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Adrian Peterson takes home league MVP award

Vikings running back Peterson celebrates touchdown during NFL football game against Packers in Minneapolis Reuters

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been named as the NFL’s most valuable player.

Peterson earned the MVP award over Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning after receiving 30.5 of the 50 votes by an Associated Press panel of NFL writers. Manning was the only other player to receive votes with 19.5.

Peterson had one of the more remarkable seasons in NFL history. Just eight months after tearing his ACL in a game last December, Peterson managed to put together one of the best seasons ever by a running back. Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns and came just eight yards shy of Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record.

Peterson started all 16 games for the Vikings and helped carry them to a postseason berth. Minnesota finished the season 10-6 after winning just three games in 2011. Peterson ran for 150 yards or more in a game seven times this season. Peterson also caught 40 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown.

Peterson also earned the offensive player of the year award Saturday night. Peterson is the third Vikings player to win the MVP award joining quarterback defensive tackle Alan Page (1971) and quarterback Fran Tarkenton (1975).

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Andrew Luck: I’m preparing to start

of the Indianapolis Colts during the game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on September 27, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. Getty Images

Andrew Luck wasn’t on the field during the portion of Colts practice open to the media on Tuesday, but his absence came to an end once the media left the scene.

Coach Chuck Pagano said that Luck, who is dealing with a right shoulder injury, was a limited participant in practice and that he threw passes while taking most of the first team reps during the session. Matt Hasselbeck, who started in place of Luck against the Jaguars last weekend, didn’t practice because of an illness.

Pagano offered little insight into Luck’s chances of playing by repeating his standard refrain that the quarterback is trending in the right direction. Luck also met the media and said that he’s operating under the assumption that he’ll be in the lineup against Houston on Thursday night.

“I’m preparing to start, and to play,” Luck said, via Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star. “I think I’ve gotten better every day. I don’t think I’m necessarily where I’d want to be today in a perfect, perfect world.”

Wednesday will bring another practice and the release of the team’s final injury report before facing the Texans.

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Bucs promote Dye, Jones from practice squad

Donteea Dye, Chris Lewis-Harris AP

The Buccaneers made a series of roster moves Tuesday in addition to bringing back kicker Connor Barth.

The team also placed defensive end T.J. Fatinikun on injured-reserve and promoted wide receiver Donteea Dye and defensive end Howard Jones to the active roster from the practice squad.

The promotion marks a big step for Dye, an undrafted rookie who played collegiately at Div. III Heidelberg. Jones was the NFL’s highest-paid practice squad player, so it’s fair to assume the Bucs had Jones in the plans, sooner or later. Jones spent all of 2014 on the Steelers’ practice squad.

Fatinikun sustained a knee injury in the second half of last Sunday’s game against Carolina.

The Bucs also signed offensive tackle Reid Fragel and defensive end Josh Shirley to the practice squad and released tackle Martin Wallace from the practice squad.

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Rams bring back Jo-Lonn Dunbar

St. Louis Rams v Minnesota Vikings AP

The Rams are holding off on making any injured reserve moves with linebacker Alec Ogletree until after he has surgery on his broken fibula, but they know that they’re going to need some help at the position in the coming weeks.

They brought back a familiar face to provide some of it on Tuesday. The team announced that they have signed veteran linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar. There was no need for a corresponding move since the Rams had an open roster spot after trading wide receiver Chris Givens to Baltimore.

Dunbar spent the last three seasons with the Rams before being released before the start of this season. Dunbar started 36 games over those three years and recorded 190 tackles, 4.5 sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.

Akeem Ayers and James Laurinaitis started the first four games with Ogletree, leaving Dunbar, Daren Bates, Bryce Hager and Cameron Lynch as the other options at linebacker in the near future.

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Saints adding former Dolphins punter Fields

Brandon Fields AP

The Saints tried out four punters and have decided on former Dolphins punter Brandon Fields as their temporary replacement.

Alex Marvez of FOX Sports reported that the Saints are signing Fields because they expect injured punter Thomas Morstead to miss a game or two with a strained quad.

