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O’Brien Schofield will miss rest of the season

O'Brien Schofield AP

The Cardinals aren’t afraid to make changes during their bye week and they are going to have a different starting outside linebacker when they return to action.

It’s not a decision made by choice, however. O’Brien Schofield hurt his ankle in Sunday’s loss to the Packers and the linebacker took to Twitter on Monday night to reveal that the injury will bring his season to an early end.

Schofield had four sacks in the first nine games of the season. Like many of the Cardinals, Schofield’s play slipped a bit in the last few weeks but he was looking like a viable starter in his first year in that role for the Cardinals. Schofield has dealt with injuries throughout his career, including a torn ACL that cost him time during his rookie season in 2010.

Quentin Groves replaced Schofield on Sunday and he’s the likeliest choice to take Schofield’s spot in the lineup when the Cardinals return in Atlanta on Nov. 18.

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Report: League grants Saints permission to work out Payton deal

sean-payton-getty-t Getty Images

The ping-pong of reports regarding the Saints and suspended coach Sean Payton continues.

It started Sunday, when ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the league office rejected Payton’s September 2011 contract extension and that Payton will (not might, will) become a free agent after “the season.”  ESPN thereafter launched into speculation regarding Payton becoming the next coach of the Cowboys that was so strong it at times has seemed wishful.

Then, FOX’s Jay Glazer said that Payton “absolutely plans” to coach the Saints in 2013.

Then, some Internet hack with whom you may be familiar reported on NBC that the Saints are adamant that Payton will be the coach next year.

On Monday, some clarity emerged regarding the timeline that would apply.  Payton can’t be a free agent until his suspension ends.  His suspension won’t end until the next Super Bowl is played.  That complicates significantly the ability of teams like the Cowboys or the Eagles to pursue Payton, since they wouldn’t even be allowed to talk to Payton until more than a month after the normal hiring cycle ends.

Then, Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that the Saints and Payton are able under the terms of the suspension to fix the contract.

Then, Schefter reported they aren’t.

Then, said Internet hack with whom you may be familiar chimed in again, explaining that the communications aimed at fixing the contract are allowed.

Now, Nakia Hogan of the Times-Picayune reports that permission expressly has been given by the league to the Saints to resolve the flaw in the contract that prompted the league office to previously reject it.

While Schefter has yet to hit the small, hollow, plastic ball back over the small green net, ESPN has posted an item based on the latest Times-Picayune report.

For now, then, it looks like G.M. Mickey Loomis, on his first full day of work after serving his own eight-game suspension, can commence the process of getting the extension ironed out.  He has three months to do it before Payton would be able to walk away.

It’s the smart thing to do.  Exceptions already have been made under the terms of the suspensions to allow Payton and others to attend the Chargers-Saints game earlier this year.  Likewise, the terms of the supposed banishment of former Saints and current Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams have been warped and bastardized to the point that he can apparently attend all Rams games.

Besides, the NFL desperately needs Payton to stay in New Orleans because the NFL will bear the full brunt of the blame if Payton goes.

Sure, Payton could look for a raise over what he was due to make under the terms of the rejected extension based on the team’s performance with him last season and without him this year.  Still, there’s no reason (yet) to believe that Payton has in only 14 months decided that he no longer wants to coach the Saints.

While it was a great story from Schefter, the hype of a possible jump by Payton to the Cowboys made the story into something more than it ever should have been at this point.  It doesn’t mean that Payton definitely will be back in New Orleans next year, but the signs are pointing much more strongly to that result than any other possible outcome.

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Knox not expected to be activated from PUP today

Johnny Knox AP

This is the last year of Bears wide receiver Johnny Knox’s rookie contract, but it isn’t necessarily the end of his time with the Bears.

Knox hasn’t been activated from the physically unable to perform list, and isn’t expected to be by today’s deadline, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. But a provision in the CBA allows teams to retain the rights to players who spend the entire year on PUP for the following season.

That’s different from players who spend the year on injured reserve, whose contracts can expire and the can go look for work as free agents.

