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Patriots demolish the Colts, make Luck look like a rookie

New England Patriots quarterback Brady reacts after throwing a touchdown pass to Patriots teammate Gronkowski against the Indianapolis Colts during the second half of their NFL football game in Foxborough Reuters

The Patriots have been so consistently good, so cool, so together over the years,  you wonder if anything can ruffle them.

Sunday, they played like a team that got really tired of hearing about the new guy and how good he was.

The Patriots throttled the Colts 59-24, making Andrew Luck look like a rookie with lots to learn. That tied a franchise record for points in a game for the Patriots, and generally made it look easy for the last 25 minutes of the game.

They picked Luck off three times and returned two of them for touchdowns, and returned a punt for a score.

Coupled with a dominant performance by tight end Rob Gronkowski, it was a thorough domination. Gronkowski (seven catches, 137 yards, two touchdowns) became the first tight end in league history with three consecutive seasons with 10 touchdowns.

Luck had moments when he looked like the cool player who led the Colts to a 6-3 start. But what became obvious over the course of the game was how talent-deficient the Colts overall roster is, relative to the Patriots. The Colts struggled to protect him, making it hard for him to shine. And they absolutely lack the horses on defense to play with good teams.

The Patriots, on the other hand, seemed to enjoy laying it on. Tom Brady was 24-of-35 for 331 yards and three touchdowns, leading a turnover-free game for his team, which improved to 7-3.

That’s right, they had the same record as the Colts walking in the door. It was the only thing they had in common.

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Willie Snead not expected to play for Saints tonight

New Orleans Saints' Willie Snead (83) catches a pass for a touchdown in front of New York Giants' Darian Thompson (27) and Kelvin Sheppard (91) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) AP

The Saints might be without a key part of the offense tonight against the Falcons.

According to Mike Triplett of, wide receiver Willie Snead is not expected to play tonight, after injuring toe ligaments last week against the Giants.

“I don’t feel 100 percent, but throughout the week my foot’s been getting better and we’ve been treating it really well,” Snead said Saturday. “I just want to be healthy for the year, to be honest. I don’t want it to linger, I want it to be gone.

“It’s Monday Night Football, the atmosphere’s gonna be great. It’s gonna be frustrating if I can’t go. If I can go, I’ll make the most of it. . . . If I can’t, I’ll be on the sideline cheering my butt off.”

Snead’s been one of the pleasant surprises for the Saints so far this season, with 14 catches for 226 yards and two touchdowns in two games. Without him, the Saints will likely rely on second-rounder Michael Thomas.

The Saints are already going to be without left tackle Terron Armstead (knee), and their usual array of defensive players, but that doesn’t feel like news anymore.

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Pete Carroll: Russell Wilson has a sprained MCL

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks passes the ball during the first quarter of the game against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field on September 25, 2016 in Seattle,Washington. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) Getty Images

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson went for an MRI on his injured knee after Sunday’s victory over the 49ers and the results call into question whether he’ll be able to start against the Jets in Week Four.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was on ESPN 710’s “Brock and Salk” Monday and said that the MRI showed Wilson has a sprained MCL. He said the diagnosis meant there’s “obviously consideration” to having Wilson sit out this week, although the perpetually upbeat coach added that the quarterback is doing “unbelievable” a day after getting hurt.

“I just left him,” Carroll said. “He’s unbelievable, OK. He feels great. He’s been rehabbing all night and doing his thing, and he can move around, walking fine. You can’t tell anything. He’s really excited about the thought that he could be able to maybe get through this thing.”

The Seahawks have a bye after the trip back to where they won the Super Bowl a couple of years ago, which would leave Wilson with two weeks to recover before the Seahawks host the Falcons on October 16. The decision will likely come down to how well Wilson can move over the coming days, so his status for Sunday afternoon may not be confirmed until Sunday morning.

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Giants lose leading rusher Shane Vereen for season

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 25:  Shane Vereen #34 of the New York Giants is tackled by DeAngelo Hall #23 and David Bruton #30 of the Washington Redskins in the first half at MetLife Stadium on September 25, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Giants have lost their leading rusher.

Giants running back Shane Vereen is out for the season with a triceps injury, the team announced today. Vereen suffered the injury during yesterday’s game but didn’t realize how serious it was and played through it.

