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Driver overcome by support at retirement press conference

Donald Driver AP

There’s a reason Donald Driver was willing to retire as a member of the Packers, when he probably could have found work somewhere else.

And that reason was evident Wednesday, during a massive celebration of his career during a ceremony at Lambeau Field.

Estimates had the crowd at 1,500 (in the middle of the week, in the middle of a work day, in a small town) to come say goodbye to the veteran wide receiver, who made  the team as a seventh-round pick in 1999.

I told myself I wasn’t going to cry today so I’m going to hold the emotion back as much as possible. I love you all so much,” Driver said, via Jason Wilde of “It was a tough decision, but my family and I felt it was time for the next chapter in our life.”

Driver joked that his immediate concern was getting the squirrels out of the attic in his Dallas home, but he should have plenty of opportunities.

While his 743 receptions for 10,137 yards made him a football star, his Dancing with the Stars title gives him options beyond the field, including several television opportunities.

State and local politicians declared it “Donald Driver Day” in his honor, and named a street for him.

But for Driver, it was a chance to thank the people who supported him for so long, and look back on a career he turned into something special.

“When I walked in here in 1999. I knew I could do anything if I believed anything was possible,” Driver said. “Look at me now, I’m the all-time leading receiver in Packers’ history.”

He’s also one of the most popular players in franchise history, and well-deserving of a chance to be celebrated.

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Report: Giants “cautiously optimistic” JPP can play at least final four games

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 28:  Jason Pierre-Paul #90 of the New York Giants sacks Mark Sanchez #3 of the Philadelphia Eagles in the second quarter during a game at MetLife Stadium on December 28, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images) Getty Images

We haven’t heard much about Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul since he visited with the team in early September for the first time since suffering severe injuries to his right hand in a July 4 fireworks accident.

The Giants didn’t feel Pierre-Paul was ready to play and reports pegged the time before they’d revisit a Pierre-Paul return at five or six weeks, although pictures of that right hand that surfaced a little bit later cast further doubt on his ability to make it back to the field this season. It’s not something the Giants are ruling out, however.

Bob Glauber of Newsday reports that the team is “cautiously optimistic” that Pierre-Paul can return for at least the final four games of the regular season and what the Giants hope will be a playoff run. Pierre-Paul has until November 17 to sign the franchise tender extended by the team if he is going to play at all this season.

The Giants will have played 10 games before that date on the calendar and wins the last two weeks have raised hopes that those final weeks of the season will find the team contending for a postseason spot that Pierre-Paul may be helping them earn if all goes well with his rehab.

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FanDuel, DraftKings scrutinized over access to inside information

draftkings AP

If you’ve watched any football or read any coverage of football this season, you’ve seen plenty of ads for daily fantasy, including right here on PFT and in the sponsorship of PFT Live. FanDuel and DraftKings have quickly become a ubiquitous part of the football-watching experience.

And now there’s a controversy brewing about the access to inside information within the company, and some in Congress are calling for tighter regulations of the huge daily fantasy business.

Both companies have acknowledged that a DraftKings employee won $350,000 at FanDuel. That raised big questions about whether people with access to detailed information about how daily fantasy players are making picks are using that information to win: If you’re competing with people who have access to more information than you, how are you supposed to beat them? It’s a question that gets to the fundamental fairness of daily fantasy.

Even though DraftKings says the employee who won big at FanDuel won on his own skill and didn’t have any access to any inside information until after all FanDuel lineups were locked, FanDuel and DraftKings have responded to the questions by temporarily banning their employees from playing daily fantasy. Both companies released a statement insisting that the integrity of their games is paramount.

“While there has been recent attention on industry employees playing on FanDuel and DraftKings, nothing is more important to DraftKings and FanDuel than the integrity of the games we offer to our customers,” the statement says. “Both companies have strong policies in place to ensure that employees do not misuse any information at their disposal and strictly limit access to company data to only those employees who require it to do their jobs. Employees with access to this data are rigorously monitored by internal fraud control teams, and we have no evidence that anyone has misused it. However, we continue to review our internal controls to ensure they are as strong as they can be. We also plan to work with the entire fantasy sports industry on this specific issue so that fans everywhere can continue to enjoy and trust the games they love.”

