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Philip Rivers: Mike McCoy was guy I was hoping for

Oakland Raiders v San Diego Chargers Getty Images

Mike McCoy won’t have to do much of anything to convince his new quarterback that he’s the right choice as the Chargers’ new head coach.

During a radio interview on Tuesday, Philip Rivers sounded awfully excited about working with the guy who won divisions the last two year with offenses run by Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning.

“Of the potential candidates, I can honestly say this is the guy I was hoping for. I feel great about it,” Rivers said, via Marty Caswell of 1090 AM in San Diego. “We have direction now. We’ll all go again. I think Chargers fans should be excited.”

McCoy expressed enthusiasm about working with Rivers during his press conference and there’s little doubt that McCoy landed the job at least partially because of the work he’s done with quarterbacks like Tebow, Manning, Kyle Orton and Jake Delhomme. Rivers has turned the ball over 47 times over the last two seasons, something that obviously has to turn around if the Chargers are going to find their way back to the postseason. You’d have to imagine McCoy believes he can get Rivers back on track because he’s going to be heavily scrutinized on that front in his first season in the Chargers job.

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Woods, Watkins banged up for Bills

Watkins Getty Images

As the Bills hope to improve on their 2-0 start, their two starting receivers are dealing with injuries.

For Sammy Watkins, the ribs he injured in the preseason continue to be an issue.  For Robert Woods, an ankle injury could knock him out of Sunday’s game against the Chargers.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” Watkins said.  “Just day-by-day it gets better. I’ve just have to keep working and keep getting treatment. . . .  I’ve just got to keep continuing to gain confidence on the field and fight through the pains I have to fight through and just keep playing hard.”

Watkins said he doesn’t know how long he’ll keep dealing with the rib pain.

“It’s a nagging injury,” he said.  “It’s something you can play with.  Hopefully it stops.  Whenever it stops, I’ll be fine.  Right now I just have to play through it.”

Woods, who started each of the team’s first two games, may not be able to play.  Coach Doug Marrone said Thursday that, as of right now, Woods wouldn’t be able to go.

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Under new substance-abuse policy, six strikes results in a one-year banishment

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With the new PED policy introduced on Wednesday, the new substance-abuse policy still isn’t official.  Once it is, a new penalty formula will apply.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, six violations of the policy will result in a one-year suspension.In general, the steps work this this:  For a first violation, the player lands in the substance-abuse program.  The second violation results in a two-game fine.  The third violation triggers a four-game fine.

At the fourth violation, suspensions commence.  Initially, it’s a four-game suspension.  For the fifth violation, the player is suspended 10 games.  At the sixth violation, the player is banished for a year.

Other penalties likely will apply based on specific circumstances, such as proof of an effort to cheat the process.  For ordinary violations, the new formula makes it a little harder for a player to be kicked out of the league for a full year.

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Jamaal Charles returns to practice for Chiefs

Jamaal Charles AP

Earlier this week, Chiefs coach Andy Reid said that running back Jamaal Charles’s high ankle sprain wasn’t a particularly severe one and Thursday’s developments lent some support to that claim.

Charles returned to practice and Herbie Teope of the Associated Press reports that he went through drills with the rest of the backs during the portion of practice open to the media. The team hasn’t offered its practice report for the day yet, so Charles may wind up being listed as limited.

Even that would represent a quick return from a high ankle sprain, however, and any time on the practice field increases the likelihood that he’ll be able to play against the Dolphins on Sunday.

The news was less positive for safety Eric Berry, who is also battling an ankle injury. Berry didn’t practice on Wednesday either, so Friday will be his last chance to show that his wheel is sound enough for duty against Miami.

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Cardinals place Jonathan Dwyer on non-football illness list, cut Chris Rainey

Cincinnati Bengals v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

The Cardinals have taken a different route than the Vikings and Panthers when it comes to removing a player facing criminal charges from their 53-man roster.