Kicker Zach Hocker served as the emergency punter in last Sunday’s win over the Cowboys after Morstead’s injury. Marvez also reported the Saints will take a look at other kickers this week after Hocker missed a 30-yard field goal in the fourth quarter against the Cowboys.

Fields, 31, was replaced by the Dolphins in training camp after seven seasons with the team. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2013.

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Joe Philbin’s last practice showed he had lost control

Joe Philbin AP

Joe Philbin’s last practice as head coach of the Miami Dolphins demonstrated how thoroughly he had lost control of his team.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that the Saturday practice in London before Sunday’s loss to the Jets featured heated exchanges among quarterback Ryan Tannehill and defensive players who weren’t following Philbin’s instructions.

The report says Philbin told the defensive players to take it easy during Saturday practice so that the offense could work on getting its timing down. However, linebacker Chris McCain was still practicing aggressively, and that led to a shouting match between he and Tannehill. According to the report, Tannehill made a crack about giving McCain a scout team trophy. Other scout team defensive players then joined in and were aggressively going after the first-string offense, despite Philbin’s request that they ease up.

If it went down how it’s been described, it doesn’t speak well for Philbin’s ability to keep practices under control. If the head coach has told the scout team to settle down and let the offense work, the scout team should respect the head coach enough to do so. The head coach should also foster an atmosphere where there’s enough team camaraderie that the starting quarterback isn’t making cracks about the scout team guys.

After Philbin was fired on Monday, interim head coach Dan Campbell stressed at his introductory press conference that he wanted to see more competitiveness on his team. Although Campbell was careful not to criticize Philbin, it wouldn’t be surprising if Campbell saw Saturday’s incident as a sign of a team full of players who weren’t accustomed to pushing each other hard enough at practice. With Campbell now running the show, starters and scout teamers alike should be ready for tougher practices.

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Does Peyton Manning care about numbers? Absolutely

Peyton Manning, Eli Manning AP

There was a suggestion during Sunday’s Vikings-Broncos game that Denver quarterback Peyton Manning doesn’t care about numbers. The new book from Gary Myers regarding the Peyton Manning/Tom Brady rivalry suggests otherwise.

Chapter 1 begins with a story about the 2007 regular-season finale between the Giants and Brady’s undefeated Patriots. Peyton Manning called his brother, Eli, with a request.

The request wasn’t to keep the Patriots from becoming the first team to go 19-0 (although the Giants would get that job done later). It was to keep Brady from breaking Peyton’s single-season touchdown pass record.

“Anytime players say statistics are just numbers and they don’t pay attention, they’re not telling the truth,” Myers writes. “Manning might have been funny as guest host on Saturday Night Live and a tremendous pitchman in all through television commercials, but he has an ego, a big ego. Manning wanted that touchdown record to be enduring, just as Dan Marino did when he threw forty-eight back in 1984, shattering the old record of thirty-six set by Y.A. Tittle, which had stood since 1963. At least Marino’s record lasted twenty years. Manning’s was on the verge of being wiped out after just three.”

So Eli passed the message along to linebacker Antonio Pierce, with Pierce requesting dinner for the defense at Del Frisco’s in Manhattan if they kept Brady’s 48 from surpassing Peyton’s 49.

Ultimately, the Giants failed to keep Brady from getting to 50. Six years later, Peyton would get his record back, with 55.

If/when someone is ever closing in on breaking Peyton’s record of 55 touchdown passes, look for Peyton to find a way to plead with the opposing defense to keep it from happening. Because he cares about numbers. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

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Byron Maxwell “can’t really run,” but expects to play this week

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Cornerback Byron Maxwell was forced out early in Sunday’s loss because of a quad injury and he provided an update on his condition on Tuesday.

Maxwell said that he has a quad contusion that is feeling better as more time passes since the injury, leaving him to believe that he’ll be able to play when his 1-3 team takes on the 1-3 Saints in Week Five. That confidence is undermined a bit by Maxwell’s description of his condition at the moment

“It feels a little better,” Maxwell said, via “But I still can’t really run, and slowing down is hard.”

