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NFL Morning After: Adrian Peterson’s best season yet

Minnesota Vikings running back Peterson leaps over Detroit Lions safety Coleman during the second half of their NFL football game in Minneapolis Reuters

If I had told you on New Year’s Day that 2012 would be the best year of Adrian Peterson’s career, you would have said I was nuts. Well, I may be nuts, but Adrian Peterson is also the best running back in the NFL, and playing better this season than he ever has before.

Peterson, the Vikings running back who suffered a torn ACL in Week 16 of last season and spent his New Year’s recovering from reconstructive knee surgery, looked at the start of this year like he might not even be able to play football at all in 2012. Instead, Peterson put himself through a grueling offseason rehabilitation program in which the only doubt the Vikings’ medical staff expressed was whether they could keep the hard-working Peterson from overdoing it. He was ready to go for the first game of the season.

And what a season it’s been. In Sunday’s win over the Lions, Peterson carried 27 times for 171 yards and a touchdown, becoming the first player in the NFL this season to top 1,000 yards. Peterson leads the league in rushing with 1,128 yards, and he’s on pace to gain 1,805 yards this season. That would be a career high, as would his current average of 5.8 yards per carry, and he’s also on pace for a career-high 46 catches this year. Statistically, Peterson is having his best season.

But it goes beyond the statistics. It’s that Peterson, who last made the playoffs as a young player on a 2009 team led by Brett Favre, is now the veteran leader of this 6-4 Vikings team, which has legitimate playoff aspirations. It’s that Peterson is doing everything against defenses that are built to stop him: On Sunday, with the Vikings’ top receiver, Percy Harvin, sidelined, the Lions were stacking eight and even nine players in the box to stop Peterson. But they simply couldn’t: He broke tackles, outran people, and even hurdled a defender on a spectacular demonstration that his knee is 100 percent healthy. (Although the run on which he hurdled a defender didn’t count toward his stats, as it was called back by a holding penalty.)

Now the question is whether the Vikings, who are one of the NFL’s pleasant surprises through 10 games, can do it for six more games. Frankly, the smart money says they can’t. The Vikings still have to play the Bears twice, the Packers twice and the Texans once. They’ll probably only be favored in one of their final six games, Week 15 at St. Louis. So at the end of the season, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if Peterson’s heroics weren’t enough to lead the Vikings to a winning record.

But if the Vikings go through that gauntlet and end up in the playoffs, and if Peterson keeps up his current pace, it would represent by far the best season of his career. And it would make Peterson more than just the best running back in football. It would make him a strong candidate for the NFL’s MVP.

Peterson was the player who impressed me the most on Sunday. Here are my other Sunday thoughts:

Chip Kelly and Michael Vick would make a dynamic duo in 2013. Kelly, the Oregon head coach whose team is unbeaten this season, is widely regarded as a strong NFL head-coaching candidate. And Vick, the Eagles quarterback who suffered a concussion in Sunday’s loss against the Cowboys, is widely regarded as needing a fresh start after things have fallen apart for him in Philadelphia. So what could be better than Kelly (whose spread offense is predicated on having a quarterback who can beat defenses with his legs or his arm) coaching Vick (who is the NFL’s all-time leader for rushing yards by a quarterback)? Let me be the first to admit that it’s entirely possible that Kelly’s system wouldn’t work in the NFL, and it’s also entirely possible that Vick is simply done as a quality NFL starter. Yes, there’s a chance it would be an utter disaster. But there’s also a chance that Kelly and Vick would be an incredible pairing. I’d love to see it happen next season.

Titans running back Chris Johnson is the most inconsistent player in NFL history. After his 23-carry, 126-yard game against the Dolphins on Sunday, Johnson now has four games this season in which he gained more than 120 yards and at least 5.5 yards a carry. He also has four games this season in which he gained less than 25 yards and averaged less than 2.2 yards a carry. It seems impossible that a player who’s capable of the kind of greatness we routinely see from Johnson is also capable of turning in the kinds of dreadful performances that have become routine for Johnson. But that’s what Chris Johnson is: On any given Sunday he might be the best running back in the league, or the worst.

