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PFT Live: Who will win the NFC East?

Mike Florio and Michael David Smith make their NFL picks for the final week of the season. The Bears face the Lions to keep their playoff hopes alive, while the Redskins and the Cowboys face off for the NFC East title. MDS is confident the Redskins will fall to the Cowboys, but Florio isn’t so sure the unstable Cowboys can win on the road after losing 38-31 to the Redskins at home.

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Jaguars promote WR Tommy Streeter from practice squad

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Jacksonville Jaguars Getty Images

The Jaguars promoted one receiver and waived another on Friday, signing Tommy Streeter from the practice squad and parting ways with Mike Brown, the club announced.

Streeter (6-5, 215) had been on the Jaguars’ practice squad since September 29. He spent the offseason and most of the preseason with Tampa Bay. The 26-year-old Streeter was a sixth-round pick of Baltimore in 2012 after playing collegiately at Miami (Fla.); he has never appeared in a regular-season game.

The 25-year-old Brown has played five games for the Jaguars in 2014, catching seven passes for 88 yards. Brown (5-10, 200) has hauled in 39 passes for 534 yards and two touchdowns since entering the NFL in 2012.

The Jaguars (1-10) host the Giants on Sunday. For younger players like Streeter, the final five games are an opportunity to make a positive impression for when Jacksonville turns the page to evaluating the roster for 2015.

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Rice ruling fuels grievance against Ravens

Rice Getty Images

On Friday, running back Ray Rice won his challenge to the league’s decision to discipline him a second time for the same conduct.  Rice’s fight will now focus on the Ravens.

Hours after the elevator video became public, the Ravens cut Rice.  While teams have the ability to cut players for any reason — and for no reason — the Collective Bargaining Agreement permits only one punishment.  In suspending Rice two games under the personal conduct policy, the league punished Rice.  The team, which had stubbornly supported Rice throughout the ordeal, was prohibited from taking action.

Besides, the Ravens weren’t included to do anything to Rice before the elevator video showed them in graphic terms what they already knew he had done.

“We know what it is to be a parent,” Ravens P.R. chief Kevin Byrne wrote on the team’s website in late July.  “We know what it is to support a child after a mistake.  We know the importance of turning the situation around and becoming better.  We know turning your back on a loved one in a time of need is not what families do.”

But the Ravens turned their back on Rice on September 8, only minutes before the league suspended him indefinitely.  The grievance against the Ravens, if successful, will result in Rice being paid for every game check he has missed from Week Three through at least Week 13.  If Rice remains unemployed, he potentially can be paid for the rest of the season, under the theory that the Ravens would have kept him on the team if the elevator video had not emerged.

Helping Rice’s cause will be some of the same testimony that aided his case against the league.  With witnesses like G.M. Ozzie Newsome admitting that Rice had acknowledged hitting Janay Palmer Rice in the elevator on February 15, the Ravens can’t credibly claim that they didn’t know what had happened or that Rice had lied about it.

With a $4 million base salary, Rice could win up to $3.52 million from the Ravens under his pending grievance.  That fact that he received $25 million under the first two years of a contract signed in July 2012 doesn’t matter.  The Ravens had fully intended to welcome him back and to pay him until the video created a P.R. problem that the team believed it could solve only by doing an about-face and dumping Rice, even though the team had known for weeks if not months what had happened.

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Judge Jones rejected NFL’s testimony, focused on notes from June meeting

Rice Getty Images

The failure of the NFL to create a clear record of the things said when a player meets with the Commissioner for review of the player’d case under the personal conduct policy means that, if a dispute arises regarding what was said, the facts must be recreated.

In the Ray Rice case, the recreation of the facts by former U.S. Judge Barbara S. Jones centered on the NFL’s contention that Rice didn’t say he had struck his then-fiancée, and that Rice actually said he had slapped Janay Palmer, who then fell and “knocked herself out.”  Ultimately, that’s what it boiled down to before Judge Jones; whether Rice said he hit Janay or whether he said he slapped her, she fell, and she “knocked herself out.”

