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Week Four Friday 10-pack

It’s Friday morning.  And since the news flow often slows down on Friday morning, we need to fill space.

So we fill space with 10 story lines emanating from the upcoming slate of games.

It’s harder with two or three storyline-worthy teams on a bye, but we eventually found a way to milk the cow this week.

1.  Jets could soon be soaring.

After a disappointing Monday night loss to break in their half of the
New Meadowlands Stadium (it’s sort of like Fred and Barney sharing a
swimming pool
), the Jets have won two in a row against their primary
division rivals.  And they’ve done it with cornerback Darrelle Revis and
linebacker Calvin Pace injured, and with receiver Santonio Holmes on

So what happens when those guys come back?

The Vikings could find out on Monday, October 11, when Holmes definitely
be back — and when Revis and/or Pace could be dressed and playing, too.

Considering the level of play that the Jets have achieved without them,
the Jets could be poised to run away with the division.  Until then,
they won’t even have to switch to missiles to shoot down the Bills.

2.  Last chance for Mangini?

The Browns have been competitive in each of their first three games.  But they’ve lost each one.

After this weekend’s visit from the Bengals, the Browns play the Falcons, Steelers, and Saints.  Then comes the bye week.

As a result, a loss to Cincinnati on Sunday would make an 0-7 start
likely, and team president Mike Holmgren could decide to part ways with
coach Eric Mangini.  And so Sunday’s game could be Mangini’s last and
best chance to preserve his job beyond October 31.

If the Browns don’t win in Week Four, and in turn don’t pull off an
unlikely upset of the Falcons, Steelers, or Saints, there’s a chance
that, when the Jets come to Cleveland on November 14, coach Rex Ryan
could be looking across the sideline at his identical twin, Browns
defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

3.  Running back injuries confirm 18-game season concerns.

With Colts president Bill Polian sparking a belated debate regarding the
wisdom of an 18-game season, one of the primary concerns is (or at
least should be) the impact of two additional games on the short-term
and long-term health of the players.

Indeed, with seven running backs (Steven Jackson of the Rams, Pierre
Thomas of the Saints, Jahvid Best of the Lions, Ray Rice of the Ravens,
Cedric Benson of the Bengals, Fred Taylor of the Patriots, and Knowshon
Moreno of the Broncos) already dinged up after only three games and
Reggie Bush of the Saints out with a broken leg, the league and
the union need to be very concerned about the potential consequences of
additional games on the players who take the brunt of the punishment in
the 16 games that already are played.

Though the move from 14 to 16 games in the ’70s occurred without much public discussion or debate, the three-channels television universe and the absence of talk radio and the Internet fueled that outcome.  Besides, players continue to get bigger, faster, and stronger.  When they hit each other, the bones and ligaments we all possess are at more risk than ever before.

4.  Team of destiny wanted.

Last year, it was obvious after three weeks that the Saints and Colts
were headed for big things.  New Orleans hung 45 on the Lions, winning
by 18, and 48 on the Eagles, winning by 26.  Held under 30 by the Bills,
the Saints still won by 20.

The Colts started more slowly, beating the Jags by two and the Dolphins
by four.  By Week Three, however, the Colts had taken down the defending
NFC champions (the Cardinals) by 21.

This year, none of the three remaining undefeated teams have rolled over
their opponents consistently.  The Steelers and the Chiefs won close
games in Week One and Week Two before notching 20-plus point victories in
Week Three.  The Bears have won by five points, seven points, and three

The absence of a team that clearly and definitively is taking care of
its business has reinforced the sense of parity that could be laying the
foundation for a playoff run with plenty of teams still alive, and a
postseason in which anything can happen.

For now, the Steelers are the team most likely to emerge as the team to
beat, but first they have to beat the Ravens on Sunday.  If the Steelers
can’t — and if the Bears lose on the road against the Giants — the
off-this-Sunday Chiefs could be the only undefeated team left after four
weeks of action.

Somewhere, Pete Rozelle will be smiling broadly.

5.  Time for Texans to prove themselves.

When the Texans toppled the Colts to open the season, the team that has
played eight years without a playoff berth seemed to be destined to
finally bust through to the postseason.  But then the Texans struggled
to beat a Redskins team that suddenly has inherited the stink of the
Rams, and the Texans lost fairly convincingly to in-state rivals who
were on the ropes, in danger of being punched through.

