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Week Eight picks

The inability of referee Scott Green to properly apply the supposedly clear rule regarding going to the ground when making a catch not only cost the Vikings a win.  It also prevented me from extending to two my streak of victories over Rosenthal.

Yes, he beat me by one game in Week Seven, and the difference was the outcome of the Vikings-Packers game.

For the week, Rosenthal got 10 right and four wrong.  I was 9-5.

For the year, Rosenthal is 69-35.  I’m 65-39.

And though it pains me to type this (in part because I’ll never hear the end of it from him), Rosenthal currently has a better showing than all of the ESPN “experts,” including the Accuscore projections and the fan-based picks. 

Maybe he should apply for a job there.  They probably need someone with a sturdy shine box.


Broncos vs. 49ers in London

Florio’s take:  When the league picked this game to be the 2010 English export, it didn’t look like a bad choice.  The 49ers were viewed as the favorite to win the NFC West, and the Broncos were regarded as a middle-of-the-road team with the potential to improve.  Seven weeks into the season, the 49ers have only one win and the Broncos have two.  The decision to thrust quarterback Troy Smith into the starting lineup smacks of the desperation coach Mike Singletary surely is feeling, and even though Denver lost to one Bay Area team by 45 in Week Seven, Week Eight likely will bring a seventh loss for the Niners.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 30, 49ers 21.

Rosenthal’s take: The NFL should send teams to London earlier in the season, before they show how bad they really are.  The depleted Broncos defense gets worse every week, and the 49ers defense just made Matt Moore look like, well, Matt Moore from 2009.  This is a crossroads/gut check/insert cliché game for both coaches.  I trust Josh McDaniels and Kyle Orton far more than Mike Singletary and Troy Smith.

Rosenthal’s pick: Broncos 31, 49ers 21.

Jaguars at Cowboys

Florio’s take:  Four prior games between these two teams have been decided by seven points or less.  Continuation of that trend would help Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio, even if the Jags lose.  One more 20-plus-point blowout (the Jaguars already have suffered four) could get Del Rio fired.  The return of David Garrard and the departure of Tony Romo could help, but probably not enough.  But at least the Jags will possibly lose by less than 20.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 27, Jaguars 17.

Rosenthal’s take:  Jon Kitna versus the Jaguars secondary.  The immobile quarterback versus the force that provides no resistance.  If I was a betting man, I’d stay far away from this one because both teams are about as trustworthy as Florio’s hairpiece.  At least the Jaguars seem like they care. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Jaguars 20, Cowboys 16.

Dolphins at Bengals

Florio’s take:  From 1978 through 2000, the Dolphins won nine straight games over the Bengals.  Cincinnati has won the last two, but they haven’t played since Bill Parcells put his thumbprint on the Dolphins.  More importantly, the game won’t be played in Miami, where the Fins are 0-3.  Though the Bengals found some punch on offense against the Falcons, the Dolphins are more talented, more desperate, and (after believing they got screwed against the Steelers) more feisty.

Florio’s pick:  Dolphins 24, Bengals 16.

Rosenthal’s take: Chad Henne has quietly improved all season, and he should do well against a Bengals secondary without Adam Jones and possibly Johnathan Joseph.  Carson Palmer is also playing better, but it seems to take a 21-point deficit to warm him up.  The Bengals defense is providing too many chances for failed comeback attempts.

Rosenthal’s pick: Dolphins 24, Bengals 21.

Bills at Chiefs

Florio’s take:  Some (I’m looking at you, Rosenthal) think that Bills coach Chan Gailey has something up his sleeve for his most recent former team.  Pointing to an unlikely strong showing by Buffalo’s offense against a complacent Ravens defense, Rosey thinks the Bills can give the Chiefs a run for their money.  Let’s see if Rosey puts his money where his mouth is.  Arrowhead Stadium has been a-rockin'; Gailey and his team would be wise to not go a-knockin’.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 31, Bills 14.

