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Cecil Shorts stops by PFT on NBC Sports Network

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There haven’t been many bright spots for the Jaguars this season, but the play of wide receiver Cecil Shorts is on the top of that brief list.

Shorts has 36 catches for 747 yards and six touchdowns, numbers that show the big play ability he’s flashed at various points this season. The 2011 fourth-round pick has had more than 100 receiving yards in two of the last three weeks, joining Justin Blackmon as young receivers with promise in Jacksonville. Shorts will be on Pro Football Talk on NBC Sports Network Tuesday to talk about that, life with Chad Henne as quarterback and anything else that crosses his mind.

Erik Kuselias, Mike Florio, Pete Najarian and Ross Tucker will all be on hand to talk about some of the biggest issues of the day. The use of Adderall by NFL players will be one of the topics up for discussion.

It all gets underway at 5 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.

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Mike Mitchell shrugs at making Steve Smith’s “hit list”

Torrey Smith, Mike Mitchell AP

After supposedly taking a helmet to the back from former Panthers teammate Mike Mitchell, Ravens receiver Steve Smith said that Mitchell, now with the Steelers, has landed on Smith’s “lifetime hit list.”

Mitchell says he’s not concerned.

It is something that he tries to use to fuel himself,” Mitchell said Friday, via Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “It isn’t even something I concern myself with. I didn’t think of anything when I heard about it, and I don’t think anything about it now. I am going to continue on and play football.”

Mitchell also pointed out something that the replays of hit that injured Smith’s back confirm: Mitchell didn’t hit Smith.

“If you look at my fine history, I am more of a helmet-to-helmet kind of guy,” Mitchell said, sarcastically. “I am not going to spear you. I wasn’t even involved in the play.”

Smith nevertheless insists that Mitchell hit him, and that Mitchell said after it, “How do you like that?”

To anyone who thinks they can persuade Smith otherwise, we say, “Good luck with that.”

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Matthew Stafford’s wife responds to fans burning his jersey

DeMarcus Ware, Matthew Stafford AP

After Sunday night’s loss to the Broncos, a couple of Lions fans were seen attempting to set fire to a Matthew Stafford jersey. When the flames wouldn’t take, several Lions fans spit on it instead.

On Friday, Stafford’s wife responded to the indignity, which was captured on video.

“Although many in this city have already turned their back on the Lions and Matthew, we will never stop supporting Detroit,” Kelly Stafford said on Instagram, via “No matter how many #9 jerseys people burn or how many negative things people say about these players they will continue to fight for a championship for this city.”

It’s an admirable response to the behavior of a small handful of fans. The fact that a response of any kind was issued suggests that the taunts and insults struck the intended target.

With Matthew under contract through 2017, perhaps the next time he’s up for an extension he’ll decide not to sign one, and disgruntled Lions fans can then burn and/or spit on the jersey of Dan Orlovsky or whoever else the Lions can find to play quarterback in Detroit.

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Dwayne Bowe says, “It starts Sunday”

Dwayne Bowe AP

The Browns gave receiver Dwayne Bowe $9 million guaranteed in the offseason. To date, they’ve gotten nothing in return.

That could change on Sunday at San Diego.

It starts Sunday,” Bowe said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I can’t wait to go out there and showcase my talent and be a ringleader for the guys and go out there and bring home a win. That’s all I can ask for. If God’s capable of having me out there playing, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Officially, Bowe was a healthy scratch in Week Three against the Raiders. But he has been dealing with a hamstring problem. Unless he hasn’t been.

“I’ve never had a hamstring,” Bowe said. “I’ve never been really injured. It’s just playing it smart, man. What I showed [last week] wasn’t 100 percent. You got so much invested in somebody you want to make sure that guy can go out there and do his job and do it 100 percent. That’s what we’re working on.”

And then Bowe later contradicted himself when talking about the consensus that he had his best practice of the year on Wednesday.

“As time goes by the injury minimizes itself, so I feel like I’m almost back to where I need to be,” Bowe said. “They’re saying, ‘You’re looking back to where you were in camp.’ So I feel good about it and we’re going to go in with that.”