But the Bears have stuck by Knox, a fifth-round pick in 2009 with deep ball ability, through a long rehab from neck surgery. He suffered the initial injury last December against the Seahawks, and needed spinal fusion surgery. He said last month he still hadn’t run full speed.

Bringing him back next year (at his same $1.26 million salary) is a good faith gesture, giving him time to get ready for the offseason program and training camp next year.

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Shanahan won’t make coaching changes, claims progress

Jim Haslett, Mike Shanahan AP

Whether he’s looking to the future or not, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan’s coaching staff gets to remain in the present.

Shanahan said Monday that there will be no changes to his coaching staff during the bye week.

“No. There will be no changes,” Shanahan said, via the Washington Post.

Asked if he thought such changes can even work, Shanahan didn’t want to elaborate.

“I’m not even going to talk in that direction,” he said. “My focus is on one thing, that’s Philly – getting ready for them. We’ll do everything we can, as I’ve said before, to evaluate what we’ve done right and wrong. We’ll study the personnel, try to make the right changes that give us the best chance to win.

“We have a number of players that have gained experience over the last seven, eight, nine weeks – some guys playing more than others – and that’ll be our focus to win each game.”

Though he’s 14-27 as Redskins coach, Shanahan insisted his team was making progress, citing an improved offense, and a defense that played better before injuries. But asked to measure progress, he again deferred.

“You’ll have to ask Dan Snyder that. If he feels this team is going in the right direction, then you ask him. Not me. I know I’m going in the right direction.”

His record does not give evidence of his confidence, but offering up defensive coordinator Jim Haslett isn’t going to fix what’s wrong with this team.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

Philadelphia Eagles v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

The Bills are finding more questions than answers right now.

Dolphins T Jake Long knows he needs to step up his game.

Coach Bill Belichick didn’t have much to say about the Patriots’ trade for CB Aqib Talib.

Said Jets CB Antonio Cromartie, “The months of November and December, that is when most teams are made anyway. The biggest thing for us is to take care of the things we need to take care of, one thing at a time.”

The Ravens aren’t too concerned about injuries to offensive linemen Marshal Yanda and Bobbie Williams.

Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer thinks you can go ahead and stick a fork in the Bengals.

Thanks to the wife of owner Jimmy Haslam, the Browns will be getting a show on the Travel Channel.

Steelers WR Mike Wallace is accepting his changed role in the offense.

Texans coach Gary Kubiak would like to see his team get off to better starts.

The Colts aren’t thrilled about the quick turnaround they have to make this week.

Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey felt his team lacked intensity in their loss to the Lions.

The Titans gave TE Jared Cook more playing time, but he didn’t do much with it.

Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio has been using plenty of looks and players so far this season.

Some doubt that Monday’s shakeup will lead to any changes for the Chiefs.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News thinks now is the time we’ll find out if Dennis Allen is the right coach for the Raiders.

Chargers DE Corey Liuget feels he’s improved in his second season.

Does the schedule for the second half give the Cowboys hope for a turnaround?

DE Justin Tuck says he isn’t worried the Giants are at the start of another second half swoon.

The Eagles have scored the fewest first half points of anyone in football.

Is poor technique the biggest problem on defense for the Redskins?

CB Kelvin Hayden says he’s never seen a team be better at forcing turnovers than his Bears are this year.

RB Joique Bell has found a role with the Lions this season.

Rating the Packers’ performance against the Cardinals.

Vikings WR Jarius Wright thinks he’s ready to go in the event Percy Harvin’s ankle keeps him out.

The Falcons don’t fear a serious injury for DT Peria Jerry.

Credit for the plan the Panthers used to slow the Redskins offense went to the team’s defensive assistant coaches.

The Saints got breakout games from running backs Chris Ivory and Mark Ingram on Monday night.

The play of the Buccaneers offensive line has quieted some doubters.

RB Beanie Wells can return to practice for the Cardinals this week.

A look at the season Rams QB Sam Bradford has put together.

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle finds surprises amid the successes of the 49ers.

