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Suggs doesn’t think he’s Lewis’s successor as Ravens’ leader

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Ray Lewis had been the undisputed leader of the Ravens for more than a decade. Terrell Suggs doesn’t think he can fill the leadership void left by Lewis’s retirement all by himself.

Asked on NFL Network’s Total Access whether he becomes the Ravens’ leader now that Lewis is retired, Suggs said that he actually sees quarterback Joe Flacco as the leader the rest of the team will look to.

“We’re not worried about that right now. We’re still on this magic carpet ride, we’re enjoying the championship. Regardless of what anyone says, Joe Flacco, he’s proven he’s one hell of a leader, so I don’t have any problems sharing the role with him,” Suggs said.

Suggs added that the Ravens would “probably not” have won the Super Bowl if it weren’t for Lewis’s announcement prior to the playoffs that he planned to retire. Suggs said the rest of the team became more focused knowing that it would be Lewis’s last ride.

“You could say what sparked it was Ray’s announcement when he said that this would be his last playoff run with us,” Suggs said. “I would definitely say that was hands-down what sparked it and got our minds going in the right place.”

Suggs also said the power outage at the Super Bowl was not an issue.

“We weren’t going to let something like the lights going out steal our glory,” Suggs said. “We were like, ‘Once we get the lights back on, we’re going to get back to this ass-whipping.'”

It was the last ass-whipping Suggs and Lewis got to administer together.

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Police say prior incident took place at Ray McDonald’s house

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As authorities continue to investigate whether to bring formal charges against 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald, who was arrested and accused of domestic violence in August, police now say another incident took place at McDonald’s home on May 25.

San Jose police confirmed today that they were called to McDonald’s house after an incident in which a woman grabbed a man’s gun. Although police did not identify either the man or the woman involved by name, multiple reports say the subjects were McDonald and his fiancee, whom McDonald is accused of assaulting in a later incident in August.

“An engaged couple (a male and female subject) were in an argument when the female subject became upset, grabbed a firearm (handgun) registered to the male subject, and held it at her side,” the police statement released today said, via CSNBayArea.com. “When the male subject informed the female subject that he was going to call 911, the female subject put the firearm away and fled without incident. The female subject did not make any threats or point the firearm at the male subject. Both subjects have been identified and were contacted.”

This is the first time police have released any information about the May 25 incident, in which no arrests were made. Police arrested McDonald on August 31 but have released little information about the circumstances that led to that arrest, other than a brief statement saying the “victim had visible injuries.”

The 49ers have taken criticism for allowing McDonald to continue to play while the investigation into the August 31 incident is ongoing. Three other NFL players — Carolina’s Greg Hardy, Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson and Arizona’s Jonathan Dwyer — have been taken off the field this week while they face abuse charges.

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Gerald McCoy, Doug Martin, Roddy White among Thursday inactives

Roddy White AP

The Buccaneers will be without a Pro Bowl interior lineman and their starting tailback on Thursday night.

Standout defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (hand) and running back Doug Martin (knee) are both inactive for tonight’s game at Atlanta, the Bucs said. Bobby Rainey starts in place of Martin, who will miss his second straight game, while Da’Quan Bowers will replace McCoy, according to the Falcons’ website, which announced the game’s starters.

The Falcons are also down a key contributor, too, with wide receiver Roddy White (hamstring) declared inactive, according to the club. Harry Douglas will get the start for White, who didn’t practice all week.

The Falcons’ other inactives are cornerback Javier Arenas, defensive tackle Cliff Matthews, quarterback Sean Renfree, offensive tackle Ryan Schraeder, linebacker Tyler Starr and center James Stone.

In addition to McCoy and Martin, the Buccaneers have deactivated offensive guard Kadeem Edwards, linebacker Mason Foster, offensive guard Rishaw Johnson, offensive tackle Kevin Pamphile and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

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Vikings release WR Jerome Simpson

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The Vikings are parting ways with Jerome Simpson.

The club announced Thursday evening it had released Simpson, a veteran wideout who’s serving the final week of a three-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

The decision to move on from Simpson comes after news of the wide receiver’s July 7 citation for marijuana possession and other charges broke earlier Thursday.

The 28-year-old Simpson hauled in 48 passes for 726 yards and one touchdown for Minnesota in 2013. A second-round pick of the Bengals in 2008, Simpson has long stood out for his athleticism and body control, and he has made multiple highlight-reel plays in his pro career.

However, off-field issues have marked his time in the NFL. He served a three-game suspension to begin the 2012 season after serving a brief prison stint on a marijuana conviction. And now, it’s possible he could face more legal and league discipline.

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Poll finds NFL still has strong support across America

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The NFL has had two weeks of terrible news about players behaving badly and the league failing to take sufficient action. But Americans still love football.

