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Quality of turf at FedEx Field becomes factor in Griffin aftermath

hi-res-159046803_crop_exact Getty Images

Apart from the question of whether Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III should have or shouldn’t have been playing with an obvious knee injury is the question of whether anyone should be playing on that choppy, uneven surface attached to the floor of FedEx Field.

The natural grass at FedEx Field is, by January, neither natural nor grass.  The agent for Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons has blamed Clemons’ feared ACL tear on the “crappy” condition of the surface, via the Washington Post.

Now that the Redskins have a prized asset at the quarterback position, they need to protect that asset by giving him a surface that maximizes his skill and protects his body.  And if the Redskins insist on sticking with grass, they need to make it and keep it pristine by, among other things, playing no college football games at the facility.

Until that happens, the folks at UPS will be very glad that their company’s name isn’t the one attached to the Redskins’ home stadium.

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Ware, Stephenson, Green out for Broncos

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25:  John Phillips #86 of the Denver Broncos celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the Broncos head to Tampa Bay for a battle with the Buccaneers, the Broncos will be missing three key players: linebacker DeMarcus Ware (forearm), guard Donald Stephenson (calf), and tight end Virgil Green (calf).

Based on comments from coach Gary Kubiak, it sounds as if Green’s absence wasn’t anticipated.

“I don’t want to say it’s been a little slower than we thought,” Kubiak told reporters. “We thought we were maybe looking at [one] game, but we’re here at the end of the week. We pushed him a little bit yesterday. I don’t think we went backwards or anything, we just didn’t feel like we made enough progress to put him out there. It’s a long season. Jeff [Heuerman] and John [Phillips] have to step up again. . . .

“We’re going to play them both. I think John still starts the game. John has done a really good job. I think he’s getting better for us. Jeff obviously gained some confidence last week, making a big play for us in the game. However much we use those guys, it’ll probably be right down the middle again. We’re going to play them both.”

Phillips (pictured) had two catches for nine yards and a touchdown last Sunday at Cincinnati. Heuerman added one catch for 29 yards.

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Duane Brown remains out for Texans

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 03: An injured Duane Brown #76 of the Houston Texans is carted off the field while playing agains the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first quarter on January 3, 2016 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Texans have had left tackle Duane Brown on the practice field in recent days, but he’s not ready to make his regular season debut.

Brown has been out since having offseason quad surgery and was ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Titans on Friday. Brown was a limited participant in practice this week, so his return to the lineup probably may not be far off. Chris Clark will continue to start in his place.

Linebacker Brian Cushing and safety Quintin Demps were also limited in practice on Friday and both have been listed as questionable for Sunday. Cushing was expected to miss 4-6 weeks after hurting his knee in the season opener, but expressed optimism this week that he’d beat that timetable. Demps is dealing with a hamstring injury.

Wide receiver Braxton Miller has been ruled out with a hamstring injury for the second straight week. Tight end Stephen Anderson and running back Jonathan Grimes will also be inactive this weekend.

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Dez Bryant not ruled out, but “we want to be safe”

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 25:  Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys runs for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears in the fourth quarter at AT&T Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cowboys aren’t ruling wide receiver Dez Bryant out for Sunday’s game against the 49ers, but it sounds like chances are good that he will miss the game.

Bryant suffered a hairline fracture in his right knee against the Bears last Sunday and his status for this week was clouded by a delay in taking an MRI until the middle of the week that, when coupled with Bryant’s absence from team meetings, led to a fine from the club.

Bryant said Friday that all is good with the team now and that everyone is trying to be “smart” about the best way to handle the injury so that Bryant returns as quickly as possible in good health.

“We want to be safe,” Bryant said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “It’s a long season. I feel good. We’re going to go from there.”

Terrence Williams, Colt Beasley and Brice Butler would be the top wideouts if Bryant is indeed out of Sunday’s game with tight end Jason Witten also on hand as the Cowboys try to improve to 3-1.