Bowe seemed to be surprised by speculation that he could eventually be out.

“People say that?” Bowe said. “I never even heard that. I know what goes on in this building. Those guys love me. They know I’m a great teammate, they know I’m a great player. I’m just trying to make plays. I’ve been doing it my whole career so that’s not going to change.”

He hasn’t made any plays yet this year, but he seems to think he will on Sunday.

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Ugly loss could indeed doom Philbin

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Last year, a blowout loss to the Dolphins in London got Raiders coach Dennis Allen fired. This year, if the Dolphins are on the other end of a similar outcome against the Jets in the same English stadium, Miami coach Joe Philbin could indeed be gone.

As Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reported earlier on Saturday, a blowout loss by the Dolphins to the Jets will indeed put Philbin’s job in grave danger. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, owner Stephen Ross’ high regard for Philbin could give him the benefit of the doubt. However, an ugly, embarrassing loss to the Jets could indeed spark a change.

For now, the Dolphins are focused on securing a victory over the Jets, which would make any talk of Philbin being fired moot — and which possibly would ensure that he’d finish out the season.

Also working in Philbin’s favor could be the absence of a clear in-house candidate to take over on an interim basis. Last year in Oakland, former Dolphins coach Tony Sparano was on Allen’s staff. Philbin has no assistant with head-coaching experience, and the two most obvious choices — offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle — arguably are as much a part of the problem as Philbin.

For now, the Dolphins haven’t crossed that bridge. In large part because they may not have to. With Jets-Dolphins kicking off at 9:30 a.m. ET, everyone will have a better feel for the situation by the time the 1:00 p.m. ET games begin.

If the Dolphins slide to 1-3 by getting tossed around in London like the Bills tossed them around in Miami, Ross will at least be tempted to do something. Whatever he chooses, Ross needs to realize that those four home games in the final five weeks of the season could be very sparsely attended if the Dolphins aren’t competing for a playoff berth.

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Pete Carroll calls Marshawn Lynch a game-time decision

Pete Carroll AP

Officially, Marshawn Lynch is questionable for Monday night’s game against the Lions with a hamstring injury. Unofficially, he’s 40-60 to play. As a practical matter, Lynch’s availability will be determined not long before kickoff.

“We won’t know all the way until game time,” coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Saturday.

Lynch hasn’t practiced this week, but Carroll seemed to suggest that this wouldn’t keep Lynch from playing.

“We would go with him if he can make it, if he can pop out of it, then we would go with him,” Carroll said. “Just based on that he’s had other weeks when he wasn’t able to practice and played very well. But we’ll have to wait and see.”

They won’t have to wait and see regarding the outcome of the MRI on Lynch’s hamstring. Actually, it sounds like Lynch has had multiple MRIs on the hamstring, even though he wasn’t listed as having a hamstring injury before the Week Three game against the Bears.

“He’s had one last week and nothing showed up, and then after the game he aggravated his hamstring in a different area than anything that he had felt the week before,” Carroll said. “It happened on that play when he caught the ball on fourth down. So we checked it out and there were some findings. So he’s been working hard at trying to get back, he’s done a really diligent job of rehab, and so we’ll see what happens.”

So it sounds like Lynch has had a hamstring problem for more than a week, that the Seahawks hadn’t disclosed it before the Bears game, and that the MRI conducted after the Bears game revealed damage of some sort.

So, basically, there’s a good chance it will be the Fred Jackson and Thomas Rawls show on Monday night.

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With Pat O’Donnell injured, Bears add a punter

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

Bears punter Pat O’Donnell got a hell of a workout on Sunday against the Seahawks, given that the Bears punted on every drive of the game.

O’Donnell emerged with a right knee injury. He’s officially questionable for the game, and the Bears have signed punter Spencer Lanning for Sunday’s game against the Raiders.

To create room for Lanning, the Bears waived defensive tackle Brandon Dunn.

Lanning punted for two years with the Browns. He’s perhaps best known for taking Antonio Brown’s foot to his face in Week One of the 2014 season.

