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Sunday night wrap-up: Rodgers is back, so are Packers

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Yeah, that stuff Aaron Rodgers was saying the other day about his own play not being up to par?

Never mind.

Rodgers was back to MVP Rodgers, and he dragged the Packers back to looking like champions along with him.

He was laser-sharp while carving up the Texans 42-24 Sunday night, completing 24-of-37 passes for 338 yards and six touchdowns, the same amount the Texans had allowed in their 5-0 start. (Watch the highlights here.)

And it wasn’t as if Rodgers stood back with clean pockets all day.

He stood in and took shots and delivered passes, he scrambled for first downs and more when plays broke down. He read through progressions, and found guys who weren’t the first choice.

In short, he was Rodgers again.

And as long as that’s the case, the 3-3 Packers are as good if not better than any team in the NFL.

Here’s another thing: They’re without their best wideout in Greg Jennings, although Jordy Nelson is quickly making that a debate. And a guy with bad hands (James Jones) has caught multiple touchdowns in three straight games.

Those things don’t happen in a vacuum, or with anything short of the best quarterback in the game throwing it to them.

Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:

1. The Texans didn’t look like the undefeated team that really hadn’t been pushed.

Or maybe they did.

The Texans were able to beat five teams by an average of 15.2 points per game coming into this one, and it might not be an accident that all five were AFC teams. In fact, the toughest of the lot might have been the Jets game, and the Jets can play a physical style you see more often in the other conference.

But from Connor Barwin trying to play buck-buck like Fat Albert on a field goal, to Danieal Manning trying to punch out from the bottom of a pile, the Texans played without much composure, which doesn’t bode well for the games that matter in January, when somebody else might punch back.

2. It’s not exactly breaking news to say that J.J. Watt is having a phenomenal year.

But with two more sacks, pushing him to 9.5 in six games, it becomes more amazing with each passing week.

A 3-4 defensive end is simply not supposed to do be able to do this. The job description, as originally written, doesn’t come close to what Watt is capable of doing. Ends in the 3-4 are supposed to contain the run, be solid and clog lanes for outside linebackers to make the glory plays.

It’s not like a receiver leading the league in rushing, but it’s at least the equivalent of a tight end leading the league in receiving yards, and speaks to his singular talent.

3. The Packers can’t keep inside linebackers healthy, but that doesn’t cover up the fact that one of them is playing very well.

Desmond Bishop was lost for the year with a preseason hamstring, and his replacement D.J. Smith left the game with a knee injury after a suspect block by Texans left tackle Duane Brown.

But the other Packers inside linebacker, A.J. Hawk, has been more than just solid of late, playing very well against the run. The Packers (who were also missing nose tackle B.J. Raji) held Texans running back Arian Foster to 22 yards on 13 carries in the first half, when the run game was a viable option.

Hawk has taken a lot of criticism, and it’s easy to make a case that he’s overpaid. But he’s played well when the Packers needed him most.

4. One other quick note on the Brown hit on Smith.

The Texans have now ceded the moral high ground, and can no longer complain about linebacker Brian Cushing’s season-ending injury from a block of similar intent by Jets guard Matt Slauson.

You can’t have it both ways, fellas.

A wise man told me once there’s a difference between innocent and righteous. Just because it wasn’t flagged doesn’t make it right.

5. The Texans spent a lot of money ($48.75 million for five years) on cornerback Johnathan Joseph, and they’re  not getting a return on their investment lately.

There was no injury reported during the game, but he came out for a few plays for backup Alan Ball.

The Texans struggled last week in the secondary against the Jets, and if they were playing a team with actual receivers (and more of a quarterback), it might have cost them then.

It caught up with them Sunday night.

Joseph is a good cover player, but his two-week lapse is noticeable, and something they can’t afford.

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Washington pounces on Cravens before Pats can


One of the more intriguing prospects in the draft has landed with his first NFL team, even though he thought it would be another one.

Washington made former USC linebacker Su’a Cravens the 53rd pick in the draft.

Via Tarik El-Bashir of CSN Mid-Atlantic, Cravens said he was surprised by the selection. He thought he would be picked by the Patriots.

Cravens can play safety and linebacker. He told reporters that Washington plans to use him as a linebacker in the dime defense, for now.