So are the Texans a contender, or did they merely give the first game of the season the Daytona 500 treatment?

Beating the Raiders won’t mean conclusively that the Texans are legit,
but losing will mean that Houston isn’t ready to hang with the likes of
the Colts and the Titans in arguably the best division in the
conference, if not the league.

6.  Desperation shifts from Dallas to New York.

Last week, a strong sense of desperation emerged in Dallas, where the
Cowboys had lost their first two games — and faced falling to 0-3 at
the hands of an upstart team from Houston that had started the year 2-0.

The Cowboys found a way to push the dark cloud away last week, and it
now has settled in New York, over the Rubble half of the Fred-and-Barney
pool.  (That’s the third Flintstones reference of the day.  And it’s not even 1966.)

The Giants, after beating the Panthers (who have turned out to be
toothless, de-clawed, malnourished house cats), have been spanked by the Colts and
Titans in successive weeks.  Only 14 days after losing decisively in
Indy, the Giants cannot afford to be embarrassed again before a national
audience.  (On NBC.)

With their backs firmly pressed against the wall and the Bears
overachieving their way through two of their three wins, look for the
Giants to get their act together, if only for a night.

And who knows?  Three years ago, the Giants lost their first two games
and gave up 80 points in the process.  More than four months later, they
only won the Super Bowl.

7.  Fins, Pats face “must” wins.

Yeah, it’s only Week Four.  But with the Jets, Dolphins, and Patriots
getting an early start on their round-robin routine, neither the
Patriots nor the Dolphins can afford to drop to 0-2.

The Dolphins need it even more; they play the Jets in New York on
December 12 and the Pats in New England on January 2.  Already in danger
of being swept by the Jets, the Dolphins can’t afford to lose at home
to New England, if the Dolphins have genuine designs on winning the

The Patriots need this one, too.  But they still get the Jets and the
Dolphins at home.  For the Dolphins, the season could potentially be over less than a
month after it began.

8.  Loss to Browns could help the Bengals in the long run.

The Bengals, despite their 2-1 record, don’t project the same vibe as
they did a year ago.  With a good defense (Week One at New England
notwithstanding) and a capable running back, the Bengals have relied too
heavily on the passing game.

Though T.O. has thrown the offensive line under the bus without overtly
throwing the offensive line under the bus, questions persist regarding
quarterback Carson Palmer.  Whether he has lingering elbow issues or he
simply has lost his zip on the ball, the Bengals seem to be in the same
style of denial that plagued the Panthers in 2009, when they refused to
face reality regarding quarterback Jake Delhomme.

And so a loss to the Browns could help jar the Bengals into facing
reality.   Eventually, they need to ask themselves whether Palmer
truly represents the future of the franchise at the quarterback

With a base salary of $11.5 million due to Palmer in 2011, we’ve got a
feeling that, win or lose on Sunday, the notoriously frugal Bengals will
think long and hard about paying that much money to a guy who has no
career playoff wins, and whose best days may be fading far behind him.

9.  Snyder’s biggest test could be coming.

For more than 11 years, Daniel Snyder has owned the Redskins.  And for
most of that time, Snyder has been impatient when it comes to the men
who are coaching the team.

After two years, Norv Turner was dumped.  (A playoff appearance likely
saved him in 1999.)  Marty Schottenheimer lasted a season.  Steve
Spurrier made it for two.  But for his resume and Hall of Fame bust, Joe
Gibbs may not have made it four years.  Jim Zorn lasted only two.

And throughout most if not all of Zorn’s final year, Snyder was wooing
(or at least planning to woo) Mike Shanahan, the presumed savior of the

In Week One, it appeared to be a brilliant move, thanks to an unexpected
win over the Cowboys.  But after blowing a 17-point lead against the
Texans and somehow losing by 14 against the Rams, the Redskins face what
could be a very long day at Lincoln Financial Field.

It gets no easier with the Packers and Colts coming to town, followed by trips to Chicago and Detroit.

Yes, Detroit, where the Lions managed to beat the Redskins in 2009, for
their first win in 22 games.  After a bye, the Redskins have the Eagles
again, the Titans, the Vikings, the Giants twice, and the Cowboys

It all easily could add up to a losing season.  Though the outcome may
be better than 4-12, it easily could be yet another two-digit collection
of losses.  And then Snyder will have to find a way to resist the urge
to act, and to instead commit to staying the course.

