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Tagliabue ruling underscores lack of due process for coaches

Payton AP

Tuesday’s ruling from Commissioner Paul Tagliabue proves that players have due process — as long as they are willing to fight tooth and nail for it.

And the ability of the players to push back against the NFL via the protections under the CBA and federal law flows from their union status.  Coaches like Sean Payton, Joe Vitt, and Gregg Williams don’t have a union to support them, and so they didn’t have the ability to force the kind of fair hearing that the players eventually received.

This isn’t to say that the coaches should have escaped suspensions.  But when reading portions of Tagliabue’s ruling regarding the proper way to change culture or to prove a connection between tough talk and dirty deeds, it’s hard to imagine that a one-year suspension would have been upheld for Sean Payton, who has been kicked out of the sport for a year because he failed to supervise his defensive coordinator, and because Payton said once the investigation was launched that the assistant coaches should “make sure our ducks in a row.”

In fairness to Payton, “making sure our ducks are in a row” doesn’t necessarily mean “making sure our lies are in a row.”  Lawyers routinely prepare witnesses before hearings and trials not with the goal of suborning perjury but of ensuring that an inadvertent misstatement of fact doesn’t provide the opposition with an unintended “gotcha” moment.

Even if Payton was telling the coaches to lie about the existence of a bounty program, the lack of an obvious connection between words and on-field misconduct coupled with the realities that made pay-for-performance programs an accepted part of NFL culture arguably make a one-year suspension for Payton too much.

But since Payton had too little protection, it’s too late to do anything about it.

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Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett? Bill O’Brien can’t decide

Brian Hoyer AP

Texans coach Bill O’Brien has been indecisive about his starting quarterback all year, so it’s no surprise that he remained indecisive after Thursday night’s loss to the Colts.

O’Brien kept Ryan Mallett on the bench and left Brian Hoyer in the game after Mallett had to leave for just a few plays with a minor injury. After the game, he refused to commit to either as the long-term starter.

“Brian I thought did a good job tonight, but we’ll talk about it. I haven’t even talked to the staff yet about it. We’ll sit down and review the film. I thought Brian did a good job though. He went in there, it wasn’t the easiest of circumstances – other than the last play there where he kind of launched it up there. He probably wants to have that one back, but I thought he did a good job. We’ll review it tomorrow and see where we are at that position,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien announced during the preseason that Hoyer would be the starter, but he changed his mind about that during the Texans’ Week One loss, benching Hoyer and putting Mallett in. Mallett has started every game since then, but he’s been benched for Hoyer two games in a row, and in both games Hoyer put up better numbers than Mallett.

Both quarterbacks were cautious with their comments after the game. Hoyer said, “Not my decision to make,” when asked if he thinks he’ll be the starter, and Mallett would say only, “I’ll be ready.”

O’Brien is not ready to make a decision. And if he does make a decision, he may soon change his mind.

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Ryan Mallett said he didn’t realize he was leaving sideline early

Ryan Mallett AP

Ryan Mallett just can’t win with clocks. He gets criticized when he’s late, he gets criticized when he’s early.

The once-again Texans backup quarterback entered another time-related mishap last night, leaving for the locker room after replacement Brian Hoyer’s Hail Mary near the end of the first half, though there was still time on the clock.

I thought the half was over,” Mallett said of the early exit, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “That’s all it was.”

Even coach Bill O’Brien was a little confused by the fact there was one second left.

“So, I know that I thought the half was over, to be honest with you,” O’Brien said. “Then, they grabbed me back and we decided to go to the end zone there. No, I don’t know anything about that.”

While he was celebrating the touchdown, not just pouting, the way some of his sideline body language suggested, Mallett can’t be thrilled about this latest turn. He started last night’s loss to the Colts, and left because of an ankle injury. But after Hoyer moved the team, O’Brien stuck with the veteran, though he said later Mallett could have gone back in.

“It’s not my call,” Mallett said. “I just do what I’m told. I’m not frustrated. I’m frustrated in the loss. Obviously, we wanted to win.”

