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ESPN admits Rob Parker’s RG3 comments were inappropriate

The 2012 ESPY Awards - Arrivals Getty Images

Several hours after an ESPN commentator questioned whether Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is authentically black, ESPN said those comments were out of line.

In a statement released by an ESPN spokesman, the network said, “The comments were inappropriate and we are evaluating our next steps.”

It will be interesting to see what those “next steps” are, and whether they lead to the commentator who made the comments, Rob Parker, to lose his job. When another ESPN commentator, Rush Limbaugh, made racially charged comments about another quarterback, Donovan McNabb, that ended up being the last day that Limbaugh appeared on ESPN’s NFL pregame show.

In Parker’s case, the comments would seem to be even further outside the bounds of what’s acceptable than Limbaugh’s claim that McNabb was overrated because the media wanted to promote a black quarterback. Parker went so far as to say that being engaged to a white woman somehow made Griffin “not really” black. That’s way, way outside the bounds of what’s generally considered an acceptable part of the discourse.

However, ESPN also has to shoulder plenty of the blame for Parker’s comments: The show Parker was appearing on, ESPN First Take, is specifically designed to provoke, and the comments from the show’s panelists, when they don’t flagrantly cross the line, frequently tiptoe right up next to the line. It’s also telling that ESPN later aired Parker’s comments on its Best of First Take afternoon show, suggesting that those are exactly the kinds of provocative comments that ESPN wants on First Take.

Furthermore, Parker’s comments didn’t just surface suddenly during a discussion of Griffin and the Redskins. They were part of a broader segment that began with quotes Griffin gave to USA Today about not wanting to be defined as an African-American quarterback. The producers on First Take surely knew the basic thrust of what Parker was going to say. And they surely knew he was going to say something controversial. And they surely liked that, because First Take is a show designed to draw ratings by stirring controversy.

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“Focus” will be the key for the Panthers the rest of the way

Chris Thompson, Luke Kuechly AP

With the Panthers at 11-0 (and one victory away from winning 16 straight regular-season games), they have five left in order to become the second team in league history to go 16-0.

Or, possibly, the third, depending on whether the Patriots finish their Week 17 game undefeated before the Panthers do.

To get there, the Panthers will face four division rivals in the final five weeks. Appearing on Friday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly said that the rest of the regular season won’t be any harder or easier with four NFC South games, but that those games will result in greater “focus.”

The process of focusing starts with a Week 13 trip to New Orleans, for a return match against a Saints team that gave the Panthers all they could handle in Week Three when Drew Brees was out with a shoulder injury. Then comes a visit from the Falcons, who at one point were 5-0 and would love to give Carolina its first loss of the year.

Next up is a trip to New Jersey for a date with the Giants, who know a thing or two about being competitive against unbeaten teams. Then, the Panthers go to Atlanta before finishing the season with a visit from the Buccaneers.

With only the Saints below .500, most of these teams will need to win in order to get to the playoffs. But the prospect of knocking off the Panthers will provide plenty of extra motivation for each and every team that will be facing Carolina.

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Report: Panthers work out Cortland Finnegan

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 28:  Cortland Finnegan #24 of the Miami Dolphins celebrates with teammates after returning a fumble 50 yards to score a touchdown during the NFL match between the Oakland Raiders and the Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium on September 28, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Panthers haven’t lost yet this season, but coach Ron Rivera said Friday that he doesn’t think the team has played a complete game yet this season.

That would explain why they reportedly took a look at a veteran cornerback in hopes of bolstering the team for what they hope is a deep playoff run. Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review reports that the team worked out Cortland Finnegan on Friday.

Finnegan hasn’t played in the NFL this season and said early in the year that he was going to retire, but a workout last month with the Patriots preceded his visit with the Panthers as a sign that he’s not quite ready to give up on his playing days. Finnegan struggled with the Dolphins in 12 starts last season and is long removed from his prime with the Titans.

Josh Norman has been one of the league’s best players, but Charles Tillman has missed a couple of games with a shoulder injury and the Panthers’ interest in potential additions to the group suggest they aren’t totally comfortable with their current depth options at the position.

