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Week 11 Monday 10-pack

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

Nine days after 11-11-11, the 11th Sunday of the 2011 regular season was played.

In the AFC, we’re no closer to knowing which teams are the best teams.  In the NFC, ineffectiveness and injuries are allowing two franchises with eight Lombardi Trophies between them to continue to separate from the pack.

But let’s go deeper than the same-old “if the season ended today” scenarios or the other fairly obvious stuff you’ll see on certain four-letter networks today.

For some reason, I always can come up with only 10 things to say.

1.  Moral victory for the Bucs.

They say there are no moral victories.  I say “they” say a lot of things, plenty of which are wrong.

In this specific case, here’s why.

Blown out 48-3 by the 49ers and 37-9 by the Texans, the Bucs desperately needed to avoid a similar fate at Lambeau Field.  It wasn’t looking good early, what with the Packers up 14-0.

But the Bucs scratched and clawed their way back into the game, making it competitive and keeping the score respectable.  For coach Raheem Morris, whose contract situation puts the team in a fire-him-extend-him-or-let-him-do-the-lame-duck-thing trilemma for 2012, avoiding an embarrassment was the next best thing to pulling what would have been a most unlikely upset.

That said, a couple of ill-advised onside kicks likely won’t help the “keep Raheem” cause.  Overall, however, the Bucs have nothing about which to be ashamed — apart from their recent effort to make excuses for their 4-6 record by pointing out how difficult their schedule is.

2.  Michael Bush, Kevin Smith prove the fungible nature of tailbacks.

On Sunday morning, an item from one of the Bay Area websites presumed that Raiders running back Michael Bush will be swimming in gold coins come free agency in 2012.  Though Bush definitely won’t be pitching a tent in Zucotti Park, he will still be earning a fraction of the game’s truly elite backs.

Bush, while talented, possesses skills that aren’t uncommon at the NFL level.  Every year, college programs throughout the country churn out men who will move the chains, with competent blocking.  Though Bush, who would have been a first-round pick but for a gruesome leg injury in the first game of his final season at Louisville, lands on the high end of the curve, he’s not in the Adrian Peterson/Chris Johnson financial district, yet.

The performance of guys like Lions’ reclamation project Kevin Smith underscores that point, and eventually will undermine Bush’s case for big dollars.  Unwanted by the Lions after three seasons with the team and drawing zero interest elsewhere, Smith hung around and hung around until the Lions decided that their running game was sufficiently bad to justify bringing back one of the lone bright spots from that 0-16 team of 2008.

Smith responded Sunday with 201 total yards and three touchdowns.

Though the performance may have given Smith a short-term assignment pending the return of Jahvid Best, Kevin Smith’s career nevertheless will be remembered more like Timmy’s than Emmitt’s.  Yes, playing the position requires speed and toughness and courage and durability.  But of all the things that NFL players are required to do (other than kicking, punting, holding, and long-snapping), those traits seem to be the most common.

That’s why only a few get paid a ton of money, and that’s why veterans like Larry Johnson, Clinton Portis, and Tiki Barber are spending the 2011 season unemployed, and flabbergasted.

3.  Percy Harvin would be special, if he got the touches.

There’s a guy in Minnesota who has those interchangeable tailback skills, but at a far higher level than most.  The only problem is that, for reasons neither known nor apparent, the Vikings don’t use him as much as they should.

Percy Harvin made a big splash in 2009 as a rookie receiver and kickoff returner.  Lost in the shuffle of last year’s disappointing season, Harvin nevertheless had more yards from scrimmage.

This year, with not even a mention of an issue with migraines that previously plagued him at the pro level, his workload hasn’t spiked the way that it should for a third-year player who has shown a ton of potential.

Maybe it’ll come in 2012, after quarterback Christian Ponder gets more comfortable and the Vikings upgrade their offensive line via free agency and/or the draft.  Maybe it’ll eventually have to come after Harvin joins a new team.

Regardless, at some point Percy Harvin deserves a chance to become the total package — whether as a full-time receiver or a part-time wideout/tailback or even as a full-time Darren Sproles-style option out of the backfield.  Harvin could be so much better than he has been, and he’s one of the few true stars that remain on the roster of a 2-8 team.

