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Lions fire three assistant coaches


A 4-12 record wasn’t enough to get Lions coach Jim Schwartz fired, but it did cost three members of his staff.

According to Anwar Richardson of, the Lions have fired wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson, running backs coach Sam Gash and tight ends coach Tim Lappano.

While it’s easy to wonder what Jefferson did, considering one of his players, Calvin Johnson, set the league’s all-time single-season receiving yardage record, there were issues.

Jefferson and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan had a sideline exchange over play-calling during a loss to the Packers, arguing over Johnson’s usage in the red zone.

And considering Schwartz just gave Linehan a glowing recommendation, it was easy to see whose side he took.

UPDATE 5:47 p.m. ET: Richardson has updated his previous report to say that Lappano was not fired, but Jefferson and Gash were still, in fact, fired. They have also fired offensive line coach George Yarno, so they’re still down three.

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Patriots signing Damaris Johnson to fill return job

New York Jets v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

The Patriots showed no patience with the last returner to make a mistake, so the new guy better know where the bar is set.

According to Mike Reiss of, the Patriots are signing receiver/return man Damaris Johnson.

He’ll replace Chris Harper, whose muffed punt Sunday night turned the tide against the Broncos and cost him his job Monday.

Johnson, who entered the league as an undrafted rookie from Tulsa, spent two seasons with the Eagles and last year with the Texans. He hasn’t been able to find work this year, but has averaged 25.1 yards per kickoff return and 9.5 yards per punt return.

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Giants sign Adam Gettis, place Geoff Schwartz on IR

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 28: Guard Adam Gettis #73 of the Washington Redskins on the sidelines against the Tampa Bay Buccaneersat Raymond James Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff McBride/Getty Images) Getty Images

With injuries riddling their offensive line, the Giants have added a healthy player from the Raiders practice squad.

The Giants announced Tuesday that they have signed Adam Gettis and placed Geoff Schwartz on injured reserve. Schwartz fractured his leg in last Sunday’s loss, which means he’s seen his season come to an early end for the second year in a row.

Gettis is familiar to the Giants after spending the last few weeks of last season and all of the offseason with the team. He spent some time on their practice squad earlier this year before being released and signing with Oakland. Gettis was a fifth-round pick of the Redskins in 2012 and saw action in 13 games for them in 2013, but has never made any starts at the NFL level.

Schwartz’s injury came in a game that the Giants played without left guard Justin Pugh and center Weston Richburg. Coach Tom Coughlin said he hoped to have at least one back for this week, although the nature of their injuries — Pugh is in the concussion protocol and Richburg has a high ankle sprain — makes that far from a sure thing.

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Browns confirm Josh McCown is out for the season

Josh McCown AP

Browns quarterback Josh McCown’s season is over.

McCown suffered a season-ending broken collarbone on Monday night against the Ravens, coach Mike Pettine announced today.

That means the Browns are down to two quarterbacks on the roster: Austin Davis, who stepped in for McCown after the injury last night, and Johnny Manziel, who was demoted to third string after a video of him partying emerged last week.

Will the Browns stand by their decision to make Manziel ride the bench because of his off-field problems? Or will they decide that they simply have no choice but to put Manziel on the field and see what he can do, even if they’re not pleased with the way he conducts himself off the field?

That’s the question Pettine will continue to face for as long as he refuses to anoint Manziel as the starter. As much as the Browns are disappointed with the way Manziel has conducted himself, the fact remains that they spent a first-round draft pick on him. If they’re not going to play him now, maybe they should just acknowledge that he’s never going to play in Cleveland.

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Mike Mularkey wants to see more from Titans receivers

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 29: Dorial Green-Beckham #17 of the Tennessee Titans catches a touchdown pass over Neiko Thorpe #31 of the Oakland Raiders at Nissan Stadium on November 29, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Getty Images

At 2-9, the Titans are going to spend the next five weeks playing out the string in hopes of taking some steps toward better days in 2016 and beyond.

One way to do that would be to continue building the offense around quarterback Marcus Mariota, who hasn’t done anything to make the team regret selecting him with the second overall pick in this year’s draft. To that end, interim coach Mike Mularkey thinks that wide receivers Kendall Wright and Dorial Green-Beckham need to start making more plays when the ball comes their way.

Mularkey added that he is looking for normal catches not “Odell Beckham catches” from the two wideouts, who have 46 catches between them this season.

