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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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Report: 20-30 plays for Josh Gordon in his return

Gordon AP

With Josh Gordon finally free, the next question is when he’ll get loose.

The Browns have opted to be coy about their intended use of the man who led the league in receiving yards last year despite missing the first two games due to a suspension.  Back with the team in 2014 after a 10-game suspension, the days preceding Gordon’s return to the field have included mixed messages about whether they’ll take it easy or throw him into the fray without restrictions.

The latest piece of evidence in a conflicting stew of signals comes from Adam Schefter of ESPN, who cites an unnamed league source in support of the notion that Gordon will participate in only 20-30 plays on Sunday against the Falcons in Atlanta.

Unless Gordon has shown up out of shape (and there’s no indication of that), I’ll take the over.  Once the game gets rolling and everyone becomes reminded of the reality that Gordon possesses a special kind of talent, the Browns — who find themselves in the very unusual position of having very realistic playoff chances in late November — will use Gordon.  Especially if the game is in question and if there’s no question about Gordon’s ability to get open and likewise to attract so much attention that the rest of the offense will open up.

So while folks close to Gordon may be tapping the brakes because they’d prefer to see the player get eased back in, the folks whose jobs ultimately hinge on winning more games than they lose will have a hard time not using Gordon if he’s making a clear difference in his first game back.  And Gordon, who surely has missed playing this season, likely won’t complain if that 20-30 becomes 30-40 or 40-50.

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Bengals-Texans game carries significant playoff implications

Wild Card Playoffs - Cincinnati Bengals v Houston Texans Getty Images

There may be no game on today’s schedule that has a great chance of affecting both teams’ chances of making the playoffs than the Bengals-Texans game that will kick off in Houston at 1 p.m. Eastern.

At the moment, the Bengals are in first place in the AFC North at 6-3-1, while the Texans are way down in the AFC playoff picture at 5-5. Today’s result could either solidify both teams’ positions, or knock the Bengals way down in the AFC pecking order while establishing the Texans as wild card contenders.

If the Bengals win, they remain in first place in the AFC North. But if they lose and the Browns win today and the Ravens win tomorrow, the Bengals would drop all the way down to last place in the division. Cincinnati’s remaining schedule isn’t easy (four of their five remaining opponents have winning records), so dropping into last place with five weeks to go would put Cincinnati in a precarious position.

If the Texans win, they would certainly be wild-card contenders, and perhaps even contenders to win the AFC South as well. Although that division feels like it’s been all but locked up by the Colts, the Texans are only a game behind and still have a Week 14 meeting with the Colts to play. The Texans don’t have much of a margin for error, but if they can continue to play like they did last week in beating Cleveland, they can remain in the AFC playoff hunt.

At the moment, the Bengals appear more likely to be a playoff team than the Texans. By the end of the day today, that may no longer be the case.

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NFL Weather Watch — Week 12

Minnesota Vikings v Chicago Bears Getty Images

The weather forecasts suggest snow is unlikely to be seen in any of the outdoor NFL games on Sunday.

However, fans of a certain age might have occasion to hum a few bars of “November Rain.”

Precipitation is possible for Buccaneers-Bears in Chicago and Packers-Vikings in Minneapolis. Meanwhile, the strongest winds could be experienced in Denver for Dolphins-Broncos. And if you like sunshine beaming from the television, Rams-Chargers and Washington-49ers are your best bets.

Here’s a quick look at the game-time weather conditions expected for Sunday’s NFL outdoor games. Forecast data is cited from WeatherUnderground.com:

Titans and Eagles (1 p.m. ET)

Temperature: 51 degrees.

Wind: Six mph out of the south-southwest.

Precipitation chance at kickoff: None.

Lions at Patriots (1 p.m. ET)

Temperature: 52 degrees.

Wind: Eight mph out of the southwest.

Precipitation chance at kickoff: One percent.

Packers at Vikings (1 p.m. ET)

Temperature: 41 degrees.

Wind: Six mph out of the west-northwest.

Precipitation chance at kickoff: 24 percent (increasing as game goes on).