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Harbaugh: Ravens have ruled out Steve Smith for Week Five

Jim Harbaugh, John Harbaugh AP

Earlier on Saturday, the Ravens described receiver Steve Smith as “week to week.” Later in the day, coach John Harbaugh ruled Smith out for Week Five.

“I think he’s gonna be OK in the long run,” Harbaugh told CSN Mid-Atlantic from the Michigan-Maryland game. “He’s got some small microfractures in his back from what I’ve been told. They’ve ruled him out for the Cleveland game, but after that I think we’ve got some hope that he’s gonna be back.”

That’s a lot more information than the team released, and it provides some short-term clarity as to Smith’s situation. Specifically, he won’t be playing against the Browns in Week Five.

Harbaugh also called the breaks in the back “microfractures,” which sounds less ominous than the reports that previously surfaced. Still, a fracture is a fracture and Smith has plural — fractures — so it’s no surprise he’ll miss at least one game.

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Seahawks declare Marshawn Lynch questionable for Monday

Marshawn Lynch AP

While the reality of Marshawn Lynch’s situation is closer to 40-60, until the NFL comes up with something between probable and questionable, the Seahawks had to make a choice.

And as expected, they opted to lean toward the optimistic side.

The Seahawks listed the running back as questionable for Monday’s game against the Lions, which traditionally translates to a 50-50 chance to play. They’ve been careful with his hamstring all week, and if he’s not able to get 10 percentage points better between now and Monday, they may just give him a chance to get well.

Between Thomas Rawls (who had 104 rushing yards last week against the Bears) and veteran Fred Jackson, the Seahawks have the benefit of sufficient depth to cover if Lynch can’t go.

The Seahawks declared cornerback Tharold Simon and safety Steven Terrell out this week, while defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, defensive end Demarcus Dobbs and linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis are also questionable. Tight end Luke Willson and linebackers Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Mike Morgan are all listed as probable.

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Needing a lineman, Chargers dump running back Donald Brown

Donald Brown, Kenneth Acker AP

The Donald Brown experiment has ended in San Diego. To not really much of a surprise.

The 2009 first-round pick of the Colts, who did enough in his contract year of 2013 to merit a three-year, $10 million deal in free agency (with $4 million guaranteed) was cut by the Chargers on Saturday in order to create a roster spot for offensive lineman Michael Ola.

Brown had appeared in no games in 2015. Last year, he had 85 carries for 223 yards, an average of only 2.6 yards per attempt.

The former Connecticut tailback had largely been a disappointment early in his career, but he finally became moderately productive after Indy traded for Trent Richardson early in the 2013 season. Brown finished that year with 537 yards rushing on 102 carries, with eight total touchdowns.

He now becomes a free agent, able to sign with any other team.

Ola’s elevation comes prior to a game against the Browns that sees guard Orlando Franklin (ankle) out, tackle King Dunlap (concussion) and center Chris Watt doubtful, and guard D.J. Fluker (ankle, chest) questionable.

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Levy doubtful, Bell and Pettigrew out for Lions

Joique Bell, Brandon Marshall AP

The Lions will try to avoid going 0-4 on Monday night in Seattle. They’ll most likely have to make the effort without the services of three key players.

Linebacker DeAndre Levy (hip) is doubtful for the game. He returned to practice this week for the first time during the regular season, but he’s unlikely to play. Levy will be downgraded to out if he doesn’t make the trip to Seattle with the rest of the team.

Ruled out for the Monday night game are running back Joique Bell (ankle) and tight end Brandon Pettigrew (hamstring). Via Tim Twentyman of the team’s official website, rookie Ameer Abdullah is expected to get the bulk of the carries, with Theo Riddick and Zach Zenner also receiving some of the work.

Also doubtful is tackle Corey Robinson, with an ankle injury. Defensive end Ziggy Ansah (groin), guard Larry Warford (ankle), and cornerback Josh Wilson (lower leg) are all questionable for the game.

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Packers downgrade Adams’ chances of playing Sunday

Davante Adams AP

A day after Packers coach Mike McCarthy said wide receiver Davante Adams had a “slight” chance of playing Sunday vs. the 49ers, the team downgraded Adams from questionable to doubtful.