That might not be enough to placate critics of daily fantasy. Members of Congress have called for hearings on daily fantasy and are asking for an explanation of how daily fantasy differs from gambling. Even if the games are scrupulously fair, some believe they should be banned under existing gambling laws. If Congress believes the games are rigged to benefit FanDuel and DraftKings employees at the expense of ordinary players, you can bet that the federal government will come down hard on the daily fantasy industry.

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It’s time for the NFL to adopt Bill Belichick’s “challenge everything” suggestion

hi-res-156051124-bill-belichick-of-the-new-england-patriots-throws-the_crop_exact Getty Images

Last night, in the aftermath a Monday night officiating blunder in Seattle that can’t be blamed on replacement officials, I suggested the formation of a committee that would scour the rule book, line by line, in an effort to identify all situations in which replay review should be available.

That approach would be far better than sitting back and waiting for the next situation that cries out for replay review, only to find out that replay review isn’t available.

There’s an even better approach. The NFL should adopt the suggestion from Patriots coach Bill Belichick that everything should be reviewable.

Specifically, coaches should be able to throw the red challenge flag in any situation. If indisputable visual evidence exists to rectify a mistake made on the field, why not give coaches a way to fix it?

One of the concerns raised by the NFL relates to the possibility that coaches will throw the red flag in desperation after a key play, hopeful that some obscure failure to, for example, throw a flag for holding away from the action will be caught via replay. But that possibility can be addressed by limiting challenges to portions of the play directly relevant to the outcome.

Like, for example, an illegal bat that the official who was looking right at the play failed to recognize.

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Report: Connor Barth returning to Buccaneers

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 2: Punter Michael Koenen #9 place holds for kicker Connor Barth #10 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during an extra point attempt against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 2, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

While Kyle Brindza was missing three kicks against the Panthers on Sunday, former Buccaneers kicker Connor Barth was using his Twitter account to remind his old team that he was available.

His self-promotion has reportedly paid off. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the team is bringing Barth back into the organization after releasing Brindza on Monday.

Barth kicked for Tampa from 2009-2012, missed the 2013 season with an Achilles injury and was released before the start of the 2014 season. Barth made 15-of-16 field goals for the Broncos in five games later in the year, but lost a competition to Brandon McManus this summer. He landed back in Tampa for a little bit, but the Bucs opted to go with Brindza when they cut their roster down to 53 players.

Now they’re reversing course and bringing the veteran back for another tour of duty after also taking a look at Randy Bullock, Kai Forbath and Billy Cundiff.

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Lynch “ran pretty well” in pregame, Seahawks hopeful about return

Marshawn Lynch AP

The Seahawks played without running back Marshawn Lynch on Monday night because of a hamstring injury that the team hopes will not linger into Week Five.

Lynch was ruled out of the game on Sunday after initially being listed as questionable to play against the Lions, but Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said that Lynch still went through a pregame workout on Monday night. Carroll said that workout went well and left the team hopeful they’ll have Lynch back for their game against the 4-0 Bengals.

“He wasn’t quite right,” Carroll said, via the team’s website. “His best day was today. He ran pretty well in pregame, but they did not think he could sustain through the game and come out healthy again the next week. So we’re hoping that by using patience here, that he’ll be ready to go this next week.”

If Lynch can’t play, the Seahawks may need to make a roster move before facing Cincinnati. Fred Jackson sprained his ankle during Monday’s 13-10 win, leaving Thomas Rawls as the only healthy running back on the active roster. Seattle has Rod Smith on the practice squad if they do need to bolster the group this week.

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Bills RB Williams dealing with concussion

Karlos Williams AP

Bills rookie running back Karlos Williams suffered a concussion in last Sunday’s loss to the Giants, Bills general manager Doug Whaley told a Buffalo radio station Tuesday morning.

Williams is in the NFL’s concussion protocol, and his status for next Sunday’s game vs. the Titans in uncertain.

“[Williams] told our trainers several hours after the game that he wasn’t feeling well and our medical staff took a look at him,” Whaley told WGR 550. “They put him through further evaluations late yesterday afternoon and it was determined that he’ll have a concussion. So we’ll see how he proceeds throughout the week.”