Vereen has 31 carries for 147 yards and a touchdown through three games this season, a healthy 4.7-yard average. His injury will mean more carries for Rashad Jennings, who has been splitting carries with Vereen so far this year. Jennings has 102 yards on 31 carries, an average of 3.3 yards a carry. The Giants will also try to get Orleans Darkwa more involved in the offense. Darkwa has 11 carries for 52 yards this season.

Vereen is also fourth on the team in receiving, with eight catches for 75 yards, and the Giants will miss him in the passing game.

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NFL kickers’ accuracy is slightly down this year

Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo (19) reacts after kicking a field goal against the Cleveland Browns during the first quarter of an NFL football game Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken) AP

Last year there was talk that the new extra point rule had gotten into kickers’ heads. A year to adjust to the new extra point rule hasn’t made kickers any better.

Through Sunday’s games, NFL kickers are making 93.4 percent of their extra points and 83.2 percent of their field goals. That’s down from last season, when kickers made 94.2 percent of extra points and 84.5 percent of field goals.

And the decline may actually be a little worse than those numbers look, as kicking typically gets less accurate late in the season, when more games are played in bad weather. Through three weeks last year, kickers made 94.6 percent of extra points and 84.9 percent of field goals.

Among the notably struggling kickers is Buccaneers rookie Roberto Aguayo, who at 1-for-3 is the only kicker in the league who has missed more field goals than he’s made. The Bucs traded up to take Aguayo in the second round of the draft, a move that would be scrutinized even if Aguayo were making all his kicks.

Another kicker struggling is Minnesota’s Blair Walsh, who at 3-for-5 is the only kicker in the league who has missed more than one extra point. Walsh missed a potentially game-winning field goal for the Vikings in the playoffs last season, and there’s been talk that the miss has lingered for him mentally.

Kickers go through ups and downs, and it’s possible that there just happen to be a few more downs than ups through the first three weeks of the season, and the numbers will even out by the end of the year. But after many years of kickers growing steadily more accurate in the NFL, we’re now seeing more misses.

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Eagles coach compares Carson Wentz to Peyton Manning, of course

DUBLIN, OH - JUNE 01:  Former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning gives the 'thumbs up' sign during a practice round prior to The Memorial Tournament Presented By Nationwide at Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 1, 2016 in Dublin, Ohio.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) Getty Images

I know it’s a heady time in Philadelphia, what with watching Carson Wentz lead the Eagles to a 3-0 record.

But somebody should really tell Doug Pederson to pump the brakes.

The Eagles rookie coach compared the Eagles rookie quarterback to, you know, one of the best quarterbacks of all time Monday.

“He loves watching tape,” Pederson said, via Jimmy Kempski of “He and the quarterbacks – Chase [Daniel] and Aaron [Murray] – they’re in here at 5:30 in the morning watching the film and exhausting the tape. I hear him just even in the building, he’s constantly talking to guys about plays and routes and protections.

It’s Peyton Manning-ish. You hate to label it. I don’t want to put labels on guys, but that’s how Peyton prepared, and that’s how these top quarterbacks prepare each week, and he has that now as a young quarterback, and that’ll carry him through his career.”

Pederson had previously compared his first-round pick to Brett Favre because of his arm strength, so coupled with Manning’s work ethic, he’s clearly on track to force the Pro Football Hall of Fame to eliminate its five-year waiting period so he can be enshrined in Canton yesterday.

Of course, Wentz has been really good. He just authored a thrashing of the Steelers, hasn’t thrown a pick yet, and his 103.8 passer rating is seventh among quarterbacks in the league with more than one pass.

We can’t wait for next week. We’re sure Joe Montana agrees.

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Torn ACL confirmed for DeAngelo Hall

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 18: Wide receiver Cole Beasley #11 of the Dallas Cowboys is tackled by free safety DeAngelo Hall #23 of the Washington Redskins in the first quarter at FedExField on September 18, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Getting their first win of the season didn’t mean only good news for the Redskins on Sunday.

Safety DeAngelo Hall said after the game that doctors believed he suffered a torn ACL in the 29-27 win over the Giants, although he added that he felt fine and was walking fine after the game. An MRI was set for Monday to confirm the initial diagnosis and the news wasn’t any better for Hall when the results came in.

