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Veteran Broncos spreading word about past problems

Peyton Manning, Champ Bailey AP

In most respects, this is a brand new Broncos team.

But some of the old hands are spreading the word to the new guys, in hopes of avoiding the kind of historic collapses they’ve endured.

Since the end of the 2005 season, the Broncos are 22-32 (.407) in regular season games played from November to the end of the season.

So while they can throw a hammer-lock on the AFC West with a win over the Chargers, veteran players know not to take anything for granted.

“The biggest key right now is to just keep doing what we’re doing,” cornerback Champ Bailey said, via Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post. “It’s easy to get caught up in things. We’ve had some success. But we’ve seen this before. You can’t let the little things get away from you. The little things lead to the big things.

“Right now, we all need to just keep working every week to do what we’re supposed to do, week in and week out, and don’t let things get away from us.”

The Chargers have been the chief culprits, winning four straight division titles, passing the Broncos each year from 2006-09. The 2008 collapse was the most dramatic, with the Chargers erasing a three-game deficit with three to play, ending the Mike Shanahan era. The Chargers have also won three straight in Denver, so there’s no lack of motivation.

“It’s important we all kind of just keep our heads down and work,” wide receiver Brandon Stokley said. “You always remember when things like that happen. I think as I get older, I really understand, and even this offseason when I didn’t think I would be playing this year, you just don’t get many opportunities to make great seasons. You can’t let any get away, and think, ‘Oh, we’ll just get that one back,’ because you never know.

“They are hard to make in the first place. They’re even harder to get back if you don’t make the most of it.”

The presence of guys such as Peyton Manning and Von Miller, who know nothing of those pitfalls, makes this a different team. But history has a funny way of repeating itself, which will keep the Broncos on edge until it doesn’t.

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How much is success helping the Falcons sell PSLs?

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 14: Atlanta Falcons fans look on during the game against the Seattle Seahawks at the Georgia Dome on January 14, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) Getty Images

Here’s a shocking revelation: Teams that win games enjoy success when it comes to selling things.

For the Falcons, who went 11-5 this year and will host the Packers for a berth in the Super Bowl in the final game to be played in the Georgia Dome, it’s unclear whether and to what extent the on-field achievements have resulted in a bump in the purchase of the right to purchase season tickets.

Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution claims that it has, pointing out more than 8,000 PSLs have been sold during the season. Before Week One, the Falcons had sold fewer than 33,000 PSLs. They’ve now unloaded more than 41,000 of the money-for-nothing-but-the-right-to-buy-more-stuff devices.

More than 20,000 PSLs remain. Winning Sunday would help, surely. Winning two Sundays after that could go a long way toward clearing out the warehouse.

Still, it’s possible that the Falcons have reached the point of diminishing returns. Last year, the team realized an even larger spike in PSL sales during a smaller window. As of July 31, 2015, 12,997 had been sold. Through November 30, 2015, the amount exceeded 26,600. It’s an increase in a four-month period of more than 13,600.

Yes, the Falcons started 2015 with a 5-0 record. By November 30, however, they were 6-5.

This year has been better, but the merchandise is moving more slowly. Even if they win the Super Bowl, they may not sell all of the remaining PSLs before the new stadium opens later this year. It could be that most of the people who are ever going to buy PSLs already have, and that maybe some stragglers will become sufficiently motivated if the Falcons manage to win the first championship in league history.

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Sean Davis says he was fined for hit on Chris Conley

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15:  Wide receiver Chris Conley #17 of the Kansas City Chiefs lays on the ground after being hit by outside linebacker Bud Dupree #48 of the Pittsburgh Steelers on a catch attempt during the second half in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers safety Sean Davis got flagged for a hit to the head of Chiefs wide receiver Chris Conley last Sunday night and said Wednesday that he has been fined by the league.

Davis said he was fined around $24,000 — the NFL’s fine schedule calls for a $24,309 fine for a first helmet-to-helmet hit — and that he plans to appeal. Davis hit Conley as the receiver tried to catch a pass on third-and-nine near the Steelers end zone in the fourth quarter, giving the Chiefs a first down they used to continue a drive that ended with a touchdown and a failed two-point conversion.

Conley missed one play before returning to the game.

“The penalty, I wasn’t trippin’ about the penalty man, it happened,” Davis said, via ESPN.com. “I’m sorry I hit him in the head, I’m not apologizing for it. That’s football. I dislodged the ball, I did my job, I wasn’t aiming at his head with my head. I was trying to hit him with my shoulder pad. He just fell into it, how I see it. But I did my job, we won the game. That’s that.”