Whaley said the team will have running backs in for a workout this week, something that may have happened even if Williams was healthy given the uncertain status of usual starter LeSean McCoy, who’s out indefinitely with a hamstring injury. McCoy missed last week’s game and has said he won’t play again until he feels like he’s 100 percent.

The Bills promoted Cierre Wood from the practice squad last week, and Wood and Boobie Dixon are in line for more carries with Williams questionable. Whaley said the team bringing back Bryce Brown was “a possibility.”

Williams, a fifth-round pick, is averaging 5.4 yards per carry and has scored a touchdown in every game, three rushing and one by reception last week.

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PFT’s Week Five power rankings

Aaron Rodgers AP

1. Patriots (3-0; last week No. 1): The bye week, the one weekend of the year when the Patriots definitely won’t win.

2. Packers (4-0; No. 2): When they envisioned finally beating the 49ers, they likely assumed the 49ers would be a little bit better than they currently are.

3. Broncos (4-0; No. 3): Peyton Manning should be very glad he’ll never have to face the Denver defense.

4. Bengals (4-0; No. 5): They’re separating from the rest of the division; the next goal is to separate from the rest of the conference.

5. Falcons (4-0; No. 6): Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman, and Julio Jones are the new triplets.

6. Cardinals (3-1; No. 4): We’ll know a lot more about this team after back-to-back games at Detroit and Pittsburgh.

7. Panthers (4-0; No. 10): The schedule gets a lot tougher, soon.

8. Seahawks (2-2; No. 9): Jimmy Graham doesn’t block in the running game. And the offensive line doesn’t block in the passing game.

9. Jets (3-1; No. 14): The Jets hadn’t killed a coach this convincingly since Rich Kotite.

10. Rams (2-2; No. 17): Sunday’s win over the Cardinals inevitably will be bookended by a loss to someone like the Browns.

11. Cowboys (2-2; No. 8): Brandon Weeden deserves the least blame for the last two losses, and he’ll likely get the most of it.

12. Steelers (2-2; No. 11): Yes, Ben Roethlisberger had a phone on the sideline. And he was trying to drop Josh Scobee from his fantasy team.

13. Giants (2-2; No. 25): Unfortunately, “we should be 4-0” doesn’t count as a tiebreaker.

14. Bills (2-2; No. 7): From a coach who accused a referee from being an “over-officious jerk” to a coach who is giving the referees carpal tunnel syndrome from reaching for their flags.

15. Ravens (1-3; No. 15): They’re not dead yet. If they don’t get some help at receiver, they will be.

16. Vikings (2-2; No. 13): After the bye, 2-2 could quickly become 7-2.

17. Chiefs (1-3; No. 12): They’re still haunted by that fumble.

18. Raiders (2-2; No. 18): The fact that they didn’t think it was a trap game made it a perfect trap game.

19. Chargers (2-2; No. 19): The team that once traded the right to make Mike Vick the first pick in the draft welcomes him to town for the first time as a starter.

20. Colts (2-2; No. 20): Barely beating the Titans and Jaguars doesn’t bode well for hanging another banner this year. Unless the banner will say “We beat the Titans and Jaguars.”

21. Browns (1-3; No. 21): Dwayne Bowe said “it starts Sunday.” Maybe on one of these Sundays it will.

22. Washington (2-2; No. 29): Every win delays by roughly a month the possible decision to risk putting RG3 and his $16.1 million injury guarantee on the field.

23. Dolphins (1-3; No. 16): And now comes the artificial improvement as players hope to help the interim head coach keep the job, so they can then go back to underachieving.

24. Titans (1-2; No. 24): With the Colts poised to lose some games and the Texans unsettled at quarterback, the Titans could make things interesting after Marcus Mariota gets his NFL sea legs.

25. Texans (1-3; No. 23): They gave up on Brian Hoyer too soon, and they’re sticking with Ryan Mallett too long.

26. Jaguars (1-3; No. 26): Maybe they should have kept Josh Scobee, after all.

27. Eagles (1-3; No. 22): Unfortunately, “we’re a few missed field goals away from being 3-1” doesn’t count as a tiebreaker.

28. Buccaneers (1-3; No. 30): Baseball may be looking pretty good to Jameis right about now.

29. Saints (1-3; No. 31): With the Panthers and Falcons each 4-0, it’s going to be a tough climb to the top of the division.

