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Jim Harbaugh: Alex Smith coaches Colin Kaepernick more than I do

Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Greg Roman AP

If Alex Smith feels any bitterness over losing his position as the 49ers’ starting quarterback to Colin Kaepernick, he’s not showing it.

In fact, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said today that Smith is the person who has done more than anyone to prepare Kaepernick to play, and that Smith still continues to practice every week as if he were going to play, even though his only playing time since losing his job to Kaepernick two months ago was a few garbage time snaps in Week 17.

“He’s prepared and been involved in the game planning, in preparations, he’s prepared himself as the starter each week,” Harbaugh said of Smith. “That’s what he’s done, that’s what we expect of him and that’s what he has delivered. Another person really to credit in Colin’s success because Alex has really helped coach Colin and has been right there by his side. Sitting there in meetings every single day. He coaches Colin now more than I do, and that speaks high of the kind of person and teammate that Alex Smith is.”

Through a difficult couple of months, Smith has shown himself to be a good teammate. Next season he’ll be a good teammate on some other team.

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Ma’ake Kemoeatu gives brother Chris the gift of life

Chris Kemoeatu, Ma'ake Kemoeatu AP

We all need a feel-good story about football players right now, and what better way than for family to matter more than the regional rivalries, and for something more than the game to overcome.

Former Steelers guard Chris Kemoeatu, who had to retire from the game because of kidney problems, got the gift of life from his brother, former Ravens defensive tackle Ma’ake in the form of a kidney donation.

Everyone jokes about me having a Ravens’ kidney,” Chris said, via Mike Klingaman of the Baltimore Sun. “But hey, I can live with that.”

It beats the alternative.

Ma’ake joked that his little brother (relative) “owes me a lot of steak dinners,” but their sheer size made the surgery more complicated than most.

Chris had to have a heart surgery beforehand to make the procedure possible, and both men checked into the hospital weighing 345 pounds.

“It was the largest normal kidney I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Dr. Stephen Bartlett, the hospital’s surgeon-in-chief. “I felt like somebody had thrown me a small football.”

But this story is far beyond football, about the lengths a family will go to look after one another.

“I’m the oldest of seven kids and it’s my responsibility to take care of the rest,” Ma’ake said. “If my siblings need blood, it will be my blood. If they need a kidney, it will be my kidney. We both stopped our careers for this, but I’d have done it even if I was a rookie with the Ravens. I have to lead by example.”

Hopefully, more people in his old line of work will take on that same challenge.

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Panthers have plenty of problems besides Greg Hardy

Ron Rivera AP

It was easy to lose sight of everything but the paid vacation given to Panthers defensive end Greg hardy yesterday, but the Panthers had some other stuff going on.

According to Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, they had to practice without seven starters, and they were down to one healthy running back.

The good news was that it didn’t include quarterback Cam Newton, who came back with an incredible performance last week against the Lions.

The injury report included a whopping 12 names, a high total for this time of year, though some of them will practice today.

Among the missing Wednesday were running backs DeAngelo Williams (thigh) and Mike Tolbert (chest), rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (knee), starting tackles Byron Bell (toe) and Nate Chandler (toe), defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (back) and linebacker Thomas Davis (hip).

Rookie return man Philly Brown (ankle) was also out, leaving them ridiculously thin at the skill positions.

When Jonathan Stewart is your only healthy back, something is messed up.

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Captain Munnerlyn on Adrian Peterson hiatus: “I really don’t get it.”

St. Louis Rams v Minnesota Vikings AP

The Minnesota Vikings came to the decision to place running back Adrian Peterson on the exempt list early Wednesday morning to keep him away from all team activities until the resolution of his legal issues.

However, not all members of the Vikings organization seem to understand the move.

Minnesota cornerback Captain Munnerlyn disagrees with the decision and believes that Peterson should still be allowed to play with the team.

“I think he should be able to play football. I really don’t get it,” Munnerlyn said, via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “And at the end of the day I know they came up with the decision, but I really don’t get it.”

Munnerlyn said he received similar treatment as a child as to what Peterson  did to cause injuries to his 4-year old son. He doesn’t see anything wrong with that style of discipline being levied by a parent and believes that Peterson is being treated unfairly.

