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Everson Griffen escapes fine for hit on Cutler

Everson Griffen, Jay Cutler AP

On Sunday, Florio opined that Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen had a fine coming his way after he was penalized for unnecessary roughness while sacking Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.

Griffen’s teammate Jared Allen was in the process of dragging Cutler to the turf when Griffen hit him high and made contact with his helmet. Cutler remained in the game for the rest of the drive, but he was later replaced by Jason Campbell because of a neck injury that was closely monitored in Chicago this week.

Florio’s powers of prognostication failed him on this one, though. Griffen has not been fined by the NFL for the hit, which is a bit surprising given the normal response to quarterbacks getting hit in the head. Griffen was fined in Week 13 for a hit on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

One player from the Vikings-Bears game did run afoul of the league, however. Bears cornerback Charles Tillman was hit with a $7,875 fine after getting an unnecessary roughness penalty for coming in late on Vikings running back Toby Gerhart.

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Antonio Allen calls for reconsideration of “stand your ground” laws

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 21:  Cornerback Antonio Allen #39 of the New York Jets stands in the tunnel before taking the field against the New England Patriots during a game at MetLife Stadium on December 21, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) Getty Images

Multiple American states have laws that essentially permit the modern-day equivalent of a duel. But instead of counting to 10 before firing, the gun can be drawn and the trigger pulled in the inherently subjective instant that someone concludes they are being faced with serious bodily injury or death.

In an item from Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post regarding the profound impact the killing of Joe McKnight has had on the Jets’ locker room, safety Antonio Allen shares some words that may not be profound but that nevertheless are rooted in common sense.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do in this society with all these gray areas in the laws and this [‘stand your ground’] law, in particular,” Allen said. “We’ve got to fix it.”

At a time when football players like 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick have raised legitimate questions about the educational and training requirements applicable to police officers who patrol the streets with license to use deadly force, “stand your ground” laws essentiually give anyone that power — with absolutely no training on when and where and how it should properly be used.

If that sounds like lunacy, maybe that’s because it is. It’s one thing to use firearms to protect one’s home and family. It’s quite another to remove the firearms from the home and authorize their use by anyone who believes that an adequate threat has been encountered.

And good luck unspooling the facts and assessing whether deadly force legitimately was used, especially when one of the key witnesses to the exchange is permanently unable to testify.

So, yes, there’s something unsavory about the prospect of encountering a short-fused Dwight Schrute or Yosemite Sam, who spent all that money for his gun and who would kind of like to have a chance to use it. Until the states that allow a fire-ready-aim approach to interpersonal relationships wake up to the folly of these laws, the best approach for anyone who is out and about in those jurisdictions is to interact with no one, because who knows what’s going to prompt some hothead to pull his six-gun out of the holster and blast it?

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Geno Smith prepares for better days

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 23:  Quarterback Geno Smith #7 of the New York Jets celebrates against the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium on October 23, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

When compiling a list of up to 20 veteran quarterbacks with starting experience who could be available in 2017, I overlooked a guy who definitely will be on the market: Jets quarterback Geno Smith.

The 2013 second-round pick becomes a free agent in March. But he’s recovering from a torn ACL, and by all appearances the Jets won’t be bringing him back. So what’s next?

“My mom told me something that was pretty special,” Smith said Friday, via Fred Kerber of the New York Post. “She’d been going to my games since I was a kid and never missed a game. And these past few years, I missed more games than I missed in my life and she said, ‘There’s always a time for that, there’s always a season where you feel like things aren’t going right. And then what comes after that is usually the best part of your life.'”

It’s always admirable to have a positive attitude, but that will take a football player only so far. At some point, positivity must intersect with talent, and Smith has done little during his NFL career to display that he has enough of it to win and keep a starting job.

Personally, the fact that Smith played college football in my home state of West Virginia makes me inclined to root for him. But I’m also realistic; the odds are stacked against him, even in a league without enough quarterbacks to go around. The key is to be a quality quarterback, and Smith has not yet demonstrated that type of ability on a consistent basis.

