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Panthers are on L.A.’s radar

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Yes, there’s good reason for folks in Charlotte to be scared of Los Angeles.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that political officials in California have been courting Panthers owner Jerry Richardson regarding a possible move to L.A..  For now, Richardson isn’t interested.

But he could be, Schefter suggests, if folks in Carolina don’t want to help with renovations to Bank of America Stadium.

The fact that Richardson owns the venue means he can leave without litigation or concerns regarding the terms of a lease.  But what would Richardson do with the stadium if he abandons the city where it sits?  It could be used periodically for college games and concerts, but it makes no sense to move if moving means leaving behind a house that couldn’t be sold.

That said, it makes plenty of sense to use L.A.’s interest to leverage the locals into kicking in for the upgrades to the stadium that Richardson has no intention of leaving.

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Simpson’s citation could result in probation violation

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As if Vikings receiver Jerome Simpson, who’s currently serving a three-game suspension after a November 2013 DUI arrest, didn’t have enough problems, his latest brush with the law could result in some blow back from the legal system.

As explained by Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Simpson’s July 7 citation for marijuana possession and possession of an open container of alcohol could result in a finding that he has violated probation as a result of that DUI incident.

Probation Supervisor Brian Kopperrud said that he first learned of the incident from the Pioneer Press, which probably isn’t a promising development for Simpson.

“We are gathering information on the incident and we will be acting on Mr. Simpson accordingly,” Kopperud said.  “Technically, he should have made us aware this happened.”

The team and the league are now aware, and it could be that the league imposes another suspension on Simpson, who is currently due to rejoin the team after Sunday’s game at New Orleans.

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Charles Tillman on Kyle Fuller: I just see greatness

Kyle Fuller, Mike Iupati AP

With Charles Tillman done for the season with a torn triceps, the Bears will be leaning more heavily on first-round cornerback Kyle Fuller over the rest of the season.

Fuller can’t hope to have the same kind of savvy that Tillman has acquired over a dozen years in the Chicago secondary, but the veteran says that he plans to help Fuller as much as he can this year in a mentoring role. He also says that the rookie, who had two interceptions as the Bears came back to beat the 49ers in Week Two, brings the right raw materials.

“I just see greatness. He had a hell of game, great coming out party. If anybody was happy for him, I was,” Tillman said, via the Chicago Tribune. “I think, too, though, we have a good defense. And my role right now is to help our defense out, not just Kyle Fuller. I think my overall role is to help out our team. That’s the point I want to really get across.”

Tillman says he’s ready to do anything to help the Bears in 2014, but he’s not ready to make any calls about returning to join Fuller in the secondary next season, saying that he’s “thinking about fish tacos right now.”

And now we’re thinking about fish tacos too.

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Roddy White likely out tonight

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Officially, he’s questionable.  (And not just because there’s a certain curse word he can’t spell.)  Unofficially, Falcons receiver Roddy White likely won’t play tonight.

Per a source, White currently isn’t expected to play when Atlanta hosts Tampa Bay tonight.

White, who didn’t miss a game in his first eight NFL seasons, missed three last year due to injury.  This will be only the fourth absence of his 10-year career.

White’s absence means more opportunities for Harry Douglas and Devin Hester.

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No practice yet for DeSean Jackson

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Officially labeled as “day-to-day” after suffering a shoulder sprain on Sunday, four days later receiver DeSean Jackson still hasn’t practiced for Washington.  So will the next day be DeSean’s luck day?  To day?

“We just have to wait and see,” coach Jay Gruden told reporters on Thursday.  “Injuries, I try not to get too excited or too down on anything. I just let the injuries play out, let the player honestly let me know how he’s doing and then the trainer and just go from there, but for predicting injuries, I try not to do that. So, we’re just going to wait and see, and tomorrow will be a better gauge of where they are.”

Gruden said an effort will be made to get Jackson going on Friday.

