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Week 12 power rankings

Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub, J.J. Watt AP

1.  Texans:  Those hard-fought wins against bad teams will serve the Texans well in the playoffs.  As long as they face bad teams in the playoffs.

2.  Patriots:  The Pats are peaking, but can they carry it to February this time?

3.  Falcons:  Michael Turner is still the starting tailback, but Jacquizz Rodgers has become the man.

4.  49ers:  Alex Smith is still the starting quarterback, but Colin Kaepernick has become the man.

5.  Ravens:  If the Ravens win the Super Bowl, 4th-and-29 should be engraved on the ring.

6.  Broncos:  Knowshon finally says, “Get to know me.”

7.  Giants:  Eli’s arm wasn’t tired, but the rest sure helped it.  Even though it wasn’t tired.

8.  Bears:  The biggest difference between the 2012 Bears and the 1985 Bears is that, if six starters got hurt against the Super Bowl XX champions, they played for the other team.

9.  Packers:  The Giants officially are in Green Bay’s head, Werder.

10.  Bengals:  If the Bengals win the Super Bowl, Carson Palmer should get a ring.

11.  Seahawks:  If the suspensions of Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner stand, the Seahawks may have to sign Terrell Owens.  To play cornerback.

12. Colts:  Indy at Denver in the wild-card round would possibly generate the highest rating for a playoff game in NFL history.

13. Steelers:  If no running back on the depth chart can hold onto the football, it won’t matter who plays quarterback.

14. Buccaneers:  Even Lane Kiffin thinks Greg Schiano had poor clock management late in the game against the Falcons.

15. Redskins:  Mike Shanahan should have started his “evaluation” process a few weeks sooner.

16. Saints:  With a tough slate of games coming up, Sean Payton is about to get more leverage for his contract talks.

17. Vikings:  This week, Adrian Peterson definitely will be on the team bus.  He possibly would prefer the Packers team bus.

18. Dolphins:  The possibility of the sprinklers coming on spontaneously could sell a few more tickets.

19. Rams:  Whoever makes it to the NFC playoffs should be very glad if the Rams don’t.

20. Cowboys:  Does giving up only 38 points on Thanksgiving give Rob Ryan bragging rights over Rex?

21. Panthers:  If you’d told the Panthers before the season they’d beat the Saints and Eagles, plenty of folks in Charlotte would have been booking their New Orleans hotel rooms for early February.

22. Bills:   Ralph Wilson likely will be pressing the “reset” button one more time.

23. Titans:  It would have made sense to fire Chris Palmer early enough for the move to make a difference.

24. Lions:  The next time Jim Schwartz throws the red flag when he shouldn’t, Ndamukong Suh will kick him in the crotch.

25. Browns:  If the Browns keep playing like they did on Sunday, it’ll be hard for Jimmy Haslam to fire Pat Shurmur.

26. Jaguars:  The better Chad Henne plays down the stretch, the less likely it is that clocks in Jacksonville will be set to Tebow time.

27. Cardinals:  Seven straight losses could keep Ken Whisenhunt from getting a seventh season.

28. Chargers:  If the Chargers were as willing to dump Norv Turner as they were to drop various key players over the past decade, they’d possibly be better off right now.

29. Jets:  Before we bury the 2012 Jets, look at their remaining schedule.

30. Eagles:  Good luck persuading a new coach to take over an aging roster with cap issues and no franchise quarterback in a division that faces Eli Manning, RG3, and the Cowboys twice per year.

31. Raiders:  The new regime is making Al Davis look pretty good in hindsight.

32. Chiefs:  The new coach is making Todd Haley look pretty good in hindsight.

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Browns trying to add veteran running back

Ray Rice AP

As the Browns finalize their roster cuts and sort through their outside options, a team source tells PFT the team has prioritized finding a veteran running back either by trade, waiver claim or signing at some point this weekend.

The source said veteran players have relayed to the coaches their feelings that the younger backs and the offense in general will benefit from a veteran presence, on and off the field.