Rosenthal’s take:  I’m not sure people have really wrapped their mind around the fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Bills racked up 514 yards on the Ravens.  514! The Harvard product is a joy to watch, with decisive, difficult throws often into tight windows.  He’s a great runner and seems to like contact.  And he has a red beard.  The Bills will keep losing most weeks because their defense is an embarrassment, but at least they’ll be fun to watch.

Rosenthal’s pick: Chiefs 34, Bills 31.

Redskins at Lions

Florio’s take:  For the third straight year, these two franchises meet in Detroit.  In 2008, the Redskins kept the Lions winless by only eight points.  In 2009, the Lions ended a 19-game losing streak with a win over the ‘Skins.  Assuming Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford, back after suffering a shoulder injury in Week One, won’t throw four passes to DeAngelo Hall, the rested, ready, and confident (perhaps delusional) Lions should be able to get it done.  Last week’s meltdown by the Chicago offense concealed the fact that the Washington offense isn’t dramatically better, and the Lions look to be in line for their second win of the year.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 20, Redskins 13.

Rosenthal’s take: Signs the Lions have come a long way:  (1) they are still talking playoffs after a 1-5 start and it doesn’t seem completely insane; (2) they’ve outscored their opponents this year (thanks Rams!); (3) they are favored against a 4-3 Redskins team and I’d still give the points.

Rosenthal’s pick: Lions 24, Redskins 17.

Panthers at Rams

Florio’s take:  Like the other team that will contend for the NFC West crown, the Rams are tough at home and soft on the road.  This week, a win at home would pull the Rams to 4-4, and it would end a four-game losing streak against Carolina, a slide that began in St. Louis nearly seven years ago with a double-overtime loss to the eventual NFC Super Bowl representatives.  This time around, the Rams simply have the better team — which given the state of the Panthers isn’t really saying much.

Florio’s pick:  Rams 24, Panthers 13.

Rosenthal’s take: The Rams are winless on the road, so it’s good the league loaded them up with home games before a three-game road trip after Thanksgiving.  The Panthers finally found a passing game, which could make them a dangerous spoiler the rest of the way.  Every game for the Rams is dangerous because they aren’t that talented, but they’ve responded very well to losses this year.

Rosenthal’s pick: Rams 22, Panthers 20.

Packers at Jets

Florio’s take:  The Jets remain the hottest team in the NFL, with a swarming defense and a sufficiently competent offense.  Receiver Santonio Holmes had two extra weeks to hone his timing with quarterback Mark Sanchez, which should result in an even more souped-up passing attack.  The Packers aren’t remotely close to being Super Bowl ready, and without again getting a couple of gift calls on touchdown plays they can’t expect to win this one.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 27, Packers 20.

Rosenthal’s take: The Packers lost another linebacker for the season, while the Jets are fully healthy after their bye.  Revis Island is ready to re-open with tougher immigration laws and there’s a sense New York hasn’t played their best despite being 5-1.  All logic points to the Jets. (I’m sure Florio is taking his beloved Jets.)  All the more reason to take the Packers, who are ready to go on a run.

Rosenthal’s pick: Packers 26, Jets 21.

Titans at Chargers

Florio’s take:  Vince Young likely will return for a Tennessee offense that did fairly well without him.  But the two Tennessee losses have come against teams that run a 3-4 defense, the preferred attack of the Chargers.  And the Charger

s have much more talent than their 2-5 record suggests.  Assuming that the late surge in Week Seven against the Patriots woke up the four-time defending AFC West champions, the Chargers will stay alive for at least another week.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 23, Titans 20.

Rosenthal’s take: The Titans have a knack for frustrating opponents and forcing them into mistakes.  The Chargers have a knack for frustrating their fans and making unforced errors.  The Titans lead the league in takeaways and have scored the most points off turnovers.  The Chargers have the most giveaways in the AFC.  Add it up, and Norv Turner’s head should explode sometime in the third quarter.

