding the possibility of relocation, or the state’s effort to keep the team in place.

While details are scarce, it seems that the league may be trying to nudge Kroenke in the direction of a new stadium in St. Louis. Already, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson has voiced his support for the Chargers (and possibly Raiders) and the competing Carson project.

The league’s oft-stated stance is that they’d prefer to keep teams in their existing markets if there’s a viable stadium plan in place. St. Louis has at least made an effort in that regard, while the Chargers and Raiders seem stuck in a years-long holding pattern looking for new buildings to replace their decrepit ones.

While Kroenke could just be checking off a box before he packs up and moves, the possibility of a thaw between him and the locals who want to keep his team could be an interesting development, on the eve of this week’s owners meetings in Dallas.

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