Second-year backs Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West both played a lot last season, but neither had a strong camp this summer. Third-round rookie Duke Johnson missed most of the preseason with a sore hamstring, started in the first preseason game in which he was healthy enough to play and suffered a concussion early in the second quarter, leaving both his availability and readiness for the start of the season in question.

Shaun Draughn, a veteran of four NFL seasons added late last season, missed much of the preseason with a broken thumb. He played in four games for the Browns last season but did not carry the ball.

The Browns acknowledged last month that they’ve had internal discussions about Ray Rice, and there are ties. Browns Coach Mike Pettine was in Baltimore early in Rice’s career, and Browns running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery was Rice’s position coach for six seasons.

There have been rumors that the Broncos are trying to trade Montee Ball, and teams are also watching what happens with the Seahawks after the team added veteran Fred Jackson on Friday. The Seahawks are reportedly trying to trade Christine Michael.

Crowell sat out the preseason finale with most of the team’s regular starters. West carried nine times for 35 yards and finished the preseason having averaged 3.6 yards per carry. Crowell averaged 2.8 on 17 preseason carries.

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Tom Brady’s father blasts “NFL propaganda,” calls Roger Goodell a “flaming liar”

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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has still not spoken publicly regarding the Ted Wells report, the suspension, and its aftermath.

Brady’s father now has. On the radio. Angrily.

Deadspin has the audio, and it’s worth a listen. It’s worth many listens.

And it’s definitely him. I called Tom Curran of CSN New England, who has spoken to Tom Brady Sr. on multiple occasions, and played some of it for Curran. Curran confirmed that it is indeed Brady’s dad.

Tom Sr. called KGO on Friday after host Chip Franklin raised the goofy question of whether fans should prefer having Tim Tebow to Tom Brady on their favorite team.

Tom Sr. started by appropriately telling the host that he is “being silly.”

“That’s a stupid question,” Tom Sr. added.

The wisdom of what Tom Sr. had to say later in the call probably will be the subject of debate within the Brady family and/or within the Patriots organization and/or within 345 Park Avenue. Regardless, here’s what he said after the host referred to some of the facts of the case.

“Is that the same facts that Chris Mortensen put out?” Tom Sr. said, speaking passionately. “That all the balls were underinflated by two pounds? That’s all lies. It’s all ESPN. It’s all NFL propaganda. Don’t you get it? . . .

“The only person who has testified under oath in this is Tom Brady,” Tom Sr. continued. “We know Goodell has lied. He lied in the Ray Rice case, he lied in this case, he has lied in the [Adrian] Peterson case. How many times do you need to know that this guy is a flaming liar?”

Tom Sr. also confirmed that Brady and the Patriots first became aware of the actual PSI numbers measured at halftime of the AFC title game on March 28, which is true. But the host immediately insisted that’s not what the NFL said.

“Who’s believing the NFL?” Tom Sr. said. “It’s a freaking kangaroo court? Are you kidding me?”

As a father, I love the passion. I love the emotion. And I would have had a hard time saying something other than “freaking” if I believed the name I share with my son had unfairly been dragged through the mud. But my son probably would be mortified by my public defense of him.

Chances are reporters soon will be asking Tom Jr. what he thinks of what his dad said.

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Matt Flynn says his goodbye to the Jets, Josh Johnson gone too

Matt Flynn AP

When the Jets needed a quarterback for training camp after Geno Smith got punched in the face, coach Todd Bowles described Matt Flynn as “the only one available, too.”

So today’s news probably shouldn’t be much of a surprise.

Flynn just tweeted out a thank you and goodbye to the Jets, saying he was headed back to Louisiana. And then he tweeted out a photo of a giant Bloody Mary, so he’s apparently handling it well.

The Jets also cut Josh Johnson, per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, leaving rookie Bryce Petty behind Ryan Fitzpatrick while they wait on Smith to recover from his broken jaw.

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Steelers get to 52, sign a 53rd

Super Bowl XLV Getty Images

Like all teams, the Steelers were required to get to 53 players by 4:00 p.m. ET on Saturday. They got to 52, then added a 53rd.