Of course, the last time Mallett lost the starting job, he responded by oversleeping and missing practice the next day. So when he gets up, somebody read this one to him, OK?

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Matt Hasselbeck left it all on the field, or someplace else

Andrew Luck, Matt Hasselbeck AP

While teammates were quick to praise the 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck’s guts after last night’s win over the Texans, the reality is he didn’t have many left.

Wracked by a bacterial infection, Hasselbeck spent most of his week either in a hospital or on a toilet, making the fact he could relieve an injured Andrew Luck last night amazing.

“Lots of stuff coming out of the attic, then a lot of stuff coming out the basement,” Hasselbeck described it, via Zac Keefer of the Indianapolis Star.

More impressive than his passing stats were his IV numbers, five straight days of them with two bags of fluid yesterday before the game. He was so sick he couldn’t even talk to at the team meeting the night before the game.

“He didn’t look good, man,” offensive lineman Joe Reitz said. “He was sitting there like a zombie.”

“Looked like warmed-over death,” added Adam Vinatieri.

But he spent the day saving every bit of energy he could, and then used it all to beat the Texans, going 18-of-29 for 231 yards and two touchdowns.

“I really had nothing this morning,” Hasselbeck said. “I honestly feel like this isn’t even real now.”

The good news is, the Colts now have a 10-day break, and Hasselbeck apparently is going to need each of them.

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Marshawn Lynch returns to limited participation in practice

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Running back Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks rushes against defensive back Alan Ball #24 of the Chicago Bears at CenturyLink Field on September 27, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Running back Marshawn Lynch returned to limited participation in practice on Thursday for the Seattle Seahawks ahead of Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Lynch was inactive for the first time during his six seasons in Seattle for last week’s 13-10 victory over the Detroit Lions on due to a hamstring injury. He took part in pregame warmups on Monday night but was held out for the game.

Lynch’s replacement, Thomas Rawls, rushed for 48 yards on 17 carries last week against Detroit.

Lynch’s return will be even more pivotal this week as Fred Jackson is recovering from a high-ankle sprain. Pete Carroll said Wednesday that they aren’t ruling Jackson out for this week despite the injury as he’s moving around well and didn’t need a walking boot after the game.

If Lynch can’t play, it could leave Seattle with just one healthy running back on their active roster in Rawls. Fullback Derrick Coleman would be an option to get some carries in a backup role. The team could also look to elevate Rod Smith from the practice squad.

But Carroll was optimistic on Wednesday about Lynch’s chances.

“He did make a lot of progress last week and was able to run around some and all that,” Carroll said. “He’s worked really hard at it so we’ll see if we can get it done.”

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Andre Johnson scores two touchdowns in 27-20 victory over Texans

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 08: Andre Johnson #81 of the Indianapolis Colts catches a pass then runs past Johnathan Joseph #24 , Andre Hal #29 and Benardrick McKinney #55 of the Houston Texans for a touchdown in the first quarter on October 8, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Andre Johnson scored a pair of touchdowns against his former team as the Indianapolis Colts managed to overcome the absence of Andrew Luck to earn a 27-20 victory over the Houston Texans on Thursday night.

Matt Hasselbeck, playing with an illness of his own, passed for 213 yards and two touchdowns, both to Johnson. Hasselbeck started in place of Luck for a second straight week as Luck recovers from a shoulder injury.

A pair of field goals from Adam Vinatieri and the first touchdown pass to Johnson gave the Colts a 13-0 lead in the second quarter.

Houston’s offense was completely ineffective with Ryan Mallett getting the start at quarterback. Mallett was intercepted on the Texans opening possession and was replaced by Brian Hoyer in the second quarter.

Hoyer’s Hail Mary to rookie receiver Jaelen Strong pulled the Texans to within a field goal, 13-10, at halftime.

It took less than two minutes for the Colts to score again in the third quarter. Frank Gore scored on a 3-yard touchdown run to give Indianapolis a 20-10 lead.

Strong and Johnson traded touchdown receptions before Nick Novak’s 49-yard field goal closed the gap to 27-20 with six minutes left.