Did they bring back the replacement refs? (Part One) Broncos punt returner Trindon Holliday raced 76 yards for a touchdown in Carolina, but there was just one problem: He decided to start celebrating his touchdown after 75 yards. Holliday flipped the ball into the air before crossing the goal line, which means it should have been ruled a fumble into the end zone and the Panthers’ ball. But the officials on the field for some reason ruled it a touchdown, and even more egregiously, the replay assistant failed to signal to the referee to review it — even though the rules say that every touchdown needs to be confirmed on replay before the extra point is kicked. It was a stupid mistake by Holliday, a major oversight by the officials on the field, and it ought to be a firing offense for the replay assistant who failed to fix it.

Did they bring back the replacement refs? (Part Two) In one of the worst pieces of officiating you’ll ever see, the Vikings were briefly awarded an interception return for a touchdown on an incomplete pass — an incomplete pass that was so incredibly obvious that it’s stunning that none of the seven officials on the field saw that the ball bounced off the ground. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford’s incomplete pass bounced into the hands of Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield, who grabbed it and just stood there for a couple of seconds before he realized that none of the officials had seen it hit the ground, at which point he sprinted into the end zone for what was ruled on the field as a touchdown. The call was correctly overturned on replay, but it’s ridiculous that the officials needed replay to get that one right.

Did they bring back the replacement refs? (Part Three) Sunday’s most replacement-like officiating happened in the bizarre tie game in San Francisco, where the men in stripes simply looked like they had no clue. Long delays, conferences in which all of the officials appeared to be confused, and bad calls abounded. The worst of all was a strange sequence in which the officials allowed the clock to keep running while they brought out the chains for a measurement, resulting in more than a minute being wrongly run off the clock. Mistakes like that are inexcusable.

Indianapolis is going to the playoffs. The Colts’ win on Thursday, combined with losses by the Chargers and Dolphins on Sunday, give Indianapolis a two-game lead over the rest of the pack in the AFC wild card race. Considering that the Colts still have games against the 3-6 Bills, the 4-5 Lions, the 4-6 Titans and the 1-7 Chiefs, it’s almost impossible to envision Indianapolis falling short of a winning record, and this looks like a season in which anything over .500 is going to be good enough to secure an AFC playoff spot. Amazing as it is to say, the team that finished last year with the worst record in the league will finish this year in the playoffs. That’s almost as amazing as a running back who entered the year with a devastating knee injury finishing the year as an MVP candidate.

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Raiders now have NFL’s longest underdog streak

Oakland Raiders at St. Louis Rams Getty Images

With the Jaguars closing as favorites vs. the Titans on Thursday night, 31-of-32 teams have been favored by oddsmakers this season.

The lone exception is the Raiders, who have been underdogs in 22 consecutive regular-season games. They were one-point favorites vs. Philadelphia on November 3, 2003, a game they lost 49-20. The Raiders’ underdog streak is poised to extend to 23 games; the Bills are 6.5-point favorites at Oakland on Sunday.

Moreover, it’s likely the Raiders will go the entire 2014 season without being favored. They finish out the campaign at Denver (11-3) on December 28.

While the Raiders have been consistent underdogs, they haven’t been pushovers against the point spread. They are 7-7 against the number, per “The Linemakers” of Sporting News. That’s the same point spread record as Denver, which has been favored in 12-of-14 games entering Week 16.

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Jaguars holding onto lead after 62-yard Jordan Todman touchdown run

Tennessee Titans v Jacksonville Jaguars Getty Images

Jacksonville running back Jordan Todman broke free and scampered for a 62-yard touchdown run as the Jaguars took a 21-10 lead over the Tennessee Titans in the fourth quarter.

The Jaguars took the lead on their first possession of the second half. Jacksonville marched 72 yards on 11 plays with Toby Gerhart scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run to take a 14-10 lead.

Todman’s lengthy touchdown run with nine minutes left to play gave the Jaguars a two-score lead. It was the longest run in four years by a Jaguars player.

Tennessee managed to respond on their ensuing possession as a 39-yard pass from Charlie Whitehurst to Kendall Wright moved the Titans into Jacksonville territory. However, the drive stalled at the 5-yard line with Tennessee forced to settle for a 23-yard Ryan Succop field goal to pull within 21-13.

