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Running back Reggie Bush is on the active roster for the Lions on Sunday, but reports out of Philadelphia are casting some doubt on whether he’ll actually be able to play in the game.
Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reported that Bush was not working with the Lions’ starting offense as they did their final warmups for the game against the Eagles. Birkett then passed along word from Tony Ortiz of the Lions Radio Network that Bush slipped on a snowy field and may have aggravated the calf injury that kept him out of practice early this week.
There may not be an update from the team on his condition before the game gets underway, but Bush would have to be considered questionable to play on a day when the elements would have given him a chance to prove that he’s an all-weather back.
From the outside, the Jets have looked like a train wreck at various junctures of the season (including right now).
But Jets owner Woody Johnson said during the team’s pre-game radio show that he’s pleased with the direction of his franchise.
“I’m pretty happy with the way things are going,” Johnson said, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.
Johnson wouldn’t offer any specific endorsement of coach Rex Ryan, who is on the verge of missing the postseason for a third straight season. The Jets are 5-7, having lost three straight after alternating wins and losses the first nine weeks.
“We make those decisions after the season,” Johnson said. “It’s really the direction of the team and how the young players are going, . . . It’s a complicated thing. At the end of the day, you want to give players the opportunity to win, which is what I think we’re doing.”
Johnson described the Jets’ defense as “amazing,” and said rookie quarterback Geno Smith was “learning so much.”
“I think you’ll see him get better and better and better,” Johnson said. “I have a lot of confidence in Geno. When he gets better, I think you’ll see others [on the team] get better.”
Perhaps so, but Smith hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since Oct. 20, and has eight interceptions since then. Sure, he’s a rookie, and isn’t blessed with great weapons with which to work.
But if Johnson truly thinks things are on track, it might indicate the primary problem there.
Every once in a while, we get a snow-filled December NFL game. Today, we’ll get a whole bunch of them.
A loyal reader passed along a link from indicating that the current forecast in Philly calls for heavy snow and “freezing fog.”
Yes, freezing fog. Whatever that is.
The forecast calls for three to five inches of snow during the Lions-Eagles game.
In somewhat related news, phone lines that connect to certain types of legal and, in most jurisdictions, illegal professions currently are jammed by folks interested in making a short-term investment on the Eagles minus the points.
That word turned out to be erroneous. Thomas is in the lineup for the Dolphins for Sunday’s game against the Steelers, just a couple of weeks after he suffered the injury.
Lamar Miller had a dreadful game against the Panthers in Week 12, but he rebounded with a steady outing against a good Jets run defense in last week’s victory. There’s no word on how snaps will shake out against Pittsburgh as things have been fluid for the Dolphins on that front this season.
The Steelers also have a couple of players back from injury. Nose tackle Steve McLendon and linebacker LaMarr Woodley will both be in the lineup for the home team. Both players may be on a snap count after being listed as questionable after limited weeks of practice.
As a service to fantasy football players looking for last-minute injury information as they set their lineups before the 1 p.m. kickoffs, here is a rundown of notable skill-position players who are active or inactive for Week 14. Players bolded are key fantasy starters.
Bengals TE Tyler Eifert
Bengals WR A.J. Green
Bengals WR Andrew Hawkins
Bills WR Marquise Goodwin
Browns RB Willis McGahee
Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson
Buccaneers WR Chris Owusu
Chiefs WR Donnie Avery
Chiefs WR Dexter McCluster
Chiefs RB Anthony Sherman
Colts WR T.Y. Hilton
Dolphins TE Michael Egnew
Dolphins RB Lamar Miller
Dolphins RB Daniel Thomas
Eagles TE Zach Ertz
Eagles WR Jeff Maehl
Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez
Jets WR Santonio Holmes
Jets RB Chris Ivory
Jets WR Jeremy Kerley
Jets WR Greg Salas
Jets TE Kellen Winslow
Lions RB Reggie Bush
Lions WR Calvin Johnson
Patriots WR Danny Amendola
Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski
Patriots WR Matt Slater
Patriots RB Shane Vereen
Ravens TE Dennis Pitta
Redskins TE Niles Paul
Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell
Vikings RB Adrian Peterson
Vikings RB Matt Asiata
Bills FB Frank Summers
Bengals RB Rex Burkhead
Bengals WR Dane Sanzenbacher
Bengals TE Orson Charles
Bengals WR Ryan Whalen
Chiefs TE Anthony Fasano
Jets WR Stephen Hill
Lions RB Mikel Leshoure
Packers RB Kahlil Bell
Patriots WR Aaron Dobson
Patriots RB Brandon Bolden
Patriots TE Michael Hoomanawanui
Patriots WR Kenbrell Thompkins
Raiders RB Darren McFadden
Raiders WR Denarius Moore
Raiders RB Jeremy Stewart
Ravens TE Dallas Clark — Dennis Pitta active.
Ravens WR Deonte Thompson
Redskins TE Jordan Reed
Redskins RB Darrel Young
Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph
The Browns were fortunate to get starter quarterback Jason Campbell back after missing time with a concussion.
But for a backup plan, they’re going with a guy who arrived this week.
