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Tony Sparano lands in Oakland

Tony Sparano AP

There has been much discussion about the Raiders in recent days, for something that happened a decade ago.  Now, as they try to reverse 10 years of no playoff appearances, they’re adding a former head coach to their staff.

Tony Sparano, who worked as Dolphins coach for four seasons before serving as offensive coordinator of the Jets in 2012, has been hired to serve as assistant head coach/offensive line, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

Sparano had never been a coordinator before becoming the head coach in Miami, working previously as the Cowboys’ offensive line coach.  He’ll be charged with implementing a scheme other than the Texans-style zone blocking, which didn’t work very well last season.

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McCarthy calls out officials for OPI call

McCarthyChi14 Getty Images

Packers coach Mike McCarthy has plenty of reasons to be upset after Thursday night’s loss to the Bears. He’s specifically upset about a penalty that turned a potential touchdown drive in the first half into a field goal.

Receiver James Jones, who otherwise did nothing for the entire game, was called for offensive interference for picking Chicago cornerback Kyle Fuller on a throw inside the five to receiver Randall Cobb. After the game, McCarthy disputed the call.

“The one play on Randall’s [catch]  is just a flat poor call,” McCarthy said, via Weston Hodkiewicz of “He missed the call. You can shake that any way you want. They’re looking for it.”

They’re also looking for coaches who call out officials, which could get McCarthy fined. And fine or no fine, McCarthy’s complaint misses the mark. While not a full-blown pick, Jones jammed his left forearm into the chest of Fuller, in an apparent effort to shove Fuller into Bears cornerback Bryce Callahan, who was covering Cobb. The move also kept Fuller from peeling away from Jones and getting to Cobb.

“We had some tough breaks from the officials, but that’s all part of the game  the officials, the weather, you can’t control that,” McCarthy added.

Whether McCarthy gets a toughly-worded letter from the league office along with an invitation to make an involuntary contribution to the league’s charitable causes remains to be seen.

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Saturday one-liners

Brandon LaFell AP

WR Brandon LaFell is ready to “step up” for the Patriots (which is always better than stepping off).

With Dolphins DE Cam Wake out for the year, Olivier Vernon has stepped up.

With CB Darrelle Revis out for the Jets, one-time undrafted free agent Marcus Williams probably will start at right corner.

Bills CB Nickell Robey periodically lobbies for a chance to play offense.

Ravens LB Ray Lewis is the latest ESPN employee to make The List of all New England fans (which overlooks the fact that he already was on it).

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis says CB Darqueze Dennard (shoulder) will be ready to go next season.

The Browns will don their orange pants in prime time.

Steelers WR Markus Wheaton is content to wait his turn.

Texans coach Bill O’Brien has a simple nickname for New Orleans WR Brandin Cooks:  “V.G. maybe,” O’Brien said, “Very good.”

Get to know Colts QB Matthew Hasselbeck in a way he’s never really been known.

Jaguars QB Blake Bortles has come a long way since his first career start last season, against the same team he’ll face on Sunday.

Titans LB Brian Orakpo knows that, when his sack-happy defense faces Oakland’s sack-stingy offensive line, “Something has to give.”

Broncos CB Omar Bolden has launched what he calls the Positive Living Award.

Chiefs Hall of Famer Will Shields will receive his Ring of Excellence on Sunday.

Raiders WR Rod Streater, fifth on the depth chart and inactive most of the year, won’t be playing absent injuries at the position.

Chargers coach Mike McCoy’s inability to handle the local media could hasten his exit from the franchise.

Cowboys LB Sean Lee has a simple message for his teammates: “If you’re not motivated to find a way to win, you need to get off the team.”

WR Hakeem Nicks could be active for his first game back with the Giants.

The Eagles are bad because the players aren’t good.

Washington CB Chris Culliver’s bad week included being fined for unsportmanslike conduct due to a throat-slash gesture.

“The sky’s the limit for us, based on where we’ve come from Day One,” Bears LB Willie Young say. “[Beating the Packers] just reassures us that we can win big games. We can beat a playoff contender and a winning team.”