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Golden Tate excited for Jimmy Clausen to get another starting opportunity

Michigan Wolverines v Notre Dame Fighting Irish Getty Images

Detroit Lions receiver Golden Tate is happy his former college quarterback, Jimmy Clausen, is getting another opportunity to start in the NFL for the Chicago Bears

It just so happens that start will come as Clausen’s Bears will take on Tate’s Lions this week.

According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Tate feels Clausen didn’t get a fair chance to prove what he can do as a starting quarterback in the NFL after being selected in the second round out of the University of Notre Dame by the Carolina Panthers in 2010.

“I think it was unfair when he was in Carolina,” Tate said. “He wasn’t on a great team and being a rookie, the next year, they draft Cam Newton, so he sits as a No. 3 because Derek Anderson was the No. 2. They wouldn’t let him go, so he couldn’t even get an opportunity to prove himself.”

Tate said he sent Clausen texts congratulating him for getting a chance and said he hopes Clausen plays well, to a certain extent.

“I believe in him and I’m hoping that he makes the best of his opportunity for his last two games,” Tate said. “In a perfect world he would play well and throw no touchdowns and we will win.”

Clausen stated 10 games for the Panthers in 2010 for a team that finished 2-14 on the year. He completed just 52.5 percent of his passes for 1,558 yards with three touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also fumbled nine times, losing two. The Panthers went 1-9 with Clausen as their starting quarterback.

Clausen had not played in the previous three seasons before getting signed by the Bears this offseason. He’s appeared in three games in limited duty this season for Chicago, completing 3 of 9 passes for 42 yards.

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Week 16 skill-position injury report — Thursday

A.J. Green, Ike Taylor AP

The following skill-position players were on Thursday’s injury report. Key fantasy starters are bolded. All information was furnished by the NFL:

DID NOT PARTICIPATE

49ers RB Carlos Hyde (ankle).

49ers WR Stevie Johnson (ankle).

Bears PK Robbie Gould (right quadricep).

Bears WR Alshon Jeffery (not injury related).

Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe).

Bengals WR James Wright (knee).

Broncos RB Juwan Thompson (hip, knee).

Browns WR Andrew Hawkins (illness).

Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle).

Chargers WR Keenan Allen (ankle/shoulder).

Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe (illness).

Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring).

Dolphins RB Daniel Thomas (knee).

Eagles QB Nick Foles (collarbone).

Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip).

Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle).

Raiders TE Brian Leonhardt (concussion).

Raiders WR Denarius Moore (knee, ankle).

Raiders WR Vincent Brown (groin).

Ravens TE Owen Daniels (not injury related),.

Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (back).

Seahawks TE Tony Moeaki (shoulder).

Seahawks WR Paul Richardson (hamstring).

Steelers TE Matt Spaeth (elbow).

Steelers WR Markus Wheaton (illness).

Texans QB Tom Savage (knee).

Texans TE Garrett Graham (ankle).

Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle).

LIMITED

49ers RB Frank Gore (concussion).

49ers WR Michael Crabtree (knee).

Bills K Dan Carpenter (right groin).

Bills TE Chris Gragg (knee).

Bills WR Marcus Thigpen (foot).

Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh).

Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman (foot).

Broncos TE Jacob Tamme (ribs).

Browns TE Gary Barnidge (rib).

Browns WR Marlon Moore (knee).

Buccaneers WR Solomon Patton (foot).

Cardinals QB Drew Stanton (knee).

Cardinals RB Kerwynn Williams (knee).

Cardinals WR Jaron Brown (toe).

Chargers TE Ladarius Green (concussion/ankle).

Chiefs TE Anthony Fasano (knee).

Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand).

Dolphins TE Charles Clay (hamstring).

Falcons WR Harry Douglas (foot).

Falcons WR Roddy White (knee)

Jets WR Percy Harvin (ankle).

Jets WR Saalim Hakim (quadricep).

Packers RB Eddie Lacy (eye).

Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (hand).

Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount (shoulder).

Patriots RB Shane Vereen (ankle).