Hoyer led the Texans into Indianapolis territory before throwing a terrible ball up for grabs that was intercepted by Mike Adams to end Houston’s chances. Hoyer finished 24-of-31 for 312 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in place of Mallett and would seem to be the best option going forward for the Texans.

Frank Gore rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown for Indianapolis. DeAndre Hopkins had a monster game for Houston, catching 11 passes for 169 yards.

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Frank Gore touchdown quickly extends Colts lead

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 08: Frank Gore #23 of the Indianapolis Colts rushes against Brian Cushing #56 of the Houston Texans in the first quarter on October 8, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

It took less than two minutes for the Indianapolis Colts to get back the cushion they lost on the Hail Mary thrown by Brian Hoyer to end the first half.

Frank Gore scored on a 3-yard touchdown run to give Indianapolis a 20-10 lead over the Houston Texans just 1:54 into the third quarter.

Griff Whalen returned the opening kickoff 50 yards to the Colts 44-yard line. Matt Hasselbeck then connected with Dwayne Allen for 21 yards and Andre Johnson for 24 yards to move inside the 5-yard line and set up Gore’s touchdown run.

The Colts had given the Texans seven points to end the first half on a Hail Mary from Hoyer to Jaelen Strong that was poorly covered by Indianapolis. It didn’t take long for the Colts to get the points back.

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Hail Mary likely vaults Hoyer over Mallett

Brian Hoyer AP

The Texans arguably shouldn’t have benched Brian Hoyer after a Week One loss to the Chiefs. The Texans arguably should have benched Ryan Mallett after a Week Four loss to the Falcons.

With a Hail Mary play at the end of the first half of the Week Five game against the Colts, the pendulum has swung sharply back to Hoyer.

The 42-yard bomb to rookie Jaelen Strong, aided by Colts defensive backs who were behaving more like Keystone Cops, allowed the Texans to cut a 13-0 deficit to 13-10, with the Texans showing new life after Hoyer replaced Mallett.

Mallett exited the game after taking a helmet to the flak jacket. He was cleared quickly, but the Texans stuck with Hoyer. And it has worked.

And Mallett is upset. Those who can read lips got an eyeful at one point, with Mallett calling the situation “f–king bulls-t.”

But Mallett had his chance for several weeks to kick-start the team, and he largely failed. It’s now back to Hoyer, who likely won’t come out of the game if/when he takes a helmet to the stomach. Ever.

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Arian Foster re-enters game before concussion evaluation

D'Qwell Jackson, Trent Cole, Arian Foster AP

The NFL still has work to do when it comes to protecting players with possible concussions against the risk of a second concussion.

On Thursday night, Texans running back Arian Foster took a blow to the head in the second quarter of his team’s game against the Colts. Foster then left the field for one play, before re-entering.

On his next play back, he was given a handoff — and his helmet was knocked off during the tackle.

Said Tracy Wolfson of CBS after Foster returned: “Arian Foster basically put himself back into the game. As soon as the trainers were talking about it, he turned around and he just walked about out there. . . . They said to him, ‘You need to come back out here. Do you want us to look at you?'”

Foster instead went to the field, and per Wolfson the independent neurologist assigned to the Texans sideline was reviewing the video of the hit. When the drive ended, the Texans took Foster’s helmet away, evaluated him on the sideline, and then took him to the locker room for further evaluation.

Before leaving the field of play, Foster slammed a tray of Gatorade products to the ground.

It’s good that they got him to the locker room, but Foster never should have gotten back onto the field. If the ATC spotter in the booth is going to have the ability to call a medical timeout, the independent neurologist on the sideline needs to have that power, too.

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Injury gives Hoyer a chance, Texans cut margin to 10

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwrlzmfiote2mteyodnhmdc5mthkmdg2mgnlmdgzytg5 AP

Fifty-two weeks ago tonight, the Colts ran up a 24-0 lead against the Texans in Houston and then held on for a 33-28 win. Tonight, the Colts stopped a promising opening drive by the Texans with an interception on a tipped pass, and Indy opened up a 13-0 lead.