The team has announced the release of running backs Jawon Chisholm and Josh Harris, defensive linemen Matt Conrath, Ethan Hemer, and Mike Thornton, safeties Jordan Dangerfield, Alden Darby, and Gerod Holliman, offensive linemen Reese Dismukes, B.J. Finney, and Doug Legursky, cornerbacks Kevin Fogg and B.W. Webb, linebackers L.J. Fort, Shayon Green, and Howard Jones, and wide receivers Shakim Phillips and Jarrod West.

Legursky, who spent 2009 through 2012 with the Steelers and played for the Bills in 2013 and the Chargers last year, was signed after center Maurkice Pouncey suffered a broken ankle in a preseason game. Legursky started Super Bowl XLV, when Pouncey couldn’t play due to a sprained ankle.

The Steelers also waived offensive linemen Kevin Palmer and Mitchell Van Dyk with the “injured” designation. If they clear waivers, they’ll be placed on the team’s injured reserve list.

The Steelers filled the 53rd roster spot by signing cornerback Ross Cockrell, a fourth-round pick of the Bills in 2014 who appeared in seven games. He was signed to a one-year deal.

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Report: Jets cut Jason Babin

Jason Babin AP

The Jets will cut veteran pass rusher Jason Babin as part of the team’s final preseason roster cut, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News is reporting.

The Jets were Babin’s eighth team. The two-time Pro Bowler was a valuable contributor last season for the Jets, playing in all 16 games, making four starts and recording two sacks.

Babin turned 35 in May. Teams are always looking for pass rushers, so he’s likely to get at least another look.

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Making sense of Washington’s will-call policy

Two children purchase tickets for a movie from a woman behind the glass window of a ticket booth, Dragerton, Utah, 1950s. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images) Getty Images

It’s been a rough week, a rough month, a rough year, and for the most part a rough decade for the NFL franchise in Washington.

But one at least one aspect of the franchise’s rough week was unnecessarily made rougher than it needed to be, with criticism arising from the imposition of a $50 “envelope fee” for the use of will call by non-season-ticket holders.

The entire practice of “will call” has become outdated in recent years, with most customers getting their tickets electronically. (When I went to FedEx Field in April for a soccer match, I bought the tickets, they emailed them to me, and I printed them.) “Will call” has become a tool for ticket brokers, and the team didn’t want to be in the middle of a dispute regarding, for example, whether the envelope should have had four tickets instead of two.

The “envelope fee” was used on a case-by-case basis, with the money being charged when the circumstances suggested justified it. Now, there’s no “will call” at all for non-season-ticket holders, which shouldn’t be a problem. Anyone who has the money to buy tickets to an NFL game surely has the money to buy a computer, a printer, and an Internet connection.

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Report: Colt McCoy has been told he’ll begin season as No. 2 QB

Colt McCoy AP

Robert Griffin III won’t be cut today, but that doesn’t mean he’s the No. 2 quarterback behind Kirk Cousins in Washington.

Colt McCoy has been told that he’ll be listed as No. 2 on the depth chart for the Week One game against the Dolphins, Albert Breer of NFL Network reports.

It’s unclear how much of that is because of Griffin’s health (he still hasn’t been fully cleared in the league’s concussion protocol) and how much of that is because McCoy out-played Griffin in the preseason. But either way, if Cousins gets hurt against the Dolphins (or plays so poorly that Jay Gruden pulls him), McCoy will be the next man up.

For Washington, it makes sense to be cautious about when or if they put Griffin on the field. If Griffin were to suffer an injury so serious that he can’t play next year, Washington would have to pay him $16.2 million for 2016. So putting Griffin on the field as a backup quarterback would come with a significant risk.

For that reason, it makes sense to keep McCoy ahead of Griffin on the depth chart. Don’t be surprised if Griffin spends the entire season on the sideline, even if Cousins doesn’t start all 16 games.

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Giants cut wide receiver James Jones

James Jones AP

The track record of productive Packers receivers when they go other places isn’t great.

And one of them is now available to come home if they want him.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Giants have released wide receiver James Jones.