Rosenthal’s pick: Titans 26, Chargers 21.

Vikings at Patriots

Florio’s take:  Vikings coach Brad Childress has been talking lately.  A lot.  His words regarding the officiating in Sunday night’s loss to the Packers got him a $35,000 fine.  His barbs directed at the Patriots and Bill Belichick could get Chilly a butt-whipping on par with the 31-7 defeat his team absorbed from Belichick and company four years ago.  Brett Favre, who won’t play only if he can’t move, will be jumping on his “broke foot” when things go well, and he’ll be walking like John Wayne with hemorrhoids when things go poorly.  Count on plenty of Rooster Cogburn on Preparation H sightings.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 35, Vikings 13. 

Rosenthal’s take:  After the Patriots released Lawyer Milloy then lost to the Bills 31-0 to open the 2003 season, ESPN’s Tom Jackson said the “Patriots hate their coach.”   Three weeks after New England traded Randy Moss to Minnesota, it’s the Vikings that seem to hate their coach.  The rest of the country hates Brett Favre, who seems to know it and wear it on his face during every depressing press conference.  This is the week Moss begins to realize how good he had it in Foxborough.  

Rosenthal’s pick: Patriots 24, Vikings 14.

Buccaneers at Cardinals

Florio’s take:  Bucs coach Raheem Morris thinks he has is the best team in the NFC.  Less than two years ago, the Cardinals actually were the best team in the NFC.  Though the Cardinals have looked horrible at times, the managed to take down at home a Saints team that thumped the Bucs in their own stadium.  And that’s good enough for me.

Florio’s pick:  Cardinals 24, Buccaneers 20.

Rosenthal’s take: The “best team in the NFC” isn’t favored in Arizona, where the Cardinals are 2-0 this season.  If the Bucs are to live up to Raheem Morris’ hype, this is a game they win going away.  Arizona’s passing game is a mess, while the running game isn’t much better.  It’s a miracle they are 3-3. Still, these teams are more similar than different.  And they’ll have the same record after this one.

Rosenthal’s pick: Cardinals 19, Bucs 14.

Seahawks at Raiders

Florio’s take:  Here’s the toughest call of the week.  Tony Dungy thinks the Seahawks are the best team in the NFC.  Raiders cornerback Chris Johnson thinks his team is the most talented in the entire NFL.  The Seahawks had been unable to win on the road before taking down the Bears two weeks ago.  Before a far=less-than-full stadium against a Raiders team buoyed by a 59-point uprising against the Broncos on Sunday, the Raiders likely will finish an unlikely ascension to .500 at the halfway point of the season.

Florio’s pick:  Raiders 27, Seahawks 17.

Rosenthal’s take: Every time the Raiders win a game, they say they turned the corner.  Even though they haven’t won back-to-back games since 2008, I’m just crazy enough to believe them this time.  The Seahawks whole offensive gameplan seems to be “don’t throw interceptions” but they need a little more than that on the road.

Rosenthal’s pick: Raiders 23, Seahawks 16.

Steelers at Saints

Florio’s take:  At one point in September, it looked like this game would feature a clash of the best two teams in the league.  It remains half right, with the Steelers among the best of the bunch and the Saints sliding toward irrelevance.  Though the defending champs’ backs are being pushed against the wall, that 13-point loss to the Browns means the days of dominance have ended, at least for now.  A one-dimensional offense is no match for a multi-faceted Steelers defense, and this one could turn into a rout, which would mean the ratings will only double those from Game Four of the World Series.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 34, Saints 21.

Rosenthal’s take:  A lot of tough games to pick this week. I’ve debated this one for days, but the tiebreaker goes to the Steelers.  Even though Pittsburgh’s pass defense has looked shakier the last two weeks, New Orleans has struggled against far worse groups.  At some point, it’s worth recognizing the 2009 Saints passing attack just may not come back.

Rosenthal’s pick: Steelers 27, Saints 24.