Said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll of his defense’s recent play, “We’re seeing a lot of complexities in the last month. And some of the stuff has been harder for us. We haven’t executed as well, and that calls for us to make sure we’re really on our stuff.”

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Jake Long takes the blame for losing battle with Dwight Freeney

Ryan Tannehill loses the football for the Dolphins against the Colts during an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Indiana. Reuters

Dolphins left tackle Jake Long lost his one-on-one battle with Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney on Sunday, and Long admits that individual battle was a big part of Miami losing the game in Indianapolis.

It starts with me,” Long said on Monday, via the Sun Sentinel. “I’ve got to do better. That wasn’t good enough.”

Freeney beat Long for a sack on one play, beat Long to hit Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill as he was passing and force a third-down incompletion on another, and he got pressure on Tannehill a few other times. Long didn’t need to be told that, because he was already dwelling on it.

“I’m really hard on myself,” Long said. “I hate it. It kills me. I’m going to make sure I don’t let it happen again.”

Tannehill has to hope Long won’t let it happen again.

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Jason Garrett aware of Payton talk, not into adding to it

Jason Garrett AP

Yes, thanks for asking, Jason Garrett has heard about this Sean Payton thing.

No, if you don’t mind, he doesn’t want to talk about it.

Garrett, as you might imagine, was asked about the Payton contract situation, and the speculation he could end up in Dallas, given his close relationship with owner Jerry Jones.

There’s a lot of stories that circulate around our game,” Garrett said, via Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com. “So certainly some people bring those kinds of things to my attention, but again we’re focus on what we need to do.

“We had heck of a challenge [Sunday night] in Atlanta, trying to play an undefeated team so that’s where our attention was.”

Translated from coachspeak: “(fingers in ears) Blah, blah, blah, . . . I can’t hear you.”

Sunday’s loss to the Falcons dropped Garrett’s overall record to 16-16, and the Cowboys have a two year-and-counting streak of not making the playoffs, so the speculation is natural.

Asked if he believed he’d be the Cowboys coach next year, Garrett again stayed in the moment.

“We’re just focused on what we need to do today,” Garrett replied. “We need to clean up what happened in the game [Sunday] and build on some of the good and correct the bad and get ready for the Eagles, that’s what our focus is.

“We’re focused on being our best day to day and week to week and this week it will be a great challenge going up to Philadelphia.”

Translated: “We’re about to play a team more disappointing than we are. Give me a week to get the boss off my back, OK?”

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Jaguars owner “embarrassed,” vows to get the “right people”

khan_khan[ketterman] Getty Images

In his first season as the owner of the Jaguars, Shad Khan is embarrassed by what he has seen on the field.

That’s the word Khan used on Jaguars All Access on Action News 47, in an appearance in which he made clear that he knows the 1-7 team has to get a lot better.

It’s embarrassing but there are better days ahead,” Khan said, via the Florida Times-Union. “I’m deeply grateful to the fans for supporting us. They’ve done their part. Now we have to do our part.”

Khan indicated that he’ll run this business the same way he ran the auto parts company that made him a billionaire.

“Whether it’s a football team or an auto parts company, you need three things: Right people in the right spots, processing and decision making that’s right and you need support from fans, sponsors or owners,” Khan said. “We have to finish the season. You can’t be rushing to judgment. I wish life was that simple, that you could hire and fire people and things would change. I am committed to building a sustainable, winning organization.”

Khan says he will not meddle in the football decisions and will not decide who the Jaguars sign in free agency or draft in April, but he will make some hard decisions about who the Jaguars need in place to make those decisions.

“I’m not a talent evaluator so I’ll let you guys be the judge of that. My job is to get the people who evaluate the talent,” Khan said.

Those comments don’t speak well for the job security Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith.

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Report: Eagles now see firing Juan Castillo as a “miscalculation”

A Philadelphia Eagles fan holds a sign during the Eagles' loss to the Atlanta Falcons during their NFL football game in Philadelphia Reuters

After two late collapses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions, the Philadelphia Eagles fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo. Two more losses have pushed the losing streak to four and the Eagles’ season to the brink of disaster. With a 28-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Monday night, the Eagles find themselves at 3-5 after an encouraging start to the year.

