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Justin Smith remains limited in practice, but signs point to him playing

Justin Smith AP

If the RG3 knee injury, which came at a time when he clearly shouldn’t have been playing, will spark a culture change in the NFL when it comes to injured players playing, it may take a little while for the shift to begin.

Maybe, perhaps, until God isn’t willing and/or the creek rises.

That likely won’t happen in time to keep 49ers keeping defensive lineman Justin Smith out of Saturday night’s showdown with the Packers as he continues to recover from a torn triceps.

Smith practiced on Thursday, once again on a limited basis.  As Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle explains the situation, it sounds like the team will let Smith play if he thinks he can, which sounds a lot like the rationale given by the Redskins for leaving Griffin in Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks, until multiple ligaments in his knee popped.

“Well, [Smith] told me he’s ready and he’s ready to go,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Tuesday.  “And that’s enough for me.”

On Wednesday, Jim Harbaugh said that, in the end, it’s up to the physicians not the players.  “The doctors are always consulted,” Harbaugh said.  “And the player knows his body the best, but the doctors have final decision.  They’re not going to just let a guy go out and play if he can’t protect himself, or could severely make it worse than what it already is.  That’s a general rule of thumb.”

Still, the players think the doctors will defer to their supposed patients.  “It’s basically us,” tight end Delanie Walker said.  “[The team doctor] will tell you he don’t think you should [play], but if you feel like you think you can, they’d give you the OK.  You know your body better than anyone.”

That’s the common attitude for most NFL teams.  The players want to play, and the team doctors won’t be the team doctors for long if they don’t let the players play when the players want to play.

In Smith’s case, if (when) he plays he’ll be wearing a brace.  Ostler asked Harbaugh how the brace would protect Smith’s damaged triceps muscle.  “At the risk of sounding like I don’t know what I’m talking about,” Harbaugh said, “I suggest maybe talking to the brace manufacturer, or to one of our medical personnel or trainers.”

Harbaugh reportedly inserted a long pause before saying “manufacturer,” which created the impression that his response was “talk to the brace.”  As to talking to the team’s medical personnel or trainers, Ostler says the team won’t allow that.

So, yes, we’ll all get more info from talking to the brace.

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Rex: I’m proud of how Bills played on Sunday

ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 04:  Head Coach Rex Ryan of the Buffalo Bills watches warm-ups before the game against the New York Giants at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 4, 2015 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Rex Ryan’s Bills fell to 2-2 on the season in a 24-10 home loss to the Giants that was marked by a staggering number of penalties against Buffalo.

The Bills were flagged for 17 accepted penalties over the course of the contest, which is even more than they committed in a Week Two loss to the Patriots that was also marked by repeated losses of composure by Ryan’s club. There were false starts, personal fouls and everything in between over the course of the afternoon, but Ryan wasn’t dismayed by the apparent lack of discipline.

“I’m proud of the way this team played,” Ryan said in his postgame press conference. “Can we play a lot smarter? Absolutely. But I’ll take a team that’ll fight over a team that will sit back and take it every day of the week and bring on the next team. Give me a team that’s got some fight and will compete to the very end right, wrong or indifferent no matter how good the officiating is or whatever.”

Ryan said that reporters were free to write what they want, but that “the real deal” wasn’t that the Bills are an undisciplined team. Defensive tackle Kyle Williams said, via Mike Rodak of, that the Giants were doing things to provoke the Bills and that the officials are “looking for things, whether they’re legitimate or not” because of Buffalo’s reputation for drawing flags so far this season.

The Bills found plenty of other ways to hurt themselves on Sunday, but their inability to stop committing penalties was a killer to their chances of improving to 3-1. Ryan said the problem can be fixed and it will need to if his team is going to be known for anything other than putting up a fight this season.

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Bears lose starting center Will Montgomery to broken fibula

Will Montgomery AP

The Bears won their first game today, but lost their starting center.

Bears coach John Fox said at his post-game press conference that Will Montgomery has suffered a broken fibula. Although Fox did not say how long Montgomery is out, he will presumably miss significant time, and possibly the rest of the season.

The Bears moved guard Matt Slauson to center for the rest of the game after Montgomery went down. It is unknown whether Slauson will stay at center going forward, or if the Bears will juggle their line elsewhere.

Bears safety Antrel Rolle left the game with an ankle injury but said afterward that nothing was broken and he did not think the injury was severe.

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Chargers WR Malcom Floyd out with concussion

Malcolm Floyd, James Dockery AP

The Chargers have announced that wide receiver Malcolm Floyd will not return to Sunday’s game vs. the Browns due to a concussion.

