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PFT’s Week 14 picks

Peterson Getty Images

With four weeks to go, the lead is back to three.

And we disagree on three games.

In other words, MDS a/k/a the master of Raiders exacta, could catch me by 4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Last week, I went 11-5.  MDS was 10-6.  For the season, I’m now at 123-68-1, a 64.0 percent accuracy rate.  MDS is 120-71-1, which equates to 62.5 percent.

Broncos at Raiders

MDS’s take: My amazing run of accuracy in predicting Raiders scores has put a lot of pressure on me to get this one right. So here’s what it boils down to: The Broncos are good, the Raiders are not, and the score won’t be close.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 31, Raiders 13.

Florio’s takePeyton Manning has never lost in Oakland.  Then again, he has played there only twice.  Make it three on Thursday night.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 27, Raiders 13.

Rams at Bills

MDS’s take: The Bills’ defense has turned things around recently, with Mario Williams getting five sacks in the last three games. I think Williams will bring the pressure to Sam Bradford, and the Bills will win.

MDS’s pick: Bills 17, Rams 14.

Florio’s take:  The up-and-down Rams play very well inside the division and not so well outside of it.  The Bills sometimes play well at home, and sometimes they don’t.  The difference here is that the Rams have an arguably realistic shot at the postseason, and the Bills don’t.

Florio’s pick:  Rams 17, Bills 13.

Falcons at Panthers

MDS’s take: The Falcons are playing for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, and the Panthers are playing for the first overall pick in the draft. Advantage Atlanta.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 21, Panthers 13.

Florio’s take:  Earlier this year, the Panthers nearly toppled the Falcons in Atlanta.  The rematch comes in Charlotte, with the Falcons chasing the top seed and the Panthers pursuing respect.  As they move closer to proving that they’re ready to hang with the big boys, the Falcons prove that their near-miss against Carolina was a fluke.

Florio’s pick:   Falcons 31, Panthers 20.

Cowboys at Bengals

MDS’s take: This is a close, competitive game, and I have a funny feeling the Bengals’ superior special teams could turn out to make the difference. The Bengals will bolster their own playoff hopes and deal a lethal blow to the Cowboys’ hopes.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 24, Cowboys 20.

Florio’s take:  Yes, the Cowboys won last week.  But they beat the Philly “B” team, barely.  The Bengals are moving in the right direction, and it’ll stay that way at least until they have to play the Steelers or Ravens again.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 24, Cowboys 20.

Chiefs at Browns

MDS’s take: The weekend’s worst game will be in Cleveland, where the Browns will win an ugly one.

MDS’s pick: Browns 15, Chiefs 12.

Florio’s take:  A week after the biggest win of his career, Brady Quinn returns to the place where his career started.  Though the Browns probably will win this one, I can’t pick against Quinn and the Chiefs.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 23, Browns 20.

Titans at Colts

MDS’s take: I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Colts stumble on their march to the playoffs here — this team could be ripe for an upset after gutting out a tough, physical, hard-fought game in Detroit last week. I also have major doubts about the ability of the Colts’ defense to keep them in big games down the stretch. The Titans, however, don’t have much offensive firepower, and so I’ll take the Colts in a close one.

MDS’s pick: Colts 20, Titans 17.

Florio’s takeAndrew Luck and the Colts move closer to one of the most unlikely playoff berths in recent history.  Meanwhile, Titans owner Bud Adams moved toward a series of pink slips and middle fingers fired at his employees.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 34, Titans 20.

Jets at Jaguars

MDS’s take: Rex Ryan gave Mark Sanchez what should be an easy win in Jacksonville. I’m not sold on Sanchez, but I am sold on the Jets’ ability to shut down the Jaguars’ offense.

MDS’s pick: Jets 20, Jaguars 10.

Florio’s take:  Whether it’s Mark Sanchez, Greg McElroy, Tim Tebow, Vinny Testaverde, or Joe Namath at quarterback, the Jets have the defense to shut down the Jacksonville offense.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 10, Jaguars 6.