According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, at least one member of the Eagles’ staff feels the decision to fire Castillo was a mistake. Per the report, one of the Eagles’ “decision makers” called the firing “a miscalculation.”

Defensive backs coach Todd Bowles was promoted to defensive coordinator following Castillo’s firing. The defense has not improved since the change. Philadelphia has allowed 58 points and over 370 yards a game in the last two games in losses to the Saints and Atlanta Falcons.

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Andy Reid sticking with Michael Vick at QB

Eagles Saints Football AP

With the Philadelphia Eagles losing streak extending to four games and another costly turnover from quarterback Michael Vick, head coach Andy Reid was asked again if he will consider a quarterback change for when the Eagles host the Dallas Cowboys next Sunday.

Reid was blunt in his response.

“Michael Vick will be the quarterback,” Reid said.

Reid said it wasn’t an issue of one player not getting the job done. It’s everyone that needs to improve their level of play.

“It’s the team. It’s all of us. There’s not one particular person or one side of the ball or anything else. We’re all in this together,” Reid said.

The Eagles had a chance to take a lead late in the first quarter. Bryce Brown broke a 40-yard run that set up a first-and-goal from the Saints 5-yard line. On second down, Vick threw a pass that deflected off the hands of tight end Brent Celek into the waiting arms of Saints’ cornerback Patrick Robinson. Robinson raced 99 yards the other way for a touchdown to give the Saints a 7-0 lead. The Saints took a 21-3 lead into halftime and managed to hold off a Philadelphia rally in the third quarter en route to a 28-13 win.

Vick completed 22 of 41 passes for 272 yards, a touchdown and an interception on the night.

But the Eagles had bigger problems Monday night than just the quarterback. Vick was sacked seven times by the Saints as the Philadelphia offensive line was overwhelmed all night. The Eagles then failed to capitalize on the opportunities they had. They had five drives reach the Saints’ red zone and came away with just 10 points, an interception, a fumble and a turnover on downs.

“I’m pretty frustrated,” Vick said. “These are games that we certainly have an opportunity to win or get back into the game at some point. At that point everything has to be dead on. It has to be dead on. You can’t miss. You got to capitalize and you’ve always got to be perfect on every drive. It’s very frustrating but we just have to keep pushing forward. I don’t know what else to say.”

The match up with the Cowboys next Sunday could be a make-or-break game for both teams. Both the Eagles and Cowboys sit at 3-5 for the year and would face an incredibly difficult climb to snag a playoff berth if they lose next week. It’s a difficult enough road as it is.

With Reid’s job status tied to the team’s final record this season, Reid apparently continues to feel Vick is the best option for the Eagles under center.

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Michael Vick responds to brother’s tweets saying he wants out of Philly

Philadelphia Eagles v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

The last thing Michael Vick had to be expecting walking to the podium following a loss to the New Orleans Saints was to have to answer questions about his brother.

Yet, that’s exactly what Vick found himself having to do.

Vick’s younger brother, Marcus, ranted on twitter throughout the early stages of the Philadelphia Eagles’ 28-13 loss to the Saints Monday night. Marcus tweeted begging the Eagles to trade his brother and that they were requesting out of Philadelphia. There were a few expletive-laden tweets blasting the Eagles’ offensive line as well.

Vick walked to the podium unaware of the stir his brother had created through social media earlier in the evening. He didn’t seem pleased when learning of the comments from reporters following the game.

“You say he tweeted that during the game? Sorry, I’m not aware of that,” Vick said. “That’s something that I’m really going to have to address once I leave here.”

Vick did his best to shoot down any thought he wants out of Philadelphia.

“We out there fighting as hard as we can, giving it everything we’ve got,” Vick said. “That’s certainly not the case. Not the case here. I love each and every guy in that locker room and if I can make every play right, I would. I know they would do the same. So that’s certainly not the case.”

