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PFT Live: Which QB will move up draft boards?

Matt Barkley won’t throw during the NFL Combine. Will this affect his draft stock? Mike Florio also runs down the list of QB prospects and wonders who can improve their stock after the NFL’s free agency period ends.

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Two more Panthers backs headed to MRI tubes

Jonathan Stewart, Mike Mitchell AP

This is some kind of sick joke.

The Panthers — after years of buying all the running backs — are suddenly out of running backs.

Coach Ron Rivera just told reporters that Jonathan Stewart (knee) and Mike Tolbert (leg) were getting MRIs today on injuries suffered in last night’s loss to the Steelers.

The Panthers were already playing without starter DeAngelo Williams, who has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury and reserve/special teamer Fozzy Whittaker.

That forced them to call undrafted rookie Darrin Reaves up from the practice squad over the weekend, and he is currently atop the depth chart.

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Lions confirm: Stephen Tulloch tore ACL celebrating

Stephen Tulloch AP

It’s bad enough he was compared to a Gramatica.

Now Stephen Tulloch has the entire season to plan his next celebration.

The Lions confirmed that Tulloch tore his ACL yesterday while celebrating a sack, and would be placed on injured reserve.

As difficult a break as it was, Lions coach Jim Caldwell knows it’s hard to curb such celebrations.

“It’s not going to happen,” Caldwell said. “This is an emotional game. We want enthusiasm.”

The Lions thought they ended their bizarre injury luck when they let veteran receiver/pizza delivery guy Nate Burleson go this offseason, but this may be even worse.

In a related development, high fives have been prohibited, and Ndamukong Suh has been given a big, soft, fuzzy boot to wear when he feels like stomping someone.

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Another OL hit: Jason Kelce needs sports hernia surgery

Jason Kelce

The hits keep coming for the Eagles offensive line, which was supposed to be their foundation.

According to Jeff McLaneof the Philadelphia Inquirer, center Jason Kelce has a sports hernia and will likely need surgery to repair it.

Kelce left yesterday’s game just after halftime and didn’t return.

They’re still another week away from the return of right tackle Lane Johnson from suspension, and left guard Evan Mathis is already using the IR/designated for return spot. Sixth-man/spot-starter Allen Barbre was lost for the season to an ankle injury in the opener.

Kelce could miss two months or more, though they’re waiting for additional tests to determine the time frame.

Backup David Molk replaced him yesterday, but they’d need to make some degree of roster move as their numbers dwindle. Veteran Wade Smith was dragged in off the street to start at guard, and he can play center as well.

The Eagles were scrambling yesterday, as veteran Todd Herremans was their only regular left after left tackle Jason Peters was ejected for fighting, leaving people called Andrew Gardner, Dennis Kelly Smith, and Molk to finish the game.

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Lions change kickers, replace Nate Freese with Alex Henery

Alex Henery AP

After three games with their rookie kicker, the Lions have seen enough.

Nate Freese, the seventh-round pick who has already missed four field goals this season and ranks dead last in the NFL in field goal accuracy, is on the way out. The Lions will sign Alex Henery to replace him, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The move comes as no surprise: Freese was already on very thin ice even before missing a 41-yard attempt at Ford Field on Sunday. Freese has been shockingly bad this year, going 3-for-7 with a long field goal of just 30 yards. The Lions use punter Sam Martin on kickoffs, so Freese wasn’t giving them anything there, either.

Henery has played three NFL seasons, all with the Eagles. He’s made 86 percent of his field goals, with a long of 51 yards.

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PFT Live: Eagles talk with Geoff Mosher, Jaguars talk with Mike Dempsey

Washington Redskins v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

The Eagles moved to 3-0 with a 37-34 win over the Redskins during a wild day in Philadelphia that saw DeSean Jackson return to town and a brawl that wound up with two players ejected.

Geoff Mosher of CSN Philly will join Mike Florio on Monday’s edition of PFT Live to discuss the biggest takeaways from the game for the Eagles. One area of concern might be LeSean McCoy, who left the game briefly to be evaluated for a concussion but returned to run 19 times for just 22 yards. Another would be the injury to center Jason Kelce, which put the Eagles down three starting offensive linemen (Jason Peters made it four when he was ejected) and opened to door for a lot of big hits on Nick Foles over the course of the contest.

The Jaguars are the exact opposite of the Eagles after dropping their third straight game on Sunday. The game saw Blake Bortles make his first appearance and he’ll start next week for Jacksonville, so we’ll have Mike Dempsey of 1010XL in Jacksonville on the show to break down the start of the Bortles era in Jacksonville.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can watch it all live by clicking right here.

