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Moon thinks criticism of Newton is off-base, possibly racist

Cam Newton, Warren Moon AP

Few have worked as closely with Cam Newton as Warren Moon, and the Hall of Fame quarterback is still defending last year’s pupil, even while acknowledging his need to improve.

Moon thinks placing too much of the blame for the Panthers’ 1-5 start (and the firing of general manager Marty Hurney) at the second-year quarterback’s feet is wrong, and any suggestion he’s a bust is ridiculous.

“I think a lot of this is because so many people want to say ‘I told you so’ about him, but couldn’t because he was so good last year,” Moon told Yahoo’s Mike Silver in a wide-ranging interview. “I think people are overreacting. How can he be a bust? He just had one of the great years a rookie has ever had, and now he can’t play? Come on.”

Moon acknowledged he’d like to see Newton adopt a more even-keeled approach, something he’s done more of in recent weeks. But as he did prior to the draft last year, Moon thinks there’s an undertone of racism to some of the criticism.

“I don’t understand it,” Moon said. “I heard somebody compare him to Vince Young. It’s the same old crap – it’s always a comparison of one black to another black. I get tired of it. I get tired of defending it.

“If you want to compare him to someone because of his demeanor, compare him to Jay Cutler. There are a lot of guys who whine and moan. Cam’s not biting anybody’s head off or pushing his linemen. He’s just disgruntled, and not handling losing well, because, think about it, he basically didn’t lose in college.

“I don’t think Cam’s as bad as Cutler, because Cutler looks like he doesn’t give a damn sometimes, or he’s yelling and cussing at someone. Cam, he just looks down when they’re losing.”

Moon also doesn’t think the Panthers coaches are putting Newton in good positions to succeed by ignoring the run game with the talent they have, and leaning too heavily on the read-option principles he ran in college.

“I don’t know why they got away from what they were doing last year,” Moon said. “They were running more of a pro-style offense, and now they’re going more to the read-option, the stuff he did in college. I think some of it is coaching. I think some of it is they don’t have enough good players yet. And there’s no question he’s not playing as well as last year.

“That offense doesn’t allow you to be an NFL-type quarterback. It’s a lot of tricks, sticking the ball into a running back’s stomach, trying to freeze the defense. Even though he can do that and had success with it in college, I don’t think it serves him well in the long run. You can’t keep going back and forth. I think he’s a little bit confused with the footwork, and I think that’s one of the problems with his accuracy – his feet are crossed up. Why this change? I think it’s backfiring. I think they’re out-thinking themselves.”

Sounds familiar.

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Marqise Lee admits he was flagged for using the N-word

JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 28: Marqise Lee #11 of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks on before the game against the Atlanta Falcons at EverBank Field on August 28, 2014 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) Getty Images

Among the Jaguars who lost their cool (in addition to a game, but that’s no longer news) Sunday was Marqise Lee.

And the wide receiver said his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty came from directing the N-word at the Raiders, saying he was responding to their use of it as well.

“It was back and forth,” Lee said, via Mike DiRocco of “In the midst of the game, emotion is going from both teams. It just so happened the ref heard me, so therefore I got the flag. I’ve got to fess up to it.”

Lee wouldn’t identify the Raiders players who used the slur which triggered his response. He said there was no ill will toward the players, and his emotions simply got the better of him. But he also thought he shouldn’t have been flagged for a word, no matter how offensive it might be.

“Throughout the whole game we had a lot of players saying a lot of different things, but that’s just the midst of the game,” Lee said. “It’s kind of hard when you have refs out there trying to limit what people say when you’ve got grown men hitting each other. You’ve got a lot of things that’s going on that’s flaring as far as in your mind. These 42 [teammates] know as far as the things I said, it wasn’t intentional at all.

“I know he [the Raiders player he used the slur against] woke up the next day not worrying about it at all just like I woke up no worrying about it. I feel like you’re going to always have that issue because you’re going to always have situations where [emotions] flame up and both teams are going back and forth and things are going to get said regardless of if the ref likes it or not.”