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Steve Gleason taken to hospital

GLEASON STATUE AP

Former New Orleans Saints special teams standout Steve Gleason was taken by ambulance to the hospital while attending Monday night’s game between the Saints and Philadelphia Eagles.

ESPN reported during the Monday night broadcast that Gleason was found unresponsive in the suite where he was watching the game. Gleason was taken by ambulance from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to Ochsner Hopsital in New Orleans.

Gleason revealed last year he had been diagnosed with ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Per the Saints, Gleason’s wife, Michelle, said he is responsive and believes he will be OK.

Jeff Duncan of the Times-Picayune reported that Gleason was doing well at the hospital and “grinning from ear to ear.”

Gleason tweeted from the hospital that he left the game with “flu-like symptoms.” He added that he is feeling better and undergoing some precautionary testing.

UPDATE 12:57 a.m. ET: The Gleason family released a statement with an update through their facebook page. “We want to thank everyone for their love and concern for Steve. He is now resting comfortably and is being well cared for. He was experiencing flu-like symptoms and they are doing precautionary testing. No White Flags!”

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Saints hand Eagles fourth straight loss

Philadelphia Eagles v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

The downward spiral continues for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Quarterback Michael Vick was sacked seven times and had an interception returned 99 yards for a touchdown as the Eagles lost their fourth straight game, 28-13, to the New Orleans Saints on Monday night.

The Eagles struggled to protect Vick against what had been one of the more ineffective pass rushing units in the league entering the game. Heading into Monday night’s game, the Saints had only managed 13 sacks for the season. New Orleans got six on Monday night alone. Cameron Jordan had three sacks, Will Smith added a pair and Martez Wilson and Broderick Bunkley each got to Vick once as well.

Meanwhile, quarterback Drew Brees was 21 of 27 for 239 yards and two touchdowns as the Saints continue to try and turn their season around. New Orleans has won three of their last four games after an 0-4 start to the season.

Vick was just 22 of 41 for 272 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Philadelphia had a chance to take the lead early. A 40-yard run by running back Bryce Brown moved the Eagles into the red zone with a chance to take the lead late in the first quarter. But two plays later, the turnover bug ailing Vick struck again. A pass to tight end Brent Celek was deflected into the air and intercepted by Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson, who returned it 99 yards to give the Saints a 7-0 lead.

Alex Henery got the Eagles on the board with a 22-yard field goal early in the second quarter when a drive stalled at the Saints 4-yard line.

Running back Chris Ivory scored on a 22-yard touchdown run and Brees connected with Marques Colston for a 1-yard score to give the Saints a 21-3 halftime lead.

Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham forced a key turnover when he stripped Brees on a sack early in the third quarter with the Saints threatening again inside the Philadelphia 10-yard line. Graham ducked past Saints right tackle Zach Streif, stripped Brees and recovered the fumble to keep the Saints from blowing the game wide open.

Vick then connected with a wide open DeSean Jackson for a 77-yard touchdown just two plays later. Saints kick returner Travaris Cadet was striped by Chris Polk on the ensuing kickoff and the Eagles recovered to set up another scoring opportunity. A Will Smith sack of Vick pushed the Eagles backward. Philadelphia had to settle for a 37-yard Henery field goal to pull with eight at 21-13.

Brees and the Saints calmly answered. Brees led New Orleans on a 10-play, 70-yard scoring drive culminating in a 6-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham to extend the Saints lead to 28-13.

Philadelphia nearly answered right back when Brandon Boykin fielded the ensuing kickoff and threw a cross-field lateral to Riley Cooper that was returned for a 94-yard touchdown. However, Boykin’s lateral was deemed to be a forward pass nullifying the score.

Both teams saw their right tackles leave the game due to injury. Eagles tackle Todd Herremans landed awkwardly on his right foot last in the first quarter and left the game. He was taken to the locker room for X-rays and did not return. Saints tackle Zach Streif suffered a groin injury in the fourth quarter and also did not return.

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