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Buccaneers trade up to take kicker Roberto Aguayo

TALLAHASSEE, FL - NOVEMBER 22: Kicker Roberto Aguayo #19 of the Florida State Seminoles kicks the game winning field goal against the Boston College Eagles during the game at Doak Campbell Stadium on November 22, 2014 in Tallahassee, Florida. The Seminoles defeated the Eagles 20-17. (Photo by Jeff Gammons/Getty Images) Getty Images

Not only did the Buccaneers take a kicker in the second round, they traded up to get him.

The Bucs moved up to take Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo with the 59th overall pick, an aggressive move considering the teams immediately in front of them (New England and Carolina) weren’t really a danger to take one.

Aguayo left school a year early, but he already earned his degree and was the most accurate kicker in college football, so there wasn’t a lot left to prove.

He’s the highest-drafted kicker since Mike Nugent went in the second round (47th overall) in 2005.

The Bucs had Connor Barth and Patrick Murray on the roster, but that probably won’t last long, as putting such a premium on Aguayo means he’s the guy.

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Report: Jets still want Ryan Fitzpatrick

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

Even after adding former Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg in round two of the draft, giving the Jets three quarterbacks under contract, they still want to bring back last year’s unexpected starter, Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the Jets still want to bring back Fitzpatrick, but possibly only on a one-year deal.

That actually may help get the deal done. A league source recently told PFT that one of the sticking points between player and team relates to the fact that the Jets have been offering a three-year deal with a solid payout ($10 million or $11 million) in 2016 but much lower salaries in 2017 and 2018.

If Fitzpatrick returns, it means that either Geno Smith (a second-round pick in 2013) or Bryce Petty (a fourth-round pick in 2015) will be the odd man out. If Fitzpatrick doesn’t return, it’s hard to envision a new team that would pay him the kind of money he’s reportedly looking for.

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Goodell still getting booed at draft


No, the draft isn’t being held in Boston. It just sounds that way.

Through both nights of the draft, Commissioner Roger Goodell has heard the boos repeatedly and regularly from fans attending the draft in Chicago. Next year, fans in a new city will have the chance to greet him, over and over, with a Park Avenue cheer.

It raises a broader question, one that became relevant a year ago when the name of quarterback Marcus Mariota was butchered at pick No. 2 (and Philip Dorsett later in the round): Why does Goodell keep delivering the picks personally?

Big Shield loves to talk about public confidence in the game. How is it good for public confidence in the game when the man ultimately in charge of it is being continuously disrespected by the only large, televised gathering of fans he addresses every year?

The time has come for the league to consider hiring an actor to deliver the picks, or to use a rotating cast of characters, like an awards show. The draft should be a celebration of the game, not a celebration for the fans’ apparent disdain of the man who runs the game.

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Jets select Christian Hackenberg

EAST LANSING, MI - NOVEMBER 28: Christian Hackenberg #14 of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks to pass against the Michigan State Spartans in the first half of the game at Spartan Stadium on November 28, 2015 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets haven’t been able to agree on a contract for the 2016 season and the chances of the Jets upping their offer for Fitzpatrick’s services may have taken a hit in the second round of the draft.

With the 51st pick of the draft, the Jets selected Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg.

Hackenberg had a strong first season with Penn State under Bill O’Brien, but struggled in his two seasons with James Franklin as the head coach. Accuracy was a major problem for Hackenberg and he took a ton of sacks, but has the size and arm that makes talent evaluators swoon because he looks like an NFL quarterback.

We’ll see how quickly he gets a chance to show that he can be one. With no Fitzpatrick, the Jets have Geno Smith and Bryce Petty on the depth chart at quarterback and it’s hard to predict how things will play out if they remain the three quarterbacks into the season.

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Reed’s selection means green room is empty

during the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. Getty Images

It took more than halfway through the second round to get there, but the NFL Draft’s green room is finally empty.

The Seahawks took Alabama defensive tackle Jarran Reed at No. 49 overall after a trade up. Reed is one of six of the 25 players who attended the draft but weren’t selected Thursday night during the first round.

Two of the six, Myles Jack and Kevin Dodd, didn’t come back to the draft Friday night. Both were selected early in the second round.

