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Mike McCarthy “hopeful” injured Packers can return this week

Mike McCarthy AP

The Packers have clinched the NFC North, but there’s still a first-round bye up in the air in the conference heading into Week 17.

With the 49ers drawing the Cardinals and the Seahawks facing the Rams in the season’s final week, the Packers are likely going to need to beat the Vikings in order to take that bye. Getting some of their injured players back for the game would help them on that front. The Packers were without wide receiver Jordy Nelson, safety Charles Woodson, defensive end C.J. Wilson, defensive end Jerel Worthy, tight end Tom Crabtree, running back James Starks and running back Alex Green in Week 16 because of injuries, and coach Mike McCarthy said Monday that he’s looking forward to getting some of them back for this week.

“I’m hopeful a lot of those guys can get back. But we’ll see,” McCarthy said, via the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “I know Jordy, talking with him, he feels like he’s very close. Charles, he’s waiting on information from the medical staff. He’s very close. Alex Green, I was surprised that he wasn’t available for Tennessee just based on the way that process, the result of the process, so he’ll definitely be available. C.J., I don’t have enough information there. Same withJames Starks. Tom Crabtree’s close, he’ll be close. Jerel should be ready.”

Woodson said last week that he would like to play in the finale to get his legs back after missing so much of the season with his collarbone injury. The best-case scenario for the Packers would seem to be one that gets Woodson and some of the others back on the field before earning another week of rest with a win over the Vikings.

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Report: Patriots signing John Hughes

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 27:  John Hughes #93 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates after recovering a fumble during the fourth quarter against the Oakland Raiders at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 27, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Patriots opened a roster spot by waiving defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, but it doesn’t appear they’ll be using it for a quarterback to provide insurance with Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett banged up.

Field Yates of ESPN reports that the team will be signing defensive tackle John Hughes. Hughes was dropped by the Browns last week and he’ll reunite with former Cleveland teammates Jabaal Sheard and Barkevious Mingo in New England.

Hughes was a third-round pick by the Browns in 2012, but was never a consistent starter during his time in Cleveland. He made 10 starts in 53 appearances during his time with the team and will be moving into a reserve role for the Patriots as well.

Assuming he sticks around beyond this week, of course. Tom Brady and Rob Ninkovich are wrapping up four-game suspensions and space will need to be made for them. As the last one in, Hughes could be the next one out so he may learn that life moves pretty fast at the bottom of the Patriots roster.

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Ben McAdoo: Odell Beckham needs more control of emotions

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 25:  Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants looks on in the fourth Quarter against the Washington Redskins during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 25, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham didn’t do anything to get himself suspended in Sunday’s matchup with Redskins cornerback Josh Norman as he avoided running shots to Norman’s head and anything else that would have run afoul of the pregame warnings delivered to both players.

While Beckham kept things together on the field, he didn’t avoid meltdowns altogether. He put on a show on the Giants sideline after an Eli Manning interception in the fourth quarter that saw him take the metal frame of a kicking net to the head after it recoiled from being hit by Beckham.

A FOX camera caught a close-up of Beckham’s face at the end of the tantrum and he appeared to have tears coming out of his eyes. On Monday, Giants coach Ben McAdoo said the wideout needs to do a better job of keeping his emotions in check.

“Emotionally on the sideline in between the series, he needs to do a better job,” McAdoo said, via NJ.com. “That’s all of our responsibilities, mine included. But he needs to control his emotions better and be less of a distraction to himself and his teammates. It’s our job to help him with that process. It takes a village. Communication, having a variety of different people, different coaches, staff members that he can talk to and communicate with, just help him direct his focus.”

Manning did speak to Beckham on the sideline after his tirade and agrees with McAdoo, saying everyone needs to “stay calm” at that point in the game.

Complete emotional detachment is neither reasonable to expect nor a good mindset for a competitive athlete, but the Giants saw the damage that Beckham losing control could do last season. It didn’t have the same on-field impact Sunday, but it was enough that McAdoo felt the need to remind the wideout that it’s not what the team wants to see.

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Patriots create roster spot by waiving Anthony Johnson

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on 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

The Patriots don’t necessarily want to add a quarterback to the roster.

But they have a spot to do so now if they want to.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Patriots are waiving defensive tackle Anthony Johnson. He has practice squad eligibility, and they have a spot there as well.

