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Former Secretary of State to participate in Houston’s Super Bowl LI bid

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There’s a former Secretary of State who is assuming a significant role in an NFL project.

And it’s not Condoleezza Rice.

The Texans have announced that James Baker, who served in that role under President George H.W. Bush, will serve as the honorary chairman of the local bid committee.  Local executive Richard “Ric” Campo will serve as the actual chairman of the committee.

Houston has hosted one other Super Bowl at Reliant Stadium, in 2004.  It was regarded as the quid pro quo for the construction of the stadium.

Either Houston of the loser of the San Francisco versus Miami showdown for Super Bowl L will host Super Bowl LI.

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Christian Hackenberg may dress for games, won’t play unless Bryce Petty gets hurt

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 1: Bryan Braman #56 of the Philadelphia Eagles hits Christian Hackenberg #5 of the New York Jets and forces a turnover in the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on September 1, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Jets 14-6. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey said recently that the “sky’s the limit” for rookie quarterback Christian Hackenberg, but it doesn’t appear that the team will be letting Hackenberg take flight during his first NFL season.

The Jets are moving on to Bryce Petty as their starting quarterback after Monday night’s disaster against the Colts and coach Todd Bowles said on Tuesday that the team doesn’t anticipate putting their second-round pick on the field over the next four weeks.

“Not unless Bryce gets hurt, I do not see [Hackenberg] getting any playing time,” Bowles said at a Tuesday press conference.

Bowles did leave the door open to Hackenberg being in uniform for games as the backup, although Ryan Fitzpatrick will serve as the No. 2 when the Jets play the 49ers in Santa Clara in Week 14. Hackenberg has not been active for any games yet this season.

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Packers’ Mike Pennel suspended for next four games

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 20:  Defensive tackle Mike Pennel #64 of the Green Bay Packers cheers on the team before a game against the Oakland Raiders on December 20, 2015 at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, California.  The Packers won 30-20. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Packers defensive tackle Mike Pennel will be suspended for the final four games of the regular season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.

Pennel, who was suing both the NFL and the players’ union over the assigning of an arbitrator to hear his appeal, has now agreed to accept a four-game suspension to resolve the matter.

This is Pennel’s second four-game suspension of the season. He was also suspended for the first four games. He then appeared in all eight of the Packers’ games for which he was eligible, and he will now be suspended for the last four games.

If the Packers make the playoffs, Pennel will be eligible to return to the team then.

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Report: Johnathan Joseph has two cracked ribs, bruised lung

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 24:  Cornerback Johnathan Joseph #24 of the Houston Texans and other players enter the stadium for the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 24, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Texans’ loss to the Packers last Sunday swung on a fourth quarter touchdown catch by Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who was wide open in the end zone after cornerback Charles James slipped while trying to cover him.

James was in the game because starter Johnathan Joseph had to leave with an injury. Coach Bill O’Brien said on Monday that Joseph was doing OK, but a report on Tuesday was less positive about his condition.

John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports that an MRI showed Joseph suffered two cracked ribs and a bruised lung against Green Bay.  There’s no word on Joseph’s timetable for a return to action, but it would seem that there’s a good chance he’ll miss at least this week.

That would leave the Texans down a corner for their game in Indianapolis against the Colts, which would be a bad thing given what’s at stake in the AFC South and how much Houston relies on their defense to be a driving factor on a weekly basis.

James was waived on Monday, so he won’t be an option to replace Joseph in the event he doesn’t play. Kareem Jackson, A.J. Bouye, Robert Nelson and Al-Hajj Shabazz, who was claimed on waivers to take James’ spot, are the other corners on the roster right now.

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Bucs promote Josh Huff from practice squad

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 11: Wide receiver Josh Huff #13 runs for a touchdown after making a catch against the New Orleans Saints in the second quarter during a game at Lincoln Financial Field on October 11, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images) Getty Images

The Buccaneers gave Josh Huff a second chance, and it didn’t take them long to give him a chance to realize it.

The Bucs promoted the former Eagles wide receiver from the practice squad to fill the spot created by veteran wideout Cecil Shorts on injured reserve. Shorts blew out his knee in last week’s win over the Chargers.

They signed him after the Eagles released him following a DUI arrest which included possession of a gun and marijuana. But they were careful to draw a line between Huff and other guys they cut for similar offenses, saying the cases of Huff and Austin Seferian-Jenkins were not the same.

A former third-round pick of the Eagles (during the Chip Kelly era), he didn’t get much of a chance for redemption there after making some unwise comments about the prevalence of gun ownership in NFL locker rooms.

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Jaguars waive Arthur Brown

NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 28:   Arthur Brown #59 of the Baltimore Ravens walks off the field after playing the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 28, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jaguars have decided to part ways with linebacker Arthur Brown.