Patriots WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder).

Patriots WR Julian Edelman (thigh, concussion).

Texans RB Arian Foster (hip).

Vikings RB Matt Asiata (foot).

Vikings WR Greg Jennings (hamstring).

FULL

Bengals TE Jermaine Gresham (toe).

Bills RB Anthony Dixon (chest).

Broncos RB C.J. Anderson (ankle).

Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle).

Broncos WR Cody Latimer (concussion).

Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas (ankle).

Buccaneers RB Bobby Rainey (wrist).

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee).

Chargers QB Philip Rivers (chest/back).

Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles (knee, ankle).

Colts WR Joshua Cribbs (not injury related).

Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back).

Eagles K Cody Parkey (right groin).

Eagles RB Chris Polk (ankle).

Eagles TE Brent Celek (neck).

Eagles WR Jordan Matthews (knee).

Jaguars QB Cam Newton (back).

Jets K Nick Folk (right hip).

Jets RB Chris Johnson (knee).

Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle).

Patriots QB Tom Brady (ankle)

Raiders QB Derek Carr (right thumb).

Ravens RB Bernard Pierce (back).

Ravens WR Jacoby Jones (illness).

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related).

Steelers TE Heath Miller (not injury related).

Texans WR Andre Johnson (concussion).

Washington TE Jordan Reed (not injury related).

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Punts aplenty, Titans-Jaguars is coal in fans’ stockings

bortles AP

NFL Network is giving fans one of the worst prime time games in history with the 2-12 Titans and 2-12 Jaguars squaring off, but something extraordinary happened on the first drive: Charlie Whitehurst looked like a competent quarterback.

The Titans received the opening kickoff and marched downfield for a touchdown, with Whitehurst going 6-for-6 passing, and it looked like a real, honest-to-goodness, legitimate NFL football game. Could the backup quarterback known as Clipboard Jesus give us a Festivus Miracle and give us a good football game?

Nope.

Instead, we’re getting the coal in the stockings we all expected. After that opening drive, we’ve had seven drives ending in seven punts.

Whitehurst has at least looked OK. Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has looked like the lost rookie he is, and watching the Jaguars it’s hard to believe they were actually favored in this game. It’s hard to believe the Jaguars could be favored over anyone.

Late in the first half, the score remains 7-0, Titans. Stay tuned to see if any more touchdowns are scored. Or don’t.

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Drew Stanton limited in practice for Cardinals

Drew Stanton AP

Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton was a surprise participant in practice today.

Stanton was listed as limited on the team’s injury report. That’s better than expected; it was assumed he’d be out of practice today.

It still seems unlikely that Stanton will be able to play after suffering a knee sprain a week ago. Reports have indicated that Stanton will miss multiple weeks. It would be a major upset if he’s able to play on Sunday against the Seahawks.

But even if Arizona is stuck with Ryan Lindley on Sunday against Seattle, the fact that Stanton is on the practice field at all today is a good sign that he could be back in time for the playoffs.

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Report of Michigan offer to Harbaugh is disputed

Jim+Harbaugh+cpUYrtG9pt2m Getty Images

Just as reports that Michigan offered 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh $8 million per year had lingered long enough to be accepted as gospel truth, another report has emerged disputing those reports.

Per Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports, the reports of an offer worth $8 million annually to Harbaugh are not accurate.

It’s unclear specifically how the reports aren’t accurate.  Is the $8 million figure too high?  Was the offer a wink-nod “we’ll make this offer if you’ll accept it” kind of offer?  Has Michigan simply not made the offer but intends to?  Or is Michigan simply not interested?

The fairly obvious assumption emerging from the dueling reports is that Harbaugh’s camp leaked the initial information to NFL reporters, and that Michigan has leaked contradictory information to a college football reporter.

Gamesmanship and misinformation are predictable in this context.  Harbaugh, who spurned Michigan and $5.2 million per year in 2011 for the 49ers and $5 million per year, wants to maximize his earnings at his next NFL stop, and to minimize the amount his new team must give the 49ers in trade.  If Harbaugh’s agent can create the impression (true or not) that Michigan is ready to pay $8 million per year at a time when plenty of wheels are surely moving behind the scenes on his next NFL opportunity, Harbaugh wins.