The Packers also say safety Morgan Burnett (calf) is doubtful. Burnett also missed last week’s win over the Chiefs.

Adams has left the last two games with an ankle injury. He returned to the game two weeks ago vs. the Seahawks but left in the first half last week and was not able to return.

Adams is third on the team with nine catches on the season. His injury makes the Packers bringing back James Jones just before the season an especially important move. With Adams likely out, James will start and rookie Ty Montgomery, who caught a touchdown pass last week, should see more playing time.

Neither Adams nor Burnett participated in practice this week for the Packers, who flew to the West Coast on Friday. The Packers had previously declared defensive back Demetri Goodson and linebacker Jake Ryan as doubtful and will play their third-straight game without tackle Bryan Bulaga.

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Steelers cut Josh Scobee

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Snoop Dogg has gotten his wish.

Two days after kicker Josh Scobee missed a pair of field goals (and nearly missed two others), the Steelers have sent packing the man for whom they gave up a sixth-round pick to the Jaguars in 2016.

The Steelers have announced that kicker Chris Boswell is in, and Scobee is out.

Get the f–k outta here Josh Scobee,” Snoop Dogg said on Instagram after Thursday night’s loss to the Ravens. “We need to get rid of that motherf–ker. He’s sorry as f–k. He was sorry in Jacksonville, he’s sorry with us. Get his ass out of here. Bye bye bitch. Sorry motherf–ker you.”

Scobee takes with him, if he chooses to pursue it, the balance of his $2.5 million base salary, as termination pay. It’s a total of $1.91 million in unearned salary to which he’s entitled under the labor deal.

Scobee becomes a free agent, free to sign with any other team and to keep whatever he gets from another team on top of his termination pay from Pittsburgh.

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Unofficially, Marshawn Lynch is 40-60 to play

Denver Broncos v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

On Saturday, the Seahawks will issue their final injury report in advance of Monday night’s game against the Lions. Running back Marshawn Lynch likely will be listed as questionable with a hamstring injury, which will mean there’s a 50-50 chance he plays.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the current estimate is that Lynch’s chances of playing are more like 40-60.

Because the NFL has only three categories that range from virtually certain (probable) to 50-50 (questionable) to 25-75 (doubtful), there’s no way to accurately reflect other percentages.

If there’s any doubt about Lynch’s availability, it could make the most sense to go with Fred Jackson and Thomas Rawls, especially since Rawls, an undrafted rookie from Central Michigan, rushed for 104 yards on 16 carries last week against the Bears.

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Steelers change kickers: Josh Scobee out, Chris Boswell in

Senior Bowl Getty Images

After two missed field goals in the fourth quarter led to an overtime loss on Thursday night, the Steelers are making a change at kicker.

Chris Boswell tried out for the Steelers and will sign, Adam Caplan of ESPN reports. That means Josh Scobee, who has gone just 3-for-7 on field goals beyond 40 yards this season, is on the way out.

The Steelers have had a tough time finding a kicker who can last this year. Kickers Shaun Suisham and Garrett Hartley are both on injured reserve.

After going undrafted out of Rice last year, Boswell spent time under contract to both the Texans and Giants but has never played in a regular-season game. The Steelers have to hope he’s ready to go, and to kick well. Or at least kick better than Scobee.

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Saturday one-liners

Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders Getty Images

On Sunday, Raiders K Sebastian Janikowski will tie Tim Brown for most games played in franchise history.

Broncos RT Michael Schofield faces a major test in his first career start — which will begin with his first career snap.

Chiefs RT Eric Fisher stayed mentally engaged when he wasn’t starting.

A shirtless, shorts-wearing middle-aged man on a bike stole an inflatable Chargers doll that had been placed in front of a dental office. (Does Kevin Acee have an alibi?)

Bills TE Matthew Mulligan is a monster in the weight room.

A Dolphins fan confronted Dan Marino in England and said, “We just deserve better than mediocre.” (This year, mediocre would be an improvement.)

Patriots RB James White is spending his bye week wondering whether the team will sign his replacement.

Jets WR Brandon Marshall is disappointed that the team’s schedule won’t let him shop for antiques in London.