Texans at Colts

Florio’s take:  The Texans obsessed over their Week One visit from the Colts, and it paid off.  Since then, the Texans have been roughly average.  They get another crack at the Colts on Monday night, at a time when plenty of Indy players are missing.  But as long as Peyton Manning remains healthy, the Colts will be tough to beat, especially at home.  Manning realizes the importance of not being swept by the Texans — and not falling to 0-3 in the division.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 33, Texans 27. 

Rosenthal’s take: Dallas Clark and Austin Collie will be missed, but I’m not really that worried about the Colts offense in this game. They have great depth and the Jeff George Colts could score 30 points on this awful Texans defense.  The bigger question is whether the Colts defense can snap out of their funk.  At home, in a huge division game, I’ll take my chances they make enough plays.

Rosenthal’s pick: Colts 38, Texans 31.

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NFL, NFLPA announce PED deal, three suspensions lifted

AFC Championship - New England Patriots v Denver Broncos Getty Images

It only took them three years after initially “agreeing” to an hGH policy, but the NFL and the NFLPA have now put it in writing.

The league and the union just put out a joint statement announcing changes to the performance enhancing substance policy (which must mean they’re still hammering out the details of the substance abuse policy).

Accordingly, several players will be allowed to return to their teams this week, including Wes Welker, Orlando Scandrick and Stedman Bailey.

According to the release, positive tests are subject to third-party arbitration appeals, and testing for hGH will begin “within the next few weeks.”

Testing for hGH will be “fully implemented” this season, with procedures being sent to clubs and players this week. Testing will begin later this month.

First violations will result in a suspension without pay for up to six games. Masking agents or diuretics will draw a two-game suspension, while use of a “steroid, stimulant, HGH or other banned substance” will result in four-gamer. Manipulating a test can get you six.

Second violations will result in a 10-game suspension, and a third will be a minimum of two years.

As expected, offseason stimulant tests will be handled under the substance abuse policy.

The commissioner “will retain his current disciplinary authority” over discipline for violations other than positive tests (such as arrests). Players have a right to appeal to a member of the existing CBA appeals panel.

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Chandler Jones’s big day makes him AFC defensive player of the week

Chandler Jones, Matt Cassel AP

By blocking a field goal and returning it for a touchdown, Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones put himself in the running for consideration as the AFC special teams player of the week for Week Two of the 2014 season.

He didn’t wind up taking home that honor, but Jones got a pretty good prize all the same. The league announced on Wednesday that Jones is his conference’s defensive player of the week.

Jones practically took up residence in the Vikings’ backfield during a comfortable 30-7 Patriots victory. He finished the game with two sacks, three quarterback hits and four hurries as Minnesota failed to come up with any way to block him effectively over the course of the afternoon. Jones finished with eight tackles overall and was a leading part of the unit’s rebound from a rough second half against Miami in the opener.

It’s the first player of the week award for Jones, although he was named the defensive player of the month last November.

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New PED policy reinstates only three players (and not Dion Jordan)

Dion Jordan AP

Yes, the NFL and NFLPA finally have worked out a new drug policy.  Yes, players who tested positive in the offseason for stimulants banned under the PED policy will be reinstated.

But the joint announcement from the league and the union identifies only three players to return:  Broncos receiver Wes Welker, Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick, and Rams receiver Stedman Bailey.

So where are all the other players who supposedly were suspended for taking stimulants in the offseason?  Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan claimed that his four-game suspension came from taking a banned stimulant.  If so, he should be reinstated.

So maybe he didn’t really take a banned stimulant.  Unless he had prior violations of the substance-abuse policy that resulted in a four-game suspension based on the off-season reclassified stimulant violation or unless his positive test came before March 11, Jordan was lying.

UPDATE 11:19 a.m. ET:  Per a league source, Jordan’s positive test came before March 11, which means that his suspension won’t be listed.

