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PFT’s Week 14 picks

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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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Knee injury keeps Kyle Williams out of practice

Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams, Ryan Fitzpatrick AP

The Bills have had one of the stingiest run defenses in the league through the first four weeks of the season, but they were missing one of the major cogs in that effort when they kicked off practice for Week Five.

Defensive tackle Kyle Williams didn’t participate because of the knee injury he suffered in last Sunday’s loss to the Texans. Beyond saying that Williams’s experience meant that he didn’t have to practice in order to play, coach Doug Marrone didn’t offer much insight into Williams’s condition.

“I just heard that we’re going to see how it progresses. He’s been around, he’s walking around here,” Marrone said, via ESPN.com. “That’s the doctors. When they release him, they release him, and when they don’t … I don’t have a feel. All I know is how it progresses, I’ll know more as the week goes.”

History says that no one should expect Marrone to be more forthcoming as the week goes on, so Williams’s practice status will be the best guide to predicting whether or not he’ll be in the lineup against the Lions. Stefan Charles and Corbin Bryant are the backup options in the event Williams doesn’t play.

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NFL announces extension of DirecTV Sunday Ticket deal

SundayTicket

NFL Sunday Ticket is staying on DirecTV.

The league announced on Wednesday that it has extended its agreement with DirecTV to give the satellite provider the rights to show out-of-market games. Darren Rovell of ESPN reports that it’s an eight-year deal that will see DirecTV paying the NFL $1.5 billion a year, a 50 percent increase over the $1 billion a year DirecTV was paying under its previous deal with the league.

The NFL’s announcement also said DirecTV will continue with added features beyond the live Sunday games, including the Red Zone Channel, Game Mix with eight games on one screen and the new Fantasy Zone channel. DirecTV will also continue carrying NFL Network on satellite and make it available to subscribers to watch on mobile devices.

Some fans who have cable and can’t get DirecTV will be disappointed that Sunday Ticket isn’t going to be available to cable subscribers. But DirecTV is increasingly promoting the ability of Sunday Ticket subscribers to watch games on tablets and phones, which means you no longer need a satellite dish on your roof to have Sunday Ticket. You just need to pay DirecTV for access, which millions of fans will do. Sunday Ticket is one of the most valuable properties on American television, because the NFL is the most popular programming on American television.

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Jon Gruden says the predictable thing about Raiders job

grudenx-large AP

With the Raiders already in the market for a head coach after the 2014 season and with former Raiders (and Buccaneers) coach Jon Gruden’s name the first to emerge, the elder brother of Washington coach Jay Gruden is saying all the right things about the move he potentially will make come January.

I’m not thinking about coaching,” Jon Gruden said.  “I’m thinking about heading to Washington, watching the world champions and my brother coach.”

He’s probably also thinking about the quality of the welcome he’ll get from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who may be reluctant to invite an immediate family member of the next opponent’s head coach into practice and production meetings.  Either way, Jon Gruden isn’t thinking about coaching right now because he shouldn’t be thinking about it.  Or, more accurately, he shouldn’t be talking about thinking about it.

Playing it slow and playing it cool eventually will pay off for Gruden, either via a big offer from the Raiders or more money from ESPN.  At a time when most NFL teams with vacancies aren’t beating a path to Gruden’s door for the privilege of paying him a lot of money to return to coaching, the Raiders have become the franchise with the most interest in hiring Jon Gruden since the Buccaneers became no longer interested in employing him.

It will be a delicate balance for Gruden, who won’t want to alienate a fan base that still worships him.  But his best play would be to find a way to parlay Oakland’s interest into interest from a franchise that has much better prospects for 2015 and beyond — if there’s a franchise out there that would want to hire him.

Other than the Raiders right now, there really hasn’t been.  And the truth is that, despite the hype, there may never be.

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Frank Alexander suspended 10 games for another drug violation

Frank Alexander AP

The Panthers were hoping to get defensive end Frank Alexander back this week, after he served his four-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy.

Instead, they’ll see him in December, if at all.

The league announced that Alexander was suspended 10 games for violating the substance abuse policy again. He’ll be eligible to return on Dec. 15, following their game against the Buccaneers.

The suspension is a double-blow for the Panthers considering they were thinned out by Greg Hardy being on the commissioner’s exempt list, and their defense has struggled mightily.