Against Pittsburgh, Ravens rookie Za’Darius Smith got a pair of sacks on consecutive plays lining up in different positions.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has confidence in S Shawn Williams, who likely will be playing in place of George Iloka against Kansas City; “He does a great job in coverage. He does a great job in support and playing the football and he’s knowledgeable in everything we’re doing,” Lewis said. “I feel real comfortable. Any chance he gets to play he does a nice job for us.”

Browns LB Paul Kruger is getting fewer opportunities to rush the passer this year, because he has moved to the strong side.

Steelers S Mike Mitchell isn’t concerned about being on Steve Smith’s “hit list.”

Texans RB Alfred Blue says he knows his role if/when Arian Foster returns.

A last-minute deal between CBS and FOX affiliates with AT&T-Uverse averted a local blackout in Indy of the Colts games.

At a time when the Jaguars still don’t have much to celebrate, the decision to unload K Josh Scobee for a sixth-round pick counts as a W.

The Titans have five tight ends, and they’re getting the most out of them.

The Week Four debut of G Mike Iupati will put all five starting offensive lineman on the field for the Cardinals at once.

Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams doesn’t care that the defense is ranked in the top 10.

Hall of Fame 49ers QB Steve Young says current 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick should get right back to work after last Sunday’s miserable outing.

Rookie Thomas Rawls, who may replace “Beast Mode” for the Seahawks, actually was known as “Beast Mode” by his teammates at Central Michigan.

The Cowboys planned for Sunday night’s game expecting to see QB Drew Brees.

Giants rookie DE Owa Odighizuwa is expected to make his debut on Sunday, especially with Robert Ayers out again.

Washington coach Jay Gruden praised the versatility of Philadelphia S Malcolm Jenkins, saying Jenkins is “all over the joint.”

Eagles CB Eric Rowe is humble and hard-working — and he’s on the verge of becoming a real contributor to the team’s defense.

Bears rookie RB Jeremy Langford is biding his time behind Matt Forte and Jacquizz Rodgers.

Lions rookie RB Zach Zenner enjoys the differences in accommodations from South Dakota State to the Lions; “I’m always happy about the beds,” he said.

Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers has focused on stopping the run, and it has worked; they’ve held Jamaal Charles to 49 yards and Marshawn Lynch to 41.

With Charles Johnson and Jarius Wright injured, disappointing first-round Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson could get a chance to prove himself in Week Four of year three.

Opponents are avoiding Falcons CB Desmond Trufant.

The Panthers have gained 100 or more yards rushing in 14 straight games.

The Saints are still searching for big plays on offense.

Buccaneers CB Alterraun Verner, hand picked for the Tampa Two scheme in 2014 via free agency, is plunging so far down the depth chart that he played scout-team receiver this week.

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NFL fines Demario Davis for slamming Darren Sproles

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Jets linebacker Demario Davis cost his team 15 yards for slamming Eagles running back Darren Sproles on Sunday, and he cost himself some money as well.

The NFL fined Davis $8,681 for the pro wrestling-style move, via Dom Consentino of

Jets coach Todd Bowles said he didn’t have any problem with the officials flagging the hit, and Davis needs to know better.

“They threw a flag, it was a 15-yard penalty,” Bowles said. “You can’t do it.”

The $8,681 fine is the standard amount for a late hit on the NFL’s fine schedule.

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Report: A blowout loss Sunday could cost Philbin his job

Joe Philbin, Tony Steratore AP

As PFT noted this week, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin is on very thin ice. Now a new report out of Miami indicates that Philbin could lose his job as soon as Monday.

Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports that if the Jets blow out the Dolphins on Sunday in London, Philbin’s job will be in jeopardy during the bye week, which starts Monday.

An NFL team firing its coach during a Week Five bye after a Week Four loss in London would not be unprecedented: That’s exactly what the Raiders did last year, when they fired Dennis Allen after a loss to the Dolphins in London. Perhaps Dolphins owner Stephen Ross saw that move, and sees now that the Raiders appear to be heading in the right direction, and thinks his team should do the same.