30. Bears (1-3; No. 32): Suddenly, Jay Cutler doesn’t seem like such a horrible option.

31. 49ers (1-3; No. 27): “Losing with class” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

32. Lions (0-4; No. 28): For a change, the Lions have someone but themselves to blame for a tough loss.

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Eagles don’t look better after removing one-score games

Dan Quinn,Chip Kelly AP

Eagles coach Chip Kelly says his team is better than its 1-3 record looks, as Philadelphia is two field goals away from 3-1. That’s not entirely true, as we don’t know how those two games would have played out if the Eagles had made the two field goals in question, but Kelly at least has a point that his team has been competitive in all but one game.

However, if Kelly is going to make the argument that a close loss is really a game that could have been a win if you change one play, he needs to acknowledge that the Eagles’ only win, 24-17 over the Jets, was also a one-score game. And if you look at how the Eagles have played in one-score games in comparison to the rest of the NFL, it turns out that the Eagles really don’t look any better.

Here’s a ranking of all 32 NFL teams in order of what their record be if we removed all the one-score games:

Packers 3-0 (1-0 in one-score games)
Cardinals 3-0 (0-1 in one-score games)
Jets 3-0 (0-1 in one-score games)

Falcons 2-0 (2-0 in one-score games)
Bengals 2-0 (2-0 in one-score games)
Panthers 2-0 (2-0 in one-score games)
Giants 2-0 (0-2 in one-score games)

Broncos 1-0 (3-0 in one-score games)
Patriots 1-0 (2-0 in one-score games)
Steelers 1-0 (1-2 in one-score games)

Bills 2-1 (0-1 in one-score games)
Vikings 2-1 (0-1 in one-score games)

Seahawks 1-1 (1-1 in one-score games)
Cowboys 1-1 (1-1 in one-score games)
Washington 1-1 (1-1 in one-score games)
Titans 1-1 (0-1 in one-score games)
Browns 1-1 (0-2 in one-score games)
Texans 1-1 (0-2 in one-score games)

Ravens 0-0 (1-3 in one-score games)

Buccaneers 1-2 (1-0 in one-score games)
49ers 1-3 (no one-score games)

Rams 0-1 (2-1 in one-score games)
Raiders 0-1 (2-1 in one-score games)
Chargers 0-1 (2-1 in one-score games)
Saints 0-1 (1-2 in one-score games)
Eagles 0-1 (1-2 in one-score games)

Colts 0-2 (2-0 in one-score games)
Bears 0-2 (1-1 in one-score games)
Jaguars 0-2 (1-1 in one-score games)
Chiefs 0-2 (1-1 in one-score games)
Dolphins 0-2 (1-1 in one-score games)
Lions 0-2 (0-2 in one-score games)

This exercise probably doesn’t mean much of anything, but Kelly seems to want his team to get credit for close losses. The reality is, every team’s record looks better if you remove the close losses. But when you also remove the close wins, the Eagles remain near the bottom of the league.

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Decision on Dolphins defensive coordinator coming today

Kevin Coyle AP

New Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell offered no mandate for his staff upon his introduction yesterday, saying he had to process all the new responsibilities on his plate.

But he’s apparently not going to wait long to make whatever decision he makes.

According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, a decision on the future of defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle is expected today.

Campbell has been given the green light to make whatever changes necessary by Dolphins executive Mike Tannenbaum, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Coyle punted.

The underperforming of a defense which was invested heavily in is one of the reasons Joe Philbin’s out of a job today, and it was widely wondered if Coyle would have been offered up if Philbin had stayed.

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Former teammates and coaches think Dan Campbell has a chance

Dan Campbell AP

New Dolphins interim coach Dan Campbell has a big job in front of him, trying to salvage something of a season off to a dysfunctional 1-3 start.

But those who have seen his work up close think he has a chance to succeed.

Saints coach Sean Payton coached Campbell in Dallas, and briefly in New Orleans as his playing career was winding down. Payton said he thinks Campbell has a chance to do a good job.

“He’s a fantastic guy, a great worker, a great teammate,” Payton said, via Evan Woodberry of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “He’s someone that is tough, strong. I can’t say enough good things.”