Davis did not practice on Wednesday as he continues to deal with a shoulder injury, although coach Mike Tomlin suggested earlier this week that the rookie will be in the lineup against the Patriots.

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Three Washington Pro Bowlers pull out of all-star game

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 24:   Jordan Reed #86 of the Washington Redskins celebrates after catching a touchdown pass during the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on November 24, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Three of Washington’s four Pro Bowlers will be skipping the all-star game because of injuries.

According to J.P. Finlay of CSNMidAtlantic.com, outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, tight end Jordan Reed and guard Brandon Scherff will pass on next week’s trip to Orlando, while left tackle Trent Williams is still scheduled to play.

Reed tried to play through a shoulder injury suffered on Thanksgiving and the results indicated he wasn’t 100 percent. Kerrigan played through an elbow injury, while Scherff was on the injury report with an ankle injury for the last month of the regular season.

Reed and Scherff were first-time honorees.

The Panthers announced that Trai Turner would replace Scherff on the NFC Pro Bowl team.

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Antonio Brown: “I absolutely regret the Facebook Live situation”

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) stands on the sideline during the second half of an AFC wild-card NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Fred Vuich) AP

Steelers receiver Antonio Brown did his best to apologize and move on today after his bizarre decision to broadcast the Steelers’ postgame locker room on social media on Sunday.

“I absolutely regret the Facebook Live situation,” Brown said. “It’s a total distraction to the organization. A total distraction to my teammates. Obviously disrespect to my coach. I’ve got utmost respect to my coach so I totally regret that.”

Brown said he had hoped to give fans the opportunity to join in with the team’s celebration of its win over the Chiefs.

“I’m human. I make mistakes. But as a man I own up to those mistakes. I was excited in the moment and wanted to give the fans the experience after the game,” Brown said.

Asked if he expects to be disciplined for what he did, Brown answered, “That will be between me and the NFL.”

Asked if he has a contract with Facebook, Brown said, “It’s top secret.”

Brown appeared chastened by the comments of Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who called Brown’s actions “selfish” and “foolish.” And Brown sounded ready to put his focus for the rest of the week on facing the Patriots.

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Emmanuel Sanders replaces Amari Cooper in Pro Bowl

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 13:  Emmanuel Sanders #10 of the Denver Broncos is grabbed from behind by Delvin Breaux #40 of the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 13, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Broncos defeated the Saints 25-23.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Broncos offense will be represented at the Pro Bowl.

Denver already had four defensive players set to play in the game and announced on Wednesday that wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders will be joining them in Orlando. He replaces Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper.

Sanders finished the year with 79 catches, 1,032 yards and five touchdowns. It’s the third straight year that Sanders has crossed the 1,000-yard mark, although this season’s total is the lowest of those three years. That may have been a result of playing with first-year starting quarterback Trevor Siemian in an offense that struggled down the stretch in the regular season, but Sanders remained a reliable target.

Sanders can continue to be that kind of piece in the Denver offense for three more seasons as he signed an extension with the Broncos just before the start of the regular season.

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Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell limited at Patriots practice

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 24: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts with Chris Hogan #15 during the first half against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Patriots had all 53 players on their active roster on the field for Wednesday’s practice, but seven of their players were listed as limited participants in the workout.

Among that group were wide receivers Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell. Mitchell has missed the last two games with a knee injury, which has given Michael Floyd more playing time in the offense. Hogan injured his thigh in the third quarter against the Texans last Saturday and did not return to the game, although he said this week that he thought he could have returned if needed.

Wide receiver Danny Amendola was also limited, although there’s been no sign that he suffered a setback in his return to action after missing the final four regular season games with an ankle injury.

Linebacker Dont’a Hightower, tight end Martellus Bennett, running back Brandon Bolden and defensive lineman Jabaal Sheard rounded out the group of limited participants.

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Andrew Whitworth named to Pro Bowl

Carolina Panthers v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth was named to the Pro Bowl on Wednesday as an injury replacement for Donald Penn of the Raiders.

This will be Whitworth’s third Pro Bowl. He joins Bengals teammates Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins in the Jan. 29 game.

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green was also voted to the Pro Bowl but won’t participate due to injury.

Whitworth, 35, will be a free agent in March unless he signs a new contract with the Bengals before then. His 174 career Bengals games and 170 starts (including postseason) are the most for any player on the current roster.

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Ladarius Green gets in a limited practice

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 11:   Corey White #30 of the Buffalo Bills breaks up a pass intended for  Ladarius Green #89 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second half at New Era Field on December 11, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Steelers gave two of their offensive stalwarts a chance to rest during Wednesday’s practice, which is exactly what they did with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and running back Le’Veon Bell last week as well.