The league has been cracking down on abusive language on the field since 2014, and Lee will be fined later this week. The idea to institute a rule banning a specific word as part of a broader rule was generally accepted as a decent idea, though some players thought it was a ridiculous attempt.

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Brock Osweiler expected the boos, and he got them in return to Denver

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 24:  Quarterback Brock Osweiler #17 of the Houston Texans during the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 24, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler had some clue what to expect from the Broncos defense, having worked alongside that group for four years.

And he also anticipated that fans in Denver might not welcome him warmly, after leaving them in free agency. They didn’t disappoint, booing him from the moment he walked on the field and throughout the Broncos’ 27-9 win over the former second-round pick and the guy once considered the heir to Peyton Manning’s throne.

I was definitely not surprised by that,” Osweiler said, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “I assumed I would get a lot of boos. In fact, I thought it would be a little bit louder with those boos.”

He tried to treat this as a normal week, but that was impossible from the moment he left in free agency for a four-year, $72 million deal with the Texans, leaving the Broncos scrambling a bit and settling on Trevor Siemian.

But in terms of his performance, it was mostly consistent with what he’s done since moving to Houston. He was 22-of-41 passing for 131 yards. He was only sacked once, which might have been the surprise of the night, but registered a barely there rating of 60.1. He also had his follies moment, with the ball slipping out of his hand for a fumble without being pressured at all.

He admitted a bit of relief at having the homecoming over.

“I think part of me says ‘yes,'” Osweiler said. “There was so much that was built up about myself and the Broncos. At the end of the day, it was the Houston Texans versus the Denver Broncos. We didn’t play a good enough football game to get this job done.”

Now he can get back to the business of trying to learn to be an NFL quarterback, as he still doesn’t have a full season of starting experience under his belt.

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Jay Gruden faults prevent defense for Washington’s loss

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 23: Quarterback Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions looks for a receiver down field against the Washington Redskins during first half action at Ford Field on October 23, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

With 1:05 to play on Sunday, Washington took a 17-13 lead in Detroit. Then the Lions executed a six-play, 75-yard drive to score the game-winning touchdown. Washington coach Jay Gruden says the defensive play calling deserves some of the blame.

Gruden said he would have liked to see more pressure on Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, but instead Washington only rushed three and dropped eight into coverage.

“I think when you look back at the call you’d like to get more people around Matthew,” Gruden said, via Liz Clarke of the Washington Post. “He does a great job of buying time and then finding seams and holes in the zone. He almost threw a touchdown earlier, scrambling out to his right because we didn’t get a lot of pressure on him. But at that time we were playing against the clock obviously; we wanted to stop a check-down so we decided to drop eight.”

Two Washington defensive linemen, Ricky Jean Francois and Chris Baker, said after the game that they would have liked to see a better pass rush at the end of the game. Gruden said he understood where they were coming from.

“I think as a pass rusher, if you’re a defensive lineman, you don’t want to drop into coverage,” Gruden said. “I mean, I respect their problem with dropping into a hook instead of rushing the quarterback because they really get paid to rush the quarterback. They don’t get paid to backpedal.”

The final drive couldn’t have gone any worse for Washington’s defense. Gruden’s comments suggest that there will be some changes to their approach the next time they’re nursing a fourth quarter lead.

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Question of the day ties to start of Warriors season

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 04:  Kevin Durant #35 talks to Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors during their game against the Los Angeles Clippers during their preseason game at ORACLE Arena on October 4, 2016 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

With the Steph Curry/Kevin Durant Warriors launching their season on Tuesday night and oddsmakers pegging Golden State and the field as having even chances of winning the NBA championship, there’s a PFT Live question of the day floating in there. Somewhere.

How about this: Which NFL team would currently have the best odds against the field for a Super Bowl win?

You know the drill. Make your choice, argue it out in the comments, and complain about teams we omitted.