The team announced Tuesday that they have waived Brown, who joined the team as a waiver claim in September. Linebacker Sean Porter has been promoted from the practice squad to take his place.

Brown was a second-round pick by the Ravens in 2013 and played in 34 games for Baltimore without making an appearance in the starting lineup. He played in all 12 games for Jacksonville this season, but saw only six snaps on defense while playing a considerably larger role on special teams.

Porter was a fourth-round pick by the Bengals in 2013 and spent his rookie year on injured reserve before playing in one game for Cincinnati in 2014. He was waived in 2015 and landed on the Jaguars’ practice squad.

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D’Qwell Jackson suspended four games for violating PED policy

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 02:  Blake Bortles of Jacksonville runs at D'Qwell Jackson of Indianapolis during the NFL International Series match between Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium on October 2, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL announced Tuesday that Colts inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson has been suspended for four games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy.

Jackson, 33, leads the Colts in tackles. He’s in his third year with the team after spending his first eight NFL seasons with the Browns.

Jackson previously has never missed a start with the Colts.

The four-game suspension means Jackson is done for the regular season and can return to the team should the Colts qualify for the playoffs. At 6-6, the Colts are in a three-way tie atop the AFC South the with the Texans and Titans.

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What’s next for C.J. Spiller?

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 16:  Running back C.J. Spiller #28 of the Seattle Seahawks warms up before facing the Atlanta Falcons at CenturyLink Field on October 16, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Running back C.J. Spiller, after he was cut by the Saints in September, could have collected the balance of his $1.7 million guaranteed salary and not played. To his credit, he has tried to continue his career — essentially for free.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked.

Signed and cut by the Seahawks before being signed and cut by the Jets, Spiller will now pass through waivers. If he clears waivers, what next?

He could wait and see what happens, if/when a contending team loses a running back during or just before the playoffs. Or he could take whatever he can find now, and hope for the best.

The smart move once again would be to wait for a chance to play in the postseason, when plenty of other teams are done for the year and trying to figure out their plans for 2017. If he plays and plays well, he could get a chance to earn a significant role with a new team in 2017.

Spiller hasn’t previously been willing to wait, however. He pounced on an opportunity with Seattle, and then again on his limited chance with the Jets.

He leaves the Jets with three carries for nine yards. He had three carries for nine yards for the Seahawks.

Only four years ago, Spiller had more than 1,700 yards from scrimmage. So he can still play; for whatever reason, however, it simply hasn’t happened this year for him.

The best news that has happened to Spiller this year arguably comes from being cut by the Jets, a team that  definitely won’t be giving him a playoff platform. He should now wait for a situation that does — unless someone like the Browns or the 49ers claims him on waivers.

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Jets cut C.J. Spiller and Jeremy Ross

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 01: C.J. Spiller #28 of the New Orleans Saints is tackled by Kerry Wynn #72 of the New York Giants during their game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 1, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Getty Images

It was a bit of a surprise in some quarters when the Saints cut C.J. Spiller before the start of the season.

Maybe it shouldn’t have been, because he hasn’t been able to hold down a job since.

The Jets are the latest to release the former No. 9 overall pick, announcing the move today.

Spiller signed with the Jets a month ago after a two-game stint with the Seahawks, and had four touches in four games in New York, along with five kickoff returns. Injuries kept him from realizing his potential (or his contract) with the Saints, but his inability to find a role is still a bit alarming.

The Jets also cut wide receiver Jeremy Ross, and swapped practice squad receivers, signing Darius Jennings and cutting Mario Alford.

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Former Bears running back Rashaan Salaam dead at 42

1 Sep 1997:  Rashaan Salaam #31 of the Green Bay Packers in action against the Brian Williams #51 of the Chicago Bears at the Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  The Packers defeated the Bears 38-24. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel  /Allsport Getty Images

Tuesday brings some sad news about former Heisman Trophy winner and Bears first-round pick Rashaan Salaam.

A spokesman for Salaam’s family has announced, via Adam Schefter of ESPN, that Salaam is dead at the age of 42. The University of Colorado, Salaam’s alma mater, released a statement saying his body was found in a Boulder, Colorado park on Monday night and that police do not suspect foul play. There is no further information about a cause of death.

Salaam won the Heisman Trophy in 1994 after running for 2,055 yards and 24 touchdowns for Colorado. He became the 21st pick of the 1995 NFL Draft and ran for 1,074 yards and 10 touchdowns during his rookie season, but that would represent his best work on the professional level. He only played 17 more games in the NFL and said after his retirement that off-field partying contributed to his quick washout in the NFL.

We offer our condolences to Salaam’s loved ones on their loss.

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Lions bring back Joique Bell

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 27: Joique Bell #35 of the Detroit Lions celebrates a second quarter touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers at Ford Field on December 27, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

The injury-plagued Lions are bringing back a familiar face.

Joique Bell, a running back who played for the Lions for the last five years, has re-signed with the team today.