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Eli Manning: This is how offense is supposed to work

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Before the season, the Giants talked about Eli Manning completing 70 percent of his passes during the 2014 season.

The claim was met by plenty of scoffing and the laughing didn’t die down in the first week of the season, but it seems less outlandish after Week Three. Manning hit on 75 percent of his throws against the Texans, up from connecting on 67 percent in Week Two despite several drops by his receivers and a sign that the Giants are starting to get the hang of things on offense.

Sunday saw them run the ball very well in support of the efficient Manning, whose biggest plays came on short completions that left his receivers a chance to make plays with the ball in their hands. The offensive line was strong in both phases, the tempo was where it needed to be and Manning was on the same page with his targets all day. If not for a fumble inside the 10 and an abysmal snap on a field goal, the 30-17 win would have been an even bigger rout.

“That is the way it’s supposed to work,” Manning said, via the New York Post.

The Giants offense found its footing at a good time. Three of their next four games are road dates against NFC East foes, including a trip to Washington on Thursday. Winning all of them will be tough, but taking two of three would set them up very well for the back end of the season and a run at a playoff spot.

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DeMarco Murray disappointed in himself for fumbling

demarcomurray Getty Images

Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray has rushed for at least 100 yards and a touchdown in all three games this season. He has also lost a fumble in all three games this season.

Some running backs get benched when they keep fumbling, but Murray is at no risk of losing playing time. Murray is leading the league in carries (75) and rushing yards (385) and is tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns (three), rushing first downs (22) and runs of 20-plus yards (three). Cowboys coach Jason Garrett says he’ll keep feeding the rock to his workhorse, and trust Murray to stop fumbling..

“We’re going to continue to give him the ball and he’s got to get it right,” Garrett said. “He’s going to get it right.”

Murray acknowledged that he needs to do a better job of holding onto the ball.

It’s very disappointing,” Murray said. “I’m very disappointed in letting that one go. I’ve got to get it fixed and I will get it fixed.”

Murray needs to get the fumbling problem fixed, but Garrett may need to limit Murray’s carries less because of fumbling concerns than because of concerns that Murray won’t stay healthy for 16 games if he keeps taking this many hits. Murray has 22, 29 and 24 carries in his three games so far this season, which puts him on pace for 400 carries for the season — a total that only five running backs in NFL history have reached. A 400-carry season is an all but impossible workload, especially for a running back like Murray, how has had problems with durability in the past.

Murray is disappointed in himself for fumbling. Garrett will be more disappointed in himself if he runs Murray into the ground.

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Tom Brady only sees one guy playing well on offense

Tom Brady AP

Tom Brady wants to make it clear — his offense needs to get better, and soon.

After beating the Raiders 16-9 yesterday, the Patriots’ offense has 22 points in the last six quarters.

“I don’t think anybody has really found their stride this year,” Brady told WEEI, via the Boston Herald. “I don’t know who you can point to on offense and say, ‘Wow, they’re really clicking.’”

When it was suggested that wide receiver Julian Edelman (10 passes for 84 yards yesterday, top 10 in the league in both receptions and yards) might qualify, Brady reluctantly let him in the club.

Yeah, he’s done a good job, so that’s one,” Brady said. “We’ve got a lot of other guys on offense. There’s 22 other guys on offense, so I’m not going to sit here and say every single guy is clicking. We’ve had one individual player that’s caught some passes. Great. Does that make a good offense? I don’t think so. . . .

“We’ve all got to figure out how to do a better job of that. It’s not one person. It’s not not singling any person out to say, ‘Wow, if this person were out, or if this person were in.’ I mean, if we had 11 people on the field that were producing like Julian Edelman, we’d have a pretty good offense. We’ve got one guy.”

While it’s easy to zoom in on skill position players thanks to fantasy football, the Patriots’ problems being up front.

From veteran line coach Dante Scarnecchia’s retirement to the surprising trade of Logan Mankins, the Patriots have looked disorganized in their blocking.

And that’s left only one guy able to hold his head high.

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Report: Jarvis Jones likely needs wrist surgery

Jarvis Jones AP

Injuries to three defensive starters took some of the fun out of the Steelers victory on Sunday night and it looks like the Steelers will be feeling those absences as they try to build on the win over the Panthers.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that linebacker Jarvis Jones likely needs wrist surgery to repair his injury and that he’ll be out indefinitely as the team sorts out exactly what’s wrong. Jones has two sacks in three starts this season, which is already double what he managed as a rookie, and he’s forced one of the two fumbles the Steelers have caused this season, so his absence will be a significant one.

