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“Safe to say” Sherman will play

Sherman AP

As the Seahawks prepare to host the 49ers on Sunday night, the home team most likely can count on the presence of one of their best defensive players in the lineup.

Cornerback Richard Sherman, whose appeal on a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy regarding performance-enhancing drugs was heard on Friday, is expected to play.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello advises that it’s indeed “safe to say” Sherman will play, given that the league office has received no indication from the hearing officer that a ruling is imminent.

If any decision were coming before Sunday night’s game, it likely would have come on Saturday.  This would have given the Seahawks a fair chance to activate a player from the practice squad to replace Sherman in the lineup.

Under league rules, a decision is required within five days after the hearing.

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Doug Pederson: Carson Wentz has some of same instincts as Brett Favre

Philadelphia Eagles' Carson Wentz, center, celebrates with Jordan Matthews after Matthews scored a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez) AP

The Eagles are 3-0 and rookie quarterback Carson Wentz has played well in all three games, which has led to some big names being tossed around when asked to compare him to other quarterbacks.

Coach Doug Pederson said Monday that Wentz’s film-watching habits are “Peyton Manning-ish” and offensive coordinator Frank Reich invoked Jim Kelly’s name earlier this month. Reich spent a lot of time watching Kelly when he was a backup with the Bills and Pederson compared Wentz to a Hall of Famer that he played behind in Green Bay on Tuesday.

While on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Brett Favre, Pederson said that Wentz has a few things in common with No. 4.

“Brett, watching you play and being with you for eight years in Green Bay, this kid has some of the same instincts — and I’ve said this to people — that you had,” Pederson said. “Eyes are always downfield, you’re looking for that big play, the home-run play, the broken play. And he’s got that in him and that’s something that’s very special. And you can’t teach that. That’s an instinct that a lot of people don’t have and we’re fortunate that our guy has it.”

Pederson mentioned Favre as a comp for Wentz during the draft as well, so the team didn’t wait until Wentz took the league by storm before putting him in some rarified company. The Eagles are on a bye week, which may slow the train down a little bit.

Or it might lead to someone calling him the second coming of Otto Graham because of their similar resting skills. In either case, it’s overwhelmingly clear that the Eagles like what they have in their rookie quarterback.

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Reggie Bush could be on the outs in Buffalo

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 11: Running back Reggie Bush #22 of the Buffalo Bill carries the ball as he is tackled by linebacker Za'Darius Smith #90 of the Baltimore Ravens and cornerback Kyle Arrington #24 of the Baltimore Ravens in the second half of the Buffalo Bills vs. the Baltimore Ravens game at M&T Bank Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Reggie Bush viewed the Bills as his best option for 2016. Through three games, the Bills haven’t viewed Bush as much of an option at all.

In the first two games, Bush had three carries for minus-four yards. For Week Three, the team’s official website suggested that Bush could play some receiver. Ultimately, he didn’t play at all.

Mike Rodak of notes that Bush’s disappearance could result in him being dumped from the lineup as of Monday, when defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson return from four-game suspensions.

If Bush is released, he’ll be entitled to collect the balance of his $1 million base salary as termination pay. But if the Bills are going to pay him not to play while serving as a member of the team, they may as well open the roster spot and pay him not to play while not serving as a member of the team.

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Jeff Fisher: We’ll continue to address penalties

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 25: Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher walks the sideline in the second half of their NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Rams had a player ejected for the second time in three weeks on Sunday when defensive lineman Eugene Sims was sent to the showers after a Buccaneers extra point early in the second quarter.

Sims was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after a post-kick spat, which means he got to join defensive tackle Aaron Donald as Rams players disqualified for games this season. The Rams’ penalty issues have gone beyond ejections as well.

They have been penalized 27 times for 249 yards through three games, something that coach Jeff Fisher said would be addressed this week.

“No place for it,” Fisher said, via “No place for it at all. … It’s going to be addressed [Tuesday]. It falls under that category of the pre-snap and post-snap penalties that you just can’t have. … It doesn’t look good. We’ve addressed it, and we’ll continue to address it.”