“We’re going to challenge him, push him a little bit more tomorrow,” Gruden said.  “And we’ll see where he’s at but he’s still a little sore, but I think he’s getting better and the range of motion is better.  You know, it’s an injury where I think a couple more days will do him a lot of good.”

Or maybe it won’t.  Maybe Gruden wants the Eagles to think they’ll see Jackson on Sunday, even though it was obvious the way he went down and then slumped off the field with his left arm drooping that he would miss his return to Philadelphia.

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Russell Wilson preparing for a very different Denver D

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Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson had a big day against the Broncos’ defense in the Super Bowl seven months ago. But he’s not counting on playing so well against the Broncos in Sunday’s Super Bowl rematch. In part because he’s facing a very different Broncos defense.

Wilson noted that many of the Broncos’ best defensive players this season either weren’t on the team last year (including defensive end DeMarcus Ware, cornerback Aqib Talib and safety T.J. Ward) or were injured and not playing in the Super Bowl (including outside linebacker Von Miller, cornerback Chris Harris and safety Rahim Moore).

“Their defense, they have DeMarcus Ware now, Von Miller is out there, they have some other players too like T.J. Ward that they signed, and Talib. They’re great football players. It will be a battle all the way to the end, we believe,” Wilson said.

Wilson said Ware, Talib, Harris and Ward have all stood out to him on film this week. He didn’t have to play against any of them in the Super Bowl.

“He’s playing some of his best football and that’s a good thing to say about him because he’s played a lot of good football over time. DeMarcus Ware, he gets to the quarterback, he causes havoc, he’s a leader on their defense you can tell just by watching film,” Wilson said. “Their secondary is experienced, Talib has played a lot of football, same thing with Harris, too, and T.J. Ward.”

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning noted that Denver’s offense has different personnel as well, with the addition of receiver Emmanuel Sanders and the return of left tackle Ryan Clady from an injury that cost him all but two games last season.

“We have different players. Emmanuel Sanders wasn’t here last year, Clady wasn’t here for most of the season,” Manning said.

The Broncos are certainly a lot different than they were in the Super Bowl. They hope they’re a lot better on Sunday in Seattle.

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Mike Mitchell, Troy Polamalu avoid fines for hits against Ravens

Steve Smith, William Gay, Mike Mitchell AP

Steelers safeties Mike Mitchell and Troy Polamalu were flagged for unnecessary roughness for hits on receivers on the same drive in last Thursday’s game against the Ravens, but both men say they haven’t been fined for the hits.

The penalties were costly enough to the team as they helped put the Ravens in position for a touchdown that made the score 17-6 in the third quarter of the game. Mitchell protested his flag, saying Steve Smith ducked into what was lined up as a legal hit in an argument that the NFL may have agreed with when determining penalties for the week.

Mitchell is no stranger to being fined after racking up $40,000 in penalties from the league with the Panthers last season and said that he understands that officials have a tough job making those determinations on the fly because of the chance that they’ll be downgraded by the league for not throwing a flag. As a result, Mitchell says he’ll take it out of their hands in the future.

“Obviously in aiming for the waist they’re going to give guys that ability to duck. Now I have to hit you in the legs because there’s no way you can duck and meet him in the head if I am aiming for the knee,” Mitchell said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It’s just terrible that it has to come to that because I am a Christian guy. I play the game because I love it and it has served my family a good living. I don’t want to hurt anyone, and that’s a very dangerous place to hit a guy especially if he’s not looking, but I can’t continue to donate $20,000 to the NFL’s charity because I get repeatedly fined. So that’s what I have to do, I have to aim my target for the legs, that way they cannot duck into it.”

It’s not the first time we’ve heard a defensive player say he’d aim for the knees in order to avoid fines and penalties and probably won’t be the last since there’s no sign the league will roll back the changes made in the name of increased player safety.

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Peyton Manning has found Rocky Mountain high good for business

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Peyton Manning the quarterback has fallen into a perfect offense in Denver.

And Peyton Manning the owner of a number of Papa John’s franchises has also found purchase in a place where it’s legal to smoke marijuana.