And then tune in at 6:00 a.m. ET for the three-hour show, which begins on NBC Sports Radio and expands to NBCSN at 7:00 a.m. ET. Today’s show includes visits from Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David and Tom Curran of CSN New England.

If you miss it, or any edition of PFT Live, every hour of every show is available iTunes of audioBoom. Last week was our biggest yet, with more than 160,000 total downloads. Which means you may be missing something if you’re not listening. (Even though, truth in advertising, you really aren’t.)

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Seahawks tackle Bradley Sowell to miss time with sprained right knee

Bradley Sowell AP

The Seahawks will have to get by for at least the next few weeks without starting left tackle Bradley Sowell.

An MRI on Monday showed a sprained MCL in Sowell’s right knee suffered in the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s 6-6 tie with the Arizona Cardinals.

“It’s going to take a few weeks, we’ll see what it takes to get him back,” head coach Pete Carroll said.

George Fant replaced Sowell at left tackle for the remainder the game. Fant, an undrafted free agent from Western Kentucky, has incredibly limited football experience. He played basketball exclusively for the majority of his college career before joining the football team for his final season. He played defensive line and tight end at Western Kentucky in very limited action.

The Seahawks are excited about Fant’s upside. However, this may be earlier than Seattle would have hoped to have to throw him in the starting lineup.

“George jumped in there and we’ve been counting on young George to jump up at one of these times,” Carroll said. “We didn’t know when it was going to be. He did an admirable job for his first time ever and we’ll see how he goes.”

Seattle went into training camp hoping Garry Gilliam would seize their left tackle job. They could move Gilliam back to left tackle and put J’Marcus Webb at right tackle if they feel Fant is not yet ready for a starting role. Putting Webb at left tackle is also an option in the short-term.

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Broncos present Kubiak with game ball after easy win

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 2:  Head coach Gary Kubiak of the Denver Broncos looks on from the sidelines in the final moments of the fourth quarter of an NFL game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 2, 2016 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) Getty Images

Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib came out of the postgame locker room Monday night to talk with ESPN’s army of commentators.

Talib said the Broncos presented head coach Gary Kubiak with a game ball after their 27-9 win over the Texans because “we missed him last week. Our whole vibe last week was off. He’s just deserving. He made us had a great week of practice.”

Kubiak missed the Broncos’ Oct. 13 loss to the Chargers after being hospitalized and ordered by his doctors to take a week off.

The win over the Texans was special for the Broncos because Kubiak is the ex-Texans head coach and because quarterback Brock Osweiler left the Broncos for the Texans in free agency. Talib said the Broncos were ready, “mainly for Brock,” and played the way they believed they would.

“We wanted to get some good hits on him,” Talib said. “Unfortunately we didn’t get that many. We only got one sack.

“We liked our matchups…against their receiving corps. We just played our technique, man, we went out there and put hands on them. With a pass rush like [we have]…we know something is going to happen.”

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Osweiler struggles, Broncos roll to Monday night win

Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) escapes the reach of Denver Broncos defensive end Jared Crick during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

Quarterback Brock Osweiler left Denver last March to sign with the Texans. In his return Monday night, Osweiler never had much of a chance.

The Broncos’ defense dominated, Osweiler never hit enough passes to truly threaten and the Broncos powered their way to a 27-9 win. The Texans held an early 6-0 lead but only got inside the Broncos’ 25-yard line once all night, and that was in the third quarter.

The Broncos didn’t turn the ball over or give up a sack. They had touchdown drives of 72, 75 and 68 yards, respectively. C.J. Anderson ran for 107 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

The Broncos won the coin toss and chose to defer, putting Osweiler on the field first. Of course they chose to defer.

It was the right move, too, as Osweiler struggled all night. Through three quarters, Osweiler averaged 2.8 yards per pass. He finished 22-of-41 for 131 yards.

Anderson ran for a score and Demaryius Thomas caught a touchdown pass in the first half. The Broncos went up 21-9 late in the third quarter on the first touchdown run of rookie Devontae Booker’s NFL career.