Reed’s Alabama teammate, A’Shawn Robinson, went back into the green room as a show of support for Reed after Robinson was drafted by the Lions at No. 46.

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Packers trade up to 48 for offensive tackle Jason Spriggs

PISCATAWAY, NJ - NOVEMBER 15: Ricky Jones #4, Jason Spriggs #78 and Dimitric Camiel #77 celebrate with teammate Shane Wynn #1 of the Indiana Hoosiers after a touchdown in the fourth quarter during a game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at High Point Solutions Stadium on November 15, 2014 in Piscataway, New Jersey.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Packers are usually the conservative ones, but they were willing to make a move to help their offensive line.

The Packers gave up a fourth and seventh-rounder to move up nine spots (right in front of the Bears, which the fans in Chicago loved) to draft Indiana tackle Jason Spriggs with the 48th overall pick.

Spriggs is an athletic player with impressive combine numbers, who could eventually supplant David Bakhtiari at left tackle.

The Packers don’t have to be in a hurry for that, but given the problems they’ve had in recent years keeping healthy linemen in front of Aaron Rodgers, you also understand why they were in a hurry to make a move.

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Jaguars trade pick they sent player to London to announce

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 22:  Ryan Nassib #12 of the New York Giants passes under pressure from Michael Bennett #96 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second half of preseason action at MetLife Stadium on August 22, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL Draft going international has hit a slight snag.

The Jaguars flew second-year defensive tackle Mike Bennett to London to announce pick No. 146, a fifth-round pick, on Saturday. But not long after the second round started Friday, the Jaguars traded that pick to the Ravens as part of their move up to select linebacker Myles Jack.

Bennett was watching in London.

Thanks for the flight!” Bennett tweeted.

The Jaguars have a commitment to play one home game in London every year through at least 2020, and as part of that deal they’re having fans in London announce some picks on Saturday. Bennett made the trip this year because his selection was announced in London last year.

A slight audible will be called, and Bennett seems to know he’ll announce another pick on Saturday.

“That’s one hell of a trade,” Bennett wrote in a follow-up tweet.

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Darron Lee left Urban Meyer hanging twice

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As we rocket through round two of the draft, regularly hearing from Ohio State coach Urban Meyer on the main desk at NFL Network, Meyer presumably is having a better night than he did on Thursday while in the green room at the draft.

Sure, Meyer can puff his chest about having five of his players drafted in round one. But the last one taken — linebacker Darron Lee — has left a lasting image involving Meyer.

Immediately after being picked by the Jets at No. 20, Lee snubbed Meyer’s attempted old-school high five. Not once, but twice.

Our friend Dov Kleiman has the video. Lee possibly didn’t notice the first one. But he clearly saw the second attempt, said something to Meyer, and walked away with a smile.

Maybe Lee didn’t notice the second one, either. Or maybe Lee was retaliating just a little (or a lot) for Meyer’s recent public criticism of quarterback Cardale Jones.

Maybe Meyer will be asked about either situation (or both) on the air tonight. Given that he’s appearing on an NFL-owned broadcast operation and in light of the manner in which the league tiptoes on eggshells around the men who run the NFL’s free farm system, don’t count on it.

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Lions end A’Shawn Robinson’s slide at No. 46

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  Draftee A'Shawn Robinson of Alabama arrives to the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Kena Krutsinger/Getty Images) Getty Images

Alabama defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson was widely viewed as a first-round talent in this year’s NFL draft, but it didn’t work out that way.

It wasn’t until the Lions were on the clock midway through the second round that Robinson got the call he was waiting for: The Lions had taken him with the 46th overall pick in the draft.

That’s a significant slide for Robinson, perhaps because many teams don’t view him as an every-down player. In Detroit, however, drafting a talented defensive tackle seems like good business. With Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker as the starters, Robinson can be a part-time player at first and perhaps a starter if Ngata or Walker are gone in 2017.

“It’s amazing to have this opportunity. I’m so happy to be a Detroit Lion,” Robinson said on NFL Network.

They’ll be happy to have him.

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Titans land Heisman winner Derrick Henry with 45th pick

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 11:  Derrick Henry #2 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates with his teammates after scoring a one yard touchdown in the second quarter against the Clemson Tigers during the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Former Titans defensive end Jevon Kearse has been getting a lot of airtime as he announces the team’s second-round picks on Friday night and he returned to the podium to let everyone know that the Titans selected running back Derrick Henry with the 45th overall pick.