The Rams have been among the eight most-penalized teams in the league in each of Fisher’s four full years as the team’s head coach and the same was true of two of his last three Titans teams, so it’s fair to wonder how much impact an in-season refresher course will have on a team that routinely finds itself on the wrong side of the line.

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NFL claims it shouldn’t be a party to Hall of Fame litigation

CANTON, OH - AUGUST 07: A Green Bay Packers fan sits in the stands prior to the NFL Hall of Fame Game against the Indianapolis Colts at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on August 7, 2016 in Canton, Ohio. The game was cancelled due to poor field conditions. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Regarding the Hall of Fame Game class action, the NFL has dusted off the time-honored “it wasn’t me” defense.

The league has sought dismissal of the lawsuit demanding reimbursement for fans who traveled to Canton for the scuttled exhibition game between the Colts and Packers, with the argument that the league was not a party to the contract allegedly breached between seller and buyer.

“The NFL did not issue the tickets, had no involvement in the Hall of Fame’s sale or distribution of the tickets, and did not receive any of the proceeds from the sale of those tickets,” the league’s lawyers wrote.

The league points to the fact that the Hall of Fame accepted full responsibility for the cancellation of the game, which happened due to delayed painting of the field and negligence in the drying of the paint, which melted many of the millions of rubber pellets that cushion the turf, creating a safety hazard for players.

In a response filed Monday, the plaintiffs argue that the NFL is named on the tickets, and that at a minimum a jury would have to decide whether there’s a sufficient connection between the Hall of Fame and the NFL to justify making the league responsible.

The plaintiffs also contend that the NFL is, at worst, and “undisclosed principal,” pointing to comments from Colts owner Jim Irsay, who said after the cancellation, “Hey, you’re a $12 billion league. How could you not have a field out there ready to go.” Likewise, NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent sent an internal memo to all teams pointing out that he is “ultimately” accountable for the field.

It’s hard to imagine the NFL wiggling off the hook for its admitted failure to ensure the readiness of a field on which two NFL teams would be playing. The Commissioner and several owners serve on the Hall of Fame’s Board of Trustees, and few regard the Hall of Fame as an entity separate and apart from the NFL.

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Both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett at practice

FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 11: Jacoby Brissett #7 of the New England Patriots and Jimmy Garoppolo #10 enter the field for drills before a preseason game with New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium on August 11, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

It remains to be seen if one or both can actually suit up and play this week, but at least the two quarterbacks on the Patriots roster were actually on the practice field today.

According to Mike Reiss of, both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett were on hand for the start of practice, as the team hopes one or both will be available this week against the Bills.

Garoppolo missed last week’s win over the Texans with a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder. Rookie Brissett started, but suffered a thumb injury that has led to some speculation about his status.

Brissett had tape around his thumb and wrist, and joked with reporters as he walked through the locker room, saying: “Never seen so many people looking at my hand.”

Garoppolo didn’t say anything, but he wasn’t in a sling or anything, either.

Reporters were only there for stretching, and the Patriots don’t have to submit an injury report until tomorrow. And they’re a week away from Tom Brady coming back, at which point the panic won’t be as intense.

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Kory Lichtensteiger injury could open door for John Sullivan

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 29: John Sullivan #65 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on before the game against the Detroit Lions on December 29, 2013 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

Redskins coach Jay Gruden called center Kory Lichtensteiger’s calf injury “moderate” on Monday, but it may keep him out long enough for the team to bring in outside help to cover for his absence.

Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reports that Lichtensteiger’s injury may land him on injured reserve. As a result, the team is bringing former Vikings center John Sullivan in for a workout on Tuesday.

Sullivan was released by the Vikings in late August after attempts to find a trade partner failed to result in a deal. The Vikings opted to go with Joe Berger as their starter in the middle of the line this season.

Sullivan started all but three games for the Vikings between 2009 and 2014 before missing all of last season with a back injury. He was a productive player before the injury and would make a good fill-in for the Redskins if his long layoff hasn’t left too much rust on his game.