At 1-2, the Dolphins still have plenty of time to turn their season around. But if they look as bad tomorrow against the Jets as they did in last week’s 41-14 loss to the Bills, it would be hard to see the Dolphins as anything other than a last-place team in the AFC East. And if the Dolphins are doomed to a last-place finish in the AFC East, it’s hard to justify Philbin keeping his job.

Ross isn’t saying anything publicly about his plans, but he can’t be happy with what he’s seen from his team in the last two weeks. If Ross isn’t happy with what he sees on Sunday, that could cost Philbin his job on Monday.

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Ravens call Steve Smith “week-to-week” with a back injury

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

In response to a report that Ravens receiver Steve Smith has four broken bones in his back and another report that those four broken bones are ribs, the Ravens have provided information beyond the confines of their weekly injury reporting obligations.

“While the Ravens do not give specifics about injuries out of respect to the men on our team and HIPAA laws, we want to dispel rumors and stories currently being reported about Steve Smith Sr.’s injury,” Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne said in a statement. “He does have a back injury. It is not a surgical issue. His status is currently week-to-week.”

It’s unclear why the Ravens opted to say anything about Smith’s situation; uncertainty and misinformation only keeps opponents guessing. The Ravens had no obligation to disclose any information about Smith until Wednesday, and the only requirement at that point would have been to say whether and to what extent he practices, with a label applied to his injured body part.

The reference to HIPAA seems a bit unusual; the entire injury-reporting function necessarily violates the privacy rights of players. Of course, some players welcome the disclosure of information about their injuries, since it can provide an explanation for poor performance. With some teams, the no-comment mandate given to players by the coaching staff creates tension, if players are being criticized for poor performance without anyone knowing that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weakened.

With Smith, the spirit is always willing. Any injury that would be bad enough to keep him off the field in his final NFL season must be pretty bad. Otherwise, he’d ice up and suit up and then proceed to mess someone up.

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Bills keep selling out RV lot well before kickoff

DECEMBER 3, 2006-   Buffalo Bills fan at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Chargers won 24-20.  (Photo by K.C. Alfred/San Diego Union-Tribune via Getty Images) *** LOCAL CAPTION *** Getty Images

As the Bills commemorate 25 years since their first Super Bowl appearance by hosting the team they played in Super Bowl XXV, Bills fans continue to display an unprecedented display of excitement about their team.

For the third straight home game, the Bills have sold out their RV lot before the day of a game. The place is currently filled to capacity as fans await a kickoff that is still more than 24 hours away.

The team has announced that it’s the longest record RV lot sellout streak in franchise history. While not worthy of hanging a banner (although some teams possibly would view it that way), it merits a mention here. At a time when more and more fans are choosing to stay home and watch games on TV in lieu of spending three hours and a lot of cash for the privilege to squeeze into a plastic seat, plenty of Bills fans are giving their entire weekend to the cause — undeterred by the loss to their big brothers from Boston in the most recent game at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The Bills should be able to beat the Giants, but here’s a wrinkle to keep in mind, as noted during Friday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio by Pro Football Talk on NBCSN producer Matt Casey, who was hanging out in the Connecticut studio and making sure PFT Live producer Rob “Stats” Guerrera wasn’t reading Harry Potter books when he should have otherwise been producing the show. The Giants don’t forget Rex’s antics from his years coaching the Jets, and the Giants would love to find a way to stick it to him in only the second regular-season game between a Ryan-coached team and the Jets’ big brothers from their own building.

The Giants also would love to find a way to .500, in a division that could have three teams at 2-2 and one at 1-3 after Sunday’s games.

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Panthers promote tackle David Foucault from practice squad

Panthers practice Getty Images

The Panthers are thin along both lines because of injuries, and had to swap out one for the other Saturday to give them enough bodies to play this week.

The team announced they promoted offensive tackle David Foucault from the practice squad. They cut backup defensive end Wes Horton to clear the roster spot.

Foucault stuck on the Panthers’ 53-man roster as an undrafted rookie last year, and started one game against the Saints. But they added line depth this year which kept him from sticking this season.

The problem is, all that depth is hurt at the moment, meaning Foucault will be on the active roster as the third tackle for tomorrow’s game against the Buccaneers.

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