Bears at Vikings

MDS’s take: After an amazing start to the season, Chicago’s defense has declined in recent weeks. Playing against the struggling Christian Ponder is just the thing to cure what ails the Bears.

MDS’s pick: Bears 17, Vikings 7.

Florio’s take:  It’s the last, best chance for the Vikings to remain in the playoff race.  And it’s the last, best chance for offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave to show that he realizes that, with Adrian Peterson in the backfield, there’s never a reason to pass the ball.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 24, Bears 16.

Chargers at Steelers

MDS’s take: The Steelers showed what kind of team they are in Sunday’s win over the Ravens, while the Chargers showed what kind of team they are in Sunday’s loss to the Bengals: The talent gap between these two teams isn’t big, but the Steelers play their best in crunch time, and the Chargers play their worst in crunch time.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 23, Chargers 20.

Florio’s take:  The Chargers haven’t won in Pittsburgh since somehow toppling the Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium for the 1994 AFC title.  The 0-6 streak will continue on Sunday.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 24, Chargers 13.

Eagles at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: Greg Schiano’s guys are playing hard every week, win or lose, while Andy Reid’s guys have quit on the season. This is an easy one.

MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 35, Eagles 10.

Florio’s take:  The Phillies have won more recently than the Eagles.  That fact should hold for another week, or longer.

Florio’s pick:  Buccaneers 27, Eagles 17.

Ravens at Redskins

MDS’s take: The Ravens’ run defense is terrible, and the Redskins’ run offense is excellent. Washington will rush for 200 yards and win a tough, physical game.

MDS’s pick: Redskins 13, Ravens 10.

Florio’s take:  The Redskins currently look more like the potential Super Bowl team, beating every other team in the NFC East in a three-game stretch.  Though it remains to be seen whether God really is on the Redskins’ side, He’s definitely not on the Ravens’ this year.

Florio’s pick:  Redskins 23, Ravens 21.

Dolphins at 49ers

MDS’s take: Colin Kaepernick may have taken a step backward last week against the Rams, but he’ll show against the Dolphins that Jim Harbaugh made the right decision. And even if Kaepernick has a bad game, it’s not like the Dolphins are putting many points on the board against San Francisco’s defense.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 28, Dolphins 6.

Florio’s take:  This game has considerably less hype than their Super Bowl XIX rendezvous.  But the outcome will be similar.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 38, Dolphins 16.

Saints at Giants

MDS’s take: The Saints are out of the playoff race, but they’re still a dangerous team, and I’m tempted to pick them against the Giants, coming off a tough loss on a short week. But the Giants know their backs are against the wall, and that’s when this team usually plays its best football.

MDS’s pick: Giants 28, Saints 27.

Florio’s take:  New York’s margin for error has, for now, shrunk to zero.  Which matches the Saints’ chances of getting to the postseason.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 28, Saints 17.

Cardinals at Seahawks

MDS’s take: With the Cardinals’ horrendous offense playing in a tough environment in Seattle, this game could get ugly. Looks to me like the biggest mismatch of the week in the NFL.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 35, Cardinals 3.

Florio’s take:  The Seahawks don’t lose at home.  The Cardinals don’t win anywhere.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 20, Cardinals 10.

Lions at Packers

MDS’s take: The Lions have a knack for playing well enough against good teams to keep it close, and then losing. That’s what they’ll do in Green Bay, where Calvin Johnson will have another big-time performance but Aaron Rodgers will pick apart Detroit’s secondary.

MDS’s pick: Packers 31, Lions 27.

Florio’s take:  The Packers need to keep winning.  For the Lions, it’s too late.  At this point, they’re playing only for Calvin Johnson to break Jerry Rice’s record.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 31, Lions 20.

Texans at Patriots

MDS’s take: Now this is a great Monday Night Football game. If the Texans win, the race for home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs is pretty much over. But I think the Patriots are a better football team right now, and they’re going to take this one and make a big statement that they’re the favorites to get to the Super Bowl out of the AFC, even if they have to win a rematch in Houston in January to get there.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 28, Texans 14.