Arthur Moats is the next man up at outside linebacker, although the Steelers may need to look for other help for what’s suddenly a thin linebacker group. Schefter reports that Ryan Shazier has been diagnosed with a sprained MCL. He’ll have an MRI on Monday to sort out the extent of the damage and the length of his absence from the lineup.

With cornerback Ike Taylor also down with a broken forearm, the Steelers are going to have their hands full finding a defensive lineup that works in the coming weeks.

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Bucs think they’ll be healthier for the Steelers game

St Louis Rams v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Getty Images

The Steelers are coming off a huge win, and the Buccaneers a terrible loss.

But when they meet next weekend, the advantage may go to the one with the most available bodies.

The Steelers suffered three key defensive injuries last night, but the Bucs are hoping they get some players back.

According to Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune, the Bucs are optimistic they’ll get defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (broken hand), running back Doug Martin (knee) and right defensive end Michael Johnson (ankle) back in time for the Steelers game.

Less likely is that quarterback Josh McCown will be back from his sprained thumb, but having their best two defensive linemen back should help.

“Gerald, [tight end] Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Michael Johnson — all those guys will eventually help us,’’ Smith said. “That’s why we’re optimistic things are going to change, because we don’t have those players out for the season. They’ll all be coming back, so reinforcements are on the way.”

Considering the Bucs lost an embarrassing 56-14 decision to the Falcons Thursday night, the cavalry better hurry.

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Eddie Lacy looking for answers to run game woes

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Getty Images

The Packers struggled across the board on offense in Sunday’s 19-7 loss to the Lions and running back Eddie Lacy’s production was anemic for the third straight week.

Lacy ran 11 times for 36 yards, leaving him with an average of 3.1 yards per carry for the entire season. That’s a full yard off last year’s mark and things got even worse when Lacy fumbled a ball that Lions defensive back Don Carey returned for the opening touchdown before getting pinned in the end zone for a safety later in the game.

There were several takes about what’s wrong with the ground game, but Lacy pointed the finger at himself after the loss.

“We just have to figure out better ways to run the ball,” Lacy said, via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I don’t know if I have to be more patient or speed things up but one way or another I’m responsible for the run game.”

It hasn’t helped Green Bay that the schedule spat out three of the league’s better run defenses in the first three weeks of the season, but teams rarely get far by shrugging off their struggles as the product of the other team just being too tough in that area. No matter how good the opposition, the Packers have too much talent on offense to get held to seven points and the onus to get things moving in the right direction is going to be up to a lot more people than Lacy.

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Harbaugh’s stance may have fueled the reported coverup

Harbaugh AP

As we wait (and wait . . . and wait) for the Ravens to address the alleged “errors, inaccuracies, false assumptions and, perhaps, misunderstandings” in the ESPN report alleging that Ravens director of security Darren Sanders knew the contents of the notorious elevator video in February and Ravens president Dick Cass knew in early April, coach John Harbaugh has addressed the report that he lobbied for the team to cut Rice in February.

Every single football decision we make, we work together,” Harbaugh told reporters after Sunday’s win at Cleveland, as Josh Alper has pointed out.  “Just like every football decision. You get together, you hash it out.  [G.M.] Ozzie [Newsome] uses the term scrimmaging.  You scrimmage it out, everybody’s got their opinions.  It’s not black and white.”

Asked by Peter King of whether Harbaugh wanted to cut Rice in February, Harbaugh didn’t provide an unequivocal no.

“That is such an unfair characterization,” Harbaugh said.  “It is not fair to the organization.  We said all along that the facts would determine the consequences, and that was my stance from the start of this.”

Reading those comments together in light of the ESPN report, it’s a fair characterization to say that Harbaugh at least raised the possibility of cutting Rice in February, and that Newsome’s “scrimmaging” process resulted in a consensus that the Ravens would keep Rice — but that ultimately “the facts would determine the consequences.”

The facts, once they finally came to light via TMZ, determined the ultimate consequence for Rice.  If Harbaugh indeed raised during the “scrimmaging” process that the team should cut Rice, it’s reasonable to believe that Harbaugh’s agreement to keep Rice hinged on the facts showing that Rice didn’t punch his then-fiancée.

Once the facts showed he did, end of story.

So if, as the ESPN report contends, Sanders, Cass, and perhaps others in the organization knew the true contents of the elevator video before the elevator video came out, perhaps they concealed the truth not only to secure a short suspension from the league office, but also to keep Harbaugh from winning the internal scrimmage as to whether a player who had been paid $25 million between July 2012 and December 2013 should be dumped from the roster.

Either way, ESPN’s contention that the Ravens knew the contents of the video long before seeing it has not yet been rebutted by Sanders or Cass.  The only person who has spoken is Harbaugh, whose remarks actually help demonstrate why a coverup happened, if a coverup in fact did occur.