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NFLPA signed off on Adrian Peterson outcome

Peterson Getty Images

By parking Adrian Peterson on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, the Vikings took action to which the NFLPA could have taken offense.  But the NFLPA didn’t oppose the move.

“Adrian Peterson made a decision to take a voluntary leave with pay to take care of his personal and legal issues,” the union said in a statement.  “The NFLPA and NFL worked with Adrian and the Minnesota Vikings to resolve this unique situation.  We support this decision and hope the best for him and his family.”

While the situation was called “unique,” it likely won’t be unprecedented.  At least in the short term, it could become downright common.

The broader point is that it can’t happen unless the player is on board with it.  It remains to be seen whether Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy or 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald would agree to a similar outcome.

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Hardy could land on same exempt list as Peterson

Greg Hardy AP

With the Panthers trying to balance getting the most for their $13.1 million with the ever-building public outcry against players accused of domestic violence, the Vikings may have given owner Jerry Richardson a path through the corn maze.

A league source tells PFT that it’s “possible” Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy will be placed on the same, little-known Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list until his pending case is resolved.

It would pay Hardy $770,588.23 per week until his case ends, but it would keep him from playing.  And he’d have to agree to it, like Adrian Peterson did, since doing so doesn’t necessarily comply with the terms of the labor deal.

It also would create an incentive for Hardy to resolve the case by striking a deal, even though that would set him up for a suspension without pay under the personal-conduct policy.

Meanwhile, the 49ers continue to show no inclination to do anything with defensive end Ray McDonald other than to let him keep playing.

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Three touchdowns lead to player of the week honors for Antonio Gates

Seattle Seahawks v San Diego Chargers Getty Images

Chargers tight end Antonio Gates had a difficult offseason as he spent time away from the team while his younger sister battled Lupus in a fight she eventually lost at the far too young age of 22 this summer.

Gates said he found solace in being on the football field in the wake of his sister’s death and he’s looked quite comfortable over the first two weeks of the regular season. Gates had six catches for 81 yards in the opener and followed that up with an even better performance in San Diego’s 30-21 victory over the Seahawks.

Gates caught seven passes for 96 yards with three of those passes from Philip Rivers going for touchdowns as the Chargers knocked off the defending Super Bowl champions. Those scores left him with 90 receiving touchdowns for his career, which ranks 11th in NFL history and leaves him 21 behind Tony Gonzalez when the list is whittled to include only tight ends.

It’s the first time that Gates has been so honored by the NFL, something that comes as a bit of a surprise given how good Gates has been over the course of his 12 years in the NFL.

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Darren Sproles is the NFC offensive player of the week

Philadelphia Eagles v Indianapolis Colts Getty Images

Eagles running back Darren Sproles has done a lot of things over the course of his NFL career, but he’d never been named a conference’s offensive player of the week until Wednesday.

That’s when the league announced that Sproles has been given the honor as the conference’s top offensive player for Week Two. Sproles had previously been a special teams player of the week.

Sproles caught seven passes for 152 yards and ran the ball four times for 26 yards and a touchdown as the Eagles came back to beat the Colts on Monday night. Sproles had catches of 57 and 51 yards during the contest with the latter catch setting up Jeremy Maclin’s game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. According to Randall Liu of the NFL, Sproles was the first back in 20 years with two catches of more than 50 yards and a rushing touchdown in the same game.

Not too bad for a player acquired for a fifth-round pick this offseason.

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Kyle Fuller named NFC defensive player of the week

Chicago Bears v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

There were several high-profile performances to choose from this week, but Bears rookie Kyle Fuller made a prime time impression.

Fuller was named the NFL defensive player of the week, after his two-pick performance against the 49ers.

Those plays sparked a comeback from a 17-0 deficit, and led the Bears back to a road win.

Washington outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan had a four-sack week, but that might have gotten lost in the fact it was merely 40 percent of the team total against Jacksonville (10).