Buccaneers at Bears (1 p.m. ET)

Temperature: 52 degrees.

Wind: 13 mph out of the south.

Precipitation chance at kickoff: 24 percent (increasing as game goes on).

Cardinals at Seahawks (4:05 p.m. ET)

Temperature: 50 degrees.

Wind: 10 mph out of the south-southwest.

Precipitation chance at kickoff: 18 percent.

Rams at Chargers (4:05 p.m. ET)

Temperature: 73 degrees.

Wind: 14 mph out of the northwest.

Precipitation chance at kickoff: None.

Dolphins at Broncos (4:25 p.m. ET)

Temperature: 38 degrees.

Wind: 19 mph out of the northwest.

Precipitation chance at kickoff: 16 percent.

Washington at 49ers (4:25 p.m. ET)

Temperature: 64 degrees.

Wind: Eight mph out of the north-northwest.

Precipitation chance at kickoff: None.

Cowboys at Giants (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC)

Temperature: 46 degrees.

Wind: Five mph out of the south.

Precipitation chance at kickoff: Two percent.

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Cuban calls opposition to gambling “hypocritical”

Cuban AP

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently expressed public support for sports wagering.  Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has now echoed Silver’s view that the time has come for legalized gaming on America’s various athletic games.

I agree 100 percent,” Cuban said Saturday, via Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com.  “I think we’re the world’s biggest hypocrites when we say, ‘Oh, we don’t want you betting on our games,’ and then we get all excited about the sports betting line and people go to Vegas on trips won from the NBA or NFL.  I mean, it’s hugely hypocritical.”

Cuban, who made waves in the NFL earlier this year by suggesting that the league’s hoggish tendencies will eventually lead it to the slaughterhouse, predicted that widespread legalized gambling is coming.

“I think over the next three to five years, it will change,” Cuban said.  “And it’ll be interesting to see how the NFL reacts as well, because they’ve still so far said that they’re adamant against it because I guess they have data that says the NFL doesn’t benefit from gambling.”

Cuban pointed to a specific revenue stream that would come from legalized gambling.

“We’ll charge the casinos for information sources, video sources,” Cuban said.  “All you’ve got to do is look overseas.  You can go and legally bet on the NBA in the U.K. and a bunch of other countries, and they’re actually big customers of NBA video. . . .  So you’ve got a template already that’s legal in the rest of the world other than America.”

The NFL remains staunchly opposed to legalized gambling, possibly/probably because the NFL realizes that the pressure to improve officiating and to ensure full integrity of injury reporting would increase dramatically with the legalization of sports wagering.  Likewise, the federal authority charged with regulating gambling would be keenly interested in any irregularities, including a late call that doesn’t change the outcome of the game but that results in significant dollars changing hands by affecting the application of the point spread.

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Jameis Winston not ejected despite contact with official

jameis AP

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston remains the most talked-about college football player in America, for good and for ill, and today he’s added another item that will be recited on the “con” side of the ledger in the NFL draft.

During Florida State’s win over Boston College, Winston moved an official aside as Florida State was trying to get a play run while the official was allowing Boston College’s defense to substitute. It wasn’t a hard shove and Winston wasn’t penalized, but former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira says that Winston should have been kicked out of the game.

“I’ve looked at this play several times, and in my opinion, Winston should have been penalized for shoving Webster not once, but twice. In fact, I feel he should have been ejected,” Pereira says.

Taken alone, this wouldn’t be a big deal as teams evaluate Winston for the draft. In fact, if a player with a clean image (like the other top quarterback prospect in next year’s draft, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota) did the same thing, people would probably say it just shows what a fiery competitor he is.

But when it’s Winston — who always seems to find a way for his behavior to overshadow his brilliant play — it raises questions once again about whether NFL teams will worry that the headaches he creates are too much to tolerate. Winston is a great college quarterback, but one whom a lot of NFL teams may view as the last person they want to be the face of their franchise.

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Doug Marrone: Fred Jackson likely to play vs. Jets

Fred Jackson AP

The Bills are planning on having their elder statesman in the lineup against the Jets.