That leaves their roster a man short, at a time when they’re unsure whether Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) or Jacoby Brissett (thumb) will be able to play this week against the Bills.

No corresponding roster move has been announced, and we’re sure Bill Belichick doesn’t mind you, me and Rex Ryan wondering what they’re going to do with it.

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Hue Jackson says he plans to keep kicker who missed three field goals

Cleveland Browns kicker Cody Parkey (3) aims for a field goal as Cleveland Browns punter Britton Colquitt (4) holds the ball, during the first half an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) AP

Kicker Cody Parkey missed three field goals in his Browns debut Sunday, including one on the final play of regulation that would have won the game.

Monday, Browns coach Hue Jackson told reporters that he plans to have Parkey back for at least next week’s game at the Redskins.

Patrick Murray, who won the Browns’ kicking job in the preseason, was hurt during a walkthrough practice last Friday and later placed on injured reserve. That left the Browns with little time to explore options or hold kicker tryouts before Sunday’s game at the Dolphins and they ended up signing Parkey, who was cut by the Eagles in the preseason.

Parkey officially signed on Saturday and met the Browns in South Florida.

Jackson said reports that the organization was split on whether to sign Parkey or Robbie Gould and that the front office pushed Parkey are “so far from the truth.”

The Browns could still work out some available kickers this week, but Jackson said that as of now he plans for Parkey to have the job. Parkey made the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2014 but missed most of last season with a groin injury.

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Colts announcer regrets ending broadcast with an F-bomb

boblamey

Colts radio announcer Bob Lamey had an odd way to sum up the ending of Sunday’s win over the Chargers.

“The Colts win it, 26-22. The game is finally f–king over. Colts win, 26-22, their first win of the season,” Lamey said on the air, not seeming to care that he was uttering one of George Carlin’s seven dirty words.

Afterward, Lamey regretted it.

“I keep thinking, ‘This is not me.’ My wife was saying, ‘Bob, you don’t say that.’ But I did and I feel absolutely awful about it,” Lamey told Bob Kravitz of WTHR. “I take it very hard because it hurts my reputation, the reputation of the Colts and if there were kids listening, I mean, it’s just awful.”

So why did Lamey, a longtime broadcasting veteran, say something on the air that everyone knows you’re not allowed to say on the air? He says he can’t explain it, didn’t realize he was doing it and doesn’t remember it.

“After the game, [Colts PR man] Matt Conti told me about it, and I was shocked,” Lamey said. “Then I listened to it, and it was kind of garbled – but yeah, I said it. The tape doesn’t lie. I just wish I remember having said it.”

The Colts own their local broadcast rights and license them to radio stations, and Lamey works for the Colts, not the stations that broadcast the games. The Colts say they forgive Lamey.

“Bob Lamey is not only a legendary broadcaster, but also a passionate and loyal Colts fan,” the team said in a statement. “Nevertheless, even in the heat of the moment, profanity has no place in Colts broadcasting. Bob has expressed extreme regret for his mistake during yesterday’s broadcast. We have accepted his sincere apology, and forgiven him for his misstep. We hope our fans will do the same and enjoy ‘The Voice of the Colts’ for many more broadcasts.”

One misstep should certainly not negate a long career, but it does deserve further exploration. If the 77-year-old Lamey truly didn’t realize he said the F-word on the air, and truly doesn’t remember saying the F-word on the air, he’d be wise to get a medical checkup. An on-air F-bomb from a professional with decades of experience is less offensive than alarming.

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Marcus Mariota thinks he’s trying to do too much

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 25:  Marcus Mariota #8 of the Tennessee Titans pitches out the football on a run during a game against the Oakland Raiders at Nissan Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Titans were able to rally late for a victory over the Lions in Week Two and they had a chance to do the same in Week Three against the Raiders, but their effort fell short in what wound up as a 17-10 Oakland victory.

They may not have been trying to play from behind if not for three turnovers by quarterback Marcus Mariota. Mariota fumbled once and threw two interceptions over the course of the game, leaving him with six giveaways over the course of the young season. The fumble came on a play that saw Mariota trying to run for a first down on third-and-13 and there was another that the Titans recovered when he tried a late pitch to Harry Douglas, which led Mariota to say that he needs to scale things back in certain situations.