The Packers’ defense did a good job on Thursday night, which only makes the performance of the offense more glaring.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer is thankful for RB Adrian Peterson; “I told him today how much I appreciated him,” Zimmer said. “Just everything he does for us. His leadership, the way he comes out to practice the way he prepares. Really, everything.”

The last time the Falcons played Minnesota, TE Levine Toilolo finished the game at right tackle.

Panthers G Trai Turner will spend his team’s mini-bye in the enemy territory of New Orleans; “I enjoy the support. I encourage the hate, also,” Turner said.

TE Cameron Brate, a Harvard graduate, is making the Buccaneers look even smarter than him for having him around.

Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson and his wife had their first child on Thursday.

Rams WR Kenny Britt and WR Tavon Austin wore Stedman Bailey’s No. 12 at practice on Friday.

40-year-old 49ers K Phil Dawson says he has at least one year left in his leg.

Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger says he love Seattle; he may not feel that way after facing the Seahawks there for the first time in his career on Sunday.

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Amendola to miss Sunday’s game

Danny Amendola AP

Another week, another key offensive weapon is out for the Patriots.

Tom Curran of CSN New England, confirming a report from Steve Burton of WBZ, says that receiver Danny Amendola won’t play on Sunday night in Denver.

If, as expected, Amendola doesn’t travel to Colorado, the Patriots will be (or at least should be) issuing an updated injury report downgrading Amendola from questionable to out.

Amendola injured his knee on Monday night against the Bills. He had become the primary replacement for Julian Edelman, who had broken a bone in his foot the prior Sunday against the Giants. A week before that, the Patriots lost running back Dion Lewis for the year with a torn ACL.

The Patriots also recently put receiver Aaron Dobson on injured reserve, leaving them very thin at the position. Which means that maybe coach Bill Belichick, who once had an affinity for moving receivers to defensive back, may have to see whether any of his defensive backs can catch passes.

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Sanders, Osweiler working on chemistry

Emmanuel Sanders AP

With Peyton Manning out for at least two more games, Brock Osweiler will serve as the Broncos quarterback for at least the next two games. Which means that it will be important for Osweiler and his receivers to have good chemistry on the field.

One of those receivers has checked the box.

“The chemistry is good,” Emmanuel Sanders told reporters on Friday, in comments distributed by the team. “Peyton hasn’t been going on Wednesdays, so I’ve had an opportunity to go with Brock and it’s definitely paid off. Today we connected on a couple of deep balls that we were working on. I texted him last night about what I’m seeing and what he’s seeing, so it’s going to pay off.”

A bad ankle kept Sanders out of Sunday’s game at Chicago, so Sunday night will be his first chance at catching passes from Osweiler during a game. Which could help the Broncos become the first team this year to hand the Patriots a loss.

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Bucannon gets big fine for hit on defenseless receiver

Kyle Juszczyk, Tyrann Mathieu, Deone Bucannon AP

Deone Bucannon of the Cardinals has been fined $23,152 for a hit on a defenseless receiver in last week’s win over the Bengals.

Bucannon hit A.J. Green on a pass over the middle was not flagged.

Bucannon is questionable for this week’s game vs. the 49ers due to concussion-like symptoms that didn’t show up until a day or two after the game, so it’s unknown if he suffered a concussion on the hit that brought the fine.

A first-round pick in 2014, Bucannon is listed as a safety and wears No. 20 but generally plays linebacker for the Cardinals.

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Doug Martin doesn’t like talking about his contract year

Doug Martin AP

Buccaneers running back Doug Martin didn’t like his old nickname. He also doesn’t like inquiries about his current circumstances.

Martin, in final year of his rookie deal after the team opted not to pick up his fifth-year option for 2016, despises talking about his contract.

“You know, people say, ‘Oh, it’s a contract year, that’s why he’s playing like this,'” Martin told the team’s official website, via “I hate that. I hate contract questions. I’m healthy. Last year, I had the injury bug, it was either a knee, ankle, hamstring. This year, I made sure that I stayed healthy, doing a lot of preventive things, stretches, eating right.”