Given the open and obvious salivating for Shanahan, there’s no way
Snyder can make a change after only one year.  Based on his history,
however, Snyder surely will approach 2011 with questions swirling in his
mind as to whether there might be another guy out there whose name
Snyder should pencil onto the top of the latest version of his wish

10.  Rams have a chance to make some noise.

Based on their pattern of three wins in 2007, two in 2008, and one in 2009, the Rams were on track to go 0-16 in 2010.

Already, they’ve blown that trend out of the water by climbing to 1-2.

This weekend, the Rams have a chance to break a 10-game losing streak to
the Seahawks, a string that dates back to 2004, when St. Louis took
three games from their division rivals, include two in the usually
impenetrable Qwest Field.

If they can — and if the Cardinals lose in San Diego — the Rams will
find themselves in a  three-way tie atop the division after four weeks.

With three of the next four games against the Lions, Bucs, and Panthers,
the Rams could be on the right side of .500 at the bye.  And that could
give them the confidence they need to make a serious run at the
division crown and the postseason home game that goes along with it.

Sure, they likely won’t win the division.  But the fact that they won’t
be dead in the water with 25 percent of the season in the books is
nothing short of stunning.

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Pete Carroll believes in Thomas Rawls, also believes Marshawn Lynch will be back this year

Thomas Rawls AP

With Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch undergoing surgery on Wednesday, the offense will rely on running back Thomas Rawls to carry the load until Lynch returns. How confident is the head coach in the undrafted rookie from Central Michigan?

“I don’t know, pretty confident,” Pete Carroll told reporters on Wednesday. “He’s done very, very well. He’s been consistent, and whenever he’s been given a real good shot he’s come through in a big way. So excited for him to have another opportunity to go out and see how our guys block for him and see what we can get done again. Not every game’s going to be like that of course, but he certainly gives us a chance to run the ball like we like to and our hopes are very high that he’s going to do very well.”

He’s also going to be expected to thrive without the offensive line changing its style.

“[W]e’re not changing anything like that,” Carroll said. “If anything, [Rawls] has to find his rhythm. He’s the one that has to adapt. There are some times that he really hits things so quickly that it’s a little bit different for us, and he’s working to time that up with the different types of runs that we have.”

But Caroll doesn’t expect Rawls to change his overall style, which is premised on not avoiding contact.

“I don’t have any concern about that,” Carroll said. “That’s who this guy is, and we wouldn’t want to change that about him. There may be a time when we talk about an opportunity, you know he could’ve taken off and not been the heat-seeking missile kind of thing, but we’ll watch and see how it goes. But at this point, I wouldn’t want to do anything to take away from his instinct to go after it and be aggressive be physical. He explained it, I saw it a little bit in his postgame. We talked about it on the sidelines, he’s got a real clear thought of what he’s doing. He’s not going out of bounds. He’s not going to run around guys. He’s going to find somebody to attack and take it to him. In that, he still makes his cuts and makes you miss too. That’s what the good runners, they have that combination that doesn’t allow a defensive guy to really know what he’s going to get.”

So will Lynch get back this year? Carroll was asked whether there’ a chance that Lynch won’t return in 2015.

“Well I think you’d have to say that there is a chance, yeah,” Carroll said. “You said is there any chance, there’s a chance, but we don’t expect that to happen.”

The Seahawks expect Lynch to be back. So who will be No. 1 on the depth chart when that happens?

“We’ll see how it goes,” Carroll said. “We think [Lynch would be the lead back], why would we not? I would think so. Let’s see how much we get a chance to work Thomas and see how [Marshawn] returns. We might be able to bring him back on a temporary basis, but we’ll just wait and see. Of course [Lynch is] the guy that we would lean on, sure.”

Regardless of what happens the rest of 2015, it’s becoming more and more clear that Rawls is the guy the Seahawks will lean on come 2016, when he’s due to make $525,000 and Lynch is set to earn a whopping $9 million.


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Patriots kick tires on trio of wideouts

Max Bullough,Alan Bonner AP

With four receivers on the initial injury report of the week, the Patriots spent some time on Wednesday taking a look at some free-agent receivers.