“That’s just me being a competitor and that’s why I got to continue to learn. I am trying to do too much, fight for a first down rather than just moving on and taking care of the football,” Mariota said, via the Tennessean. “Yeah, and you know that’s things that I have worked on, it’s part of the game, but I got to find ways to be better. I can’t put our defense in situations like that. You know, I will get better.”

Even with the turnovers, the Titans may have tied the game if not for a pair of penalties on their final drive. Tackle Taylor Lewan was flagged for unnecessary roughness on a Tajae Sharpe catch that would have given them a first down on the 3-yard-line and Andre Johnson was called for offensive pass interference on a touchdown catch a few plays later.

There’s work to be done in several places, in other words, and Mariota realizing where he needs to improve should help the effort to move the team in the right direction.

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Sen’Derrick Marks: We got too conservative on Sunday

JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 25:  Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Beadley and Chad Henne #7 on the sideline against the Baltimore Ravens at EverBank Field on September 25, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles said after Sunday’s 19-17 loss to the Ravens that the blame for the offense underachieving down the stretch, saying that it was “nobody’s fault outside of mine.”

No one would disagree that the Jaguars failed to take advantage of good field position after moving ahead 17-16 halfway through the fourth quarter or that Bortles’ two interceptions in the final 15 minutes hurt the team, but one of Bortles’ teammates thinks that others shared the blame. Defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks thought the offense should have been more aggressive after the defense set them up with a pair of interceptions.

“I felt like we got conservative with six minutes left in the game,” Marks said, via ESPN.com. “You can’t do that. If it comes down to it and it bites you in the butt like it did, then it’s basically that’s why you’re the [expletive] Jaguars. You can’t do that. You have to put teams away. We had plenty of chances and we didn’t do it and they capitalized the exact same way they did at their home last year.”

The familiarity of the way the Jaguars have lost their three games this year strikes a blow to the hopes that the team took a step forward from what hurt them in coach Gus Bradley’s first three years as the head coach. Given that owner Shad Khan was one of the people expressing the belief that the team turned a page, that would seem to bode poorly for Bradley as the team readies for a trip to London to face the Colts.

Joe Philbin was in a similar spot when the Dolphins went overseas to play the Jets last season and returned home without a job after a loss. There’s no outward sign that the Jaguars are thinking about that move, but it’s hard to take it totally off the table with things unfolding counter to the hopes coming into the season.

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Willie Snead not expected to play for Saints tonight

New Orleans Saints' Willie Snead (83) catches a pass for a touchdown in front of New York Giants' Darian Thompson (27) and Kelvin Sheppard (91) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) AP

The Saints might be without a key part of the offense tonight against the Falcons.

According to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com, wide receiver Willie Snead is not expected to play tonight, after injuring toe ligaments last week against the Giants.

“I don’t feel 100 percent, but throughout the week my foot’s been getting better and we’ve been treating it really well,” Snead said Saturday. “I just want to be healthy for the year, to be honest. I don’t want it to linger, I want it to be gone.

“It’s Monday Night Football, the atmosphere’s gonna be great. It’s gonna be frustrating if I can’t go. If I can go, I’ll make the most of it. . . . If I can’t, I’ll be on the sideline cheering my butt off.”

Snead’s been one of the pleasant surprises for the Saints so far this season, with 14 catches for 226 yards and two touchdowns in two games. Without him, the Saints will likely rely on second-rounder Michael Thomas.

The Saints are already going to be without left tackle Terron Armstead (knee), and their usual array of defensive players, but that doesn’t feel like news anymore.

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Pete Carroll: Russell Wilson has a sprained MCL

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks passes the ball during the first quarter of the game against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field on September 25, 2016 in Seattle,Washington. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) Getty Images

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson went for an MRI on his injured knee after Sunday’s victory over the 49ers and the results call into question whether he’ll be able to start against the Jets in Week Four.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was on ESPN 710’s “Brock and Salk” Monday and said that the MRI showed Wilson has a sprained MCL. He said the diagnosis meant there’s “obviously consideration” to having Wilson sit out this week, although the perpetually upbeat coach added that the quarterback is doing “unbelievable” a day after getting hurt.