4.  Caveat emptor, quarterback edition.

Titans tailback Chris Johnson still isn’t earning his money.  A week after racking up 100-plus rushing yards for the first time since getting paid, Johnson’s average plunged to 1.1, with 13 yards on 12 carries.

The lesson to the Titans, and the rest of the league, is becoming more obvious:  Don’t pay big money to a running back who has held out for all of training camp and the preseason, especially when there are so many others who can do the job.

In Buffalo, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has provided another piece of advice for NFL teams:  Don’t pay an up-and-coming quarterback during the season in which he’s up-and-coming.

Fitzpatrick’s game has evaporated since he put his name at bottom of a six-year, $59 million contract.  Yes, the Bills celebrated the new deal with a 23-0 win against the Redskins in Toronto.  But the team, and most importantly Fitzpatrick, had their mojo (along with their Deux Deux Deuxs) confiscated at the Canadian border.

Outscored 106-26 in games against the Jets, Cowboys, and Dolphins, Buffalo now finds itself in a 2008-style free-fall, with any realistic chances of a postseason appearance riding on the ability to somehow get their groove back.

And, please, don’t point out that the 2001 Patriots were also 5-5 after 10 games.  The Pats’ arrow was pointing up a decade ago.  The Bills’ tank is, by all appearances, on empty.

By giving Fitzpatrick that big contract, it will be harder for the Bills to effectively consider all their options come January, given the money that has been tied up in the contract for Fitzpatrick.

5.  It’s time to extend the goal posts, somehow.

On Sunday, a pair of field goals created a little controversy, due in part to the fact that today’s kickers routinely blast the ball higher than the uprights extend.

In Cleveland, Phil Dawson believed a 38-yarder that would have put the Browns up by seven points late was good, even though the officials disagreed.  The lost three-pointer nearly ended up haunting the Browns, who had to hold off one final charge by the Jaguars.

In Washington, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan didn’t agree that a 39-yard try in overtime from Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey had satisfied the standard for chalking up a field goal.

In both cases, the ability to determine whether the kick was good was complicated by the fact that the ball went above the uprights.

For kicks that go over the U-shaped structure, the rule book requires the ball to pass fully within the outside edge of the uprights.  Which basically means that if an official standing directly under the outside edge of the upright looks straight up and sees no portion of the ball, the kick is good.

Good luck getting in the right spot and making the right judgment while the ball is soaring right through the air at least 30 feet above the ground.

The easy fix would be to make the uprights taller.  Sure, they already look goofy with the extra-long extensions that would dwarf the H-shaped contraptions of yesteryear.  And the laws of physics would result in much greater stress being placed on the corners of the crossbar as wind blows the very tops of even longer beams.

Still, it’s 2011.  The NFL eventually found a fake grass that performs much better than green cement, and the NFL easily could find a material that would perform well when elongated by an extra 10 feet, even in high winds.

At a minimum, the league should consider a high-tech solution that would use sensors or lasers to visibly extend the post, or that would allow the officials to determine easily whether the ball indeed passes inside the outer edge of the uprights.

As the sport grows and the importance of the outcome of each game (or, for the fantasy football crowd, each extra point and field goal) becomes more significant, the league needs to be prepared to take all reasonable steps to iron out any potential glitches in the rules.  After Sunday, it’s obvious that the league needs to address the height of the goal posts.

6.  Sorting out the offsetting penalties in Eagles-Giants.

The PFT email box and Twitter pipeline exploded on Sunday night, after a penalty for illegal use of hands against the Giants during a 50-yard pass to Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson and a post-play taunting penalty on Jackson completely wiped out the gain and gave Philly an unwanted do-over from their own two yard line.

The prevailing thought was that Eagles should have been able to decline the penalty against the Giants, and then to have the 15 yards walked off after the play, giving Philly a 35-yard gain.

But the outcome reflected the proper application of a strange donut hole in the rule book.