Tailback Fred Jackson (groin) is expected to play in Monday night’s game in Detroit, Bills coach Doug Marrone said Saturday, according to Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. Jackson was listed as questionable on the club’s Friday injury report.

The 33-year-old Jackson has missed two out of the last three games because of the injury. He’s third on the team in rushing yards and carries, gaining 249 yards and a touchdown on 58 attempts. His 37 catches are second on the club, and he’s accumulated 300 receiving yards and a TD reception.

A major winter storm forced the Jets-Bills game to be moved from Orchard Park, New York on Sunday to Detroit on Monday night.

The Bills (5-5) are currently 1.5 games out in the AFC wild-card race.

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Week 12 skill-position injury report — final

Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman AP

For fantasy football participants, here are the skill-position players listed on the final Week 12 injury report, with both Monday-night games (Jets-Bills, Ravens-Saints) included. Key fantasy starters are bolded.

Inactives will be posted 90 minutes before game time.

Byes: Steelers, Panthers.

OUT

Bears WR Chris Williams (hamstring).

Broncos RB Montee Ball (foot).

Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman (foot).

Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion).

Browns WR Marlon Moore (hamstring).

Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle).

Eagles QB Nick Foles (collarbone).

Packers TE Brandon Bostick (hip).

Rams WR Damian Williams (hamstring).

Ravens WR Michael Campanaro (thigh).

Saints RB Khiry Robinson (forearm).

Vikings RB Matt Asiata (concussion).

Washington TE Jordan Reed (hamstring).

DOUBTFUL

Dolphins TE Charles Clay (knee).

QUESTIONABLE

Bills RB Fred Jackson (groin).

Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle).

Broncos TE Virgil Green (calf).

Buccaneers RB Charles Sims (ankle).

Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (ankle).

Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (hip, foot).

Dolphins RB Lamar Miller (shoulder).

49ers TE Vance McDonald (hip).

49ers WR Bruce Ellington (ankle).

Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle).

Rams TE Cory Harkey (quadriceps).

Rams TE Jared Cook (back).

Saints WR Robert Meachem (ankle).

Texans RB Arian Foster (groin).

Titans WR Justin Hunter (knee).

Vikings WR Greg Jennings (rib).

Vikings WR Jarius Wright (hamstring).

PROBABLE

Bears WR Alshon Jeffery (hamstring).

Bears WR Brandon Marshall (ankle).

Bears WR Josh Morgan (shoulder).

Bengals RB Cedric Peerman (hip).

Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (hip).

Bills QB Kyle Orton (toe).

Bills RB Frank Summers (neck).

Bills WR Chris Hogan (hip).

Bills WR Marquise Goodwin (ankle).

Bills WR Sammy Watkins (groin).

Broncos RB Juwan Thompson (knee).

Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (concussion).

Cardinals RB Robert Hughes (hamstring).

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee).

Chargers QB Philip Rivers (chest).

Colts RB Trent Richardson (illness).

Colts WR Reggie Wayne (not injury related).

Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back).

Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill (left shoulder).

Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry (shoulder).

Dolphins WR Mike Wallace (calf).

Eagles WR Jeff Maehl (foot).

Eagles WR Jordan Matthews (knee).

49ers WR Brandon Lloyd (quadriceps).

Falcons RB Steven Jackson (illness).

Falcons WR Devin Hester (wrist).

Falcons WR Harry Douglas (foot).

Falcons WR Julio Jones (illness).

Jaguars QB Blake Bortles (left wrist).

Jets QB Geno Smith (right shoulder).

Jets RB Chris Ivory (shoulder).

Jets RB Chris Johnson (knee).

Jets WR Greg Salas (wrist).

Jets WR T.J. Graham (neck).

Lions RB Joique Bell (ankle).

Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew (foot).

Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle).

Lions WR Golden Tate (hip).

Patriots QB Tom Brady (ankle).

Patriots WR Julian Edelman (thigh).

Ravens FB RB Kyle Juszczyk (foot).

Ravens TE Owen Daniels (not injury related).