Jones turned a 59-catch season with the Packers into free agent riches from the Raiders, but only lasted a year there. and now the Giants don’t want him either.

The Packers might, in the wake of Jordy Nelson’s season-ending ACL injury. He’s shown he can produce there, as many wideouts do when paired with Aaron Rodgers.

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Stick with PFT all day today, Sunday, Monday

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 12: An NFL logo as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium on October 12, 2008 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) Getty Images

It’s cut-down day in the NFL, the day when each team must get to 53 for the first time since the last season ended. And PFT will be here for every move made between now and 4:00 p.m. ET.

Because the pages will be getting large, we’ve split them up by conference: AFC and NFC.

So bookmark the page, hit the refresh button repeatedly, and do whatever you have to do to keep up to date as NFL teams do what they have to do.

And the doing doesn’t end today. Next come the waivers claims, and more cuts as players obtained through waivers bounce guys who made it to the 53-man roster off the team. Also, practice squads will be compiled and everything will be hectic until Monday or so.

So stick with us through Monday. And beyond Monday.

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Giants move on from Henry Hynoski

New York Giants v Tennessee Titans Getty Images

The Hynoski era has ended in New York.

Per a league source, the Giants have released fullback Henry Hynoski as part of the effort to get to 53. It ended a four-year run in New York, which included 46 regular-season appearances and 21 starts.

As noted by Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, this development seems to indicate that Nikita Whitlock has won a roster spot.

Undrafted in 2011, Hynoski won a Super Bowl ring as a rookie. He’s now a free agent, able to sign with any team.

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Panthers begin their cuts with wide receiver Brenton Bersin

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After the season-ending injuries to Kelvin Benjamin and Stephen Hill in training camp, the Panthers knew they were in a tough spot at wide receiver.

So it appears they’re going to be looking at the waiver wire the next few days for upgrades.

According to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, the Panthers began their cuts today with wide receivers Brenton Bersin and Mike Brown.

Bersin was a local kid, who actually grew up in owner Jerry Richardson’s neighborhood and attended his alma mater, Wofford. He played in 15 games last year, and caught 13 passes, and was popular among the fan base.

But the Panthers just traded for Seattle castoff Kevin Norwood, and appear set to look at other options around the league as well.

They know they’ll count on second-rounder Devin Funchess and Ted Ginn, and perhaps Corey Brown despite his preseason drops. But beyond them, Bersin was their next level of receiving help, and cutting him is a good sign they’re looking at sweeping changes.

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Patrick Omameh, Khaseem Greene among Buccaneers cuts

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The Buccaneers didn’t announce any of their roster moves on Friday, but the NFL’s daily transaction report confirmed the departure of defensive end Da’Quan Bowers along with nine other cuts that trimmed the team’s roster to 65 players.

Among the ex-Buccaneers is Patrick Omameh, who started all 16 games at right guard for the team in 2014 but lost his spot on the roster with third-round pick Ali Marpet moving into the starting lineup. They also released linebacker Khaseem Greene, who joined the team off of waivers from the Bears during the offseason. Greene started six times for the Bears over the last two seasons and returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown last Thursday, but the Bucs have opted for other options.

The team also confirmed that Kyle Brindza will be their kicker by releasing Connor Barth and waiving Patrick Murray with an injured designation.

Linebacker Larry Dean, quarterback Seth Lobato, cornerback Brandon Dixon, defensive back Chris Hackett and wide receiver Tavarres King. There’s no mention of it on the transaction report, but multiple reports also have fifth-round wide receiver Kenny Bell headed to injured reserve with a hamstring injury.

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Kessler: The NFL “doesn’t want to comply with the CBA”

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At a time when many in the media think that the NFL Players Association is trying to “rewrite” the Collective Bargaining Agreement through the courts, the man who keeps beating the NFL in court in CBA cases has a different perspective.

On Friday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, I asked lawyer Jeffrey Kessler whether his 5-0 run in high-profile player suspension is the result of Kessler working legal magic or the NFL providing him with low-hanging fruit.