There was one big difference on the offensive side of the ball from last Wednesday, however. Tight end Ladarius Green didn’t practice at all leading up to the game against the Chiefs due to his presence in the concussion protocol, but he was back on the field as a limited participant as the on-field work for the AFC title game got going.

Green last played in Week 15 and practiced for a couple of days ahead of the Wild Card round before returning to the side after a negative response to the increased activity. His presence on the field Wednesday doesn’t mean he’s out of the protocol, but it is the first step toward getting that clearance he’s taken since that brief return to practice.

Green didn’t play in the first half of the season after having offseason ankle surgery, although there were also offseason reports of lingering concerns about a concussion he suffered with the Chargers in 2015. Green showed some chemistry with Ben Roethlisberger once he did get on the field, catching 18 passes for 304 yards and a touchdown in six games. The next two days of practice will provide hints if he’ll get a chance to pick up where he left off.

Linebacker James Harrison was a full participant a day after coach Mike Tomlin said he’d be limited, so there doesn’t seem to be reason for concern about his shoulder and triceps injuries. Safety Sean Davis didn’t practice because of a shoulder injury, but played through it against Kansas City.

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Report: Greg Olson to Rams as quarterbacks coach

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 04:  Offensive coordinator Greg Olson of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers talks with the quarterbacks against the Houston Texans during a preseason game at Raymond James Stadium on September 4, 2009 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images) Getty Images

Greg Olson has been linked to the Bills offensive coordinator job recently and was slated for a Thursday interview with the team, but it seems he may not need to stock up on parkas and earmuffs.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Olson will pass on the chance to be considered for a job in Buffalo in favor of joining Rams coach Sean McVay’s staff. The Rams have not hired an offensive coordinator, but, per Schefter, Olson will be the team’s quarterbacks coach.

It’s a role that Olson has filled for several teams during his NFL career, most recently with the Jaguars in 2012. The job figures to be a significant one with the Rams as they try to develop 2016 first overall pick Jared Goff into the franchise quarterback that they hoped to acquire in last year’s trade with the Titans for the top pick.

Olson returned Jacksonville as the offensive coordinator last year and was fired during the 2016 season. He had a stint as the coordinator for the Rams as well, although it came in 2006-07 when the team still called St. Louis home.

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LeGarrette Blount won’t talk about differences between Steelers and Patriots

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14:  LeGarrette Blount #29 of the New England Patriots runs the ball in the second half against the Houston Texans during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown’s decision to stream video from the team’s locker room after they beat the Chiefs has drawn a lot of reactions around the football world.

The Patriots were included in the comments from coach Mike Tomlin that were captured by Brown’s camera and they have been included in the reaction as well. Wide receiver Julian Edelman said “that’s how that team is run,” which elicited a reaction from Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Running back LeGarrette Blount has played for both teams and he got asked a question about differences between the way the two teams operate on Wednesday. His response of “next question” made it clear that he wasn’t going to delve into those waters. He did say that facing the Steelers, who released him after 11 games of limited production in 2014.

“No. I’m just going to go out there and play just like I play everybody else. It’s more about us than them,” Blount said, via ESPN.com.

Blount has played the Steelers twice since returning to the Patriots later in the 2014 season, so any hard feelings that might have existed have had a chance to work themselves out his system.

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Aaron Rodgers preparing for a loud environment in Atlanta

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 30:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers calls a play against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on October 30, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the Falcons prepare to host their last game at the Georgia Dome on Sunday, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is preparing for it to be loud.

Rodgers said today that the Packers are preparing their snap counts with the idea that Falcons fans are going to make it hard for his teammates to hear him call signals at the line of scrimmage.

“Everything we do on the field cadence-wise, in a loud environment, we work on in practice,” Rodgers said. “We have crowd noise and music in practice. You like to switch it up and make it difficult on them in practice to see how they would respond in a game situation.”

Rodgers is the best quarterback in football at using snap counts to catch the defense out of position, offside or with too many players on the field, and then throwing deep to take advantage of a free play. That may be more difficult in a loud stadium, but Rodgers will be ready for the noise on Sunday.

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Vance Joseph plans to have an up-tempo, attacking offense

ENGLEWOOD, CO - JANUARY 12:  Denver Broncos President and CEO Joe Ellis, Vance Josepf and General Manager John Elway pose for the media during a press conference to introduce Vance Josepf as the new head coach at the Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Broncos Centre on January 12, 2017 in Englewood, Colorado.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) Getty Images

Broncos head coach Vance Joseph, who got the job due to his work as a defensive coach, knows that he’ll need to get more out of his new team’s offense. Appearing on Wednesday’s PFT Live, Joseph explained his plans for doing that.