Floyd appeared woozy after taking a shot from Browns linebacker Nate Orchard in the second quarter. Floyd, 34, has a concussion history and has hinted that this could be his final season.

The Chargers are down to three available wide receivers — Keenan Allen, Stevie Johnson and Dontrelle Inman — with Floyd out. The team made Jacoby Jones inactive for Sunday’s game.

The Browns got a field goal late in the second quarter to tie the game, 13-13, at halftime.

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Janoris Jenkins doing his best David Tyree, as Rams lead Cards

New York Giants v St. Louis Rams Getty Images

They have a pretty high standard for acrobatic catches with the head at University of Phoenix Stadium.

So while nothing today will match Giants wide receiver David Tyree in the Super Bowl, Janoris Jenkins at least added another chapter to that particular book.

The Rams cornerback just picked off Carson Palmer in the end zone, as the Rams are out to a lead over the undefeated Cardinals.

Jenkins was reaching back and pinned the ball against his head as he was falling, as Palmer was taking a shot downfield for John Brown.

The Rams got an early touchdown pass from Nick Foles to Tavon Austin, and tacked on a field goal after Jenkins’ pick.

The Cardinals have adjusted their game plan for the Rams’ pass-rush, working two and three-tight end sets and throwing short passes to get the ball out quickly, but they haven’t been able to get to the end zone yet.

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DeMarco Murray not happy with his role

Bashaud Breeland, DeMarco Murray AP

Last year after four games, DeMarco Murray had 99 carries for 534 yards. This year through four games, Murray has 29 carries for 47 yards.

After Sunday’s loss in Washington, Murray was asked if he’s getting enough touches.

No, I’m not,” Murray said, via Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I don’t think I am.”

Berman notes that Murray said he knew what he signed up for in Philadelphia, where the plan going in was to spread the opportunities among multiple running backs. Still, Murray expected more.

“I knew I was going to be the lead guy,” Murray said. “I knew [Darren] Sproles and [Ryan] Mathews, two great guys. I knew this offense, a lot of guys touch the ball.”

So will he take it up with the coaching staff?

“I don’t need to go to anyone,” Murray said. “It is what it is.”

He now doesn’t need to go to anyone. Because everyone now knows he’s not happy.

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Bengals run through, past Chiefs

Jeremy Hill AP

The Chiefs managed seven field goals Sunday afternoon.

They didn’t much manage to slow down the Bengals.

Twice in six days the Chiefs have played unbeaten teams and haven’t been good enough to keep up. Andy Dalton was sharp again Sunday for the Bengals and Jeremy Hill ran for three touchdowns in a 36-21 Bengals win.

Yep. The Chiefs managed only those seven Cairo Santos field goals.

Hill had just 40 yards on nine carries but he scored the game’s first touchdown, its last and one in between. Giovani Bernard again led the Bengals with 62 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown of his own.

Dalton was 17-of-24 for 321 yards and a touchdown to Brandon Tate. He completed passes to six different receivers and wasn’t sacked.

The Bengals sacked Alex Smith five times. Smith threw for 386 yards but the Chiefs couldn’t find the end zone. They were 0-for-3 in the red zone.

At 4-0, the Bengals lead the AFC North by two games and it must feel like more given the injuries the Steelers and Ravens are battling. The Bengals host the Seahawks next week.

The Chiefs lost their third straight to slip to 1-3. They host the Bears next week.

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Colts in first place after overtime win over Jaguars

Adam Vinatieri, Pat McAfee AP

The Indianapolis Colts aren’t pretty, but they are all alone in first place in the AFC South.

The Colts made a statement today, and that statement is that they’re the best team in a bad division. With an injured Andrew Luck out and the Colts led by 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck, Indianapolis needed overtime but managed to win, 16-13.

Jaguars kicker Jason Myers missed two potentially game-winning field goals, one wide right at the end of the fourth quarter and one wide left in overtime. That second miss set up the Colts to drive down the field, with a long Frank Gore run doing the damage and setting up Adam Vinatieri for the game-winning chip shot.

The win improves the Colts’ record to 2-2 and drops the Jaguars to 1-3. With the Texans also dropping to 1-3 today and the 1-2 Titans off, the Colts are a first-place team.

Jacksonville got a solid game from quarterback Blake Bortles (28-for-49 for 298 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions) and from rookie running back T.J. Yeldon (22 carries for 105 yards). But that wasn’t enough.

Instead, the Colts, who have dominated the division of late, remain on top. These Colts aren’t as good as they were the last few years, but they’re still good enough in the AFC South.