The testimony of the witnesses regarding the things said at the June 16, 2014 meeting at the league office conflicted on that point, with Rice and his witnesses contending that he said he struck Janay — and with the NFL’s witnesses contending that Rice merely said he slapped her and she then fell and “knocked herself out.”  This necessitated a review by Judge Jones of the notes made by persons attending the meeting.

Commissioner Roger Goodell’s notes were “not detailed” and contained no “verbatim quotes” from Rice regarding the assault.  Goodell’s notes do not contain the word “slap” but they do use the word “struck.”  NFL senior V.P. of labor policy and governmental affairs Adolpho Birch’s notes were “even sparser.”

NFL senior labor relations counsel Kevin Manara, who was assigned specifically to take notes, wrote that “he slapped her; fell; knocked herself out.”  However, Judge Jones was “not persuaded that [Manara’s] notes reliably report that Rice used the words ‘knocked herself out.'”  She reasoned that Jones’ notes use “slapped” when the majority of witnesses said Rice used the word “hit,” and she pointed to Manara’s concession that the notes describing the assault were not “verbatim.”  It’s a subtle way of rejecting the credibility of Manara’s notes without attributing a reason or motive for the lack of credibility.

In contrast, NFLPA counsel Heather McPhee generated “more detailed and careful notes, which emphasize the exact words Rice used with quotation marks.”  She wrote that Rice specifically said, “And then I hit her,” that Janay fell, and that she seemed “knocked out.”  McPhee also gave “emphatic” testimony that Rice did not say that Janay had “knocked herself out.”  Goodell and Birch were far less unequivocal about their recollection of Rice’s words.

This prompted Judge Jones to conclude that Rice had said that he hit Janay, and that he did not claim she had “knocked herself out.”  Judge Jones then demonstrated that the mechanism for the knockout was and is irrelevant.

“Whether the blow itself or hitting the railing knocked Mrs. Rice unconscious, the cause was the hit,” Judge Jones wrote.  “Rice reported to Commissioner Goodell that he had hit Mrs. Rice; and his lifting and dropping of her prone body were there for all to see in the outside-the-elevator video.  Commissioner Goodell himself, in response to the question, ‘Did Mr. Rice ever say that he knocked out Ms. Palmer?,’ testified, ‘No, but he took full responsibility for it, he said it is not her fault, it is my fault.”

In other words, Rice hit Janay and as a result she became unconscious.  It doesn’t matter whether he knocked her out with the blow, whether she was knocked out when the blow sent her head into the elevator railing, or whether she became unconscious by falling after being struck and thus somehow “knocked herself out.”  Rice initiated the assault that left her knocked out.

And that gets back to the point that the investigation regarding whether the NFL knew or should have known what was in the video doesn’t matter.  The NFL knew what happened in the elevator.  Ray hit Janay, and Jay ultimately became unconscious.  Regardless of what it specifically looked like, no one should have expected it to be a pleasant thing to watch.  Football players routinely are struck in the head and few ever end up in the condition Janay was in from the initial surveillance video that was published weeks before Rice met with Goodell.

Perhaps the league’s goal has been to make this all so complicated that the simple logic became obscured.  Under the simple logic that emerges unmistakably from Judge Jones’ decision, the end result is every bit as troubling as a finding that the NFL actually had access to the video.  The truth is that, while the NFL may not have been able to see the images before the video was released on September 8, the NFL didn’t need to.

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Week 13 skill-position injury report — Friday

Odell Beckham Jr. AP

The following skill-position players were listed on the Week 13 injury report as of Friday. Key fantasy starters are bolded:

OUT

Broncos RB Montee Ball (groin).

Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman (foot).

Bills TE Chris Gragg (knee).

Browns WR Marlon Moore (hamstring).

Chiefs WR Junior Hemingway (concussion).

Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle).

Raiders WR Latavius Murray (concussion).

Saints RB Khiry Robinson (forearm).

DOUBTFUL

Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon (back).

QUESTIONABLE

Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle).

Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion).

Buccaneers TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (back).

Buccaneers TE Brandon Myers (calf).

Buccaneers TE Luke Stocker (concussion).