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Antonio Brown planning to wear Arnold Palmer’s image on his cleats

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07:  Honorary starter Arnold Palmer attends the ceremonial tee off to start the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was fined after Week One for wearing blue cleats, which is a violation of the league’s uniform rules, and he changed cleats at halftime last weekend after an official told him he wouldn’t be allowed to return to the game while again wearing shoes of the wrong color.

Brown is planning to wear black-and-gold cleats for Sunday night’s game against the Chiefs, which fits with the rule calling for shoes to be in team colors, but there will be a bit of a twist. Brown plans to have an image of the late golfing legend Arnold Palmer, who died last Sunday, on the shoes.

Brown said he wants to have “some motivation” and inspiration each week of the season and chose Palmer after spending time at Palmer’s house in Latrobe, Pennsylvania before this summer’s training camp.

“A guy like Arnold, his legacy and what he meant not only to the world, but to Latrobe, to Pennsylvania, his legacy will live on,” Brown said, via “An inspiring guy. I’m glad I got a moment to share with him.”

Brown’s choice should win him the backing of Arnie’s Army along with the weekly support he and the rest of the Steelers get from the remnants of Franco’s Italian Army.

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Joey Bosa out again this week for Chargers, with lingering hamstring

San Diego Chargers NFL football player Joey Bosa wipes his brow while working out at his first practice since agreeing to a four year contract, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi) AP

We’re going to have to wait at least another week to see Joey Bosa make his NFL debut.

Via Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chargers have ruled their first-round pick out for Sunday’s game against the Saints.

They also ruled safety Jahleel Addae and cornerback Brandon Flowers out, while tight end Antonio Gates and left tackle King Dunlap are doubtful.

Bosa practiced this week, but was limited because of the hamstring issue that has been a bother since he missed training camp and signed just before the start of the regular season.

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Running back Doug Martin still out for Buccaneers

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 27: Running back Doug Martin #22 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers warms up before the game against the Chicago Bears at Raymond James Stadium on December 27, 2015 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff McBride/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***  Doug Martin Getty Images

The Buccaneers are going to face one of the best defenses in the league, and they’re going to have to do it without several key offensiv eparts.

Via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, the Bucs are listing running back Doug Martin, wide receiver Cecil Shorts, tight end Luke Stocker and defensive end Robert Ayers as out for Sunday’s game against the Broncos.

Martin left the Week Two game against the Cardinals with a hamstring strain and didn’t play last week against the Rams.

Charles Sims had 124 yards from scrimmage in his stead last week (55 yards rushing, 69 receiving), a decent performance from a backup. But against a Broncos defense that’s playing at Super Bowl level (if not better), it might not be enough.

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Stanley misses practice again, but Ravens won’t rule him out

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 11: Terrance West #28 of the Baltimore Ravens gets a hug from teammate Ronnie Stanley #79 after a one-yard touchdown in the second quarter of a preseason NFL game against the Carolina Panthers at M&T Bank Stadium on August 11, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Ravens rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley did not practice all week due to a foot injury, but Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Friday that he won’t rule Stanley out of Sunday’s game vs. the Raiders.

“I think he still has a chance for Sunday,” Harbaugh said.

The Ravens are obviously hopeful that Stanley will be able to play against the Raiders and All-Pro Khalil Mack. James Hurst is the most likely replacement if Stanley can’t play.

Ravens left guard Alex Lewis practiced on a limited basis Friday after missing two days due to a concussion.

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Jamaal Charles questionable, Charcandrick West out for Chiefs

CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 4:  Shawn Williams #36 of the Cincinnati Bengals attempts to tackle Jamaal Charles #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the second quarter of the game at Paul Brown Stadium on October 4, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Chiefs have good news and bad news at running back.

Jamaal Charles is listed as questionable for Sunday night’s game against the Steelers. That means he has a shot at playing for the first time this season, after missing Weeks 1-3 while recovering from the knee injury that ended his 2015 season.