The process gets started at Rule 14, Section 1, Article 9:   “If there has been a foul by either team during a down and there is a dead ball foul by the other team in the action immediately after the end of the down, it is a double foul, and all rules for enforcement of double fouls apply (see 14-3-1).”

Regarding double fouls, Article 14, Section 3, Rule 1 provides as follows:  “If there is a double foul . . . without a change of possession, the penalties are offset and the down is replayed at the previous spot.”

In this case, a key exception almost applied, but ultimately didn’t.  “If one of the fouls is of a nature that incurs a 15-yard penalty and the other foul of a double foul normally would result in a loss of 5 yards only (15 yards versus 5 yards),” the rule book states, “the major penalty yardage is to be assessed from the previous spot.”  Since the penalty on the Giants entailed a five-yard penalty AND an automatic first down, the exception didn’t apply in Jackson’s case.  Even if it had (for example, if the Giants had simply been offside), the Eagles would have had the 15 yards walked off (or, in this case, half the distance to the goal) from the previous spot.

Either way, the penalty on the Giants ultimately penalized the Eagles.  Though the officials sorted it all out properly in real time, the rule book definitely needs to be tweaked to prevent such unfair outcomes.

7.  Vince Young clinches a second chance to start.

The stats weren’t pretty, especially with three interceptions and a passer rating of 69.0, but Vince Young’s performance in the clutch during a primetime game for the squad he unintentionally gave the “Dream Team” label could go a long way toward giving him a shot at a starting job in 2012.

After Young signed with the Eagles following his unceremonious exile from Nashville, Eagles president Joe Banner told PFT Live that Young wanted a one-year deal, even though the Eagles had hoped to lock him up for two.  Young’s insistence on a shorter term lets him get back to the market again in March. Even if he doesn’t take another snap this year, he has done enough to earn extra consideration in this quarterback-need league.

Young, quite simply, is Tim Tebow plus the ability to throw the ball reasonably accurately, albeit unconventionally.  Young still can perform at a high level; the challenge will be to match him up with a coach who’ll be able to shepherd Young through the adversity he’ll inevitably face as a starting quarterback.

Young faced plenty of it last night, and he did enough to keep the “Dream” alive, even if it dies for good next week against the Patriots.

8.  Eli catches the Romo disease.

Two weeks ago, many were singing the praises of Peyton Manning’s kid brother.  Since then, Eli has been playing like the evil twin of Tony Romo.

Late turnovers in losses to the 49ers and the Eagles have dropped the Giants from 6-2 to 6-4, plunging them into a tie with the Cowboys and giving the Eagles a glimmer of hope, especially since Philly currently holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over both Dallas and New York.

In each of the last three weeks, Eli’s passer rating for the season has dropped.  And last night’s 74.0 doesn’t take into account the play that killed the Giants’ late hopes for a comeback — a fumble when Eli was hit from behind by Jason Babin.

As the Giants find themselves in the midst of yet another late-season collapse, Eli needs to find a way to turn those late opportunities into something other than turnovers.  If he can’t, plenty of jobs could be turning over in New York after the season ends.

9.  Bears could be in a real bind.

Peter King explained late night for an exclusive SNF Extra video that the thumb injury to Bears quarterback Jay Cutler could be a killer for Chicago.  Contrary to the classic design of the Mike Martz offense, Cutler had been moving more out of the pocket in order to buy time behind a work-in-progress offensive line.

With Caleb Hanie getting the nod, the Bears either need to get him comfortable doing what Cutler was doing, or hope the offensive line gets a lot better.

In the interim, it could mean more reps for Matt Forte, who’ll only add to his pay-the-man case if the Bears climb onto his back while Cutler is out.

And as to anyone who thinks that my lobbying last week for the Texans to pursue Brett Favre in lieu of Matt Leinart applies to the Bears, my perceived lunacy doesn’t extend to Illinois.  The Martz offense is too complex, the Bears are too cheap, and Martz is too obsessive-compulsive to ever make Favre a potential match there, even though it would give Brett a shot at the Vikings and at least one crack at the Pack.

The best bet for the Bears is to hunker down with Hanie, and hope for the best.

