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Chandler Jones doesn’t need ankle surgery

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Ankle injuries were a constant negative during Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones‘ rookie season.

Jones missed two games during the regular season after injuring his right ankle against the Colts in mid-November. He then injured his left ankle in New England’s playoff win over the Texans and was only on the field for a couple of snaps in the AFC Championship Game loss to the Ravens. When the season ended, he said that he was going to meet with doctors to determine whether or not he needed surgery on either injury.

Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports that Jones got good news on that front. Neither ankle needs to be surgically repaired as rest is thought to be enough to get him healthy in time to start offseason work with the team.

Jones got off to a fast start in his rookie season with six sacks in the first eight games. He didn’t add to that total in the second half, though, and he was less effective after the first injury. Those first eight games are an encouraging sign of what he can do when healthy, so the lack of surgery and an extended absence is good news for the Patriots.

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Peyton Manning has found Rocky Mountain high good for business

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Peyton Manning the quarterback has fallen into a perfect offense in Denver.

And Peyton Manning the owner of a number of Papa John’s franchises has also found purchase in a place where it’s legal to smoke marijuana.

While discussing his voting habits and being socially connected during an interview with Peter King of TheMMQB.com, Manning admitted that the local population having access to weed made for better business.

“I’ve gotten to know some of the folks here in Colorado,” Manning said. “There’s some different laws out here in Colorado. Pizza business is pretty good out here, believe it or not, due to some recent law changes. So when you come to a different place, you’ve kind of got to learn everything that comes with it.”

Manning’s sense of humor might be sharper than his passes at this stage in his career, but the guy has always known how to read a defense, and take what’s available to him.

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Maurice Jones-Drew back at Raiders practice

Maurice Jones-Drew, A.J. Hawk AP

Raiders running back Maurice Jones-Drew wasn’t expected to miss much time after having surgery on his right hand on September 8 and it looks like he may wind up just missing one game.

Jones-Drew was back at practice for the Raiders on Thursday, 10 days after having the operation and far enough ahead of Sunday’s game against the Patriots that he should be able to get enough practice time to return to the lineup as well. Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com reports that Jones-Drew took part in most drills during the portion of practice that was open to the media while wearing extra protection near the surgery site.

Jones-Drew only ran for 11 yards on nine carries in the season-opening loss to the Jets, but the Raiders could use all the healthy bodies they can find as they try to avoid an 0-3 start to the season.

Defensive end Justin Tuck and cornerback Carlos Rogers were also back at practice after missing Wednesday’s session. Linebacker Sio Moore and wide receiver Rod Streater did not participate, but Streater said he expects to play against New England.

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Bengals avoid local television blackout

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The early week scare tactics worked again.

According to Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Bengals have reached the 85 percent threshold for tickets sold, avoiding the first blackout of the season.

The Bengals were trying to hustle up some business earlier this week, saying it appeared unlikely they could get enough people to pony up.

But enough people got the message and bought tickets, allowing the 2-0 Bengals’ game against the Titans to be seen on local TV.

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Mike Priefer: I think I’m a better man after sensitivity training

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Mike Priefer returned to his job as the Vikings’ special teams coach this week after serving a two-week suspension for making an disparaging remark about homosexuals during a team meeting in 2012.

One of the conditions that Priefer had to meet in order to return after two weeks instead of three was to undergo sensitivity training. Priefer said that it was hard to watch the team play games on television, but that he found the training to be a worthwhile experience that will have a lasting impact on him.

The details, we’re going to keep those confidential,” Priefer said. “But I will tell you this: It was real positive. It was very professionally done. And like anything else in life, if you put a lot into it, you’re going to get a lot out of it. I tell my kids that, I tell my players that. So I went into it with a great attitude and I got a lot out of it, quite honestly,” Priefer said, via the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I don’t know if I’ve changed, but I think I have more awareness of my surroundings and other people around me. I think I’m a better man because of it.”

The Vikings players were happy to have him back. Fullback Jerome Felton told reporters that the team gave Priefer a standing ovation at Monday’s team meeting, something Priefer said he’ll look back on as “one of the great things that’s ever happened to me as a football coach.”

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Woods, Watkins banged up for Bills

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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

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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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