“I want our offense to be able to score points,” Joseph said. “I want us to be up-tempo and put pressure on defenses. Sometimes when you have a great defense intact you kind of lean to the defense too much and you kind of get spoiled when things go bad, let the defense have it. I don’t want that, I want an offense who wants the responsibility of winning games and scoring points.

“So I want to be attacking, I want to be innovative, I want to play fast with tempo. I want to attack defenses, Mike, and that’s the way I kind of envision our offense being along with a dominant defense. If you can get both of those things going now you’re hard to beat every Sunday.”

The defense will indeed remain dominant, in Joseph’s assessment. Though he was disappointed in the decision of one of his “football fathers” to leave for the Rams, Joseph hopes the defense will improve with Joe Woods replacing Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator.

“This defense should not take a step back it should take a step forward,” Joseph said, adding that the team will use the same system and approach. “I can’t guarantee that it’s going to be exactly the same but the foundation won’t change because the players like doing what we’re doing here and they’ve been successful at it. So the foundation won’t change. Now can we add some different tweaks in coverage and front and pressure stuff, absolutely. But most teams every year do the same thing. So it’s going to be the same attacking defensive style you saw from Wade.”

It adds up to high expectations for 2017.

“Since Mr. Bowlen bought this team it’s been one goal, to win championships,” Joseph said. “But that being said no one’s going to give you the wins that put you in the playoffs. So it always starts with going to work, OTAs, training camp, winning your division, those things won’t change. Every year teams change but those things won’t change so for us to go and obtain those goals every year it starts with work. It starts with OTAs, with training camp. It starts with winning your division so those steps won’t get skipped. We understand that and at the end of the day we’re going to work hard and pick our heads up and see where we are.”

Where they very well may be a year from now is getting ready for the AFC title game, which they won a year ago en route to a Super Bowl championship.

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Davante Adams won’t practice until late in the week

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15:  Davante Adams #17 of the Green Bay Packers catches a pass during the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Last week, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said his injured wide receiver wouldn’t practice until Saturday, seeming to know it was unlikely he’d play.

So the fact he set the same timetable for another injured wide receiver isn’t a good sign.

Via Jason Wilde of ESPN.com, McCarthy said Davante Adams‘ left ankle injury was sufficiently worrisome that they’d hold him out until the end of the week.

“Curious to see him move,” McCarthy said. “I don’t think he’ll practice until Saturday.”

That’s the same early prognosis he set for Jordy Nelson last week after Nelson suffered broken ribs in the Wild Card win over the Giants. But Nelson didn’t make it to Saturday, as he was ruled out the Friday before the Divisional Round win over the Cowboys.

Adams was able to come back and play Sunday, but his absence would further deplete a receiving corps short on options. He started last week. Nelson’s not practicing today either, and getting him back on the field this week still seems like a long-shot.

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Bills hire Kelly Skipper as running backs coach

OAKLAND, CA - CIRCA 2011: In this handout image provided by the NFL, Kelly Skipper of the Oakland Raiders poses for his NFL headshot circa 2011 in Oakland, California. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)

The Bills on Wednesday announced the hiring of Kelly Skipper as their new running backs coach.

Skipper held the same job the last two seasons with the Jaguars. Prior to that he coached in the college ranks and spent eight seasons with the Raiders.

Skipper becomes the third assistant officially hired since the Bills introduced Sean McDermott as their new head coach last week.

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Bill Belichick on home field advantage helping: Go ask Dallas and Kansas City

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14: Bill Belichick head coach of the New England Patriots greets Bill O'Brien head coach ofthe Houston Texans after the Patriots defeated theTexans 34-16 in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Patriots finished with the top seed in the AFC playoffs, which assured they wouldn’t have to play games anywhere other than Gillette Stadium in order to make it to Houston for the Super Bowl.

That’s seen as significant accomplishment for teams and a boost to their chances of advancing out of the conference. Patriots coach Bill Belichick isn’t overly convinced about that being the case, however.

Belichick was asked at Wednesday’s press conference about how much help the team gets from playing at home and noted that two teams who were at home last weekend aren’t playing this time around.

“I don’t know,” Belichick said. “Go ask Dallas and Kansas City … the game is won by the players on the field. That’s who wins football games — the players. And they’ll decide it Sunday night.”

The Patriots have played in 10 conference title games under Belichick. They are 4-1 at home and 2-3 on the road in those games, so history would say that being at home gives them a bit of a boost.

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