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Chris Culliver tore his ACL and MCL in Thanksgiving practice

LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 15: Cornerback Chris Culliver #29 of the Washington Redskins breaks up a pass intended for wide receiver Brandin Cooks #10 of the New Orleans Saints in the first half at FedExField on November 15, 2015 in Landover, Maryland. The Washington Redskins won, 47-14. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

We learned on Thursday that Redskins cornerback Chris Culliver tore his ACL during the team’s practice, but that’s not the only knee ligament he’ll have to rehab before next season.

Coach Jay Gruden announced Friday that Culliver also tore his MCL and that he’ll be placed on season-ending injured reserve as a result. Culliver will have surgery in the near future and has three years left on his deal in Washington, although the severity of the injury makes it difficult to assume he’ll be back for the start of next season.

“He’s a good player for us, obviously. You hate to lose good players,” Gruden said, via the team. “Unforutnately, it happened. It was just a fluke deal – he just went up for a ball and landed on it and it tore.”

Culliver missed three games with a knee injury earlier this year and also served a one-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

Bashaud Breeland, Will Blackmon and Kyshoen Jarrett are left as the team’s top cornerbacks. DeAngelo Hall has been playing safety of late, but could also play some corner if the team decides to shift course in the wake of Culliver’s injury.

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Rams plan to start Nick Foles

498313584 Getty Images

It looks like Nick Foles will be back in the starting lineup against the Bengals on Sunday.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher said, via Nick Wagoner of, that Case Keenum still has not cleared the concussion protocol after being injured in last Sunday’s loss to the Ravens. As a result, the team is planning to start Foles in Week 12 although Fisher said that they’ll see how Keenum feels on Saturday before making a final decision.

Foles started the first nine games of the season for the Rams, but was put on the bench for last week’s game in a decision that Fisher couched as “what I think is best for this team offensively.” Fisher also said that Foles would eventually return to the starting lineup, although the fact that he’s leaving the door open for Keenum suggests this week wasn’t what Fisher had in mind.

Keenum was injured late in last week’s game, but continued to play as the concussion was missed by the Rams medical staff and the ATC spotter assigned to stop the game if they believe that a brain injury has been missed on the field. That led to an investigation into what broke down in the procedure put in place by the league to ensure a player with a concussion is removed from play.

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Pettine won’t address report of Manziel lying to team

Johnny Manziel AP

On Thursday, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports added a key detail to the recent Johnny Manziel drama: Manziel lied to the team about the creation of the bye-week party video and recruited others to participate in the lie. On Friday, reporters sought confirmation of that from coach Mike Pettine.

They got nowhere.

“I addressed the situation in detail on Wednesday,” Pettine said, via quotes distributed by the team. “When I say I’m sorry to disappoint [you], I’m not really, but I’m just not going there today. We have a game to get ready for Monday night. Like I said, I dealt with it Wednesday. Moving forward.”

Asked specifically about the report from Thursday, Pettine said this: “I already addressed it [Wednesday]. I said trust and accountability was where we had a short fall. Like I said, I have nothing more to add.”

Some would say that Pettine’s failure to deny Glazer’s report confirms it, and that indeed may be the case. Regardless, it’s clear that Manziel has once again squandered the trust of the team — and that he won’t be the starter again any time soon, if ever.

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Broncos won’t have DeMarcus Ware Sunday vs. Patriots

Indianapolis Colts v Denver Broncos Getty Images

Tom Brady’s job on Sunday night just got a little easier.

The Broncos have announced that pass rusher DeMarcus Ware will miss Sunday night’s game against the Patriots. Ware has been dealing with a back injury.

Despite missing three games this season, Ware leads the Broncos with 6.5 sacks. His absence will make it that much harder for the Broncos to get after Brady.

Broncos coach Gary Kubiak also said today that guard Evan Mathis will be a game-time decision, and Kubiak reiterated that Peyton Manning will be inactive on Sunday night.

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Eagles place Nolan Carroll on IR

DETROIT MI - NOVEMBER 26: Cornerback Nolan Carroll #23 of the Philadelphia Eagles is taken off the field after an  injury in the fist half of the game against the Detroit Lions on November 26, 2015 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.
(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cornerback Nolan Carroll’s broken ankle was part of a rough Thanksgiving trip to Detroit for the Eagles and they added another cornerback Friday they hope can help them avoid more rough days in the weeks to come.

The Eagles officially brought Carroll’s season to an end by placing him on injured reserve, which was a formality given the severity of his injury. Carroll is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, which may have made Thursday’s loss his final appearance in an Eagles uniform.