But the Texans have gotten a spark, thanks to a helmet to the midsection of quarterback Ryan Mallett. After Colts linebacker Sio Moore applied the illegal hit to the quarterback who became the starter in Week Two, Week One starter Brian Hoyer re-entered the game — and he then marched the home team down the field.

After missing a couple of snaps, Mallett was trying to get back in to the game. Hoyer then converted a third down, and the Texans kept him in the game, even though Mallett (according to Tracy Wolfson of CBS) has been cleared to return. A chop block penalty caused the drive to sputter, with Houston settling for a field goal.

It’ll now be interesting to see whether the Texans go with Mallett or Hoyer when they get the ball back. As the cliché goes, guys don’t lose their jobs due to injury. Mallett could be losing his not by an injury that knocked him out for a game but by an injury that sidelined him for a couple of plays.

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Daily fantasy litigation already is a reality

images Getty Images

[Editor’s note: FanDuel is an advertiser of PFT and PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio. Also, NBC Sports has an equity stake in FanDuel.]

Any company with deep pockets that keep getting deeper by the day becomes a lightning rod for litigation. Throw in a real controversy, and the civil complaints will pile up, quickly.

Via Deadspin, a man named Adam Johnson has filed suit in Manhattan federal court against DraftKings and FanDuel, alleging causes of actions including negligence, fraud, misrepresentation, civil conspiracy, unjust enrichment, and violation of state consumer protection laws. As Kevin Draper of Deadspin notes, it’s the first lawsuit, but it’s hardly the last.

The gist of the complaint is this: Johnson wouldn’t have wagered money on daily fantasy football is he had known “defendants were working in concert to allow employees of DFS sites to play against them.”

Although Johnson didn’t lose big money (he alleges he spent at least $100), the kicker is the request that the case be certified as a class action, with the proposed class including “[a]ll persons in the United States who deposited money into a DraftKings account before Oct. 6, 2015 and competed in any contest where other entries were made by employees from DraftKings, FanDuel or any other DFS site.”

That’s the part where $100 in losses can mushroom, with DraftKings and FanDuel required to scour their contests for evidence of employee involvement and, if the claims are successful, refunding the money spent by customers — along with other potential damages that could make the amounts even bigger, including punitive damages aimed at punishing the violations of civil law and deterring future misconduct.

The smart move for DraftKings and FanDuel could be to take a page from the Pilot Flying J handbook and offer an immediate settlement that pays back all money spent by non-employees of DFS companies in DFS games involving DFS employees. That first would require crunching plenty of numbers and putting together what could be a very large pot of money. But with the industry, which grew too fast for internal or external regulation, immediately recognizing after its first scandal that employees of one DFS company should not be playing in contests offered by other DFS companies, the next logical step would be to work backward and refund money from any contests tainted by the presence of employees of DFS website.

While that may not be sufficient to constitute complete justice, it could be enough to get a nationwide class action quickly certified and settled, especially if it gives the lawyers representing the class a large pile of money for not doing very much work.

Which makes the attraction of class-action litigation a little like the allure of daily fantasy.

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Referee communication a problem as flag on Texans is picked up

Terry McAulay AP

In a bizarre moment in the first quarter of tonight’s game in Houston, a penalty on the Texans was initially called, then waved off without explanation.

Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph clearly committed an illegal contact penalty on a Colts third down incompletion, which should have given the Colts an automatic first down. Referee Terry McAulay announced the penalty, and the Colts’ offense huddled up for the next play.

Then, McAulay told Colts coach Chuck Pagano that there was no penalty after all. There was no apparent explanation given. Former NFL referee Mike Carey said on the CBS broadcast that the penalty was waved off because Colts quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was outside the pocket when he threw the pass. However, it still looked like Joseph could have been flagged for defensive holding.

More importantly, even if Joseph hadn’t committed a penalty, McAulay did a poor job of communicating what had happened. The referee shouldn’t announce a penalty until he has conferred with his fellow officials to ensure that they’re all on the same page. And in a rare occasion when the referee does change a call after announcing it, he needs to make sure he explains the change to both teams, and to the fans. That’s why referees have microphones.