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Lions cut Justin Forsett

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 23: Justin Forsett #30 of the Detroit Lions looks for room to run with the football against Bashaud Breeland #26 of the Washington Redskins during first half action  at Ford Field on October 23, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Lions made a series of roster moves ahead of Sunday’s game at New Orleans.

Defensive end Armonty Bryant was activated from the reserve-suspended list after serving a three-game suspension, and wide receiver T.J. Jones was promoted from the practice squad.

Veteran running back Justin Forsett and cornerback Johnthan Banks were released.

Forsett had appeared in two games after being released by the Ravens for the second time this season. With the Lions’ younger backs now healthy and the need to get Bryant back in the lineup to help the pass rush, he was released.

Bryant had three sacks in four games for the Lions before serving his second suspension of the season. Jones played in four games for the Buccaneers earlier this season. He’s played in 23 career games.

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Seahawks activate Morgan, place Tripp on IR

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 22: Tight end Vance McDonald #89 of the San Francisco 49ers is tackled by linebacker Mike Morgan #57 of the Seattle Seahawks during the football game at CenturyLink Field on November 22, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks won the game 29-13. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Seahawks made two linebacker-related roster moves Saturday.

Mike Morgan was activated from the team’s injured-reserve list. He had missed seven games after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia in October.

Morgan is a sixth-year player who’s been a valuable backup and utility man for the Seahawks. He played in four games and made one start before the surgery.

Jordan Tripp was placed on the team’s injured-reserve list. He made his second career start last week but suffered what Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called a quad bruise and a knee injury.

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Chargers call up nose tackle, place Attaochu on IR

San Diego Chargers v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

The Chargers placed outside linebacker Jerry Attaochu on the season-ending injured-reserve list on Saturday.

Attaochu suffered a foot injury in last week’s win over the Texans. He had two sacks on the season and was also fourth on the team in special teams tackles.

To fill his spot on the roster, the Chargers promoted nose tackle Ryan Carrethers from the practice squad. Carrethers is a third-year player who’s previously spent time this season on the active roster and the practice squad. He’s played in 20 career games.

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Here’s an idea for making Week 17 even better

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 20:  DeVante Parker #11 of the Miami Dolphins celebrates his touchdwon with teammate Jarvis Landry #14 during the fourth quarter of the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Coliseum on November 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL deserves far more credit than it has gotten for giving players one week to deviate from the obsession with uniformity, via the wearing of non-conforming clears that support a wide variety of causes. So at a time when the league is feeling surprisingly charitable — and may be shocked to learn that the sport won’t implode over the use of shoes that aren’t all the same color — here’s another idea.

It wasn’t mine. PFT Live producer Rob “Stats” Guerrera, who usually contributes little or nothing during the three-hour radio/TV show (I don’t really mean that, unless I do), uncorked a doozy on Friday.

The notion came after Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry, whose cleats on Sunday will raise awareness for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, was asked to identify the one rule he’d change if the had the chance.

“I’m a happy-go-lucky guy, I’d probably say the celebrations,” Landry said. “Just let everybody bring back that old feel when Ochocinco was dancing and T.O. was dancing . . . . Things like that. Bring the love and energy back to the game.”

After the visit with Landry ended, Stats made this suggestion: For Week 17 of every season, the NFL should let players celebrate however they want.

There would likely need to be some limitations; a team paying homage to the Fun Bunch after a fourth-quarter first down in a blowout would take things too far. But for every touchdown scored that week, why not let the players do anything they want — short of grabbing their ding-dings or miming the dropping of a deuce?

It makes so much sense that it’ll never happen. The fact that the NFL has decided to give the players one week to wear non-conforming cleats suggests that maybe there’s hope that unwarranted concerns about creating acrimony among opponents (so what if it does?) and/or usurping the cheerleaders’ monopoly on sexually-suggestive messages will be set aside for one week per year.

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Malcolm Mitchell makes an impact for the Patriots

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 27:   Malcolm Mitchell #19 of the New England Patriots misses a catche against Darryl Roberts #27 of the New York Jets during the first half in the game at MetLife Stadium on November 27, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) Getty Images

Yes, the Patriots will be missing one of their primary offensive weapons for the rest of the year. But they’re developing another offensive weapon, much earlier than they usually do.