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee).

Falcons WR Roddy White (ankle).

Patriots RB Shane Vereen (ankle).

Patriots WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder).

Ravens WR Michael Campanaro (thigh).

Titans RB Dexter McCluster (concussion).

Titans RB Leon Washington (hamstring).

Vikings TE Chase Ford (hamstring, foot).

PROBABLE

Bengals WR Greg Little (illness).

Bills K Dan Carpenter (right groin).

Bills WR Robert Woods (ankle).

Broncos RB Juwan Thompson (knee).

Broncos TE Virgil Green (calf).

Buccaneers RB Charles Sims (ankle).

Cardinals QB Drew Stanton (ankle).

Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (hip, foot).

Cardinals WR John Brown (teeth).

Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (shoulder).

Chargers WR Eddie Royal (toe).

Chiefs TE Anthony Fasano (knee).

Chiefs WR Donnie Avery (groin).

Colts WR Reggie Wayne (not injury related).

Falcons WR Harry Douglas (foot).

Giants WR Odell Beckham (back).

Jaguars QB Blake Bortles (left wrist).

Jaguars WR Cecil Shorts (illness).

Packers TE Brandon Bostick (hip).

Packers WR Davante Adams (heel).

Panthers RB Mike Tolbert (knee).

Panthers WR Corey Brown (illness).

Patriots QB Tom Brady (ankle).

Patriots WR Julian Edelman (thigh).

Raiders TE Brian Leonhardt (concussion).

Rams TE Cory Harkey (thigh).

Rams TE Jared Cook (back).

Rams WR Kenny Britt (back).

Saints RB Pierre Thomas (ribs, shoulder).

Saints WR Robert Meachem (ankle).

Steelers TE Heath Miller (not injury related).

Steelers WR Martavis Bryant (illness).

Texans RB Arian Foster (groin).

Texans WR Andre Johnson (not injury related).

Vikings RB Matt Asiata (concussion).

Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph (abdomen, groin).

Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson (knee).

Vikings WR Greg Jennings (rib).

Vikings WR Jarius Wright (hamstring).

Washington RB Silas Redd (rib).

Washington TE Jordan Reed (hamstring).

Dolphins-Jets Friday participation report

DID NOT PRACTICE

Dolphins TE Charles Clay (hamstring, knee).

Jets QB Michael Vick (right wrist, illness).

Jets TE Jace Amaro (concussion).

LIMITED

Dolphins WR Mike Wallace (chest).

Jets RB John Conner (groin).

FULL

Dolphins RB Lamar Miller (knee).

Dolphins WR Rishard Matthews (groin).

Jets RB Bilal Powell (illness).

Jets RB Chris Ivory (shoulder).

Jets RB Chris Johnson (knee).

Jets WR Eric Decker (toe).

Note: All information cited is from the NFL.

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Union braces for unilateral changes to personal conduct policy

2011 NFC Championship: Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears Getty Images

Friday’s ruling in the Ray Rice appeal reveals many things about the NFL.  Perhaps most importantly, it shows the value of true independence when assessing the decisions made by the league office.

In her 17-page ruling, former U.S. Judge Barbara S. Stone flatly rejected the league’s version of events regarding the information provided by Rice regarding the incident in the Atlantic City elevator.  Absent genuine neutrality and impartiality, it’s difficult for a decision like that to be made.

Of course, that’s one of the big reasons why the league stubbornly refuses to concede ultimate authority over the personal conduct policy.  The NFL believes it knows best in such situations; actual due process that prevents the league office from doing whatever it wants to do makes it hard for the NFL to advance its interests.

Thus, while the Rice ruling proves that independent arbitration should be used in every case, the outcome likely will make the league office even more determined to retain final say.  Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL Players Association currently fears that the league will unilaterally implement a new personal conduct policy over any union objections and without collective bargaining after the next ownership meetings, which will occur on or about December 10.

For now, the NFL is taking a position that reflects the significance of Friday’s events.