Hall told Erin Hawksworth of ABC7 in Washington D.C. that the MRI showed a complete tear of the ligament and that he will now wait for the swelling to go down before Dr. James Andrews performs surgery to repair the injury.

It’s the second season-ending injury for Hall in the last three years as he tore his Achilles in 2014. He’s signed for next season with a base salary of $4.25 million, although none of the money is guaranteed.

Will Blackmon replaced Hall at free safety after the injury on Sunday and will likely start alongside David Bruton when the Browns visit next Sunday.

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Adrian Peterson’s sole focus for now is getting back

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 18:  Quarterback Sam Bradford #8 of the Minnesota Vikings hands off to running back Adrian Peterson #28 during the game against the Green Bay Packers on September 18, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Sunday pregame shows featured plenty of chatter about: (1) the Vikings wanting running back Adrian Peterson to stay with the team; and (2) the Vikings undoubtedly not wanting to pay him $18 million in 2017.

So what does Peterson want? Per a source with knowledge of Peterson’s thinking, Peterson wants to get healthy and play, as soon as possible.

Two years ago, Peterson had concerns about returning to the Vikings after a 15-game paid-and-unpaid suspension following a prosecution for child abuse. The Vikings held firm, making it clear that they held his rights and intended to have him honor his contract.

In 2017, Peterson will have greater influence over his status, if/when the Vikings approach him about a reduction in his pay. If he refuses to cut his pay, the Vikings will have to cut him, if they don’t want to pay him $18 million.

Peterson likes playing for the Vikings. Whether he will accept a reduced package to stay will be influenced by plenty of factors. For now, his status beyond 2016 is simply not a consideration.

Peterson’s sole focus is to rehab his knee injury following surgery to repair a torn meniscus, and to play again this year. He can return as soon as Week Eleven, and he could find himself on the field with the best Vikings team of his 10-year tenure. Whether he plays, how well he plays, and how far the team goes will surely influence whether he ultimately takes the best deal the Vikings put on the table for 2017 and beyond — and whether he’ll look for something as good or better elsewhere.

Or maybe he’ll look for something not quite as good, if it gives him an opportunity to play with a team that could help Peterson cap his career with a Super Bowl appearance.

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Adam Gase not sure Mike Pouncey can return during a short week

JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 09:  Mike Pouncey #51 of the Miami Dolphins leads the team onto the field during a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on August 9, 2013 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Dolphins have a quick turnaround from Sunday’s win over the Browns to Thursday’s game in Cincinnati and that may force them to use Kraig Urbik as their starting center against the Bengals.

Anthony Steen started the first three games of the year, but suffered a high ankle sprain against the Browns and Gase said Monday that Steen will not be healthy enough to play this week. Steen was starting because Mike Pouncey has been out with a hip injury and Gase said, via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, “we’ll see” if he’s able to make his 2016 debut this week.

Gase also said that Pouncey will probably need to practice before he can re-enter the lineup, something that would seem to make this week a long shot because the Dolphins won’t have a full week to prepare for Cincinnati.

Gase is looking for more from the offensive line as he called pass protection a big frustration and said that right tackle Ja’Wuan James isn’t a sure bet to start this week, although further shuffling may be difficult if they’re going with a new center this week.

The Dolphins will also be without tight end Jordan Cameron, who suffered a concussion Sunday, and Gase said it was unlikely running back Arian Foster would return after missing the victory due to a groin injury.

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Colin Kaepernick: “Huge” to have Chip Kelly’s support

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers walks off the field after the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on September 25, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the 49ers 37-18.   (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

During a press conference last week, 49ers coach Chip Kelly said that he has no problem with the way quarterback Colin Kaepernick has focused on calling attention to his feelings about instances of police misconduct and racial inequality this season.

Kelly said that Kaepernick is “shedding light on a situation that is heinous” and “shouldn’t happen in this country” while shooting down repeated suggestions that Kaepernick is a distraction in the locker room. After Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks, Kaepernick said that it meant a lot to hear that from his coach.

“I think he’s a strong man,” Kaepernick said, via the San Jose Mercury News. “I don’t know if he realizes how much that means to me and if he realizes how much that means to these people, to these communities. The fact that he was willing to take a strong stand and say these things aren’t right, and that’s huge coming from a head coach.”