But Alexander is apparently having a different kind of struggle.

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Brandon Marshall gets in a full practice

Brandon Marshall AP

On Monday, Bears coach Marc Trestman said that the team would take a long look at wide receiver Brandon Marshall in practice this week to determine whether he would benefit from missing a game to let his injured ankle fully heal.

Based on Wednesday’s practice, the signs are pointing in the other direction. Marshall practiced in full for the first time in a few weeks, a development that Trestman appreciated.

“It was good to get him back at full speed today,” Trestman said, via Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune.

Trestman chalked up an interception in last week’s game against the Packers to poor communication between Marshall and quarterback Jay Cutler, which led to questions about whether that difficulty was because Marshall hasn’t been on the practice field all that much of late. If Marshall’s ankle holds up well after Wednesday’s practice, that issue should disappear and Marshall’s targets — 12 in the last two weeks — should rise against the Panthers this weekend.

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Jake Locker practices, says wrist feels fine

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It looks like the Titans will have quarterback Jake Locker back in the lineup this Sunday.

Locker missed last Sunday’s loss to the Colts with a right wrist injury, forcing Tennessee to turn to Charlie Whitehurst and Zach Mettenberger. Locker was back at practice on Wednesday, however, and got in a full session.

Locker said after practice that his wrist felt fine and that he’s ready to lead the offense against the Browns. Locker also said that he knows he needs to pick up his game after two dismal outings before the injury.

“When you are not winning and things are not going the way you’d like them to go, I’ve always believed the first place you have to look is at yourself, and it is no different in this situation,” Locker said, via the Tennessean. “Just the details, executing the details in a play can make a big difference. And making a tough throw. It is not always going to be wide open and you have to find ways to complete contested passes in this league, and we have to do a better job of that.”

The next 12 games will have a lot to do with more than just how the Titans fare in 2014. They should go a long way toward determining what kind of future Locker has as an NFL starter and more of what we’ve seen this season in terms of performance and health won’t be the ticket to a bright one.

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Pollard dubs first quarter of Titans’ season “piss poor horrible”

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Titans safety Bernard Pollard has a way with words.  Especially when using those words to describe the way his team is playing.  Especially when it’s not playing well.

Piss poor horrible,” Pollard said Wednesday regarding the team’s first four games.

He elaborated on that point, explaining that the team has a culture of losing.

“We work, but it’s not translating over to the football field on Sunday,” Pollard said, via Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com.  “We have to understand that we have to be better. It’s a must.  I come from an organization where the mentality, the culture is just totally different.  Yeah, you might lose some games, but it’s a different culture.  That needs to be changed here . . . .

“I’m gonna try to piss some people off and I couldn’t care less about what I’m saying.  We have talent.  We have guys that can take the roof off and guys that can be stars in this league.  It’s time for us to do that.  The first quarter was piss poor horrible.  We sucked butt.  I say that again.  We were horrible.  But we have a shot at being a very good football team, and I’m gonna try and pull that out for all of us.”

At least they’re consistent.  In April, Pollard said after his first season with the franchise that the Titans “sucked butt.”

The season started off with considerable promise, given that they went to Kansas City and beat the Chiefs, a playoff team from 2013, in their own building.  Since then, the Titans have lost three games in a row, by 16 points, 26 points, and 24 points.

“Right now, we’re doormats to a lot of people around the league,” Pollard said.

Or, as the case may be, piss poor horrible.

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Jeff Fisher names Austin Davis starting quarterback in St. Louis

Austin Davis AP

The Rams have taken their time naming a starting quarterback for their last two games, but they’re returning from the bye week with a new approach.

Coach Jeff Fisher announced on Wednesday that Austin Davis will make his third straight start against the Eagles this Sunday. Fisher actually went a bit further than that and said that Davis is the team’s starter moving forward.

Even though Fisher has said in the past that Shaun Hill was the team’s starter once he’d recovered from the quad injury that knocked him out of the season opener, it’s not a surprising decision from Fisher. Davis has completed over 72 percent of his passes since taking over the job while throwing three touchdowns and three interceptions, numbers that merit more of a look to see what kind of quarterback he can be over a longer term for a team that will probably be looking for a new starter come the offseason.