Last year wasn’t his only bad season, however. Before generating 494 rushing yards through 11 games in 2014, Martin had 456 yards in six games in 2013. As a rookie, Martin finished with 1,454 rushing yards.

There’s an obvious connection between having a big year and being on the brink of getting paid. This season, Martin has 941 yards rushing in 10 games, which puts him on pace for more than 1,500.

Martin’s distaste for questions linking his performance to his contract posture may arise from the presumption that: (1) he’s only having a good year because he’s on the brink of getting paid; and (2) after he gets paid, he won’t play well. Unofficially known as (because I just thought of the name) the DeMarco Murray Disorder, it’s a real phenomenon about which the Buccaneers and other teams could be concerned.

Murray isn’t the first running back to regress after getting his payday; he’s just the most recent. For Martin, the real question is whether his current team believes he’ll continue to get it done even after getting a new contract. If they don’t make a competitive offer to Martin (or apply the franchise tag), the warning to everyone else will be implied.

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Panthers worked out three cornerbacks in all

Seantavius Jones, Bradley Fletcher AP

Cortland Finnegan wasn’t the only cornerback who worked out for the Panthers on Friday. Per multiple reports, which PFT has confirmed, the Panthers also gave tryouts to Bradley Fletcher and Robert McClain.

Fletcher spent two games with the Patriots this season, after two years with the Eagles and four before that with the Rams. He has eight career interceptions and four forced fumbles.

McClain broke in with the Panthers in 2010, appearing in 16 games with two starts. He spent 2011 with the Jaguars and then 2012 through 2014 with the Falcons. Like Fletcher, McClain spent time with the Patriots this year; he was cut five days before the regular-season opener.

The Panthers signed none of the three players. Carolina currently has only four cornerbacks on the roster: Josh Norman, Charles Tillman, Teddy Williams, and Bene’ Benwikere. Tillman has missed the last two games — and is expected to miss a few more — with a knee injury.

The Panthers have five other defensive backs on the roster (all safeties) and three on the practice squad: Marcus Ball, Ras-I Dowling, and Lou Young.

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Titans give Chance Warmack $50 for losing a pound on Thanksgiving

Warmack Getty Images

An NFL offensive lineman can put away a lot of food at the Thanksgiving table, but Titans guard Chance Warmack chose not to. And he’s got a $50 bonus to show for it.

Warmack got the bonus for weighing in at 326 pounds on Friday morning, after he had weighed 327 pounds on Thursday morning. Titans coach Mike Mularkey asked players not to go crazy at the Thanksgiving table, and Warmack followed instructions.

John Glennon of the Tennessean reports that Warmack disrobed for the weigh-in in front of the team, not wanting the weight of his clothing to throw off the results.

Of course, Warmack is in the third year of a four-year, $12.2 million guaranteed contract with the Titans, so a $50 bonus doesn’t mean a whole lot to him. But he did get publicly lauded by Mularkey.

Warmack also admitted that he has some Thanksgiving leftovers at home. He may weigh more than 327 before the weekend is over.

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Jerry Jones: Putting Romo back on the field was worth the risk

Tony Romo AP

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo missed seven games with a broken clavicle, then returned and re-broke the clavicle in his second game back. So does that mean the team pushed Romo back on the field too soon?

Not according to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who says Romo wasn’t pushed to play and the potential reward of Romo getting the Cowboys to the playoffs was worth the risk.

“I don’t think push is the word for it,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. “We felt the risk was worth the potential for having him be the impact he can be and really having a fairytale turnaround and doing something that was special. And to me, that’s what we’re about, that’s what sports is about. You shouldn’t ever quit trying to do something extraordinary. The dream was if Tony could have come in and been the catalyst and had the results we had the week before in Miami against a great team, a really great team – Carolina is so impressive – if we could have done that, it could have been the beginning of something special. Now you’ve got to try for that and that’s what we’re here for, to try and do and be a part of a story like that.”

Instead, Jones admits that the season has become a nightmare.