Unless Marc Bulger, who ran the Martz offense in St. Louis, decides to emerge from retirement.

10.  Catching up with what’s a catch.

It had been five weeks since the last time the Calvin Johnson rule reared its head in a game situation.  On Sunday, the Bengals lost a touchdown pass to Jermaine Gresham via the application of a rule that routinely defies with the expectations of the reasonable fan.

Gresham bobbled the ball near the end zone, got possession of it in the vicinity of the goal line, took two steps, fell to the ground with the ball in one hand, and lost the ball when the hand holding it struck the ground.

This year, the league has emphasized the element of time, treating such plays as valid receptions if the receiver who, while going to the ground, had enough time to make a football move, regardless of whether a football move was actually made.  And that seems to be what Gresham did.  Or at least could have done.

Perhaps more importantly, the fact the officials in real-time called it a catch (and thus a touchdown) would require conclusive 100-drunks-in-a-bar evidence to overturn the play.  With the question of whether Gresham had enough time to make a football move a topic that strays into the realm of professional judgment, referee Ron Winter should have deferred to the ruling on the field that Gresham had possession long enough to make a football move.

The outcome reconfirms that the league needs to clean up the rule book once and for all regarding what is and what isn’t a catch when a receiver hits the ground.  The “football move” exception is a twist on the uncodified “second act” rule, which allowed the requirement of maintaining possession through the ground to be disregarded when the receiver manages to break the plane of the goal line while falling.

The NFL needs to just start over, crafting a simple rule that the officials can consistently apply — and that meshes with what a reasonable person would regard to be a catch, or not a catch.

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Chiefs announce eight roster cuts

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 16: Detailed view of Kansas City Chiefs helmets on the sidelines before the game against the Oakland Raiders at Coliseum on December 16, 2012 in Oakland, California. The Oakland Raiders defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 15-0. Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Chiefs made eight roster cuts Sunday as they move towards Tuesday’s deadline to trim their roster to 75 players.

Waived by the team Sunday were wide receivers Seantavius Jones and Kashif Moore; defensive backs Bryce Cheek and Malcolm Jackson; defensive lineman Niko Davis; linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi and offensive linemen Drew Nowak and Curtis Feigt.

Massaquoi was a fifth-round pick of the Falcons in 2012 and has played in 39 career games. Nowak has prior experience with the Seahawks and Jaguars, and Jones played in three games for the Saints last season.

Final cuts to the regular season roster size of 53 are due by Sept. 3.

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Bill O’Brien “pleased” with where Brock Osweiler is right now

Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) throws against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith) AP

The Texans are a couple of weeks away from their first regular season game with Brock Osweiler at quarterback and the team is happy with the way things have gone in the preseason.

Assuming he sits on Thursday, Osweiler closed out the exhibition season by going 11-of-13 for 146 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals in a 34-24 victory. One of the incompletions was a drop by rookie wide receiver Will Fuller, who had a good day otherwise with three catches for 67 yards and a touchdown.

Osweiler also had success throwing to Braxton Miller and DeAndre Hopkins before handing the offense over to Tom Savage in a game that left coach Bill O’Brien feeling good about the man the Texans signed to run his offense.

“I thought Brock went in there and managed the offense well,” O’Brien said. “Made some good throws. I was pleased. He’s made a lot of progress. Improved every day. Easy guy to coach. Pleased with where he is right now.”

Osweiler’s done better each week during the preseason and said after the game that his confidence is growing every time out, which is the kind of trajectory you’d expect to see from a player gaining a better understanding of the offense. Should that trend continue, the Texans will like their chances of opening the year with a home win over the Bears.

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Report: 49ers likely to jettison Kaepernick, for football reasons

San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick, left, and Blaine Gabbert stand on the sideline during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Green Bay Packers on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. Green Bay won 21-10. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) AP

Colin Kaepernick has suddenly become the most controversial player in the NFL because of his refusal to stand for the national anthem. But there may be another issue that could cost him his job in San Francisco: He’s not a very good quarterback.

