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Gamble grateful for chance to head home to Philly


The process of the Eagles hiring Tom Gamble as their vice president of player personnel took longer than he hoped, but the former 49ers personnel man said the time was right this year.

Gamble said there were several reasons why he wasn’t able to join the Eagles a year ago, but that his rare mid-offseason jump made sense this time. He interviewed with general manager Howie Roseman about the job formerly held by Colts GM Ryan Grigson last year, but was able to talk his way out of the 49ers for what amounted to a lateral move.

The timing wasn’t right [last year] for a lot of different reasons, some professional, some family,” Gamble said, via Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News. “Then this whole thing came up again. I have enough relationship with Howie, enough dialogue. Living out in Pac 12 country, I’ve got a lot of respect for Chip Kelly … I’ve been in and out of his [Oregon] building, he’s been in and out of [the 49ers’] building, I think he’s a hell of a football coach.”

“We chatted again, and you know what, it was time. I was real excited about it. Again, I wasn’t looking to go anywhere; I was in a great situation with some great people … as good as it gets in this business.”

The primary lure for Gamble was a return home. His father Harry was the Eagles president in the 1980s when the son got into the family business.

“It’s Philadelphia. That means something,” Gamble said. “It’s a little bit different, this thing. There’s not a lot of movement, not a lot of opportunity. I didn’t know when it would come up again, and I was ecstatic to come back.”

Gamble indicated that the 49ers were hesitant to let him leave a year ago, but agreed that if the opportunity presented itself again, they’d give him a chance.

Gamble interviewed for other GM jobs, but even though he lacks that title in Philadelphia, he’ll have significant input. Roseman doesn’t have the classic personnel evaluation background, and with Kelly having no NFL experience, getting Gamble on board is a solid move for the organization.

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Pernell McPhee gleeful about spanking Bears gave Aaron Rodgers

Pernell McPhee

As thinly veiled shots at opponents go, the latest to come back and bite Aaron Rodgers was fairly innocuous.

This is the same guy who in discussing a 24-game winning home streak over the Lions said: “It’s just kind of fell our way the last 20 times or whatever but it’s always been very competitive.”

So when he followed with “It’s always fun to beat the Bears,” after a Week One victory, it didn’t seem like that big a diss.

But Bears linebacker Pernell McPhee certainly took it that way.

“C’mon, the quarterback said he loved beating up on us. Who he think we are?” McPhee said, via Jeff Dickerson of “We ain’t the team from last year, or two years ago, or three years ago. You know what I’m saying? This is the 2015 Chicago Bears. A lot of guys took it personal, especially when some guy says he love beating up on your brother. I ain’t going to let nobody come and beat my little brother up.

You know, we went in there and slapped him on his ass. They need to go ask him how that feels.”

Considering it was their fourth loss in five games, it likely stings a little. But Rodgers also continued a run of ineffectiveness on his own, completing just 22-of-43 passes for 202 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The 62.4 rating was the lowest of his career at Lambeau Field.

And limiting to that was gratifying to McPhee, who clearly took offense at Rodgers’ Soldier Field gloating.

“This game, it can get real personal,” McPhee said. “When you are winning, it is all fun. When you are losing, it is very personal. I think the last two games we lost, Denver and Minnesota, a lot of guys took it upon themselves that this, going in, that this Green Bay game was going to be personal.”

We’ll have to wait a year to see how Rodgers responds to the Bears in particular, though we’ll see Thursday against the Lions if the recent backside-smacking got his attention.

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Jason Garrett says Tony Romo “has a lot of football left in him”

Tony Romo AP

Tony Romo’s turning 36 next offseason, and will be coming off a twice-broken collarbone that turned this into a nightmare season for him and the Cowboys.

But coach Jason Garrett can easily think of the future, because he thinks Romo will be back, and better than ever.

