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Vikings stadium bill clears another Senate hurdle

Vikings-Fans Getty Images

The Vikings stadium bill came back to life on Friday, and it continues to have a pulse on Monday.

Vikings director of corporate communications Jeff Anderson says, via Twitter, that the bill has been approved by the Senate Rules Committee.  Next, it will move to the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Committee.

The House version of the bill currently is being considered by the Ways and Means Committee.

On Monday’s PFT Live, I talked for a few minutes about the status of the bill and what it will take to move the situation to a resolution.

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Case Keenum limited in return to practice

at M&T Bank Stadium on November 22, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Getty Images

The failure of anyone to notice and react to Rams quarterback Case Keenum suffering a concussion during last Sunday’s game against the Ravens has led to a review of the league’s procedures for dealing with head injuries and a reminder to the league’s trainers that they’re supposed to react to such injuries in a timelier fashion than the Rams did.

While that work is going on, Keenum is working to return to the field for the team’s Week 12 game against the Bengals. He took a step toward doing that on Wednesday when he was a limited participant in practice. Coach Jeff Fisher said earlier this week that Keenum will start over Nick Foles if he’s cleared medically.

“He’s doing well,” Fisher said, via “He’s still in the protocol, so we couldn’t completely release him to full practice. But, he got under center. He split the reps with Nick and he felt pretty good. We’ll know better on Friday. Hopefully, he’ll be released and he’ll be able to play.”

Defensive end Robert Quinn remained out of practice with the hip and back injuries that kept him from playing against the Ravens. Cornerback Trumaine Johnson also sat out practice with a thigh injury.

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Bowles: It will be a bonus if Darrelle Revis plays Sunday

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 25:  Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets warms up before a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on October 25, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets are mired in a rut after losing four of their last five games, leading their quarterback to try shaving to see if it can get the team pointed back in the right direction.

It’s unlikely that Ryan Fitzpatrick’s follicle management will have much impact on the field, however, and it is also looking unlikely that cornerback Darrelle Revis will be around this Sunday to help the team against the Dolphins. Revis suffered a concussion in last Sunday’s loss to the Texans and coach Todd Bowles didn’t express much confidence that he’d recover in time for this weekend.

Revis hasn’t progressed to the point that he’s allowed to attend meetings with the team, which meant he stayed home on Wednesday and has several steps of the concussion protocol to pass before there’s any chance he’ll be in the lineup.

“We’re ready to play without him, but if he comes back it will be a bonus,” Bowles said, via the New York Post. “We’ll see later in the week. We’re preparing to play without him.”

Bowles said the team wouldn’t change the game plan too much without Revis, who would be replaced in the starting lineup by Marcus Williams or Buster Skrine.

Center Nick Mangold also missed practice after getting stitches in his right hand on Sunday. The injury interferes with Mangold’s ability to snap the ball, which is the kind of stumbling block that centers struggle to overcome.

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Mark Sanchez to start today, chance to change his Thanksgiving legacy

Buttfumble Getty Images

We have a chance at creating a new Thanksgiving tradition today, as long as we can get Mark Sanchez to butt-fumble again.

Via Ian Rapoport and teammate Albert Breer of the NFL Network (see, today’s about sharing with family), the Eagles will in fact start Sanchez at quarterback today against the Lions.

That was expected, as Sam Bradford was questionable with a concussion and shoulder problems, and Sanchez has taken the bulk of the work this week.

But it still brings back memories of what wasn’t Sanchez’s finest moment with the Jets, but perhaps the most illustrative, his Thanksgiving 2012 play against the Patriots when he ran smack-dab into the backside of guard Brandon Moore and coughed up the ball which was returned for a touchdown by Patriots safety Steve Gregory.

Whether that kind of magic can ever be duplicated is something we’ll have to tune in to see, but it’s Thanksgiving so anything is possible.

The Lions should at least be fully stocked, as Breer points out that questionable wide receiver Calvin Johnson and cornerback Darius Slay are expected to play.

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The anonymous sources are coming after Chip Kelly’s Eagles

Chip Kelly AP

One of the hallmarks of a coach who’s losing his team is that we begin to see stories in which anonymous sources question the coach’s methods and the team’s competitive. That’s happening in Philadelphia this week.

After the Eagles’ loss to the Buccaneers on Sunday dropped the team to 4-6, quoted an agent “who requested anonymity because of fear of retribution against his client” as saying that the players don’t buy what Kelly is selling.

“Chip Kelly has lost the team,” said the agent “Between the losses and his bull[bleep] methods that aren’t working, I can tell you that the players have tuned him out.”

The agent also said there’s at least one player on the team who’s using an injury as a reason not to play, even though it’s an injury he’d be able to play through, because “he won’t play hurt for Chip.”

Without knowing the identity of the agent, it’s impossible to assess the veracity of his claims. It may be an agent who feels that his client should be paid more and is upset that Kelly hasn’t agreed to give him a new contract. But what’s clear is there’s an atmosphere in Philadelphia in which people know they’ll have a sympathetic ear when they take anonymous shots at Kelly.

Another anonymously sourced story in Philadelphia had a player saying that when running back DeMarco Murray slid instead of trying to break a tackle, it showed that Murray isn’t fully invested in the team.

“Well, when you see DeMarco sliding before getting hit, you tell me – was that giving full effort?” the anonymous Eagle told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “You see that [stuff] and it makes you wonder.”

At the moment, the anonymous sources questioning the Eagles’ heart are a whisper. If they lose to the Lions today, those anonymous sources will become a roar. And that roar may be announcing the end of the Chip Kelly era in Philadelphia.

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Seahawks to activate Jeremy Lane this week

Jeremy Lane Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks will get some additional help back in their secondary this week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Head coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday the team will activate cornerback Jeremy Lane from the physically unable to perform list.

“Jeremy’s going to be active,” Carroll said. “And if he makes it through the week okay, he’s going to be dressing and playing.”

Lane has practiced the last two weeks after spending the first nine weeks ineligible on the PUP list.  Lane suffered a broken arm and torn ACL in the Super Bowl in February while making the first interception of his career off Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Lane suffered both injuries while being tackles by Julian Edelman along the Seahawks sideline.

Lane’s return comes at a needed time for Seattle. Cary Williams was benched by Seattle after allowing a 36-yard completion to Vance McDonald in the third quarter. He was replaced by Deshawn Shead, which moved Marcus Burley (playing with a cast on his right hand) into nickel duty.

Carroll said that Williams, Shead and Lane will all compete for the right cornerback job opposite Richard Sherman in practice. While Lane may become an option there in a couple of weeks, it would be unlikely he’d move straight into the starting lineup in his first game back, especially since Lane has primarily been a slot option in the past.

Nevertheless, it’s some needed veteran depth in a secondary that hasn’t played quite to its lofty standards this season. The team will still need to make a move to clear a spot on the 53-man roster for Lane later this week.

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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

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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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