Jay Glazer said on FOX that the 49ers are deeply concerned with Kaepernick’s decline as a player, which started last season when he struggled before getting benched, then got even worse this offseason when he lost significant muscle mass when he couldn’t work out following multiple surgeries.

“Regardless of politics or not, he has a very, very big uphill battle to make this team,” Glazer said. “I’d be shocked if he’s on the 49ers by the time this season ends. It has nothing to do with political views whatsoever. He lost a ton of weight this offseason, had three surgeries, couldn’t work out, lost that double threat, that size-speed ratio. No political views, he just hasn’t been effective. He’s regressing as a player. I’d be shocked if he’s on this roster by the end of this year. He may not be on it in the next two weeks.”

Kaepernick’s contract guarantees him an $11.9 million salary this season, and ordinarily a player with an $11.9 million guaranteed salary isn’t going to get cut. But if the 49ers really think Kaepernick has regressed to the point where they’d be better off with Blaine Gabbert starting and Christian Ponder and Jeff Driskel backing Gabbert up, then they can save a little money by cutting Kaepernick and hoping he signs with another team, as they would be able to reduce that $11.9 million by the amount of Kaepernick’s salary with a new team.

So there are football reasons that the 49ers might want to get rid of Kaepernick. At this point, they probably wish they had done so before this weekend’s non-football controversy.

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Rueben Randle, Chris Givens headline first wave of Eagles cuts

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - AUGUST 27: Frankie Williams #46 of the Indianapolis Colts makes a tackle against Rueben Randle #82 of the Philadelphia Eagles in the third quarter of a preseason NFL game at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 27, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Wide receiver Rueben Randle said last week that he feels he gets “read wrong because I do a lot of things naturally and it doesn’t seem like I’m giving much effort.”

He’ll need to prove his effort level somewhere other than Philadelphia. Randle, whose inconsistency and perceived inattention to detail were problems during his years with the Giants, was among the players cut from the Eagles roster on Sunday as they dropped to 73 players.

He wasn’t the only veteran receiver bounced in the cutdown. Chris Givens was also given a pink slip, leaving both veterans out of work months after signing with the Eagles. Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, Dorial Green-Beckham, Nelson Agholor and Paul Turner are among the nine wideouts still on the roster.

The Eagles also parted ways with long snapper John DePalma, cornerback Randall Evans, offensive lineman Andrew Gardner, defensive tackle Mike Martin, safety Nick Perry and cornerback Denzel Rice. Linebacker Joe Walker and defensive end Alex McCalister were both placed on injured reserve.

All teams have to be down to 75 players by Tuesday’s deadline, leaving the Eagles in position to add players while other teams are dropping them in the next couple of days.


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Kaepernick: Liberty, freedom and justice are not happening for all

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, left, greets Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers at the end of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. Green Bay won 21-10. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) AP

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision not to stand during the playing of the national anthem before games this year was the main topic in the 49ers locker room on Sunday as Kaepernick provided further explanation for that decision.

Kaepernick pointed to police brutality against people of color and said people are “not being held accountable” for their actions. He also criticized both of the major party candidates for president — “You have Hillary [Clinton] who’s called black kids, black teens ‘super predators.’ You have [Donald] Trump who’s openly racist” — while speaking for about 20 minutes on Sunday.

“Ultimately it’s to bring awareness and make people realize what’s really going on in this country,” Kaepernick said, via Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News. “There are a lot of things that are going on that are unjust, people aren’t being held accountable for, that’s something that needs to change. That’s something, that, this country stands for liberty, freedom, justice for all. And it’s not happening for all right now. … I’ll continue to sit. I’m continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me this is something that has to change, and when there’s significant change and I feel that that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent and this country is representing people in the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”

Kaepernick also addressed one of the frequent criticisms of his stand by saying that his decision to sit during the anthem is not a sign of disrespect for those that have served the United States in the military.

“I have great respect for our men and women that fought for this country,” Kaepernick said. “I have family, I have friends that have fought for this country. And they fight for freedom. They fight for liberty and justice, for everyone. And that’s not happening. I mean, people are dying in vain because this country is not holding its end of the bargain up as far as giving freedom and justice and liberty to everybody. It’s something that’s not happening. I’ve seen videos, I’ve seen circumstances, where men and women that have been in the military have come back and been treated unjustly by the country they fought for, and have been murdered by the country they fought for. On our land. That’s not right.”