We think Tony has a lot of football left in him,” Garrett said, via Todd Archer of

The list of recent surgeries for Romo is long, including the two on his back in 2013. And though this is his third time breaking his left collarbone since 2010, this one won’t require another surgery, and they expect him to be fully healed by camp next season. But Garrett said the mental hurdle will be as hard to clear as the physical one.

“Tony’s a great competitor, Tony wants to play as much as anybody, wants to play at a high level and help our team, and when that gets taken away from you early on in the season, you have to watch, that’s challenging. And then you get a chance to come back and then it happens again, those are not easy,” Garrett said. “There’s a tremendous investment that everybody makes in this, and the commitment that he’s made to our team over the course of his career, the investment he has made has been significant — when you can’t go out there and play because of injury — that can be frustrating for everybody.

“But somehow, some way, you’ve got to get your mind right, and you’ve got to start again. It’s a clean slate, think about the right things to get yourself back with your rehab and your treatment and get focused on the future. And he’s certainly doing that even though it’s not an easy thing to do.”

And for now, he’s their quarterback of the future, though the clock is ticking on that particular designation as well.

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Ravens win an emotional one for Will Hill, Brent Urban

Atlanta Falcons v Baltimore Ravens Getty Images

When the story of the 2015 NFL season is written, last night may not even be a footnote, one bad team beating another bad team in a mildly interesting fashion.

But for the guys involved in the game-deciding play, it was a novel, full of redemption and reward for years pf perserverance.

The Ravens won on a last second field goal block by defensive end Brent Urban, returned for a touchdown by safety Will Hill. And their reactions should tell you why it was a big deal, at least to them.

Urban called the moment “surreal” and said he was nearly speechless. The 2014 fourth-round pick lost his rookie season to a knee injury, then tore his biceps in training camp and was just activated last week, making it his first NFL game. He was so caught up in the moment he thought he had blocked the kick with his surgically repaired right arm instead of his left.

“It’s great for it to go our way at the end of the game with a big play,” Urban said, via Jeff Zrebeic of the Baltimore Sun. “It’s a great feeling. Things just happened our way, finally, and we’re ecstatic.”

For Hill, the relief was more temporary, since he had just given up a game-tying touchdown to Travis Benjamin with a blown coverage, so picking up the block and returning it 64 yards capped a two minutes that took him from being the cause for a loss to the cause for a win.

The swing left him a little queasy, and he admitted he nearly threw up after scoring his touchdown.

“It was almost a game of redemption,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Will Hill didn’t do a very good job on that coverage. He got fooled a little bit, gave up a touchdown pass, and then comes back and picks it up and runs it in. All the guys on the field-goal block team that set the wall down the sidelines, it was just a thing of beauty.”

It might have fallen short of that standard for most. But for Urban and Hill, it created lifelong memories.

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Browns facing another Manziel decision, and soon

Johnny Manziel AP

Just a week ago, Browns coach Mike Pettine finally got permission to publicly discipline Johnny Manziel.

The team released a statement last Tuesday that said Manziel had been demoted from starter to No. 3 quarterback for Monday night’s game against the Ravens. A follow-up report said Manziel had lied to Pettine and others about the video and photos that showed up on social media from his weekend off.

Now, the Browns probably have a few hours to decide if they want to make Manziel their starter again.

Nobody inside the team will get much sleep after the way the Browns lost to the Ravens, but Tuesday morning the Browns have to start getting ready for next Sunday’s game vs. the Bengals under the assumption that Josh McCown will not be available.

At 2-9, the Browns are clearly playing for next year. We don’t know who in the front office or coaching staff will be around then, but we’ll soon know if Pettine thinks Manziel deserves another shot to start.

McCown got hurt in the fourth quarter of Monday’s loss — that’s three times in McCown’s last three starts — and Pettine went to Austin Davis instead of Manziel. Davis had not previously played in a game with the Browns since being signed in September.

Manziel threw for a career-best 373 yards in a 30-9 loss at Pittsburgh on Nov. 15. It was his fifth career start and third this season, and the team announced two days later that he’d been named the starter for the rest of the season.