That starter could be Davis, he could be a backup or he could be a placeholder for a rookie, but there’s more to learn about Davis than there is about Hill no matter how things might play out in 2015.

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DeAngelo Williams won’t play this week with high ankle sprain

Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams AP

The Panthers’ weekly game of Wheel of Running Backs won’t include DeAngelo Williams this week.

According to Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer, Williams has a high ankle sprain, and has been ruled out of this week’s game against the Bears.

Williams is in a cast at the moment, which will be removed Friday. But the fact they’re willing to say now that he’s not playing should be a clear indication that it was never close for this week.

Jonathan Stewart did return to practice today, though it’s unclear if he’ll be able to play with a knee injury. Even fullback Richie Brockel and running back Fozzy Whittaker are still out of practice, leaving the cupboard bare.

They signed Chris Ogbonnaya as an emergency backup, to go with practice squad promotion Darrin Reaves.

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Carson Palmer misses practice to see shoulder specialist

Carson Palmer, Bruce Arians AP

The optimism that Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer expressed about his ability to play against the Broncos in Week Five appears to be evaporating by the day.

Earlier this week, coach Bruce Arians said that Wednesday would be a big day for Palmer to show that the nerve issue in his right shoulder has healed enough for him to return to the lineup after missing the last two games. It’s Wednesday, but things haven’t developed as Palmer would have hoped.

Arians said, via Darren Urban of the team’s website, that Palmer was excused from the team’s practice so he could go see a specialist about his shoulder. Arians explained that Palmer threw a lot late last week while the Cardinals were on their bye and that his condition has regressed since then.

That points to another start for Drew Stanton, who quarterbacked the team to victories over the Giants and 49ers before the team went on their bye week.

Arians added that the team doesn’t consider Palmer a candidate for season-ending injured reserve because they don’t feel that the quarterback is suffering from a long-term injury. He didn’t rule out injured reserve with the designation to return, however, and one imagines that possibility could grow based on what Palmer learns during his visit to the specialist.

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Bridgewater questionable for Thursday night

Teddy AP

He practiced a little on Wednesday.  Whether he plays at all on Thursday night remains to be seen.

Officially, Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is questionable for the game at Lambeau Field with a sprained ankle.  It’s a game-time decision, which means we’ll all know within 90 minutes of kickoff.  Unless he doesn’t travel with the team to Wisconsin or someone blabs to Jay Glazer.

In the interim, watch for whether the Vikings activate McLeod Bethel-Thompson or Chandler Harnish from the practice squad to the active roster.

The status for the other injured Vikings is far more clear.  Linebacker Chad Greenway (hand) and tight end Kyle Rudolph (abdomen/groin) are out.  Fullback Jerome Felton (knee), linebacker Michael Mauti (foot), running back Jerrick McKinnon (ankle), cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (illness), receiver Rodney Smith (hamstring), and linebacker Brandon Watts (knee) are probable.

On the question of Bridgewater playing, the question becomes whether the Vikings would prefer a healthy and prepared Christian Ponder to a limited and unprepared (relatively speaking) Bridgewater.  It doesn’t take an orthopedic surgeon to know how Vikings fans would resolve that one; it may take an orthopedic surgeon to help the Vikings make the right call on whether the rookie should play on a short week.

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Jets expect Dee Milliner back this week

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The Jets defense has had cornerback Dee Milliner in the lineup for part of one game in September because of ankle and quad injuries, but it appears October will be getting off to a better start.

Coach Rex Ryan said, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, at Wednesday’s press conference that Milliner will play against the Chargers this Sunday. Milliner last played in Week Two against the Packers, but left the game early after his sprained ankle tightened up in the third quarter.

There’s no word on how expansive a role Milliner might play against San Diego, but any help will be welcomed as the Jets try to slow down Philip Rivers. The Jets have rushed the passer well through the first four weeks and have posted the highest percentage of sacks per drop backs in the league, but opposing offenses have found plenty of places to go with the ball if the rush doesn’t get home.

Milliner can’t fix that all by himself, but his healthy presence should alleviate some of the problems. Safety Calvin Pryor, who left last Sunday’s game with a thigh injury, took part in practice and is also on track to play this week.

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Whisenhunt shoots down talk that Titans could trade Justin Hunter

justinhunter AP

There’s been talk in Tennessee that the Titans could trade receiver Justin Hunter. Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt says that talk is preposterous.