Bell will provide some depth at running back after Dwayne Washington got hurt against the Saints on Sunday. Bell knows the Lions’ offense and had 311 rushing yards and 286 receiving yards for the Lions last season. Bell briefly played for the Bears this season but was released after having just three carries for six yards.

The Lions also placed defensive end Armonty Bryant on injured reserve with a knee injury.

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Will Smith murder trial begins

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As authorities in Louisiana try to figure out what to do with the man who shot and killed former NFL player Joe McKnight, a jury in Louisiana will eventually decide what to do with the man who shot and killed former NFL player Will Smith.

Via the Associated Press, opening statements were delivered Tuesday at the trial arising from the April death of Smith, and they demonstrate the stark differences in perspectives that arise when a shooter has the “stand your ground” law available as a defense.

Prosecutors claim Cardell Hayes committed murder by shooting Smith once in the right side and seven times in the back. Defense lawyers claim Smith was shot after he reached to get his gun.

A 12-person jury will decide based on the evidence submitted during the trial whether Jones acted in self defense, or whether he committed murder. Hayes also is charged with attempted murder for shooting Smith’s wife, Raquel, during the same incident.

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Randy Gregory expected at Cowboys practice Wednesday

Randy Gregory AP

Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory is serving the second of the two suspensions the league enacted this year and may have a third coming his way after reportedly failing a drug test, but that hasn’t caused the team to wash their hands of him once and for all.

As a result, it appears that they’ll have him at Wednesday’s practice. Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com reported on Tuesday that Gregory is eligible to return to practice this week, which is two weeks ahead of when he’d be eligible to play at the end of his combined 14-game suspension, and the Cowboys have confirmed that they expect to have him at the team’s facility.

Gregory would be eligible to play in Week 16, although that date may shift if the aforementioned failed drug test results in a suspension that would keep Gregory off the field for at least another year. Breer reports that it’s under appeal, so, for now, Gregory is able to move forward with the team.

In ideal circumstances, Gregory would return to give the Cowboys another piece to use on defense. With so little about Gregory’s NFL career qualifying as ideal, it’s unlikely anyone is planning on that actually happening.

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Report: Luke Kuechly to be evaluated Wednesday

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 17:  Luke Kuechly #59 of the Carolina Panthers returns a blocked field goal against the New Orleans Saints in the second quarter during the game at Bank of America Stadium on November 17, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Anyone who watched last Sunday night’s game between the Panthers and Seahawks likely saw how animated Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly was on the sideline.

He was talking and gesturing to players, coaches and officials over the course of Carolina’s loss and it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to say that he would have done anything he could to put on a uniform right then and there. Until he’s cleared from the concussion protocol, however, that’s not an option.

David Newton of ESPN.com reports that Wednesday will bring the next evaluation for Kuechly, who has missed two games with the concussion he suffered against the Saints in Week 11 and could take part in some on-field work if he passes through the early stages of the protocol.

At 4-8, the Panthers don’t have realistic playoff hopes any longer and some teams might think twice about bringing a key player back from injury to play out the string. The Panthers haven’t shown any sign that they’ll go that way with Kuechly, however, so we’ll see if his status changes at all this week.

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Lions sign cornerback Asa Jackson off Ravens practice squad

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 13: Asa Jackson #27 of the Baltimore Ravens warms up before the start of the Ravens preseason game against the New Orleans Saints at M&T Bank Stadium on August 13, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Lions have found a somewhat experienced replacement for their secondary.

According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, the Lions are signing cornerback Asa Jackson off the Ravens practice squad to fill the spot created when Quandre Diggs suffered a season-ending pectoral injury.

Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin coached Jackson with the Ravens, so there’s some familiarity there. It also establishes Jackson as one of the oldest practice squad players in the league, since Austin left Baltimore after the 2013 season.

Jackson just turned 27, and was a fifth-round pick of the Ravens in 2012. He’s served a pair of PED suspensions in his career, and has never played more than seven games in any of his five years in the league.

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Steelers should have their kicker back this week

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 20:  Chris Boswell #9 of the Pittsburgh Steelers kicks a 33 yard field goal during the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 20, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Steelers may only need one kicker this week.

Coach Mike Tomlin told reporters Tuesday that injured Chris Boswell had a “legit chance” to play this week against the Bills, per Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Boswell didn’t play Sunday against the Giants with an abdominal injury, which forced them to sign Randy Bullock for the week.

Bullock was perfect on three field goals and his extra point attempt, but Tomlin made it clear that if Boswell was well enough to kick, that he was the choice.

Boswell has been kind of ordinary this year, hitting 12-of-16 field goals (but all his extra points), but the Steelers are apparently confident he’s their guy moving forward. Tomlin has shown such confidence in him before, saying he’d let him try his unorthodox rabona onside kick again even though the attempt at Baltimore failed miserably.

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