While discussing his voting habits and being socially connected during an interview with Peter King of TheMMQB.com, Manning admitted that the local population having access to weed made for better business.

“I’ve gotten to know some of the folks here in Colorado,” Manning said. “There’s some different laws out here in Colorado. Pizza business is pretty good out here, believe it or not, due to some recent law changes. So when you come to a different place, you’ve kind of got to learn everything that comes with it.”

Manning’s sense of humor might be sharper than his passes at this stage in his career, but the guy has always known how to read a defense, and take what’s available to him.

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Maurice Jones-Drew back at Raiders practice

Maurice Jones-Drew, A.J. Hawk AP

Raiders running back Maurice Jones-Drew wasn’t expected to miss much time after having surgery on his right hand on September 8 and it looks like he may wind up just missing one game.

Jones-Drew was back at practice for the Raiders on Thursday, 10 days after having the operation and far enough ahead of Sunday’s game against the Patriots that he should be able to get enough practice time to return to the lineup as well. Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com reports that Jones-Drew took part in most drills during the portion of practice that was open to the media while wearing extra protection near the surgery site.

Jones-Drew only ran for 11 yards on nine carries in the season-opening loss to the Jets, but the Raiders could use all the healthy bodies they can find as they try to avoid an 0-3 start to the season.

Defensive end Justin Tuck and cornerback Carlos Rogers were also back at practice after missing Wednesday’s session. Linebacker Sio Moore and wide receiver Rod Streater did not participate, but Streater said he expects to play against New England.

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Bengals avoid local television blackout

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The early week scare tactics worked again.

According to Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Bengals have reached the 85 percent threshold for tickets sold, avoiding the first blackout of the season.

The Bengals were trying to hustle up some business earlier this week, saying it appeared unlikely they could get enough people to pony up.

But enough people got the message and bought tickets, allowing the 2-0 Bengals’ game against the Titans to be seen on local TV.

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Mike Priefer: I think I’m a better man after sensitivity training

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Mike Priefer returned to his job as the Vikings’ special teams coach this week after serving a two-week suspension for making an disparaging remark about homosexuals during a team meeting in 2012.

One of the conditions that Priefer had to meet in order to return after two weeks instead of three was to undergo sensitivity training. Priefer said that it was hard to watch the team play games on television, but that he found the training to be a worthwhile experience that will have a lasting impact on him.

The details, we’re going to keep those confidential,” Priefer said. “But I will tell you this: It was real positive. It was very professionally done. And like anything else in life, if you put a lot into it, you’re going to get a lot out of it. I tell my kids that, I tell my players that. So I went into it with a great attitude and I got a lot out of it, quite honestly,” Priefer said, via the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I don’t know if I’ve changed, but I think I have more awareness of my surroundings and other people around me. I think I’m a better man because of it.”

The Vikings players were happy to have him back. Fullback Jerome Felton told reporters that the team gave Priefer a standing ovation at Monday’s team meeting, something Priefer said he’ll look back on as “one of the great things that’s ever happened to me as a football coach.”

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Woods, Watkins banged up for Bills

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As the Bills hope to improve on their 2-0 start, their two starting receivers are dealing with injuries.

For Sammy Watkins, the ribs he injured in the preseason continue to be an issue.  For Robert Woods, an ankle injury could knock him out of Sunday’s game against the Chargers.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” Watkins said.  “Just day-by-day it gets better. I’ve just have to keep working and keep getting treatment. . . .  I’ve just got to keep continuing to gain confidence on the field and fight through the pains I have to fight through and just keep playing hard.”

Watkins said he doesn’t know how long he’ll keep dealing with the rib pain.

“It’s a nagging injury,” he said.  “It’s something you can play with.  Hopefully it stops.  Whenever it stops, I’ll be fine.  Right now I just have to play through it.”

Woods, who started each of the team’s first two games, may not be able to play.  Coach Doug Marrone said Thursday that, as of right now, Woods wouldn’t be able to go.