The call was reminiscent of last year’s Lions-Cowboys playoff game, when a pass interference penalty on the Cowboys was picked up after it had been announced. NFL referees need to get better at communicating about why flags are thrown, and why they’re picked up.

After the flag was picked up, Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri made a field goal to give Indianapolis an early lead.

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Random PSI checks apparently are more about “the rules” than science


It started as a press conference. It ended like a Cartman dream sequence. Sort of.

The final topic for Commissioner Roger Goodell during his end-of-ownership-meeting media Q&A focused on the NFL’s new practice of randomly checking football air pressure at halftime of games this year. Some thought the NFL is doing it in order to better understand the science of PSI. Instead, it’s all about the rules.

“I think the most important thing we’re trying to ascertain is that the balls in play are within the regulations that were established,” Goodell said. “That’s the core of the issue: Protecting the integrity of the game and making sure the game is played within the rules. We’re a game of rules, the rules need to be followed by everyone and the objective there is to make sure the rules are being followed.”

So will the information randomly collected by the NFL during these random checks be shared with the public?

“I don’t know,” Goodell said. “The most important thing to us is making sure the rules are followed.”

He’s right, but it’s also important to know whether any perceived deviations from the rules are the result of cheating or science. The possibility of the operation of the Ideal Gas Law never entered into the NFL’s thinking when the Patriots’ footballs were being measured at halftime of the AFC title game.

Now, instead of worrying about the rules, the NFL should be using every game as an opportunity to gather data regarding the expansion and contraction of air pressure under various weather conditions.

Or maybe they’ll just assume if the footballs aren’t within 12.5 and 13.5 PSI that there has been another violation of the rules.

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Report: Hasselbeck still sick, “hoping” he can play four quarters

Matt Hasselbeck AP

Stacy Dales of the NFL Network reports that Matt Hasselbeck is still fighting a bacterial infection for which he was hospitalized earlier in the week.

That’s a problem. With Andrew Luck out again due to a shoulder injury, Hasselbeck is again starting at quarterback for the Colts against the Texans on Thursday Night Football.

Dales tweeted that Hasselbeck is on antibiotics and hoping he can play four quarters. He doesn’t have much choice; the only other quarterback on the roster is Josh Johnson, who was signed last week because of Luck’s injury, released earlier this week then brought back as the Colts discovered Luck would probably miss his second game.

Luck is among the seven players the Colts made inactive for the game.

The Texans have a quarterback issue of their own with Ryan Mallett having been benched last week with the team down 42-0. Mallett is starting again, but Brian Hoyer will stay ready in a game the Texans need to win Thursday night. It’s a game that’s suddenly really interesting with Luck out again and Hasselbeck ailing.

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Luck officially inactive; Vontae Davis will play

Andrew Luck AP

The inactives have officially been turned in, and Colts quarterback Andrew Luck will miss his second straight game tonight when the Colts play at the Texans.

Matt Hasselbeck will start for the Colts. He was hospitalized earlier this week due to a virus and, like Luck, was listed by the team as questionable, but he’ll make his second straight start.

Josh Johnson — signed last week, released earlier this week and re-signed Wednesday — will be the backup quarterback.

Colts cornerback Vontae Davis and defensive tackle Henry Anderson will play. They didn’t practice in this short-week situation and had been listed as questionable.

The Colts had previously announced that Tyler Varga, Jerrell Freeman and Bjoern Werner would be out; the Colts’ other inactives are Lance Louis and Denzelle Good.

As expected, the Texans will be without veteran wide receivers Cecil Shorts and Nate Washington and running back Jonathan Grimes. The Texans’ other inactives are Akeem Dent, Quintin Demps, Greg Mancz and Kourtnei Brown.

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Daniel Fells needs a fifth surgery for MRSA

Keenan Robinson AP

The situation involving Giants tight end Daniel Fells has become a very serious health situation.

According to Jordan Raanan of, Fells remains hospitalized after having a fourth surgical procedure on Thursday. Per Ranaan, Fells needs at least one more surgery.