Saints RB Mark Ingram (shoulder).

Saints RB Pierre Thomas (rib, shoulder).

Saints RB Travaris Cadet (hamstring).

Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (back).

Texans QB Ryan Mallett (chest).

Texans RB Jonathan Grimes (ankle).

Texans WR Andre Johnson (not injury related).

Titans TE Delanie Walker (concussion).

Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon (back).

Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph (abdomen, groin).

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Broncos sign RB Jeremy Stewart

Denver Broncos practice at Dove Valley Getty Images

The Broncos have swapped reserve running backs in advance of Sunday’s game vs. Miami, promoting veteran Jeremy Stewart from the practice squad and waiving rookie Kapri Bibbs.

The roster move was announced in the NFL’s Saturday transactions.

The 25-year-old Stewart has appeared in 17 regular season games, all with Oakland from 2012 through 2013. A Stanford product, Stewart (5-11, 215) has rushed 27 times for 103 yards and one TD and has caught 10 passes for 68 yards.

Stewart will back up C.J. Anderson and Juwan Thompson on Sunday. Stewart has regular season special teams experience, and he could be called upon to cover kicks, too.

The Broncos have ruled out tailbacks Ronnie Hillman (foot) and Montee Ball (groin) with injuries.

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Reggie Bush is targeting Thanksgiving for return

Bush Getty Images

A lingering ankle injury caused Lions running back Reggie Bush to miss last Sunday’s loss in Arizona.  He’s currently expected to miss Sunday’s game at New England.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Bush intends to return on Thanksgiving, when the Lions host the Bears.

Bush practiced all week on a limited basis, fueling optimism that he’ll help pump up an offense that mustered only six points against the Cardinals.  Officially questionable for Sunday, it’s looking like he won’t be ready to go until Thursday.

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Glenn Dorsey won’t be back for at least a few more weeks

Dorsey Getty Images

Five days ago, the 49ers activated defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey from injured reserve with designation to return.  Per a league source, Dorsey nevertheless remains a few weeks away from being ready to play.

Dorsey suffered a torn biceps in August; he’s listed as out for Sunday’s game with a forearm injury.  Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said recently that Dorsey’s recovery has plateaued.

The problem for the 49ers comes from the decision to activate Dorsey.  He would have remained on IR/DFR until ready to play.  By activating him, they had to make a move to permit Dorsey to count toward the 53-man roster.

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Is Henderson independent? As usual, NFL and NFLPA can’t agree

Peterson Getty Images

The NFLPA wanted Commissioner Roger Goodell to delegate the ability to resolve the appeal of Adrian Peterson’s suspension to a neutral, third-party arbitrator. Goodell instead delegated the case to former NFL executive Harold Henderson.

While not the kind of independence the NFLPA envisioned, Henderson isn’t currently a direct employee of the league office. Sure, he’s routinely appointed by the league to handle hearings involving player discipline, and he’d presumably like those assignments to continue. But a buffer definitely exists between Goodell and Henderson that wouldn’t apply if Goodell had appointed someone like general counsel Jeff Pash to decide the Peterson appeal.

Henderson has handled 87 player appeals since 2008, and he serves as president of the NFL Player Care Foundation, which is funded jointly by the NFL and the NFLPA. Still, the NFLPA wants the league to treat appeals under the personal conduct policy the same way most appeals are now treated under the substance-abuse and PED policies — with a truly neutral and disconnected entity handling the appeal. The fact that Goodell handed the baton to someone to whom he has handed the baton many times before shows that the Peterson case will be handled the same way most cases have been handled in past years. The union believes the issues raised in this case require independence of the kind that was obtained in the Ray Rice appeal.

To legitimize the disciplinary process, the NFLPA wants true independence in every case. The decision to give the Peterson appeal to someone who falls within the bubble of people to whom Goodell is comfortable delegating appeals shows that the league doesn’t want the same kind of independence.

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Pierre Thomas is poised to return, after more than a month

Thomas Getty Images

As the Saints try to avoid falling three games under .500 and in turn losing three straight games at the Superdome for the first time since 2001, they’ll have some extra help in the backfield.