The team announced that they have placed running back Jonathan Dwyer on the reserve/non-football illness list rather than the exempt/commissioner’s permission list that Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy were placed on earlier this week. Both of those players will be paid while they are on the exempt list, but using NFL gives the Cardinals the option to not pay Dwyer. However, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reports that the team will continue paying Dwyer.

Dwyer is accused of assaulting his wife in July during an incident that allegedly saw him head-butt her and break her nose. He also reportedly made references to killing himself, which Somers of the reports led to mental health concerns and the illness designation.

Arizona also released running back Chris Rainey from the practice squad. Rainey was a fifth-round pick of the Steelers in 2012, but he was cut by the team after his rookie season when he was accused of slapping his girlfriend.

The team signed running back Jalen Parmele to the 53-man roster and added running back Kerwynn Williams to the practice squad.

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Kelly bristles at questions about Maclin’s size

Chip AP

On Wednesday, Eagles coach Chip Kelly said he cut receiver DeSean Jackson because Kelly wanted to get bigger at the receiver position.  On Thursday, Kelly was pressed on that point.  And he didn’t seem to like that very much.

“I’m just wondering why you brought receiver Jeremy Maclin back. He’s smaller than 70 percent of the starting outside wide receivers in the league?” a reporter asked Kelly on Thursday.

“Jeremy Maclin’s bigger than DeSean is, isn’t he?” Kelly replied. “So he’s bigger than one percent of the guy you’re talking about. I’m confused with the question.”

“I’m saying he’s smaller than 70 percent of the wide receivers,” the reporter continued.

“You can’t get everybody to be 6‑5,” Kelly said. “Everybody ideally would like a Megatron‑type guy, but you can’t get all of those guys. You have to make a decision on the direction you’re going and that’s the decision we made. . . . The weight part is the biggest thing for a lot of us in terms of what we are looking at too.”

So it’s height and it’s weight. And it’s probably salary. And there’s likely a healthy dose of “DeSean didn’t buy in” floating around.

Regardless, Jackson’s departure shows that Kelly is going to build the kind of team he wants. As long as he keeps winning, he’ll be able to do that — regardless of who he lets go.

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Police: Jonathan Dwyer head-butted wife and broke her nose

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We learned that Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer was arrested on Wednesday on assault charges stemming from an incident with his wife and more details about the arrest came to light on Thursday.

According to police records, via the Arizona Republic, Dwyer and his wife got into an argument on July 21 that segued into Dwyer trying to kiss his wife and remove her clothing. She bit his lip after requests for him to stop were ignored and Dwyer allegedly head-butted her and broke her nose. Neighbors called police, but Dwyer’s wife told officers that only she and the couple’s son was at home. She reportedly left with the child later that night, but returned when Dwyer “sent a text saying he did not want to live anymore along with a picture of a knife.”

The next day, Dwyer allegedly punched his wife during another argument and threw a shoe that hit the child in the stomach. Dwyer’s wife left Arizona that night and, according to police, reported the incidents when she safely arrived in another state.

Dwyer has been deactivated by the Cardinals and the nature of the allegations, to say nothing of the enhanced spotlight on domestic violence issues, make it hard to see that changing anytime soon.

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Rolando McClain misses second straight practice

Delanie Walker, J J Wilcox, Rolando McClain AP

The Cowboys got a couple of defensive players back at practice this week with defensive end Anthony Spencer returning from injury and cornerback Orlando Scandrick getting his suspension wiped out, but it wouldn’t be the 2014 Cowboys defense if there weren’t also some bad news in the mix.

Linebacker Rolando McClain missed a second straight day of practice on Thursday because of a groin injury, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for him to show he’s able to suit up against the Rams. According to coach Jason Garrett, McClain will have to practice on Friday if he’s going to see action on Sunday.

“We certainly have confidence in his ability to play, but we believe in practice,” Garrett said, via ESPNDallas.com. “He has to practice this week in some way, shape or form for us to believe that he can play in the game, so hopefully as the week goes on, he’s able to do get out there and get some snaps.”