Michigan likewise benefits from the free publicity that news of the offer generates.  But Michigan also has a strong interest in ensuring that the eventual target to replace Brady Hoke doesn’t think Michigan is ready to blow the lid off the market.

So, basically, Michigan has offered Harbaugh $8 million per year.  Unless it hasn’t.  The details won’t matter if it helps Harbaugh get the kind of money from the Raiders that he couldn’t get from the 49ers.

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Blake Bortles gets the start for the Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars v Indianapolis Colts Getty Images

Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles is nursing a foot injury, but he’s healthy enough to start tonight against the Titans.

The Jaguars have confirmed that Bortles is active and good to go. He’ll start once again, giving many fans who rarely watch the Jaguars when there are better teams on TV on Sundays their first chance to see the rookie quarterback.

The Jaguars’ inactives are WR Tommy Streeter, CB Teddy Williams, CB Jeremy Harris, S Matt Daniels, OL Tyler Shatley, DE Andre Branch and DT Roy Miller.

The Titans’ inactives are QB Zach Mettenberger, DB Jemea Thomas, LB Zaviar Gooden, OLB Dontay Moch, T Terren Jones, T Taylor Lewan and DL Mike Martin.

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Tedford heads to the B.C. Lions

Tedford AP

Health issues kept Jeff Tedford from serving as Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator in 2014.  Now released from his contract, Tedford has found a new job, north of the border.

Per a league source, Tedford has accepted an offer to become the new head coach of the B.C. Lions of the CFL.

Tedford, who was out of football in 2013 after being fired by Cal, ultimately took a leave of absence after heart problems emerged prior to the start of the regular season.  He never returned, and his absence became a vastly underrated detriment for a team with a defensive-minded head coach (Lovie Smith) and a smattering of offensive position coaches without the experience needed to coordinate the offense in Tedford’s absence.

Tedford’s decision to return to coach suggests he could have returned to work for the Bucs in 2015.  Which invites speculation as to whether he wanted to leave Tampa, whether Tampa wanted him to go, or a little bit of both.

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Jim Harbaugh won’t answer Michigan question

Harbaugh AP

On Wednesday, multiple reports indicated that Michigan has offered the vacant head coaching job to 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.  Asked about the situation on Thursday, Harbaugh opted not to dust off a Nick Saban-style answer.

Instead, Harbaugh refused to address the situation.

“As you know, I only talk about the job that I have,” Harbaugh said, via Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News.  “We’ve been together a long time.  Always been my policy.”

It’s unclear whether anyone asked Harbaugh on Thursday whether he’ll have in 10 days the job he currently has.  Then again, some questions don’t need to be asked.  It’s become a given that Harbaugh won’t return to the 49ers in 2015, and no one from the team’s camp or the coach’s camp has even attempted to float the idea that he’ll be back.

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DeMarco Murray says decision on playing this week will be up to him

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptq3mtgzntqxntjmngu0ywu1njqxzde1ntiwndqwyzez AP

Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray moved up from unofficial participant in practice to limited participant in practice on Thursday and said that his surgically repaired left hand is feeling good.

That keeps hope that Murray, who is wearing a plastic protective shell over the broken bone in his hand, can play on Sunday against the Colts very much alive.

“I’m a very competitive person and I want to help this team out as much I can, so whatever that portrays me doing Sunday, then we’ll see,” Murray said, via ESPNDallas.com. “But I’ve had two good days, and we’ll see how it goes.”

Murray said that the ultimate decision about playing will be up to him, something that owner Jerry Jones confirmed when he said that doctors told him that Murray “has to tell us if he feels like playing or not” and that it is about how Murray feels rather than strategy. Barring a change in Murray’s condition in the next 24 hours, it sounds like he’s headed for a questionable tag on Friday and the words coming out of Cowboys camp have the needle pointed in the direction of playing.

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Josh Thomas says Jets didn’t coach him

Thomas Getty Images

Apparently, the Jets didn’t tell cornerback Josh Thomas, “Don’t let your playbook be stolen.”  They apparently didn’t tell him other things, too.