If Adrian wasn’t in the limelight I don’t think this would be coming up at all because you raise your kids how you raise your kids,” Munnerlyn said. “I think Adrian is a great guy, great dude, great father, great football player, and I just think the way he’s been treated is unfair.

Munnerlyn said Peterson hasn’t been convicted of anything and he supports Peterson and everything he did.

Regardless of Munnerlyn’s thoughts, Peterson still won’t be playing for the Vikings any time soon.

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Week Three skill position injury report

Tony Romo AP

Below is a compilation of skill position players listed on Wednesday’s Week Three injury report. Players bolded might be of particular interest to fantasy football players:

Did not practice

Rams WR Tavon Austin (knee).

Giants WR Odell Beckham (hamstring).

Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee).

Colts RB Ahmad Bradshaw (other).

Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (shoulder).

Panthers WR Philly Brown (ankle).

Bengals RB Rex Burkhead (knee).

Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles (ankle).

49ers TE Vernon Davis (ankle, knee).

Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (foot).

Ravens QB Joe Flacco (illness).

Jaguars RB Toby Gerhart (foot).

Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe).

Jaguars TE Clay Harbor (calf).

Rams TE Cory Harkey (knee).

Jaguars WR Allen Hurns (ankle).

Washington WR DeSean Jackson (shoulder).

Raiders RB Maurice Jones-Drew (hand).

Saints RB Mark Ingram (hand).

Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (back).

Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (knee).

49ers TE Vance McDonald (knee).

Steelers TE Heath Miller (not injury related).

Seahawks TE Zach Miller (ankle).

Dolphins RB Knowshon Moreno (elbow).

Cowboys RB Joseph Randle (concussion).

Washington TE Jordan Reed (hamstring).

Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back).

Buccaneers TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ankle) — out.

Raiders WR Rod Streater (hip).

Browns RB Ben Tate (knee).

Panthers RB Mike Tolbert (chest).

Colts WR Reggie Wayne (other).

Falcons WR Roddy White (hamstring) — questionable.

Panthers RB Fozzy Whittaker (thigh).

Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (thigh).

Limited

Steelers RB Dri Archer (ankle).

Panthers WR Jason Avant (thigh).

Lions RB Joique Bell (knee).

Browns TE Jordan Cameron (shoulder).

Dolphins TE Charles Clay (knee).

Patriots WR Julian Edelman (back).

Cowboys TE Gavin Escobar (knee).

Texans TE C.J. Fiedorowicz (foot).

Washington PK Kai Forbath (right groin).

Texans RB Arian Foster (hamstring).

Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (knee).

Rams QB Shaun Hill (thigh).

Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (groin).

Eagles WR Josh Huff (shoulder).

Jaguars WR Marqise Lee (hamstring).

Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (knee) — questionable.

Panthers TE Greg Olsen (calf).

Titans RB Dexter McCluster (foot).

Broncos PK Brandon McManus (right groin).

Seahawks RB Christine Michael (hamstring).

Lions RB Montell Owens (hamstring).

Cardinals QB Carson Palmer (right shoulder).

Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph (abdomen).

Jaguars WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring).

Vikings WR Rodney Smith (hamstring).

Chiefs RB De’Anthony Thomas (hamstring).

Patriots RB Shane Vereen (shoulder).

Bills WR Robert Woods (ankle).

Washington RB Darrel Young (neck).

Full

Browns WR Travis Benjamin (knee).

Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe (quadricep).

Steelers WR Martavis Bryant (shoulder).

Eagles TE Zach Ertz (knee).

Texans TE Garrett Graham (ankle).

Chiefs RB Cyrus Gray (foot).

Chiefs WR Frankie Hammond (shoulder).

Dolphins WR Brian Hartline (back).

Seahawks TE Cooper Helfet (knee).

Washington RB Roy Helu (quadricep).

Chiefs WR Junior Hemingway (hip).

49ers RB Carlos Hyde (calf).

Texans WR Andre Johnson (ankle).

Falcons WR Julio Jones (ankle) — probable.

Jaguars RB Storm Johnson (ankle).

Steelers WR Lance Moore (groin).

Bills WR Sammy Watkins (ribs).

Eagles WR Brad Smith (groin).

Titans QB Charlie Whitehurst (right finger).

Chiefs WR Albert Wilson (ankle).