Per a league source, getting tryouts on Wednesday were receivers Alan Bonner, Julian Talley, and Austin Willis.

Bonner (pictured), a sixth-round pick of the Texans in 2013 from Jacksonville State, spent his first two NFL seasons injured reserve. He has yet to play at this level.

Talley played college football at the University of Massachusetts, where he played with Victor Cruz. He appeared in two regular-season games with the Giants in 2013 and two more in 2014, with no catches.

Willis, undrafted in 2015 from Emporia State, spent time before the regular season with the Raiders and the Bills.

The Patriots signed none of the players. They may need to do something before Sunday, if Danny Amendola and/or Aaron Dobson join Julian Edelman as being unable to play.

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Jim Tomsula says he’s not thinking about job security

Jim Tomsula AP

49ers coach Jim Tomsula has won three of his first 10 games as a head coach. That record obscures the reality that some of the losses were so ugly that it’s a bit surprising he’s won three times.

Either way, the overall performance of the team has prompted speculation about his future. On Wednesday, reporters asked Tomsula whether he has received any assurances about whether he’ll return in 2016.

“[W]e haven’t had any conversations about any of that,” Tomsula said. “Just to your point right there, we’re in a performance-based business and all of us in it get it. So I don’t think or work that way. [M]y long-term goal is Sunday. It’s just where I stay.”

Many believe the 49ers wouldn’t fire Tomsula after one year because he was the hand-picked successor to Jim Harbaugh, selected by G.M. Trent Baalke and owner Jed York to move the team forward. Firing Tomsula after one year would amount to an admission that they screwed up.

Still, plenty of coaches have been replaced after only one year on the job. Two years ago, the Browns fired Rob Chudzinski after a single season. In 2012, the Jaguars fired Mike Mularkey after only one year on the job. In 2011, Hue Jackson got dumped by the Raiders after one season as the non-interim head coach. In 2009, Jim Mora (the Younger) was one-and-done in Seattle. In 2007, the Dolphins hired Cam Cameron, and then they fired him after one year.

Other one-and-out coaches since 1980 include Art Shell (Raiders, 2006), Marty Schottenhimer (Washington, 2001), Al Groh (Jets, 2000), Ray Rhodes (Green Bay, 1999), Joe Bugel (Raiders, 1997), Pete Carroll (Jets, 1994), Richie Petitbon (Washington, 1993), Rod Rust (Patriots, 1990), and Les Steckel (Vikings, 1984).

So if the 49ers move on from Tomsula, it won’t really be a shock because he lasted only a one year. It nevertheless would be a surprise because the 49ers picked Tomsula over arguably the best coach in franchise history other than Bill Walsh.

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Four receivers on Patriots injury report

Danny Amendola AP

As the Patriots prepare to try to move the ball against a Denver defense coordinated by Wade Phillips, New England could be shorthanded at the receiver position.

Not practicing on Wednesday were Julian Edelman (foot), Danny Amendola (knee), Aaron Dobson (ankle). Limited in practice was Keshawn Martin, with a hamstring problem.

If more than Edelman (who most likely will miss the game) can’t play, the task of moving the ball and scoring points becomes far more difficult against the Broncos, given the presence of cornerbacks like Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr., and Bradley Roby.

As to the Broncos, linebacker DeMarcus Ware remains out of practice with a back injury. Per a league source, he could still miss at least two more weeks. Also, quarterback Peyton Manning appears on the report as only having a foot injury, which means that his rib issue apparently has cleared up.

Also out for the Broncos was guard Evan Mathis (ankle). Limited in practiced were tight end Owen Daniels (knee), receiver Emmanuel Sanders (ankle, finger), and defensive end Vance Walker (shoulder).

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Goodell releases statement following Gifford CTE disclosure

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwi4mgewmdcxytk3ogeyzguwmzm3ytdjytrjyzhhn2u02 AP

A few hours after the family of late Hall of Famer Frank Gifford released a statement that said Gifford was found to have suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement of his own that said the league continues to work to try to prevent concussions, to understand more about CTE and to make football safer for all who play it.

“This work will continue as the health and safety of our players remains our highest priority,” Goodell’s statement said. “We have more work to do — work that honors great men like Frank Gifford.​”

Gifford, who played long before the NFL acknowledged the potential problems arising from concussions, once missed more than a full season after being knocked out by Eagles linebacker Chuck Bednarik. Gifford died last summer at 84.