The Broncos move to 5-2 and host the Chargers next week. The Texans are 4-3 and host the Lions next week.

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Broncos take full control

Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson (22) scores a touchdown against the Houston Texans during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey) AP

A short touchdown run by rookie Devontae Booker late in the third quarter extended the Broncos’ lead over the Texans to 21-9.

It’s become the kind of defensively dominated game most expected it would be. Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler has struggled in his return to Denver and the Broncos defense has gained confidence as the game has gone on. Through three quarters, Osweiler has averaged 2.8 yards per pass.

The Broncos have had touchdown drives of 72, 75 and 68 yards, respectively. It’s hard to imagine the Texans having enough left in the tank or enough offense to mount a fourth-quarter rally.

C.J. Anderson ran for a score and Demaryius Thomas caught a touchdown pass in the first half.

The touchdown was the first of Booker’s NFL career and the first third-quarter touchdown of the season for the Broncos.

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Report: Texans tackle Derek Newton tore patella tendons in both knees

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 24:  Tackle Derek Newton #72 of the Houston Texans is carted off the field in the first quarter of the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 24, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

Houston Texans right tackle Derek Newton has suffered torn patella tendons in both knees, according to Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL Media.

Newton went down without any contact as he was setting to block Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller early in Houston’s Monday night game in Denver. Trainers placed both of Newton’s legs in air casts before he was lifted onto a cart and taken from the stadium.

Chris Clark replaced Newton at right tackle.

A torn patella tendon is a devastating injury on its own. New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz and Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham are a couple of players to experience the injury in recent seasons. However, very few players have had to deal with tearing both tendons at the same time.

Former Chicago Bears receiver Wendell Davis had both knees give out while tracking a pass from Jim Harbaugh at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia in 1993. The injury effectively ended Davis’ career, though he did attempt a comeback with the Indianapolis Colts in 1995. More recently, Cleveland Browns cornerback Gary Baxter suffered the dual injury in a game against the Broncos in 2006. He also tried to return to football but never appeared in another game.

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Anderson touchdown caps long drive, gives Broncos first lead

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The Broncos have taken a 7-6 lead on the Texans early in the second quarter on a 7-yard touchdown run by C.J. Anderson.

The touchdown drive covered 85 yards in 10 plays and was the first productive Broncos’ drive of the night.

After a quick stop, a Trevor Siemian touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas made it 14-6. The Texans appear to be in trouble.

Both teams took their starting running backs out of the game after injury scares, but both are apparently OK. Lamar Miller was back in the game on the drive following the touchdown. Anderson was injured on the last play of the first quarter. He took a few plays off, then returned.

The Texans got two first quarter field goals to take a 6-0 lead.

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Texans tackle Newton carted off

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 01: Derek Newton #75 of the Houston Texans looks on during the game against the Minnesota Vikings on September 1, 2011 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

Texans starting right tackle Derek Newton was carted off the field in the first quarter of Monday night’s Texans-Broncos game.

According to the ESPN broadcast, air casts were placed on both of Newton’s legs and Texans tackle Duane Brown had to assist the team’s training staff in getting Newton on the cart.

The Texans announced that Newton has a knee injury.

Newton missed last week’s game, ending a streak of 56 straight starts. Chris Clark is his likely replacement at right tackle, where he’ll be the primary matchup for All-Pro pass rusher Von Miller of the Broncos.

Trainers spent several minutes with Newton after his legs got tangled with Miller’s on a third-down play. The Texans kicked a field goal on the next play and have a 3-0 lead.

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Arian Foster calls it quits

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Arian Foster #29 of the Miami Dolphins carries the ball during the first half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

Dolphins running back Arian Foster announced his retirement Monday evening.

Foster released a statement via the Twitter account of Uninterrupted, an athlete website owned by NBA star LeBron James.