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John Harbaugh stands behind team’s handling of Ray Rice

Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns Getty Images

The Ravens refused to address the inaccuracies and errors they believe are included in ESPN’s report about the way the team reacted to Ray Rice’s February arrest over the weekend, but that didn’t stop coach John Harbaugh from being asked about the report after Sunday’s victory over the Browns.

Specifically, Harbaugh was asked about a part of the report that had him pushing for Rice’s release in February only to be overruled by General Manager Ozzie Newsome and others in the organization. The Ravens’ denial of that claim is in the report and, after initially saying he’d discuss these matters on Monday, Harbaugh said the team was united in their decision.

“We work together in our organization. I’m going to go ahead and answer this question, OK? Every single football decision we make, we work together,” Harbaugh said, via the Baltimore Sun. “Just like every football decision, you get together, you hash it out. Ozzie uses the term scrimmaging. You scrimmage it out. Everybody’s got their opinions. It’s not black and white. It’s never nuanced on anything. That decision was exactly like all the other ones. And we walked out of that room, we were united, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder, and that’s how I felt about the decision. I thought it was the right decision. And the way we handled it, all the way through, I felt like was the right way to handle it all the way through. I felt like we did the right thing, and I stand behind it. That’s all I’m going to say about it.”

What Harbaugh doesn’t say is whether or not he wanted Rice dropped from the roster and ultimately the answer doesn’t matter if Harbaugh’s not going to take issue with the team’s ultimate decision. It’s still a question he’s sure to get again once the Ravens break their silence in response to the report on Monday, though.

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Anquan Boldin on officials: The crap cost us another game

Jim Harbaugh AP

The 49ers melted down in the second half again on Sunday, allowing the Cardinals to outscore them 17-0 on the way to a 23-14 loss that left San Francisco with a 1-2 record after three weeks.

The team has now been outscored 52-3 in the second halves of games this season, a problem that needs to be addressed if they are going to turn things around and return to the playoffs. One good place to start would be penalties, which played a major role in both of their losses.

One of the costliest on Sunday was a head butt delivered by wide receiver Anquan Boldin to Cardinals cornerback Tony Jefferson late in the third quarter that took the Niners from first-and-goal on the six to first-and-10 on the 21-yard line. They had to settle for a field goal try, which was blocked, and the Niners wouldn’t come close to scoring again. Boldin acknowledged his error after the game, but said it came after officials missed several infractions by the Cardinals before throwing flags on his side.

“For me, it’s been obvious the last two weeks: The amount of calls that have gone against us and the amount of calls that we’ve gotten hasn’t been close,” Boldin said, via the Sacramento Bee. “Every week, it’s the same thing — send the tape in, the NFL just reports back, ‘We made a mistake.’ But at the same time, the crap cost us another game. At some point, they need to be held accountable.”

On some calls, like the one on linebacker Patrick Willis for an unambiguously clean hit on Drew Stanton, Boldin is absolutely right about the officials making blunders that need to be corrected on the field and not during the week. On others, though, the 49ers have only themselves to blame. Whether it was Boldin’s head butt or Chris Culliver’s taunting wiping out a Cardinals holding penalty, the 49ers’ inability to keep their emotions under wraps was their fault alone.

Those latter issues are the only penalty-related ones that the 49ers can control by themselves and they’ll need to against the Eagles in Week Four if they want to avoid another disappointing result.

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Russell Wilson was quietly rooting for overtime

Wilson AP

Sure, the Seahawks squandered a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter, showing a vulnerability at home that most believe didn’t exist.  But not everyone on the sideline was dismayed by the outcome.

“I know I shouldn’t say this,” Wilson told Peter King of, “but I actually wanted overtime.  Of course I want to win in regulation, but overtime is so much fun.  I live for those moments.”

That’s essentially what he told his teammates before the game-winning opening drive of the extra session.

“This is what we live for, fellas: championship moments,” Wilson said.  “Let’s go out and embrace it.”

Wilson has a habit of embracing it against the game’s best quarterbacks.  In his two seasons and three games, Wilson has a 7-0 career record against Peyton Manning (2-0), Aaron Rodgers (2-0), Drew Brees (2-0), and Tom Brady (1-0).  As King points out, Wilson has thrown 14 touchdowns and only one interception — a turnover coming Sunday on a tipped ball.

So maybe Wilson deserves more credit than he gets.  Viewed as a game manager who is blessed with a great defense, the truth is that Wilson does whatever he needs to do to win.  Over the course of his career, as players come and go on both sides of the ball, it’s likely that Wilson’s presence will continue to ensure that the Seahawks will be competing for more championship moments.

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