Despite the demotion, the Browns made Manziel active for the game vs. the Ravens. In only one of their previous 10 games had the Browns made three quarterbacks active. Last Wednesday, Pettine said Manziel was not at “a dead end” with the Browns and wouldn’t rule out the team going back to him.

But after talking about “a violation of trust,” Pettine’s next decision will reveal whether he was handing out a punishment or trying to get Manziel to learn a lesson.

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Pettine: Collarbone injury forced McCown out

McCown AP

Browns Coach Mike Pettine told reporters after Monday night’s loss to the Ravens that quarterback Josh McCown was forced out in the fourth quarter due to a collarbone injury.

Pettine said McCown will remain the team’s starting quarterback for next Sunday’s game vs. the Bengals if he is healthy enough to play, but said the team will know more about his injury Tuesday.

About 75 minutes after the Browns lost on a blocked field goal return, Mary Kay Cabot of tweeted that McCown has a “possible” broken collarbone.

McCown had his right arm in a sling as he left First Energy Stadium. He left the game after the second time he appeared to be in pain after taking a hit.

McCown has left his last three starts in the fourth quarter due to injury. He missed the previous two games due to a rib injury suffered Nov. 1.

Austin Davis replaced McCown Monday. Johnny Manziel had started the two previous games and was named the starter for the rest of the season during the Browns’ bye week, but he was demoted after he reportedly lied to Pettine about his latest appearance social media.

Davis played for the first time since joining the Browns in September. He threw a touchdown pass with 1:47 left to tie the game and scrambled to get the Browns into field goal range on the final drive, but Pettine said a headset issue caused the confusion that led to the Browns allowing the clock to run despite having two timeouts.

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DeShawn Shead takes starting corner job from Cary Williams for Seahawks

DeShawn Shead Getty Images

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Cary Williams had started 81 straight games, regular and postseason combined, dating back to his time in Philadelphia and Baltimore before he was benched for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Williams was one of seven players declared inactive for Seattle on Sunday. He was replaced in the starting lineup by Deshawn Shead.

Shead held his own against an explosive Steelers passing attack. His 10 tackles were second on the team he recorded four passes defended during the game. In comparison, Williams has just four passes defended all season.

“He played a really good, tough game,” head coach Pete Carroll said of Shead. “He had a lot of challenges and he came through at the point of the ball coming in a number of times. They got him once, but all in all, he played really good. Did a very good job. We were all really proud of him.”

Williams was initially benched last week in the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers after blowing an assignment on a 36-yard completion to tight end Vance McDonald. That led to Shead getting a chance to start against Pittsburgh.

So where does that leave Williams, who signed a three-year, $18 million deal with Seattle this offseason?

“Right now he’s trying to fight for playing time, trying to get back in,” Carroll said. “Shead did a good job and we feel pretty good about DeShawn coming back again this week.”

Shead helped hold Martavis Bryant to just five catches for 69 yards on Sunday. The majority of Pittsburgh’s 480 passing yards came over the middle of the field against Seattle’s linebackers and safeties and slot cornerbacks.

If Shead continues as the starter, it would seem unlikely that Williams would be back in 2016 for the Seahawks. The team could save close to $4 million against the salary cap by releasing him this offseason.

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Ravens win on blocked field goal return as time expires

Mike Pettine AP

The Browns had lost a game in just about every way possible.

Then Monday night happened.

With their game against the Ravens tied at 27 and three seconds left, the Browns lined up for a 51-yard field goal try from kicker Travis Coons, who hadn’t missed a field goal all season.

The kick was blocked by Ravens defensive end Brent Urban, and picked up by Ravens safety Will Hill. After securing the ball Hill basically had one man to beat on the sideline, and he returned it 64 yards for a touchdown.