Maxwell’s first year with Philly after signing a six-year contract as a free agent hasn’t gotten off to a good start for him individually or for the team, something that he’ll try to change against Drew Brees if he gets the green light to play.

The Eagles also saw linebacker Mychal Kendricks leave against the Redskins and Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that it will be “a stretch” for his hamstring to be ready this week.

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No sign of Andrew Luck during open portion of Colts practice

Divisional Playoffs - Indianapolis Colts v Denver Broncos Getty Images

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is scheduled to meet with the media on Tuesday afternoon and we’ll have to wait until he does for some word on what he did during Tuesday’s practice.

Neither Luck nor Matt Hasselbeck was on the field for the portion of practice open to the media. Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star reports that they were likely warming up inside the team’s facility while their teammates stretched and went through special teams drills.

Luck was listed as a limited participant in Monday’s practice because of the right shoulder injury that kept him out of Week Four and Hasselbeck said after the session that he does not expect to make another start this weekend.

Cornerback Vontae Davis was sitting out of practice for a second straight day because of a foot injury. His absence would leave the Colts without their top cornerback and likely create some opportunities for Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins on Thursday night. Defensive tackle Henry Anderson, linebacker Bjoern Werner and cornerback Jalil Brown were also on the sideline during Tuesday’s session.

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Pete Carroll: I didn’t know batted ball rule

Pete Carroll AP

Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright said he didn’t know that he should have been penalized for batting Calvin Johnson’s fumble out of the end zone on Monday night and he wasn’t alone on that front.

Coach Pete Carroll said that it was “unfortunate” that the officials didn’t apply the rule correctly after the game and on Tuesday admitted that he would have been taken aback if they had thrown a flag and returned the ball to the Lions. Carroll said that his staff tells players to knock loose balls out of bounds, but wasn’t aware that it’s against the rules to do that in the end zone.

“I would have done the exact same thing. I would have done the exact same thing,” Carroll said on 710 ESPN. “I didn’t know that rule either. I’ve never even seen it come up and I’ve been coaching for — I don’t even know how many years it is and how many games it could possibly be — I don’t know how anybody would have know that one. If they did, they did.”

Carroll probably should have known about the rule since the Seahawks were guilty of breaking another section of it in a 2013 game against the 49ers. In addition to barring players from batting the ball out of the end zone, the rule also makes it a penalty to bat a loose ball toward the opposing end zone as Seahawks safety Chris Maragos did with a blocked punt in that game.

Monday night’s play came in a bigger spot so there shouldn’t be too many people around the league unaware of the rule thanks to the attention generated by the non-call.

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ESPN dropped the ball on illegal bat

gerryaustin Getty Images

The officials weren’t the only ones who screwed up when the Seahawks weren’t flagged for an illegal bat in Monday night’s win over the Lions. ESPN also dropped the ball by waiting until after the game to point out that Seattle should have been penalized, and the ball should have been given back to the Lions, after Calvin Johnson’s fumble into the end zone.

After the fumble, neither Mike Tirico nor Jon Gruden said anything at all about the illegal bat, which the NFL has since admitted should have been a penalty on the Seahawks that would have given the Lions first-and-goal inside the 1-yard line. That’s surprising because Tirico is a consummate professional who’s always well-prepared for any game he calls, and Gruden is a former coach well known for his obsessive attention to detail. You’d think both of them, or at least one of them, would know that rule.

But it’s even more surprising because ESPN has former NFL referee Gerry Austin in the booth on Monday nights specifically to weigh in when there’s an officiating mistake. Tirico even pointed that out on Monday night, saying, “Retired Super Bowl referee Gerry Austin up here in the booth with us” at the start of the fourth quarter. At the start of the Lions’ drive that ended with Johnson’s fumble, Austin was on the air discussing the relevant rule when Lions’ punt returner picked up his own muffed punt and ran it out of the end zone.

So where was Austin a few minutes later? Why didn’t he immediately pipe up and explain that the officials had missed a huge call? We’ve reached out to ESPN to ask that question, but we didn’t immediately hear back.