Carroll started all 11 games for the Eagles this season, making 57 tackles and intercepting two passes. Rookie Eric Rowe took over for him against the Lions and will likely continue to get work across from Byron Maxwell in the Eagles’ faltering defense for the rest of the season.

The Eagles filled Carroll’s roster spot by signing cornerback Jaylen Watkins off of the Bills practice squad. Watkins, who played with his brother Sammy in Buffalo, was a fourth-round pick in Philadelphia last year and saw action in four games before failing to make the club this summer.

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Kyle Williams will have season-ending knee surgery

ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 30:   Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns is hit by Kyle Williams #95 of the Buffalo Bills during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 30, 2014 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bills coach Rex Ryan said Friday that defensive tackle Kyle Williams was likely headed to injured reserve because of a knee injury that’s kept him out since Week Six and it became official later in the day.

Williams will have knee surgery to repair his meniscus and will not play again this season. Williams said he tried to rehab the injury in hopes of being part of a playoff run with the team he’s played for since 2006, but things weren’t getting any better and any attempt to return to the field this year would have left him at risk of further injury.

“It’s been tough,” Williams said, via the team. “It was something that we knew would have to be addressed sooner or later and we hoped against hope that I could get through and respond and play with it and then wait until after the season. I’ve done that before with different injuries, but it’s not going well so we’re going to go ahead and address it and take care of it and get better.”

Williams has two years left on his deal with Buffalo and a $7 million base salary next year. He said Friday that he plans to be back in the Bills lineup next year and that will likely be the case as long as his rehab progresses smoothly in the coming months.

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Anthony Castonzo won’t play against Bucs

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 07:  Tackle Anthony Castonzo #74 of the Indianapolis Colts looks on against the New York Jets during a preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 7, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Colts are 3-0 without their starting quarterback this season and they’ll try to go to 1-0 without their starting left tackle against the Buccaneers on Sunday.

Anthony Castonzo has been ruled out due to the sprained MCL he suffered in last week’s win over the Falcons. Coach Chuck Pagano said earlier this week that Castonzo is considered “week-to-week” and he didn’t practice, so his absence this week isn’t a great surprise.

The Colts moved Joe Reitz from right tackle to left tackle last week and they’ve been doing the same in practice this week. Denzelle Good has been working on the right side and it appears the seventh-round pick will get his first start in his regular season debut with the team.

Safety Mike Adams is doubtful to play because of an ankle injury. Adams missed last week’s win as well. Linebacker Erik Walden and cornerback Greg Toler are both questionable after practicing on Friday.

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Giants likely without two starting offensive linemen Sunday

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 20:   Justin Pugh #67 of the New York Giants in action against the Atlanta Falcons during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 20, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Giants started the week without left guard Justin Pugh and center Weston Richburg and it looks like they’ll remain without them through Sunday.

Pugh has been ruled out because of a concussion and will miss a second straight game as a result. Pugh was scratched in Week 10 against the Patriots and was placed in the league’s concussion protocol after continuing to experience symptoms of the brain injury through the team’s bye week.

Richburg sprained his ankle in that loss to New England and has been listed as doubtful to play against the Redskins after missing practice this week. John Jerry started in place of Pugh in Week 10 and Dallas Reynolds would be the replacement for Richburg.

Tight end Larry Donnell was ruled out with the neck injury that’s left him out of the last two games and linebacker Mark Herzlich is out with a quad injury. Cornerback Prince Amukamara is expected back from a pectoral injury for a game that could put the Giants in firm control of the NFC East with a win.

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Devonta Freeman one of three Falcons ruled out

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 22:  Devonta Freeman #24 of the Atlanta Falcons runs the ball during the first half against the Indianapolis Colts at the Georgia Dome on November 22, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Falcons did the expected on Friday afternoon and ruled running back Devonta Freeman out for Sunday’s game against the Vikings.

Freeman has been out of practice all week with a concussion, making it no surprise that Tevin Coleman will get the start at running back at the Georgia Dome in a meeting between two teams vying for a playoff spot in the NFC. It will be Coleman’s third start of the year and first since his rib injury in Week Two opened the door for Freeman with the first team.