Claimed Wednesday on waivers by the Lions after being cut by the Jets on Tuesday, Thomas met with the media and talked about the things he didn’t learn about in New York.

“I feel like I wasn’t given the attention necessary as far as being engaged from the coach-to-player standpoint and knowing the things I need to work on,” Thomas said, via Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com.  “It became where I was there as a player and wanting and desiring some feedback that wasn’t given.  So sometimes I may have been standing there with a [deer-in-headlight] look in my eyes trying to figure out what I needed to do.

“So at the same time, just from the past experiences, every organization operates differently — so it could be the way that the Jets operate.  I just want to be great.  I want to get better every day.  I look forward to enhancing something about my game every day, and [the Jets] were just more independent there.”

So what was his reaction to the first day in Detroit?

“It was refreshing, like, ‘Thanks for coaching me,'” Thomas said.

If the Lions make it to the playoffs, the message to the Jets could be, “Thanks for cutting me.”

Which could give other Jets players an idea.  An idea that could lead to a lot more playbooks being lost.

 

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Norv Turner: It’s pretty incredible to me what Teddy Bridgewater has done this season

Teddy Bridgewater AP

The Vikings won’t make the playoffs in 2014, but offensive coordinator Norv Turner feels pretty sure that they’ve found themselves a quarterback.

Turner opened up his press conference on Thursday with a long statement about how impressed he’s been by the play of rookie Teddy Bridgewater this season that seemed to be a defense against criticism of Bridgewater’s two interceptions against the Lions last Sunday.

Turner said he’s seen many quarterbacks struggle when faced with a shifting supporting cast — eight offensive linemen, three different running backs, three different tight ends and a wide receiver who was signed off the Browns practice squad, for example — and that he hasn’t seen those struggles from Bridgewater, who Turner says has been asked to handle more than any other young quarterback he’s worked with.

“It’s pretty incredible to me what he’s done, how he’s handled it, the things he’s gotten done and what he’s really done is made everyone around him better and that’s a quality that you’re looking for … the thing that excites me is he can make any throw you need to make — he does it with people around him, he does it with people hitting him, he does it when he has to slide in the pocket. He knows how to play football and that’s the starting point of the quarterback position. He’s got the intangibles you need and he’s going to continue to get better and better,” Turner said, via Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

There’s obviously room for growth from Bridgewater, but the Vikings probably feel pretty good about that taking place if his performance this season is his floor. And they almost certainly feel better about the quarterback position than they did at this point last year, which is one positive to take away from the season.

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A.J. Green out sick on Thursday

Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns Getty Images

The Bengals were without their best wide receiver in practice on Thursday.

Concern about A.J. Green missing Monday’s game against the Broncos isn’t high, however.

Green missed Thursday’s session with an illness that Geoff Hobson of the team’s website reports isn’t believed to be serious. Green is expected back at work on Friday, leaving him ample time to prepare for Denver’s visit for a game that the Bengals need to assure themselves of top position in the AFC North heading into the final week of the regular season.

Linebacker Emmanuel Lamur also missed practice with a hamstring injury, but “looked ready to rehab” according to Hobson. Assuming Lamur plays, he’ll likely play a part in the team’s plan for slowing both running back C.J. Anderson and tight end Julius Thomas come Monday night.

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McDonald case reconfirms NFL teams do whatever they want to do

Indianapolis Colts v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

So why did the 49ers stand steadfastly behind defensive lineman Ray McDonald when he was arrested but never charged with domestic violence but summarily dump him after a search warrant was served in connection with a rape investigation?

Short answer:  NFL teams do whatever they want.

That’s the only way to reconcile the team’s loud adherence to due process in one case, and it’s lightning-fast discipline in another case.

What’s that, you say?  McDonald created multiple distractions?  So did Aldon Smith.  And he’s still employed.

He’s still employed because he’s a much better player.  If McDonald had played better this year, or if the 49ers still had a shot at getting to the postseason, McDonald would still be employed, too.

Excuses are made for the players deemed valuable to the team.  Examples are made of the scrubs.  That’s the way it will remain, even under the new personal conduct policy.

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