“I’d like to say it’s all my legal magic, but the situation is we have a league that just doesn’t want to comply with the CBA,” Kessler said. “It doesn’t want to follow the rules of arbitration when they’re arbitrating, and they really create these situations. It’s the reason why, for example, it’s so important that the players picked De Smith to be the head of the union, who’s an experienced lawyer. You could say, ‘Well, why do you need to be an experienced lawyer to be the head of the union?’ Well, that’s the only way that the union’s been able to protect the legal rights of these players. So it’s been critical to this process, but frankly if the NFL behaved like a lot of other leagues and we had a system that was fair and open in which they followed the rules they would need a lot less of my time.”

Kessler, who has been working for the union for a long time, said it hasn’t always been this way.

“This system of the Commissioner being able to arbitrate discipline, I’ll bet you it’s more than 75 years old,” Kessler said. “It long predates the union let alone the last CBA, and yet it has only become an enormous problem since I would say 2012 with Bountygate. It’s like some switch got flipped in the league office where they said, ‘Okay, let’s see how far we can push this and basically impose penalties wherever we want to without any process and let’s see what happens.’ Well, what’s happened is that the union’s had to repeatedly fight and as you mentioned we’ve had great success in protecting the players’ rights. It’s been a hand-to-hand combat that would seem not to be what you would want. From the league standpoint, from the player standpoint, there’s got to be a better way, and that’s what the union would like to see happen here.”

Whether it will happen is a different story. Literally. I’ll eventually write a different story on that.

For now, here’s the full transcript. Or you can listen to what Kessler had to say below.

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Falcons down to 67 players

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Friday brought reports that the Falcons have settled on Sean Renfree as the backup to Matt Ryan by cutting Rex Grossman and T.J. Yates.

The Falcons confirmed those moves on Friday night and they added six other cuts to get the ball rolling toward the 53-man limit they and the other 31 teams in the NFL must reach by Saturday afternoon.

None of the other names are as recognizable as the two quarterbacks. Linebacker Terrell Manning has seen time with the Packers, Chargers, Bears and Giants since entering the league as a fifth-round pick in 2012 and defensive end Cliff Matthews has played in 32 games for the Falcons over the last three seasons. The Falcons also cut 2015 seventh-round tackle Jake Rodgers.

Safety Sean Baker, guard Jared Smith and cornerback Kevin White have also been cut loose.

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Report: Independent neurologist resigns after RG3 fiasco

Robert Griffin III, Tyrunn Walker, Ezekiel Ansah AP

The odd story of Robert Griffin III’s concussion has taken another strange turn: The independent neurologist who first cleared Griffin to play, then said the next day that Griffin could not play, has reportedly resigned and will no longer work with the NFL going forward.

The Washington Post reports that Dr. Robert N. Kurtzke resigned from the neurological consultant program operated by the NFL and the NFL Players Association. According to the report, Kurtzke will continue to consult with Griffin until he’s fully cleared to return to the field, but otherwise Kurtzke is done working with the NFL.

It’s unclear why Kurtzke has decided to stop working with the NFL, which has said that its reliance on independent neurologists like Kurtzke is an important part of keeping players safe after suffering concussions. But whatever the reasons, it’s a bad look after the situation with Griffin has been thoroughly botched from the beginning.

When Griffin first went down in an August 20 preseason game, the team couldn’t get its story straight about whether he suffered a concussion or not. Later, coach Jay Gruden said Griffin did have a concussion but would remain the team’s starting quarterback. Reports out of Washington said the team didn’t think Griffin’s concussion was severe, and questions were raised about whether the concussion was just used as a pretext to keep Griffin from talking to the media. Griffin then returned to practice as Gruden continued to insist that Griffin would be the starter. Asked directly if he had a concussion or not, Griffin refused to answer. The team then said Griffin had been cleared to play and would start the third preseason game. A day later, the team announced that Kurtzke hadn’t cleared Griffin to play after all, and said it could be weeks before he’d be ready to go. Then Gruden abruptly changed course and announced that Griffin is now a backup.

Gee, why wouldn’t Dr. Kutzke want to be associated with something like that?

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