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Giants outlast Bills to improve to 2-2

ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 04:   Rueben Randle #82 of the New York Giants celebrates a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 4, 2015 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills came off of last week’s big win against the Dolphins feeling pretty good about themselves, but no one in Buffalo will be feeling too good about the Bills this week.

After being outplayed by the Giants in the first half, the Bills shot themselves in the foot over and over again in the second half to eliminate any chance of coming out with their third win of the season. That had been the Giants’ fate in the first two weeks of the season, but they were the cleaner team on Sunday and that left them with a 24-10 victory.

The Bills committed 17 penalties over the course of the game, including a chopblock by Richie Incognito that wiped out a touchdown that would have drawn them within seven points in the final minute of the game. There will be quibbles with some of the calls, but the Bills lost control of their emotions at multiple times during the game to pick up dead ball fouls that just handed yards to the Giants. It’s not the first time we’ve seen that happen to a Rex Ryan team and not the first time it had a lot to do with costing his team a game.

Eli Manning threw his first interception of the season in the fourth quarter as the Bills were trying to get back into the game, but that wound up being another wasted chance for the Bills. They also missed a 30-yard field goal and got stopped on four plays inside the 10-yard-line during the second half.

Perhaps the biggest misses were the tackles that the Bills whiffed on to turn a short pass into a 51-yard Rashad Jennings touchdown. That came just after they’d cut the score to 16-10 in the fourth quarter and gave the Giants breathing room that they’d use to improve to 2-2.

It was an impressive defensive outing for the Giants, who slowed down a Bills attack that put a lot of points on the board in the first three weeks of the season. The fourth quarter skewed the final numbers, but the Bills were stuck in the mud for most of the first three quarters thanks to the Giants defense.

The win makes their chances of contending in the NFC East look a lot better than they did after those two season-opening losses. They still need to find a way to put teams away for good as both the Redskins and Bills hung around a lot longer than they deserved to in the last two weeks, but a visit from the 49ers next week is followed by games against the Eagles and Cowboys that offer the Giants a chance to take control in their division.

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Seahawks downgrade Marshawn Lynch to out

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptc2ntdjogezztc5zdq5ndq4ownjnja4ztk5ndi4mzu2 AP

The kid who played college football in Michigan will have a chance to shine against Michigan’s only NFL team.

Via Curtis Crabtree of KJR and PFT, the Seahawks have downgraded running back Marshawn Lynch to out with a hamstring injury. The move means that undrafted rookie Thomas Rawls, who transferred from Michigan to Central Michigan, will have a chance to build on last week’s 104-yard performance on Monday night.

Also out for the game against the Lions is defensive tackle Brandon Mebane. Which means that Jordan Hill, who looked very good last week against Chicago, will have plenty of chances to perform well.

Lynch, who played sparingly in Week Three, has only 128 rushing yards on the season.

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Bears get their first win in back-and-forth battle with Raiders

Martellus Bennett AP

In a game with six lead changes, the Bears had the last one.

Bears kicker Robbie Gould nailed a 49-yard field goal with two seconds left, and the Bears beat the Raiders, 22-20. It was a back-and-forth battle that looked late in the game like it would go to the Raiders, but Bears quarterback Jay Cutler managed to drive the Bears into field goal range, and Gould took care of the rest. The Raiders tried a multiple-lateral desperation return on the ensuing kickoff as time expired, but they ultimately fell short.

It was a solid game from Cutler, who had 281 passing yards after missing last week with a hamstring injury, and also a big game from Martellus Bennett, who had 11 catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. The Bears improved to 1-3.

For the Raiders, falling to 2-2 on a day when they could have won hurts. But they can be happy that Derek Carr and Amari Cooper continued to play well. The Raiders have the pieces of a good team, even if they’re not a good team yet.

There were a few injuries of note: Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree hurt his ankle but managed to return to the game; Bears safety Antrel Rolle hurt his ankle and did not return.

The Bears still don’t look like a team going anywhere, but a win may quiet the calls for a fire sale in Chicago. The Raiders still look like a team with promise, but a loss shows that they still have plenty of work to do.

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Ted Ginn leads Panthers to win over Bucs, and a 4-0 start

Ted Ginn Jr. AP

There’s only one place on Earth where Ted Ginn looks like a legitimate offensive threat in the NFL.

Fortunately for the Panthers, he found his place.

The former first-round bust, turned free agent-riches-seeker, turned comeback kid, led his favorite team to a win Sunday. Finn caught a pair of touchdown passes to lead the Panthers to a 37-23 win over the Buccaneers.