Goodell’s statement said Gifford “exemplified everything good about our game throughout his years of extraordinary accomplishments, both on and off the field.

“We appreciate the Gifford family’s desire to help the medical community understand more about CTE, and we are grateful for their support of the league’s efforts to improve safety in our game. At the NFL, we are supporting grants to NIH and Boston University as well as other independent efforts to research the effects of repetitive head trauma.

“But we are not waiting until science provides all of the answers. We are working now to improve the safety of our game. The NFL has made numerous rules changes to the game, all to enhance player health and safety at all levels of football. These include 39 rule changes and better training and practice protocols that are yielding measurable results.”

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Bailey out of surgery, will spend 3-5 days in ICU

Stedman Bailey, David Hawthorne AP

Rams wide receiver Stedman Bailey is out of surgery and will spend the next 3-5 days in intensive care, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted Wednesday afternoon.

Bailey’s “doctors are hopeful,” Rapoport tweeted. Bailey was shot in the head and shoulder Tuesday night in Miami.

Rams Coach Jeff Fisher announced later Wednesday that Bailey is in stable condition after 4-6 hours of surgery.

A Rams statement released early Wednesday morning said Bailey was in critical but stable condition. Rapoport reported Tuesday night that the driver of the car in which Bailey was riding was shot multiple times.

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Corey Linsley questionable for Thanksgiving nightcap

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 13:  at Soldier Field on September 13, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Getty Images

The Packers had to turn to JC Tretter at center after Corey Linsley left last Sunday’s game with an ankle injury and they may be turning to him from the opening snap against the Bears on Thursday night.

Linsley did not practice at all during this abbreviated week of work for the Packers and has been listed as questionable for Thursday night’s game. On Wednesday, coach Mike McCarthy sounded comfortable going with Tretter if that’s the way things play out.

“[Tretter] was one of the offensive game ball winners for his performance in Minnesota,” McCarthy said, via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I think any time you lose a center or a quarterback, those guys handle the football on every single play, and for the player caller, for Tom Clements to be able to just keep calling the ball and for Aaron to be able to get in and out of the plays that he needed to and not even blink, I think it says a lot about JC Tretter and his preparation and our ability just to stay the course.”

The Packers have ruled out wide receivers Jared Abbrederis and Ty Montgomery while defensive backs Micah Hyde and Damarious Randall join Linsley and defensive tackle Mike Pennell with questionable tags.

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Calvin Johnson, Darius Slay questionable for Thursday

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 22: Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions runs his 700th reception in the second quarter while playing the Oakland Raiders, becoming the first in franchise history to reach 700 receptions  at Ford Field on November 22, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Lions didn’t rule anyone out of Thursday’s game against the Eagles, but they did list a couple of key players as questionable for their effort to extend their winning streak to three games.

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson drew the listing due to the ankle injury that he’s been dealing with for the last few weeks. There hasn’t been any indication out of Detroit that he could miss the game and he’s been listed as questionable the last two weeks before playing against the Packers and Raiders.

Cornerback Darius Slay is also questionable. He has a neck injury, but was a limited participant on Tuesday and practiced without limitations on Wednesday. Slay is coming off a very strong game against Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper and has been a big part of the improved defensive play in Detroit’s recent victories.

Safety Don Carey is questionable with a back injury and defensive tackles Caraun Reid and Gabe Wright drew the same tag due to ankle issues. All three were limited participants in practice all week.

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Tyrann Mathieu: 49ers better off with Blaine Gabbert at QB

Denver Broncos v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu called it early on, identifying the problems Colin Kaepernick was having in the 49ers passing game after his two-pick game.

But he doubled down Wednesday, saying the 49ers are in better hands with Blaine Gabbert on the field.

“That’s not to take anything away from Kaepernick, but it seems like Gabbert has a little bit better grip on what’s going on,” Mathieu said, via Matt Maiocco of “If he gets in a situation, he knows where the ball needs to go. He’s a hell of a passer. I think he’s underrated when you talk about how well he can throw the football.

“I think he gives them a better option going forward. It seems like the wide receivers are more involved. So it looks like they’re doing all right.”