“We had chances, Marcus is giving these guys chances,” Mularkey said, via the team’s website. “But we’re not making the plays … It’s the go routes outside that it just feels like we’re getting hit on them, and we’re not hitting ‘em. We have to make a play on those plays, because [Marcus] is giving us a chance to make them. They’re getting called, and they’re getting called to the right guys. We’re giving DGB a chance, and I’d like to see him with his size to go up and pluck that thing out of the air … I’d like to see [Wright] do the same thing.”

Wright, who missed three games with a knee injury before returning against the Raiders last Sunday, said earlier this season that he was “beyond frustrated” by the opportunities he was getting on offense. Mularkey’s comments show that there’s some frustration on both sides when it comes to the wideouts this season, although there’s a pretty good chance that changing the results will fall on a different coach in 2016.

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Report: Jamie Collins plans to play this week

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 29:  Chandler Jones #95 and Jamie Collins #91 of the New England Patriots react during the second quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on October 29, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Patriots had a hard time stopping the run last Sunday night after Dont’a Hightower was forced out of the game with a knee injury.

Jamie Collins was already sidelined with the illness that’s kept him from playing the last four weeks and the Broncos took advantage to the tune of 136 yards on 17 carries once Hightower joined him on the shelf. Hightower reportedly has a sprained MCL, so he may not be able to go against the Eagles this week but Collins’s health is moving in the right direction.

Collins returned to practice last Friday for the first time since becoming ill and Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reports that the linebacker plans to play this week.

Collins has been a major part of the Patriots’ defense against both the run and pass this season, making 51 tackles and sacking quarterbacks 4.5 times while also forcing three fumbles. New England would welcome that kind of production back under any circumstances, but they’ll be especially happy to see him if Hightower isn’t given a green light.

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Jeff Fisher’s not worried about job security

St. Louis Rams v Seattle Seahawks AP

Anyone who questions Jeff Fisher’s job status can kiss his, . . . Oh, no wait, that’s a different question.

But the Rams head coach has as much interest in questions about his own job security as his team’s effort, with his Rams staring down a fourth straight losing season thanks to their fourth straight loss.

He was asked Monday if he thought he deserved a fifth season with the Rams, and he said he wasn’t thinking about it.

“I’ve been doing this for probably short of 20 years, and I’ve never gone into a game or into a season worried about my job security,” Fisher said, via Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “That would be unfair to the organization and unfair to the players. So I’m not concerned about that.

“What I’m concerned about is this week. I know that’s not the answer you guys want to hear, but I’m concerned about this week. We’re 3-0 in the division. We’ve got the division leader coming to town, and we’re going to get ready to play.”

With the Cardinals coming to town, the 4-7 Rams can only hope to play as sharply as they did before. But barring a five-game winning streak, they’ll endure a 12th straight non-winning season, which you can’t pin on Fisher alone (Steve Spagnuolo, Scott Linehan and Mike Martz deserve plenty of credit too).

But Fisher’s also in the fourth year of a five-year deal paying him around $7 million per year.

It’s reasonable to expect more than 24-34-1 for that kind of loot. But Fisher’s greatest skill may be survival, as he has six double-digit-win seasons in his 21 years in the NFL, with nine years of either seven or eight wins.

A career record of 166-154-1 looks good, but that .519 mark was built on that back of three 13-3 records with the Titans.

Like his career-arc doppelganger John Fox, there’s something to be said for consistency. And Fisher’s teams are almost always competitive, even if they don’t have a quarterback at that particular time.

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Tomlin says Roethlisberger has a concussion

Ben Roethlisberger AP

Ben Roethlisberger suffered a concussion on Sunday. Unless he didn’t.

More specifically, he says he didn’t. His head coach says Roethlisberger did.

In his weekly press conference, Tomlin said that Roethlisberger indeed suffered a concussion against Seattle. Regardless of whether Roethlisberger calls it a concussion, he’s in the concussion protocol. Which means that someone believes he suffered a concussion, and that he won’t be playing until he passes the various steps — culminating in clearance from an independent neurologist.

Roethlisberger, who self-reported the concussion symptoms, has no reason to lie about his diagnosis. It’s possible he’s confused.

Regardless, the player never has the final word on injuries of this nature. If the coach says Roethlisberger has a concussion, then he has a concussion.