Freeman isn’t the only player that Atlanta ruled out on Friday. Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson won’t play due to a hamstring injury. Hankerson returned to the lineup last week after missing two other games for the same reason.

Kicker Matt Bryant rounds out the trio of players listed as out. Bryant hurt his quad in practice on Wednesday, forcing the team to sign the well-traveled Shayne Graham to the roster. Graham will play for his 10th NFL team when he takes the field with the Falcons on Sunday.

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Nick Mangold probable, but Darrelle Revis won’t play

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 12:  IK Enemkpali #75 of the Buffalo Bills and Nick Mangold #74 of the New York Jets shake hands during the coin toss prior to the game at MetLife Stadium on November 12, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

The writing on the wall all week has been that Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis would miss Sunday’s game against the Dolphins after suffering a concussion against the Texans in Week 11.

Any lingering doubt was snuffed out on Friday afternoon when coach Todd Bowles officially ruled Revis out for the game. Revis hasn’t practiced all week, so he’ll remain questionable for Week 13 until there’s some progress on his path through the concussion protocol.

There is better news elsewhere on the injury front. Center Nick Mangold practiced for the second straight day on Friday and has been listed as probable after needing stitches to repair a cut on his right hand last weekend. The Jets struggled to move the ball when Mangold missed a game earlier this season with a neck injury and the same happened when he was hurt early in last week’s loss, which makes his presence a welcome one for the offense.

Defensive end Sheldon Richardson is also probable after missing last week with a hamstring injury. With Revis out of the picture, the defense could use a renewed pass rushing effort from Richardson and his mates on the defensive line.

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Ron Rivera: If you’re talking about 16-0, you’re not focused on the details

on November 26, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. Getty Images

The Panthers improved to 11-0 in Dallas on Thursday afternoon and every game that ends without a loss increases the chatter about whether they can run the table in the regular season.

Coach Ron Rivera isn’t really into the topic at this point, however. Rivera fielded a variety of questions related to his team’s unblemished record on Friday, including queries about whether he’s planning to rest starters in the final weeks of the season and whether the Panthers could benefit from a loss before the postseason. Rivera made it clear that he’s thinking about next week and not five weeks from now.

“If you’re talking about 16-0 seasons, you’re not focusing on the details you need to pay attention to,” Rivera said, via Steve Reed of the Associated Press.

Rivera added that he thinks the team has yet to play their best for a complete game, which may not be the same opinion held by defensive tackle Dwan Edwards. Edwards said Friday that “it’s going to take us not playing our best for someone to beat us.”

The remaining schedule features games at the Saints, a home-and-home with the Falcons sandwiched around a road date with the Giants and a home finale against the Buccaneers. There’s certainly the possibility of a loss or two if the Panthers don’t play up to snuff, but the reasons to expect one are just as certainly dwindling as the Panthers continue to roll through the competition.

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Jamie Collins returns to practice after missing three weeks

San Diego Chargers Vs. New England Patriots At Qualcomm Stadium Getty Images

Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins has missed the last three games, but returned to the practice field Friday after dealing with an undisclosed illness.

According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, Collins has been back at the stadium this week after getting treatment for what was described as “a contagious illness.” There’s been little word on what the illness is, other than it’s not MRSA.

Having missed so much practice time, it’s unlikely Collins would be ready to play Sunday night against the Broncos.

Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola was also on the field, practicing for the second straight day. He sprained his knee last week, but could be ready if he’s working back-to-back days.

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Kyle Williams may be headed to IR, Mario Williams out this week

Johnny Manziel, Kyle Williams AP

The Bills are going to have to shuffle their defensive front, and it appears one key part won’t be coming back at all.

Via Mike Rodak of, Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams’ knee isn’t getting better, and coach Rex Ryan said he’s probably headed to injured reserve.

Williams was injured in Week Six, but Ryan said he hasn’t responded to treatment, making it likely he wouldn’t return this season. That’s a blow to their run defense, which hasn’t been the same without the veteran.

Defensive end Mario Williams is also going to be out this week against the Chiefs, after injuring his foot Monday against the Patriots. Williams has struggled this season, with just 3.0 sacks after hitting double digits the previous three seasons. Ryan said it didn’t appear that Mario Williams’ injury was season-ending.

There is good news for the Bills, as quarterback Tyrod Taylor is probable, after getting some time off this week to rest his shoulder.

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