Spencer Long filled in for Lichtensteiger after he left last Sunday’s game against the Giants and Gruden said on Monday that the team was considering bringing in offensive line help with left guard Shawn Lauvao ailing as well.

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Panthers bring back defensive tackle Kyle Love

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 22:  Kyle Love #93 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after a sack of Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Panthers have spent more resources on their defensive tackle position than most, but they’ve found themselves thin at the moment.

According to Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, the Panthers have brought back defensive tackle Kyle Love to cover the absence of first-round pick Vernon Butler, who suffered a high ankle sprain last week.

Love was in camp with the Panthers this offseason, but was squeezed out of the depth chart that includes first-rounders Butler and Star Lotulelei, second-rounder Kawann Short and veteran Paul Soliai.

No corresponding move has been announced.

Love, who has also spent time with the Patriots, Chiefs, and Jaguars, was a valuable rotation player for the Panthers last year, with 4.0 sacks in 18 regular season and playoff games.

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Vikings elevate Willie Beavers

helmets-1 Getty Images

With guard Alex Boone hobbled by a hip injury, the Vikings have called up more help at the position. Specifically, the NFC North leaders have promoted Willie Beavers, a fourth-round pick who didn’t qualify for the team’s 53-man roster.

Beavers has served on the practice squad since being cut and clearing waivers. He could find himself activated if Boone misses time after an injury that happened on Sunday in Charlotte.

The Vikings weren’t required to release a player, due to the availability of a roster spot following the placement of running back Adrian Peterson on injured reserve last week.

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Ryan Shazier, Ramon Foster “very questionable” for Week Four

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 02:  Ryan Shazier #50 of the Pittsburgh Steelers signals to the sideline after being injured during the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field on November 2, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Steelers will have several injured players to monitor as they head toward Sunday night’s matchup with the Chiefs.

During a Tuesday session with the media, coach Mike Tomlin said, via Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that linebacker Ryan Shazier, guard Ramon Foster and wide receiver Eli Rogers are all “very questionable” for this week’s game.

Shazier aggravated a knee injury that he suffered in the season opener, but he was able to return to last Sunday’s loss to the Eagles. Foster didn’t return after injuring his chest and Rogers’ day came to an early end thanks to a toe injury.

Linebacker Lawrence Timmons left the game with a shin injury and Tomlin said Tuesday that he suffered a puncture wound, although he expects the veteran to be fine for this week’s game. Safeties Sean Davis and Robert Golden will be evaluated over the course of the week, leaving the Steelers with plenty of question marks.

More certain is the return of running back Le’Veon Bell, who has returned from suspension and is expected to resume his leading role on the Pittsburgh offense.

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MNF ratings plunge, due to presidential debate

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump shakes hands with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton following the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) AP

ESPN expected it to be bad. And it was.

Via, the overnight rating for Monday’s Falcons-Saints game came in at 5.7. That’s a 36-percent drop over last year’s Chiefs-Packers Week Three Monday game and the lowest rating of any nationally-televised game of the season.

The rating peaked at 6.9 from 8:45 to 9:00 p.m. ET, which is no surprise; as of 9:00 p.m. ET, the presidential debate began, and the channel-changing happened. The Trump-Clinton clash notched a massive 46.2 overnight rating across all broadcast and cable networks.

The next presidential debate happens on October 9, and it conflicts with the Week Five game between the Packers and Giants on Sunday Night Football.

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Josh McDaniels: I have one of the best jobs in the world

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 22:  New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels reacts before the game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has devised game plans for two different backup quarterbacks in the first three weeks of the season and the Patriots have won all three of their games, which is the sort of thing that could be appealing to teams looking for a new head coach once the 2016 season comes to an end.

It’s way too early to know which teams may be taking part in those searches, but McDaniels’ previous success putting together the offense in New England only makes it likelier that they’ll be gauging his interest in a second spin as a head coach.