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Peterson, Hardy, McDonald cases underscore importance of clear league policies, practices

Cleveland Browns v Denver Broncos Getty Images

“Due process” has different meaning in different contexts.  In a criminal court of law, due process protects a citizen from unjustified incarceration.  That concept doesn’t protect citizens from discipline in the workplace.

For most American employers, an employee who finds trouble away from work doesn’t create an internal issue.  If it’s off the clock and off the premises, it’s not the employer’s business.

For the NFL, a decision was made years ago that failure to police the private lives of players could be bad for business.  Recently, the league has learned that not properly policing the private lives of players could be even worse.

That’s the real problem the NFL now faces.  Sure, the league stands against crimes ranging from domestic violence to smoking marijuana in the privacy of their own domiciles.  But the recent cases of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, and 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald expose a major flaw in the NFL’s handling of players accused but not yet legally responsible for off-field wrongdoing.

Waiting for “due process” in court used to be good enough.  In the NFL after the Ray Rice video, it’s not — especially where the allegations involve any kind of domestic violence or abuse.

It’s not enough for the teams to be entrusted to handle these situations, as Texans owner Bob McNair argued earlier today on CNBC’s Squawk Box, via SportsBusiness Daily.  Teams have incentives and temptations that can result in bizarre and inconsistent decisions, with key players getting the benefit of “due process” and the guys at the bottom of the roster getting chased out the door.

The post-Rice NFL needs adjust to the new reality proactively.  The post-Rice NFL needs to immediately mobilize a team of investigators after a player is arrested, charged, or indicted, especially in cases of domestic abuse.  The post-Rice NFL needs to make its own decision as to whether the player is guilty or innocent.  The post-Rice NFL needs to let the world know what it has found, and to impose fair and consistent discipline.

Could that potentially influence jurors or otherwise undermine the efforts of the legal system?  Yes.  But The Shield can no longer hide behind the shield of “due process.”  And the challenge for the NFL will be to come up with a fair and consistent way to ensure that an appropriate system is crafted for investigating allegations against players.

The other alternative would be to act like most other American employers whose employees get in trouble away from work, and not care.  Sure, the NFL would be criticized for not controlling its players.  But if the NFL is going to handle these cases in a way that invites criticism anyway, it would be a lot cheaper and easier to be criticized for taking the position that anything that happens away from the place of employment isn’t the employer’s problem, unless and until the player isn’t able to play because he’s not able to be at the stadium, what with the steel bars impeding his ability to get to his car.

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Falcons extend long snapper Josh Harris too

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Today is the day that the Falcons take care of all family business.

All family business as it pertains to their punt team, anyway. The team announced that they have extended long snapper Josh Harris through the 2018 season. The Falcons have also extended punter Matt Bosher through 2019, which leaves kicker Matt Bryant as the only kicking specialist whose contract will be up before the next Presidential election.

Harris signed with the Falcons as an undrafted free agent from Auburn in 2012 and is in his third year as the team’s snapper. The team is obviously pleased with the job he’s done in the role and he’s also made six tackles covering kicks.

Bryant, who has joined Bosher and Harris as a fixture on special teams in Atlanta, is in the final year of his contract. He’ll turn 40 next year, but has remained a consistent and reliable kicker so the Falcons may move to keep all the band together rather than let him depart after this season.

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NFL and NFLPA have agreed on new drug policy

nfl_u_smithgoodell_jh_600 Getty Images

Well, this is a total coincidence.

The NFL has something positive it would like to announce.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the league and the NFLPA have reached agreement on a new drug policy.

The announcement is expected soon, the NFL needs all the other news they can muster to deflect from the shameful way they’ve done business lately with the Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson cases.

Now that the Is are dotted and the Ts are crossed, we can expect several players to be reinstated or have their suspensions reduced, among other changes.

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Peterson’s agent: This is the best possible outcome given the circumstances

Adrian Peterson AP

The Vikings changed their decision about running back Adrian Peterson’s availability following his indictment on charges reckless or negligent injury to a child early on Wednesday morning and placed him on exempt/commissioner’s permission list.