Of course, he’s also faced with a significant challenge, trying to instill some degree of spirit into a team that felt the need to make a change a quarter of the way through the season.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has also been in that situation (and has background with Campbell), having inherited a 1-7 team in midseason of 2010, and helping them bounce back to finish the second half of the season 5-3.

Garrett and Campbell played together with the Giants, before Garrett moved onto Dallas in 2003 as a Bill Parcells signing.

Sometimes these things happen,” Garrett said, via Todd Archer of “It’s a challenge when they happen during the season but Dan Campbell was a teammate of mine and he’s just a hell of a guy and I think he’s a really good football guy. I think somehow someway he’s going to help that football team get righted and he’s going to do that because he’s a really willful guy. He’s got a great personality and he’s a tough guy and I just wish him nothing but the best. . . .

“Always a very smart guy. Knew the game really well, knew things beyond his position and really cared about it, cared about detail, always wanted to know more and loved to play, has a great passion for playing, a great passion for teams and a great passion for the game of football.”

That passion was evident from his introductory press conference. Now he’ll get a chance to prove himself on the fly, and he can only hope to do it as well as Garrett did.

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Michael Bennett has a unique reason for disliking Matthew Stafford

Michael Bennett AP

We pause from the ongoing coverage of whatever it is they’re going to call last night’s game-altering officiating blunder for a reminder to anyone who pays attention to football: Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett is one of the most fascinating characters in all of sports.

Two weeks ago, Michael’s brother, Martellus, scoffed at the notion that they’re crazy by explaining that he and Michael are normal and that everyone else is crazy. Michael shared some of that normalcy on Monday night after Seattle’s win over the Lions.

“I don’t like Matt Stafford that much,” Bennett said, via Curtis Crabtree of KJR and PFT. And then Michael gave the reason for his feeling.

“[H]e’s from Dallas and Dallas, they killed the President,” Bennett said. “It’s where JFK, one of the greatest Presidents, died at so I just have a little hatred towards him.”

Someone then asked whether Bennett indeed holds the November 1963 assassination of JFK, which happened nearly 25 years before Stafford was born, against him.

“I hold that against him,” Bennett said.

Bennett then talked about an injury he suffered during the game, but he found a way to bring it all back to Stafford.

“My leg hurt but I got up like a G. I feel good,” Bennett said. “But yeah, they killed JFK man, so that’s why I got a little hatred for him.”

Martellus Bennett actually began his career with the Dallas Cowboys. Fortunately for Martellus, neither he nor Michael expressed those views during the time Martellus lived and worked in Dallas. Although given their willingness to say whatever they want to say, it’s a surprise they didn’t.

Meanwhile, Michael will get the chance to expand on his feelings next month, when the Seahawks play the Cowboys. In Dallas.

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Todd Bowles: We haven’t accomplished anything

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 27:  Head coach Todd Bowles of the New York Jets looks on before a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium on September 27, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) Getty Images

When the Dolphins introduced Dan Campbell as their interim head coach, he said a lot about changing the culture of the team and challenging players more than they were challenged under Joe Philbin’s tutelage.

It made for entertaining and predictable viewing as teams almost always replace a coach with someone who has opposite personality traits. You don’t need to look any further than the team that beat the Dolphins on Sunday for an example of that.

After six years of Rex Ryan’s bombast, the Jets opted for the less voluble Todd Bowles after searching for a coach this offseason. Bowles illustrated the difference between him and Ryan on Monday when discussing a 3-1 Jets start that would have likely seen Ryan making big predictions for the coming weeks while at the podium during press conferences.

“We understand we’ve only played one quarter of the season and all we did is get off to a good start,” Bowles said, via the New York Post. “We haven’t accomplished anything. We know we have a lot of work to do. Our mindset is such.”

The Jets have a bye this week and then return for games against the Redskins and Patriots. We imagine the run-up to that Patriots game will be a lot quieter than it was during the Ryan years, but that seems to be just what the Jets wanted.

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Seahawks also benefited from illegal bat rule in 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 8: Kassim Osgood #14 of the San Francisco 49ers blocks Jon Ryan #9 of the Seattle Seahawks punt during the game at Candlestick Park on December 8, 2013 in San Francisco, California. The 49ers defeated the Seahawks 19-17. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) Getty Images

Last night on ESPN, plenty of former players acted as if the illegal bat rule had just popped up in the rule book without warning. But as former NFL official Gerry Austin insisted, it’s been there for decades.