Florio’s take:  The Pats make their move toward the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoff field.  It’s a great game on paper, but it’s got the potential to be a snooze-fest.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 34, Texans 24.

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Moncrief back at practice, aiming to return Sunday

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 27:  Donte Moncrief #10 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in the second half at Nissan Stadium on September 27, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) Getty Images

Colts wide receiver Donte Moncrief was back at practice on a limited basis Wednesday.

Moncrief has been out since Week Two due to a shoulder injury. He’s proven to be both a big target and a reliable one for Andrew Luck, and his return would boost a Colts’ receiving corps that’s been hit hard by injuries.

Colts Coach Chuck Pagano said Moncrief would wear a no-contact jersey in his return to practice and would be monitored through the week. Moncrief has been recovering from a fractured scapula.

Pagano said he’s hopeful that Moncrief will play this week, and Moncrief told reporters he’ll “be surprised if [he] doesn’t play Sunday.”

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Lions’ Glover Quin is rich, but doesn’t spend like it

Glover Quin AP

NFL players who make millions of dollars only to go broke shortly after retiring are commonplace. They wouldn’t be if more players lived like Lions safety Glover Quin.

Quin is in the fourth year of a five-year, $23.5 million contract, but he’s still driving the same car he bought before he signed that contract, and he and his family live on just 30 percent of his take-home pay, with the other 70 percent going toward investments.

“You see so many guys around you buying cars, buying jewelry, doing this, spending money, talking about the money that they spend,” Quin told ESPN. “And you’re sitting there like, ‘Man, I’m living off this much money every month, and this cat spending this much money every day.'”

Quin invests 50 to 60 percent of his take-home pay in blue-chip stocks, and 10 to 20 percent in higher-risk private equity. He estimates that his investments have earned about as much for him as he’s earned from his NFL contracts.

“I’ve played for eight years and made this much money, I was in a couple investments for five years and kind of made the same amount of money,” Quin said. “It’s kind of like having a double NFL career.”

Quin said that early in his career, some of his teammates accused him of being cheap. By living comfortably if not lavishly, Quin is setting himself up to be rich for the rest of his life, long after some of those teammates have gone bankrupt.

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Denver police apprehend suspects in DeMarcus Ware burglary

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 08:  Outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware #94 of the Denver Broncos reacts in the second half while taking on the Carolina Panthers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 8, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) Getty Images

Broncos linebacker DeMarcus Ware returned home from the team’s Monday night game to find that his home had been burglarized, something he announced on social media along with a mention of the cameras he has installed in his house.

Since the burglars opted not to use masks while helping themselves to Ware’s belongings, the Denver Police Department was able to use clear pictures of their faces and the promise of a reward to solicit help from the public in identifying the suspects. It didn’t take long for their efforts to bear fruit.

The Denver P.D. announced on Wednesday that they have apprehended the suspects and that the property stolen from Ware has been recovered.

Ware said earlier on Wednesday, via Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post, that his Super Bowl ring was among the items taken and said he’d already started an insurance claim to deal with its loss. Now that he has it back, Ware need only worry about getting back on the field after breaking his forearm so he can help the team’s effort to hold another ring ceremony next year.

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Report: C.J. Anderson expected to miss time with knee injury

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 13:   C.J. Anderson #22 of the Denver Broncos runs the ball during the first half of a game against the San Diego Chargers  at Qualcomm Stadium on October 13, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Broncos running back C.J. Anderson is going for a second opinion on a knee injury he suffered in Monday night’s game against the Texans, which is the first sign that there’s reason for concern about his availability in the near future.

More signs came on Wednesday afternoon with multiple reports that Anderson will miss multiple weeks as a result of the injury, which is being described as a bone bruise. Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reports that the second opinion is expected to give Anderson and the team a better sense of just how long he’ll be out.

Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said, via Mike Klis of KUSA, that the team expects to have that sense on Thursday. For now, though, it looks like it is safe to assume that rookie Devontae Booker is going to be the lead back when the Chargers come to Denver on Sunday.