“I had a nightmare last night and I was hoping when I woke up this morning it was just that,” Jones said.

Instead, it’s very real: Romo has been injured twice, and without him the Cowboys are one of the worst teams in the NFL.

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Romanowski: Gabbert was studying film more than Kaepernick

Blaine Gabbert AP

The 49ers haven’t been good at winning games the past two years. They’ve become very adept at leaking unflattering information about employees with whom they’re planning to part ways.

Last year, coach Jim Harbaugh was the target of the leak machine. This year, it’s been quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

The latest leak came to light via former NFL (and 49ers) linebacker Bill Romanowski, via In an appearance on 95.7 The Game, Romanowski had this to say: “Let’s talk Colin preparing for games. And you know how they get iPads now. And they regulate, and they can watch how much film you watch. [Blaine] Gabbert, when he was a backup, was watching four to five times as much film as Colin was.”

Apart from the question of whether it’s true is the question of whether it’s part of a deliberate effort by the team to ensure that no tears will be shed when Kaepernick inevitably exits the roster. If it’s true, it explains Kaepernick’s struggles to develop as a quarterback, complementing his reliance on raw physical abilities with an understanding of where the opportunities will arise to carve up defenses.

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Chip Kelly says Bill Davis is safe

Screen shot 2015-08-03 at 12 Getty Images

Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis has said coach Chip Kelly won’t be running from Philly. Kelly has now said he won’t be running Davis away.

Asked if Davis will remain with the team after his unit gave up 90 points two games, Kelly gave a one-word reply: “Yes.”

With the Bucs scoring 45 against the Eagles and the Lions scoring 45 against the Eagles, Philadelphia next goes to New England, where another 45 or more could be coming. So what can the Eagles do?

“The answer is there is no other option,” Kelly said. “We have five games left. We have to go and play. We have to get better.”

The good news is that the bar for getting better has never been lower during Kelly’s time with the team.

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With Marshawn gone, Thomas Rawls is listening to Fred Jackson

Thomas Rawls AP

Undrafted rookie running back Thomas Rawls has emerged as the team’s top option in the running game, due to various injuries to starter Marshawn Lynch. And with Lynch recovering from hernia surgery, he had specific advice for Rawls.

“He told me go out there with the same mentality that I’ve been having and listen to Fred [Jackson],” Rawls told reporters on Friday. “Because he’s gone right now, just listen to Fred, and any questions I need to ask him.”

There really isn’t much Fred or Marshawn or anyone else can tell Rawls about playing the position, because Rawls plays without conscious thought — or regard to his health.

“I play off of instinct and I just play my game,” Rawls said regarding whether he’ll avoid some contact to preserve his body. “As I’m out there, I’m not thinking a lot. I don’t think at all. I just go out there and play my game and do what’s best for the team. So if that’s making plays, if that’s going down, which I’ll probably try not to do. But it all depends on the flow of the game.”

Rawls, a Flint, Michigan native who is making his hometown proud, will get his next chance to get in the flow of the game against the Steelers, a team that 10 years ago beat Seattle for a Super Bowl played in Michigan — with another Michigan native at running back for Pittsburgh. With Rawls suddenly getting so much national publicity, coach Pete Carroll wanted to be sure the rookie is ready to go.

“I visited with him about [the attention],” Carroll told reporters on Friday. “He seemed very squared away. Not wanting to change anything about how he prepares and his habits and things like that. I thought it was worth talking to him about since it was such a shift. That’s hard on anybody.”

Rawls has been hard on defenses this year, and the Steelers are about to get a taste of what the guy whose name wasn’t called during the draft can do.

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Jim Caldwell: Lions are thinking about next week, not the playoffs

Jim Caldwell AP

A few weeks ago, Lions coach Jim Caldwell was facing questions about whether he’d be fired during the season. Now he’s facing questions about whether his team can make the playoffs.

Caldwell doesn’t want to answer either question.

Just as Caldwell didn’t want to answer questions about his job security when the Lions were 1-7, Caldwell doesn’t want to answer questions about the playoffs now that the Lions are 4-7.