Fells went to the hospital over the weekend with a MRSA infection in his ankle, and doctors have tried to clear the infection out of the affected area. Earlier this week, coach Tom Coughlin expressed optimism has that Fells would be out of the hospital by Thursday.

Several teams have been affected by MRSA infections in recent years. Fells is the first Giants player to be stricken. We wish him a fast and complete recovery.

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The bashing of Jimmy Graham continues

Russell Wilson, Jimmy Graham AP

On Monday night, ESPN’s Trent Dilfer and Ray Lewis teed off on Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham regarding his contributions to the offense when he’s not running pass routes.

“He is unwilling and incapable to hold up in the run game as an in-line tight end,” Dilfer said.

On Thursday, ESPN’s Darren Woodson jumped on the pile with Dilfer and Lewis, in an appearance on ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith (on his SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio show).

“Let me tell you this about Jimmy Graham,” Woodson told Smith, via a transcript provided by SiriusXM. “Jimmy Graham, to me, and I’m watching this guy and I know he’s a special athlete, I know he’s a guy that makes big plays, probably one of the best pass-catching tight ends to play the game, hands down. He can run any route you want to run, he stretches the defense, he does a lot of things you want him to do. But you talk about a complete teammate? He’s not even close. He won’t block to save his life. He’s not a teammate. I wouldn’t even call him a teammate.

“This guy is all about Jimmy Graham, and that’s the shame in this. This team has been built, and Pete Carroll has done a great job over the last few years of getting the team mentality, you know, it’s all about us winning games, who cares about the individual rewards, we want to win Super Bowls. Well, in order to do that you have to get down in a three-point stance and block someone sometimes. Sometimes you’ve got to get a little dirty for the running back so he can get that extra yard. Jimmy Graham will not do it and that is the shame in watching this Seattle Seahawks team. And I’m sure, knowing that team, knowing Richard Sherman, knowing Cam Chancellor, knowing [Michael] Bennett on the defensive line, I’m sure someone has told him or reminded him that, ‘You are a Seattle Seahawk, you had better do the dirty work.’  At least I hope so.”

So what did the Seahawks expect when they traded for Graham? It’s not like Graham suddenly changed when the Saints traded him to Seattle. Graham is exactly what Tony Gonzalez, Kellen Winslow, Ozzie Newsome, and all other great tight ends were: Weapons in the passing game.

For whatever reason, the Seahawks feel compelled to make Graham something other than a pass-catching tight end. They want him to be a blocking tight end, too. And the bulk of the criticism for the team’s effort to make Graham into something he isn’t is landing not on the Seahawks but on Graham.

“It’s been good sometimes, it hasn’t been good sometimes,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell told reporters on Wednesday regarding Graham’s blocking. “He’s willing to do it, he’s willing to continue to work on it. He’s a tight end for us. That’s something that’s part of the position. We’re trying to put him in positions to be successful, and that he’s going to be able to do it when we need it to be done, and we know that’s not where we want to make our living with him in there, but that’s part of the position. That’s going to be something that he’s going to have to do, and it’s something that he wants to do, believe it or not.”

Plenty of people want to do what they can’t do, and their employers are smart enough to not ask them to do those things. Taking a square peg like Graham and trying to jam him into the round hole of Seattle’s vision of a complete tight end makes no sense, and it’s unfair to Graham for guys like Dilfer, Lewis, and Woodson to blame Graham for the team’s decision to trade for a player who has one specific skill set and then asking him to do things that fall beyond it.

Maybe he can rush the passer, too. Cover receivers. Kick extra points. If being a “teammate” in the eyes of Darren Woodson requires embracing everything about football, maybe Graham also should play some quarterback. (At least he’d be able to see over the team’s makeshift offensive line.)

Graham is who he is. The Seahawks knew who he is. They now want him to be who he isn’t. And no one is criticizing the Seahawks for that, for failing to get the ball in his hands, and for trading for him in the first place.