The Ravens took a knee instead of kicking the extra point and won, 33-27. They also got the game’s first points via special teams, an 82-yard punt return by rookie Kaelin Clay.

It was a wild final two minutes. Ravens quarterback Matt Schaub was picked off by Tramon Williams with 50 seconds left, setting the Browns up at the Ravens’ 46-yard line. After wasting precious seconds despite having two timeouts, Browns quarterback Austin Davis scrambled to the Ravens’ 33 with eight seconds left. Duke Johnson then ran for no gain, and each team used a timeout before the final kick.

The Browns trailed 10-0 early and 27-20 at the two-minute warning before Davis hit Travis Benjamin on a 42-yard touchdown pass. Davis was playing because starter Josh McCown was hurt and because, in the words of ESPN play-by-play man Mike Tirico, the Browns put Johnny Manzielin timeout.”

Per former Browns and NFL writer Joe Reedy, it’s the 22nd time since returning to the NFL in 1999 that the Browns lost on the final play of the game. But it’s the first they’ve lost on a blocked field goal return.

The Browns fall to 2-9. The Ravens improve to 4-7.

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Maryland pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue declares for draft

COLLEGE PARK, MD - OCTOBER 18:  Yannick Ngakoue #7 of the Maryland Terrapins rests during a break in the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Byrd Stadium on October 18, 2014 in College Park, Maryland.  (Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images) AP

University of Maryland pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue has elected to forgo his senior season and declare for the NFL Draft.

The junior finished his career with 21.5 sacks and set a Maryland single season record with 13.5 sacks this season for the Terrapins.

“While the last three years have been unforgettable and I would love nothing more than to come back for another season, I have decided to forgo my final year of eligibility to pursue my lifelong dream of playing in the NFL to compete at the next level,” Ngakoue said in a statement.

Ngakoue is thought to be a second or third round pick in the upcoming draft.

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McCown leaves with injury, Manziel stays on sideline

Washington Redskins v Cleveland Browns Getty Images

Browns quarterback Josh McCown left Monday night’s game vs. the Ravens in the fourth quarter with an injury and was replaced by Austin Davis, who saw his first action with the Browns.

Inside First Energy Stadium, there were chants of “Johnny, Johnny” as trainers tended to McCown. Those were for Johnny Manziel, and those fans did not get their wish.

The Browns named Manziel the starter for the rest of the season two weeks ago, then Browns coach Mike Pettine demoted Manziel to No. 3 quarterback last week after Manziel reportedly lied about his latest appearance in a nightclub on social media.

During the broadcast, ESPN play by play man Mike Tirico said the Browns “put [Manziel] in timeout, if you will.”

Manziel had started the last two games, and in the two previous games he’d replaced McCown in the fourth quarter after McCown was injured. Monday night, it appeared McCown was clutching his right shoulder as he talked with trainers.

Davis threw an incompletion on a third and 9 play on his first snap. The Browns trail, 27-20.

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Browns cornerback Justin Gilbert out with concussion

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 30:  Justin Gilbert #21 of the Cleveland Browns returns a kickoff during the second quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 30, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

Justin Gilbert’s return to the lineup for the Cleveland Browns was cut short on Monday night.

Gilbert was ruled out after sustaining a concussion on a kickoff return in the third quarter. Gilbert took the Justin Tucker kick six yards deep in the end zone and returned it to the Browns 34-yard line before being tackled by Tucker along the sideline.

Gilbert’s helmet bounced off the turf and he was taken to the locker room for evaluation before being officially ruled out.

Gilbert started the game with Joe Haden out and Pierre Desir coming off a rough outing. Gilbert had been inactive for the Browns last game two weeks ago.

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Karlos Dansby pick-six of Matt Schaub gives Browns lead

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 30:  Matt Schaub #8 of the Baltimore Ravens looks to pass during the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 30, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

Matt Schaub lost his starting job in Houston due to a stunning propensity to throw interceptions that were returned for touchdowns.