Receiver Malcolm Mitchell, the only player to beat Darrelle Revis for two touchdowns in the same game, is the rare rookie receiver to make an impact for the Patriots.

“It’s just encouragement to go out there in practice and work harder and harder and harder so our team can be put in the best situations to win,” Mitchell said, via Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald.

Of course, Mitchell still only has 16 catches for 235 yards on the year, so he has a long way to go to be one of the team’s true playmakers. But he’s been making progress lately, and by the time the playoffs roll around he could be in position to contribute like something more than a rookie.

One key for Mitchell, a fourth-round draft pick from Georgia, has been learning how to get away from press coverage.

“He is catching everything in practice,” cornerback Eric Rowe said, via Howe. “We have tight coverage on him, especially in one-on-ones, and he is still making the catch. It could be a 2-yard gain, but the fact is he is still making the catch. I’ve seen that a lot better from him. At practice, I used to get really good jams on him at the line to kind of stun him, but now he is starting to figure out different types of releases so he won’t get stopped at the line, kind of get off the press and get open even better.”

It’s all part of earning the trust of one of the greatest quarterback in league history. Once Mitchell secures the faith of Tom Brady, Mitchell could further diversify an offense that will need all the help it can get with Rob Gronkowski likely done for the year.

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Patriots put Rob Gronkowski on IR, ending his season

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots looks on during the first half against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is done for 2016.

Gronkowski has been placed on injured reserve after back surgery, the team announced.

Although the NFL does give each team one “return” designation to bring a player back from injured reserve, the Patriots have already used that designation on backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett. So Gronk can’t play again until 2017.

It’s a huge disappointment for Gronkowski, who is among the best tight ends ever to play the position when healthy — but who struggles to stay healthy for any significant period of time. This is his third back surgery, which raises questions about his future.

But for now, thoughts are on his present. Gronkowski will get to work rehabbing his back and attempt to be ready in time for the start of offseason work. And the Patriots will attempt to adjust their offense to losing its best playmaker.

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Jags promote Wynn, place Greene on IR

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 20: Wide receiver Shane Wynn #5 of the Cleveland Browns is tackled by linebacker Tony Steward #50 of the Buffalo Bills during the second half of a preseason game at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 20, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Bills defeated the Browns 11-10. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jaguars made a wide receiver swap Sunday, promoting Shane Wynn from the practice squad and placing Rashad Greene on their injured-reserve list.

Greene has an Achilles injury.

With Greene out for the year and Allen Hurns out Sunday due to a hamstring injury, Wynn will likely be in uniform and make his NFL debut vs. the Broncos.

Wynn broke into the NFL with the Falcons in 2015, then spent some time with his hometown team, the Browns. He later spent time on the practice squad with the Jets, Chargers and Saints and has spent this season on the Jaguars’ practice squad.

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Andrew Luck exits injury report

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 30:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts reacts on the sideline during the second quarter of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 30, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Colts will have quarterback Andrew Luck on Monday night.

Luck doesn’t appear on the final injury report in advance of the game against the Jets, which means that he has been cleared to play, 12 days after landing in the concussion protocol following a win over the Titans.

The franchise quarterback missed Indy’s Thanksgiving night visit from the Steelers, which the Colts lost to fall to 5-6.

Out for the Colts are safety Clayton Geathers (neck), linebacker Robert Mathis (bicep), and cornerback Patrick Robinson (groin).

Questionable for the game are tackle Denzelle Good (shoulder), receiver T.Y. Hilton (back), and defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway (back). Hilton took a hard hit to the lower back from Steelers safety Mike Mitchell in the Week 12 loss.

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Packers scratch T.J. Lang, JC Tretter

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 13:   JC Tretter #73 of the Green Bay Packers gets in position at the line of scrimmage against the Dallas Cowboys in the second quarter at Lambeau Field on December 13, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

The good news for the Packers is that quarterback Aaron Rodgers remains on track to play, despite a hamstring injury suffered on Monday night. The bad news for the Packers is that Rodgers won’t have 40 percent of his offensive line.