“Judge Jones’ ruling underscores the urgency of our work to develop and implement a clear, fair and comprehensive new personal conduct policy,” the league office said in a statement released Friday evening.  “We expect this policy to be completed and announced in the weeks ahead.  Our focus is on consistently enforcing an improved policy going forward.”

The eventual policy may be improved, but it still may be far from perfect.  If, for example, the new procedure requires Commissioner Roger Goodell to obtain input from relevant experts but nevertheless allows him to make the decision on discipline and to retain authority over any appeal, the process technically will be improved but it will still have plenty of room for improvement.

The personal conduct policy won’t be as good as it can be until every decision becomes subject to independent arbitration.  Indeed, the fear of a public rebuke for a flawed decision could be enough to get the league to make better decisions in the first place.  Any other approach means that the NFL will continue to make decisions by determining the preferred outcome and then working backward to justify it.

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Raiders rule out RB Latavius Murray

Latavius Murray AP

A concussion will keep one of the Raiders’ promising young offensive players out of the lineup Sunday at St. Louis.

The Raiders have officially ruled out second-year tailback Latavius Murray, who did not practice Friday after putting in limited workouts on Wednesday and Thursday.

Murray played a major role in the Raiders’ 24-20 Week 12 win vs. Kansas City, tallying a pair of touchdowns. However, he left the lineup after racking up 112 yards on just four carries, and he is not yet ready to return for Oakland (1-10).

With Murray out, veteran Darren McFadden could be the Raiders’ primary tailback against the Rams, with Maurice Jones-Drew and Marcel Reece in reserve.

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Seahawks awarded Loucheiz Purifoy on waivers

Denver Broncos vs. Indianapolis Colts Getty Images

The Seahawks have added some secondary and special teams depth.

Seattle has been awarded rookie cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy on waivers, the club announced Friday. The Colts had parted ways with the 21-year-old Purifoy on Thursday.

A Florida product, Purifoy (5-11, 188) appeared in all 11 regular season games for Indianapolis, notching five tackles (two solo) on special teams. His addition gives the Seahawks six cornerbacks.

With Purifoy arriving, the Seahawks placed rookie linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis (shoulder) on injured reserve. Pierre-Louis notched 13 tackles in seven games. He had missed the last two contests for Seattle (8-4).

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Baalke apologizes to Roman for daughter’s tweet

Baalke Getty Images

After the 49ers lost to the Seahawks on Thursday night, the daughter of 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke posted on Twitter with the following statement directed at 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman: “The 49ers don’t want you no more.”

Now Baalke has apologized.

“My daughter and I both regret that her feelings got the best of her after last night’s game and that she chose social media as an avenue to express her feelings. We have apologized to Greg for this unfortunate matter. While disappointed, as a father I will use this as a teachable moment to help my daughter grow,” Baalke said in a statement.

Baalke can apologize, but he can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. And whether he likes it or not, Baalke’s daughter’s tweet strongly suggests what she has heard negative things about Roman from her father. Which is one more piece of evidence that there’s a rift in San Francisco between Baalke and those loyal to him, and Jim Harbaugh and those loyal to him. Harbaugh and Roman are close, and have been since before Harbaugh was the coach of the 49ers — Roman was also Harbaugh’s offensive coordinator at Stanford, and Harbaugh brought him along when he took the 49ers job.

Harbaugh may very well take Roman along when he takes another job. Perhaps as soon as a month from now, when the 49ers’ season comes to an end, and Harbaugh and Baalke can go their separate ways.

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Dolphins bring back Don Jones

New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

The Dolphins are reuniting with one of their picks in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Miami has been awarded safety Don Jones on waivers from New England, the claiming club said Friday.

In a corresponding roster move, the Dolphins waived first-year cornerback Lowell Rose.

The Dolphins waived the 24-year-old Jones after the preseason, and the Patriots claimed him the next day. In nine games with New England, Jones was credited with eight special teams tackles, according to club statistics.

The Dolphins selected Jones in the seventh round in 2013. The Arkansas State product has appeared in 25 regular season games, including 16 with Miami as a rookie.

The Dolphins and Patriots meet on December 14 in Foxborough. The Dolphins won the first matchup between the clubs in Week One.