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Marshawn Lynch sits out practice Wednesday with a sore back

Marshawn Lynch Getty Images

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch left the sidelines early with still over a minute to play in Seattle’s 30-21 loss to the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

Head coach Pete Carroll said Monday the reason for Lynch’s early departure was due to a sore back that tightened up late in the game.

“It’s an ongoing issue for him for years,” Carroll said. “It’s something we’re always monitoring”

Lynch did not practice with the Seahawks on Wednesday due to his back issue.

Lynch has only missed one game with Seattle since being acquired in a trade from the Buffalo Bills in October 2010. He was a scratch from Seattle’s 6-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns in 2011 after having back spasms before the game.

Lynch frequently doesn’t practice on Wednesdays throughout the season and always finds a way to play on Sunday.  The fact that the injury in question is Lynch’s back could be the one troubling issue for Seattle.

The Seahawks have grown increasingly more diligent on limiting his workload in practice to keep him fresh for games. Despite sitting out Wednesday, alarm bells over Lynch’s status for games should only go off if he misses multiple practices in a week.

 

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“Goodell Must Go” banner to fly over Georgia Dome on Thursday night

Goodell Reuters

The Commissioner wants to become a leader in the “domestic violence space.”  A group opposing domestic violence will return to the airspace (see what I did there?) over an NFL stadium with the message that it’s too late.

The national women’s advocacy organization known as UltraViolet will once again fly a “Goodell Must Go” banner over the site of a prime-time, nationally televised game.  The group announced Wednesday that the banner will fly over the Georgia Dome before Thursday night’s game between the Buccaneers and the Falcons.

The message could be lost on the folks attending the game, since the stadium is, you know, a dome.  But those outside will see it from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET, and it appears the organization has no plan to stop its push for change at the top of the league office.

Last week, the banner flew at multiple NFL venues, including MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

While the assault has largely subsided in recent days, the outcome of the NFL’s investigation regarding the Ray Rice situation and the NFLPA appeal of the indefinite suspension imposed on Rice will have a strong influence, one way or the other, whether the owners will change Commissioners.

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Mark Davis: Paid leave should follow domestic violence charges, allegations

Mark Davis AP

An NFL owner believes paid leave from league activities should follow an arrest or allegation of domestic violence.

In a story published Wednesday, Raiders owner Mark Davis told Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News that “if somebody’s accused or arrested in a domestic violence case, they should be suspended with pay.”

Davis’ remarks come as the NFL and its clubs have come under major criticism for their treatment of and reaction to domestic and family issues. The remarks also come on a day where Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson, Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy and Cardinals tailback Jonathan Dwyer were asked to stay away from their clubs as their legal issues were resolved, a marked change in how teams have responded to off-field issues in the past.

In the Mercury News interview, Davis also weighed in on the 49ers’ decision to allow defensive lineman Ray McDonald to continue playing after his August 31 arrest on domestic charges, telling the newspaper he believed a suspension would be a better policy but that he understood the Niners’ position.

“I see what the 49ers and [owner] Jed (York) are going through and what they’re saying, ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ and that’s the American way. But I think we have to get this right, and suspension with pay in those cases (while the investigation moves forward) is the only thing that makes sense to me right now,” Davis said, according to the Mercury News.

If nothing else, Davis’ suggestion — if made a policy — would at least be a standardized approach to an issue that has riddled the league and its teams.

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Richard Sherman says he didn’t reufuse to speak to media after loss to Chargers

Sherman Getty Images

After the Seahawks fell to the Chargers on Sunday, Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman reportedly refused to speak to the media.  Sherman disputes that contention.

“When I got done taking a shower and everything Earl [Thomas] was being interviewed and I stood there for a while and nobody came to me,” Sherman told reporters on Wednesday.  “I put my stuff on and walked out.  I signed a few autographs and then there was a guy who asked for an autograph and then asked for an interview after the autograph and I though this guy can’t be serious.  That might have been the guy that said I wasn’t talking to media, but I didn’t really consider him media.”

After later in the Wednesday press conference about the subject, Sherman reiterated his position that he was available.