“You can talk about it, but I don’t,” Caldwell told reporters today. “We don’t talk about anything but the next game, just like we always do.”

The Lions remain a long shot to make the playoffs. Detroit is 3.5 games behind Minnesota in the NFC North and 2.5 games behind Atlanta in the NFC wild card race. With only five games left in the season, that’s a lot of ground to make up. On the other hand, if the Lions were to win out, at 9-7 they’d have a chance.

“That has nothing to do with us at this point,” Caldwell said. “You add them up when you’re done, and right now we’re worried about all the things we’ve got to face.”

Caldwell may not want to answer those questions. But it’s far better to answer questions about the playoffs than to answer questions about his job security.

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Week 12 injury report roundup

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 15:  Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks carries the ball during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field on November 15, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) 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 12 of the 2015 season.

Vikings at Falcons

Defensive end Everson Griffen (hip, shoulder), safety Harrison Smith (knee) and cornerback Trae Waynes (ankle) all drew questionable tags for the Vikings. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (left shoulder) is probable. The Falcons will go without kicker Matt Bryant (right quadricep), running back Devonta Freeman (concussion) and wide receiver Leonard Hankerson (hamstring), but everyone else on the 53-man roster is expected to play.

Rams at Bengals

Rams coach Jeff Fisher said the team is planning to start Nick Foles at quarterback, but Case Keenum (concussion) still has a chance to play after drawing a questionable tag. Tackle Rob Havenstein (calf), cornerback Trumaine Johnson (thigh), defensive end Robert Quinn (hip, back) and kicker Greg Zuerlein (right groin) join Keenum with that designation. Tackle Andrew Donnal (knee) won’t play. The Bengals didn’t have cornerback Adam Jones (foot) or defensive tackle Pat Sims (knee) last week, but hope to have them this time after listing them as questionable.

Saints at Texans

The Saints return from their bye week without the services of linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hip), linebacker David Hawthorne (thigh) and cornerback Damian Swann (concussion). Three other linebackers — Stephone Anthony (lower leg), Ramon Humber (hamstring) and Hau’oli Kikaha (ankle) — are probable. The Texans have 16 players on their injury report, but all are expected to play. That group includes quarterback Brian Hoyer (concussion), linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (wrist) and running back Alfred Blue (back).

Buccaneers at Colts

Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder) is set to have his absence from the Buccaneers lineup continue after drawing a doubtful designation. Defensive end George Johnson (calf) and safety Keith Tandy (concussion) are out this week and guard Ali Marpet (ankle) is questionable. Left tackle Anthony Castonzo (knee) will join wide receiver Phillip Dorsett (ankle) and quarterback Andrew Luck (kidney, abdomen) on the Colts inactive list. Safety Mike Adams (ankle) is doubtful while cornerback Gregory Toler (groin) and linebacker Erik Walden (foot) are questionable.

Chargers at Jaguars

Guard D.J. Fluker (concussion) won’t be in the lineup for the Chargers, but wide receiver Malcom Floyd (shoulder) is probable a couple of weeks after tearing his labrum. Left tackle King Dunlap (ankle) is doubtful and defensive tackle Corey Liuget (foot) is questionable. The Jaguars have ruled linebacker Dan Skuta (groin) out for this weekend. Safety Craig Loston (ankle), running back Bernard Pierce (calf) and wide receiver Neal Sterling (illness) are listed as doubtful.

Bills at Chiefs

The Bills will play without wide receiver Marcus Easley (concussion), guard John Miller (ankle), defensive end Mario Williams (foot) and defensive tackle Kyle Williams (knee), who will have season-ending surgery. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor (right shoulder) is set to start. The Chiefs listed tight end Travis Kelce (groin, ankle) and running back Charcandrick West (hamstring) as questionable. Defensive end Allen Bailey (calf), linebacker Dee Ford (back), guard Ben Grubbs (neck) and wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas (concussion) have been ruled out.