Kaepernick’s meeting with the media came after 49ers players held a meeting that saw Kaepernick address his teammates. Center Daniel Kilgore said he “took offense” to Kaepernick’s actions before Friday’s game, but after listening to his teammate said “I do stand with Kap when he says enough is enough against crime, violence, discrimination and racism.”

Others are sure to continue to share their disagreements with Kaepernick’s point of view as they have over the last few days, which is their right just as it is Kaepernick’s to be on the other side of the issue. That’s something worth appreciating about this country wherever you might fall on the spectrum.

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Devon Still facing likely fine for knocking off Carson Palmer’s helmet

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) throws against the Houston Texans during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith) AP

In Sunday’s Cardinals-Texans game, Houston linebacker John Simon made an athletic play on a screen pass, tipping the ball, catching it, and exploding for a long return to the end zone for a score. The more significant moment from a play in an otherwise insignificant preseason game came immediately after the interception.

Texans defensive lineman Devon Still, drafted by the Bengals months after Palmer decided he no longer was playing for the team, applied a helmet-to-helmet hit on Palmer as he lunged to make the tackle of Simon. The hit sent Palmer’s helmet flying.

(A current Bengal would say Palmer simply should have just run his ass back to the sideline.)

Even when a quarterback decides to try to make a tackle after a turnover, he can’t be hit in the head or neck area or with the helmet. The move, which didn’t draw a penalty flag on Still, will likely nevertheless result in a fine being imposed.

Palmer’s sideline demeanor suggested that he chipped a tooth on the play. Coupled with a pair of interceptions in limited work, Palmer’s 2016 isn’t starting much differently than his 2015 ended.

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Devin Smith to reserve/PUP, Jets cut 11 other guys

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 04:  Eric Decker #87 of the New York Jets celebrates with Devin Smith #19 of the New York Jets as he scores their second touchdown during the game against Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium on October 4, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets stashed wide receiver Devin Smith on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, and cut 11 guys to get their roster down to 78 prior to Tuesday’s deadline to get to 75.

Smith wasn’t ready after tearing his ACL last December, but he didn’t look ready before then, either. The 2015 second-rounder only caught nine passes as a rookie.

Smith will miss the first six weeks of the regular season before he can be activated.

The Jets also released linebacker Deion Barnes, tackle Jesse Davis, center Kyle Friend, defensive lineman Shelby Harris, guard Jarvis Harrison, kicker Ross Martin, defensive lineman Helva Matungulu, running back Lache Seastrunk, tight end Jason Vander Laan, wide receiver Kyle Williams and running back Terry Williams.

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Carson Palmer done for day after two picks, hit to head

SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 19:  Quarterback Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals looks from the sidelines during the game with the San Diego Chargers during preseason at Qualcomm Stadium on August 19, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) Getty Images

The good news for the Cardinals starting offense on Sunday is that they found the end zone for the first time in the preseason.

The bad news is that David Johnson’s touchdown run was sandwiched between a pair of Carson Palmer interceptions. Vince Wilfork tipped a ball that wound up in Andre Hal’s hands to end the first Arizona possession of the game and set up a Houston touchdown.

Interception No. 2 came on a great play by Texans linebacker John Simon to tip an attempted screen into the air before corralling it and rumbling 59 yards for a touchdown. That poor outcome was made worse when Palmer was drilled by Texans defensive lineman Devon Still after a futile attempt to stop Simon. The hit to the head left Palmer without a helmet and members of the Texans medical staff were looking at Palmer on the bench after Drew Stanton took over at quarterback on the next possession.

That’s likely the last that we’ll see of Palmer this preseason. If so, he’ll end the exhibition season 12-of-22 for 139 yards with three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. That line doesn’t wipe out memories of the NFC title game as opening night against the Patriots draws closer.