Eventually, ESPN did identify the blown call, but only after the game, several minutes later. The blown call is the biggest story of Monday night’s game, but many viewers turned off the TV and went to bed without even realizing it had happened.

The NFL’s rules are so complex that identifying bad calls immediately and explaining them clearly is a hard job. Former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira does the job well on FOX, but former referee Mike Carey has struggled in a similar role on CBS. Austin is used less prominently on ESPN, but Monday night was a perfect opportunity for him to shine. Instead, we never heard a word from him until the game was over.

To its credit, ESPN has done a good job of covering the story today. Mike & Mike began their broadcast this morning with a long discussion of the blown call, and it has been prominently featured on other ESPN programming all day long. But the time to identify the blown call was when it happened, and ESPN missed it.

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Jim Irsay: “High likelihood” that one or two teams in L.A. next year

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With NFL owners gathering in New York for their fall meeting this week, the situation in Los Angeles is at the top of their stack.

And even though there’s still plenty of politicking going on, the consensus remains that professional football will be back there soon.

According to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times, Colts owner Jim Irsay said there was still a “high likelihood” that one or two teams would be in L.A. in the 2016 season.

As we’ve reported, the current lean is not toward Stan Kroenke’s bid to take the Rams to a stadium he wants to build in Inglewood, rather the site in Carson which would be shared by the Chargers and/or Raiders.

With a group of influential owners including Jerry Richardson steering the process, it’s clear the league wants to resolve this issue. And if Irsay’s comments are any indication, that could be sooner rather than later.

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Bills sign RB Boom Herron

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The Bills have signed running back Daniel “Boom” Herron to bolster their banged-up running back room.

The Bills worked out some running backs, including Trent Richardson, on Tuesday because rookie starter-for-now Karlos Williams is dealing with a concussion. LeSean McCoy is out indefinitely with a hamstring injury.

Cierre Wood was promoted from the practice squad last week. Boobie Dixon is probably ahead of Herron and Wood in line as Williams, who’s scored a touchdown in every game this season, awaits clearance.

The Colts waived-injured Herron last month and then released him from injured reserve with a settlement. Herron is a veteran of 25 career games and three starts and played well down the stretch and in the playoffs for the Colts last season. The Colts signed him off the Bengals’ practice squad in 2013.

The Bills created a roster spot for Herron by placing tight end MarQueis Gray on injured reserve. The team also signed wide receiver Walter Powell to the practice squad.

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Unbeaten Bengals announce rare sellout vs. Seahawks

San Diego Chargers v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

The 4-0 Bengals host the Seahawks Sunday, and the locals are apparently excited.

The game is sold out, a rarity in Cincinnati. The Bengals had about 58,000 fans for each of their two previous home games this season.

In addition to announcing a sellout this week, the Bengals announced that “limited” tickets are left for a Nov. 5 Thursday night game vs. the Browns. The listed capacity for Paul Brown Stadium is 65,515.

The Bengals didn’t get more than 60,000 for a game last year until their fifth home game. They sold out 57 straight games from Nov. 2003-Nov. 2010, but the team struggled in 2010 and longtime fan favorites Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco were gone the next season. The Bengals didn’t crack 45,000 for either of their first two home games in 2011, but the team has been in the playoffs every year since and averaged over 63,000 fans in 2013 before seeing a slight dip last season.

The Bengals were the only team to vote against the NFL nixing local TV blackouts last spring, but team owner Mike Brown insisted that was related to a revenue-sharing issue, not actually forcing fans to come to the stadium to see the team play. Even when the NFL relaxed its blackout rules, the Bengals initially didn’t want to declare sellouts unless they’d actually sold out.

The Bengals hadn’t had a home game blacked out since 2012, and now they’re seeing reward at the box office for what’s been one of the league’s most impressive teams on the field over the season’s first month.