While it seems strong considering it’s Blaine Gabbert, Real American we’re talking about, Mathieu touched on some valid points.

Gabbert has completed 62.7 percent of his passes in two games, has only thrown two interceptions, and put up a passer rating of 88.9. Kaepernick completed 59.0 percent of his passes, and was carrying a 78.5 rating when he was benched.

Kaepernick was clearly struggling this year, and Mathieu said it doesn’t appear it will be as easy to bait Gabbert into making bad throws.

“No, I don’t think so,” Mathieu said. “[It] seems like he takes care of the football way better. If he gets into a situation where he feels pressure, he’s not just going to give the defense an opportunity to make a play. . . .

“You don’t pick up those same things with Gabbert. He’s better in the pocket. He has a better feel for coverages. It seems like he can get to the line and see a coverage and then go to a different play. Or, see a coverage and not throw the ball. You can see Gabbert’s maturity and the different things he does well that Kaepernick doesn’t do well.”

While Gabbert has done some good things, it’s probably too soon to put too fine a point on what his better-than-Kaepernick play means on the whole.

But the fact that an opponent is so open about the difference speaks to how far Kaepernick has fallen, and how fast.

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Ryan Fitzpatrick shears beard “to switch up the mojo”

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 22: Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets on the sidelines against the Houston Texans in the second quarter on November 22, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets have lost four of their last five games, hurting their position in the race for an AFC Wild Card spot with six games left to play in the season.

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has played poorly in their last two losses to the Bills and Texans, which led to questions for coach Todd Bowles about a potential quarterback change for this week’s game against the Dolphins. Bowles is sticking with Fitzpatrick, but the quarterback did something this week in hopes of changing his fortunes.

It’s not an on-field tweak, however. Fitzpatrick reported to work on Wednesday without the familiar beard — best described as the look of someone trapped in a well for several weeks — he’s sported all season.

“Just seemed like it was time to switch up the mojo a little bit,” Fitzpatrick said, via the team.

We’ll see whether it has the desired effect on the field, but one upside is that Fitzpatrick is unlikely to wind up finding Thanksgiving leftovers under his facial hair while trying to call a play against the Dolphins on Sunday.

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Josh McCown hates getting Browns starting job back this way

Josh McCown AP

Josh McCown has had a long NFL career and been signed by a number of teams because he’s athletic enough and smart enough to make a few plays, as he showed in his successful stint in Chicago.

But he’s been able to hang around because he’s great in the locker room, and the kind of leader teams want in the organization regardless of his role.

And now that his role has changed again, he showed it again.

McCown sounded practically chagrined to be back in the starting role for the Browns, because he got the job back because of the team’s disappointment with Johnny Manziel’s bye-week partying.

You never want to regain a job this way,” McCown said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Any teammate, you’d be disappointed for them. You want the best for people.”

At this stage, the question will become whether Manziel himself is willing to take the steps necessary to earn the team’s trust back. But McCown said he was encouraged by what he saw from Manziel this morning in meetings.

“It’s a credit to Johnny,” McCown said. “He came to work this morning and took notes and did everything he was supposed to do.”

If Manziel wants an example of the way he needs to handle himself moving forward, he can also look across that quarterback meeting room at McCown, who has stayed in the league 13 years by being mature and responsible as much as able to make plays.

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49ers claim Ray-Ray Armstrong off waivers

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 22: Ray-Ray Armstrong #57 of the Oakland Raiders looks on during the preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings on August 22, 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Raiders 20-12. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Raiders signed linebacker Aldon Smith after he was released by the 49ers and now the 49ers have added a former Raiders linebacker to their roster.

The team announced Wednesday that they have claimed Ray-Ray Armstrong off of waivers a day after the Raiders parted ways with the three-year veteran. Defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, who tore his ACL last Sunday, was placed on injured reserve in a corresponding move.

Armstrong played in all 10 Raiders games this season and started the first two weeks of the season before moving into a reserve role. He had 21 tackles and a sack.

Armstrong also landed in the news this season in relation to a law enforcement investigation into taunting a police dog in Pittsburgh. Armstrong allegedly lifted his shirt, pounded his chest and barked at the dog before telling the dog’s handler to let it off the leash, but authorities found his actions were not malicious.