A new NBC News/Marist poll finds that while most Americans disapprove of the way the NFL has handled domestic violence cases, the vast majority of fans haven’t turned away from the league: 86 percent of fans say domestic violence news hasn’t changed the amount of professional football they watch, compared will 11 percent who are now less likely to watch and 3 percent who are more likely to watch.

The poll shows that 53 percent of Americans disapprove of the way the NFL has handled recent domestic violence cases. Football fans are slightly more likely to disapprove than non-fans, with 57 percent of football fans disapproving of the NFL’s handling of the matter. Men (55 percent) are also slightly more likely than women (50 percent) to disapprove of the NFL’s handling of the recent cases.

There’s also good news in the poll for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, as just 29 percent of Americans think he should be forced out of his job. The owners have been steadfast in their support of Goodell, and that’s unlikely to change unless the paying customers demand it. It appears that the customers love football enough that they’ll tolerate a lot of malfeasance from the league and its players.

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Raiders waive seventh-round pick

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The Raiders have waived defensive lineman Shelby Harris, one of the club’s seventh-round selections in May, the team said Thursday.

The 23-year-old Harris did not play in Oakland’s first two games. Harris (6-2, 288) played collegiately at Illinois State and Wisconsin. He has practice squad eligibility, and the Raiders have one open spot on the practice roster.

The transaction leaves the Raiders with eight defensive linemen, including four defensive ends (Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, C.J. Wilson, Benson Mayowa).

The Raiders now have one open roster spot. Oakland (0-2) plays at New England on Sunday.

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Dwyer’s placement on NFI means he’s done this year with Cardinals

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Technically, running back Adrian Peterson and defensive end Greg Hardy could play for the Vikings and Panthers, respectively, again this year, thanks to their placement on the not-so-double-secret-probation list.  For running back Jonathan Dwyer, the Cardinals’ placement of him on the non-football illness list means he’s can’t play for Arizona again this year.

The Cardinals have confirmed that, indeed, Dwyer can’t return to the active roster for the Cardinals at any point this season.  If the Cardinals release him from the NFI list, Dwyer can then sign with another team.

Accused of domestic violence, Dwyer was arrested at the team facility on Wednesday.

“It was like the worst nightmare a coach can have,” coach Bruce Arians told reporters on Thursday. “For me, personally, I was totally shocked because I’ve known John a long time. It was totally out of character from what I’ve known, so I was extremely shocked by the incident, but we have to move forward.”

Arians also said that, if Dwyer is exonerated, he’d be welcomed back.

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Simpson’s citation could result in probation violation

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As if Vikings receiver Jerome Simpson, who’s currently serving a three-game suspension after a November 2013 DUI arrest, didn’t have enough problems, his latest brush with the law could result in some blow back from the legal system.

As explained by Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Simpson’s July 7 citation for marijuana possession and possession of an open container of alcohol could result in a finding that he has violated probation as a result of that DUI incident.

Probation Supervisor Brian Kopperrud said that he first learned of the incident from the Pioneer Press, which probably isn’t a promising development for Simpson.

“We are gathering information on the incident and we will be acting on Mr. Simpson accordingly,” Kopperud said.  “Technically, he should have made us aware this happened.”

The team and the league are now aware, and it could be that the league imposes another suspension on Simpson, who is currently due to rejoin the team after Sunday’s game at New Orleans.

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Charles Tillman on Kyle Fuller: I just see greatness

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With Charles Tillman done for the season with a torn triceps, the Bears will be leaning more heavily on first-round cornerback Kyle Fuller over the rest of the season.

Fuller can’t hope to have the same kind of savvy that Tillman has acquired over a dozen years in the Chicago secondary, but the veteran says that he plans to help Fuller as much as he can this year in a mentoring role. He also says that the rookie, who had two interceptions as the Bears came back to beat the 49ers in Week Two, brings the right raw materials.

“I just see greatness. He had a hell of game, great coming out party. If anybody was happy for him, I was,” Tillman said, via the Chicago Tribune. “I think, too, though, we have a good defense. And my role right now is to help our defense out, not just Kyle Fuller. I think my overall role is to help out our team. That’s the point I want to really get across.”

Tillman says he’s ready to do anything to help the Bears in 2014, but he’s not ready to make any calls about returning to join Fuller in the secondary next season, saying that he’s “thinking about fish tacos right now.”

And now we’re thinking about fish tacos too.

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Roddy White likely out tonight

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Officially, he’s questionable.  (And not just because there’s a certain curse word he can’t spell.)  Unofficially, Falcons receiver Roddy White likely won’t play tonight.