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Forte on trade talk: I don’t think I’m going anywhere

Matt Forte AP

The Bears made a pair of trades last week after losing their first three games of the season, which led to a lot of talk about more moves to come as the Bears try to put together a better team under new coach John Fox and General Manager Ryan Pace.

One of the players whose names came up in that talk was running back Matt Forte. Forte’s contract is up after this season and there hasn’t been much sign that the Bears are clamoring to bring him back in 2016, which made it easy to speculate that a backfield-needy team might make a run at bringing him to their offense.

During an appearance on The Dan Patrick Show Tuesday, Forte said he doesn’t think that’s going to happen.

“I don’t worry about those things,” Forte said. “A lot of it is media speculation, just like in the offseason they were like ‘the Bears could trade Matt.’ Everybody was talking about me getting traded then and it didn’t happen. Now after one guy gets traded, it all comes back again. I can’t control that either. They can trade me if they want to. I don’t think I’m going anywhere, but I can only control how I play on the football field and that’s what I do.”

Forte said that he wants to be on a winning team, but that he’d like the Bears to be that team. That looks like a tall order to pull off in 2015, so things would have to change on the contract front for Forte to reach that goal.

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Devin Hester goes on IR/designated for return with toe problem

Devin Hester AP

The Falcons are off to a 4-0 start without one of the best return men the NFL has known, so what’s another eight weeks?

The Falcons announced that returner Devin Hester will be placed on injured reserve/designated for return, after a lingering turf toe injury failed to get better.

The move will keep Hester off the practice field for at least six weeks, and he’ll be eligible to return for their Week 13 trip to Tampa Bay.

“We have decided to place Devin on short-term IR,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “We have been trying to treat his toe injury the best we could, and he has been doing everything in his power to get back on the field, but at this point we think this is the best plan of action. We are confident this time will let Devin get healthy and be a big contributor to this team once he is back on the field.”

The Falcons also signed safety Charles Godfrey and tight end Tony Moeaki, and released tight end Mickey Shuler.

Hester contributed on offense for the Falcons last year, with 38 catches for 504 yards and two touchdowns. But most importantly, he led the league in punt return average (13.3 yards per return), as well as combined kick/punt return yardage (1,368).

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Bills accuse Odell Beckham of throwing punches refs didn’t see

Dwayne Harris, Bacarri Rambo, Odell Beckham, Corey Graham AP

Odell Beckham is off to perhaps the best start to a career of any receiver in NFL history. He’s also a cheap shot artist, if players on the Bills are to be believed.

Several players on the Bills told the Buffalo News that Beckham threw multiple punches during the Giants’ win on Sunday. According to the Bills, Beckham is good at throwing quick punches while the officials aren’t looking, then backing away from the fray.

In at least one case, video appears to back the Bills up: After a Bills interception, Bills safety Duke Williams blocked Beckham to the ground. As both of them got back up, Beckham appeared to throw a quick punch with his right hand toward Williams’s chin before running way. Williams wasn’t happy about it, saying he lost respect for Beckham.

“A guy like that,” Williams said, “you expect him to be a stand-up guy but I guess it is a part of his game. He likes to throw cheap shots here and there and gets away with it. I guess it’s his thing. . . . Right in front of the referee and he threw a jab at me and ran behind his teammates. He ran away. I’m just like, ‘Wow. That’s crazy.’”

In addition to being disappointed with the way Beckham handled himself, the Bills came away unimpressed with the kind of player he is. Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore said teammate Sammy Watkins is a better young receiver than Beckham, and that Beckham’s famous highlight-reel catch last year against the Cowboys has caused people to overrate him.

“I don’t really watch TV and listen to the hype. I study guys on the film and then I judge him,” Gilmore said. “He’s not Sammy Watkins. He has good hands, he can catch. He’s good but he’s not what people think after that one catch.”

Gilmore is off-base there. Beckham is a great player. But the Bills may be right that he’s a player who takes some cheap shots. Don’t be surprised if the league office has something to say about Beckham’s actions.

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Giants scrub facility after Daniel Fells diagnosed with staph infection

Daniel Fells , Jeff Heath AP

The Giants placed tight end Daniel Fells on injured reserve Monday after doctors discovered he had a staph infection while treating him for an ankle problem.