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Andrew Luck “very confident” he’ll play again this year

during the second half against the Indianapolis Colts at the Georgia Dome on November 22, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images

The Colts won without Andrew Luck last week and they’ll try to do it again against the Buccaneers this week, but Luck said Wednesday that he doesn’t think they’ll have to play without him for the rest of the 2015 season.

In his first meeting with the media since suffering a lacerated kidney and abdominal tear against the Broncos earlier this month, Luck said he was “very confident” that he will return to action this year. Word at the time of the injury was that Luck would miss between two and six weeks and Sunday will mark three weeks since he was injured, but there was no word from the quarterback about a timetable for return.

Luck also weighed in on coach Chuck Pagano’s belief that he can’t keep playing quarterback as if he’s a linebacker. Luck was injured on a run against the Broncos that ended with linebacker Danny Trevathan and defensive end Vance Walker hitting him and agreed that he needs to work on getting down to the turf to avoid such hits in the future.

“Part of it I brought upon myself by not sliding in certain situations,” Luck said, via the Indianapolis Star. “There’s a time and place for taking a hit. I’m not going to apologize in that sense because sometimes it is appropriate. But sliding is something I need to improve on, we’ve talked about that before. It’s no secret.”

For now, though, he’ll be resting and waiting for his organs to recover so that he can return to the field for what the Colts hope will be a fourth playoff trip in a row.

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Judge says New York DFS ruling will come “very soon”

david-boies Getty Images

[Editor’s note: FanDuel is an advertiser of PFT and PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio. Also, NBC Sports has an equity stake in FanDuel.]

On Wednesday, Judge Manuel Mendez heard arguments in the effort to secure a finding that daily fantasy violates New York law. According to Eric Fisher of SportsBusiness Daily, Judge Mendez said a decision will come “very soon.”

The question is whether Judge Mendez will issue a preliminary injunction banning daily fantasy in New York pending the resolution of the litigation regarding whether daily fantasy violates New York law. Via Fisher, the New York Attorney General’s office argued (while reading exclusively from a script) that daily fantasy is gambling because the players have no control over the outcome of the game, and that it’s essentially an alternative method for betting on sports.

Well-known attorney David Boies, who represents DraftKings, argued that the Attorney General’s office made a fatal error by targeting daily fantasy only and not season-long fantasy, given the similarity of the games. He also argued that daily fantasy requires even more skill than season-long fantasy, that the Attorney General’s office is essentially trying to “destroy” DraftKings’ business, and that it would be extraordinary to shut down daily fantasy without giving DraftKings and FanDuel a full day in court to develop evidence and to make arguments.

Via Fisher, the Attorney General’s office also pointed to the prevalence of DFS ads and the social ills that can arise from wagering money on these activities. FanDuel’s counsel responded by pointing out that state-sponsored lotteries create the same potential problems.

The hearing comes only a few days after Commissioner Roger Goodell explained that the NFL sees a “big distinction” between season-long fantasy and DFS, and that “[s]eason-long fantasy is [what] many people probably play in this room and it’s fun, it’s social, it’s an opportunity to enjoy the game,” via USA Today. “We encourage our kids to do it and they have clubs at school and it’s a way to connect people. And we think that’s a wonderful way. Daily fantasy’s taken a little different approach, and it’s one that we have not been as active in that. We want to make sure that we understand how it’s going to be done.”

The first question is whether it will be done, as in finished. If outlawed in New York, other stats could follow suit — and the entire industry could disappear.

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Family says Frank Gifford had CTE

Frank Gifford AP

Earlier this year, Hall of Famer Frank Gifford died at the age of 84. His family has now announced that a team of pathologists has determined that Gifford suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy.

“While Frank passed away from natural causes this past August at the age of 84, our suspicions that he was suffering from the debilitating effects of head trauma were confirmed,” says the statement from the Gifford family.

“During the last years life Frank dedicated himself to understanding the recent revelations concerning the connection between repetitive head trauma and its associated cognitive and behavioral symptoms — which he experienced firsthand,” the statement adds.

Gifford played decades before the NFL acknowledged the potential problems arising from concussions and subconcussive hit. Gifford once missed more than a full season after being knocked out by Eagles linebacker Chuck Bednarik.

Under the pending NFL concussion settlement, the posthumous diagnosis makes Gifford’s estate eligible for compensation from a pool that the league has agreed to fund without limitation.

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