Kaepernick was also asked about his visit to Castlemont High School last Friday. The players on the Castlemont team laid on their backs with their hands up during the national anthem while Kaepernick took a knee.

“I wanted to reach out and show my support for them. It takes a lot of courage to do what they did,” Kaepernick said. “Castlemont’s also in a very impoverished area where a lot of these issues are taking place. And to be with those kids — to be with those young men — and just listen to them and hear them speak about what’s going on … what they’re fighting through … what they’re dealing with on a day-to-day basis … It’s sickening to me that we allow that and we accept that as OK. It’s something that needs to change.”

There weren’t a lot of football questions for Kaepernick, although he did say he felt ready to play if Kelly decides to call his number. Kelly said after the loss that he hasn’t considered doing that, although Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett suggested it would help a team that’s lost two straight games.

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MRI confirms torn Achilles for Manti Te’o

San Diego Chargers inside linebacker Manti Te'o reacts during the first half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang) AP

For a guy who entered the NFL as a bit of a sideshow, Manti Te’o had become a very solid player for the Chargers.

But at least for this season, that’s over.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, MRIs confirmed the Chargers linebacker suffered a torn Achilles and will be out for the season.

Te’o, their 2013 second-round pick, is in the final year of his rookie contract, and will now enter the market while rehabbing a serious injury. But it also leaves yet another hole for the Chargers, who are losing not just a player but someone who had become a leader.

After losing Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead and Stevie Johnson, the Chargers are rapidly running out of difference-makers on the field, and are 1-2 after yesterday’s loss to the Colts.

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Did Browns’ Moneyball guys nix plan to sign Robbie Gould?

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 25: Cody Parkey #3 of the Cleveland Browns reacts after missing the game winning field goal in the 4th quarter against the Miami Dolphinson September 25, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) Getty Images

On Friday, the Browns lost kicker Patrick Murray to a knee injury suffered in practice. On Sunday, the Browns lost in overtime after replacement kicker Cody Parkey missed three field goals, one of which would have won the game as time expired in the fourth quarter.

That raised questions about why the Browns chose Parkey over Robbie Gould, a free agent who has a good track record of kicking well for the Bears. And according to the Miami Herald, Gould is the kicker that Browns special teams coach Chris Tabor wanted to sign — except that the front office nixed the plan, saying Gould would cost more than Parkey. Gould has played 11 NFL seasons and Parkey is in his third, which means the minimum salary to sign Gould would be about half a million dollars more than the Browns are paying Parkey.

Cap space isn’t really an issue for the Browns right now, as they lead the league with $48 million available. Still, the Browns have made no secret that their front office will take a Moneyball approach, and they may see kickers as largely interchangeable and not worth a lot of money. (The Browns also made a move at punter that saved money a few weeks ago, trading away Andy Lee and signing the less expensive Britton Colquitt.)

However, the Browns are pushing back against that report, with a team source insisting to the Akron Beacon Journal that money isn’t the reason they signed Parkey over Gould.

Money played no role in the decision,” the Browns source said. “It’s ridiculous to think that it would.”

Whatever the reasons that Parkey is the Browns’ kicker, the fact is that he missed field goals of 42, 46 and 41 yards on Sunday. Gould’s track record suggests he probably would have made at least one of those field goals, and if any one of them had been good, the Browns would have won in regulation instead of losing in overtime.

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Michael Crabtree on protests: “I ain’t no Martin Luther King”

NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 11: Michael Crabtree #15 of the Oakland Raiders stiff arms Ken Crawley #46 of the New Orleans Saints during the second half of a game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 11, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Getty Images

Two more Raiders were willing to join the ranks of those willing to make their feelings known during the national anthem, with linebackers Malcolm Smith and Bruce Irvin raising their fists in a quiet salute.

But don’t look for wide receiver Michael Crabtree to be joining them, or apparently any cause.

According to Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle, Crabtree wasn’t interested in discussing it after the Raiders beat the Titans on the road.

“I just play football,” Crabtree said. “I ain’t no Martin Luther King.”