Running back Pierre Thomas appears as probable on the injury report with a rib and shoulder injury.  Thomas last played on October 19 at Detroit.

For the season, he has 133 rushing yards and 204 receiving yards in six games.

Also probable are running back Mark Ingram (shoulder) and running back Tavaris Cadet (hamstring).  Running back Khiry Robinson (forearm) remains out.

The Saints host the Ravens on Monday night, in the normal Monday night slot of 8:30 p.m. ET.  The Jets and Bill play in Detroit, starting at 7:00 p.m. ET.

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Charles Woodson wasn’t pleased with Sio Moore’s celebration

Woodson AP

Raiders linebacker Sio Moore is lucky his excessive third-down celebration didn’t prevent Oakland from winning for the first time in 17 tries.  If that had happened, Moore would have had a problem beyond the Raiders falling to 0-11.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Woodson said, via Michael Wagaman of ESPN.com.  “That was the first time I had ever seen somebody celebrate for a whole 40-second clock. That was ridiculous, and they know it. I told Sio he’s lucky we got the win because we really probably would’ve had to fight, and I would’ve seen exactly what kind of fighter he is.”

Moore has apologized for lingering so long in celebration that a timeout had to be taken, because he and Khalil Mack were well behind the Kansas City backfield as the Chiefs prepared to snap the ball.

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Eric Decker admits it’s tough to see Emmanuel Sanders’s success

decker AP

This offseason saw receiver Eric Decker leave Denver for the Jets in free agency, and Emmanuel Sanders sign with the Broncos to take Decker’s place. Decker sometimes feels the way you’d expect a receiver to feel about leaving a first-place team quarterbacked by Peyton Manning and joining a last-place team quarterbacked by Geno Smith and Michael Vick.

“Honestly, sometimes it’s hard to watch them when they’re playing,” Decker told the New York Daily News. “When they’re clicking on all cylinders, they’re a tough football team. They got the right pieces.”

Sanders ranks fifth in the NFL with 954 receiving yards, while Decker ranks 62nd in the NFL with 450 receiving yards. Decker isn’t crazy about watching that.

“Emmanuel Sanders is playing well in my spot, so to speak,” Decker said. “Sometimes, you know, it’s tough to see all the success. But that’s football. It’s going to go in swings. Who says we can’t be a great football team? We got to obviously do some right things to get there, but I’m happy for Peyton and Demaryius [Thomas]. I respect them so much. They’re all good friends, so I like to see them do well, but sometimes it’s hard.”

Decker isn’t saying he regrets leaving Denver, and his contract with the Jets gives him 36 million reasons to be happy where he is. But Decker is being honest about his mixed emotions: It’s tough to leave a team like the Broncos to play like a team for the Jets.

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Jerry Hughes fined $22,050 for abusive language to an official

Buffalo Bills v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes said something naughty to an official on Thursday night, and he’ll pay for it.

The NFL has fined Hughes $22,050 for unsportsmanlike conduct. Specifically, according to the NFL, Hughes “directed abusive language towards an official.”

We don’t know exactly what Hughes said, but he insisted that it was nothing that warranted a penalty. Hughes said all he did was tell the officials that they had missed a holding penalty that should have been called on the Dolphins.

“There really wasn’t one,” Hughes said when asked what explanation he got from the officials. “I did yell because I did get held on that play. I made sure I yelled, ‘Holding.’ Whatever else came after that, I really don’t know. I don’t know. . . . I’ve never really seen a holding call missed at the point of attack like that. So I really don’t know. I’m at a loss for words right now.”

This was the second time referee Walt Coleman’s crew gave Hughes an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty this season. The last time was Week 6 against the Patriots, when Hughes appeared to do nothing warranting a penalty. Hughes says he doesn’t know what the deal is with this officiating crew.

“It’s the same crew from New England, from when we played New England, so it just doesn’t surprise me,” Hughes said.

But in this case, the NFL obviously agrees with the officials that Hughes said something wrong. Something that will cost him $22,050.

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