The win extends the Panthers’ hot start to 4-0, and underscores how good Ginn has been with the Panthers.

in 20 career games with the Panthers, he has eight receiving touchdowns. In 104 other games with the Dolphins, 49ers and Cardinals, he has six.

Ginn has always been a competent return man, who offers a vertical threat. But nowhere else has he delivered on that potential quite like he has with the Panthers. They need it too, after losing Kelvin Benjamin for the season with a torn ACL in training camp, they had few targets for Cam Newton.

But Ginn has delivered, and against a Bucs team intent on shooting their cannons into their own feet, it was enough.

The Buccaneers turned it over five times, dropping to 1-3 on a wet and sloppy day. Jameis Winston threw four interceptions and fumbled once, negating his two touchdowns and Doug Martin’s 106-yard rushing day.

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Kirk Cousins leads Washington back, getting his team to .500

Kirk Cousins AP

For long stretches, the game was as ugly as they feared the weather in Washington was going to be.

But Kirk Cousins did just enough, at the right time, to escape with a win.

Washington beat the Eagles 23-20, with Cousins leading a late touchdown drive. The 15-play, 90-yard drive was a workmanlike one, with Cousins pecking away at a worn-down Eagles defense which was plagued by injuries throughout the day.

Cousins completed 31-of-46 passes for 290 yards. But none of those throws were bigger than the touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon with 26 seconds remaining.

Washington had allowed the Eagles back into the game after leading 13-0 at halftime, with Sam Bradford leading his side on a 20-3 run, hitting touchdown passes of 61, 39 and 10 yards.

But Washington was able to kill it with defense, with back-to-back sacks by Trent Murphy pushing the Eagles backward, before he picked off their attempt at a Stanford band lateral play to seal it.

The loss drops the Eagles to 1-3, and they have plenty of problems to deal with in the coming weeks, as injuries piled up, and their receivers routinely drop passes, and they haven’t established much of a run game despite the money spent there.

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Giants answer after Bills pull within a score in fourth quarter

XXX during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 4, 2015 in Orchard Park, New York. Getty Images

The Giants blew double-digit fourth quarter leads in the first two weeks of the regular season and they’re going to have to find a a way to avoid a third late-game meltdown in Buffalo.

Karlos Williams caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Tyrod Taylor with just under 10 minutes to play to pull the Bills within 16-10. The Giants are a bit lucky that it isn’t closer because Dan Carpenter joined the parade of underwhelming kickers by missing a 30-yard field goal earlier in the second half.

The Giants also stuffed the Bills on the goal line earlier in the fourth quarter, so they’ve shown some spine during a second half that saw the Bills take control of the momentum of the game even as they remain behind on the scoreboard.

After forcing quick Giants punts on their first four possessions of the second half, the Bills defense broke down after Williams’s score, though. Rashad Jennings broke a tackle and went 51 yards for a touchdown on a short pass from Eli Manning and a successful two-point conversion has them back up 24-10.

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Cordarrelle Patterson gets another chance to show what he can do

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Minnesota Vikings Getty Images

Vikings receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, one of three first-round picks in 2013, has yet to justify his draft status. On Sunday, he’ll get another chance to show what he can do.

Starter Charles Johnson is out due to injury, and slot receiver Jarius Wright is banged up. That should give Patterson more opportunities.

The bad news for Patterson? With Johnson, the guy who took Patterson’s starting job in 2014, out for Sunday, Adam Thielen not Patterson gets the start.

Through three games, Patterson has only one catch for three yards. Apparently Patterson doesn’t see that lack of production as cause for showing the team something more.

I don’t know how much more I need to prove,” Patterson said Friday, via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Plenty is what Patterson needs to prove, especially with the Vikings facing a May 3 decision on whether to pick up Patterson’s option for 2017. At this point, there’s no way they’d squat on Patterson for another year.

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Hoyer replaces Mallett, leads TD drive

Denver Broncos v Houston Texans Getty Images

The Texans are finally on the scoreboard in Atlanta and trail the Falcons 42-7.

That touchdown came after the Texans benched Ryan Mallett and replaced him with Brian Hoyer. In Week 1, Hoyer was benched in a blowout loss to the Chiefs and Mallett has been the starter since.

Hoyer came in and led a scoring drive capped by a touchdown pass to C.J. Fiedorowicz that helped the Texans avoid a shutout. It’s been a miserable day for the Texans in every aspect of the game.