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Under new substance-abuse policy, six strikes results in a one-year banishment

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With the new PED policy introduced on Wednesday, the new substance-abuse policy still isn’t official.  Once it is, a new penalty formula will apply.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, six violations of the policy will result in a one-year suspension.In general, the steps work this this:  For a first violation, the player lands in the substance-abuse program.  The second violation results in a two-game fine.  The third violation triggers a four-game fine.

At the fourth violation, suspensions commence.  Initially, it’s a four-game suspension.  For the fifth violation, the player is suspended 10 games.  At the sixth violation, the player is banished for a year.

Other penalties likely will apply based on specific circumstances, such as proof of an effort to cheat the process.  For ordinary violations, the new formula makes it a little harder for a player to be kicked out of the league for a full year.

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Jamaal Charles returns to practice for Chiefs

Jamaal Charles AP

Earlier this week, Chiefs coach Andy Reid said that running back Jamaal Charles’s high ankle sprain wasn’t a particularly severe one and Thursday’s developments lent some support to that claim.

Charles returned to practice and Herbie Teope of the Associated Press reports that he went through drills with the rest of the backs during the portion of practice open to the media. The team hasn’t offered its practice report for the day yet, so Charles may wind up being listed as limited.

Even that would represent a quick return from a high ankle sprain, however, and any time on the practice field increases the likelihood that he’ll be able to play against the Dolphins on Sunday.

The news was less positive for safety Eric Berry, who is also battling an ankle injury. Berry didn’t practice on Wednesday either, so Friday will be his last chance to show that his wheel is sound enough for duty against Miami.

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Cardinals place Jonathan Dwyer on non-football illness list, cut Chris Rainey

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The Cardinals have taken a different route than the Vikings and Panthers when it comes to removing a player facing criminal charges from their 53-man roster.

The team announced that they have placed running back Jonathan Dwyer on the reserve/non-football illness list rather than the exempt/commissioner’s permission list that Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy were placed on earlier this week. Both of those players will be paid while they are on the exempt list, but using NFL gives the Cardinals the option to not pay Dwyer. However, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reports that the team will continue paying Dwyer.

Dwyer is accused of assaulting his wife in July during an incident that allegedly saw him head-butt her and break her nose. He also reportedly made references to killing himself, which Somers of the reports led to mental health concerns and the illness designation.

Arizona also released running back Chris Rainey from the practice squad. Rainey was a fifth-round pick of the Steelers in 2012, but he was cut by the team after his rookie season when he was accused of slapping his girlfriend.

The team signed running back Jalen Parmele to the 53-man roster and added running back Kerwynn Williams to the practice squad.

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Kelly bristles at questions about Maclin’s size

Chip AP

On Wednesday, Eagles coach Chip Kelly said he cut receiver DeSean Jackson because Kelly wanted to get bigger at the receiver position.  On Thursday, Kelly was pressed on that point.  And he didn’t seem to like that very much.

“I’m just wondering why you brought receiver Jeremy Maclin back. He’s smaller than 70 percent of the starting outside wide receivers in the league?” a reporter asked Kelly on Thursday.

“Jeremy Maclin’s bigger than DeSean is, isn’t he?” Kelly replied. “So he’s bigger than one percent of the guy you’re talking about. I’m confused with the question.”

“I’m saying he’s smaller than 70 percent of the wide receivers,” the reporter continued.

“You can’t get everybody to be 6‑5,” Kelly said. “Everybody ideally would like a Megatron‑type guy, but you can’t get all of those guys. You have to make a decision on the direction you’re going and that’s the decision we made. . . . The weight part is the biggest thing for a lot of us in terms of what we are looking at too.”

So it’s height and it’s weight. And it’s probably salary. And there’s likely a healthy dose of “DeSean didn’t buy in” floating around.

Regardless, Jackson’s departure shows that Kelly is going to build the kind of team he wants. As long as he keeps winning, he’ll be able to do that — regardless of who he lets go.

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