Likewise, Crabtree didn’t want to share any thoughts on his former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose sitting during the national anthem to protest police brutality and unfair treatment of minorities led to taking a knee,

“I’ve let it be known I don’t have anything to do with him,” Crabtree said. “I’m a Raider.”

That’s entirely his right, as it is the right of those who have something to say saying it. Smith said it wasn’t anything he planned but a reaction to something he saw in the crowd.

“I’ve talked about it, I’ve thought about it, but I wasn’t going to do it until I saw a little girl in the stands try to put her fist up and her mom slapped her hand down,” Smith said. “I just felt like you’ve got a voice, you should be able to use it no matter the circumstances. You’ve got a point of view, you should be able to use it.

“It’s no disrespect to the military or the police force. There’s a lot of stuff going on in this country that has been hard for people to understand. I’m all for everyone standing together as a country, first and foremost. . . . Hopefully, it’s getting a conversation started. I hope people don’t feel disrespect.”

Crabtree apparently doesn’t, and sees no need to add his voice to a growing chorus.

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Tod Leiweke’s first big moment comes Tuesday

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 19:  Tod Leiweke CEO of the Seattle Seahawks watches from the bench as they face the Denver Broncos at INVESCO Field at Mile High on September 19, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Seahawks 31-14.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) Getty Images

More than 14 months after he arrived as the NFL’s first COO since Roger Goodell was promoted from that role into a slightly bigger job, Tod Leiweke is ready to make a major impact.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Leiweke will unveil a new strategic plan for the league office during a Tuesday meeting of various NFL committees, in advance of next month’s full ownership meeting.

The goal will be to encourage more cooperation among the various NFL departments. Currently, they often operate as silos, without much coordination among them. Leiweke will propose an approach more conduct to getting and keeping everyone on the same page.

The existing approach hasn’t kept the NFL from becoming a $13 billion per year behemoth. Better business practices, however, could make the NFL even bigger and better. If Leiweke’s plan works, he’ll deserve plenty of credit for finding a way to make that happen.

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Blake Bortles: Underachieving offense “nobody’s fault outside of mine”

JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 25: Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars is hit in the pocket by Za'Darius Smith #90 of the Baltimore Ravens during an NFL game on September 25, 2016 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. The Ravens defeated the Jaguars 19-17. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jaguars went down 10 points to the Ravens in the first half of Sunday’s game, but found their footing in time to take a 17-16 lead with 7:27 to play in the game.

That lead didn’t stand up, however. Quarterback Blake Bortles threw two of his three interceptions in the final 4:16 and the Ravens blocked a field goal before Justin Tucker hit one of his own to provide the margin of victory in a 19-17 win. Bortles pointed the finger at himself for the team’s failure to secure their first win of the year.

“We had unbelievable field position and continued to tremendously underachieve as an offense,” Bortles said, via the team’s website. “That’s nobody’s fault outside of mine, I believe. …Guys are tired of being bad. Guys are tired of losing. I thought the defense and special teams played plenty well enough to win, but we didn’t offensively and I didn’t as a quarterback.”

Bortles had a poor game in Week Two against the Chargers as well and his play is down across the board from where it was during the 2015 season. That wasn’t the expectation heading into the season and the team’s failure to take a step forward in the first weeks of this season will turn up the heat on coach Gus Bradley and several others if they drop to 0-4 in London against the Colts next weekend.

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Ben Roethlisberger: We all stunk

Pittsburgh Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger (7)reacts after a turnover during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola) Getty Images

The Steelers got steamrolled by the Eagles on Sunday in a 34-3 loss and there weren’t any shortage of places to look for reasons why things went so wrong.

The defense gave up 426 yards and generated no sacks or turnovers. The run game produced 29 yards on 10 carries and Ben Roethlisberger turned the ball over twice while being sacked four times by an impressive Eagles defense. There were dropped passes, a slew of injuries and enough other things for Roethlisberger to come up with an easy answer to why the Steelers suffered their worst loss since 1989.

“We stunk,” Roethlisberger said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We all stunk.”

The fact that the failures were so widespread on Sunday should give the Steelers plenty to work on this week as they prepare to host the Chiefs next Sunday night. They’ll get running back Le’Veon Bell back from suspension for that game, which they hope will show Sunday’s performance was an outlier and not a sign of how things will play out over the rest of the season.

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