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Ginsberg takes aim at Goodell

Goodell AP

In recent years, lawyer Peter Ginsberg has become a major agitator as it relates to the NFL’s ability to impose discipline against players.  From the StarCaps case to the Saints bounty scandal to the Ray Rice case, Ginsberg has become a fairly large thorn in the NFL’s legal underbelly.

In the wake of the ruling overturning Rice’s indefinite suspension, Ginsberg issued a statement that takes aim at Commissioner Roger Goodell.

“On the heels of Bountygate, Commissioner Roger Goodell has shown once again that he does not follow the rules in his treatment of players and that his judgment cannot be trusted” Ginsberg said.  “Under his leadership, the NFL ignored for years the need to create a stronger and more constructive program to address domestic abuse. As we all know, the Rice incident is not an isolated one.  It was only in the face of a public outcry, however, that the NFL finally took a step in the right direction with its new domestic violence policy.

“But rather than admitting he had been ignoring the domestic violence issue for years, and had failed to subject past violators to real scrutiny, Commissioner Goodell turned his own failings on Ray by punishing him a second time for an offense about which Commissioner Goodell had been fully and completely aware when he imposed the original suspension.  That action threatened to end Ray’s career.  And in so doing, Commissioner Goodell ignored the basic principle that every worker must be treated in a manner consistent with past punishments and in accordance with published procedures.

“Second punishments for the same conduct are unprecedented and not permitted as a matter of basic and fundamental principle. Perhaps now, finally, NFL owners will give real thought to whether the ‘NFL shield’ should tolerate a leader who fails to lead in important areas like domestic violence and who time and again ignores the League’s workers’ due process rights and the right to be treated with fundamental fairness. There are many lessons to be learned from this unfortunate event – Ray is well on his way to learning his from this awful event.  Time will tell whether the NFL and NFL owners are learning theirs as well.”

It’s unclear whether the Rice ruling will trigger specific action by NFL ownership.  However, the decision sets the stage for a potentially scathing report from former FBI director Robert Mueller, whose analysis could end up wreaking real havoc at 345 Park Avenue.

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Lance Briggs goes to IR, and his days in Chicago may be over

Chicago Bears v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

Bears linebacker Lance Briggs is done for the season. And perhaps done for Chicago.

Briggs, the veteran who has spent his entire 12-year career with the Bears and been chosen to seven Pro Bowls, was placed on injured reserve today. That means the groin injury that has hampered him this season will now end his season.

It may also end his tenure with the Bears. There was already talk in Chicago that he wasn’t always seeing eye to eye with coach Marc Trestman and his staff, and at age 34 Briggs is not the same player he once was. Briggs, who is in the final year of his contract, acknowledged early this month that he’s probably not long for Chicago.

“I know the reality of it and I’m proud of all the years I’ve had here. It’s been great. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation,” Briggs said.

Now it’s time for Chicago to say goodbye to Briggs.

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Week 13 injury report roundup

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

Over the course of the week, there are a lot of posts about the most prominent injured players but we know that you might not see all of them and that some others may fall through the cracks. As a result, we’ll comb through all the injury reports every Friday afternoon so that there’s one stop for all the news from every team playing on Sunday. So, without further delay, the injury report roundup for Week 13 of the 2014 season.

Chargers at Ravens

The Chargers should have running back Ryan Mathews (shoulder, probable), but defensive tackle Ryan Carrethers (elbow) is out and linebacker Andrew Gachkar (knee) is doubtful after missing practice all week. Ravens wide receiver Michael Campanaro (hamstring) is questionable after missing the last three games. Linebackers Pernell McPhee (elbow) and Terrell Suggs (foot) are both probable.

Browns at Bills

Linebacker Karlos Dansby (knee) will miss another game for the Browns, who are hopeful that tight end Jordan Cameron (concussion, questionable) can play for the first time since Week Eight. Wide receiver Marlon Moore (hamstring) and safety Tashaun Gipson (knee) are also out, while defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (back) and linebacker Jabaal Sheard (foot) are questionable. Defensive end Jarius Wynn (knee), safety Bacarri Rambo (hamstring), tight end Chris Gregg (knee) are out for Buffalo, which brings an otherwise healthy group into Sunday.