Henry ran for 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns on 395 carries while helping Alabama to the National Championship during the 2015 season. He won the Heisman Trophy for his individual efforts and became the second running back selected in this year’s draft.

At 6’3″ and 247 pounds, Henry is a big back and should fit right into the “exotic smashmouth” offense that coach Mike Mularkey wants the Titans to play. He’ll join DeMarco Murray in the Tennessee backfield and Henry looks like a good fit as a banger when defenses have worn down over the course of a game.

The Titans previously added defensive end Kevin Dodd and defensive tackle Austin Johnson during the second round. They’ll be back with the first pick of the third round unless they decide to trade down.

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Ravens add picks to address defense, select pass rusher

FORT COLLINS, CO - OCTOBER 10:  Kamalei Correa #8 of the Boise State Broncos warms up prior to facing the Colorado State Rams at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Fort Collins, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Rams 41-10.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Ravens started the second round Friday night by trading down twice, first with the Jaguars and then with the Dolphins.

It’s fair to assume those trades were made with the intent of picking up extra picks to address the defense. When the Ravens went on the clock at pick No. 42, that process started.

They selected Boise State pass rusher Kamalei Correa, who figures to start his career playing behind veterans Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs on the edge of the Ravens defense. Dumervil is 32 and entering his 10th NFL season. Suggs is 33 and is attempting to return from a torn Achilles tendon for the second time.

Correa is an early entry to the draft after recording 11 tackles for loss and seven sacks last fall. He had 12 sacks in 2014.

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Defiant Manziel sounds off on Twitter

johnny_manziel.vadapt.664.high.52 Getty Images

The week began with Johnny Manziel being indicted for assault in Dallas. It’s ending with Manziel sounding off on Twitter about the criticism he has been absorbing.

“You guys act like what I’m doing is something new,” Manziel said. “I’ve been the same person, doing the same things since it all started.”

He’s right, and that’s the primary problem. He needs to change, but he hasn’t changed. In a separate tweet, he seems to acknowledge that.

Made plenty of mistakes along the way, and have a lot I’d do differently,” Manziel said. “To all my family and real friends who have stuck by me…THANK YOU.”

Manziel also went on the offensive against Will Burge of FOX Sports Ohio, who tweeted on Thursday night a photo of Manziel in Ohio, adding that “2 yrs ago he was a 1st rd pick…now hes unemployed watching it at a bar in Columbus b4 the Bieber concert.”

The former Browns quarterback said that Burge “should have just said it to my face instead of sitting across from us tweeting away. Pussy.”

Yep, Manziel is the same person. Which means his employment status will be the same as it is, indefinitely.

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Giants draft next Victor Cruz in case the old one can’t come back

at McLane Stadium on November 14, 2015 in Waco, Texas. Getty Images

The Giants are hoping they get Victor Cruz back on the field this year, to take some pressure off Odell Beckham Jr.

But they’re giving themselves options, just in case.

The Giants took Oklahoma wide receiver Sterling Shepard with the 40th overall pick.

Shepard’s a smaller wideout who works well out of the slot, and his quickness should allow him to contribute immediately.

Giants General Manager Jerry Reese even referred to him as “a young Victor Cruz,” which would be good news unless you’re the old one.

Cruz is trying to come back from knee and calf injuries which have kept him off the field since October 2014, but has been working out and declared himself 100 percent this week.

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Bills trade up for Reggie Ragland

525694490 Getty Images

Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland fell further in the draft than most expected. When he was still there 10 picks into the second round, the Bills decided to move up.

In a trade up with the Bears, the Bills went to No. 41 and selected Ragland, whom coach Rex Ryan surely sees as a good fit for his defense.

That defense was a big disappointment in Buffalo last season, and Ryan knows he needs to get it turned around. The 6-foot-1, 247-pound Ragland was a good middle linebacker in Nick Saban’s defense, and Ryan thinks he’ll help with a defensive turnaround in Buffalo as well.

“I can’t wait to play for coach Ryan,” Ragland said on NFL Network after he was picked.

And Ryan can’t wait to get his defense back on track, with Ragland playing a part.

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