“There comes a time in every athlete’s career when their ambition and their body are no longer on the same page,” Foster wrote. “I’ve reached that point. It’s hard to write those words because this game has been everything to me.”

Foster, 30, went from undrafted free agent to the Texans’ practice squad to the franchise’s all-time leading rusher and four-time Pro Bowler. He led the NFL with 1,616 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns in 2010, his second season.

He was limited to four games last season by injuries, then signed with the Dolphins after being released by the Texans last March. He’s retiring after battling more injuries this season.

In his statement, Foster thanked the Dolphins and said he was proud to have been a part of the NFL for eight seasons.

“Life has other plans,” he wrote. “I could not be prouder of the things my teammates and I accomplished in this game.”

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Hunter Henry in concussion protocol

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 13:  Hunter Henry #86 of the San Diego Chargers runs with the ball after his catch during the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at Qualcomm Stadium on October 13, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Getty Images

Chargers rookie tight end Hunter Henry is in the NFL’s concussion protocol and will be monitored this week as the Chargers prepare to play at the Broncos.

Chargers Coach Mike McCoy said Monday that Henry reported concussion-like symptoms after the Chargers won in Atlanta Sunday.

Henry, who’s just 21, has 20 catches on the season, three for touchdowns. He’s become a key player in a dangerous Chargers’ offense, and if he can’t play Sunday it would be a significant loss.

Henry had eight catches for 83 yards and a touchdown when the Chargers beat the Broncos on Oct. 13.

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Denials from coaches don’t mean Joe Thomas, Joe Staley won’t be traded

SANTA CLARA, CA - AUGUST 24:  Joe Staley #74 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on during the preseason game against the San Diego Chargers at Levi's Stadium on August 24, 2014 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

We have no intent to trade Percy Harvin.”

Remember that one? It came from Vikings G.M. Rick Spielman, not long before the team unloaded the mercurial wideout on a Seattle team that got limited use out of him before dumping him on the Jets for a bowl of soup.

Granted, Spielman never said Harvin wouldn’t be traded. But the message is that, no matter what a team says, trades can and do happen.

As to Browns tackle Joe Thomas and 49ers tackle Joe Staley, Browns coach Hue Jackson and 49ers coach Chip Kelly, respectively, have thrown water on the notion that either are available. Jackson said Thomas, who nearly was traded a year ago (before the Browns were in full-blown rebuilding mode), won’t be traded. Kelly said talk of a Staley trade is “news to him.”

That’s fine. But keep this in mind: Neither guy is the G.M., and neither guy owns the team. If either team gets what they want (the Browns, we’re told, want a second-round pick and the 49ers, we’re told want a late first-round selection) or perhaps something close to it, whatever Jackson or Kelly are saying now will quickly be forgotten.

Just like Minnesota’s lack of intent to trade Percy Harvin. Or like Jets coach Todd Bowles claim from one week ago tonight that he wouldn’t be benching Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Often in NFL circles, truth takes a back seat to strategic objectives. Which makes it foolish to take anything any coach, G.M., or owner says at face value.

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Okung is OK, in Monday night’s starting lineup

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 08:  Running back C.J. Anderson #22 of the Denver Broncos celebrates with offensive tackle Russell Okung #73 after Anderson scores on a 25-yard reception in the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 8, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) Getty Images

Broncos left tackle Russell Okung is active and in the starting lineup for Monday night’s game vs. the Texans.

Okung had been listed as questionable due to a concussion. He was a limited participant in practice on Friday and Saturday.

Broncos wide receiver Cody Latimer is out due to a concussion. He also had been listed as questionable. The Broncos had previously listed outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware as out as he continues to recover from a forearm injury.

As expected, the Texans have defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (wrist) and linebacker John Simon (shoulder) active and available. They had been listed as questionable.

The Texans had listed four players — cornerback Kevin Johnson, linebacker Brian Peters, safety Quintin Demps and running back Jonathan Grimes — as out. The team announced that Corey Moore will start in place of Demps.

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