And it’s been invoked multiple times this decade alone. It was used once in an October 2013 game between the Patriots and Dolphins. It also was used more than a month later in a game between the 49ers and, yes, the Seahawks.

The folks at wrote an item about it at the time. The NFL’s excellent Game Rewind feature provides quick access to the video and coaches’ film from the Week 14 contest.

It happened at 2:02 in the first quarter, with former 49ers receiver Kassim Osgood blocking a punt from John Ryan at the Seattle eight. The ball went forward, toward the sideline. Seahawks safety Chris Maragos immediately tracked it down, reaching the football at the Seattle 17 and, just before it bounced out of bounds, slapping the ball down the field. It was touched by the 49ers and then went out of bounds at the Seattle 34, for a 17-yard bat.

In that case, the officials threw the flag. The glitch came from the enforcement; San Francisco’s options were to penalize the Seahawks half the distance from the Seattle 17 and face fourth down again or decline the penalty and take the ball at the 34 — 17 yards away from where Maragos applied the illegal bat.

The 49ers, starting at the 34 instead of the 17 or, perhaps, the 17 plus half the distance after the penalty was enforced, scored only a field goal on the drive.

So the Seahawks picked up 17 yards of field position thanks to a loophole about which Maragos seemed to be fully aware. Even if Maragos didn’t know he was doing something smart, the incident made the Seahawks aware of the illegal bat rule. Which means linebacker K.J. Wright hadn’t been coached to not bat the ball out of the end zone when the offense fumbles the ball into the end zone.

Which ultimately means the Seahawks have benefited twice from the rule in two years — once due to clunky enforcement of it, and once because the official who was looking right at the play decided not to throw the flag.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

Calais Campbell, John Parry AP

Getting beyond the penalties for other reasons why the Bills lost to the Giants.

Said Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, “I don’t believe that anybody really laid down because they didn’t care about Joe Philbin. He might not have gotten the best out of them, but that’s a different issue.”

Patriots G Josh Kline credits Ryan Wendell and Dan Connolly with being mentors on the offensive line.

T D’Brickashaw Ferguson is happy about the way the Jets offensive line has started the season.

TE Crockett Gilmore and DE Chris Canty could return for the Ravens this week.

The Bengals defense doesn’t mind giving up yards if points don’t come along with them.

Should coach Mike Pettine be more involved with the Browns defense?

Debuting on Monday Night Football doesn’t worry new Steelers K Chris Boswell.

The Texans are happy to have a quick turnaround this week.

WR Andre Johnson continues to be a non-factor in the Colts offense.

The Jaguars are trying to solve their inconsistency on offense.

Titans QB Marcus Mariota feels relaxed after the team’s bye week.

The Broncos defense gets a little deeper with DE Derek Wolfe back from suspension.

RB Knile Davis has dropped down the Chiefs’ depth chart.

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio wasn’t second-guessing offensive play calls after Sunday’s loss.

The Chargers reversed a roster move from last week by signing RB Donald Brown and releasing OL Michael Ola.

Is Joseph Randle falling out of favor in the Cowboys backfield?

Losing Daniel Fells leaves the Giants with a hole at tight end.

The Eagles are sticking with K Caleb Sturgis.

Matthew McConaughey got the Redskins fired up before their game against the Eagles.

A makeshift Bears secondary got the job done against the Raiders.

The Lions offense didn’t find much success until the game’s final drive.

The pass rush has been a strength for the Packers in the first four weeks.

Former Vikings DE Carl Eller will have some of his artwork in the team’s new stadium.

The Falcons may be without LB Justin Durant this week.

How much of the Panthers 4-0 start is a product of their schedule?

Saints rookies are moving into bigger roles on the team.

Watching the Buccaneers and thinking about Adam Sandler movies.

The Cardinals lost to the Rams, but DE Calais Campbell played well.

The Rams will be doing some shuffling in their linebacking corps.

49ers WR Torrey Smith had a frustrating day on Sunday.

S Kam Chancellor’s return has gone well for the Seahawks defense.