Fells needed surgery and remains hospitalized with what several reports say is a MRSA infection. MRSA can be particularly difficult to treat because it is resistant to many types of antibiotics.

The Buccaneers dealt with an outbreak of MRSA in their team facilities a couple of years ago and face a lawsuit from former kicker Lawrence Tynes related to the infection that ended his career. Guard Carl Nicks also saw his career come to an early end after contracting MRSA around the same time.

To avoid anything similar happening in their facility, the Giants announced Tuesday that they have scrubbed their locker room, meeting areas and training rooms under the supervision of infectious disease specialists.

“We are working with infectious disease specialists, and we have defined protocols that we are following in consultation with the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network and local infectious disease specialists,” Giants spokesman Pat Hanlon said. “Those protocols are being followed carefully.”

Dan Graziano of ESPN reports that Fells is expected to recover and there have been no other reported cases of MRSA among Giants players.

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Lions lineman Tyrunn Walker having surgery for broken leg, to IR

Robert Griffin III, Tyrunn Walker, Ezekiel Ansah AP

Not only did the Lions lose a game they should have at least had a chance to tie last night, but they also lost a key player.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Lions defensive lineman Tyrunn Walker suffered a broken fibula last night, and is having surgery today to repair the damage.

He’ll go on injured reserve, and while he won’t be able to help the Lions this year, he is expected to make a full recovery.

Signed from New Orleans this offseason, Walker was a key contributor to their defensive line rotation, and his absence is just injury to insult for a team sitting 0-4 and having just gotten jobbed by the league.

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Report: MRI on Eric Ebron’s knee shows no structural damage

Eric Ebron AP

The Lions went into Monday night’s game against the Seahawks with one injured tight end and they added another one before the first half was over.

Eric Ebron got rolled up from behind in the first half and the team ruled him out for the remainder of the game with a knee injury. Adam Caplan of ESPN reports that an MRI taken of the injury on Tuesday showed “no structural damage.”

Whether that means he’ll be able to play against the Cardinals in Week Five or not has yet to be determined. Ebron had two catches for 22 yards before getting hurt and has 15 catches for 179 yards on the season. Brandon Pettigrew missed a third straight game with a hamstring injury, which left Tim Wright as the only healthy tight end for most of Monday’s game.

The Lions also saw starting defensive tackles Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker leave with injuries during the loss. Ngata has a calf injury that he said felt OK after the game, but Walker suffered a nasty leg injury that coach Jim Caldwell indicated would sideline him for a long period of time.

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Browns teammates defend Joe Haden

Haden Getty Images

Browns quarterback Josh McCown and linebacker Craig Robertson spoke up to defend teammate Joe Haden’s decision not to play in San Diego last weekend.

“I’ve been around Joe for four years, and I think it’s crap that people are giving him crap for not playing through something that he felt like wouldn’t have put the team in the best situation,” Robertson told Northeast Ohio Media Group. “If Joe decided not to go, it’s because he did it for the team and it was nothing personal for him, but I think it’s crap that fans or anybody is saying anything about any of that because that’s a guy who goes through everything 100 percent and puts the team before anybody.

“The fact that fans — or anybody’s saying that — that’s ridiculous.”

Browns Coach Mike Pettine said Monday that the team “left it up to Joe and he made the decision not to go” due to rib and finger injuries. That left Haden open to much public scrutiny, especially as the Browns gave up 358 yards passing in a 30-27 loss.

Haden told reporters two days before the game that he’d be fine and planned to play. He suffered a rib contusion on the first play of the previous week’s game vs. the Raiders and a finger injury last week during practice.

“I don’t think anybody in here questions Joe Haden’s heart or intentions,” McCown said. “When he’s healthy and ready to be out there, we expect him to be the same Joe that we’re used to seeing. I don’t think it’s an issue, not inside this locker room.”

The Browns have until Wednesday to submit an explanation to the league about why Haden didn’t play despite being listed as probable.

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