“I just left him,” Carroll said. “He’s unbelievable, OK. He feels great. He’s been rehabbing all night and doing his thing, and he can move around, walking fine. You can’t tell anything. He’s really excited about the thought that he could be able to maybe get through this thing.”

The Seahawks have a bye after the trip back to where they won the Super Bowl a couple of years ago, which would leave Wilson with two weeks to recover before the Seahawks host the Falcons on October 16. The decision will likely come down to how well Wilson can move over the coming days, so his status for Sunday afternoon may not be confirmed until Sunday morning.

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Giants lose leading rusher Shane Vereen for season

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 25:  Shane Vereen #34 of the New York Giants is tackled by DeAngelo Hall #23 and David Bruton #30 of the Washington Redskins in the first half at MetLife Stadium on September 25, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Giants have lost their leading rusher.

Giants running back Shane Vereen is out for the season with a triceps injury, the team announced today. Vereen suffered the injury during yesterday’s game but didn’t realize how serious it was and played through it.

Vereen has 31 carries for 147 yards and a touchdown through three games this season, a healthy 4.7-yard average. His injury will mean more carries for Rashad Jennings, who has been splitting carries with Vereen so far this year. Jennings has 102 yards on 31 carries, an average of 3.3 yards a carry. The Giants will also try to get Orleans Darkwa more involved in the offense. Darkwa has 11 carries for 52 yards this season.

Vereen is also fourth on the team in receiving, with eight catches for 75 yards, and the Giants will miss him in the passing game.

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NFL kickers’ accuracy is slightly down this year

Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo (19) reacts after kicking a field goal against the Cleveland Browns during the first quarter of an NFL football game Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken) AP

Last year there was talk that the new extra point rule had gotten into kickers’ heads. A year to adjust to the new extra point rule hasn’t made kickers any better.

Through Sunday’s games, NFL kickers are making 93.4 percent of their extra points and 83.2 percent of their field goals. That’s down from last season, when kickers made 94.2 percent of extra points and 84.5 percent of field goals.

And the decline may actually be a little worse than those numbers look, as kicking typically gets less accurate late in the season, when more games are played in bad weather. Through three weeks last year, kickers made 94.6 percent of extra points and 84.9 percent of field goals.

Among the notably struggling kickers is Buccaneers rookie Roberto Aguayo, who at 1-for-3 is the only kicker in the league who has missed more field goals than he’s made. The Bucs traded up to take Aguayo in the second round of the draft, a move that would be scrutinized even if Aguayo were making all his kicks.

Another kicker struggling is Minnesota’s Blair Walsh, who at 3-for-5 is the only kicker in the league who has missed more than one extra point. Walsh missed a potentially game-winning field goal for the Vikings in the playoffs last season, and there’s been talk that the miss has lingered for him mentally.

Kickers go through ups and downs, and it’s possible that there just happen to be a few more downs than ups through the first three weeks of the season, and the numbers will even out by the end of the year. But after many years of kickers growing steadily more accurate in the NFL, we’re now seeing more misses.

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Eagles coach compares Carson Wentz to Peyton Manning, of course

DUBLIN, OH - JUNE 01:  Former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning gives the 'thumbs up' sign during a practice round prior to The Memorial Tournament Presented By Nationwide at Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 1, 2016 in Dublin, Ohio.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) Getty Images

I know it’s a heady time in Philadelphia, what with watching Carson Wentz lead the Eagles to a 3-0 record.

But somebody should really tell Doug Pederson to pump the brakes.

The Eagles rookie coach compared the Eagles rookie quarterback to, you know, one of the best quarterbacks of all time Monday.

“He loves watching tape,” Pederson said, via Jimmy Kempski of PhillyMag.com. “He and the quarterbacks – Chase [Daniel] and Aaron [Murray] – they’re in here at 5:30 in the morning watching the film and exhausting the tape. I hear him just even in the building, he’s constantly talking to guys about plays and routes and protections.

It’s Peyton Manning-ish. You hate to label it. I don’t want to put labels on guys, but that’s how Peyton prepared, and that’s how these top quarterbacks prepare each week, and he has that now as a young quarterback, and that’ll carry him through his career.”

Pederson had previously compared his first-round pick to Brett Favre because of his arm strength, so coupled with Manning’s work ethic, he’s clearly on track to force the Pro Football Hall of Fame to eliminate its five-year waiting period so he can be enshrined in Canton yesterday.