Peterson will not play for the Vikings again until his legal proceedings related to the case have run their course and Peterson’s agent Ben Dogra told the Associated Press that he and his client feel that the current arrangement is best for all involved.

“This is the best possible outcome given the circumstances,” Dogra said. “Adrian understands the gravity of the situation and this enables him to take care of his personal situation. We fully support Adrian and he looks forward to watching his teammates and coaches being successful during his absence.”

Ed Werder of ESPN reported that the NFLPA asked Peterson if he wanted to challenge the team’s decision, but, as Dogra’s comments make clear, Peterson accepted the move to the exempt list. The growing number of sponsors expressing dissatisfaction with the Vikings’ plan to play Peterson made it clear that Peterson wasn’t going to wind up on the field this Sunday and probably not until the case was resolved, which makes settling it as soon as possible the best way for Peterson to return to the football field. His first court date is currently scheduled for October 8 in Houston.

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Vikings owners finally set to talk about Adrian Peterson

Vikings Stadium Football AP

So far, the Vikings have been willing to let their employees take the bullets for them.

Now, we’re finally going to hear from the desk at which the buck stops.

The Vikings have announced that ownership will address the Adrian Peterson situation at a noon ET press conference.

It’s a good move, too late for Zygi and Mark Wilf.

Sending poor General Manager Rick Spielman out to take the bullets for the ridiculous decision to let Peterson come back after a weekend off was dishonorable. So was changing their mind in the middle of the night, as if no one would notice.

They’ll get a chance to address all that today.

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Goodell “never intended” to hear Ray Rice appeal

Goodell Getty Images

Two years ago, the NFL aggressively defended the ability of Commissioner Roger Goodell to handle the appeal of the suspensions he imposed on the Saints players accused of participating in Gregg Williams’ bounty program.  Eventually, Goodell handed the baton to former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.  Who overturned the suspensions.

Now, the league won’t be fighting for Goodell’s right to run the Ray Rice appeal party.  According to the league office, Goodell “never intended” to handle Rice’s appeal.

This means that Goodell will grant the NFLPA’s request that he recuse himself from the appeal.  Which means that someone else will handle it.

Ultimately, Goodell has the right to designate a hearing officer.  For now, a decision hasn’t been made.

It could be someone from the league office.  But the NFLPA has asked for a truly independent arbitrator.

Maybe it should be Tagliabue again.

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Gus Bradley: “Far too many” mental errors by wide receivers

Marqise Lee, Chad Henne AP

The Jaguars haven’t had Cecil Shorts in the lineup for the first two weeks of the season, leaving them to roll with three rookies at the top of the depth chart at wide receiver.

As you might imagine, there have been a lot of mistakes from players playing their first games in the NFL. As you’d also probably imagine, those mistakes have agitated head coach Gus Bradley.

Bradley said that the number of mental errors that Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson made in the Week Two loss to the Redskins was in the “double digits.” He termed that “far too many” and said that the team has already pared back the playbook to a point where he feels the players should be able to handle what’s asked of them.

“Are we asking too much? Is there too much in the game plan? Or, in turn, do they need to be held accountable for what we’re asking them to do and they need to feel a stronger sense of accountability?” Bradley said, via the Florida Times-Union. “It’s a young group, but that’s no excuse. We’re all in the NFL now. The demands we place on them, they have to be able to handle that. We’ve already cut back quite a bit. I think at times we’ve got to teach some of the players that the responsibility falls on them.”

The Jaguars will have Shorts back this week if his hamstring allows and that should help, but it won’t suddenly turn rookies into savvy veterans who have everything down pat and the loss of tight end Marcedes Lewis makes it hard to take too much off of their plates. Throw in a very shaky offensive line and it is easier to understand why the Jags are hesitant to throw Blake Bortles into the lineup at this point in the season.

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