Per a source, White currently isn’t expected to play when Atlanta hosts Tampa Bay tonight.

White, who didn’t miss a game in his first eight NFL seasons, missed three last year due to injury.  This will be only the fourth absence of his 10-year career.

White’s absence means more opportunities for Harry Douglas and Devin Hester.

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No practice yet for DeSean Jackson

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Officially labeled as “day-to-day” after suffering a shoulder sprain on Sunday, four days later receiver DeSean Jackson still hasn’t practiced for Washington.  So will the next day be DeSean’s luck day?  To day?

“We just have to wait and see,” coach Jay Gruden told reporters on Thursday.  “Injuries, I try not to get too excited or too down on anything. I just let the injuries play out, let the player honestly let me know how he’s doing and then the trainer and just go from there, but for predicting injuries, I try not to do that. So, we’re just going to wait and see, and tomorrow will be a better gauge of where they are.”

Gruden said an effort will be made to get Jackson going on Friday.

“We’re going to challenge him, push him a little bit more tomorrow,” Gruden said.  “And we’ll see where he’s at but he’s still a little sore, but I think he’s getting better and the range of motion is better.  You know, it’s an injury where I think a couple more days will do him a lot of good.”

Or maybe it won’t.  Maybe Gruden wants the Eagles to think they’ll see Jackson on Sunday, even though it was obvious the way he went down and then slumped off the field with his left arm drooping that he would miss his return to Philadelphia.

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Russell Wilson preparing for a very different Denver D

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Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson had a big day against the Broncos’ defense in the Super Bowl seven months ago. But he’s not counting on playing so well against the Broncos in Sunday’s Super Bowl rematch. In part because he’s facing a very different Broncos defense.

Wilson noted that many of the Broncos’ best defensive players this season either weren’t on the team last year (including defensive end DeMarcus Ware, cornerback Aqib Talib and safety T.J. Ward) or were injured and not playing in the Super Bowl (including outside linebacker Von Miller, cornerback Chris Harris and safety Rahim Moore).

“Their defense, they have DeMarcus Ware now, Von Miller is out there, they have some other players too like T.J. Ward that they signed, and Talib. They’re great football players. It will be a battle all the way to the end, we believe,” Wilson said.

Wilson said Ware, Talib, Harris and Ward have all stood out to him on film this week. He didn’t have to play against any of them in the Super Bowl.

“He’s playing some of his best football and that’s a good thing to say about him because he’s played a lot of good football over time. DeMarcus Ware, he gets to the quarterback, he causes havoc, he’s a leader on their defense you can tell just by watching film,” Wilson said. “Their secondary is experienced, Talib has played a lot of football, same thing with Harris, too, and T.J. Ward.”

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning noted that Denver’s offense has different personnel as well, with the addition of receiver Emmanuel Sanders and the return of left tackle Ryan Clady from an injury that cost him all but two games last season.

“We have different players. Emmanuel Sanders wasn’t here last year, Clady wasn’t here for most of the season,” Manning said.

The Broncos are certainly a lot different than they were in the Super Bowl. They hope they’re a lot better on Sunday in Seattle.

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Mike Mitchell, Troy Polamalu avoid fines for hits against Ravens

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Steelers safeties Mike Mitchell and Troy Polamalu were flagged for unnecessary roughness for hits on receivers on the same drive in last Thursday’s game against the Ravens, but both men say they haven’t been fined for the hits.

The penalties were costly enough to the team as they helped put the Ravens in position for a touchdown that made the score 17-6 in the third quarter of the game. Mitchell protested his flag, saying Steve Smith ducked into what was lined up as a legal hit in an argument that the NFL may have agreed with when determining penalties for the week.

Mitchell is no stranger to being fined after racking up $40,000 in penalties from the league with the Panthers last season and said that he understands that officials have a tough job making those determinations on the fly because of the chance that they’ll be downgraded by the league for not throwing a flag. As a result, Mitchell says he’ll take it out of their hands in the future.

“Obviously in aiming for the waist they’re going to give guys that ability to duck. Now I have to hit you in the legs because there’s no way you can duck and meet him in the head if I am aiming for the knee,” Mitchell said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It’s just terrible that it has to come to that because I am a Christian guy. I play the game because I love it and it has served my family a good living. I don’t want to hurt anyone, and that’s a very dangerous place to hit a guy especially if he’s not looking, but I can’t continue to donate $20,000 to the NFL’s charity because I get repeatedly fined. So that’s what I have to do, I have to aim my target for the legs, that way they cannot duck into it.”

It’s not the first time we’ve heard a defensive player say he’d aim for the knees in order to avoid fines and penalties and probably won’t be the last since there’s no sign the league will roll back the changes made in the name of increased player safety.

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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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