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NFL says Ravens were not offside on blocked field goal

Shareece Wright, John Harbaugh AP

Another Monday night, another controversial call from the officials. But this time the NFL says the officials were right.

On the last play of Monday night’s game in Cleveland, the Ravens blocked the Browns’ field goal attempt and returned it for a touchdown. It looked like a great play by the Ravens and another rough break for the Browns, but by Tuesday morning, fans and members of the media were asking whether it was actually a blown call: Ravens defensive back Anthony Levine may have had his hand in the neutral zone at the snap.

However, the league office tells PFT that the play has been reviewed, and the officials got it right. Although Levine’s hand was over the line of scrimmage superimposed on the ESPN broadcast, that line is not official, and the league says Levine got back behind the actual line of scrimmage.

“The ball was spotted at the 33-and-a-half yard line for the kick,” NFL spokesman Michael Signora told PFT via email. “The center moves the ball up slightly to get in position for the snap. The black line you see, which television uses to denote the line of scrimmage, appears to be at the 33, not the 33-and-a-half. So when the ball is snapped, the defensive player is not at the 33-and-a-half yard-line and he appears to be in a legal position.”

The NFL also said Ravens defensive back Will Hill did not step out of bounds on his touchdown return, contrary to some images suggesting that he might have.

This season has been full of missed calls by the officials, and Monday Night Football has been particularly affected by. We’ve already had an official miss an illegal bat on the Seahawks in the final moments of a win over the Lions, and an official miss a mistake by the clock operator late in the Steelers’ comeback win over the Chargers. The NFL admitted those two mistakes but says that on this Monday night in Cleveland, the officials properly called the final play.

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Jerry Jones bristles at questions about Tony Romo’s longevity

Tony Romo AP

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett thinks quarterback Tony Romo has a lot of football left in him. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has a specific number in mind: four or five years.

That’s what Jones said in one of his twice-weekly appearances on 105.3 The Fan. Romo, who turns 36 in April, who has had multiple back surgeries, and who has broken the same collarbone three times, will play, in the opinion, of the team’s owner four or five more years.

Pressed on the point, Jones eventually bristled.

“This is not a debate,” Jones said. “I don’t know if he’s got 4 or 5 years — you asked me my opinion.”

Jones’ opinion traditionally lands in the glass-half-full category, regardless of what he truly believes. And based on what we’ve seen from Romo the past few years, it’s hard to imagine him remaining healthy enough to play at a high level at age 36, 37, 38, 39, and/or 40.

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Report: Browns signing Terrelle Pryor

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 03: Terrelle Pryor #87 of the Cleveland Browns runs around end against the Chicago Bears during a preseason game at Soldier Field on September 3, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Browns 24-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Browns couldn’t find a spot on their roster for Terrelle Pryor in September, but it appears they’ve got one in December.

Mary Kay Cabot of reports that the Browns will be signing Pryor on Tuesday. Per Cabot, Pryor was set to meet with the Bears but has opted to return to the Browns instead.

Pryor was with the team through camp despite a hamstring injury that kept him off the field much of the time, but he was released days before the start of the season when they claimed Robert Turbin off of waivers. He’s worked out for several teams over the last few months without landing another job in the NFL.

Pryor was playing wide receiver for the Browns this summer and that’s presumably where he’ll be playing this time as well. They played without Taylor Gabriel and Andrew Hawkins because of concussions on Monday night and Dwayne Bowe has given the team nothing since signing with them as a free agent during the offseason.

With Josh McCown getting hurt again on Monday, there’s a chance they may also like the prospect of Pryor serving as further depth at quarterback. Austin Davis and Johnny Manziel are already on the roster at the position.

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Bills add three, and of course one of them’s an ex-Jet

Anthony Dixon, T.J. Barnes AP

The Bills made some moves to replenish their injury thinned defensive line.

And yes, of course, they went out and found a former Jet among them.

The Bills announced they had signed defensive tackle T.J. Barnes and defensive end Lavar Edwards, along with linebacker LB Kevin Reddick, while placing veteran defensive tackle Kyle Williams on season-ending injured reserve because of a knee problem.

The 6-foot-7, 364-pound Barnes came from the Jets practice squad. He was with them last year when Bills coach Rex Ryan was coaching the Jets, hence the requisite familiarity. He’s bounced between the practice squad and active roster in New York, playing in six games this season.

Reddick has bounced among five teams, and was on the Bills practice squad earlier this year. Edwards was signed off the Cowboys practice squad.