“I was literally standing in my locker,” Sherman said.  “Earl [Thomas] was being interviewed.  When you come off the field in a 120-degree game, and the locker room is about 90, you probably don’t want to stand there for an extra hour waiting for everyone to get done for interviews.  I’m tired and I’m hot.  I’m trying to get cool.  So I sat there though, I was available. . . .   I didn’t sneak off.  I was standing there and they just happened to be interviewing other people, nobody called for me and said, ‘Hey Sherm.'”

It’s unclear whether members of the media who were covering the game dispute Sherman’s account.  If they do, those with Twitter accounts may have something to say.

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Vernon Davis doesn’t practice on Wednesday

San Francisco 49ers v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

One of the 49ers’ top pass catchers didn’t take part in the club’s first major on-field work of the week.

Tight end Vernon Davis (knee, ankle) didn’t practice Wednesday, according to the injury report. However, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh indicated Wednesday the club believed it had “dodged a bullet” with Davis, who was injured on a fourth quarter tackle in the Niners’ 28-20 loss to the Bears on Sunday.

Harbaugh also said he was optimistic that tight end would “be a healthy position by the end of the week,” according to a transcript of his remarks from the club.

Davis wasn’t the only Niners tight end to sit out Wednesday, with Vance McDonald (knee) also not participating.

Other 49ers not working Wednesday were cornerback Tramaine Brock (toe), right tackle Anthony Davis (hamstring), center Marcus Martin (knee) and defensive end Justin Smith (not injury related). Left tackle Joe Staley (knee) was limited, with tailback Carlos Hyde (calf) a full participant.

The 49ers (1-1) face the unbeaten Cardinals in Arizona on Sunday.

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Cardinals deactivate Dwyer after domestic violence arrest

dwyer AP

Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer, who was arrested today in a domestic violence incident, has been deactivated by the team.

“We became aware of these allegations this afternoon when notified by Phoenix police and are cooperating fully,” the Cardinals said in a statement. “Given the serious nature of the allegations we have taken the immediate step to deactivate Jonathan from all team activities. We will continue to closely monitor this as it develops and evaluate additional information as it becomes available.”

The Cardinals are now following the lead of the Vikings with Adrian Peterson and the Panthers with Greg Hardy by excusing the accused player while the legal case plays out. The Cardinals stand in sharp contrast, however, to the 49ers, who are continuing to allow Ray McDonald to play even after he was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence.

Although Dwyer’s arrest came today, it reportedly stems from an incident with his wife in July.

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Dennis Allen won’t address speculation about his job security

allenryan AP

Raiders coach Dennis Allen isn’t in the mood to discuss his job security.

Amid talk that the Raiders may already be making plans to fire Allen and replace him with assistant Tony Sparano, Allen was asked today whether that kind of speculation can weigh on him. But Allen wouldn’t have any of it.

Here’s a partial transcript from Allen’s press conference today, via Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News:

Q: I’m sure you’ve seen or have been made aware of the speculation about your job, the general manager’s job… Does that matter to you? Do you disregard it?

ALLEN: What matters is getting ready for the New England Patriots. And that’s all I’m going to focus on.

Q: Do you think you’re on a short-term time-frame now?

ALLEN: Listen, I’m getting ready for the New England Patriots.

Allen said he has talked to Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie, but not to owner Mark Davis recently. Davis is the man who will ultimately make the decision about how long Allen lasts as the Raiders’ coach. If Allen wants to impress his boss, he’d better take a cue from his boss’s dad, and just win, baby.

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Cardinals’ Jonathan Dwyer arrested in domestic violence incident

dwyer AP

Another NFL player is facing a domestic violence accusation.

Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer has been accused of domestic violence stemming from an incident with his wife, according to Tyler Baldwin of 3 TV in Phoenix. That report says the fight with his wife happened “a while ago,” but she kept records of her injuries. Phoenix TV station KTAR reports that Dwyer was pulled from practice today and questioned at Phoenix Police headquarters.

Dwyer was arrested on charges of aggravated assault and preventing someone from calling 911 in a domestic violence incident, according to the CBS Evening News Twitter account. A police spokesman told the Arizona Republic that Dwyer was arrested.

The incident comes at a time when domestic violence cases have shaken the NFL, eroded fans’ trust and threatened the job of Commissioner Roger Goodell.