“Are you kidding me? That’s not something even in consideration,” Whisenhunt said of trading Hunter, via Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean.

Wyatt has written that the Titans are disappointed with Hunter’s inconsistency and want more out of him. And considering how much talent Hunter flashed in the preseason, his statistics — nine catches for 138 yards and no touchdowns — are short of expectations so far this season.

Of course, those issues point to exactly why other teams aren’t likely to give up much of anything to acquire Hunter in a trade. So the Titans will hold onto him, and hope he’ll do more in the future than he’s done since the Titans drafted him last year.

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Steve Smith unloads on Panthers G.M., coach, Greg Hardy

STEVESMITHAWARD-NC Getty Images

The blood and guts arrived a few days later than many expected.

Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith mostly played nice as his new team beat his old one Sunday. But he unloaded on his old bosses Wednesday, taking shots at both General Manager Dave Gettleman (who we knew he didn’t like) and coach Ron Rivera (who we didn’t suspect created that kind of animosity).

Smith called in to WFNZ’s “Bustin’ Loose” with Frank Garcia and Mark Yarbro, and fired several volleys in the direction of the team he gave 13 years to, saying neither Gettleman nor Rivera were straight with him.

“Every time I keep reading stuff and reports come out, I just think I was stabbed in the back,” Smith said. “Just like coach Rivera said he wasn’t a sore loser, but yet he never even spoke to me through the whole ordeal. Not one time. He didn’t look at me man-to-man and said this was going down. He said he’s a players’ coach but he never came in and said, ‘Hey Smitty, this is going on. Wanted to give you a heads up.’ He hid in his office.

“Then you come at the end of the game and I play decent and then you come and shake my hand and say, ‘Congratulations. I hope the family’s well. Good luck.’ But we were supposed to be boys and respected me. You would have done it from the jump. You don’t do it at the end. And then you tell the media. Why? So you can look a certain way.”

That was a little surprising, less so was his criticism of Gettleman, who got the ball rolling at the Combine by saying he was “evaluating,” Smith’s play, and then came home to tell Smith he was gone.

Smith said Wednesday that Gettleman referred to him as a “shadow” of his former self.

“He doesn’t even have the cojones to tell us to our face [about being released],” Smith said. “We have to hear it from someone else. Then he calls and says it wasn’t personal. If the first thing that comes out is ‘Well it wasn’t personal,’ then guess what? It was personal.”

Smith also made it clear he wasn’t happy with being portrayed as a distraction, pointing to the team’s willingness to hang onto defensive end Greg Hardy with a $13.1 million franchise tag. He referenced the three teammates he punched, but said that was not comparable to the current situation.

“I’ve always been a distraction?” Smith said. “But I didn’t hit my wife. Yeah I hit some teammates six or seven years ago but I didn’t beat my wife. I didn’t get arrested for DUIs. I didn’t fall off no motorcycles. …

“All I did was charity work in Charlotte. I made mistakes. But building this big ol’ crutch about it like as if I pushed their hand?”

The reasons the Panthers cut Smith have been obvious. He didn’t play well with others, specifically quarterback Cam Newton.

But his frustration on the way out the door speaks to tensions with Gettleman that indicate there was more than one personality at play in the decision that sent him to Baltimore.

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Jarrett Boykin out for Packers on Thursday night

Green Bay Packers v St Louis Rams Getty Images

The Packers kick off Week Five against the Vikings on Thursday night and they won’t have wide receiver Jarrett Boykin’s help as they try to get a leg up on their NFC North rivals.

Boykin has been ruled out for the second straight week because of a groin injury. Coach Mike McCarthy indicated that Boykin’s injury is more sever than the team originally thought and that it might keep him out through the Week Six game against the Dolphins as well.

“I don’t know if he’s going to be ready for Miami. That’s a long time away. It’s a little worse than we thought,” McCarthy said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.

Rookie Davante Adams took over the third receiver duties against Chicago and should fill the role again this week.

Linebacker Sam Barrington (hamstring) and defensive tackle Josh Boyd (knee) have both been listed as doubtful for the game while linebackers Clay Matthews, Mike Neal and Brad Jones join guard T.J. Lang as probable to play on Thursday.

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