That trait seems to have followed Schaub to Baltimore.

Linebacker Karlos Dansby intercepted Schaub’s pass for Kamar Aiken and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown to give the Cleveland Browns a 20-17 lead over the Ravens on Monday night.

Dansby undercut the throw for Aiken and stayed inbounds up the sideline for the score to give Cleveland its first lead of the night.

Schaub is making his first start in place of Joe Flacco, who was lost for the season due to a torn ACL.

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Ravens, Browns trading scores

McCown AP

The Ravens have been in charge, but their lead over the Browns is only 17-10 in the second quarter.

After the Browns had a 14-play drive that ended in a field goal to cut their deficit to 10-3, the Ravens easily went right back down the field with a deep pass from Matt Schaub to Chris Givens and a touchdown pass from Schaub to rookie running back Buck Allen.

The Browns answered with another long drive capped by a Josh McCown touchdown pass to Marlon Moore to make it 17-10. McCown is 11-of-12 for 123 yards on the two drives that have resulted in points.

The fans inside First Energy Stadium serenaded the Browns with boos following Allen’s touchdown, but the Browns’ answer brought cheers.

The Ravens scored first on an 82-yard punt return by Kaelin Clay.

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Clay’s return gives Ravens early lead

John Harbaugh AP

The Browns and Ravens traded punts to start Monday’s game, and Ravens rookie Kaelin Clay took the one he caught 82 yards for a touchdown.

So, the Ravens lead, 7-0, in a game that probably won’t feature many explosive offensive plays. The Ravens got a 49-yard field goal from Justin Tucker later in the quarter to make it 10-0.

Clay was a sixth-round pick of the Buccaneers last spring out of Utah. He spent time on the Buccaneers and Lions practice squads before landing with the Ravens on Nov. 17

All of the Ravens’ still-healthy receivers are playing for jobs over the next six weeks, and Clay made a pretty strong impression with his return.

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Browns say CB Gilbert starting tonight

Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns Getty Images

The Browns are listing second-year cornerback Justin Gilbert as a starter for Monday night’s game vs. the Ravens.

A first-round pick in 2014, Gilbert has been in coach Mike Pettine’s doghouse at various times in two seasons and has played little defense this season. With Joe Haden out and Pierre Desir having struggled in the Browns’ last game, the Browns made Desir inactive Monday and are listing Gilbert as a starter opposite Tramon Williams.

Gilbert was a healthy scratch for the Browns’ last game on Nov. 15.

The Browns are also starting John Hughes at defensive end in place of Randy Starks and rookie Cam Erving at guard in place of the injured Joel Bitonio.

Both teams are making quarterback changes. The Browns benched Johnny Manziel, though he’s active, and will start Josh McCown. Matt Schaub starts for the Ravens due to Joe Flacco’s torn ACL.

For the Ravens, defensive end Brent Urban is active and will make his NFL debut. A fourth-round pick in 2014, Urban spent last season on injured-reserve and last summer tore a bicep during training camp. He was activated earlier this month.

As expected, the Ravens are without offensive line starters Eugene Monroe and Kelechi Osemele. James Hurst is slated to start at tackle for Monroe and John Urschel should start at guard in place of Osemele.

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Cardinals lose Chris Johnson to fractured tibia

Chris Johnson, NaVorro Bowman AP

The impressive comeback season for Cardinals running back Chris Johnson has hit a bump in the road.

Johnson has suffered a fractured tibia, according to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports. It’s not clear how much time Johnson will miss, but it’s likely a significant period of time.

That’s a big blow to the Cardinals: Johnson is fourth in the NFL with 814 rushing yards this season and has been a big part of the 9-2 Cardinals’ offense.

With Johnson out, David Johnson and Andre Ellington will split carries in Arizona’s backfield. Ellington, however, is dealing with a toe injury, and his prognosis is uncertain. So the depth in the Cardinals’ backfield may have just gone from a strength to a weakness.

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