McDaniels has been mentioned as a candidate in the past couple of offseasons without anything developing. He sounds open to the idea while making it clear he’s happy as a member of Bill Belichick’s staff.

“I love where I’m at,” McDaniels said on WEEI. “I’ve said before that I think we all have aspirations to grow and get better and improve and eventually move up and what have you. Who knows? Maybe that day happens, maybe it doesn’t. But I know this, is I’m really thankful I have the opportunity I have to coach the players that we have here, and to work underneath Bill and Robert [Kraft] and the Kraft family. It’s a privilege here. I feel like I have one of the best jobs in the world. I’m just thankful I have an opportunity to come here and do it each week. It’s a great honor to do that. Like I said, I enjoy it so much working with these guys here each week.”

McDaniels’ run as the Broncos head coach wasn’t a great success, but teams need only look to his boss (or the guy who beat his boss in two Super Bowls) for an example of a coach who improved in his second time running the whole show. The questions for McDaniels will likely be whether any of the openings are of interest and whether teams will wait for him if New England takes another deep playoff run.

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Week Four Power Rankings

Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian (13) walks the field after an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Cincinnati. The Broncos won 29-17. (AP Photo/Gary Landers) AP

1. Broncos (3-0; last week No. 1): Maybe they shouldn’t have drafted Paxton Lynch, after all.

2. Patriots (3-0; No. 2): Maybe they should have drafted Paxton Lynch (if they’d had a first-round pick).

3. Vikings (3-0; No. 6): Defense and coaching are great, offense is good enough. But here’s hoping they don’t need a field goal in the playoffs. Or an extra point.

4. Panthers (1-2; No. 3): Sure, no team with a losing record has ever landed this high. But no elite team has faced defenses like Denver’s and Minnesota’s in the first three games of a season.

5. Packers (2-1; No. 8): The offense is fixed. As long as they play the Lions every week.

6. Eagles (3-0; No. 19): That “they haven’t beaten anybody” excuse went out the window on Sunday.

7. Ravens (3-0; No. 11): Winning ugly is always better than losing pretty.

8. Seahawks (2-1; No. 9): With a return to the place where they won a Super Bowl looming, they finally are looking like the team that did.

9. Steelers (2-1; No. 4): The fact that it has been 27 years since the last 31-point loss won’t make Steelers fans feel much better about Sunday’s debacle.

10. Texans (2-1; No. 7):  The good news? The Patriots didn’t score 40 against the Texans this time. The bad news? The Patriots only needed three to win.

11. Chiefs (2-1; No. 12): If they can avoid another slow start, a strong finish could get them a division title and a bye.

12. Cowboys (2-1; No. 14): Once they put Humpty Dumpty back together again and he falls off the wall (again), things won’t may not be as dire.

13. Falcons (2-1; No. 16): Kyle Shanahan may end up being a head coach, after all.

14. Giants (2-1; No. 13): The kicking net was one unsportsmanlike conduct foul away from being ejected.

15. Raiders (2-1; No. 17): The defense showed up in Nashville, even though the offense almost didn’t.

16. Cardinals (1-2; No. 5): Jake Delhomme says, “Wow, that playoff meltdown has really affected Carson Palmer.”

17. Bengals (1-2; No. 10): It’s impossible to lose in the playoffs for the sixth straight year if you don’t qualify.

18. Jets (1-2; No. 15): The Jets had a come-to-Jesus meeting on Monday. On Sunday against Seattle, their fans could be telling the team to go to hell.

19. Rams (2-1; No. 26): Given Jeff Fisher’s mastery of the Buccaneers, maybe his next job should be in the NFC South.

20. Dolphins (1-2; No. 20): The standings should have a separate category for beating the Browns in overtime, because it doesn’t feel like a win.

21. Buccaneers (1-2; No. 18): The first walk-and-chew-gum test for head coach/playcaller Dirk Koetter didn’t go very well.

22. Titans (1-2; No. 21): There’s a fine line between 3-0 and 1-2, and the Titans are on the wrong side of it.

23. Colts (1-2; No. 25): Win notwithstanding, Andrew Luck is still closer to Archie than Peyton on the Manning scale.

24. Washington (1-2; No. 29): The 2015 version of the team returned, thanks to a cameo appearance from the 2015 version of the Giants.