Titans at Texans

Titans linebacker Kamerion Wimbley (hamstring) is out. Four players — tackles Taylor Lewan (ankle) and Michael Oher (toe), safety Michael Griffin (shoulder) and defensive back Marqueston Huff (hamstring) — are questionable. The Texans expect running back Arian Foster (groin) back in the lineup, but linebacker Jadeveon Clowney will miss another game with lingering knee pain resulting from his torn meniscus earlier in the season. Linebacker Akeem Dent (neck) is questionable.

Redskins at Colts

Washington brings a slew of questionable players with them to Indianapolis. Tackle Trent Williams (knee,ankle), tight end Jordan Reed (hamstring), defensive end Jason Hatcher (knee), safety Ryan Clark (stinger) and cornerback E.J. Biggers (concussion) are the notable members of that group. Colts tight end Dwayne Allen (ankle) is out again this week and he’ll be joined on the sideline by guard Hugh Thornton (knee), linebacker Andy Studebaker (hamstring) and tackle Xavier Nixon (foot). Cornerback Darius Butler (knee) is questionable after popping up on the injury report on Thursday.

Giants at Jaguars

Offensive lineman Adam Snyder (knee), defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (calf) and linebacker Jacquian Williams (concussion/shoulder) are all out for the Giants. Right tackle Justin Pugh (quad) and defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka (knee) are questionable. Linebackers LaRoy Reynolds (neck) and Jeremiah George (hamstring) are questionable for the Jags and defensive end Andre Branch (groin, probable) is on track to return.

Panthers at Vikings

The Panthers listed Amini Silatolu (knee) as doubtful, but they’ve already announced Mike Remmers will get the start at right tackle. On the defensive line, Star Lotulelei (ankle) is doubtful and defensive end Charles Johnson (illness) is questionable. The Vikings listed running back Jerick McKinnon (back) as doubtful, but McKinnon ruled himself out on Friday. Tight end Chase Ford (hamstring, foot) and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (knee) are questionable.

Saints at Steelers

The Saints ruled out linebacker Kyle Knox (hand) and running back Khiry Robinson (forearm). Cornerback Keenan Lewis (knee) is probable for the reunion with his previous team. Safety Troy Polamalu (knee) and cornerback Ike Taylor (arm) are probable to return to the lineup for Pittsburgh, although linebacker Ryan Shazier (knee) is less certain to return after being listed as questionable. Cornerback Cortez Allen (thumb) and defensive tackle Steve McLendon (shoulder) are both out this week.

Raiders at Rams

There were some encouraging signs earlier in the week, but the Raiders have ruled out running back Latavius Murray (concussion). Safety Jonathan Dowling (back), cornerback Carlos Rogers (knee) and cornerback Neiko Thorpe (hand) have also been ruled out and guard Gabe Jackson (knee) is questionable. Rams cornerback Marcus Roberson (ankle), while defensive tackle Alex Carrington (thigh) and safety Lamarcus Joyner (groin) are both questionable. The Rams have not activated defensive end Chris Long (ankle) from injured reserve and will make a call on his status this weekend.

Bengals at Buccaneers

Linebacker Vontaze Burfict (knee) will spend another week on the bench for the Bengals. Defensive end Margus Hunt (knee) is also out and linebacker Nico Johnson (illness) is questionable. So are Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David (hamstring), center Evan Dietrich-Smith (illness), defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (hamstring), tight end Brandon Myers (calf), tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (back), tight end Luke Stocker (concussion) and safety Major Wright (shoulder).

Cardinals at Falcons

It’s a game-time decision for Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (knee,questionable). Linebacker Kenny Demens (hamstring) and defensive tackle Ed Stinson (toe) are out. Defensive tackle Paul Soliai (not injury related) and wide receiver Roddy White (ankle) are both questionable for the Falcons, who won’t have cornerback Robert Alford (wrist) this week.