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Rex Ryan suggests that, on his team, it’s mandatory to stand for the anthem

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library Getty Images

Plenty of NFL coaches and players will be asked plenty of questions about the decision of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to not stand for the national anthem. Bills coach Rex Ryan addressed the topic during a press conference on Sunday.

While Ryan chose his words carefully, his message was clear: On his team, guys stand for the anthem.

“I think first off, it’s an important thing for me,” Ryan said of the national anthem. “I think it’s a way of showing respect for the men and women who have served our country and are currently serving our country and that’s kind of how I look at it. But I have and I understand now that there’s some religious beliefs that don’t necessarily allow that. I had a player, he was really distraught over it, came up and saw me, and I’m like. ‘Hey look, you’ve got to do . . . .'”

Ryan didn’t identify the player who expressed concern or provide a time frame for the incident, and he wasn’t asked to do so.

“Anytime I talk to my team about that, if there’s personal beliefs or whatever that keep you from doing it, I understand,” Ryan said. “But at the same time, you know, you’ve got to look at the gifts that we have, the opportunity that we have to play a great game is through the men and women that serve our country. I think that’s an opportunity right there just to show respect, and I think that’s why when you see our team, every one of us are on that line and that’s kind of our way of giving thanks.”

Making Ryan’s remarks more intriguing than if they came from any other coach is the fact that Ryan previously has made his affinity for Kaepernick as a player clear. Also, Buffalo offensive coordinator Greg Roman served in that role during the best years of Kaepernick’s career. So if/when Kaepernick is available, the Bills are one of the short-list teams that would be obviously interested in him.

If Kaepernick persists in his refusal to stand for the flag, maybe they won’t be.

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Broncos seeing if anyone wants Britton Colquitt after offering pay cut

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 19:  Britton Colquitt #4 of the Denver Broncos celebrates their 26 to 16 win over the New England Patriots during the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 19, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Broncos used a seventh-round pick on a punter, not a high price to pay to find out if a guy can play.

And apparerently, Riley Dixon has punted well enough to convince them to try to move their high-priced incumbent.

According to Mike Klis of KUSA, the Broncos have called around to see if anyone’s interested in trading for veteran punter Britton Colquitt.

Dixon did all the punting and holding in Saturday’s game, and there was nothing about the performance (44.9 yards per punt) to make it obvious he can’t do it. And Colquitt seemed to realize he might have done his last work for the Broncos.

“We’ll see what God has planned,” Colquitt said. “God’s got me this far so I’m putting everything in his hands and we don’t have control over anything, anyway.’’

Of course, God wasn’t the one who decided to sign Colquitt to a contract extension after 2012 that made him the highest-paid punter in the game — that was John Elway. Colquitt took a pay cut last year, and they’ve offered him another this year, from $3.25 million down to $1.6 million.

It’s hard to imagine they’d get much in exchange for someone, or that anyone who traded for Colquitt wouldn’t try to beat the same kind of pay cut out of him.

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Mike Jenkins carted off after non-contact injury

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 03:  Mike Jenkins #24 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defends a pass to  Corey Brown #10 of the Carolina Panthers in the 1st quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cardinals were expected to play safety Tyrann Mathieu against the Texans on Sunday, but the team reversed course and sat Mathieu as he continues to make his way back from a torn ACL.

They also kept cornerback Patrick Peterson on the bench and now they’ve lost another member of the secondary. Cornerback Mike Jenkins, who signed with the team this offseason, went down without any contact while trying to tackle DeAndre Hopkins after a catch in the first quarter of the game.

A cart was sent out to pick up Jenkins, who banged his casted hand on it while being driven off the field with a look on his face that suggested a serious injury.

With Jenkins out, the Cardinals turned to Justin Bethel, who is fresh off the PUP list following foot surgery. The Texans went right at him and Brock Osweiler hit Will Fuller for a 35-yard gain that set up a field goal.

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Chargers confirm Branden Oliver suffered Achilles injury

San Diego Chargers running back Branden Oliver, left, is tackled by Arizona Cardinals defensive back Matthias Farley during the second half of a preseason NFL football game, Friday, Aug. 19, 2016, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy) AP

After Chargers running back Branden Oliver was carted off the field during Sunday’s game against the Vikings, FOX Sports reported on the telecast that Oliver had suffered an injury to his Achilles tendon.