Mallett completed 12-of-27 passes for 150 yards. The Texans missed a field goal late in the first half and really never threatened otherwise.

The Falcons are going to be 4-0. The Texans are going to be 1-3 headed into a short week of preparation for Thursday night’s game with the Colts.

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Joe Philbin “not at all” worried about job security

Miami Dolphins/New York Jets during the game at Wembley Stadium on October 4, 2015 in London, England. Getty Images

When the Dolphins went to London last season, they beat the Raiders in what turned out to be Dennis Allen’s final game as Oakland’s head coach.

The Dolphins’ trip across the pond didn’t work out nearly as well this year. They lost 27-14 to the Jets in a game that never felt as close as that final score indicates. Before the game, there were reports that the futures of both coach Joe Philbin and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle were in jeopardy with another bad performance.

Philbin met with team owner Stephen Ross after the loss and said that he wasn’t concerned that he was about to get the same welcome home present that Allen received last year.

“No, not at all,” Philbin said, via “I’m worried about getting this team straightened out and fixed and getting our team ready to play the Tennessee Titans.”

Philbin said it wasn’t time to panic, a message he also sent after the team was routed by the Bills in Week Three, which fits with his plan to keep Coyle in charge of the defense. Philbin confirmed that there was a defensive meeting this week between players and coaches about changes to Coyle’s scheme, but said that it was not “contentious” in reference to reports about Coyle’s future.

Ross didn’t speak to the media, so we don’t know if his plan for the staff involves more changes than Philbin is expecting.

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Panthers catching breaks, Brindza, leading Buccaneers 31-10

On a day of bad football in Tampa, the Panthers are at least lucky to be lucky.

They’re getting breaks left and right to lead the Buccaneers 31-10 in the third quarter, including turning their own turnover into a score.

Backup tight end Ed Dickson just plucked running back Jonathan Stewart’s fumble out of mid-air and rambled 57 yards for a touchdown, with the Buccaneers seemingly confused as to what was happening around them.

That’s reasonable, the way the day has gone for them so far.

Bucs kicker-for-now Kyle Brindza has missed a pair of field goals and an extra point, points which might help on a sloppy day. Brindza has now missed five of his last seven field goal attempts, which could make him an endangered species in Florida soon.

The Panthers then got another Ted Ginn touchdown reception, and appear to be on their way to an easy win for a change.

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60 percent of San Diego starting offensive line out for Sunday

San Diego Chargers v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

The Chargers head home after losing a pair of road games. They’ve also lost three fifths of their starting offensive line.

Center Chris Watt, left guard Orlando Franklin, and left tackle King Dunlap (pictured) all are inactive. They’ll be replaced by Trevor Robinson, Kenny Wiggins, and Chris Hairston, respectively.

Also out with injury for the Charters is starting safety Jahleel Addae.

The 1-2 Chargers host the 1-2 Browns at 4:05 p.m. ET.

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Caleb Sturgis struggling in Eagles debut, but he’s not alone

Chip Kelly, Caleb Sturgis AP

Even when things go well for the Eagles today, there’s something amiss.

And a week after welcoming kicker Caleb Sturgis, they may be back in the market sooner than expected.

Sturgis missed a 33-yard field goal attempt just before halftime, and then missed a 33-yard extra point after the Eagles finally made a play on offense in the second half.

They barely got to celebrate Riley Cooper’s 61-yard touchdown, a rare moment of offensive competence, when Sturgis missed the point after, leaving them down 13-6 in Washington.

The Eagles made a few big plays in the first half, with DeMarco Murray popping a 30-yard run and Sam Bradford hitting Nelson Agholor for a 45-yard gain. But Agholor also fumbled away a reverse attempt, which was kind of emblematic of their day.

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Rib, finger injuries sideline Browns CB Joe Haden

2015 Cleveland Browns Mini Camp Practice Getty Images

A week after suffering a rib contusion while Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper was running circles around him, Browns cornerback Joe Haden will be inactive against the Chargers.

The Browns had listed Haden as probable with rib and finger injuries. A team spokesman told PFT that Haden is inactive due to the injuries despite the probable listing.

With Haden and top nickel corner K’Waun Williams (concussion) out, the Browns have to try to keep up with Keenan Allen, Stevie Johnson and the Chargers with second-year man Pierre Desir starting and Justin Gilbert, a 2014 first-round pick who has yet to play a defensive snap this season, likely in the rotation.

Safety Tashaun Gipson will start for the Browns. He had been questionable with a groin injury. Backup safety Jordan Poyer could see some time at cornerback with Haden and Williams out.

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