25. Bills (1-2; No. 31): LeSean McCoy’s hard-charging runs made it clear that he was very happy about the change in coordinators.

26. 49ers (1-2; No. 22): The 49ers are unstoppable, when they have seven months to get ready for a game.

27. Lions (1-2; No. 23): No one expected them to win in Green Bay for a second straight year, but that doesn’t make “1-2” look any better.

28. Chargers (1-2; No. 27): Another week, another season-ending injury to a key player.

29. Saints (0-3; No. 24): If 2017 free agency were to begin right now, the Saints possibly would have a chance to turn things around.

30. Jaguars (0-3; No. 28): “Here are the Jaguars, London. Much earlier than usual. Before they have a really, really bad record.”

31. Browns (0-3; No. 32): Maybe Terrelle Pryor should kick field goals, too.

32. Bears (0-3; No. 30): The Bears aren’t who we thought they were. They’re worse.

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Colts place Trent Cole on injured reserve

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 20: Kendall Langford #90, Trent Cole #58 and T.Y. McGill #67 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrate a sack against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 20, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Colts have gotten healthier in the secondary of late, but they’ve lost a linebacker for the rest of the season.

The team announced Tuesday that outside linebacker Trent Cole has been placed on injured reserve. Cole has been dealing with a back injury that forced him to miss Indy’s Week Two loss to the Broncos and was listed as questionable for last Sunday’s game, but was able to play in the victory over the Chargers.

Cole assisted on a tackle against San Diego, leaving him with three on the season, and had 32 tackles and three sacks during his first season with the Colts. Cole spent the first 10 years of his career with the Eagles before joining the Colts as a free agent last year.

The Colts are left with Robert Mathis, Erik Walden, Akeem Ayers and Curt Maggitt at outside linebacker. They could add another to fill Cole’s roster spot and they’ll need to find a player with a valid passport if they want to do it for this week’s London game against the Jaguars.

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Maybe La’el Collins isn’t having surgery after all

Dallas Cowboys compete in the Reliant Home Run Derby Getty Images

Cowboys left guard La’El Collins is definitely having surgery. Unless he isn’t.

ESPN’s Ed Werder has updated his previous report that Collins would have big toe surgery and go on injured reserve, by now saying that Collins is seeking a second opinion in hopes of avoiding surgery.

While Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said on his weekly radio spot on 105.3 The Fan that Collins was hoping to avoid surgery and that it was “a pain thing,” a source close to Collins told Werder that wasn’t the case.

“[It] has nothing to do with pain,” the source said. “The kid is tough as hell. It’s dependent on the injury.”

So there you have it. He’s having surgery or not, and it’s a matter of pain tolerance or it isn’t. Got it.

Either way, Collins will be replaced in the starting lineup by Ronald Leary, who started there for two seasons before being replaced by Collins. He wanted to be traded this offseason, but they didn’t want to give him up, presumably in case one of their starters ended up needed surgery or not needing surgery.

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Laquon Treadwell won’t play until he practices better

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 18:  Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell #11 of the Minnesota Vikings in action against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on August 18, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Through three games of the season, Vikings receiver Laquon Treadwell is one of this year’s most disappointing first-round rookies: He dressed but didn’t play in Week One, got on the field for only two snaps in Week Two, and was inactive in Week Three.

So what will it take for Treadwell to start playing?

“He has to continue to do better in practice,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “He’s working, just biding his time until he gets an opportunity like how [Stefon] Diggs was last year. I still think he’s thinking about the number of steps to take on each route and things like that, being at the right depth.”

When the Vikings took Treadwell with the 23rd overall pick in the draft, they surely thought he could make an immediate contribution to their offense. Instead, he’s a bench warmer. Zimmer seems confident that Treadwell will eventually prove on the practice field that he belongs on the field on Sundays, but that hasn’t happened yet.

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