The Browns deactivated Brandon Weeden (who hasn’t been cleared from his concussion) along with quarterback Alex Tanney for today’s game against the Patriots.
That leaves Caleb Hanie, who signed this week, as the only backup for Campbell.
The way the Browns have cycled through quarterbacks this year, it may be inevitable that Hanie gets in there.
The Ravens are getting one of their most trusted receiving targets back, but they’ll be without one of their most-needed pass-rushers.
After the Ravens brought tight end Dennis Pitta back to the active roster, they deactivated tight end Dallas Clark. That indicates they think Pitta is ready to not only play, but play a significant role.
But they’ll be without outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil, who missed practice all week with an ankle injury.
That shouldn’t be as much of an issue today against the Vikings, but they’ll definitely need Dumervil coming down the stretch as they scramble for a Wild Card spot.
The first-place Lions will have Reggie Bush in the lineup Sunday as they try to take another step toward the NFC North title.
Bush, the Lions’ starting tailback, is active for Sunday’s game at Philadelphia, Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com reported this morning.
Bush missed two days of practice this week with a calf injury. However, he was able to go through a limited practice on Friday.
According to Twentyman, the Lions’ inactives are guard Rodney Austin, cornerback Chris Greenwood, offensive lineman Leroy Harris, offensive tackle Corey Hilliard, running back Mikel Leshoure, quartebrback Kellen Moore and cornerback Darius Slay.
In many American workplaces, an employee who fears being fired will quit pre-emptively. For an NFL coach, that maneuver comes with a cost.
Specifically, the coach will say bye-bye to his buyout.
For Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, the word emerging as he closes in on getting fired with a year left on his contract is that he almost quit. In January.
According to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com, Shanahan cleaned out his office prior to the wild-card playoff game against the Seahawks, due to the relationship between owner Daniel Snyder and quarterback Robert Griffin III. Per Graziano, “Shanahan had grown tired of the way Snyder empowered Griffin and openly esteemed him above all other players.”
If it’s true, Shanahan shouldn’t be surprised. Snyder has a habit of striking friendships with players, including for example former running back Clinton Portis, who (as we heard it a few years back) openly disrespected former coach Jim Zorn, without consequence.
While the online version of the latest report points out that Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie terms the report “ridiculous,” the on-air summary of it by Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen contained no such caveat. ESPN’s Tom Jackson later noted that Shanahan simply declined comment — which potentially implies plenty.
Also implying plenty is the fact that Schefter once wrote a book with Shanahan. If the report were indeed ridiculous (and/or if Shanahan didn’t want the report to surface), Shanahan could have/should have/would have contacted Schefter to say so, and to ask that the story be killed — or at least to ask that the team’s position be prominently disclosed when the report is discussed on the air.
The fact that such a big story was reported by Graziano, who is identified at ESPN.com as the reporter who covers the New York Giants (who doesn’t have to deal with the Redskins going forward), invites even more speculation regarding how this all came to light, and regarding whether there was an effort to keep Schefter’s fingerprints (and in turn Shanahan’s) off of it.
Regardless of how the dots connect as to the latest report out of Washington, here’s how the dots connect going forward. Snyder is going to fire Shanahan. We wouldn’t be surprised if it happens later today, if the Redskins lose to the Chiefs.
Really, what else is Snyder going to do? He’s been openly disrespected. If that was enough to prompt Joe Pesci to riddle Spider with bullets, it’s enough to get Snyder to fire Shanahan.
At a minimum, it’s enough to get Snyder to angrily demand answers as to how in the hell this got reported, setting the stage for a showdown between a pair of strong-willed, wealthy men.
And here’s where it could get even more interesting. Snyder could try to fire Shanahan with cause, stiffing Shanahan out of his $7 million for 2014. It wouldn’t be the first time Shanahan was blocked from a buyout, and if Snyder can prove that Shanahan was involved in leaking the story, maybe Snyder can convince the Commissioner to side with the Redskins.
Regardless, it’s now clear that Shanahan wants out. And if this maneuver doesn’t work, maybe he should spill strawberry sauce all over Sammy Baugh’s uniform and/or drag the three Lombardi Trophies around the parking lot by the bumper of Shanahan’s car.
The Jets defense has done a good job stopping the run all season and the Raiders don’t appear to have a very good chance of changing things around this Sunday.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that running back Rashad Jennings will not play because of a concussion suffered on Thanksgiving against the Cowboys. Jennings made some progress during the week, but remained questionable on Friday’s injury report and it seems he wasn’t able to get final clearance to play from doctors.
If Jennings is out, he’ll join Darren McFadden and Jeremy Stewart on the sideline for the Raiders. That’s the top three rungs on the depth chart, which will lead to some scrambling on the Raiders offense.
Jack of all trades Marcel Reece will likely take on a more prominent role as a running back and Taiwan Jones will be in line to see some offensive snaps just a few days after moving back to running back from his season-long spot in the secondary.
When the Texans fired Gary Kubiak last week, a report by John Clayton of ESPN positioned Jon Gruden of ESPN as a candidate for the job.
Now another report from ESPN has the ESPN employee staying away from a return to coaching for at least another year. Chris Mortensen reported Sunday morning that Gruden is “not expected” to pursue a job opening for the 2014 season.