Booker saw a big jump in playing time against Houston and responded with 83 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.

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Todd Bowles says it wasn’t a tumultuous week

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 17:  Head coach Todd Bowles of the New York Jets watches from the sidelines during the fourth quarter of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 17, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Jets 28-3.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets, by all appearances, have had a tumultuous week. Their head coach says it wasn’t. Which makes us wonder how crazy it would have to be before he’d use that label.

“It is actually not tumultuous at all,” Bowles said of a game that included a torn ACL to quarterback Geno Smith and a postgame no-one-believes-in-me rant from starter-turned-backup-turned-starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. “Ryan said what he said. We had a conversation, we are all on the same page and we have moved on.”

Bowles believes that Fitzpatrick’s performance against the Ravens, which helped the Jets snap a four-game losing streak, can result in more strong play.

“I do believe it,” Bowles said. “Everybody needs motivation every now and then, and whatever a player needs to be motivated to help him play, I think he should use that. Ryan came in and gave us a boost, and he finished the game for us and got us a win. We had lost four in a row before that. Going forward, it will be his team.”

Like the Bears with Jay Cutler, the Jets have no choice. They’re still alive, technically, for a playoff run. Until they’re more clearly cooked, there’s no reason to test out Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg.

Regardless, the coach who never seems to be flustered by anything isn’t flustered by what happened on Sunday. If he wasn’t flustered by that, he’ll possibly never be flustered by anything.

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Texans sign Jeff Adams, place Derek Newton on injured reserve

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 15:  Alfred Blue #28 of the Houston Texans rushes up the middle as he gets a block from Jeff Adams #70 on Shayne Skov #48 of the San Francisco 49ers in the first half at Reliant Arena at Reliant Park on August 15, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Texans tackle Derek Newton is looking at a long rehab process before he can walk again after tearing the patellar tendons in both knees during Monday night’s loss to the Broncos, which leaves a return to football as something to put on the back burner for a long while.

As a result, the Texans have moved Newton to injured reserve. The team announced that they have signed tackle Jeff Adams to fill his spot on the roster.

Adams is a familiar face around the Texans. He signed with the team in 2014 and played in two games before starting the first two games of the 2015 season. His run in the lineup came to an end when he suffered a torn patellar tendon of his own and he failed to make the team this summer.

Chris Clark is expected to start in Newton’s place, which will likely leave Adams as the swing tackle moving forward.

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Hunter Henry practices two days after reporting concussion-like symptoms

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 23:  Hunter Henry #86 of the San Diego Chargers fails to pull in this touchdown reception inbounds against Keanu Neal #22 of the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on October 23, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Chargers rookie tight end Hunter Henry practiced on Wednesday, two days after Chargers Coach Mike McCoy said Henry was in the NFL’s concussion protocol.

McCoy said Henry reported concussion-like symptoms after the Chargers won in Atlanta last Sunday. Henry being at practice Wednesday is a positive sign for his status for Sunday’s game at Denver, and McCoy said he’s hopeful that Henry will be healthy and cleared to play.

Henry has 20 catches on the season, three for touchdowns, and had his biggest game of the season with eight catches for 83 yards and a touchdown when the Chargers beat the Broncos two weeks ago.

Chargers wide receivers Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin did not practice. McCoy said he wanted Williams and Benjamin to “get some extra rest.”

Benjamin missed some practice time last week with a knee injury but played in last week’s game.

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No changes to pregame procedures for Patriots-Bills rematch

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 02:  The officials discuss a penalty in the fourth quarter diuring a football game between the Tennessee Titans and the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

The last time the Bills and Patriots got together, a pregame scuffle resulted in thousands in fines but no penalties. In turn, no players received the first of two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls under the new automatic ejection formula.

No penalty flags were thrown because the incident occurred without the officials on the field. The officials weren’t on the field because they don’t arrive until 50 minutes before kickoff.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, no changes will be made to the current pregame procedures in advance of the rematch. Which means that the officials won’t enter the field until 50 minutes before kickoff. Which means that, with more than 50 minutes before kickoff, another scuffle could happen.