The Bills were short up front, with Williams not able to come back from a year-long knee issue, and defensive tackle Alex Carrington going down with a knee injury last week. They don’t know whether defensive end Mario Williams is going to be able to go this week, hence the need for depth there.

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PFT Live: Broncos talk with Vic Lombardi, Colts talk with Bob Kravitz

499221406 Getty Images

The Broncos became the first team to beat the Patriots this season with last Sunday night’s overtime victory, leaving them with a 9-2 record ahead of this weekend’s trip to San Diego.

That game will mark Brock Osweiler’s third start at quarterback and we’ll spend some time on PFT Live talking about Osweiler’s play when Vic Lombardi of CBS4 in Denver joins Mike Florio. In addition to looking at Osweiler, they’ll discuss the Broncos rushing performance against New England and Peyton Manning’s injury.

Bob Kravitz of WTHR will join the show as well for a chat about the 6-5 Colts. That conversation will also have a lot to do with quarterbacks and injuries, specifically the one that is keeping Andrew Luck out of the lineup.

As always, we also want to hear what PFT Planet thinks. Email questions at any time or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk to let us know what’s on your mind.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen to all three hours live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app.

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Ben Roethlisberger: “I’ll play through any injury but brain”

Ben Roethlisberger AP

When rules were tightened up to reduce high hits, many players complained that it would result in defenders diving at their knees.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger apparently values another part of his body slightly more.

After self-reporting concussion symptoms during last week’s game and taking himself off the field, Roethlisberger said today on his weekly radio show on 93.7 The Fan that “I’ll play through any injury but brain.”

“I feel like I made the right [decision],” he said, via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-GazetteI think more guys should do it.”

Roethlisberger said he thinks he’s cleared the concussion test he took this morning, saying it was more of a migraine. During the game, he told team doctors that his peripheral vision wasn’t normal, and that’s when they shut him down for the day. But he said those symptoms went away shortly after the game.

Roethlisberger has played through a number of injuries, often coming back well before he should. And while it’s certainly easier for a star with financial and positional security to raise his hand and ask out of a game, perhaps his being willing to do so will help others take the necessary steps for self-preservation.

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Lions: To stop Packers, we have to stop run

497301808 Getty Images

When the Lions and Packers met in Week 10, the Lions held the Packers to 47 yards on the ground and Green Bay’s 61 pass attempts couldn’t generate enough offense to avoid an 18-16 loss.

The Packers were missing Eddie Lacy in that game, but he’s returned with 205 yards on 39 carries in the last two games to provide some more balance to their offense. The Lions expect to see a heavy dose of Lacy in their rematch with the Pack on Thursday night and safety Glover Quin says that the team is focused on making sure that the Packers don’t run their way to victory.

“Even though Aaron Rodgers is a super, super great, talented quarterback, they got great running backs in Eddie Lacy and James Starks,” Quin said, via the Detroit Free Press. “And if you let those guys get going, that’s going to make Aaron Rodgers even better. So you’ve got to make sure you stop the run game.”

Coming into the season, it was hard to imagine too many people would predict that teams would propose that making Rodgers and the Packers beat them through the air would be a good way to wind up with a victory. Things haven’t played out as expected for the Packers offense, however, and it’s hard to argue with a goal of making Green Bay one-dimensional on Thursday night.

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Morelli should be glad to avoid another Colts-Steelers game

461046528-1 Getty Images

After making a series of mistakes that included not properly counting the downs in Sunday’s game between the Cardinals and 49ers, referee Pete Morelli and his crew have been yanked from Sunday night’s game between the Colts and Steelers.

The crew isn’t happy, but maybe the chief of the crew should be.

A decade ago, Morelli presided over a playoff game between the Pittsburgh and Indianapolis. The sixth-seeded Steelers upset the Colts, who finished the season as the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

The game included a significant error from Morelli, who incorrectly overturned via replay review an interception made by former Steelers safety Troy Polamalu.

Despite the fact that the Steelers won the game, someone was sufficiently upset with the outcome to throw a rock through a window in Morelli’s California home. Via Deadspin, the authorities were stumped: “There was no way to determine if this had anything to do with his NFL job. . . . There was no note on the rock.”

By avoiding the Sunday night game between the Colts and Steelers, Morelli has less reason to worry about more rocks, with or without notes on them.

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