Dolphins at Jets

The Dolphins are optimistic that wide receiver Jarvis Landry (knee) can play after being listed as questionable. They also listed linebackers Jelani Jenkins (ankle), Koa Misi (abdomen), Spencer Paysinger (neck) and Kelvin Sheppard (hamstring) as questionable and ruled out right tackle Ja’Wuan James (toe) again this week. The Jets will play without cornerback Darrelle Revis (concussion) and don’t expect to have safety Dion Bailey (ankle, doubtful). Center Nick Mangold (hand) and defensive end Sheldon Richardson (hamstring) are probable.

Raiders at Titans

Raiders center Rodney Hudson (ankle) is doubtful, which likely leaves Tony Bergstrom to start on Sunday. Linebacker Neiron Ball (knee) and cornerback Keith McGill (ankle) were ruled out. The Titans won’t have running back Dexter McCluster (knee) or defensive tackle Al Woods (ankle), but wide receiver Kendall Wright (knee, probable) is expected to return to action.

Giants at Redskins

The Giants will likely be down two starting offensive linemen with guard Justin Pugh (concussion) out and center Weston Richburg (ankle) doubtful. Linebacker Mark Herzlich (quad) and tight end Larry Donnell (neck) are also out, but cornerback Prince Amukamara (pectoral) is expected to return. The Redskins lost cornerback Chris Culliver to a torn ACL and MCL this week and two other corners — Bashaud Breeland (hamstring, illness) and Deshazor Everett (hamstring) — are questionable. Safety Trenton Robinson (hamstring) won’t play.

Cardinals at 49ers

The Cardinals will be down two defensive tackles after ruling Cory Redding (ankle) and Frostee Rucker (ankle) out. Safety Deone Bucannon (concussion), guard Jonathan Cooper (knee), wide receiver Michael Floyd (hamstring), cornerback Patrick Peterson (ankle) and defensive tackle Ed Stinson (groin) are all questionable. Running back Carlos Hyde (foot) remains out for the 49ers and linebacker Ahmad Brooks (concussion/toe) is questionable.

Steelers at Seahawks

Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier (knee) and tight end Matt Spaeth (knee) will be game-time decisions after being listed as questionable. The Seahawks don’t expect to get linebacker Bruce Irvin (knee) back this week and running back Marshawn Lynch (abdomen) and wide receiver Paul Richardson (hamstring) have already been ruled out. Center Patrick Lewis (ankle, knee) is questionable.

Patriots at Broncos

Patriots wide receivers Danny Amendola (knee) and Keshawn Martin (hamstring) are both questionable as the team prepares to play without Julian Edelman (foot) again this week. Linebacker Jamie Collins (illness) returned to practice Friday, but is doubtful to face the Broncos. Linebacker DeMarcus Ware (back) will miss another game for Denver and guard Evan Mathis (ankle, questionable) will have his status updated over the weekend. Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (ankle, finger) is probable after missing last week.

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Dolphins feel good about Jarvis Landry playing

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 22: Jarvis Landry #14 of the Miami Dolphins makes a 47-yard reception to set up a touchdown in the second quarter of the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Sun Life Stadium on November 22, 2015 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets won’t have cornerback Darrelle Revis in the lineup for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins and it looks like Miami will have wide receiver Jarvis Landry available to face the shorthanded Jets secondary.

Landry did not practice on Friday, which meant that Thursday’s limited practice was the only work he got while dealing with a knee injury this week. Coach Dan Campbell said that Landry’s absence from practice is part of the plan to have him ready to play on Sunday, however.

“Today we wanted to sit him to get him feeling good for the game,” Campbell said, via “We’ll know more tomorrow, but I’d say I feel pretty good about it. I feel like he’s going to be able to play.”

Landry had four catches for 40 yards against the Jets in Week Four’s 27-14 loss in London. Revis frequently followed Landry into the slot during that contest, so the Jets will have to come up with a different approach if Landy is able to play come Sunday.

Right tackle Ja’Wuan James remains out with a toe injury and defensive end Chris McCain is doubtful with a hip injury. Linebackers Koa Misi, Jelani Jenkins, Spencer Paysinger and Kelvin Sheppard are all questionable.

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