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Chip Kelly: We’re two field goals away from 3-1

Chip Kelly AP

The Eagles are 1-3, but coach Chip Kelly would like to point out that they could easily be 3-1.

“We’ve lost three games by 15 points, so you hit two kicks, and we’re sitting here 3-1 and everyone’s happy,” Kelly said Monday. “It’s razor-thin, so you don’t throw the baby out with the bath water and say, ‘OK, we’re going to change our offense, change our defense, and change everything we’re doing with our approach.’ We need to settle down, take a deep breath, and when we have an opportunity to make a play, make a play.”

Kelly is right that the Eagles could have won at Washington on Sunday and at Atlanta Week One if they’d made their kicks: They missed a field goal and an extra point in a 23-20 loss on Sunday, and they missed a field goal in a 26-24 loss in Week One. The Eagles are the only team in the league with two losses by a field goal or less.

Of course, the Jets could easily say they would have beaten the Eagles if Brandon Marshall hadn’t committed the bonehead play of the year by lateraling the ball to no one, setting up an Eagles touchdown in a game Philadelphia won 24-17. If Marshall hadn’t lateraled that ball, the Eagles might be 0-4.

Most NFL games are close enough that the losing team can say that if a play or two had gone the other way, they would have won.

“It’s just one play here or there,” Kelly said, “and it’s a different story.”

That’s true, but that’s what every losing team in the NFL thinks.

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Kurt Warner on Kaepernick: Don’t know if it’s regression or learning

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 04:  quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers is hit by free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix #21 of the Green Bay Packers during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on October 4, 2015 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

During the offseason, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick worked out with Kurt Warner as he tried to make improvements to his ability to throw downfield out of the pocket.

Warner had some complimentary things to say about Kaepernick’s game, but acknowledged that one offseason might not be enough to make the necessary changes to “what you’ve been doing your entire career.” Warner also wondered what would happen “when bullets are flying and people are attacking you.”

The first four weeks of this season have provided some answers and they haven’t been good for Kaepernick. He’s not completing passes downfield and struggling to make quick reads against opposing pass rushes while doing less of the playmaking with his legs that made him successful earlier in his career. Warner said Kaepernick deserves a “chance to grow,” but admitted that he doesn’t know if that growth is ever going to come.

“Now that they’re not running as much and they don’t want to subject him to those kind of hits, now he’s playing more dropback quarterback,” Warner said, via “Teams are playing more zone against him, and he’s having to make more decisions, see more on the fly and be able to anticipate and make some of those throws that he hasn’t really had to make in the past. I don’t know if it’s regression or it’s just a young man that’s trying to learn. As I always say, it’s hard to learn at the best level. It’s hard to learn against the best players in the world, and that’s what we’re asking some of these spread quarterbacks to do once they move into the NFL.”

It’s possible that Kaepernick has regressed while trying to learn how to play a different style of quarterback. The teardown process has certainly been successful, now the 49ers have to show they can build him back up or they’ll have to look at other possibilities in the future.

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Cowboys will have to adapt to the loss of Lance Dunbar

Lance Dunbar AP

The Cowboys have gotten used to adjusting this year, so from one standpoint, replacing Lance Dunbar is nothing new.

But the loss of yet another offensive weapon is still something they’ll have to adjust to.

According to Todd Archer of, the Cowboys running back suffered a torn ACL and a partially torn MCL in his left knee in Sunday’s loss to the Saints.

Dunbar already had 21 catches for 215 yards, a career high. He had popped a 45-yard run earlier in the game against the Saints and had five carries for 67 yards for the season.

As far as his role in the offense, there’s not a like-for-like replacement on hand, but with Joseph Randle (as long as he stops leaping over piles), Darren McFadden and Christine Michael in the backfield, they’re covered there. It’s his role as a pass-catcher that will demand some changes, with wide receiver Lucky Whitehead possibly becoming more of a factor.

“One of the things we really pride ourselves on as coaches, and I think what [offensive coordinator] Scott Linehan does such a great job of is using the personnel that we have,” Garrett said. “Lance was a weapon for us and we tried to use him as a weapon in a lot of different ways to impact our offense and impact the game. To say we have someone in house who is going to do those same kinds of things, I don’t know that we have somebody like that, but we have guys in house who can do different things, and hopefully we’ll play to those strengths.”