The bad news is that Charcandrick West has been ruled out with an ankle injury. West, who has 12 carries for 63 yards this season, had been the No. 2 running back behind Spencer Ware.

The Chiefs are also listing Tamba Hali and Phillip Gaines as questionable. Jah Reid has been ruled out.

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Bill O’Brien confirms J.J. Watt out for rest of season

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 09:  Head coach Bill O'Brien of the Houston Texans looks on before playing against the Kansas City Chiefs during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at NRG Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

There was a report on Thursday night that the Texans had determined that defensive end J.J. Watt wouldn’t return at any point this season after being placed on injured reserve and it’s safe to close the book on him until 2017.

Texans coach Bill O’Brien confirmed on Friday that Watt will not be able to return from his back injury this year. Watt had surgery on Thursday, marking the second time that he’s had an operation on his back in the last few months.

The loss of Watt is a big one for the Texans, obviously, and finding success in his absence will take better results across the board. Friday brought word that O’Brien will resume calling plays on offense to ensure that unit does its part, although O’Brien said that the key remains what happens after the play’s been sent in.

“I’m responsible for every play that goes into the game,” O’Brien said. “It doesn’t matter who calls the plays. It’s all about the execution.”

The Texans will try to execute better against the Titans this Sunday than they did against the Patriots in a 27-0 loss their last time out.

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Ryan Shazier, Eli Rogers among seven Steelers ruled out

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Eli Rogers #17 of the Pittsburgh Steelers attempts to stiff arm Derron Smith #31 of the Cincinnati Bengals after making a catch in the first quarter during the game at Heinz Field on September 18, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Steelers had a lengthy list of injuries coming into the start of this week’s practices and the list remains long heading into Sunday night’s game against the Chiefs.

Pittsburgh has ruled out seven players for the game, including several starters. Linebacker Ryan Shazier won’t play because of a knee injury, slot receiver Eli Rogers will be out with a toe injury, safety Robert Golden has been felled by a hamstring injury and left guard Ramon Foster has a bruised sternum.

Foster will be replaced by B.J. Finney, who hurt his finger during Thursday’s practice but says he’s fine to play this weekend. Safety Sean Davis also looks set to play after returning to practice Friday despite the back injury that sidelined him the first two days of the week.

Fullback Roosevelt Nix, cornerback Senquez Golson and center Cody Wallace are the others who will miss the game with the Chiefs. None of them have played in a game yet this season.

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Bashaud Breeland, Josh Doctson out this weekend

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 18: Wide receiver Josh Doctson #18 of the Washington Redskins misses a catch against cornerback Morris Claiborne #24 of the Dallas Cowboys in the second half at FedExField on September 18, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Redskins coach Jay Gruden said this week that the team might shut down wide receiver Josh Doctson for a couple of weeks in hopes of getting him past the Achilles injury that has bothered him since the spring.

They are shutting him down for at least this weekend’s game against the Browns. The Redskins released their final injury report of the week on Friday and Doctson has been ruled out for Sunday’s game.

The team will also be without a pair of cornerbacks. Bashaud Breeland had to leave last weekend’s win over the Giants with an ankle injury and missed practice all week, which made Friday’s announcement that he’d miss the game an unsurprising one. Dashaun Phillips replaced Breeland last Sunday, but will miss the Browns game due to a hamstring injury. Quinton Dunbar, Greg Toler and Kendall Fuller join Josh Norman as cornerback options for Sunday.

Left guard Shawn Lauvao left last week’s game with an ankle injury as well and he remains out this week. Arie Kouandjo will start in his place while Spencer Long will play center in place of Kory Lichtensteiger, who was placed on injured reserve earlier this week.

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Cutler out of practice again, listed as doubtful

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) walks off the field with a trainer during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Monday, Sept. 19, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) AP

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler did not practice again Friday and will be listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game vs. the Lions.

Brian Hoyer is in line for his second straight start. Cutler didn’t play last week in Dallas after suffering a thumb injury in the second half in Week 2 against the Eagles.