The first two games of this season were the first that McClain’s played since 2012, so there’s probably reason for added precaution when it comes to his return after a muscular injury.

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San Jose police not saying much about McDonald case

McDonald AP

With Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy clumsily placed on an exempt list that wasn’t really intended to provide teams with a way to, as a practical matter, suspend players with pay, the 49ers continue to refuse to take action of any kind with defensive end Ray McDonald.

They’ve been hiding behind the shield of “due process,” a concept that matters only when the question is whether a player will go to jail.  While the truth may be that they have investigated the situation and believe that McDonald did nothing wrong, the broader truth in this context is that teams have a clear bias to believe the things said by players who are regarded as important to the broader cause of winning football games.

Meanwhile, the NFL apparently has not launched an investigation of its own regarding the McDonald case.  The San Jose police have, but they’re saying nothing about what they’ve learned.

“As a professional law enforcement organization we try not to offer a personal opinion on incidents we are responsible for investigating,” officer Albert Morales told Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com.  “To that end, our investigators continue to diligently conduct follow up investigations on this case.  At this time we are not at liberty to share any information that is directly related to this investigation.”

Per Maiocco, McDonald met with investigators for two hours on September 4 at the team’s facility.  At some point, more will be known about the case.  At some point, the 49ers may have to revisit their position.

Until the NFL takes these decisions out of the hands of the teams, inconsistencies and ambiguities will exist.  And fans, the media, and sponsors will be confused about precisely what the rules are in this new post-Rice video reality.

The rules very well may be that there are no rules, and that the NFL and its teams are making it up as they go.  The longer that perception lasts, the harder it will be for the league to being the process of restoring its credibility.

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Report: Doug Martin, Gerald McCoy unlikely to play Thursday night

Doug Martin AP

The Buccaneers listed defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and running back Doug Martin as questionable for Thursday night’s game against the Falcons, but it doesn’t look like either one of them will be on the field.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that McCoy and Martin are both unlikely to be active for the NFC South matchup.

McCoy broke his hand in last Sunday’s loss to the Rams and he had a cast put on earlier this week. McCoy will likely suit up while his hand is in a cast, but he hinted that the quick turnaround to Thursday might make him a spectator against Atlanta.

That absence would likely hurt the Bucs more than Martin’s. Martin was out against St. Louis because of a knee injury, but Bobby Rainey had 174 total yards of offense in his place. If the offensive line can handle things up front, the running game should be just fine.

Replacing McCoy’s production is more difficult. Da’Quan Bowers and Akeem Spence will see more playing time if Tampa has to fill a McCoy-sized hole on their defensive line.

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Shad Khan fires another Fulham manager

Shad Khan AP

The Jaguars are willing to play it slow with the development of rookie quarterback Blake Bortles, for many reasons.

But Jaguars owner Shad Khan is proving far less patient with his other team.

According to The Guardian, Khan has fired Fulham manager Felix Magath, setting the stage for his fourth manager in the 14 months he’s been in control of the English soccer team. Khan had previously sacked Martin Jol and Rene Meulensteen since buying the team last July.

It’s been a turbulent time for Fulham, which was relegated from the Premier League after finishing 19th of 20 teams last year. (The bottom three teams in the league get sent down to the minors every year, and the top three in the minors get promoted to the show).

But things have gotten worse, as Fulham are 24th in the 24-team Championship (think AAA) this season, having just blown a lead to lose 5-3 to Nottingham Forest. Magath won just four games in his 20 in charge, which kind of makes him the Mike Mularkey of England.

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Jerome Simpson in more legal trouble

Jerome Simpson AP

Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson will serve the final game of his three-game suspension this week, but his return to eligibility may be a short one.

Ben Goessling of ESPN.com reports that Simpson, suspended after being arrested for DUI last year, has a court date on November 3 in Hennepin County, Minnesota. Simpson was cited, but not arrested, on misdemeanor charges of violating a limited license, marijuana possession and open bottle after being pulled over in a traffic stop on July 7.