It might take more than one guy to do it, as Dunbar was also third on the team in special teams tackles, the kind of versatile player it’s hard to replace. Even for a team that’s lost so many player-games to injury already.

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Saints checking out kickers and punters

NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 04:  Zach Hocker #2 of the New Orleans Saints reacts after missing a field goal against the Dallas Cowboys at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 4, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Last weekend may not have been a historically terrible one for NFL kickers, but that’s not stopping teams from making or considering changes at the position.

The Buccaneers parted ways with Kyle Brindza on Monday and Alex Marvez of FOX Sports reports that the Saints will be looking at candidates to replace Zach Hocker. Hocker missed a 30-yard field goal late in regulation that would have won the Saints’ game against the Cowboys on Sunday night without the need to go into overtime.

Hocker called the miss “unacceptable” after the game and Saints coach Sean Payton referenced the need to “clean up that operation.” Hocker has missed three kicks so far this season.

Sunday’s game also saw Hocker pitch in as a punter after Thomas Morstead hurt his leg and Marvez reports that the team will also be looking at punters during a busy week on the special teams front in New Orleans.

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Pete Carroll: “It’s unfortunate the officials didn’t know how to do it”

Pete Carroll AP

You can tell the NFL has a problem on its hands when even the recipients of bad calls admits he got away with one.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll pointed out after his team won because of an illegally batted K.J. Wright ball, that the Lions wouldn’t have automatically scored. True, but they’d have trailed 13-10 with the ball at the 1 and 1:45 left, and they don’t employ Josh Scobee, so the chances at overtime at least were solid.

Now that you look at it we are fortunate,” Carroll said, via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. “It’s unfortunate the officials didn’t know how to do it, for their sake. It’s just the way it goes sometimes that plays happen and calls get made and we live with it and do the best we can.”

Carroll also tried to stem the tide of controversy, by pulling Wright away from reporters to explain the rule to him, before he could speak. Even as he did so, teammate Michael Bennett yelled “Smart-ass play, K.J.,” proving that Wright wasn’t the only one who didn’t know the rule.

’“I’ve got to just catch the ball next time instead of illegally batting it,” he said. “I didn’t want to try and catch it and fumble it.”

No, that was the NFL.

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Lions coach Jim Caldwell: “We’re not going to cry about it”

Jim Caldwell AP

Even though the NFL has sent out a reminder to teams to not criticize officials or other teams, they better be glad the latest team to be blatantly deprived of a chance to win by the refs was Jim Caldwell.

Because the rock-steady coach of the Lions might have been the only one to not flip his switch after that one.

What can you do?” said a “visibly dazed” Caldwell, according to Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press. “You know what I mean? We’re not going to cry about it.”

Others had very different emotions, after the Seahawks were able to seal a 13-10 win over the surging Lions when linebacker K.J. Wright illegally batted a fumble out the back of the end zone, giving the Seahawks the ball instead of the Lions at the 1 with 1:45 left to play.

The league has already admitted it screwed up, with vice president of officiating Dean Blandino saying so after the game on the NFL Network.

And Lions safety James Ihedigbo summed up the feelings of many frustrated by the helplessness.

“You just can’t keep apologizing,” Ihedigbo said. “It’s not going to change it to a win. I mean, it’s just unfortunate. I mean, they got to be held accountable as players are in terms of equipment violations, whatever it might be. There’s a standard that players are held to on the field, there’s a standard that coaches are held to on the field, there’s a standard that teams are held to on the field and there has to be a standard that officials are held to as well. You can’t just apologize.”

At that point, Ihedigbo stopped, saying he didn’t want to risk a fine. But then he kept going.

“They’ve got to do something,” he said. “They’ve got to change the protocol or something. You can’t let that happen and then do nothing.”

Clearly, the Lions feel twice burned after being the victims of a pass interference no-call against the Cowboys in the playoffs. And while they had plenty of the blame themselves for a loss, this instance was even more clear, that a chance to at least tie the game was wrongly taken away.

They should be upset. Every football fan who cares about the integrity of the game should be. Perhaps the league officials in New York will someday join them, and fix a system that clearly needs work.

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