Of course, Wentz has been really good. He just authored a thrashing of the Steelers, hasn’t thrown a pick yet, and his 103.8 passer rating is seventh among quarterbacks in the league with more than one pass.

We can’t wait for next week. We’re sure Joe Montana agrees.

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Torn ACL confirmed for DeAngelo Hall

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 18: Wide receiver Cole Beasley #11 of the Dallas Cowboys is tackled by free safety DeAngelo Hall #23 of the Washington Redskins in the first quarter at FedExField on September 18, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Getting their first win of the season didn’t mean only good news for the Redskins on Sunday.

Safety DeAngelo Hall said after the game that doctors believed he suffered a torn ACL in the 29-27 win over the Giants, although he added that he felt fine and was walking fine after the game. An MRI was set for Monday to confirm the initial diagnosis and the news wasn’t any better for Hall when the results came in.

Hall told Erin Hawksworth of ABC7 in Washington D.C. that the MRI showed a complete tear of the ligament and that he will now wait for the swelling to go down before Dr. James Andrews performs surgery to repair the injury.

It’s the second season-ending injury for Hall in the last three years as he tore his Achilles in 2014. He’s signed for next season with a base salary of $4.25 million, although none of the money is guaranteed.

Will Blackmon replaced Hall at free safety after the injury on Sunday and will likely start alongside David Bruton when the Browns visit next Sunday.

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Adrian Peterson’s sole focus for now is getting back

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 18:  Quarterback Sam Bradford #8 of the Minnesota Vikings hands off to running back Adrian Peterson #28 during the game against the Green Bay Packers on September 18, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Sunday pregame shows featured plenty of chatter about: (1) the Vikings wanting running back Adrian Peterson to stay with the team; and (2) the Vikings undoubtedly not wanting to pay him $18 million in 2017.

So what does Peterson want? Per a source with knowledge of Peterson’s thinking, Peterson wants to get healthy and play, as soon as possible.

Two years ago, Peterson had concerns about returning to the Vikings after a 15-game paid-and-unpaid suspension following a prosecution for child abuse. The Vikings held firm, making it clear that they held his rights and intended to have him honor his contract.

In 2017, Peterson will have greater influence over his status, if/when the Vikings approach him about a reduction in his pay. If he refuses to cut his pay, the Vikings will have to cut him, if they don’t want to pay him $18 million.

Peterson likes playing for the Vikings. Whether he will accept a reduced package to stay will be influenced by plenty of factors. For now, his status beyond 2016 is simply not a consideration.

Peterson’s sole focus is to rehab his knee injury following surgery to repair a torn meniscus, and to play again this year. He can return as soon as Week Eleven, and he could find himself on the field with the best Vikings team of his 10-year tenure. Whether he plays, how well he plays, and how far the team goes will surely influence whether he ultimately takes the best deal the Vikings put on the table for 2017 and beyond — and whether he’ll look for something as good or better elsewhere.

Or maybe he’ll look for something not quite as good, if it gives him an opportunity to play with a team that could help Peterson cap his career with a Super Bowl appearance.

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Adam Gase not sure Mike Pouncey can return during a short week

JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 09:  Mike Pouncey #51 of the Miami Dolphins leads the team onto the field during a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on August 9, 2013 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Dolphins have a quick turnaround from Sunday’s win over the Browns to Thursday’s game in Cincinnati and that may force them to use Kraig Urbik as their starting center against the Bengals.

Anthony Steen started the first three games of the year, but suffered a high ankle sprain against the Browns and Gase said Monday that Steen will not be healthy enough to play this week. Steen was starting because Mike Pouncey has been out with a hip injury and Gase said, via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, “we’ll see” if he’s able to make his 2016 debut this week.

Gase also said that Pouncey will probably need to practice before he can re-enter the lineup, something that would seem to make this week a long shot because the Dolphins won’t have a full week to prepare for Cincinnati.

Gase is looking for more from the offensive line as he called pass protection a big frustration and said that right tackle Ja’Wuan James isn’t a sure bet to start this week, although further shuffling may be difficult if they’re going with a new center this week.

The Dolphins will also be without tight end Jordan Cameron, who suffered a concussion Sunday, and Gase said it was unlikely running back Arian Foster would return after missing the victory due to a groin injury.

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