Per Mortensen, Gruden has a “strong commitment” to continue in his ESPN duties and his work with high school coaches around the country. We’ll see if Gruden has anything to say about the discussion in his role as Monday Night Football analyst when the Cowboys and Bears square off on Monday in Chicago.
According to Mortensen, Gruden isn’t the only former coach with a Super Bowl ring now making his living on television who will be passing on any opportunities this offseason. Bill Cowher and Tony Dungy are also reportedly content to stay in the studio rather than return to the sideline.
Titans coach Mike Munchak and running back Chris Johnson may both be in their final month in Tennessee.
The Titans, who are already undergoing a change at the top after the death of owner Bud Adams, are not happy with what they’re seeing from Munchak, according to an NFL Network report from Mike Silver and Ian Rapoport. Tommy Smith, the son-in-law of Adams who has taken over control of the team, has said he wants to see tough, hard-nosed football, and it’s no surprise that Smith isn’t happy with what he’s seeing from Munchak’s team.
The same report said that Johnson is “almost certainly gone after the season.” That’s no surprise; Johnson simply isn’t playing well enough to justify his contract.
And the report further said that the Titans seem ready to move on from quarterback Jake Locker, and even suggested that Jay Cutler could be a target of the Titans in free agency this offseason. Cutler played his college football in Tennessee at Vanderbilt.
The report said General Manager Ruston Webster is safe, so it would likely be Webster hiring the new coach and rebuilding the franchise if the Titans are ready to move on from Munchak, Johnson and Locker.
It’s worth noting that the Titans, at 5-7, are still alive in the AFC wild card race. So if Munchak wants to save his job, there’s one thing he can do that would go a long way toward staying in Tennessee: Upset the Broncos in Denver today.
Running back Stevan Ridley wasn’t one of the 10 Patriots listed as questionable on the team’s final injury report of the week, but his status for Sunday’s game has been anything but definite this week.
Ridley was inactive for last week’s victory over the Texans and was benched in the first quarter of the team’s previous game after fumbling for the fourth time this season. Coach Bill Belichick said the benching wasn’t meant to send a message about the need to hold onto the ball, saying only that Ridley was behind others on the team’s depth chart at running back by way of further explanation.
That appears to have changed. Several reporters, including Adam Schefter of ESPN and Nick Underhill of MassLive.com, bring word that Ridley is expected to be on the active roster against the Browns. There’s no word on what his role will be with Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden and LeGarrette Blount also in the mix, but there’s no reason to think the Patriots would have Ridley dress and then not use him.
Unless, of course, he puts the ball on the ground again. Should that happen, we might not see much of Ridley again this season.
As the Cardinals continue an unlikely playoff push, they’ll have their franchise (sort of) quarterback.
According to pretty much everyone who covers the NFL for money, Carson Palmer will play today when the Rams arrive at the stadium named for one of the few colleges whose football team is still undefeated.
But Palmer has an elbow injury, which occurred on the hit in the photo from Eagles pass-rusher Trent Cole. As Adam Schefter of ESPN mentioned a little while ago, Palmer didn’t throw a pass during Friday’s practice. So the same elbow that seemed to continuously bother Palmer during the latter days of his time in Cincinnati could be bothering Palmer again on Sunday.
If Palmer struggles or gets injured again, the baton will pass to Drew Stanton. The former Lions backup hasn’t played in a regular-season game since 2010.
And many of you likely didn’t even realize he was still in the league.
With the Texans running Gary Kubiak out of town after being something other than the broom in a two-game sweep involving the Jaguars, Houston has gotten a head start on finding a new coach.
More specifically, the Texans have gotten a head start on the looming land rush for Lovie Smith. Per multiple reports, Smith will be the first candidate interviewed by the Texans.
Smith’s mostly successful stint in Chicago will make him attractive in the coming hiring cycle, especially since Andy Reid’s change of venue produced immediate results for a Chiefs team that was 2-14 in 2012. Members of the Fired Football Coaches Association will be more attractive this year given Reid’s efforts in Kansas City, and Smith currently is at the top of the list.
If other franchises with coaches on the hot seat covet Smith and want to make a run at him before it’s too late, other owners could decide to make a move with their current coaches sooner rather than later. Whether it’s the Buccaneers or the Vikings or the Jets, if the decision has essentially been made to move on and if the time is coming for others to speak now or forever hold their piece/peace/whatever, coaches who are expected to be dumped may be dumped a bit prematurely.
That said, Lovie Smith surely realizes that other NFL teams will be interested, making him less likely to make a quick decision until he knows the full content of his potential dance card. But that could prompt Texans owner Bob McNair to request a quick decision from Smith, with the threat/promise/whatever that McNair will move on to someone else if Smith isn’t ready to make a commitment sooner rather than later.
While some of the discussions with other teams could happen behind the scenes pending the completion of the season, Smith possibly will refuse to engage (directly or through his agent) in any discussions with a team that currently has a non-interim head coach. If Smith takes that position, the end result is that more guys could be getting fired before December 30, otherwise known this year as Black Monday.