Cutler was a limited participant in the team’s first practice session of the week on Wednesday and did what was described as “light throwing” without wearing a brace on his thumb. He didn’t practice Thursday.

The Bears also listed Cutler as doubtful last week, and he was a gameday inactive.

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Jay Gruden: I don’t know what a catch is, I don’t know if anyone does

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 22:  Head coach Jay Gruden of the Washington Redskins  watches his team play against the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Washington coach Jay Gruden wasn’t happy with the referee or the league office after his team lost what looked like an interception on Sunday against the Giants.

Gruden said everyone who has looked at the replay has told him that safety David Bruton picked off an Eli Manning pass in the end zone, but the officials ruled that Bruton did not possess the ball inbounds.

“Everybody says it was an interception except for the replay guy,” Gruden said. “I don’t know what the rule is. We’ve just got to live by it. I thought his elbow was down, I thought his butt was down, I thought he had control of the ball. I thought it was a clear challengeable play, it just didn’t work out for us. I don’t know what a catch is anymore. I don’t know if anybody does. We just are at the mercy of the result. I thought I could have maybe challenged the one Josh [Norman] stripped on Odell [Beckham] too. That was close. I was afraid. You know, you’ve just got to take the information that is given to you from upstairs or what you see on the replay and make a decision and hope for the best, but it didn’t work out for us.”

Gruden’s complaint is a common one, and one that we may just be stuck with in the NFL: No one knows what constitutes a catch.

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Dez Bryant’s leg fracture isn’t a pain issue, according to actual expert

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 25:  Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on prior to a game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears at AT&T Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

People involved with pro football teams who never take physical risks and who don’t have to perform while tolerating pain are sometimes quick to dismiss injuries as matters of pain tolerance, a not-so-subtle way of challenging a player to prove that he’s willing to endure the discomfort (or to take medications intended to numb it) in order to suit up and play. When it comes to any player who has a broken bone, the pain that naturally will flow from playing is secondary to the risk of the break getting worse.

“You can put any kind of fancy adjective up front, call it a hairline fracture or a stress fracture, it’s still a crack in the bone,” long-time NFL athletic trainer and current NBC Sports Medicine Analyst Mike Ryan said on Friday’s PFT Live. “So the concern here is the fact of the injury itself getting worse. A fracture can always get worse. And if the rumors are true that it is in the tibia plateau, that’s a weight-bearing surface. . . . The biggest concern here is more of the injury itself worsening, not necessarily pain management.”

So, yes, pain is part of it. However, playing with the fracture increases the risk that the fracture will get worse.

In other words, comments from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones regarding receiver Dez Bryant do not accurately reflect the consequences of playing. It’s more than tolerating pain; it’s about preventing the injury from getting worse.

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Panthers left tackle Michael Oher out with concussion

SAN JOSE, CA - FEBRUARY 02:  Tackle Michael Oher #73 of the Carolina Panther addresses the media prior to Super Bowl 50 at the San Jose Convention Center/ San Jose Marriott on February 2, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Panthers have had some protection issues in losses to the Broncos and Vikings.

And in trying to buck that trend against a team far less able to pressure Cam Newton, they’re going to have to do it without left tackle Michael Oher.

The Panthers announced that Oher was out this week against the Falcons, with a concussion, which was presumably suffered in practice.

The Panthers will also be without running back Jonathan Stewart and defensive tackle Vernon Butler, but they knew that already. Defensive end Charles Johnson is questionable after a quad strain in practice.

But Oher’s absence will cause a big adjustment, as they’ll likely shift right tackle Mike Remmers to the left side and plug Daryl Williams in at right tackle. The alternative is using journeyman Donald Hawkins at left tackle and leaving Remmers in place, and coach Ron Rivera told reporters they’re still making a decision on how to progress.

The Falcons don’t have the same kind of pass-rush assets as other teams the Panthers have faced, but going in short-handed won’t help a team trying to even its record after a 1-2 start.

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