Chargers coach Mike McCoy confirmed that injury when he met with the media after the game. Oliver is expected to miss the rest of the regular season.

“For a guy who works so hard and does everything the right way… it’s a shame,” McCoy said.

Oliver also missed the final eight games of last season with a toe injury, so it will have been a long time since he’s seen regular season action by the time the 2017 season rolls around.

Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead top the depth chart at running back for the Chargers. There’s little experienced depth behind them, which could lead the Chargers to look for help from someone who shakes loose from another roster.

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Darrel Young among 10 Bears cuts

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 20:  Darrel Young #36 of the Washington Redskins celebrates after scoring a third quarter touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles at FedExField on December 20, 2014 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Fullback Darrel Young’s time with the Bears didn’t last long.

The Bears signed the veteran to their 90-man roster on August 4, but announced Sunday that he is one of the first 10 cuts from the roster ahead of Tuesday’s deadline to drop to 75 players. Young, who played 90 games for the Redskins over the past six seasons, saw action in all three of the Bears’ preseason contests.

Chicago also waived running back Senorise Perry, who played all 16 games for the team in 2014 before missing all of last season with a foot injury. He was behind Jeremy Langford, Ka’Deem Carey, Jacquizz Rodgers and rookie Jordan Howard on the depth chart.

The other players waived on Sunday were wide receivers Kieren Duncan, Derek Keaton and Darrin Peterson; tight end Gannon Sinclair; offensive linemen John Kling and Martin Wallace; defensive lineman Keith Browner and defensive back Joel Ross.

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Jason Garrett on Tony Romo: We’ll take the situation day by day

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 03:  Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys sits on the bench late in the fourth quarter as the Washington Redskins beat the Dallas Cowboys 34-23 at AT&T Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett wasn’t ruling quarterback Tony Romo out of the regular season opener on Saturday and Sunday didn’t find him delivering a different message.

Garrett said that Romo is “going to start getting into rehab” that will include wearing a back brace to support the compression fracture in his back. That injury will reportedly keep Romo out for the next 6-10 weeks, but Garrett said that no one in the organization is setting a date for Romo’s return at this point in the process.

“Yeah, again, like with every player on our team, we’ll take the situation day by day,” Garrett said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Tony has a broken bone in his back. It’s a fracture. We’ve gotten a lot of different timetables for when he can return. We also know he’s played with a broken bone in his back before, so there is no reason for me to stand up here and put a timetable on this. I think a lot of that is people outside of this building have suggested what the timetable is. That’s not the world we live in. We live in the world of day by day, do what you can to get yourself better and we’ll update you as we go.”

Sunday is the first full day of practice for the Cowboys since Romo’s injury and Garrett said his message to the team is to “focus on doing our jobs” because adversity is an unavoidable part of the game. The Cowboys haven’t done a good job facing adversity caused by previous Romo injuries, but the hope this time is that Dak Prescott can keep the offense from falling off track without Romo.

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Jim Irsay says no surgery, 2-4 week absence for Jack Mewhort

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 07: Offensive tackle Jack Mewhort #75 of the Indianapolis Colts against the New York Jets during a preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 7, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

During Saturday’s game against the Eagles, Colts guard Jack Mewhort left with a knee injury and early reports were that he suffered a torn ACL that would end his 2016 season before August was out.

Colts owner Jim Irsay provided a more positive update to Mewhort’s condition on Sunday afternoon, however. Per Irsay, there’s no ACL tear and Mewhort’s return should come before the end of September.

That’s positive news for a Colts offensive line that hasn’t produced much of it in recent seasons and has struggled again this offseason, including a rough time in pass protection against the Eagles that led to an earlier than planned exit for Andrew Luck. Mewhort’s absence will still force some short-term shuffling while they try to fix the overall problems up front before Luck’s next exit comes by something other than coach Chuck Pagano’s choice.

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