Surely, they didn’t give up a first-round pick and $27 million over three years for a blocking tight end. They made that investment for a weapon in the passing game. And he’s quickly becoming the latest high-priced weapon in the passing game that the Seahawks can’t figure out how to properly use.

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Malcom Floyd practices, Stevie Johnson doesn’t for Chargers

Malcom Floyd, Pierre Desir AP

The Chargers will be getting one of their key passing-game weapons back on Monday night, when tight end Antonio Gates returns from suspension. They may be missing another key passing-game weapon for the Week Five home game against the Steelers.

Receiver Stevie Johnson missed Thursday’s practice with a hamstring injury, according to the team’s official injury report. Johnson injured the hamstring in Sunday’s game against the Browns.

The better news is that receiver Malcom Floyd (pictured), who exited the Cleveland game with a concussion, fully participated in practice. He’ll still need to be separately cleared by an independent neurologist to play.

Also missing practice were tackle King Dunlap (concussion), guard Orlando Franklin (ankle), receiver Jacoby Jones (ankle), cornerback Craig Mager (hamstring), and linebacker Tourek Williams (foot).

Limited in practice were safety Jahleel Addae (ankle), guard D.J. Fluker (ankle), cornerback Jason Verrett (foot), and center Chris Watt (groin).

Cornerback Brandon Flowers, who also suffered a concussion against the Browns, fully participated in practice, along with guard Chris Hairston (ankle).

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Tashaun Gipson still in boot, misses another practice

Tashaun Gipson AP

Browns safety Tashaun Gipson is still wearing a protective boot due to an ankle injury and missed a second straight day of practice Thursday.

Gipson was one of four players to miss practice Thursday; the others were Shaun Draughn, Craig Robertson and Brian Hartline. Robertson is expected to miss at least another game, while Hartline had been limited Wednesday with rib and thigh injuries before sitting out Thursday.

Gipson briefly left the Browns’ Sept. 27 game vs. the Raiders with what the team called a groin injury. He was limited in practice last week but played last Sunday at San Diego.

If Gipson can’t play Sunday in Baltimore, Jordan Poyer would likely be his replacement. Rookie Ibraheim Campbell would also be in line for extended action.

Gipson led the NFL with six interceptions last November before he suffered a knee injury in late November that ended his season. He’s playing this season on a restricted free-agent tender and is eligible for unrestricted free agency next March unless he works out a new deal with the Browns before then.

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Alshon Jeffery remains limited by hamstring injury

Alshon Jeffery, Keenan Lewis AP

The Bears picked up their first win of the season last Sunday without wide receiver Alshon Jeffery in the lineup, but their chances of adding to that total would look better if the wideout gets back into the lineup.

It remains unclear when that is going to be. Jeffery was limited in practice on Thursday because of the hamstring injury that has kept him from playing in the last three games, just as he was on Wednesday and last week, and said that he was trying to stay patient while waiting for the injury to feel better.

“It just comes with the territory of playing football,” Jeffery said, via the Chicago Sun-Times. “There’s a 100 percent chance that you’re going to get injured. I mean I miss being out there a lot, but at the same time, it’s a process. But I’ll be back out there soon, hopefully.”

Wide receiver Eddie Royal and safety Antrel Rolle missed a second straight day of practice Thursday because of ankle injuries and left tackle Jermon Bushrod remained out with a concussion.

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Levy practices again, on track to make season debut

New York Giants v Detroit Lions Getty Images

Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy was a full participant in practice Thursday for the second straight day and is on track to make his season debut Sunday vs. the Cardinals.

The 0-4 Lions anxiously await his return. Levy, who led the team and was second in the NFL with 151 tackles last season, has been battling a hip injury.

Levy participated in practice last week but the Lions listed him as limited on their injury report for all three days. He ended up not making the trip to Seattle.

The Lions were without four players in practice for the second straight day: Joique Bell, Eric Ebron, Haloti Ngata and Travis Lewis. Larry Warford also missed practice Thursday after being limited Wednesday. He’s battling an ankle injury.

The Lions have signed two defensive tackles in the last two days, a sign they believe Ngata will be at best limited for Sunday’s game.

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