Simpson’s current suspension is his second handed down by the league. He was previously suspended for three games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy in 2012 after being arrested on drug charges while he was a member of the Bengals in 2011.

A third suspension would likely be longer than three games given Simpson’s history and it could bring an end to his time in Minnesota, unless the Vikings don’t decide to just move on once Simpson’s suspension ends when Week Three comes to a close.

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Jaguars will be without Marqise Lee this week

Marqise Lee, Chad Henne AP

The Jaguars didn’t have a wealth of talent at wide receiver to begin with.

Now they have even less.

According to Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union, rookie wideout Marqise Lee said he won’t play Sunday against the Colts because of a hamstring issue.

My main focus is on getting it right,” Lee said. “The hamstring can linger and if you continue to come back, come back, come back and you’re feeling 85-90 percent, you’re still going to have issues.”

The Jaguars have been without Cecil Shorts (hamstring) the first two games, and he was limited in practice Wednesday. First half of the opener sensation Allen Hurns (ankle) was also held out.

That could push fellow second-rounder Allen Robinson into the starting lineup, and might force them to play Tavarres King, who was just signed off the receiver-rich (not really) Panthers practice squad.

So while their insistence on sticking with Chad Henne might be preventing them from some things, their inability to surround their quarterback with helpful parts might be much of the reason they’re sitting rookie Blake Bortles.

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Broadcasters are using Washington team name a lot less

Washington Redskins v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Getty Images

Plenty of fans, media, and league officials are longing for the good old days, when the NFL’s biggest controversy centered on the inevitability that the Washington franchise will, at some point, have a new name.

Until the name changes, plenty of broadcasters have tapped the brakes on using the name.  Via Brad Gagnon of Awful Announcing, Deadspin has crunched the numbers.

Based on scripts of NFL broadcasts through the first two weeks of the each of the last two seasons, the team name was said 186 times and “Washington” was used 156 times in 2013. In 2014, the team name has been mentioned only 67 times.  “Washington” has been used 169 times.

Last year, the team name was used 30 times more than “Washington.”  This year, “Washington” has been used 102 times more than the team name.

It’s a trend that will continue, and it’s an issue that eventually will resurface, lingering until the name changes, and beyond.

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Jerry Rice calls on the 49ers to deactivate Ray McDonald

riceyoung Getty Images

Jerry Rice, the former 49er considered by many to be the greatest player in NFL history, says his old team is wrong to let a player accused of domestic violence to continue to play.

Rice says that Ray McDonald, who was arrested last month and accused of assaulting his pregnant fiancee, should not be playing for the 49ers unless and until he is cleared. Rice echoed the comments of his former quarterback Steve Young, who has said that the 49ers should not hide behind “due process” and should instead take the same step that has already been taken with accused abusers Greg Hardy in Carolina, Adrian Peterson in Minnesota and Jonathan Dwyer in Arizona.

“I think I’m just like Steve Young — I would have totally just taken him off the field until it’s resolved,” Rice told SI.com. “But they have decided to let him play, and it’s just unfortunate. I feel that when you have something that’s weighing you down like that, because it’s a very important topic, and it’s very sensitive, I just feel he should have been taken off the field.”

At a time when the rest of the NFL seems to think that an abuse allegation is enough to take a player off the field, the 49ers are taking a very different stand. It’s a stand that finds them taking harsh criticism, even from some of the greatest players in the history of their franchise.

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PFT Live: Jordy Nelson, Mohamed Sanu, Week Three picks

Jordy Nelson, Darrin Walls AP

We’ve got a big PFT Live today featuring two NFL wide receivers and one man who out-picked Florio last week.

First up is Packers receiver Jordy Nelson, who’s currently leading the league in both catches and receiving yards after his huge game against the Jets on Sunday.

Then we’ve got Bengals receiver Mohamed Sanu, who stepped up with 84 receiving yards when A.J. Green went down on Sunday.

And last but certainly not least we’ve got PFT’s managing editor Michael David Smith, who beat the pants off Florio in last week’s picks competition.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can watch it all live by clicking right here.

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