While extra attention will be paid to the pregame warmups, if game officials aren’t present to impose pregame penalties, the threat of an eventual ejection won’t apply. And with players like Bills cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman already saying he’ll gladly take another fine, where’s the deterrent?

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Cam Newton: Running is my edge, I’m not going to give it up

NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 16:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after his team scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 16, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Getty Images

When Panthers quarterback Cam Newton met the media after the team’s Week Six loss to the Saints, he cut the session off after 90 seconds.

He was more expansive in his Wednesday press conference. Newton talked about the concussion he suffered against the Falcons in Week Four, saying he knew he was “messed up” by the hit he took while running the ball for a two-point conversion and that he learned he can’t take his guard down at any point while he’s on the field.

What he won’t do is take running out of his game. Newton only ran once against the Saints, a two-yard touchdown run, but said that his ability to run between the tackles is “forever my edge” in the NFL.

“I look at the game different. That makes defenses prepare for extra things,” Newton said. “So if you take that away, the defense is like ‘Yes, we don’t have to prepare for a quarterback.’ I’m trying to find any and every way to create edges for us, whether that’s me running around, that’s me blocking. I’m just trying to win football games.”

The Panthers haven’t had much luck winning football games this season and losing Newton again won’t do them any favors on that front over the final 10 games. Having Newton play a style that’s uncomfortable to him without taking full advantage of his talent won’t do them any favors either, though, so it seems the Cardinals should be ready to see Newton carrying the ball this Sunday.

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Seahawks cut running back C.J. Spiller

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 16:  Running back C.J. Spiller #28 of the Seattle Seahawks rushes against Eric Weems #14 of the Atlanta Falcons at CenturyLink Field on October 16, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Seahawks are confident their running game is going to improve soon.

And they must think they don’t need running back C.J. Spiller to achieve that goal.

According to Field Yates of ESPN, the Seahawks released the veteran running back.

Spiller played in two games for the Seahawks, but was a healthy scratch for Sunday’s tie with the Cardinals. The team elected to use C.J. Prosise as their third-down back behind Christine Michael.

And with Thomas Rawls getting closer to health, the Seahawks apparently decided they didn’t need him to provide a boost for one of the league’s worst rushing games.

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Artis Hicks: Vikings had a bounty program like the Saints’

MINNEAPOLIS - DECEMBER 31: Artis Hicks #79 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on during the game against the St. Louis Rams on December 31, 2006 at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Rams defeated the Vikings 41-21. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL cracked down severely on the Saints and many of their players and coaches after an investigation revealed a bounty program with cash payouts to players who injured opponents. The game most frequently cited as an example of the Saints attempting to injure an opponent was the NFC Championship Game victory over the Vikings after the 2009 season.

Now a player who was on that Vikings team is saying Minnesota ran a similar bounty program.

Artis Hicks, an offensive lineman on the 2009 Vikings, told Jeff Pearlman, the author of a new Brett Favre biography, that the Vikings were doing the same thing that got the Saints busted.

“It was part of the culture,” Hicks said, in a book excerpt published by Deadspin. “I had coaches start a pot and all the veterans put in an extra $100, $200, and if you hurt someone special, you get the money. There was a bottom line, and I think we all bought in: you’re there to win, and if taking out the other team’s best player helps you win, hey, it’s nothing personal. Just business.”

Brad Childress was the head coach of the Vikings for Hicks’ entire four-year stint with the team. Childress informed the NFL after that NFC Championship Game that he had heard that the Saints had a bounty on Favre, and Childress testified in former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue’s appeals hearing on Bountygate. He has stayed quiet about the matter publicly, perhaps not wanting to say anything that could see him accused of hypocrisy, given Hicks’ accusation.

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Jaguars owner meets with players and coaches

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 28:  Shahid Khan, the billionaire owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, waits on the field before their game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 28, 2014 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jaguars owner Shad Khan wants to know what’s going on.

According to the Associated Press, Khad met with players and coaches Monday, asking “why are we not winning and what can we do to fix it?