The Packers have downgraded center JC Tretter and guard T.J. Lang to out for Sunday’s game against the Texans. Tretter has a knee injury, and Lang has a foot injury. Both had been listed as doubtful.

The Packers also added cornerback Damarious Randall to the injury report with a groin injury. He’s questionable for the matchup with the Texans.

Despite being two games behind the 7-4 Lions, the 5-6 Packers have the inside track to the division title. If they pick up one game over the next four weeks (and the Lions play at New Orleans, at the Giants, and at Dallas), the Week 17 game between the Lions and Packers becomes a playoff play-in game.

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Jadeveon Clowney ruled out at Green Bay

Jadeveon Clowney AP

During his first two NFL seasons, Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney missed 15 games with injuries and fell short of expectations. But this year, Cloweny has stayed healthy and become the difference-maker on defense the Texans hoped he’d be.

Unfortunately, now Clowney is hurt again.

The Texans announced today that Clowney’s elbow and wrist injuries are serious enough that he will not travel with the team to Green Bay for tomorrow’s big game against the Packers.

Without Clowney to pressure Aaron Rodgers, the Packers’ offense should benefit. And beating the Packers will get that much harder for the Texans.

Tomorrow’s game has playoff implications for both teams. The 6-5 Texans have a half-game lead in the AFC south, while the 5-6 Packers are two games back in the NFC North.

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Charles Clay not on team flight as he awaits birth of child

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 06:  Charles Clay #85 of the Buffalo Bills runs the ball against the Houston Texans during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 6, 2015 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bills tight end Charles Clay did not travel with the team to Oakland because he’s expecting the birth of his child soon.

The Bills said Saturday that Clay’s status for Sunday’s game vs. the Raiders is questionable.

Clay has started all 11 games for the Bills. He’s caught 36 passes for 323 yards.

With Clay’s status uncertain, the Bills promoted tight end Gerald Christian from the practice squad and waived kickoff specialist Jordan Gay.

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Reggie Bush will wear cleats that honor Joe McKnight on Sunday

mcknightshoe

When Joe McKnight was arriving at USC as the Parade national high school football player of the year, he was often compared to another great USC running back, Reggie Bush. On Sunday, Bush will honor McKnight, three days after McKnight was shot and killed in a road rage incident in New Orleans.

Bush announced on Twitter today that he will wear cleats that honor McKnight when Bush’s Bills play the Raiders in Oakland tomorrow. The shoes will be in USC’s cardinal and gold colors and will feature a picture of McKnight, his name, and his dates of birth and death.

McKnight chose USC in part because he idolized Bush, and Bush wrote on Twitter after McKnight’s death that he was angry to see a promising young life cut short.

“RIP my brother Joe McKnight this one hurts bad,” Bush wrote. “He didn’t deserve to die that way! And then this man stands over him and shoots him again like some kind of wild animal! Sickening. Pulling a gun out to kill someone doesn’t make you tough. At what point did we just lose our ability to handle differences like men and talk out our problems! What happened to that?”

Players are usually not allowed to put personal messages on their uniforms, but the NFL is allowing all players to wear customized cleats this week to recognize causes they care about.

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Alan Branch avoids four-game suspension

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01:   Alan Branch #97 of the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Patriots won’t have to worry about losing defensive tackle Alan Branch for four games. At least not this time.

Branch’s agent, Blake Baratz, declared on Twitter that Branch’s suspension was “rescinded.”

“The NFL doesn’t always do the right thing, but they did this time,” Baratz said.

Baratz’s tweet suggests the NFL backed down short of a final decision on appeal. However, ESPN’s Field Yates has reported that Branch actually won his appeal.

Starting in 2014, most cases under the substance-abuse policy became eligible for neutral arbitration. So if Branch actually won his appeal, the NFL didn’t do anything — other than agree to neutral arbitration more than two years ago.

Because the NFL uses progressive discipline in the substance-abuse policy, the outcome doesn’t mean Branch will never be suspended. Depending on his current status in the program and the potential consequences of a failed test or a missed test, Branch could be one strike away from an absence.

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