Patriots at Packers

The Patriots listed long snapper Danny Aiken (concussion), guard Dan Connolly (ankle), defensive end Dominique Easley (knee), tackle Cameron Fleming (ankle, finger), defensive end Chandler Jones (hip), wide receiver Brandon LaFell (shoulder), running back Shane Vereen (ankle) and linebacker Chris White (ankle) as questionable. No reason to worry about Tom Brady (ankle), though: He’s probable. Cornerback Jarrett Bush (groin, questionable) and linebacker Nick Perry (shoulder, questionable) are the only injury concerns for the Packers.

Broncos at Chiefs

Cornerback Aqib Talib (hamstring) and tight end Julius Thomas (ankle) are questionable after doing limited practice work this week. Running backs Montee Ball (groin) and Ronnie Hillman (foot) will miss another week and cornerback Kayvon Webster (shoulder) joins them on the sideline. The Chiefs won’t have wide receiver Junior Hemingway (concussion), but Donnie Avery (sports hernia surgery, probable) should be back after a long absence from the lineup. Cornerback Christopher Owens (knee, abdomen) and defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson (calf) are both questionable.

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Lardarius Webb fined $16,537 for horse-collar tackle

Joe Morgan, Lardarius Webb AP

On the second play of Monday night’s Ravens win over the Saints, Baltimore cornerback Lardarius Webb saved a touchdown by dragging Saints wide receiver Joe Morgan down on the 2-yard-line with a horse-collar tackle.

The play was flagged as a personal foul and Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports that Webb has been fined $16,537 by the NFL for the infraction. It’s a tidy sum of money, but well spent from the Ravens’ perspective.

The Ravens Defense was able to stop the Saints on four straight plays after Webb’s tackle stopped Morgan after a 67-yard run on an end around. The Ravens drove for a touchdown on the ensuing possession, putting them up seven points on the way to a 34-27 victory.

Wilson also reports that neither Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith nor Saints safety Kenny Vacarro were fined for an altercation that saw Vacarro penalized during the game. Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata also avoided a fine for a roughing the passer penalty.

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Ray Rice thanks judge, apologizes to his wife

Ray Rice, Janay Palmer

The NFLPA has every reason to gloat, for what is clearly a big win for the union with the reinstatement of former Ravens running back Ray Rice.

Rice, on the other hand, needs to show a bit more contrition since this whole deal began with him punching his wife in the face.

In a statement sent out by the union, Rice again expressed remorse for assaulting his wife Janay.

“I would like to thank Judge Barbara Jones, the NFL Players Association, my attorneys, agents, advisors, family, friends and fans — but most importantly, my wife Janay,” Rice said. “I made an inexcusable mistake and accept full responsibility for my actions. I am thankful that there was a proper appeals process in place to address this issue.

“I will continue working hard to improve myself and be the best husband, father and friend, while giving back to my community and helping others to learn from my mistakes.”

Whether he plays another down of football, fixing that relationship will be his biggest priority.

Rice said previously that at some point he hoped to be able to become an advocate in the fight against violence toward women.

Today clearly puts him a step closer to that, but only time will tell if his actions match his words.

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NFLPA hopes Rice decision helps “fix a broken process”

Super Bowl XLVIII NFLPA Press Conference Getty Images

Let the gloating begin.

In the wake of Judge Barbara Jones reinstating former Ravens running back Ray Rice, the players union has responded to what it views as a big win.

“This decision is a victory for a disciplinary process that is fair and transparent,” the NFLPA said in a statement. “This union will always stand up and fight for the due process rights of our players. While we take no pleasure in seeing a decision that confirms what we have been saying about the Commissioner’s office acting arbitrarily, we hope that this will bring the NFL owners to the collective bargaining table to fix a broken process.

“It is clear that this decision should force the NFL to embrace neutral arbitration as part of a necessary due process in all cases. The players thank Judge Barbara Jones for her time and thoroughness in this matter.”

While the players had the opportunity to bargain collectively for changes to this system previously, it’s clear that it will be a big issue next time they negotiate, and they’ll use this as evidence that Goodell has too much power.

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