Khan has generally been upbeat and low-profile, but his team is now 14-40 under coach Gus Bradley, and Sunday’s embarrassing home loss to the Raiders included two ejections, one player penalized for a racial slur and way too many flags in general.

Khan reportedly had an open forum, where players and coaches were encouraged to talk about the problems the franchise had, and why they didn’t make the leap so many expected (including someone who picked them to go to the playoffs).

What makes this meeting a concern for everyone with a job there is it’s the second time in a month he spoke to the team. He talked to them prior to their London game, and they responded with a win that time.

If they don’t Thursday night against the Titans, it’s worth wondering how many of the participants in Monday’s meeting (other than Khan) will be around for the next one.

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Corey Coleman returns to practice, probably not yet ready for games

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 18: Corey Coleman #19 of the Cleveland Browns breaks a tackle on his way to an 11-yard touchdown reception against Jimmy Smith #22 of the Baltimore Ravens in the first quarter at Cleveland Browns Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Browns rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman was a limited participant in practice Wednesday, and that’s a good sign as Coleman tries to return from a broken hand.

Coleman previously hadn’t been cleared to practice since suffering the injury on what Browns coach Hue Jackson described as a freak play in practice last month. The injury occurred a few days after Coleman had 104 yards receiving and two touchdowns in Week Two vs. the Ravens.

Jackson told reporters Wednesday that Coleman is “getting closer” to a return but said Coleman probably won’t play this week vs. the Jets.

The injury did not require surgery. It’s likely that Coleman, the Browns’ first-round pick last spring, will wear some sort of protective brace on his hand and that he’ll have to prove he can play with the wrap or brace and still catch the ball before he’s allowed to play in games.

The Browns also listed wide receiver Terrelle Pryor as limited with a hamstring injury. He missed two practices last week and though he played last Sunday he clearly wasn’t 100 percent.

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Riddick, Ebron and Ngata back at practice for Lions

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 09: Graham Glasgow #60 of the Detroit Lions congratulates teammate Theo Riddick #25 after Roddick scored his second touchdown in the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles at Ford Field on October 9, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Lions have been playing without several key players in recent weeks because of injuries, which hasn’t stopped them from reeling off three straight victories.

They may be getting some reinforcements as they try to make it four straight wins against the Texans in Houston this weekend.

Running back Theo Riddick, tight end Eric Ebron and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata were all back on the practice field Wednesday. Riddick and Ngata have missed the last two games while Ebron has missed all three games in the current winning streak.

Given the way the Texans defense looked against the Broncos in Monday night’s loss, the return of Riddick could pay dividends for an offense that hasn’t found much consistency on the ground in recent weeks.

Cornerback Darius Slay didn’t practice on Wednesday after hurting his hamstring against the Redskins last weekend. His loss would be a big one for the defense, although another look back at the Texans on Monday suggests the home team might have a hard time taking full advantage of it.

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Josh Norman makes limited return to practice

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 23: Josh Norman #24 of the Washington Redskins is attended to by staff after being injured during third quarter action against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on October 23, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) Getty Images

Word earlier this week was that Redskins tight end Jordan Reed would be on the practice field Wednesday after missing the last two games with a concussion and that was proven correct when the session got underway.

Reed wasn’t the only player in the concussion protocol to make it back for a limited practice. Cornerback Josh Norman also got the go-ahead to do some on-field work a few days after being forced out of the team’s loss to the Lions.

Left tackle Trent Williams also practiced after hurting his knee against the Lions and heading for an MRI that showed no structural problems.

The news wasn’t as positive when it comes to running back Matt Jones. Jones didn’t practice due to a knee injury that coach Jay Gruden said Jones reported on Wednesday. Gruden said Jones came in sore and had “pain cutting” while adding that there wasn’t an issue when he ran in a straight line.

Gruden said that the team plans to take everyone with them to London for Sunday’s game against the Bengals. That includes Reed and Norman, although he added that he’d like to have a better idea about their chances of getting fully cleared before the flight takes off on Thursday night.

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