The 25-year-old Dwyer is in his first season with the Cardinals after spending the previous four seasons with the Steelers. He has played in both of the Cardinals’ games this season and has 16 carries for 51 yards. Because he’s not a star player (unlike other accused players like Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson), it wouldn’t be at all surprising for the Cardinals simply to cut him and try to get this case behind them as soon as possible.

Of course, if the Cardinals do cut Dwyer, the next man up on the roster would likely be practice squad running back Chris Rainey — who has had two separate domestic violence incidents, one in college that got him kicked off the team at Florida, and one in the NFL that got him cut by the Steelers. Which serves as a reminder that the NFL has to do a whole lot more to get domestic abusers out of the league.

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Some teams think exempt list isn’t being used as intended

Peterson Getty Images

The Vikings and Panthers both were able to take the heat out of the proverbial kitchen, thanks to the little-used Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list.  It allowed the teams to nudge off the roster a couple of key players with pending legal issues, without having to cut or trade them.

Cutting Adrian Peterson or Greg Hardy would have put the Vikings and Panthers, respectively, on the hook for the balance of their eight-figure salaries, given the Termination Pay provision of he labor deal.  Deactivating them on a weekly basis left the teams with, as a practical matter, only 52 players on the roster.  Also, it required the teams to allow the players to come to practice and, in theory, attend games.

“The Exempt List is a special player status available to clubs only in unusual circumstances,” the NFL’s Player Personnel Manual provides.  “The List includes those players who have been declared by the Commissioner to be temporarily exempt from counting within the Active List limit. Only the Commissioner has the authority to place a player on the Exempt List; clubs have no such authority, and no exemption, regardless of circumstances, is automatic. The Commissioner also has the authority to determine in advance whether a player’s time on the Exempt List will be finite or will continue until the Commissioner deems the exemption should be lifted and the player returned to the Active List.”

Some other teams are griping about a device that essentially allows the Vikings and Panthers to carry 54 players on their rosters.

“It was really put in place for players coming off suspension to get reacclimated,” one league source told PFT regarding the exemption.

The reality is that today’s unique utilization of the exemption will soon not be.  For players facing criminal charges under circumstances that result in a significant amount of fan, media, and/or sponsor pressure, this specific exemption could become the wave of the future.

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Bill O’Brien: Expect more of J.J. Watt at tight end

J.J. Watt AP

J.J. Watt has done just about everything there is to do as a defensive end for the Texans, so he expanded his portfolio against Oakland last weekend.

Watt played a couple of snaps at tight end during the 30-14 victory and caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Watt said Wednesday, via Art Stapleton of the North Jersey Record, that he was “most definitely” ready for more if the coaches want to give it to him.

Coach Bill O’Brien is willing to do that or at least make others think he’s willing to do that. Jordan Raanan of NJ.com reports that O’Brien said we should expect to see more of Watt at tight end in a future that starts with this week’s game against the Giants.

Watt has a pretty good shoulder to lean on when it comes to moonlighting on offense. Texans linebackers coach Mike Vrabel caught 10 regular season passes for 10 touchdowns while he was a linebacker for the Patriots and Chiefs. Vrabel added two more in Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX that helped the Patriots hold off the Panthers and Eagles and added up to a nice little side business.

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Panthers announce Greg Hardy takes “voluntary leave”

Greg Hardy AP

For the second time today, a high-profile NFL player facing legal trouble has been banished from his team.

Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy will, like Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, go on the commissioner’s exempt list until is legal case has run its course. Hardy is awaiting a jury trial on a domestic violence charge.

“The Panthers have announced that DE Greg Hardy will take a voluntary leave of absence from team,” a brief statement from the team read.

Presumably Hardy agreed to the voluntary leave because the Panthers told him if he didn’t, they’d give him an involuntary leave. Hardy, who will continue to be paid his salary of about $770,000 a week, released a statement saying he accepts the decision.

“I understand that I need to step away from football right now and take care of this legal matter,” Hardy said in a statement. “I am entitled to due process and my day in court, and that’s where my focus should be.”

Although Hardy was convicted by a judge, the Panthers initially said they would allow him to seek a jury trial, as is his right in North Carolina, before taking any action. However, after harsh criticism following their decision to play him in Week One, the Panthers deactivated Hardy for Week Two. Now he’s done for the foreseeable future.

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